There is a meeting waiting for us when Jesus returns! Are you living life in view of that fact? He’s coming again soon, but that means a whole lot for us now while we’re waiting. What decisions do we have to make so that you’re looking forward to that meeting.
This is the last sermon of 2014!
It has been a great year! We’ve had children born or adopted into families, new families have started, singles have had new opportunities, people have been born again into God’s Kingdom. We’ve given and given and given again to missions, needs in our own community, with outreaches galore. Thank you everyone who had a part in making that happen from a human standpoint and thank you Lord for doing the real work.
Before we were married, Robin and I were apart most of the time. We went to different colleges, I was in Syracuse and Robin was here in Brockport. Yes, we would write and talk occasionally on the pay phone, but for the most part we weren’t face to face. On occasions, we were able to be with each other. The anticipation was off the charts. There would be planning, for sure, but the great feature of our soon to see each other event was the anticipation. We would be getting stuff out of the way so we wouldn’t be distracted when we were together. There was this focus that would affect our behavior, even though we weren’t together just yet.
In that same way, we anticipate what’s coming in the future with the Lord Jesus’ return.
Here’s our text for today:
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
The coming of the Lord is “at hand” or is getting close. Can you feel it? What will it be like?
Here’s what the angel said to the disciples when Jesus left, or ascended…
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
And yet another description:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will 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.
So what do we do in the mean time?
Establish your hearts; James 5:8. It means to make your heart steady and stable and strong.
How do you make something stable? Start with good material, have a great design and reinforce the good material with other good materials.
The tree fort my cousins and I made when we were kids isn’t around any more. The Plummer’s live in a house that was originally constructed in 1941, many years before I was born. The difference? Good materials, a great design and reinforcements.
That’s the command from the Lord Jesus. Establish your hearts. Because your heart is the most important part of you and He is coming back soon. So how do we do this on a practical level?
1. Prioritize your life like He’s coming back tomorrow.
It’s one thing to know that He’s coming back. It’s another to know that the deadline is tomorrow. What are many college students doing the night before an exam? Cramming, or typing that paper. We act differently when we know something is going to happen tomorrow. I tell the folks in the office, “give me a deadline if you want something to be done at a certain time”, because I’m like most of you, I get distracted unless there’s a looming deadline.
2. Consider what that meeting will be like.
There’s going to be a meeting. So how will you prepare for that meeting? You normally conform your behavior to the pleasure of the one you’re meeting.
So years ago, I worked for a tree care company, a national one, that had a local Rochester office. We would do about anything that needed to be done with a tree. Save it or remove it, prune it or feed it, we were there. There were certain safety standards and equipment that we were expected to keep and use at all times. But as experience grew and time went on, we would cut some corners or neglect some equipment. Most of the time we would wear a hard hat, most of the time we wore safety goggles, etc. But twice a year we would get word that the company Safety Officer was going to make a “surprise” visit. So what would we all do on that day? Every moment we wore our safety gear. We were the model crew, doing everything by the book. Why? Because a meeting was going to happen and you really didn’t want the boss’ boss finding out you were cutting corners.
3. Consider that this particular meeting will end your earthly life.
When He returns, you won’t be able to access your accounts at an ATM, or go back to your house, or drive your car, wash your car or change the oil in your car. But how you use those things, steward those things, will matter very much. When He returns you can’t return, but you’ll move on to another life.
4. Consider that there will be struggles, difficulties that you’ll have to endure until that meeting.
Like the prophets of old, you’ll have to suffer some and be patient about it.
My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
Do you ever envy the prophets? Those guys had a tough assignment! Jeremiah to John the Baptist, there was trouble waiting for them. Yet they handled it and were faithful through it. Now for you it may not be outward persecution for delivering the Word of God, but you will have trouble of varying sorts and of varying severity. I hope you’re not of the mindset that if Jesus is real then everything goes along smoothly with no trouble. Trouble is meant to strengthen our focus on Him in anticipation of the great meeting.
So how will you live now?
What are the priorities you’ll change and how will you live in those priorities?
What will the bulk of your planning for the year to come include?
You’ll be at least mentally making New Year’s Resolutions soon. What should they be?
Your focus will change, for the better, if you establish your hearts knowing that the coming of the Lord is at hand.