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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Perhaps today!

Blood Moons; Tetrads; the unexpected return of Halley's Comet.  Talk about 'signs in the heavens'!  Many people appear to be predicting some kind of cataclysmic event that will herald the end of the world.  "We're doomed, Mr Mainwaring!  Doomed, ah tell ye!" (with apologies to Pte. Fraser!).
So what, exactly, is happening?  Well, I make no claim to be an astronomer, so am unwilling to make any specific pronouncements concerning the above phenomena.  However, I do know a wee bit about the Bible, and about the Christian faith - and it certainly speaks of an event that will eclipse any of those mentioned above.
The church has known for some 2,000 years that Jesus is coming back. He made it perfectly clear.And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Mt.24:30); “when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit upon His glorious throne.” (Mt.25:31); “Then everyone will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds with great power and glory.” (Mk.13:26, Lk21:27); “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (Jn.14:3)
And the apostle Paul adds to the evidence.  In that great passage in his first letter to the believers in Thessalonica, he writes: “And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.  I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet Him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.” (4:13-18)
So, left in no doubt that Jesus is going to return – not, this time, as a helpless infant in a mucky, smelly, part of a building that was reserved for the family’s animals; but breaking into all that we know, as King of kings, and Lord of lords.
When the disciples asked Jesus about the date of His return (Matt. 24:3), He told them that only God the Father knows: "However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself.  Only the Father knows." (v.36).
He went on to explain that people will be going about their ordinary business; He pointed out that His coming again will be a time of separation between people who are even working together; He reminds us that if we knew that something was going to happen, we would be prepared. Then He urged His followers - now, as well as then - to be prepared so that they would not be taken by surprise. "You also must be ready all the time. For the Son of Man will come when least expected." (v.44).
The true story is told that, while he was president of the USA, Dwight Eisenhower was on holiday in Denver, Colorado.  He was told about a 6-year-old boy, Paul Haley who was dying of an incurable cancer, and that the little boy had expressed the wish that he might meet the president.  Eisenhower immediately decided to grant the boy’s wish and, one Sunday afternoon, a big black limousine arrived in the street where Paul lived. Out stepped the president with his bodyguards and knocked on the door. Paul's father answered, wearing old jeans, a grubby shirt and a full day's growth on his beard. "Can I help ya?" he asked. Eisenhower responded, "Is Paul here? Tell him the President of the United States would like to meet with him." Absolutely thrilled, little Paul Haley walked around his father's legs and stood looking up into the face he admired most. The president kneeled down, hugged him and took him out to sit in the presidential limo. Before they said good-bye, they shook hands, then just as suddenly as Eisenhower had appeared - he left.
The neighbours still talk about that day. But one man was not entirely happy about it - and that was Paul's dad, Donald Haley, who said: "I'll never forget standing there in those old jeans, a dirty shirt and a grubby beard to meet the president. If only I'd known he was coming."
We do know, and we await the coming of One Who is much more important than even the president of the USA.  Listen: "He (Jesus) will appear a second time… to those who are waiting for Him" (Hebrews 9:28 NIV). If you want to go - you've got to be ready!
We don't know when Jesus will return; He may come at any time. Dr. Richard De Haan, founder of Radio Bible Class Ministries, kept a two-word motto in his office: "Perhaps Today."
My wife and I were making some plans for our retirement a long time before we actually retired..  However, we constantly made it clear that they were our plans – that Lord might have something totally different in mind.  By the way - He did!  Of course, we also recognised that we might never have the opportunity to put those plans into action – because Jesus might have returned first! 
When you make your daily plans, are you aware that the Christ may return? Are you ready; prepared to meet Him?  Many are already making preparation for the celebration of His first coming; but give no thought to His second!
I have a strong background in the Boys' Brigade.  I was never involved with the Scouting movement.  But I love the Scout motto: Be prepared!! 
If you’re not ready when the president, or any other 'dignitary' visits your home, you might regret it for the rest of your life.  If you’re not ready when Jesus returns, then you will definitely regret it – for all of eternity!

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