February 17 “Return”

Return

Many people are willing to admit that Jesus came to this earth but they do not think that He will return.
Theologians call the end of the world and the return of Christ, the “eschaton.” It is defined as the divinely ordained climax of history. Endless debates originate in the various theories of how this is going to come about. Liberal thinkers see it all as symbolism. Conservatives try to parse the scriptures to discover a narrative for it. Scoffers laugh at the thought. I saw a picture of a man marching in some sort of protest carrying a sign that said, “If Jesus comes again, we’ll kill him again.” We should be sure of this: He said He would return and He will.

Back to the Mountain
Jesus and the Twelve are resting at an impressive overlook on the Mount of Olives. It is the close of another day of the public ministry of Jesus. He has tangled with the leaders of the nation and the Temple in the Temple courts. He has shared disturbing certainties with His men about the near future and the destruction of the beauty they see at their feet. Now He is about to balance the bad news with some really good news. His glory will be revealed to all!

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”

This is what they wanted to hear! Enough of the death and destruction, let’s hear more about the power and great glory. They wanted some of that. Finally, everyone would see Jesus the way they did—in all the greatness He was careful to hide every day. They could process this prediction and they did, turning it over in their minds with the implications it had for them. So what if a few stars fall out of heaven and what did it really mean that “the powers of heaven will be shaken?” They heard the part they wanted to hear.

We must hear more.
We have a more exalted view of Jesus. They saw Him up close and we can only guess at what that was like, but we see Him from the vantage point of prophecy from cover to cover in the Bible. Regardless what theory we may hold concerning specific events in the Eschaton, we must always live in constant awareness of His return.

The Engine that Drives the Boat
If our life in Christ is seen as a journey at sea, we must be sure to keep the engine in good repair. That engine is the Blessed Hope—the imminent return of Jesus. We are not dead in the water. This hope propels us forward. He is coming and His reward is with Him! The dead in Christ will rise first and we who are alive and remain will be caught up to be with Him. He is coming with ten-thousands of saints to make an end to evil in this world. It is all true for the Bible says it clearly. We must live in readiness for in a moment all our theories of the eschaton will melt before its reality. Believers, believe it. Preachers, preach it. Worshipers, sing it! Jesus will return to this earth again and no one will kill Him! All will confess Him Lord and Christ!

Scriptures:
Mark 13:24-25
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.
Titus 2:11-15 NKJV
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NKJV
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Jude 14-15 NKJV
Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me live in constant anticipation of Your return. What You have given me to do I must do quickly. There is no time to waste. Each opportunity to serve You, worship You, or to tell Your story is precious and not to be squandered. I know that at any moment I could hear that trumpet and the shout of the archangel! I will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. I will see You and my loved ones in Your company! Oh, the joy it brings my heart to think of it! Even so, Come, Lord Jesus, Come! Amen.

Song:
He’s Coming Soon
Words: Thoro Harris; Music: Queen Liliukalani of Hawaii

1. In these, the closing days of time, What joy the glorious hope affords,
That soon—O wondrous truth sublime! He shall reign, King of kings and Lord of Lords.

Refrain:
He’s coming soon, He’s coming soon; With joy we welcome His returning;
It may be morn, it may be night or noon—We know He’s coming soon.

2. The signs around—in earth and air, Or painted on the starlit sky,
God’s faithful witnesses—declare That the coming of the Savior draweth nigh.

Refrain

3. The dead in Christ who ’neath us lie, In countless numbers, all shall rise
When through the portals of the sky He shall come to prepare our paradise.

Refrain

4. And we, who living, yet remain, Caught up, shall meet our faithful Lord;
This hope we cherish not in vain, But we comfort one another by this word.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

 

May 24 “Return”

Return

The Jesus Story is not finished.
It did not end with crucifixion, a tragic tale of a brilliant, misunderstood young man cut down before His work was done. It did not end with the resurrection as the ultimate enemy of mankind had to bow before the power of the life-giving Spirit of God. Neither did the story end on the Day of Pentecost when that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead filled every interior inch of the hearts of His followers. The story did not end at the last chapter of the Book of Acts for it contains no conclusion at all. More than 20 centuries later the Jesus Story is still being told in the lives of those who believe in Him and trust Him as Savior. He has promised to be with us to the end of the age.

The End of the Age
An interesting idea—the End of the Age! There will be a final chapter in the Jesus Story, just before a new story will be written set in a New Heaven and a New Earth. As an old song once said, “He came. He’ll come again, this Christ in all His glory!” Theologians call this the eschaton—the study of end-time events. This is a whole theological discipline far beyond the scope of a 500+ word devotion. Scriptures drawn from the Hebrew prophets, the words of Jesus, the letters of the Apostles and the Revelation of John on the Isle of Patmos must all be considered and believed. They seem to describe two events,

  1. one is a secret catching away of the saints of God and
  2. the other a very public return of Christ with the armies of Heaven including the saints.

Some cannot deal with two events and chose to treat one or both as allegories. I will summarize the teachings of Jesus in this passage.

What Jesus Said

  • The Return of Christ will be preceded by signs in the heavens and on earth.
  • All will see Christ when He returns with the hosts of heaven.
  • When these things begin to happen, they will all happen within a generation.
  • That generation will be similar to the times of Noah—universal wickedness, an age of iniquity—lawlessness.
  • The secret coming of Christ will separate friends and family and coworkers.
  • Only the Father knows the time of this event. Our job is to live in a state of readiness, doing what God has called us to do.
  • To live in denial of the approaching eschaton is to be an “evil servant” who says in his heart, “My Lord delays His coming.” Jesus will return in an unexpected hour for those who are not looking for Him.
  • The wise servant living in expectation of the return of Christ will be rewarded on earth and it heaven.
  • The foolish, wicked servant will suffer loss on earth and the agonies of hell forever.

Whatever one believes about the details of the eschaton, it is important for each of us to live with a keen eye on the signs of the times. We must remember His words, “Behold I come quickly.”

He Will Return.
To live in expectation of the return of Christ provides a context for our hope. The story is not over. Our lives are simply a chapter in that story and when our lives are through here, they will continue elsewhere. We will be there at the end and see the dawning of the new day of New Creation. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Scriptures:
Matthew 24:29-51
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near — at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Revelation 21:1-5
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus I know You are coming soon! I believe I will hear the trumpet and the voice of the archangel. I will see the graves burst open. I will meet my loved ones with You in the air! And so shall we ever be with the Lord! With this hope working alive in me, I will seek the sanctification of Your Spirit. Purify my heart O Lord, so that I may live in a state of constant readiness. I will be about the work You have given me to do so that when You come You will find me at work! Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Song:
The Message of His Coming
Words and Music: R. E. Winsett

1. We’re looking for His coming, in the clouds of heaven,
Coming back to earth to catch away His own;
Then may we all be ready, when midnight cry is given,
To go and reign with Christ on His throne.

Refrain
Gladly may we herald the message of His blessèd appearing,
Soon He’s coming in glory, tell to one and all;
Then awake, ye saints of the Lord,
Why slumber when the end is nearing,
But get ready for the final call.

2. We’re longing for the glory that awaits the faithful,
Who shall overcome, and ev’ry conflict win;
Press ever bravely onward, the prize is life eternal
To all who win the fight over sin.

Refrain

3. We’re praying for the advent of our blessèd Savior,
Who has promised life to all who trust His grace;
His coming now is pending, the message being given,
And soon we’ll see our Lord face to face.

Refrain

4. We see the signs appearing of His blessèd coming,
Lo, behold the fig leaves now becoming green;
The Gospel of His kingdom has gone to every nation;
That we are near the end can be seen.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.