Second Coming

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November 9

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

I don’t know about you but there are times (more than I care to admit) where I feel like I’m losing more than I’m winning. I lose my patience more than I should. I show a lack of faith in God’s ability to work things out (without my help even!). I squirm and get impatient because God isn’t working as fast as I think He should (His timing and mine are way off). I fall to temptation again instead of standing firm (I can do it on my own I say or think).

I was reminded of my failure to win on my own as I read Revelation 17-18 this morning. Revelation 17 sets the stage with talk of a woman sitting on a scarlet beast with blasphemous names on it. Skipping a few verses we come to verse 14: “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” (ESV).

Then in chapter 18:2 it says, “Fallen, fallen in Babylon the great!” Reading ahead to verse 18 it says, “Therefore, these plagues will overtake her in a single day-death and mourning and famine. She will be completely consumed by fire, for the Lord God who judges her is mighty.” (NLT)

Putting aside who this is referring to (not part of this devo), notice both speak of victory for God’s side. God’s people. God’s army. Call it what you like…God’s people-those who follow Him-will win. We will win because He has won and will win in the future.

Judgment will come to the enemies of God. They can shake their fist at Him and challenge Him. They will lose. Attack Him or His people (I’m not speaking of physical warfare). They will lose. God and His people will ultimately be victorious. They can have their protests against Him. They can have their protests against His truth. Denigrate His Name and strike out against His people. They can have their “fun” now.

They will lose in the end. GUARANTEED.

October 26

Thursday, October 26th, 2023

There is a lot of talk these days about the coming of Christ. True, there has always been the Bible scholar/student who has made prophecy study his/her forte’ or focus. But with the current crisis involving Israel and Hamas, the interest has been taken up a notch. Even those who just read the Bible or don’t even know the Bible-and even those who have been skeptics-are curious. Is this the end times? Is this the sign of the times?

Well, there certainly is no shortage of those wondering. And there certainly is no shortage of those who will answer in the affirmative. And there is also no shortage of those who will be yelling, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Sadly, there will also be those hucksters who will crawl out of their rat hole to exploit people for their own gain.

People ask me what I think. “Pastor Bill, is this the end times? Could this be the last days when Jesus will return? Or is there more to come and more to wait for?” My answer? Yes. Possibly. I don’t know. Why the lack of conviction? Because no one truly knows. 

Here is what I do know: 1) Jesus said He will return. I believe that. 2) Jesus Himself did not know when. I believe that also. 3) If Jesus promised it, and if Jesus did not know when, how in the world am I supposed to know?  Spoiler alert: I am of the persuasion that we have been in the last days since the beginning of the church in Acts 2. I’ll let it lay there. I personally believe it is much more important to have an intimate relationship with Jesus and be ready when He does come, than to worry about dates, times, signs or anything else we have no clue about or allow to occupy our time.

Jesus came the first time at the appointed hour, and He will come the second time at the appointed hour.  Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive the adoption as sons.”  Do you see those words “but when the fullness of time had come”? That says it all.  I’ll stand with that. His second coming will be the same way-“at just the right time.” Not before. Not after. And no amount of my sign-watching or date-scheming will change that.

Is Jesus coming back? Without a doubt. Does anyone know? Yes and no. No one knows when (if they say they do or set a date run as far away from them as you can).  But I do believe He will come back. I just don’t know when. No one does.

Oh…except the Father. And if Jesus says He doesn’t know, only the Father does, that is good enough for me.  Let’s stop looking for signs and start living a life of holiness as we wait.

June 23

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

This a statement I really don’t have to back up with facts or Google. Ever since I did my recent posts on Revelation, and since I am currently reading one with a focus toward January of 2023, I am acutely aware of the cults that have started because of an inordinate belief in the coming of Christ. Not that I don’t believe in His imminent return. I do. But I’m speaking of those “leaders” who pull people around them, somehow convince them of the hype, and then get them to sell everything and “run to the hills” waiting for Jesus’ return (which is usually on a certain date). Hucksters all of them; blind sheep the rest of them. They wait and wait and wait, walk away dejected, in disbelief, and a whole lot poorer than before (except the leader). They were conned by a con.

No matter how sincere, you can be sincerely wrong.

Jesus is returning, of that I am sure. My view of how, why, when, etc may differ from others, but He is returning.   I know three things about Jesus’ return which we must all remember:

1. Jesus made it clear there will be an end. All things will end. Jesus once said, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My Word will never pass away.”

2. Jesus made it clear the “when” is a mystery. It never ceases to amaze me how religious leaders say, “This is the date” (can anyone say Jehovah’s Witness?) and people will blindly follow, but Jesus Himself did not even know!

3. The Book of Revelation continually reminds us that when (not if) it happens, we must be ready. Mt. 24:42-25:13 backs that up. Life will be going on as normal when it happens. The Parable of the Ten Virgins show this in graphic detail how some will be ready and others won’t.

The ultimate question is not when or if He will come. The main question is Will you be ready when He does?

