“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.””
2 Peter 3:3-4
“THE END TIMES ARE NEAR”, is the cry often preached many Street Evangelists, trying to persuade passers-by to put their trust in Jesus’ salvation and avoid eternal damnation. Now although they are true in some sense, that people need saving from their sins, perhaps their approach could be deemed too aggressive by some. Yet whatever your opinion may be on their methods, or the words they choose, their message is actually a topic that was much discussed in Peter’s day and age too.
When is Jesus coming back as He promised? Is it this year? Is it when Jerusalem becomes a nation again? Is it when a no-body becomes President of America? Is it when Europe becomes a stronger power in the world? No-one could argue that it feels like the last days, right? Yet what is interesting is that people in Peter’s time, also thought they were living through the last days as well. Even some of the Apostles and writers of the New Testament alluded to them living in the ‘last hours’ or ‘last days’. So what is our response as Believers in Jesus? Do we try to shut-up the doubters of Jesus’ imminent return or try to scare the non-believers into the Kingdom?
Our approach should be as Peter encouraged in his letters, ‘while you (we) are waiting for these things to happen (the end times), make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight’ (verse 14). We must be patient for the Lords’s return, because God works in His time not ours. Moreover, as Peter says, the Lord ‘is being patient for your (people’s) sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent’ (verse 9b) . . . . . ‘And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved’ (verse 15a).
Our role is to get our lives right before Christ and pray for others, that they may too know Jesus, the Saviour of the world, if He comes back tomorrow or in a thousand years!!
5th and 6th July
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
The great teacher of the book of Ecclesiastes once told us that for ‘everything there is a season, a time for every activity under the sun.’ (3:1) Yet the hardest thing in life, is knowing that God has called you do to something, or has promised something, and waiting for God’s timing to do or receive it. It can so often feel like a long process and sometimes we wish that God would work to our time schedules, as if we know best. However, the truth is that God always knows best and everything always works out according to His perfect timing, not ours.
The Psalmist too, knew about waiting patiently for God’s divine plans. He was anointed to be the King by the prophet Samuel, after the kingship was ripped away from the rebellious Saul. Yet from the time David was anointed to be king, to the moment he actually became King, commentators say was around 15 years. During that time, he had to deal with Saul’s jealously towards, the constant threat of death, traitors in his own camp, and a rebellion from his own family for his kingship. If anyone is qualified to write about waiting for God’s timing, then surely it is David. Yet here in today’s verse, David advises his readers to not rush God’s timing but to wait patiently for the Lord to pull through.
Today if you are waiting for God’s direction, then wait patiently for His perfect timing. Be brave. Be courageous. God will come through. Just trust Him. “Yes, wait patiently for the Lord!”
“Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap and let him go!””
Death is a horrible thing. It deprives us of loved ones and it takes away future memories together. Yet, as believers, death is not the end. It is the beginning of a new and painless life with Christ for eternity; an eternal life promised as an inheritance of our salvation by Jesus Himself. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus demonstrated time and time again, His authority over the enemy, over evil, over sin and ultimately over death, including His own death. Paul alludes to this in 1 Corinthians 15:55 and says, “O death, where is your sting.” He then continues and exclaims that God “gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ,” implying that death’s sting, the pain of loosing someone, although it is hard, is not the end.
It is through Jesus’ victory over His death and in His resurrection, that we too find victory over our deaths. Furthermore, not only do we have victory over our physical death’s, but also we find new life in Christ spiritually too. Jesus came not only to raise the physically dead, like lazarus in today’s story, but also to raise the spiritually dead and give new life to us all. He came so we would have life and life in all of it’s fullness. He came to breath life into our dry bones.
Friends, if you have lost someone recently, then we mourn with you for your loss. But we want you to know, that it is not the end but the beginning of a new life in Heaven with Christ. A life that is freely available to all who ‘believe in Him’ so that none ‘perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety (fortress); He is my God and I trust Him.”
