The Glorious Appearing

This morning, I found myself reading from the Old Testament book of Zechariah and the New Testament book of Titus. My reading from these two scriptures spoke to me about our present times and also our only hope for the future. Paul’s letter to Titus makes a powerful statement about the hope that we as believers have in looking forward to the day when Christ returns to this earth.  

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” Titus 2:11-13. As Christians, we must constantly strive to live moral, upright lives in the midst of a world that is intent on denying God and all that is virtuous and pure.

We are living in an age where unseen, evil spiritual forces, are waging war on all that is good and decent. There is a powerful, invisible battle raging between the forces of evil and the spiritual forces of God. We know this from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

As I read from Zechariah about the second coming of Christ, it gave me the assurance that on that glorious day, evil will be defeated once and for all. Christ’s return will usher in his kingdom of righteousness and Christ will rule the entire earth. If you have not read the 14th chapter of Zechariah, I encourage you to do so and learn about the events that will take place at the battle of Armageddon.

In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. 5 You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! 6 In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. 7 For it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light. Zechariah 14:4-7.  

The Mount of Olives is important for several reasons. As Jesus was entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he descended from the Mount of Olives, as he wept for the city and the judgment that was coming. After Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus gathered his disciples, gave them the great commission and then ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12). And on the day of Christ’s second coming, “his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.”  

Just as Jesus lands on the Mount of Olives, a massive earthquake will cause the Mount of Olives to be “split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley.” This will be a day unlike no other and the entire remaining world will recognize Jesus as ruler and king over all the earth. Zechariah tells us that in that day there will be no light; the sun and moon will no longer give off light. Remember that in Matthew 24, Jesus spoke of the sun and the moon no longer giving off light.

“But immediately after the tribulation of those days, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. Matthew 24:29-30.

Can you even begin to imagine what that day will be like? Zechariah describes just how unique this day will be: “In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light” Zechariah 14:6-7. This will be a day when everyone living on the face of the earth will realize that Jesus Christ is “king over all the earth.”

We live in a day and age where it seems that evil is winning in its battle to deny God. If you listen to or read the news, you hear almost every day of someone attempting to keep God out of various public places. Christians are verbally attacked for desiring to stay true to God and our long held beliefs. The forces of evil must sense that the end of the age is near and they are doing everything in their power to wage war upon God and everything that is good and holy.

But we as followers of Christ know how the story ends and how all of these world events will play out. Christ will come in a grand and victorious display of His awesome power. He will rule the earth and defeat the forces of evil, once and for all. So I urge you to read the 14th chapter of Zechariah and take comfort and hope in the fact that God is in complete control over all that is transpiring on the face of this earth.

And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one. Zechariah 14:9.

 

 

Loving God, Not Money

Hebrews 13:5-6 NASB: 5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

Have you recently been around people that just can’t stop talking about the many worldly possessions they have? Sadly, many people today view how successful they are in life based on the value of their bank account, the worth of their home, or the number of vehicles they own. They falsely believe that these fleeting possessions will somehow make them happy or give them more confidence against an uncertain future. They place their hope and trust in the things of this world.

Jesus teaches us that worldly possessions are temporary, they will not last. Jesus tells us to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven that will last for an eternity.

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” Matthew 6:20.

It really comes down to where we place our trust. Do you trust God to provide for your needs today and in the future or do you trust in your own ability and your worldly wealth to give you a feeling of security? The love of money and worldly possessions will most certainly keep you from having a close and lasting relationship with God.

Remember the story from Luke’s gospel about the rich man and Lazarus? The rich man lived a life of luxury while on this earth and poor Lazarus, covered with sores, simply longed for the crumbs that fell from the man’s table. Lazarus was laid at the rich man’s gate, but the rich man never acknowledged him or offered to help him. They both died and Lazarus was carried away to heaven while the rich man awoke in hell. The rich man was given these sobering words: “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.” One of these men had repented and placed his trust in God while the other man found no need to repent and he put his faith and trust in his wealth. Luke’s gospel tells us that the rich man lived in “splendor” every day, while now he is in agony because of his unrepentant heart.