“Father, help me not to a ‘sign-seeker’ but to be one who keeps his eyes to the sky waiting and expecting Jesus to come.”

June 2

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

Revelation 22. I ought to have a sense of relief. It is finally over! But I don’t. I began this venture on April 18th and every “Shadow” post since then has been on my reading through Revelation.  I have been writing about 4 devotions a week on Revelation.  Never, in all my college days or in the almost 50 years of being a pastor, have I ever spent this much time in Revelation. While I’m still not too sure about the interpretation of it with all its twists and turns, I have enjoyed- and actually learned 🙂 – from my daily foray. Today, I come to the end…Revelation 22.

My original intent was to tell you, “Just read it,” but I can’t. There is more here than I thought. So here is my attempt to draw your attention to some of the meaningful lessons in this chapter.

1. Eternity (new heaven and new earth) will be s-o-o-o-o different.  Our forever home will be unlike anything we have experienced or can imagine. I’m going to capsulize verses 3-5 by saying Jesus will be all we need. Being in His presence will be beyond the pale.

2. John’s reaction was to fall on his face at the feet of the angel who has been his guide, the messenger who showed him all things. John was immediately told to get up and worship only God. No man-cult leader, religious teacher, huckster, or dare I say Pope- is to be bowed down to and revered. Only ONE deserves that. (Verses 8-9)

3. Jesus, as the Alpha and Omega, the first the Last will return to reward His followers. He will also judge those who are not. (Verses 12-13)

4. Special privileges (entering the city by the gates) will be granted to those whose robes have been washed white. Only the holy can enter the city. (Verse 14)

5. Another name Jesus gives Himself: “I am the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”  (Verse 16)

6. And finally, the words which should be on the lips of every Christ-follower: “Come, Lord Jesus.”  Maranatha. (Verse 20)

“Father, I am ready to see Your face in all its glory, up close and personal.  I echo John’s words: ‘Amen. Come Lord Jesus.’ ”

June 1

Wednesday, June 1st, 2022

Revelation 21. So much good stuff here I could only touch the hem of the garment as I write. but I’d like to bring out several items that struck me as I read.

First, please stop right now and read verses 3-4. Every time I read or hear this I see the scene from Titanic where the priest is quoting this while hanging on and others are desperately seeking last minute help.  But it is far more than a movie clip; it is a promise. There will come a day when there will be no more tears, no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.  There will be no more of any of the earthly pain we experience as we go “further up and further in” to quote a saying from The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Second, there will be some who will not be welcome, the door will be shut forever (verse 8).  That list is devastating in its content. Throw in verse 27 and it gets even tighter. Heaven will not be fore those who reject God’s truth, grace and forgiveness.

Third, all things will be made new. In that newness, God will be enough. Verse 23 says He is all we need.

The culmination will be chapter 22. That’s tomorrow. But for today, I echo the Unicorn from The Last Battle: “This is the land! This is what I have been looking for all my life!”

“Father, there is both good and bad in this chapter. For those whose robes have been washed white, there is heaven. For all those who refuse, rejection forever. I have mixed emotions. Joy and sadness. Joy for me; sadness for all those who have and continue to say, ‘Get away’ to You. Thank You for saving me.”

May 31

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

In all of my college days, and years after, I have seen Revelation 20 as the capstone, so to speak, of the Pre-Mill/Dispensational view of Revelation.  My college days came from an A-millennial view of Revelation. This chapter is taken as the bedrock of the 1000 year Millennial reign, Armageddon, and the end of civilization as we know it.

Let’s divert from that shall we and focus on several others items?

My first point of focus is verse 6a: “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power…”  It seems to me the first resurrection would be my resurrection from the old life to the new life in Christ. Death has no power over me.

The second item of interest is the punishment of the great Deceiver, where along with the beast and the false prophet, he will be tormented day and night.

The third item is the biggest. Judgment will come. Everyone will stand before God’s throne and be judged on whether his/her name is in the Book of Life. There will be no switching teams in mid-stream; no second chance; no “Oh-woe-is-me-have-mercy-on-me” opportunity; no save me from what is to come.  That time has passed. If one’s name is not written in the Book of Life it is over. All the rejection of the Truth, of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News of salvation, now has its sad and ultimate ending.

“Father, thank You for saving me. Thank You that my name is written in Your Book. I pray for all those who still have a chance. May they know Your salvation.”

May 26

Thursday, May 26th, 2022

I confess my imagination ran wild this morning. Revelation 19 is filled with such vivid imagery and such glorious truth! No interpretation here, just some observations:

1. A loud voice cries out “Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God!”  (verse 1)

2. Why? Because His judgments are true and righteous (verse 2). Notice what follows: “He has judged” and “He has avenged.” It is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is easy to feel mistreated. It is easy to feel as though we are treated unfairly. Notice again: He has judged and He has avenged.

3. He returns to the worship again: “Give praise” (verse 5)  and “For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” (verse 6)

4. We are invited to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. In this same sequence is John’s reaction to an angel’s pronouncement of the Feast.  He fell at the angel’s feet and the angel told him “No. I am a fellow servant.”

