“To Those Who Look for Him”
(Maintaining expectancy for Christ’s return in the busyness of life and ministry)
At Jesus’ first coming, only a few folks recognized Him. Even the religious leaders who knew the Law and Prophets were looking for a different messiah and crucified the real Messiah! Will it be different at His second coming? Jesus Himself asked, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Is there anything we can do so we don’t miss the Messiah when He returns as King in the clouds? Let’s look at a few instructions God gives in His Word.
Distractions and entanglements. Luke 12:35: “Let your waist be girded [belts tightened, ready for work] and your lamps burning: and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.”
Luke 21:34: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.”
Before Jesus left He put the work into our hands. Our Master has not yet returned. It is not yet time to relax (loosen your belt). Many Christians neglect HIS work to pursue THEIR own work. Many busily pursue and maintain things and stuff and social connections and are oblivious that their jug of extra oil is empty! Our lamps must be burning. This requires the “bother” of carrying a jug of extra oil. The only way to fill that jug is to sit at Jesus’ feet. In our society’s pursuit of money, pleasures, and honor from men, sitting at Jesus’ feet seems bothersome at the least and wasteful at the most. The Good Seed will be choked out if we don’t ruthlessly remove things that compete for our heart space. How are you and I doing? How many hours of screen time do you average daily? Am I purposeful in my social contacts, or just blowing the breeze? How many hours of Bible reading/study and prayer do I invest each day? For what are you and I exchanging the moments of our lives? When we faithfully do what we know the Master wants us to do, we look forward to His promised return with joyful anticipation!
Choose carefully where you invest. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When teaching about His return, Jesus told us to “remember Lot’s wife.” Her treasure was in Sodom—all her accumulated wealth, her nice house, most of her family. The instructions came from God, “Flee to the mountain and don’t look back!” She sneaked one backward look and instantly became a statue of salt! Her heart was still in Sodom, and her one disobedience revealed where her heart truly was.
If your treasure is in Heaven, the Trumpet call will be a joyous final call to catch up to where your heart already is. If your treasure is on earth, the Trumpet blast will be an annoying interruption to you, like Lot’s wife felt about fleeing Sodom. But, someone might argue, one can hardly blame Lot’s wife for turning around, when she left some of her children (and grandchildren?) back in Sodom. Wasn’t it right for her to be concerned for the welfare of her family? This is why Jesus made the terms of discipleship crystal clear: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). Where are our treasures? Wherever we’ve stored them, there our hearts are. And where our hearts are will be clearly manifested when the Trumpet blows!
Don’t get offended. The Biblical term “offend” means to cause to stumble, with the idea of giving up or turning back. Describing the end days, Jesus said, “You will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” According to Matthew 10:21, family members will betray their own family members to death! In the days before Jesus’ return, it’s no wonder that many will give up. Intense persecution plus betrayal by family members will cause many to give up and grow bitter!
But there is a promise! God’s Word says, “…and nothing shall offend them.” Nothing will cause them to stumble, give up, or turn back. That promise is as good in the final week before Jesus returns as right now. What is the condition of this promise? Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” The key is loving God’s law, loving God’s Word, loving Jesus Christ the living Word! If I love anything—my spouse, my children, my stuff, my ministry, my health, etc, more than I love Jesus Christ, then Satan has a hold to drag me back and cause me to stumble. But if we love Jesus more than anything and everything and everybody, then Satan has no place to hook us and cause us to stumble!
Exhort one another daily. God commanded us to do this daily so that we are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Sin conditions us to consider it common, less than serious. But its wages are still death. Proverbs declares, “Though hand joins in hand, the wicked will not go unpunished.” Though the whole world unites in wickedness and agrees that righteousness is obsolete, that doesn’t change God’s Law or His judgment for breaking that Law. This world pressures us constantly! We must push back, or we will be pushed downstream by the strong, steady current of anti-Christ, anti-Biblical philosophy of this world. Often the greatest pressure to compromise Biblical obedience is from those who claim to follow Christ but have traded obedience for creeds and holiness for social improvement. To push back we must speak out, encourage, challenge, and even rebuke (Eph.5:11). One excellent way to speak out, recommended in the Bible, is to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs – Ephesians 5:19. Singing about Heaven shouldn’t be reserved for funerals. It should be part of our spiritual diet. Another excellent way to remind ourselves that we’re only sojourners is to always use the phrase, “Lord willing, I will do this or that…” Every time we hear or say these words it reminds us that we are not in ultimate control of our lives and that it’s very possible that we may meet God before the planned event takes place.
Though we’re often unaware of it, God is always the initiator in our relationship with Him. As the adoring Bride says to her Groom in Canticles 1:4, “Draw me away…” The Final Day approaches! God is sovereign in total control and we are possessors, by His design, of a free will. Let these two meet as we sit at His feet, gazing into His face with total devotion like Mary, and earnestly whisper, “Draw me away!”
Ah! That Wedding Day! Come, Lord Jesus!