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When Christ Returns to Take Us Home

Posted on June 25, 2018 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:27-28

Today our focus is on the return of Christ. It is a factual future event, although nobody knows when. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)

Biblical scholars like to debate the order of end things; Rapture, Second Coming, Thousand Year Reign, Judgment(s), etc.

Years ago when my oldest son was little, he was invited to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Janet and I were also asked to join the celebration. While the kids played, and the mothers supervised, the fathers sat at the table and tried to talk over the noise. That’s when I was accosted with the strangest conversation starter — ever. “Are you a dispensationalist and what is your position on the end time?

Now, I had only been attending Southeastern Bible College for a short time and had no idea how to answer his question. So I nodded my head and smiled as if carefully considering my answer. Just as I was about to say, “I think I heard my wife calling me,” he proudly announced he was an Amillennialist, which rejects the view that Jesus will have a literal thousand year reign as addressed in Revelation Chapter 20.

Eventually, my studies at Southeastern Bible College and Samford University introduced me to that concept and other views of how God will wrap up things on this earth and establish His forever plan for believers in heaven with Him.

Premillennialists hold that the thousand year reign will be preceded by the Second Coming. The Postmillennial camp expects the Millennial Reign of Christ to precede the Second Coming.

In fact, there are so many views about how the end will come together it can make your head spin. So I’m not going to deal with theory. I don’t mean to suggest it isn’t important, but The Forever Notebook is a devotional, and I want us to keep our eye on the prize. Keep the main thing the main thing. Jesus is coming again.

Like it says in our focus text: “… he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28)

Jesus’ first coming was to bear our sin, to die in our stead, and pay the penalty we deserve. His second earthly appearance will be to bring our salvation.

Consider the experience of the first disciples, heartbroken over the brutal execution of the One they had believed would save them. Then to learn He was alive, victorious over death. How amazing that must have been. Wouldn’t it have been exciting to have been there?

Acts 1 beautifully captures that breathtaking moment when Jesus ascended into heaven.

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11

As astounding as that sight of Jesus’ ascent must have been, His return will be even more breathtaking.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

I’ll close today’s devotion with these words from our Savior.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Revelation 22:20

For more on this topic, check out this article: Heaven is a Choice and Not Mandatory

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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The Day of the Lord Will Come, How to Prepare for the Lord’s Return

Posted on November 30, 2017 By In Encouragement , Religion With no comments

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives”

2 Peter 3:10-11

During the holidays, many of us host parties and meals for friends and family. These events generally come with a lot of preparation and expense. Cleaning, fixing, shopping, cooking, and decorating all make for some very hard work. But why? Why do we go to so much trouble for an event that will last for only a few hours?

It’s common for those of us getting ready to return home for a high school reunion to go through a makeover. Dieting, exercise, and new clothes are generally involved in our preparation. Then there’s all that meticulous planning that goes into weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays.

One reason for all the effort is we don’t want to look bad. We want to put ourselves in the best possible light. It’s important that we show our classmates from the past  we’re still looking youthful, and we are successful and prosperous.

For our guests, we want to show them how much they mean to us. Special people on special occasions give cause for celebration. Naturally, the importance of the event, or the status of the guest will determine the extent of the effort.

In today’s focus text, the Apostle Peter tells us about a special event that requires preparation like no other. And we must start preparing now. The earth, and life as we know it, is coming to a cataclysmic end.

Peter doesn’t give us a day or a time. Nor did the Lord who said, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  (Matthew 25:13)

As a pastor’s family living in the pastorium (church-owned home also called a parsonage), we remained on high alert for the white-glove test administered by one of the deacon’s wives. With two small boys, readiness was an extreme challenge. Come to think of it, I’m not sure there was anything we could have done to please that dear curious saint. But we did our best.

Readiness isn’t easy — but it is necessary. Effort is involved.

True enough, we are redeemed, saved by the precious blood of the Savior. But we still have a mandate to live “holy and godly lives.”

The picture Peter paints of “the day of the Lord” is one of destruction and mayhem. “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” There are many theories on how this annihilation will come. But no one really knows any more than we know the day or the hour. Again, the emphasis is on readiness.

If you are a Christian, this event is not something to dread, but something to look forward to — because believers will be spared. “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

Peter asks a question that all of us should ask ourselves every day. “What kind of people ought you to be?” What kind of person should you be?

Get ready for the biggest event of your life. The King is coming.

Are you ready to meet Him today? Have you dedicated your life to Jesus? If not, confess your sins and receive Him now. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

For more on the subject of eternal life and heaven, check out this article: The Lamb’s Book of Life

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.

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