Monday, December 1, 2008

Living in Light of His Coming

Peter urged the church to live in light of the coming of the Lord...

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
(2 Peter 3:9-13)

I'm not sure that many Christians today believe in the second coming of Christ. They profess it with their lips, but their actions reveal a different theology--a theology of denial. Christians live as if they will never give an account for what they have done. They live as though everything they have to look forward to is to be found in this life. Even churches are pandering to these ideas. At the heart of the health and wealth, prosperity gospel that has become so popular is the desire to make heaven on earth. Contrary to what some churches are teaching, "my best life" is in the world to come, not in the here and now.

So how should we live in light of His coming? I believe there are some common fruits of belief in the second coming that all Christians should bear.

First, we should be motivated to righteous living. Peter writes: "Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness" (2 Peter 3:11). There is a direct link between faith in God and righteous living. Even atheists seem to understand this link. Currently, the British Humanist Association have launched an ad campaign on London buses that reads: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." I find it ironic that two of the things atheists are seeking, "joy" and "life," are things which God has promised His followers. Jesus said: "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). And their use of the word "probably" makes them look ridiculous. Would you not want to be certain about some as serious as eternal damnation?

Second, we should be more concerned about our treasures in heaven than about our treasure on earth. Jesus said: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matt 6:19-20). If we really believe that the Lord is returning and that we will be rewarded based upon our deeds, then why would we invest all of our energy into homes and cars that will not even last our lifetime, let alone in the life to come?

Finally, we should have a passion to see others saved from the wrath of God. If we believe the gospel, then we must believe that an eternal hell is a reality, and that Jesus Christ is the only means of escape. Christians with little desire to see others saved are living with their own form of denial. Proverbs tells us: "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise" (11:30).

May we each live our lives in light of His coming, so that we can say with John: "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Things I Am Thankful For

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!" (Psalm 100:4)

No matter how dire our present circumstances may seem, we all have so much to thank the Lord for. As I thought about the thanksgiving season, I challenged myself to be thankful for things I have taken for granted and to name some blessings I don't think I have named before. I hope this list will challenge you to do the same.

1. I am thankful that God created me. (Psalm 139:14) How ever realized that if God had not created you, you wouldn't be here. This simple truth should be enough to made us realize how much we owe God and to be thankful for His grace to us.

2. I am thankful that God delayed His wrath so that I could have time to repent of my sins and be saved. (2 Peter 3:9) At the moment I sinned, I deserved the wrath of God. Yet, because of His grace and compassion, He waited for me to come to Him.

3. I am thankful that God created an orderly universe. (Psalm 136:5-9) I plan my life around the rising of the sun and the changing of the seasons, but how often do I thank God for this consistency in nature?

4. I am thankful that God made me an eternal being. (Matt. 25:46) Although I will die physically die one day, my spirit will never die. And one day upon His return, my spirit will be reunited with my resurrected body. Praise the Lord that my life has no end. (1 John 5:13)

5. I am thankful that God has a purpose for my life. (Jer. 29:11) How empty life would be without a purpose and meaning for my existence.

I have many more things for which I am thankful, (my wife, my children, my parents, my church family, my health, my friends, the list goes on and on) but I wanted to list some that are rarely mentioned to hopefully make us all think of the many things for which we so often take for granted.

May you experience the joy of salvation and have a new realisation this Thanksgiving season of all that you have to be thankful for.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Peril of Forgetting

God has commanded us to remember what He has done (Ps. 105:5). The Israelites who were delivered out of Egypt saw first hand the works of the Lord, but they had a short memory. Consequently, they questioned the character of God (Ex. 14:10-12) and they doubted the provision of God (Ex. 17:1-7). Ultimately, their disobedience and rebellion cost them entrance into the promised land--what a high price to pay for forgetfulness!

We need to beware, so that we do not make the same mistake and suffer the same consequences. The Bible is clear that God has given us all that we have, both materially and spiritually (cf. Matt. 6:26). Yet, in our state of blessedness, pride can cause us to forget the source of our blessings. We begin to take credit for our blessings and forget that it is our creator who has given us all that we have (Deu. 8:11-17). The only way to avoid this pitfall is to remember that the Lord is our provider.

