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Waiting, Watching, and Ready

June 6th, 2018

Christ Will Come as He Promised.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”  Matthew 24:42

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Waiting, Watching, and Ready.”

Imagine issuing a grand invitation to many friends but when your invited guests arrived, they found you awkwardly unprepared. As your guests would feel less welcome, you would feel embarrassed. For some, Christ’s return for believers will be like that. Whether  prepared or not, He will return. And of that day, Jesus warned, “At the coming of the Son of Man, don’t let Him find you sleeping when He arrives without warning. What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch for My return. Read Mark 13:34-37. When Christ returns you will not go up then, unless you wake up now.

God’s Word promises that Christ will give, “a crown of righteousness . . to those who have loved His appearing” 2 Timothy 4:8. On that day, the issue will not be about any differences about theological projections of when Christ will return for Christians. When He does, Then the Angel will declare for all the world to hear, “There shall be time no longer.” Revelation 10:6. Whatever your understanding of the things surrounding Jesus’ return in the calendar of Biblical events, this is certain. Christ will come as He promised. Of this the Bible faithfully testifies.

The real issue is whether you and I will be ready, or surprised and unprepared. The essential answer to that is that at this moment of eternal consequence we are found trusting Christ alone for our salvation and eagerly anticipating His return. “So, Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin unto salvation” Hebrews 9:28.

Are you looking for Him with joyful anticipation? “When Christ Who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:4. Do not be careless or doubting. Because Christ has not yet come does not mean that He will not come. It only means that the day is that much closer. Any day and any time, our Savior and Lord will return for those who are ready when He appears. This is wise advice, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:42 NIV.

On that day, “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:42 NIV. What a day that will be. And that day will be as Heaven has promised for those who are prepared, as well as for those who were forewarned but not ready.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “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.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to be waiting, watching, and ready.

Christian Communications 2018

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Wait and See

October 4th, 2017

Patience Is the Posture of Waiting With Hope and Trust.

 “By your patience, possess your souls.” Luke 21:19 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Wait and See.”

Waiting is not my favorite pastime. I guess I always wanted the benefit of knowing the outcome of things. Many times in my youth, my Mom wisely advised me to, “just wait and see.” With the value of history and hindsight, she understood a simple principle that I did not. There are times when you must just be patient enough to wait and see. Urgently, we think we need to see, but God knows we need to wait and see. Paul explained this interim time in these words, “Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

In life, you will experience unforeseen challenges at inconvenient times. Don’t project today’s crisis onto your future. Sometimes you must be willing to wait and see. Successfully navigating such moments requires Godly optimism, with large amounts of patience. Waiting is never our preferred option. None of us enjoy waiting. Without perspective, waiting is challenging and stressful. Impatience is a common emotion in such moments.

There are times when the past as well as the present are less than clearly understood. So why then are we surprised when the future seems a bit obscure? Our impatience produces anxiety about things unforeseen. Life is a tension between what is and what yet will be. As I see it, the problem is that our knowledge is incomplete and our impatience is unsettling. While describing this tension, Paul directed us to hope. “Now we see things imperfectly, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

With God’s Word in your thoughts and hope in your heart, you can wait with anticipation and patience. Without hope, dread and anxiety will color your concerns for the unknown future. The Bible offers this insight, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:24-25 NIV. Patience is a virtue. Hope is the foundation upon which patience is developed. In an earlier chapter, Paul wrote of, “this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2 NKJV. Patience is the posture of waiting in hope and trust.

Waiting can and should be used profitably, not squandered in wasted worry. Waiting on God with expectation evidences a confidence so strong in God, and His nature, and Word, that your faith continues to grow even with every apparent delay. Forewarning His disciples of the mistreatment and opposition they would face, Jesus concluded with this encouraging instruction, “By your patience, possess your souls.” Luke 21:19 NKJV. Patience is evidenced by living today with optimism for tomorrow.

