Sunday, December 2, 2007

He's Coming

A week before Thanksgiving I was in Wal-Mart and I heard Christmas music. I knew the countdown had started. With each passing day the excitement and preparations have been accelerating. Lights and decorations are being put up, stores are full, and music is filling the air. A lot of people, especially children, are eagerly anticipating a very special event that is now only a few days away. Truly, it’s a very busy time of the year! And it’s all in preparation for what? Well, any child can tell you - "A visit from Santa Claus, of course!"

Remember, "He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness' sake! You better watch out... you better not pout... you better not cry... I’m telling you why... Santa Claus is coming to town!"

Now that may be important to many people, but the One whose coming I’m looking forward to this morning won’t be coming from the North Pole and riding in a sleigh. Instead, He’s coming from Heaven, and arriving on the clouds of the sky! No matter how you look at it, His arrival will be awesome, and the anticipation we feel is not ours alone. Millions of people in nations all over the world are eagerly awaiting His coming. When He does come, He’ll be doing what the prophets have proclaimed - He’ll be bringing gifts to men. But unlike Santa, His gifts will not be based upon our goodness - but upon His grace. It's because of His grace, I’m here today to tell you to make your plans, prepare your hearts, your minds, and your souls to understand the aspects of His coming which sets Him apart from all others.

To get us started, let me share with you from God’s Word concerning His coming. For example, here are the words of a wise man who lived long, long ago. Daniel was a man determined to serve the Lord. And every time the king had a vision from God, Daniel was called upon to interpret the dream. One night, when Daniel was lying on his bed he had an awesome vision from God. Daniel wrote about this vision in the 7th chapter of his book.

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of Heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. --Daniel 7:13-14
In a vision, Daniel says that he saw the Son of Man coming with the clouds of Heaven in glory and power, and all the people and nations of the entire world worshiped Him!

Daniel wasn’t the only one to talk about His coming. Look at what the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Church in Thessalonica.

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

Jesus isn’t sending an ambassador - He is coming Himself!

He came Himself the first time and He will come Himself the second time.

We need to be ready for that day. Let’s take time this morning to consider Jesus seriously, to be excited about the coming of Jesus and the importance of having our hearts prepared for His coming.

Isn’t it fun to watch the excitement grow on the faces of our children as Christmas Day approaches? With each passing day the grins grow, the adrenaline level rises, and the expectation almost bursts forth from every pore. The little children on my school bus are talking about it everyday.

Some time ago as I was unloading the kindergarten through second graders at the primary school I said that I wanted all the little chipmunks to get off my bus. They thought that was "cool." Every day since then they have wanted to know what kind of animal they would be that day. I have gone through quite a list of animals and birds. On Friday of this week one little girl said "Can we be reindeer this morning?" They all wanted to be Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. They are becoming more excited each day. I can hear them talking about what they want for Christmas.

Should we not be even more excited about the coming of Jesus?

Children are excited about the coming of a fat man in a red suit with toys tucked under his arm. You and I can be excited about the coming of our King dressed in all His radiance and riding the clouds of heaven. Do you realize that we’re commanded to look forward to the coming of Jesus?

In 2 Peter 3:11-12, Peter asks a question of the people, "What kind of people should you be?" Peter, the preacher answers his own question by saying,

You should live holy lives and serve God, as you wait for and look forward to the coming of the day of God.

That child-like enthusiasm and excitement was certainly a driving force for the early believers. In the last verses of the last chapter of the last book in the Bible, John writes,

He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. --Revelation 22:20 NIV

Isn’t that beautiful? John hears Jesus say, "I am coming soon," and John says, "All right, then, come, Lord Jesus!" That should be the gist of our attitude, too.

Some of you may say, "OK, I’m convinced. I’ll look forward to the coming of Jesus, but how will He come? When will He come? Why is He coming back anyway?" Those are good questions, and it’s important that we know what the Bible has to say about them.

1. How will Jesus come?
We don’t have to wonder, because the Bible quite clearly tells us how Jesus will return. Jesus Himself spoke about that:

"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Every eye will see him, and every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord!" --Matthew 24:30-31

2.What time will Jesus come?
This poses a problem for most of us because as a people we like to be prepared.

Most folks will be prepared for Christmas morning because we have a deadline to work with.
We all know that if we don’t have our presents bought by Christmas Day then we will let someone down. The problem we have when we look at the coming of Jesus is that we do not know when He will return, we only know that He is coming.

"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him." --Matthew 24:37-44 NIV

Jesus says when you least expect Him, "expect Him." What time would that be for you? Just after you’ve finished all of the hard work of gathering your Christmas gifts for those you love? I can hear it now, "Lord, it’s good of you to come, but your timing leaves much to be desired."
Would it be January 1 when the really big bowl games are just cranked up?

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. --1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 NIV

Paul encourages us to avoid setting dates and getting all wrapped up in thinking we know when Jesus will return because His return will be like a thief in the night.

3. Why is Jesus coming back?
There are really two different reasons why Jesus is coming back. First of all, Jesus is coming back for me and for you. Now, that’s awesome!

When Jesus was getting ready to go to the cross He told His disciples,

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." --John 14:1-4 NIV

There is a second reason why Jesus is returning which we certainly don’t want to miss.

Jesus came the first time as a servant, a sacrifice for our sins. He was beaten and rejected by those He came to save from their sins.

Jesus is coming back, but this time He will not come as a sacrifice or servant. He will come in all of His glory to rule and reign as the exalted King of all creation.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever." And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign." --Revelation 11:15-17

In that day, when Jesus returns, the lion will lie down with the lamb, nations will no longer wage war against nations, there will be no more death, or mourning, or pain, or sorrow - Jesus will rule and reign triumphant!

There is one more thing I want to share with you before we conclude our study. Jesus brings good gifts to His people.

I am excited for you this Christmas because many of you will get what you want. But I can assure you of one thing: whatever you get it is going to wear out. Now, it may wear out because you use it so much or it may wear out because you get bored with it and never pick it up, but I assure you that everything you get this Christmas is going to wear out.

When Jesus gives gifts they never wear out. He has come to give us eternal life, the privilege of sharing eternity before His glorious throne for all time.

Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. These good gifts come down from the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, who does not change like their shifting shadows. God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things He made. --James 1:17-18

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited that He is coming "to town." I don’t know the hour or the day. I don’t know much, period. But there is one thing I know - He is coming! He is coming back for those who have received Him as King and Lord of their life. When He comes back there will be no mistaking Him. He won’t be riding on a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer. He will be riding the clouds of Heaven and His radiance will flood the universe.

Where is your excitement level this Christmas? Are you overburdened by your list of "Things To Do" which seems twice as long as your children’s wish list? Are you excited about seeing what you will find under the tree on Christmas morning? Are you excited to see family and friends that you haven’t seen in some time? Are you excited because Jesus is coming?

All glory to Jesus, begotten of God,
the great I AM is He;
Creator, sustainer - but wonder of all -
the Lamb of Calvary.
To think that the guardian of planets in space,
the Shepherd of the stars,
Is tenderly leading the church of His love
by hands with crimson scars!
The King of all Kings and the Lord of all Lords,
He reigns in glory now;
Some day He is coming, earth’s kingdom to claim,
and every knee shall bow.
--John W. Peterson

I hope that you will be ready when He comes!! Let me close with one other scripture:

And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. --Luke 21:20-28

1 comment:

Dori said...

It amazes me how you can pull a sermon out of a Wal-Mart trip, school bus kids and santa! I love you and love your messages.