March 17th 2019: Alan Davison

Alan Davison-March19Luke 21:28

The Aramaic word ‘maranatha’ occurs only once in the Bible. The Greek version, ‘parousia’ means ‘coming’ or ‘presence,’ In Biblical times it refers to the coming of Jesus, His Advent. ‘If anyone has no love for the lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come’ (1 Corinthians 16:22) Maranatha should mean the same for us as the original citizens in the first century A.D. Revelation 22:20 and the two letters of Thessalonians both refer to the second coming of the Lord. There are 260 chapters in the New Testament which refer to the Second Coming, and 380 references to the Lord coming again.

We can be certain Jesus will come again. 

This morning, we will look at what Jesus says about His return.

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near’ (Luke 21:28).

‘When these things begin to happen.’
Note the emphasis in the previous verse, ‘Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’ (Luke 21:27). There is a contrast to verse 8, ‘And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them’ (Luke 21:8). It is clear that when someone has to tell us he is the Messiah, clearly he is not! Everyone will see the Messiah return. ‘Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen (Revelation 1:7).

Every day we are alive on earth brings us a day closer to Jesus’ return. As believers, we can look forward to this.

‘Look up.’
It seems simple enough but it is something we struggle with. Something happens to us and our initial reaction is to look around for solutions when we should look up! We should pray without ceasing, live our lives in a prayerful fashion. It should impact how we live our lives. Jesus is encouraging us to keep our eyes on God. It we retain focus on Him, He will do great things in our lives. Our Lord’s return needs to sustain us in our present circumstances. We need to be faithful to the Lord to the very end.

There have been many in the past and today, who have considered the coming of Jesus to be imminent. Rather, what we should do is live with the thought that the coming of Jesus may be imminent. Jesus tells us these things because they are to have a bearing on our present activity. Look up and be prepared.

‘Lift up your heads.’
This is not quite the same as just looking up. Christ does not want us to be inactive as we wait for His second coming. We often face spiritual battles. Ephesians speaks of the armour of God with good reason. God provides us with spiritual armour. He is not only in the front-line with us. To take up the armour of God is to identify with Jesus. To be called a Christian is to accept we will be identified with Christ. Many will seek to persecute us.

Our human nature wants to obtain our own salvation, but salvation only happens when we yield to Christ. It is nothing of ourselves. We should be unashamed of the gospel. We are to stand on the truth and for the truth. Jesus declares persecution will turn out as an occasion for testimony (Luke 21:13).

Another aspect to lifting our heads is our need to be aware of what is happening around us, lest we be taken by the wiles of Satan. We need to search the scriptures daily. Look up to God and His Word, lift up our heads, God has work for us to do.

‘Because your redemption draws near.’
Jesus clearly speaks to believers. While Jesus has already paid the price of our sins and redeemed us, in order to be fit for heaven we need to be more like Jesus. ‘For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself’ (Philippians 20-21). Be expectant for the Lord’s return. We are free of the power of sin. On that day, when we are finally transformed, we will know we are beyond all sin.

Watch and pray (Luke 21:36). Look forward to that great day. We have a general concern for those who don’t yet believe, and also a specific concern for close family and friends who are not Christians. If they remain in that state they will truly know what fear is when Jesus returns (Luke 21:26). This is the end for those who do not believe in God. Yet contrast this with believers who are to watch and pray always, looking up to God.

We are also to look forward to His coming. In this way we will be counted worthy because Jesus has clothes us with righteousness (Luke 21:36). It will be a great day, redemption completed!

September 10th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian-September 17Hebrews 10: 23-2, Holding Fast Together

There’s a battle waging for the souls of God’s people today. Whilst our God leads His people, He calls them together to encourage each other to look to Him. It’s a team effort. A top priority of the Christian life is learning to battle against unbelief. Now we are Christians it’s a wrong notion to think the battle is over. Have we allowed our unbelief to creep in through the back door? Paul’s closing remarks to Timothy are, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul had fought the good fight all his Christian life. One way he did this was to surround himself with faithful believers.

  • Holding fast together:

Hebrew 10-23
The biggest battle we face is unbelief. When we make a public confession of faith through baptism it should serve as a strong motivation to hold fast when we’re tempted to disbelief, to compromise. Holding fast implies there is some serious danger, serious difficulty. What persecutions are you facing? We are persecuted in different ways. We may yet face our greatest persecutions. We should be ready. We all face the pressure of conformity of the world; it is easier to blend in than to stand. The writer of Hebrews wants us to hold fast, not to let go. Christians have a firm grip on Jesus Christ. We are being kept, not ultimately because of our grip on Christ, but because of His grip on us. Keep on holding on to the one who will never leave or forsake you. Hold fast without wavering.

  • Keep your hope:

Hope points to the absolute certainty, but not yet realised promises of God. He who promised is faithful. We put our trust in Him. Are you trusting the faithful God, trusting Him to complete what He has already done? Hope is essential for the Christian life. It’s like a long rope that keeps us attached to the sovereign God. Hope is grounded on the historical life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. ‘So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.’ (Hebrews 6:18-20).

Throughout the storms of life, the pressures to conform to this world, the anchor that holds us is Jesus, our rock. Let us pray for one another that we will continue to hold fast in faith. An incredible future awaits us. Life is tough, pray that we will be granted a clearer vision of heaven to come, see the beautiful shores that await us.

  • Encourage each other to love.

‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.’ (Hebrew 10: 24-25).

Continually minister to one another. ‘Shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is half the sorrow.’ (Swedish motto). Be involved, like co-workers, team-workers, rejoicing with those who rejoice, mourning with those who mourn. ‘But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.’ (Ecclesiastes 4:10). When a person struggles spiritually that person needs those who will help him out of the ditch. Find help from others. We also need others because of their skills and their gifts. We’re a team, we do not excel each other; we depend on each other. The command here is ‘to consider’ how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds – to encourage others around you to love and good deeds. To consider is to give thought about how it is going to happen. Ask ‘What does the person need to grow to encourage them to look to Christ and to encourage them?’ How do we do this? It’s very important not to neglect to meet together. It’s so discouraging when people allow the world’s priorities to crowd in and neglect meeting together. We should encourage one another. The devil is trying hard to attack God’s people, to remove their confidence in Christ. 

Hebrew 10-23-24
We should be filled with joy because of Jesus’ return. We should meet together to have encouragement, to see a glimpse of heaven. We have three meetings here a week in Penuel which we can attend. We can see the power of Christ. He is keeping His people. Our gatherings are to be encouraging, pointing us to heaven. Are you aware Jesus is coming? These are difficult days but we need to gather together, to press on, looking in hope to Jesus’ return.