But sometimes, you may just feel too weak and weary to struggle on. The Bible has a faith-building word for you. “God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV. Meanwhile, I will stand alongside the Psalmist. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word, I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:5 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to choose patience and embrace His peace.

 

Christian Communications 2017

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Passions and Priorities

September 6th, 2017

  Your passion determines your priorities.

“You will seek Me and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV  

My comments today are about, “Passions and Priorities.”

God is not elusive nor the path to God concealed. But the spiritual opposition to your seeking God is intense, both externally and internally. An evil trinity of spiritual forces oppose you. The world around you, your flesh within you, and the devil against you all conspire to turn your heart to other pursuits more immediately pleasing.

God described David as, “a man after My own heart who will do all My will.” Acts 13:22 NKJV. What a wonderful way that God described David. Your passion determines your priority. Your priority reveals your passion. David’s passion for God fueled his priority to know and please God. “You will seek Me and find Me when you shall search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV. Any serious pursuit of God must be done with earnestness and priority.

Jesus was clear and specific, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6 NIV. How would others describe your appetite and thirst for God today? Earnestly and diligently are apt descriptions of how you should be seeking God’s highest and best for your life.

David described his passion for God as he wrote, ”My soul follows hard after God.” Psalm 63:8 KJV. Seeking God is not for the easily distracted or readily discouraged, and never for the merely casual or curious. Such is the path reserved for those for whom life without God is not enough.

You will earnestly seek for what you believe is of incomparable value and for which you will accept no substitute. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask [according to His will] – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV.

Jesus presented a Biblical progression for those determined to seek God with whole hearted devotion and single-minded purpose. Read Luke 11:9-10 NIV. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you.” Asking is elementary. “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2 NIV. Asking reflects your priority of God’s will and your patience with God’s timing.

Jesus also said, “Seek, and you will find.” Seeking involves attitude as much as activity, a time while the Spirit refines the sincerity of your heart. “[God] rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV. As my Dad often reminded me, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.”

Jesus concluded by saying, “Knock, and the door will be opened unto you.” Knocking indicates your anticipation more than insistence. Jesus concluded with this promise, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to cultivate a heart that seeks after God always.

Christian Communications 2017

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Waiting with Expectation

December 9th, 2016

Nothing purifies our heart like waiting with faithfulness

“He will appear . . to bring salvation to those waiting for Him.” Hebrews 9:28 NIV

My thoughts and comments today are about, “waiting with expectation.”

I was captivated when I read these words, “We walk with Jesus in the pain; we don’t just wait for His appearance at the end of it. We tell Him, ‘Even now, I love You. Even now, I believe in You. Even now, I trust You.’” Our granddaughter had read and shared an excerpt from a Christmas Blog – The Manger is Coming – by a talented Christian author, Jen Tentmaker of Austin Texas. The quote capsulized our family’s tender emotions from recent months, having said farewell to a 94-year-old father and grandfather, as well as a 21-year-old grandson, son, and brother. But also, her words capture our sustaining faith in the sufficient grace of God. With due credit to the author, I share her comments at this Advent season.

“Some categories of waiting are brimming with excitement. We know something is coming, we know God is moving, we know our story is about to change, we know there is something holy and wonderful just beyond our reach. We wait with great expectation, like the wide-eyed, can’t-sleep, almost-there excitement of Christmas Eve.

But I am also reminded that as we engage the practice of waiting this Advent, some waiting is excruciating. Some of us are waiting for a dark night of the soul to finally end, for a small measure of relief from agony, for a wilderness season to give way to the Promised Land. We are waiting for mended relationships, prodigal children, deferred hope, or elusive peace. We are waiting for Jesus to show up and return joy to the world.

Don’t forget that as you are waiting for Jesus, you are also waiting with Jesus. We never suffer alone. He came. And Advent reminds us to prepare our hearts, even in the wait. After all, these few days we have on earth are the only ones we’ll ever get to practice faith … one day, faith will be obsolete because we will know and see in full.

