Newsflash: Jesus To Return On May 21

“For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.”
(I Thessalonians 5:2)

This is Friday, May 20, 2011, and according to radio host Harold Camping, Jesus is coming back this Saturday.  Apparently, he and his friends has discovered “that WE CAN KNOW from the Bible alone that the date of the rapture of believers will take place on May 21, 2011 and that God will destroy this world on October 21, 2011.”

Maybe—maybe not.  I personally think Harold is a misguided soul, but one thing I do know is that Jesus is coming someday—which I think, and hope, will be very soon.  Another thing I know is that we ought to be living like he is coming back tomorrow.  Scripture makes it pretty clear that we ought to be living with our bags packed.

The Apostle Paul talks quite a lot about the return of Christ in both of his Thessalonian letters. He concludes the first letter by reminding his readers that this great event will happen when people least expect it—“like a thief in the night.” That means, as believers, we must therefore live each and every moment expecting the unexpected. We are to live with our bags packed, so to speak, ready to leave for our true home—heaven—at a moment’s notice.

What does it mean to live in such a way? Paul gives a checklist of sorts in the final verses of this letter. Perhaps you’ve used a checklist to make sure you have the right things packed in your suitcase before going on an extended trip. As you prepare for this journey home—which by the way, will be an extended trip with no return—here is your spiritual checklist to help you be ready:

Be alert:  I Thessalonians 5:6—be on the lookout; remain on guard as to Christ’s return and the evil conditions of the time in which it will take place.

Be self-controlled: I Thessalonians 5:6 & 8—keep your life, your passions, your desires and fleshly drives in check.

Be armed: I Thessalonians 5:8—put on the armor of faith (conviction), love (self-sacrifice) and hope (the assurance of your salvation).

Be edifying: I Thessalonians 5:11—instead of finding flaws in others, build them up and help them to be ready for Christ’s return.

Be respectful: I Thessalonians 5:12-13—treat your spiritual leaders—ministers and lay leaders—with high regard and deep love. Give them respect not because of their position, educational achievements or popularity, but because of the nature of their work.

Be peaceful: I Thessalonians 5:13—seek peace actively, not passively, with fellow believers.

Be involved: I Thessalonians 5:14-15—get involved with others by warning the idle, motivating the timid, helping the weak, being patient with everyone, and exhibiting kindness rather than retaliation toward those who’ve hurt you.

Be joyful: I Thessalonians 5:16—maintain an attitude of joy no matter what.

Be prayerful: I Thessalonians 5:17—stay in God’s presence continually.

Be thankful: I Thessalonians 5:18—not only in good times, but even in bad times exhibit an attitude of gratitude.

Be sensitive: I Thessalonians 5:19-20—develop a sensitivity and an appreciation for the work of the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ; especially as it relates to prophecy.

Be discerning: I Thessalonians 5:21—be knowledgeable of the Bible so that everything can be tested against it.

Be diligent: Thessalonians 5:21—cling to the truth of God’s Word, being quick to obey it.

Be pure: I Thessalonians 5:22—moral purity should continually characterize your life.

Be surrendered: I Thessalonians 5:23-24—be wholly dependent on God and cooperative with the Holy Spirit to bring about sanctification and blamelessness in your life—body, soul and spirit.

Be interceding: I Thessalonians 5:25—regularly intercede for others before the throne of God.

Be friendly: I Thessalonians 5:26—love and affection must be demonstrative, and an outward expression of your inner affection for fellow believers.

Be unselfish: I Thessalonians 5:27—take responsibility to share God’s truth with other believers.

Be gracious: I Thessalonians 5: 28—live in the light and reality of God’s grace, personally, relationally and continually.

Are you ready to go, or do you need to do some more packing? Jesus may come today, so make sure you’re ready for the journey.  And if he comes tomorrow, I’ll see you in a pretty cool place.  If he doesn’t, then I’ll see you in another pretty cool place—church this Sunday!

Maranatha!

“Our deepest calling is not to grow in our knowledge of God. It is to make disciples. Our knowledge will grow—the Holy Spirit, Jesus promised, will guide us into all truth. But that’s not our calling, it is His. Our calling is to prepare the world for Christ’s return. The world is not ready yet. And so, we go about introducing a dying world to the Savior of Life. Anything we do toward our own growth must be toward that end.” ~Jeffery Bryant

 

Your Best Life Next

Read: Mark 13

“Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.”  (Mark 13:8, NLT)

A lot of people are wondering these days if we are in the end times—which is okay by me, especially if it leads them to put their faith in Christ as both Savior and Lord. World conditions and human events are causing a lot of shaking and sifting, and with good reason: This present world is heading inexorably toward a predicted finish.

As Jesus speaks of the signs that will precede his return in Mark 13, you realize that we may very well be at the beginning of the end of time. He said at the end of verse 8, “these are the beginning of birth pains.” The “beginning of birth pains” — that means they are only going to get more frequent and increasingly painful before the birthing of God’s prophetic plan. Then Jesus provides us with exacting accuracy end-time conditions that read like the headlines we wake up to every morning:

  • The New York Times may report on the increase of international conflict, but Jesus first predicted it in Mark 13:6-7.

  • CNN may run story after story on catastrophic environmental upheaval caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and wild, destructive weather, but Jesus first prophesied a chaotic cosmos in Mark 13:8.

  • Fox News anchors may ring their hands over global deprivation of basic needs brought on my rising fuel costs, food shortages and the unstable dollar, but Jesus first said it would happen in Mark 13:8.

  • CBN, TBN and The Voice of the Martyrs may tell heart-wrenching stories of the proliferation of persecution, but they are only retelling what Jesus told in Mark 13:9.

Yeah, things are going to get pretty ugly at the end—Jesus said so—and it looks like the ugliness has already started.  But that’s okay—it only means better things are on the way. So don’t get upset, depressed or worried sick, your redemption is drawing close.  And if you’ve gotten too comfy with this present world, consider what C.S. Lewis said,

“Has this world been so kind to you that you would leave it with regret?  There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

And for certain, don’t get caught up in the explosion of spiritual deception that Jesus said would be the very first sign that we’re heading into the end times. (Mark 13:5-6) Stay alert, because there will be an exponential increase of teachers, preachers and spiritual leaders who will not tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Among the many doctrinal heresies they will promote, my guess is that one of their most convincing doctrines will be that everything is ok, that you should just go about your business, that God wants to make you healthy, wealthy and wise, and give you your best life now.  When you think about it, that is the same message, since the days of Noah right up to the present moment, that false messengers have always promoted right before Divine judgment.

So don’t buy into it.  Your best life is yet to come—and it is just around the corner!

“A time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear.” (II Timothy 4:2-3)

What If God Took Over?

Bible scholar Arthur Pink wrote, “Neither the nearness nor the remoteness of Christ’s return is a rule to regulate us in the ordering of our temporal affairs. Spiritual preparedness is the great matter.” Where are you on the preparedness scale?