Unexpected

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, NLT)

It will be one of the two most unexpected moments in history.

The moment has been on my heart lately, and I have been burdened with its heaviness.  I’ve been waking up at night thinking not about its galaxy-crumbling effects, but its effect on me.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

I remember as a child hearing this question.  I thought of it as a ploy or a threat to try to push people into salvation.  The question itself can certainly be misused, but I see now it has nothing to do with trickery or force.  It is a question of the gravest concern.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

Gravity does not hold this world together, nor molecules; it is the Son of God.  Kingdoms will crumble at His Word.  Nations rise and fall on His time.  No one rises in power who does not rely on the breath of God that filled Adam’s lungs thousands of years ago, the breath of Life.

How am I using that breath of Life?  I will answer for it.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

I don’t want to be caught dabbling in sin when the King of kings returns.  What do I want to have done on my last day on earth?  I want to have served Jesus with everything I have.  No second wasted, no ill thought, no moment of inaction, no whiff of sin.  That’s what I want my last day on earth to look like, not because God needs my service but because I love Him so!

I was the dirty, naked, wounded, bankrupt beggar who Christ washed, clothed and healed.  He has taught me to cup my hands and filled them with His treasures.  He has lavished His jewels upon me like an honored daughter.  Around my neck I wear the pendant of His love.  He decorates my head with a band of grace.  He fills my arms with bracelets of His value for me.  He wraps my ankles in His kindness.  He places in my ears rings of devotion.  He slides the ring of purpose on my finger.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

I do not want to be found wandering the streets, or in worthless gossip, or wasting my time buying cheap jewelry when there is no room for them among the jewels God has placed upon me.  I do not want to be found halfheartedly telling a few people I meet of the kindness of God.  I do not want to be found harboring Satan’s bitterness among God’s treasures.  I do not want to be caught in anything but wholehearted devotion to Him.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

Every moment could be my last.  If Christ does not return in my lifetime, I will most certainly die.  I will see His face one day.  I will see the head that was once crowned with the thorns of my heart.  I will look upon the face that was struck for my sin.  I will see the hands that hung for my shame, the feet that tore for my sake.

I want Him to see a servant who did not forget the Gift.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

I know my Savior, and I ache to be holy for Him.  I long to sin no more.  One day, I will be made new, and I will look as someone who belongs in the clothes and jewels He has bestowed upon me.  This is grace beyond the realm of grace ever known among mortals or angels.  Everlasting grace, perfect grace, holy grace.

But what about until then?  Do I sit like a spoiled, thankless child and wait for Him to give me more gifts?  Oh, by God’s grace, I pray never again.

Am I ready for Christ to come?

Christ’s return will be unexpected.  It will be one of the two most unexpected event in the history of the earth: the Resurrection and the Return.  The Resurrection has happened.  The Return is held back only by the patience of God, that you and I might be ready.

Are you ready for Christ to come?

Do you know Him?  If not, you will face Him as a criminal faces a King.  There will be one trial, and no second chances.  The sentence will be permanent.  Everlasting.

God is waiting, waiting for us.  But He won’t wait forever.  One day, the door will be locked.  Whether that is through His return or your death, one day the door will be locked.  There will be no way in.

The Way is open now.  Receive Him before it is too late.  Bow before the Maker of the world, the Maker of you, the Maker of salvation, the Maker of redemption.  Is He the Maker of your salvation, your redemption?  Only you and God know the answer to that.

Salvation is not only a prayer.  It is a belief.  It is a bowing down before the one and only God and reaching for His mercy scepter.  He has only one mercy scepter, and it is held in the hand of Christ Jesus.  Would you not receive His mercy?  Would you not hold out your heart, to be pardoned by the mercy of His death on the cross?  Would you deny yourself His everlasting love?

Christ is coming back.  It will be unexpected.  It will be the worst moment in history for those who serve a different king.  It will be more frightening for them than I can put in words.  God’s heart longs that no one should experience this everlasting terror.  But He will not hold back His Kingdom forever.  Justice must come.  And justice must rule.

It will be one of the two best moments in history for those who know Him as their God.  I am sure there will be unspeakable fright in seeing the Heavens torn open and the Son of God descending.  And I am sure there will be an unimaginable terror as they see, once and for all, how unworthy we all really are of His love.