We not only have to beware of pride, but forgetting what God has done will also cause us to doubt Him. It seems almost unbelievable that the Israelites could watch God part the sea and drown the pursuing Egyptian army, and yet fear the Canaanites, but that is exactly what happened. If you have ever experienced the hand of God in your life, then rely on it. Meditate on it. Let your past experience with God give you a reason to trust Him for your future. If the Lord has saved you, why would He later abandon you?

Forgetting what the Lord has done will cost you dearly, but remembering His works will lead to rejoicing. "Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!" (Psalms 105:1-3)

May you experience the joy of remembering.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God's Formula For Revival

2 Chronicles 7:14 has rightly been called God’s formula for revival. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Here God lays our four things that His people must do if they are to experience forgiveness and healing.

First, they are to humble themselves. True humility is not thinking less of yourself than you should. It is recognizing how poor you are in relation to God and the standard of holiness which He requires. It is recognizing that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness.

Second, the Lord tells them to pray. If revival comes from God, why would we talk to everyone but Him about it? We need to go to God in pray and ask for forgiveness. We need to ask God to reveal any areas of our life that need to be conformed to the image of His Son.

Third, we need to seek the face of God. To seek His face is to seek to know Him intimately. When we get an ID made, it is not our elbow or foot that is photographed, but our face. Our face is the one feature that completely distinguishes us from other human beings. If you know someone’s face you can recognize them. So to experience revival we need to seek to know the face of God. Finally, we need to turn from our sin. You can’t be in fellowship with God and continue to constantly sin as a lifestyle.

If we do these things we can expect to experience revival.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In Christ We Are Free

As Paul preached in the synagogue, he shared the good news that in Christ we are free. "Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38-39). So what are we free from? Here are just a couple of things from which Christ has freed us.

First, we are free from the power of death. Yes, we will all die unless Christ returns first. However, we will one day be raised, just as He was raised. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory?O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:51-57).

Second, we are from the wages of sin. Paul preached: "through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you" (Acts 13:38). Romans 3:23 tells us: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." And John 1:9 promises: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Praise the Lord that we are free in Christ! Let me encourage you today to thank the Lord for the freedom that we have as believers. Moreover, let us serve the Lord because of the gratitude we have in our heart for what He has done for us.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

An Early View of Redemption

Many people mistakenly have the idea that God has changed His plans for man throughout history. He dealt with man in a certain way in the Old Testament, but when that didn't work out he changed His plans and sent Jesus to the cross to redeem mankind. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God has been planning the redemption of man since before man existed. He has always had a heart of love and compassion that longed to see His children come home.

In the book of Exodus, we see God at work redeeming His people from the slavery of Egypt. Exodus 14:30-31 reads: "Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses."

Israel saw the redeeming work of the Lord and believed in Him. How much more have we seen of the redeeming work of God? Daniel in the lion's den; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace; and Israel's return from exile all point to the redeeming hand of God. But the greatest work of redemption was the death of Christ on the cross.

And so we have hope. If God has redeemed His people from the beginning of time, then we can believe that He will not forsake us if we only trust in Him. Don't be mislead to think that your redemption was an afterthought. God loves you and He has been planning to redeem you from your sin from the very beginning. Trust in Him and you will never be disappointed.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Contagious Zeal

The Psalmist wrote: "For zeal for your house has consumed me" (Psalms 69:9). The disciples remembered this verse as they saw Jesus' response to the profiteering that had taken the place of worship in the temple (John 2:13-22). What they saw that day was a holy zeal for the work of the Father.

Sadly, we rarely see the level of passion and zeal in the church today. I emphasize in the church today, because we see plenty of zeal for other things. People are zealous about their sports teams, zealous about making money, and even zealous about hobbies, but when it comes to the work of the Lord, we are often bland--a mere flicker of light in a dark world.

I believe it was D.L. Moody who told preachers: "Set yourself on fire, and the world will come to watch you burn." What great advice for all believers. Passion is contagious. Live for Jesus with a passion and a zeal and you will be sure to attract others.

This week, let me encourage you to examine your life for areas where you can be more passionate for the Lord.

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