“I’ll Be Back, Jack.”

Like every dog, Jack watches with anticipation for me to return whenever he sees me go.  “I’ll be back, Jack,” I assure him as he looks at me with somewhat mournful eyes.  If he had his way I would stay with him every moment of the day.

It was the same with the disciples of Jesus.  After the crucifixion, when they finally began to understand exactly who Jesus was and why He had come, there came the moment when He told them goodbye.  We read in Acts 1:9-11, “He was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see Him.  As they strained to see Him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them.  ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring into heaven?  Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday, He will return from heaven in the same way you saw Him go!'”

As we enter the Easter season, we are reminded of this wonderful fact: Jesus is coming again.  We wait and watch.  We don’t know when He will come, but we know it will happen.   He will return and take us with Him.

When I leave Jack, he looks longingly, but he doesn’t stand gazing after me every moment I’m away.  He’s very busy.  He has hole digging to do, hard work keeping the birds from landing in his yard, and of course, there’s play time with his ball and frisbee.  He keeps busy, but every so often, he takes time to stand and watch for my return.  He looks for the signs: the sound of my car, the sight of me walking toward the house.  Oh, delight, when he sees the signs of my return.

It is the same with us.  We are busy with the things of life, both the mundane necessities as well as the ministry aspects we are involved in: but every now and again, we take time to stop and reflect.  We look for the signs of His return.  The signs are there, of course.  He is coming again.

As the song reminds us, “Oh what a day of rejoicing that will be.”

Coming Soon!

I set myself a goal this week to finish painting the back porch.  I had begun this task some weeks ago but had to stop midstream due to some work being done on our house.  A few days ago, things came to a point that allowed me to begin my own labors once again.

My mother had some errands to run and would be gone for most of the day.  I saw my chance and took it, painting non-stop, so wanting to complete the porch as a surprise to her.  I could imagine the look on her face and her sheer happiness at thoughts of enjoying morning coffee on her freshly painted back porch, and with everything back in good order. It was a pleasure dipping the brush in the paint and pulling it across the wood.  She would be coming soon.  Anticipation of her arrival thrilled me.

In the midst of my painting, a thought came to my mind.  Jesus is coming back soon.  It could be any minute, or any day, or any month, or any year.  We don’t know when, but we know He is indeed returning for us who know Him.  We are encouraged throughout God’s Word to be ready.  What does that mean?  To see Him will either be an event filled with great joy or mixed with thankfulness at His return coupled with shame in how we have been living.  If we are found walking in His ways, having kept our hearts and minds steadfast on Him, we will be joyful at His return.  On the other hand, if we have ignored His leading, paid no attention to His commandments, given no thought to living in holiness, then we will be filled with great shame.

Let’s be ready for His coming!  Let’s determine, like painting the back porch, to keep our lives clean, our minds focused on Him.  After all, there’s no earthy joy to compare to it, and the thrill at His return will be immeasurable.

In Revelation 22:12, Jesus speaks to those who belong to Him.  He says, “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.”

Let’s be ready!  Preparing for His arrival is an anticipation of jubilation and triumph!

Weather Warnings!

All through the night, throughout the mid-western and southern states in the U.S., the weather was fierce. Lightening flashed so bright it appeared to be daylight for just a moment. Thunder boomed across the heavens, so strong it vibrated the walls of the house. Wind was loud as it rushed about in its severe strength.

It was not a surprise that the weather was wild last night. All day yesterday the news reports were full of warnings. We were all warned that conditions could be ripe for tornadoes. No one knew if a tornado would come, but everyone was warned to be aware. “Get your safe place ready,” the weather reporters instructed. Tornadoes did touch down in Oklahoma and Mississippi.

As I lay in bed last night, feeling the storm shake the house, watching my room light up with the flashing lightening, I thought of something else that could come at any moment: the rapture of Christians throughout the earth! From the time of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven, Christians have been looking for the rapture to take place. It could happen today or next year or fifty years from now. Christians have always been looking and waiting.