Isn’t it such a comfort to know our hope and trust is in Almighty God. The Psalmist knew that his hope and refuge was in God alone. He knew that God was his place of refuge, his safety and his fortress. He knew that no matter what circumstance he faced, both big and small, he could find peace and security. We too as children of God, can take the same comfort knowing that Jesus is in control of our lives; That no matter what evil or hardship we face, Jesus in our refuge, our fortress and our safety and will deliver us from the snare of the fowler.
Yet more than just knowing is the declaration of that fact. Will you join the Psalmist this morning and declare that the Lord alone is your refuge and strength. Will you boldly declare that He is Lord over your life.
Lord, I declare that my hope and trust is in You. I declare that You are my fortress. I declare that You are my hope and refuge. Lord You are my safety. In You alone is my my salvation.
“But the father turned to his servants and said, “Quick! Bring the best robe we have and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet.”
Who are you? What is your identity? Do you identify with being a sinner or is your identity renewed and restored? So often, and sadly so, many Christians mis-understand the depth and truth of grace. Instead of acknowledging the truth that they are free, children of God, they slowly fall back into the hole of condemnation and believe the lie that they are sinners, not worthy to enter into God’s presence. Yet that is completely not the truth. If we have confessed our sins, if we have been forgiven and joined into God’s Kingdom, then our identity is no longer as a sinner but as a child of God.
Let’s think about the story of the prodigal son. The father let the son squander his inheritance, dine with pigs and live a wreck-less lifestyle. Yet when the son confessed (even though he actually didn’t finish his repentance confession; such is the extent of grace), the father completely welcomed the son back into his family, making no mention of the past and adorned him with clothes, sandals and a ring to emphasise the sons forgiven and restored status.
Friends that is our status too. The Father no longer makes mention of our wreck-less past, He no longer remembers our sins, because we are forgiven. We have been given a new status. Yes we still sin, but we are not sinners. Yes we are not worthy, but we are not worthless!! We are forgiven sons and daughters, welcomed into God’s family.
“I am pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are One….”
Jesus, when He walked on this earth, often declared that He and the Father were One; a statement which caused great offence to those listening. It was so hard for people to understand. They saw a man, the Son of Joseph, a carpenter, proclaiming that He and the Father were One. If this were true, it would have surely meant that Jesus was God; and for those listening, that would have been understood as blasphemy. Yet, what the people failed to recognise, is that Jesus’ birth as a human on earth, was long foretold though the very scriptures they read and were familiar with. They just chose to reject the truth, reject the prophetic signs and reject Jesus’ very own words. It was that disunity that Jesus indirectly prayed against. Unity is at the very heart of who God is, and it is the same unity found between the Trinity, that Jesus prayed for for His followers (that includes us too).
Moreover, it is, as Jesus said, “perfect unity” by through which “the world will know that You (the Father) sent Me and that You love them (US) as much as You love Me” (verse 23). It is by perfect unity lived out and shown through the Body of Christ, that the world will know the Father and His perfect love. It is from our actions, words and deeds, lived and breathed out in the spirit of unity, joined and connected by Christ, that the world will know more of who Jesus is and more about the Father’s heart for them. Jesus prayed that for His disciples and for us. Let us live in the truth and answer of Jesus’ prayer. Let us be ONE. Let us live in perfect unity with each other. Let us reject disharmony, disunity and discord and replace it with ONE-NESS in Christ.
“Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in Your instructions.”
So often, the Bible is just seen as a book of rules and regulations by those who have not actually read it. Upon reading His word, you will begin to find that they’re not just words written on paper, but life! David had a great love for the word of God. Yet what David had access to read was probably very limited compared to what we now have (ie, New Testament). Yet he fell in love with what little he could read or understand. He knew that God’s laws were not rules and regulations but paths which lead us to the truth of who God was and is. It is in God’s instructions that we learn how to please God, how to live life for His glory and how to know Him more.
As we read God’s word today, let us pray the same prayer as David prayed, ‘open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in Your instructions.’ May God’s word enlighten our hearts and minds, comforts our souls, correct us when we are wrong, remind us of God’s love, and increase our understanding who God is and who we are in Him.