5. Then comes the most vivid and exciting passage: the appearance of Jesus on a white horse!  He is Faithful and True. A few verses later we see He has on His thigh the words “King of kings and Lord of lords.” What a fantastic description given here which will allow our imagination to fly!

  • eyes are a flame of fire.
  • on His head are many crowns (Reminds me of an old hymn: “Crown Him with Many Crowns”).
  • a name written on Himself which only He knows.
  • clothed in a robe dipped in blood.
  • He is called the Word of God.
  • His army is coming with Him and they are all on white horses.

6. He throws the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire and brimstone.

What else can be said? My “hero mind” and my “fantasy-laden outlook” draws out such a magnificent picture from this chapter. No battle is lost, no fight is so overwhelming that I need to give into despair. The conquering King is coming!! He will win!

“Father, YOU. WIN!! That means I. WIN!! Nothing is so overwhelming or so heavy that I have to give in to despair. Remind me of that as I go through my day today.”

 

May 16

Monday, May 16th, 2022

I’m looking this morning at Revelation 12. I don’t know what to make of it in the “Revelation scheme” frankly, but I do see something else. That in a moment.

To begin with there are 4 principle characters:

  1. The woman (1-2). I always thought this was Mary, but think this may be Israel, the “genetic” home of Jesus’ physical body.
  2. The red dragon (3-4). We are told this is Satan in verse 9. The dragon is pictured as waiting to devour the child from verses 1-2.
  3. The Male child (5-6). Without a doubt this is Christ.
  4. The angel, Michael (7). Michael and his angels wage war against the dragon and his angels.

This scenario confuses me a bit. It seems to picture Satan and his angels being cast out of heaven, which is depicted in Isaiah 14: 12-15. But at the same time, I’m confused as to when this is taking place. The beginning of time? Are the prophecy gurus correct that this is during the Tribulation following the Rapture? I don’t know.

He is my “something else” I mentioned above: The victory is ultimately God’s. Not only is the dragon cast down, but verses 10-11 leave little doubt who will win. I encourage you to read that on your own and then adopt it as a battle cry. I particularly like the words in verse 11: “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

GOD. WILL. PREVAIL. God’s people will also. There will be persecution and hard times but stand strong.

“Father, You win! He could not defeat the Son so he heads off, and even now, is waging war against Your people. Help me to remember I can overcome by the blood of the Lamb.”

May 12

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

I begin this devotion with a picture, an emoji of sorts that I can’t insert here. Ready for it?  If you have seen Home Alone do you remember the scene where Kevin shaves for the first time and then he uses his dad’s After Shave? In one of the most iconic pictures/scenes-ever-the After Shave burns his face, he lifts his hands to each side of his face and screams. That would be me right now.

I have waded into deep water and feel like crying out, “Aaaaah!” *picture of screen just described*

Revelation 11 actually has two scenes in it. One is of 2 witnesses who prophecy for a certain period of time…1260 days to be exact. I don’t know what that means. I know what some say but that is not my purpose here. At the end of those days a beast comes out of the abyss and kills them. They are mocked, rejoiced over because they are dead, and refused burial. After 3 1/2 years, they are raised to life and brought into heaven.

Enter Trumpet #7. We last heard Trumpet #6 in chapter 9.  This angel and his trumpet celebrates God. It celebrates that God reigns. The praise from the lips of the 24 elders (perhaps the ones mentioned in 4:11?) is powerful and pointed.

  • It declares who God is (verse 17): “the Almighty, the One who is and who was.”
  • It declares the judgment of God (verse 18), both good and bad.

My takeaway (besides I’m in over my head 🙂 ): There appears to be a time coming when my faith will be tested. Whether or not this is the case-depending, I guess, on your interpretation of Revelation-God ultimately has the last word. Judgment will take place-both reward and consequences.

“Father, I’m not sure what all this means but it tells me I need to be faithful because You are.”

August 20

Friday, August 20th, 2021

The reality of life is sometimes a kick in the pants.

As I wrote yesterday about the death of a friend, the truth is that death has perfect odds- 1 out of 1. No one escapes it. Unless you are Enoch or Elijah, death visits us all.

EXCEPT…

Except if Jesus returns before I die. Honest confession here: I  have never been one to spend time worrying about signs, signs of the times, pouring over Revelation and Daniel and trying to figure things out, nor reading books on the Second Coming (SC)  I have just always accepted it at face value. It was going to happen.

How? No clue. Except there will be a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God.

Where? I understand Jesus will “set down” at Mt. Moriah, the same place where He left. Sorry Islam. You lose.

Why? Because He seen enough. And it is time.

When? NO CLUE. Call me naive but wouldn’t it be better to just be ready for whenever that day may come (or your death) than to worry about when?

The older I get the closer it gets. Death or the SC. Both sound good to me. No regrets with either. Part of me wants to be alive when Jesus comes. To see it. To marvel. To worship. Then again, if I’m already in heaven, I’ll have a front row seat.

“Even so, come Lord Jesus. Perhaps today!!”