In I Thessalonians 4 we read that there will be a great sound like a trumpet. At that moment, the bodies of those Christians who have died will break through the graves, joining their spirits who are already with Jesus. Then, we who are still alive on the earth will disappear so quickly, the Bible tells us this action is like “the twinkling of an eye!” Wow! Imagine what the news reports might be when millions of Christians are suddenly gone!

This will be so exciting for Christians as they finally get to see Jesus face to face. After this happens the antichrist will come on the scene. He will wreak evil upon the earth such as the world has never known. He will attack Israel in the biggest battle ever to take place in history. The antichrist will attempt to sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem, but this will not happen. Jesus will actually come to earth for the second time, setting up His perfect kingdom and we will all be with Him! Oh, how exciting is that!

The second coming will be amazing — but first — the rapture. There is a verse in I John 2:28 that so makes me want to be ready should Jesus rapture us during my lifetime. John wrote, “And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ, so that when He returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from Him in shame.”

How do we remain in fellowship so that we will not be embarrassed should Jesus come during our lifetime? We must make certain that our hearts are cleansed everyday. When we know we have sinned, and we all do, then we must ask forgiveness immediately. Jesus longs to keep us washed clean. Also, when we’re tempted to do something or perhaps go somewhere that we don’t feel comfortable about, we must ask ourselves — if Jesus comes today, would I be embarrassed at where He would find me? Would I be filled with shame at what I was doing?

We want to be full of joy, not embarrassment when He comes again. Let’s pray everyday, asking the Holy Spirit to keep us aware of unholy things that would creep into our lives and into our thoughts. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and courage to have the goal to live in holiness. Then, when that trumpet sounds — woohoo! no shame! Only joy!

We Don’t Just Stand There

Everywhere I travel, I meet Christians who are excitedly talking about the Lord’s return. Jesus told His disciples to watch for the signs and be ready because He would come back to gather His own unto Himself. There have always been signs, but today, there are more signs than ever before. As we keep an eye on world events in politics and the economy, moral decline, and even weather conditions, Christians everywhere are feeling an excitement begin to churn within. Could it be? Will He return in our lifetime? Questions swirl in our minds; hope grows in our hearts.

However, even as we anxiously and joyfully await Jesus’ return, let us not make the mistake that so many have made in the past. Although Jesus told us of the signs, He never pinpointed an exact day. Even He said that only His Father knew the time of His return. But the signs! When we see them, what can we do but look up and wait? That’s where the mistake comes. We don’t simply look up and wait; but in our excitement we must — get back to work — while we’re waiting.

Remember when Jesus rose from the dead? Then, after 40 days, He returned to heaven, rising up into the sky as the crowd was watching. It’s recorded in Acts 1:1-11. Look carefully at verses 10-11, “As they were straining their eyes to see Him, two white-robed men suddenly stood there among them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. And someday, just as you saw Him go, He will return!'”

The question the angels put to the crowd is also for us today. We watch for the signs that Jesus is getting ready to return. We want to be ready, living right and holy, so we’re not ashamed and embarrassed at His return; but while we wait, we continue working every day to the best of our ability. We work hard to live as our Father in heaven instructs us. We work hard to share the love of God with those around us. We work hard to let us others know that Jesus is the only way that we may find forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life in heaven with Him.

It’s like the farmer. I wonder if there has ever been a more strenuous occupation than that of the hard working farmer. He puts seed into the ground. He waters and cares for the soil. Then — he waits. He believes with all his heart that the seed will grow. Soon, something sprouts from the ground. Signs of produce coming! So, what does the farmer do? Does he stand there, staring, waiting? Of course not! He works hard to keep the fields free of weeds. He works hard to prepare His equipment for harvest. He works hard to make his barn ready to store the produce. He watches the signs with great excitement, knowing that what he waits for will come soon; and while he waits, he works hard to prepare for that moment.

We see the signs around us. We know Jesus could return any moment. Therefore, we work all the harder to keep our hearts ready to meet Him at that most glorious and joyful of moments. As it tells us in I Thessalonians 4:16, when we least expect it, the trumpet will sound, and we will be gathered with Him in the sky. Keep watching — but work hard — be ready!