What Love 

Isaiah 62:5
As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.”

Life can cause us to misunderstand God. In the midst of difficulty, it is common to respond like the disciples who cried out, “Lord don’t you care that we are perishing” (Mark 4:38)? It is during those times, we need to cling all the more to the promises of God. Circumstances are often misleading. If we want to know how God truly feels about us, we need to look into the pages of His Word. Isaiah declares that God rejoices over us. I have had the privilege of performing quite a few weddings. My favorite part of the ceremony is to look at the face of the groom as his bride appears. The sheer joy on his face is electric. God declares his love for us is like that of a groom with his bride. Whatever difficulty you are in the midst of, take some time to sit with the Lord and look at His precious promises. Allow His Word to do the work of washing, reviving, and empowering you to keep pressing on. There is nothing more powerful in all the world than the voice of God. With it, He spoke the world into existence, and with it, He will speak strength and comfort into you.

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

 

Get Ready

1 Thessalonians 5:2
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.”

Years ago, when our twin sons were infants, my wife woke me in the middle of the night. Having been up with the babies, she saw someone in our yard. Concerned that we might be dealing with a home invasion, my instinct was to grab something to protect myself and head into the yard. As I peered through the front window, I realized that it was actually a group of teenagers who were toilet-papering our house. I immediately thought of grabbing the garden hose, getting on the roof and spaying them down. The problem was, the garden hose was in the front yard where I had left it after its last use. Frustrated that I was unprepared for the surprise visit, all I could do was run outside, make myself known, and watch them run off. Thinking they might return to finish the job, I laid on the roof with the hose in hand for the next few hours, only to be disappointed by the fact that I had missed my opportunity. Paul reminds us that the return of Christ will be like an intruder in the night. The time to prepare for His return is not after His arrival, but in anticipation to His coming.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”

One of the most interesting signs the Bible warns us to be looking for, is the fact that people will be suggesting He is not coming. Peter wrote, in the last days people would mock the very idea of Jesus’ return. They would be saying things like “you Christians have been talking about that forever.” Paul also reminds us, while many of the signs of Christ’s return are things that have been happening throughout history, they are things that will increase in severity and frequency. Like a woman having contractions, the pain increases the closer she gets to her delivery, so will the signs of Christ’s return increase as the day approaches.

1 Thessalonians 5:4  “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.”

While we cannot know the day or hour of the return of Christ, we can be living in expectancy, so we are not caught unaware. The way to be prepared for His return, is not by twisting every current event into a fulfilled prophecy. Instead, we must be sure, that first, we have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, and second, we have surrendered to Him as Lord. You might be able to rattle off all of the signs that point to His coming, yet you are not living for Him. If that is your story, you will be overtaken as by a thief in the night.

There is little doubt, we are living in the last days. The State of Israel, the climate in the Middle East, the rise of immorality being accepted as good, all point to the imminent return of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The one question that remains is, are you ready should He come back today?

Pastor Jim