So we work on waiting well. We offer our faith, however shaky, however thin, however tinged with sorrow. We practice kindness and goodness, patience and generosity – some of the hardest virtues to hang onto when the wait takes our breath away. We walk with Jesus in the pain; we don’t just wait for His appearance at the end of it. We tell Him, “Even now, I love You. Even now, I believe in You. Even now, I trust You.” We humbly ask God to reveal whatever He would have us hand over: pride, self-sufficiency, fury, fear. Nothing can purify our hearts like a wait endured with faithfulness.

When I am in a painful wait, when it seems endless and my heart is worn out, I ask myself: “What do I want it said of me one year from now? What do I want to look back on and be proud of?” Did I burn everything to the ground? I’ll regret it. Did I ruin relationships or blame the wrong people? I’ll be sorry. Did I release my faith at the very moment I needed it the most? What a loss that would be. May I bless the name of Jesus not just in abundance but in want.

The manger is coming, and a weary world will indeed rejoice. Let us wait with expectation and courage, with hearts prepared in the dark of night for the Light of the World. He is coming for you. Don’t forget or doubt it. He is coming.”

As I read her words, I thought of our present and future reality, “Now we see things imperfectly, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

At this Christmas season, I wait for Him with joy in His unchanging truth, “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” Hebrews 9:28 NIV. I am waiting for Him! As He came as the child of Bethlehem, He will return as the Christ of Glory!

Today, I pray for you to walk through this season with trust and joy.

For further inspiration, I refer you to Jen Tentmaker’s Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/jenhatmaker/about/

Christian Communications 2016

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Seeds and Harvests

November 18th, 2014

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest . . shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22 NKJV.

Every seed you plant schedules a harvest.

My thoughts and comments today are about “seeds and harvests.”

I don’t know anyone who enjoys waiting. What you want, you want now. But that is not how life works. Things that come too quickly or too easily are not appreciated as fully. God designed life to have a necessary process. “Consider the farmers who eagerly look for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient.” James 5:7-8 NLT. And without the process, you will miss the preparation essential to experience God’s best. David got it right. “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in Your hand.’” Psalm 31:14-15 NAS. Peace and satisfaction come when you rest in God’s hands and trust in God’s time.

Solomon wisely observed, “Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses . . God has set the right time for everything.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 TEV. Life works best when you believe God and trust His timing. “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart; and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 NIV. Trust and tranquility relax life, granting you patience with peace of heart and mind.

Process is important. God’s process begins with sowing and ends with harvest. Every harvest begins with a seed. With no seed planted or no patience with the process, you will not experience a harvest. Nothing comes from nothing; nothing ever has. Here are two simple, practical considerations: sow what you plan to reap (See Galatians 6:7-9); sow in the measure that you hope to reap. See 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. NIV.

Those who pour their life generously into the lives of others are replenished, while those who hold and hoard everything for themselves worry about parting with what they have and end up losing it, or not enjoying it while they have it. The Bible says, “Some people give their money freely and still grow richer. Others are cautious, and yet grow poorer. Be generous, and you will be prosperous. Help others, and you will be helped. People curse a man who hoards . .” Proverbs 11:24-26 TEV.

Now, when you have planted seed in abundance having allowed the necessary process for the planted seed to germinate and release its inherent life, God promises the time of harvest will come just as He established from the beginning. Every seed you plant schedules a harvest. God built His promise into every seed. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest . . shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22 NKJV. You plant the seeds; God promises the harvest.

God wants to bless you and give you more; His intent is far greater than your having excess. There should be a distinction between excess and abundance. Excess is what you hoard and hide for yourself. Abundance is the means from which you validate your stewardship to God and exhibit a generosity toward others. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV. Jesus’ context was about forgiveness, but the principle is broadly applicable to every area of stewardship in the Kingdom of God.

Today, my prayer for you is that you sow in faith so that you may reap in joy.

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