Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How are the people (you and I) to prepare?

We know we are to wait on the Lord... the Bible tells us that numerous times.  We are even told that we will be blessed for waiting (Isa. 30:18)... but what are we to do in the meantime?

Matthew 25:1-13 is the Parable of the ten virgins. These virgins are attendants to the bride. In the Jewish culture, the attendants "served the bride by helping her prepare, watching for the return of the bridegroom and sharing the joy of the wedding feast."  When you read the parable, you will see that 5 have oil for their lamps and their wicks are trimmed.. they are ready for the bridegroom. The other 5 are not ready and when the bridegroom calls they have to run to find oil and end up missing the bridegroom.

The lesson, obviously, is that we are to be ready for the bridegroom's return. The key is to actually have a relationship with the bridegroom, Jesus.  If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you are not going to be glad for His return. I would urge everyone reading to make sure they have that personal relationship with Jesus.  Here is a great way to know that... http://web.mac.com/cwbc/Country_Woods/FAITH_.html  

If you do have a relationship with Jesus, then you are to prepare for His return. The parable in Matthew 25 shows that "Christ assigns us personal responsibility to help prepare the bride for His coming."

So again the question is how do we prepare? By being about our Father's business.

From Genesis to Revelation, God has written us a guide book of love letters. We are to spend time daily in the Word and in prayer developing our relationship with Christ and as we do this, we will learn all we are to be doing. Things like...

Watch and Pray (Matt. 26:41)
Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5)
Be my witnesses (Acts 1:8)
Go and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20)
Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Prov. 3:5)

and so much more. But lest you feel overwhelmed, we are never told to do any of this on our own and in our own strength. In fact, God promises:

"I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13

"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

Get in the Word... Seek Him (He promises to be found see Jer. 29:13-14)... Ask God to show you what He has for you to do (Eph. 2:10) and to give you all you need to do it... and then walk in Faith trusting Him to do just that!

"Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts." Isa. 26:8

Lord, that You that we aren't to just sit here and wait. You have things for us to do.. good works.. kingdom work.. purpose. Draw each of us into Your Word and into a state of listening to hear what You have for us to do and then give us the courage to do it! Thank You for not sending us out in our own strength and abilities, for we would surely fail. Thank you for giving us all we need.  We praise You Lord for your first arrival on earth and look with excitement towards Your return. Haste the day, Lord, haste the day! Amen.

Monday, December 6, 2010

When Will He Get Here?

Throughout the Old Testament there are Scriptures which ask When Oh Lord.. How Long Oh Lord... the Israelites were anxious for their king to arrive with His might and power to rule and reign.  I find it interesting that God tells them through prophecy where He will arrive and even details of how, but He never says when.

Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Isa. 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

We know Jesus did come... born of a virgin in the City of David, Bethlehem. And we know He is coming back. That is our Advent. And like the first coming, God tells us some of the details, but not when... at least not exactly,

You can read the books of Revelation and passages likes Matthew 24 and learn a great deal about the Second Coming of our Lord, but no time stamp is given. We know He will not return until the Time of the Gentiles is fulfilled (Luke 21:24)... Jesus made it clear that He did not know the time, that the angels do not know.. only God the Father knows... 

Matt. 24:36 "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

But we do know one thing about the time.. it is SOON.. Jesus says so in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible.. in fact, the last words in red.. the last recorded spoken words of Jesus... say He is coming back soon.

Rev. 22:7 “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”
Rev. 22:12 "Look, I am coming soon!"
Rev. 22:20 "He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.'"

Now that soon is translated quickly in some versions of the Bible and there are those who think it indicates that when Jesus comes it will be quick. After studying the book of Revelation and other end time prophecy, I would agree with that. But I also think Soon fits. I believe that from Gods perspective the time is short.. Jesus will return soon.. no matter how long it might be to us. Keep in mind that "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (2 Peter 3:8)  God's perspective on time is grander than ours. He sees ALL of eternity... we see a small finite piece.  

