Monday, February 28, 2011

Two More Days

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Mathew 26:1-2).

Imagine what it was like for Jesus to know he only had two more days until he faced the Romans soldiers. Yet he did not turn back. He still went about his father’s business. He is our example.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Practical Kingdom

Jesus said he will reward us for feeding the hungry, providing a drink to someone who is thirsty and providing clothes to those who are in need. We are to visit the sick, visit the jails, provide lodging for the homeless (Mt 25:34-41).

There is not enough time for us to do all these things as individuals. But if we work as a unit, each doing something, we are able to do it all. In our towns we have multiple opportunities to assist. Donate to a food pantry. Give money or volunteer at a shelter. Donate coats, sweaters, clothing at a share the warmth event. Support your local jail ministry.

There is much we can do to glorify God in a practical way.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Before the World was Made

When Jesus returns he will say to us, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mathew 25:34).

Notice he said his kingdom was prepared for us from the foundation of the World. God has always planned for you, not only in this life, but in the life to come. You have been reconciled to God because of Jesus blood. If God called you to himself while you were still in rebellion against him, do you honestly think he is going to reject you now? (Romans 5:6-11).

Be encouraged he has a place already prepared for you. Now that is exciting news!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sheep and Goats

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left” (Mt 25:31-33).

And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou was slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev 5:9).

God has a people he has gathered from every nation, every dialect, every accent, every culture throughout all time. And we are privileged to be a part of the vast body of Christ (Romans 12:45; Eph 4:16).

We are not his people because we belong to a certain race. We are his people because we are washed in the blood of the lamb and he has called us to himself. By his grace we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-10; Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Conducting His Business

Jesus tells us how to conduct business until his return (Mathew 25:14-19). He gives to each of us the amount he knows we can handle (15). We are then responsible to use it wisely. When Christ returns we will each give an answer for how we used what he gave to us (Mt 25:19-29).

That is why we don’t pack our bags and wait in tents on a mountain somewhere. We live in a balance of being ready for his return at any moment and conducting his business until he comes (Luke 19:13).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ten Bridesmaids

A bride asked ten of her friends to be bridesmaids. There were shopping trips, breakfasts at Starbucks, laughing, giggling and general fun. This was not to be an ordinary wedding. The groom had courted and wooed the bride for years. He wanted the world to know he was marrying the most wonderful women in the world. Being rich, money was no object in the planning of the event.

On the day of the wedding the bride would be waiting in a beautiful home nestled in a lush garden. The groom was going to come to her in a procession of white stallions with his groomsmen. The job of the bridesmaids was to wait at the garden gate and as soon as they heard the playing of trumpets and the cheering of the crowds, they were to run and tell the bride that the groom was coming.

The day arrived and the bridesmaids gathered early in the morning with hot Starbucks’ coffee and sweet roles. But the day wore on and the bridegroom did not come. At noon five of the bridesmaids opened lunch baskets but five didn’t come prepared for such a long wait. “We’ll be right back,” they said as they headed into town to buy a sandwich. But when they returned they found the gate locked. The guard would not allow them in and they missed the entire wedding.

Jesus said even if we have to wait a lifetime, we remain ready for his coming (Mt 25:1-13).

Friday, February 18, 2011

An Ignorant Forman

Jesus gives us several illustrations about the suddenness of his return. In the first one he refers to the condition of the culture. People will be living normal lives. They will be going out to dinner, becoming engaged, marrying, and having children (Mt 24:38). The people will be completely unaware that they are about to give an answer to God.

Just before Christ’s return business will be conducted normally; Christians working alongside non-believers. Then suddenly the believer will be gone. Jesus said even the believers will be surprised at his coming (Mt 24:44).

The second illustration Jesus uses is the faithful and wise servant versus the unwise servant. The latter becomes discouraged because his ancestors have always talked about Christ’s return, but it has never happened. He becomes convinced that it will not happen in his lifetime. As a result he becomes careless, treating fellow servants with distain and to behave as though he does not have to give an answer to anyone. His end is not a pretty one (Mt 24:45-51).

If we live in a state of being ready, we don’t really have to know the day of his coming (Mt 24:44).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Exact Time

Jesus said only the Father knows the date and hour of Christ’s return (Mt 24:36). It is exciting that God has a set date and an hour for this to happen. He has planned the very moment that we will see him in all his glory!

I can hardly wait (Mt 24:42).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Great Clouds

Jesus said, “Then the Son of Man shall 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” (Mt 24:30-31).

The sequence or details are not all clear, but we do know this much: 1) Every person will be judged (Jn 5:28-29) 2) Every believer will give an account for his actions (Romans 14:10-11) 3) We do not need to fear for we are accepted in his grace (1 Jn 2:28; Eph 1:6-7) 4) We will not be condemned (Jn 5:24).

We can look forward to his return. Today is a cloudy day. Let it remind you that Christ is returning (Acts 1:9-11). Wouldn't it be great if it was today?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Raining Words

I do not pretend to be a prophetic expert so will not attempt to explain all that Jesus prophesied in Mat 24-25. We will look at nuggets interspersed throughout Jesus prophecy in these chapters.

