Coming Messiah 

Psalms 24:9-10
“Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.”

It seems the Psalmist is exhorting the inhabitants of Jerusalem to open wide the gates for the coming Messiah. They should be living with an expectation of His coming. This expectation was based upon the promises of Scripture. The prophets foretold of a specific date in which the Messiah would enter the city riding upon a donkey, and be received with worship by the people. As the narrative of scripture continues to unfold, we find that the Messiah came as predicted, but very few of the people were ready for Him. Some were so deeply set in their ways, that when He arrived, they dismissed Him completely.

The Bible speaks of another coming of the Messiah. Jesus said He stands a the door of the heart of each and every man. To those who will open their hearts, He will enter their lives, forgive their sins, and begin to transform them from the inside out. It is by opening your heart to Christ that you become prepared for the day when He will come again.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 24

  1. How is God described in verse 1?
  2. What character traits are encouraged in verses 3-4?
  3. Consider the description of God in verses 8-10. How does that minister to you today?

I’ll Be Back 

Revelation 22:20-21
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘ Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

If you are anything like me, you have echoed the cry of John, from time to time in your walk with God. It seems whenever things become difficult, confusing or frightening, my heart cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus.” I realize, the only reason for His delay is His desire to see others come to faith in Christ. Peter wrote,

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

There is a day coming, in the not so distant future, when all the promises of Scripture will be fulfilled, and Christ will return for His church and set up His kingdom. As John sat incarcerated on the island of Patmos, his heart longed for the return of his Savior and Lord.

That being said, it has often struck me, that the final promise of Scripture takes us from the promises of the future, to those of the present. After declaring Christ will return for His church, John reminds us that we are living in a present state of grace.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

Grace can be defined as the giving nature of God. It i s expressed in His desire to save the lost, and to pour out lavish gifts upon His children. As we await the return of Christ, we live in the age of grace. The closer we get to the time of Christ’s return, the more difficult things will become on earth. As men harden their hearts to God, sin will increase and righteousness will become more and more scarce. It is vital to remember, although God will judge sin, it is His desire to save. The darker the background, the more brightly the message of the Gospel shines. Instead of becoming discrouraged by the present condition of things, let’s remember that it is in the heart of God to save. Let’s be busy praying for, and witnessing to, our friends and loved ones, until the day Christ calls us home.

Until He comes,

Pastor Jim

 

It’s Coming, Are You Ready?

Ezekiel 30:2-3
“Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God:’ “Wail, Woe to the day!” For the day is near, Even the day of the Lord is near; It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles.”

Ezekiel paints a very dark picture of what is coming upon Egypt. He describes a day in their immediate future when the forces of Babylon, led by Nebuchadnezzar, would come against, and defeat every major city in Egypt, and of their allies. This defeat would result in almost total devastation of the land, and would bring the people into difficulty and oppression. The amazing thing is, this all could have been avoided by listening to and obeying the Word of God.

A day is coming in our future when Christ will return for His church. This will usher in the greatest, and worse time in human history, depending upon a person’s response to the message of the Gospel. For those who choose to accept the pardon made available through the cross of Christ, His return will result in being caught up into glory and forever being with the Lord. For those who choose to reject Christ, for whatever reasons they may have, this time will be one of great hardship and difficulty. The book of Revelation describes a time when the earth will receive retribution for its continual rebellion against the righteous ways of God.

Are you prepared for the coming day of the Lord? The way to prepare is to receive Christ and surrender yourself to Him.

Pastor Jim

 

Don’t Be Shaken

2 Thessalonians 2:1
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.”

One of the primary themes of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonian church is the return of Jesus Christ. Paul lived with the expectation that Christ would return in his lifetime, and urged others to always be on guard. He had warned in his first letter that, “the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Looking around at the condition of the world they lived in, through the lens of Biblical prophecy, had caused some of them to be alarmed, and even gripped with fear. Paul mentions how they were shaken in mind and troubled. The term ‘shaken’ would describe a ship being tossed to and fro by the raging seas. The word ‘troubled’ carries the idea of crying out for help. Paul had written to a group of Christians facing turbulent times, with the purpose of encouraging them with the “blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Yet the message designed to give them hope, had actually robbed them of peace, filled them with fear, and was causing them to cry out in despair.

In my experience, this response is all too common. We look around at the present world conditions, and realize the sun is setting, and the day of the Lord is approaching. Because we do not fully understand what that entails, we are often gripped with fear, instead of being filled with expectancy, joy, and a new vigor to share Christ with friends and family. The Thessalonians were shaken and troubled because they misunderstood the Bible’s teaching regarding the return of Christ. Some thought it had happened and they had missed out. In an age without satellite TV, Google, or cell phones, news did not travel in real-time; rumors of what had taken place in a distant land could take weeks to verify. Paul wrote to assure them the return of Christ is imminent, but still ahead.