But there will be utter adoration and incredulous joy when Jesus calls those people His children.  It goes back to the other best moment in the history of those who know Him as their God.  The moment in which Christ rose up from the grave as the undefeated King of all, holding the keys of death and Hell in His nail-scarred hand.

This same God who rips open the skies and shakes the foundations of the earth with His trumpet call, this same God who casts into Hell sinners who have refused His payment for their debt, is the very same God who opened His hands for nails to be driven in, who knelt chained before the flogger’s whip, who offered His face to be spit upon for the payment of our debt.

This is the God we will all face, whether by death or His return, and we must all ask ourselves,

Am I ready to stand in His judgment hall?  Am I ready to look upon His face?

If Jesus is not your King, and your heart is longing to be right with God’s Son, cry out to Him.  He is waiting to hold His mercy scepter out to you.  He came to earth for the purpose of saving you, to the glory of God, because God glories in sinners running to Him.  What does this say about God?  By His very nature He is so kind, so merciful, that He glories in sinners running to Him.

Here is a prayer if you want Him to be your King right now.  Remember the prayer must be from a heart of belief, not recitation.

Jesus,

I want You to be my King.  I’m scared because I don’t want to stand before You with my sin.  I need Your mercy.  Please pour Your sacrifice over me.  I want Your death to count for me.  I want You to raise me up in Your resurrection.  Help me to be Your servant.  Teach me through Your Word, the Bible, and let me be like a little child listening with an open heart to the most beloved Teacher.  Bring me to meet Your servants and find friendship with them.  Bring me to wise servants who can mentor me and a trusted servant who can pastor me.  Show me what You want from Your new servant.

In the Name of my King, Jesus,

Amen.

If Jesus is already your King, would you take up this commitment with me?

King Jesus,

Forgive me for so many times living like a lazy servant or acting like a servant who serves another king.  I can’t live this way.  My heart’s desire is to be faithful to You.  I want to stand before You and kneel at Your throne knowing I have served my King, not that I have squandered my precious hours in Your fields.  Jesus, I can’t even be a servant without Your grace.  Teach me how to be a good and faithful servant.  Give me the courage and love to serve You to my utmost.

In Your Name, by Your Gift,

Amen.

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus; the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

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Jesus Is Coming

Jesus, the One who says these things are true, says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20, NCV)

Does the Bible work like a crystal ball?

Many people have made predictions about the future . . . which have turned out to be totally wrong.

If I predict something that does not come to happen, I have God to answer to:

If the prophet speaks in the LORD’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the LORD did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared. (Deuteronomy 18:22, NLT)

Time and time again, people professing Christianity have made outrageous claims about things that would happen right away . . .  that haven’t happened at all.

Some of these people are abusing the name of Christianity for purposes of power and wealth as they make their futuristic forecasts.  Others, though, are Christians who have gotten tangled up in a longing for more authority than we actually have.  Christ  gives us a big hint about predicting the end of the world when He tells us:
“But as to that day or the exact time no one knows–not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Mark 13:32)

Although we might not be meaning to, when we try to put a year or a day on Christ’s return, we are really trying to usurp God.   If Christ tells us

no one knows

then no one knows.

This isn’t to say that we will know nothing about the Second Coming until it happens.  Christ gives us prophetic words through Himself, in Revelation, and in Old Testament prophesies as well.  But these prophesies are to get us ready for God, not so we can so can let God know when we’re ready for Him to come back!

It is one thing to say, “These national disasters we’ve having tell me we’re getting closer to the end”, and a whole other to say, “Christ will return at 3 p.m. on December 1 of 2010.”  God is loving, and He doesn’t want any of us to die without knowing Him (1 Peter 3:5), and so He tells us He will give us signs to warn us ahead of time.

But in another sense, we are all in the last hour, as Paul and Peter testify.  How can this be?  Because we are all going to die soon (within our lifetimes!) if Christ does not return.  And after we die, the moment we are resurrected will be the moment of Christ’s Second Coming!

We receive this eternal warning and hope from Jesus towards the end of the book of Revelation after inviting all who will to receive Him before it is too late:

“Yes, I am coming quickly!” (Jesus, quoted in Revelation 22:20-21, LEB)

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