In Mat 24:35, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will by no means pass away.” His words remind me of Isaiah’s prophecy. “As the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me voice, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

We can depend that God will accomplish what he needs to in the world and in our lives.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Spite of This

Jesus said in spite of persecution and in spite of false prophets the word would be preached among all nations. When that is accomplished, “the end will come” (Mt 24:9-14).

As we speak the news of salvation, we not only persuade others to follow Christ, we are part of preparing for Jesus’ return.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

An End Time Promise

In the middle of warnings about difficult times, Jesus gives us this promise. “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mt 24:13).

It is difficult to stand for truth when you are surrounded by those who disagree with you, much less when your life is on the line. But we do not stand in our own strength. We do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). And no matter what happens to our bodies we are MORE than conquerors through Christ who loves us (Rom 8:36-37).

Persecution and difficult circumstances remind us that we are not citizens of this world. We are on temporary visas until God calls us home.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Christian Ease

Jesus said believers will be killed and will be hated by all nations because of him. This will result in many being offended and in turn betraying those they once cared about. This is followed by false prophets that will deceive many people. Jesus said the love of many will grow cold and we will be surrounded by lawlessness.

What could the false prophets offer that many would follow them? Could it be they are offering a life without trouble in contrast to a life of persecution? Do the false prophets emphasis our freedom in Christ to the point of annulling self discipline and self examination?

What exactly are we seeking? (Mt 24:9-14)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wars and Rumors

Jesus told us there would be wars and rumors of wars. He told us not to be frightened by the news because these things must come to pass. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” He said there would be famine, pestilences (plagues) and earthquakes. He said these things are the beginning of sorrows (Mt 24:4-8).

This is certainly not good news and is naturally frightening. Why then would he tell us not to be troubled? (Mt 24:6).

Look at his words again, “See that you are not troubled; (why?) because these things must come to pass.” In other words, “Don’t be afraid because I have ordained certain things to happen. If they affect you, I will still be with you. I will never leave you alone” (Mt 28:20; John 14:18).

When we understand that God has given us life (Job 12:10, 34:14-15; Acts 17:25) we know our life is in his hands. We are his servants, friends, and children. He sends us where he wills and makes us able to stand firm in him no matter the circumstance. ( Rom 14:4; Eph 6:6; John 15:14; 1 John 3:2). While God is using us to reach others on the earth, he is also preparing us for our eternal responsibilities (1 John 3:2; 2 Tim 2:12; Ps 91:5-12).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Signs and Wonders

We come to another lengthy passage of Jesus speaking of what will come to pass in the last days. One of the signs that the end is drawing near is an increase in false prophets. It will surprise many to find out that the false prophets will be able to perform signs and wonders (Mt 24:5, 23-25).

Jesus told the disciples “…And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them: they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mk 16:15-18).

So, how do we tell the difference?

Look carefully at Jesus’ warning in Mathew 24. False prophets and teachers claim to have the power in themselves (“I am the Christ”), or claim that others have the power (“Look, here is the Christ!”). But Jesus said in Mathew 28 to make disciples , “teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you…”

Signs and wonders that are from God point only to God, never to the person and always come with instructions to follow all Jesus taught.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Solomon's Temple

God directed Solomon’s building of the temple. It took forty-six years to build the breathtaking edifice (John 2:20). It was filled with warm smelling cedar, polished gold and silver. The tapestries were made of crimson reds, royal blues and golds. The artwork in the filigree was intricate. Every part was created to inspire worship of the Most Holy God (1 and 2nd Kings, Exodus 25).

Yet when the Disciples pointed out to Jesus the beauty of the temple, he responded, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Mt 24:2).

Sometimes even things that God originally directed to be done, he causes to come to an end.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pointing Fingers

God sent many prophets, wise men and scribes to teach men about him. But, those whose hearts were more interested in being powerful than in service, persecuted and killed God’s messengers. Jesus said those who persecute one of his messengers are guilty of the blood of ALL his messengers (Mt 23:13-36).

Keeping this in mind, Paul’s warning becomes especially poignant. “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses” (1 Tim 5:19).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tied Up in Religious Knots

Because the Pharisees’ goal was to be seen by men their behavior became increasingly strange. They made up bizarre rules like how to swear, which swear was binding, which meant nothing. They complicated the meaning of righteousness to such an extent that new converts became just as much in bondage as they were. They looked religious and holy on the outside, but their insides were a mass of binding rules and regulations (Mt 23:13-22).

Remember, "We are saved through faith" (Romans 5:1) and "If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Romans 5:10).

Let's take a couple of deep breathes and relax.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Servant Mentality

Being a servant takes the pressure off. We do what our master tells us to do. We are not held responsible for the outcome because we are simply doing what we are told.

There is no need for competition since we all serve one another. We do what is best for the person whom we serve. We esteem everyone equal or greater than us therefore we have no need to be jealous or envious of another’s task.

I am not striving to be the president of the United States, so why would I feel covetous of his position. So if I am doing the task my master has assigned to me, I have no need to be envious of another servant’s task (Mathew 23:11-12).