“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…”

“The coming” is a translation of the Greek word “parousia.” This word was used to describe the visit of a king or dignitary to a city, in order to show his magnificence to the people. Paul is stating, King Jesus is coming back in all His glory to set up His kingdom and rule in righteousness. He assures them that before this event can happen, another ruler must appear on the scene. This ruler is called “the Man of Sin”, who will exalt himself as God. The Bible uses many different terms to describe this individual; the most well-known is the term Antichrist. Paul explains, before Christ comes back as King, the Antichrist will be revealed. If this verse stood alone, we might conclude that we should not be looking for the return of Jesus, but for the reign of this Man of Sin. Our eyes would be taken off Christ and His Word, and we would be searching the news feeds for information on world leaders. But this verse does not stand alone. Paul adds,

2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”

Notice the words “And then the lawless one…” it is after the restraining force in the world is removed, that the Antichrist is revealed. It is after this event that Christ will return from heaven, with a shout and set up His earthly reign. It is believed by many, that the restraining force Paul refers to, is the church. Paul is reminding us, the next event we should be looking forward to is the sudden and instant removal of the church from earth, and into the presence of the Lord. He described this event to the Corinthians as something that would happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Rather than being filled with fear, we should be living in expectancy; looking forward to the trumpet sound when Christ will call His church home to heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Time To Wake Up

Romans 13:11
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

I can remember times, as a child, when I had to wake up very early for an event I was looking forward to. I would set my alarm, and a backup, then wake up over and over again through the night to check the time. I did not want to sleep in and miss out. I recall, one morning, hearing the alarm go off, getting out of bed, getting dressed and walking out to the living room, where I put on my shoes. After a few moments, I heard my mom’s voice asking me what I was doing. As I began to answer, I noticed all the lights were on and my parents were watching television. It was eleven p.m., I had only been asleep for about an hour, and had dreamt I heard the sound of my alarm clock.

Paul is writing about the most important of all events, encouraging us not to sleep in and miss out. He writes concerning Salvation, reminding us, we are nearer to the return of Christ than any other time in human history. Just as there are signs that morning is approaching, so there are signs that Christ is coming. It is foolish to ignore the warnings and continue on in our spiritual slumber. Instead, we must live life prepared to face eternity. Paul tells us three necessary things to do in order to be prepared when the trumpet sounds and Christ calls us home.

First, we are to cast off the works of darkness. After Lazarus was resurrected, Jesus commanded that his burial clothes be removed. Those clothes were fitting for a dead man, but not for the living. They would stink of death and restrict life. In the same way, there are behaviors that might have ‘fit’ us before we came to Christ, but we must be cast aside. Paul mentions partying, drinking, sexual sin, lust, envy and strife. These things should remain in our past.

Second, we are to put on Christ. Christianity is not all about what we don’t do. Instead, it is about living for Jesus and becoming like Him. As we focus on growing in Him, we find His character traits become a part of us. We become more loving, merciful, kind, giving, compassionate and selfless. Paul referred to these as the fruit of the Spirit. It is important, at times, to do a Spiritual checkup to see if those traits are developing in our lives.

Finally, we are told not to make provision for the flesh. In other words, we must be careful not to make it easy to sin. If you are on a diet, it is probably not a great idea to watch “Cup Cake Wars”, or hang out at a bakery. In the same way, we all know the temptations we face and must remove ourselves as far from them as possible. Christians who live near the fence are the ones who are constantly falling in and out of sin.

Jesus is coming back! Let’s be ready when He comes. Let’s live so that we hear Him say, “Well Done!”

Pastor Jim

 

Here Comes The King

Luke 19:11 
He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.”

Jesus rebuked the leaders of His day for being able to discern weather patterns, yet failing to recognize the signs of the times. He also exhorted His followers to carefully observe the condition of the world, and to live in anticipation of His soon return.

Today, it is not difficult to ignore the similarities between our world and Jesus’ description of the world when He returns. Things like a one world currency, government, and religion, which seemed impossible to past generations, are unfolding before our very eyes. All of this, makes this parable even more applicable to His church.

Notice the parable was given because they were expecting His kingdom to be established at any moment. Their problem was not failing to LOOK for the kingdom, but failing to LIVE for the kingdom. In the story, Jesus exhorts His followers to serve Him.

Like the characters in the story, we have all been given different gifts, talents, abilities and resources. They are given that we might use them for the furtherance of His kingdom. Too often, we look around at what others have been given, and think, if we had their gifts we would serve the Lord. If I had their wealth, I would give. If I had their voice, I would sing, if I had their time, I would serve… Notice, Jesus only expected the servants to use what they had been given. They were rewarded or rebuked depending upon how they used the gift they had received.

Jesus is coming back! He will set up His kingdom. He will reward those who have surrendered, submitted, and served Him. The question remaining for us is, how are we waiting? Live today in light of the fact that there is a day coming when we will be face to face with the King of kings. He will look at us with His eyes like flames of fire and say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Pastor Jim