No matter how you view it, we are to be watching and waiting and to be ready!  (We will talk about that more tomorrow.)

Lord, Ready our hearts... give us eternal eyes to see that the time is short... may we focus on You and live in the expectation of Your return. Even now, Lord, with all the hustle and bustle in our lives... with all we "have" to do... may our hearts be draw more and more to you so that we can say with all our hearts, not just our lips, "Amen, Lord Jesus, Come!"

Friday, December 3, 2010

Who Awaits Him?

We know that Advent is a time of anticipating an arrival.  We talked yesterday about who is coming... Jesus. Today we look at Who Awaits Him?

In the Old Testament days it was the Israelites, God's chosen people. They were waiting for their King to come and avenge them and take control of the World.  A strong and mighty ruler. Throughout the Psalms you can read the cries of God's chosen people... "How long, Lord, how long!?" The thing is He did come.. but not in a way they expected or, honestly, wanted. He came as a baby and grew to be a servant.  

Today there are still Jews waiting for their King to come.. for the first time. And He is coming, we saw that yesterday. And this time He will be that ruler King they have been looking for... and the Bible tells us there will be Jews who survive to the end and receive the promised inheritance from God. After all, He always keeps His promises .... the New Covenant.. did not do away with the Old Covenant.

There are others awaiting Jesus too.... or there should be.... the Church. We know Jesus is coming again and we need to be waiting.. watching... anticipating... making ourselves ready for His return. This is the final Advent... the time of expectancy that will lead up to His final victorious return!

"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." Heb. 9:28

So the question I have for myself is "Am I awaiting Him?"  I mean, I know He is returning, but do I live like I know that? Am I expecting it... anticipating it.. excited about it.. longing for it? And if the answer to any of those is not really... then why not! It is so easy to become "use" to this world... our norm... to forget that this is not all there is, this is NOT our real home.  We need to turn our hearts and our focus to Jesus.... to watch for Him... pray for His return... make the Bride ready for her Bridegroom. He IS coming... SOON!

"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." Ps. 27:14

Lord, Stir within the heart of every Child of yours a desire for Jesus' return... a desire to be with you. Help us be about Your work... making ready the Bride of Christ.  Let us not be like the virgins in the parable who have no oil... may our lamp be full with the overflowing of the Holy Spirit within us.  And may we point others to You during this time.  May our excitement and anticipation be contagious!  Amen.

Phil Wickham is a wonderful Christian singer. He was a song called "Your Arrival". If you search YouTube, you can listen to one of several live recordings. It is also available through iTunes.

The lyrics, to me, are powerful and should be the heart cry of every Believer:

Here in the final hour
Hope lifts the tired eyes
Here now we are waiting
For You to arrive

Great things are set in motion
The sky breaks with a trumpet's sound
You call all Your children
To meet You in the clouds

We are waiting
Your arrival, Your arrival
Voices raising
Your arrival, Your arrival

We'll keep the candle burning
We'll watch for every sign
Here now we are waiting
For You to arrive

Great things about to happen
Lord let your kingdom come
And call us home to Heaven
The city of our God

Haste the day!

We are waiting
Your arrival, Your arrival

Voices raising
Your arrival, Your arrival

This is our song
Wherever You are
Is where we belong, oh Lord

We wanna be with You!

We are waiting
Your arrival, Your arrival

Voices raising
Your arrival, Your arrival

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Who is Coming?

The first question from yesterday's thoughts on Advent is "Who is coming?" Jesus, right?

But WHO is Jesus?  The Son of God... Messiah... Christ... Prince of Peace... Wonderful Counselor... and so much more. 

Do you ever stop and meditate on WHO Jesus is or do you, like me, often take it for granted? I was blessed to be born into a Christian family... reared in church... saved at a fairly young age... I often say that I cannot remember a time that I did not know God loved me and Jesus died for me. That is great... but sadly it can lead to a familiarity that breeds apathy... complacency. It helps to step back and really look at WHO Jesus is.