Do you want to receive your reward in this life or do you long for your eternal reward that cannot be taken away and is everlasting? Do you long for the temporary things of this world or do you desire to live eternally with God your creator and Jesus Christ your savior? The choice is yours, but the decision you make will have eternal implications.

 

 

 

God’s Great Faithfulness

Lamentations 3:22-25 (NASB): The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”  I absolutely love those words of hope found in the grand old hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness. The promise of God’s faithfulness is something that I cling to as I begin each day. I trust that no matter what my day may hold, God is faithful and He is sovereign over all that will occur. In spite of what may come my way, God will give me the strength to endure and overcome anything that I encounter. God’s compassions are “new every morning” and His love for us gives us hope and encouragement to endure and overcome anything that the “world” sends our way. I find my strength in the Lord as He renews me each day; I know that I can’t get through the day without God. He is my strength and He alone is my hope for today and for eternity.

I am hopeful and encouraged by the fact that the Lord is good to those who wait and persevere by faith in God’s will for their lives. In your daily walk with God, I pray that you will continue to seek God and find strength for each day’s journey through God alone. Seek God and not the things of this world and you will find compassion, peace and rest for your soul. “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.”

 

 

 

Answering Anger With Forgiveness

Psalm 118:5-8

5From my distress I called upon the Lord;

The Lord answered me and set me in a large place.

6 The Lord is for me; I will not fear;

What can man do to me?

7 The Lord is for me among those who help me;

Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.

8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. 

How often in times of distress have you looked to God for relief and protection from those who slander and despise you? Do you look to God and seek peace and forgiveness or do you plot revenge? Do you have the faith to trust the promise that if God is for you, you need not be afraid? Sometimes, in order for us to learn how to fully trust God, we are put in these difficult and trying situations, so that we can experience God’s peace, and learn to trust Him more completely. When we respond to hate filled words with grace and words of peace, we can be certain that God’s Holy Spirit is with us, helping us to respond with forgiveness.

This week, I have been reminded that I cannot worry, or dwell upon other people’s long standing anger and resentment. When people allow themselves to be consumed with hate and bitterness, it can be difficult to reason with them or carry on a rational conversation with them. They believe what they believe and it seems that you can’t convince them otherwise. I can’t begin to imagine how it feels to live day in and day out with this type of anger, which over a period of time will utterly consume your very soul.

Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:11). When I face insults, and deceitful words are spoken against me, I cling to this promise from my Lord and Savior – and proclaim that I am truly “blessed.”

With Christ as my Lord and Savior, those insults and falsely spoken words do not affect me – instead, I feel truly “blessed.” With Christ as my Lord and Savior, I pray for those who proudly identify themselves as my enemies – I forgive them and then I move on – because I am truly “blessed.”   

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).

Receiving Mercy and Finding Grace

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NASB): 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I am aware of a lot of people who are in “need.” There are those who are struggling with severe family relationship issues. Many are worried about their jobs, or lack of a job, and the mounting bills that seem overwhelming. Several are struggling with taking care of elderly parents or relatives and they are seeking the strength to make it through each day. I know of those who are carrying around heavy burdens and they wonder how long it will be until the weight of those burdens will become too heavy to bear. There are those who are sitting in nursing homes waiting for a family member or friend to come by and spend just a few minutes of their day with them. The loss of a loved one has been difficult recently for several people that I know. And we prayed last night at church for those who are battling significant health issues and their struggle with the effects of the disease on their body.  

Unfortunately, many people turn to things other than God when dealing with these difficult and challenging moments of life. Some seek to find temporary relief in alcohol or drugs. Others are tempted by being unfaithful to their spouse, and some seek to drift away into the world of pornography or other sexual sins. Those that look to escape their worries and troubles in this way will only further intensify their struggles in life. I have seen many good people make many terrible and life altering decisions when responding to life’s difficulties in this way. Families are torn apart, careers are permanently damaged, and relationships are forever ruined.  

As believers, we have the ultimate “high priest” that understands and “sympathizes” with our struggles and our weaknesses. If we will only approach the “throne of grace” and call upon the name of Jesus, we can find “mercy” and “grace” to help us through our struggles. Look to Jesus, and to heaven, for relief from the worries and the pain of this world, and you will find peace and rest for your weary body and soul. Approach the throne of grace with confidence and find healing for your body and your soul.