A Tick On the Clock

If none of the things you want most out of life could be resolved by Jesus coming back, your heart is not calibrated correctly.  

Your heart was designed to commune with God.  It’s in God that you can have the peace and hope and joy that you thirst for.  And when the Son of God returns to make all things right, to judge the still-living and the dead, and to remake all things for His people, those who love Him will get to know Him and be with Him fully, in bodies that will not perish or wear out.  Nothing can be more satisfying than knowing Jesus Christ face to face and forever.  Nothing.  Not retirement.  Not romance.  Not a career.  The greatest prize a human being can have is still to come.  

Much of 21st century American life seems designed to make you forget that there is an eternity, a neverending series of tomorrows that you will either enjoy or endure.  Netflix and soccer practices and Chipotle and heated car seats and Friday nights and Facebook and ESPN all seem to insulate us against the reality that this American life of creature comforts is not the last chapter of anyone’s life.  It is not the way things will always be.  Every human being will either meet Jesus to enjoy Him forever or meet Jesus as judge to face what they deserve for their sins.  The great finish line you should be keeping in your mind is not the date you can withdraw from your 401k but the day you are raised to find Jesus looking back at you.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’

Revelation 20:11-21:4

What do you want most out of life?  Creature comforts?  Entertainment?  Peace and quiet?  Financial security?  Sex?  Respect?

Or do you want people to know God?  To see Him glorified?  To enjoy Him?  To see pain and death banished?

We weren’t born into a day and place that make it easy to remember we’ll each die, much less that the world will be destroyed and remade some day.  Ours is a country and culture filled with distractions and amusements.  But despite how satisfying we may find Netflix comedy specials and shopping on Amazon, there is something greater to live for.  The King is coming to fix what is broken and to fill every soul who is His to the brim with joy and peace.  Every moment is a tick on the clock towards the Day when Jesus splits the skies and puts an end to evil and a start to a peace on which the lights will never go out.

Which is why the Bible ends this way.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Revelation 22:20-21

Amen indeed.

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60 More Seconds of Christian Comfort

Look at the birds of the air:  they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow:  they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

Matthew 6:26-30

Look around you, Christian.  God feeds birds and causes flowers to grow and makes lilies and tulips beautiful.  This is His world.  And if you have truly been born again in Christ, then the God who owns and runs this universe spent His all to adopt you.  

Look at how tender this God is with robins and finches and dandelions and grass.  And you are His child.  Trust Him!

The word Jesus uses at the beginning of verse 28 doesn’t mean just to watch.  He uses a word like that in verse 26, but in the sentence that begins verse 28 He uses a word that means to study or observe or learn from.  So, seriously:  Go outside and look.  Step into your backyard and watch the petals of a flower flicker in a breeze like a candle flame, and know that every step in that dance is by His hand.  Go look at a tree and see the odd shape and direction of its branches, gnarled like an old man’s fingers, and know that every moment from that tree’s first break through the soil to its falling back down back into it are all by the decree of the God who loves and adopted and values you, Christian.  

“Do you see that sun coming up over the horizon, over there, tracing the blue sky with its warm gold?  Do you see that bright yellow star our side of the earth is facing right now?  Study it.  Look at it.  Birds and plants and stars and sins; this is all in His hands, child.  Trust Him.”

This is a good God.  This is a King we can trust.  This is a beautiful, caring, creating, provident, kind, remaking, rescuing, adoring, wise God.  

Let us seek His Kingdom first.  

Let us trust Him.

Grace and peace.

Peace.

Letter from Jesus: Laodicea

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It’s dumb and deadly to get comfort from anything more than we do from Jesus.

Jesus’ last letter to a 1st century church in the Roman province of Asia through the apostle John reads this way:

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

The Christians in this fellowship sought comfort and joy. We all do. It is a universal human trait to seek happiness, even if only in pain or self-pity. We all seek comfort and joy, even if what makes us comfortable is pain.

Now God is clear, both in Jesus Christ and in His Scripture, that joy, happiness, eternal gladness, and meaning can only be found in Him. So we are made to delight and enjoy something, just like we want to, but that something is God. When we love some other thing more, when we seek our ultimate happiness or comfort or meaning in a piece of created stuff (however beautiful), we are sinning against the One worthy treasure. Against the Kings who graciously made us to enjoy His goodness.

The Laodiceans apparently loved stuff.

They loved what dollar bills could buy more than what no bank account contains enough to cover.

At the end of the book of Revelation Jesus says, “let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” But the members of the church in the city of Laodicea, by and large, loved either clothes or expensive trips or nice wine or whatever else it was their ancient Asian money could buy them. They loved things more than Jesus Christ. They delighted in possessions or earthly pleasure more than in Him. Were excited by things more than the Savior.

Now, there are various ways God condemns idolatry (worshiping anything/anyone but Him or loving anything/anyone more than Him), but He does always condemn it. God’s chosen leader Moses commanded that idolatry not happen, the Old Testament prophets said God’s judgment would fall upon Judah and Israel for idolatry, and Jesus finally said that the allegiance of the heart had to be to Him above all.

If we’re excited about something else more than we are about Jesus, then we have something to repent of.

Very few of us recognize this as sin. I myself went years without thinking of loving TV or the weekend or even really good things like my wife more than Jesus as sin. But here Jesus reminds me and everyone else who follows Him that if we think we don’t need anything because we have stuff then we are sickening to Him. We make the risen King Jesus want to spiritually spit us out.

So what do we do?

Repent. Turn. Ask the Jesus who can change hearts and the Spirit who can make spiritually dead people alive to see the triune God (the God who is Father, Holy Spirit, and Son) as better. To cause us to want to buy His refined gold instead of the world’s sexy trinkets and trophies. We don’t just need what Jesus gives, we also need new eyes to see that we need it. And only God can make you love God.

But the encouragement Jesus gave Laodicea, and us, was and is that the idolatry doesn’t mean that it’s all lost. Our idolatry does not necessarily mean that He is certainly spitting us out right now. He says that He disciplines those He loves, and that anyone who lets Him in His friend.

So let’s turn our backs towards our greed and our faces toward the good Friend who loves us. Let’s ignore the clamoring in our flesh for more things and earthly pleasures, and ask God to make us long for the home we’re truly made for. Let’s be thankful for good things but never worship them, reserving that instead for the only One whom it’s due. Remember what the angel tells John in this same book in the last chapter:

“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.'”