One of my favorite names for Jesus is Emmanuel which means God with us.  Do you realize that Jesus was not.. is not.. just a person. Yes, he was a real living breathing human being who walked this earth... but he was and is also God... full deity... full humanity... in 1.  How can that be? I have no idea and do not try to figure it out. God is God and I am not.. His ways are not my ways.. they are higher and greater (Isa. 55:8-9). But I do know it is true.

Phil. 2:6-7 "Who (Jesus), being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."

WOW! Can you even imagine! Here Jesus was in heaven... God... creator of all... and yet He willingly came to earth to be human... and not just any human... a baby born in a manger... not a king in a palace. He was born of low estate... insignificant, as far as the world was concerned... the son of a carpenter and his teenage bride.

And not only that... Phil. 2:8-9 "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!"

He willingly came to earth knowing He would die a horrible death... the worst of all deaths... so that we would have the chance to live with God forever. He took on our sins.. all the sins that ever were and ever will be ... He became them... paying the sin debt for all humanity for all time.

That is who Israel as waiting for 2000+ years ago... and that is who we wait for today. Oh he came that first time... in Bethlehem.. in a manger... and He died and rose again and then ascended to heaven, but He is coming back... most assuredly.. without a doubt!

John 14:2-3 "My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

Rev. 22:20 "He (Jesus) who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.'"

I don't know about you, but knowing that I say with John... "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."

Jesus... it is so easy to become complacent about You and who You are.  Bring new revelation... new excitement... new anticipation... for You and Your return.  We know that You do not tarry to make us wait... to draw it out... the Father wants everyone to come to a saving knowledge of You and so He continues to provide the time for that to happen. May those who do not know You, be drawn to You during this Christmas season. May the Holy Spirit do His work and tender hearts ... prepare them... to hear about You and may we, who know You, do our part and speak with boldness and love sharing the Good News of the Season to all we meet. Yes, Lord, You are coming again.. and coming soon... may we be about Your business... Amen, Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


The time leading up to Christmas is called Advent in the church. The 2010 Advent season began this past Sunday, November 28.  Some have Advent wreaths and candles. They will light 1 candle each week (some even do so daily) and read an Advent devotion and/or scripture. In fact, many churches have Advent services. 

So what is Advent? Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus which means the approach or the arrival. The verb form is Adveno which means I arrive, I come or I am coming.  

Advent is a time of awaiting an arrival... a time of expectancy.

In his book, Preparing for Jesus, Walter Wangerin, Jr. asks 4 questions as we enter into this season of Advent.

"Who is coming?
"Who awaits him?"
"When will he get here?"
"How shall the people prepare?"

The answers seem obvious... Jesus is the one coming, the Church awaits him, no one but God the Father knows when He will get here, and until He does we are to live our lives in obedience to His Word glorifying Him.

Pretty simple and straightforward, right? Well.. it is.. and it isn't. There is just so much more to it all. It is worth our time to dig in and really see WHO is coming.. who  Jesus is... to see who is really awaiting Him, are you? am I? Can we know when He will get here? and what is it we are to do... specifically... to prepare for His arrival.

As we begin this season of Advent.. of waiting.. of expectancy.. I thought we could look a bit at those questions and see what the Word tells us.  Over the next few days we will ponder each question and let the Spirit show us the answers.

In the meantime... let us pray for a sense of anticipation... of expectancy... of excitement to build within each of us concerning the coming of Christ.

Lord, The Christmas season has begun here. People are shopping and decorating and cooking and making ready for friends and family and fun. All of those are good. But there is a great event on the horizon.  We live in a season of Advent awaiting the coming of Christ as Victorious King.  May we be filled with wonder and awe and anxious expectation at that truth. As we sing about and read about the birth of Christ may our hearts be stirred at the awesomeness of that babe in a manger who came to save us and the knowledge that He is going to return.. soon!  May we say with the Psalmist "I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning."  (Ps. 130:5-6)

"God is coming! God is coming! All the element we swim in, this existence, echoes ahead the advent. God is coming!  Can't you feel it?" -- Walter Wangerin, Jr.