Archive for February, 2021
“He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments; who can stand before His cold? He sends forth His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow” (Psalm 147:16-18).
Arctic temperatures, snow, sleet, and ice are equally glorious to other displays of God’s creative wonder. Yet, they present a unique paradox; they are both burden and blessing. The harsh conditions encountered when these wintry exhibitions first appear soon melt away and become liquid nourishment. Such is the word of God and the blowing of God’s Spirit to heart’s grown cold; it is from these receptive hearts that living waters flow.
“But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at which time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into” (Matthew 24:43).
It’s a haunting word of warning; metaphorically, and literally, to get one’s house order; to recognize that is the normal and ordinary things everyone else is doing, not the hideous evil things that some people are doing, that desire to steal away the faith and soul of your family. A great lineage of faith that might have been handed down to the next generation is being stolen away by neglect and thoughtless decision-making. The responsibilities of the head of the house cannot be handed off and abandoned to adolescents and the infinite options that would seek to fill their calendar.
“Then there were two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left” (Matthew 24:40-41).
Never underestimate the importance of your job performance as a platform for all things being done to the glory of God. Even in what might be considered to be the most menial and repetitive of tasks, the coming of Christ of Christ will reveal a great dissimilarity between those just doing a job, and those who are on mission where their feet are. Keep plowing and grinding!
“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark” (Matthew 24:38).
Because he saw in the story of Noah a warning of the kind of carelessness to be avoided (v.37), we might have expected from Jesus a more scandalous description of lewd and lascivious behaviors. Instead, he holds forth activities that look quite routine and ordinary. In other words, that humanity is unprepared for the return to Christ isn’t to be seen so much in the debauchery of their sin as it is their secular indifference. It demands we peal back the layers of our lives; to determine whether or not the call of Christ is truly distinguishing us from the “normal” doings of the masses. In the end, that I was just doing like everybody else is a terrible alibi.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
“Fear” and “fools” stand in contrast to one another and represent human perspectives toward the divine. Those who fear the Lord reverence him, stand in awe, and respect him. Recognizing his unfathomable ways (Romans 11:33), theirs is a lifetime pursuit of knowing him. Fools, on the other hand, possess what is perhaps the worst human attribute–an unteachable spirit. They have arrived, are never wrong and, thus, need never repent nor ask for forgiveness. They are their own god.
“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Do not turn to the right nor to the left” (Proverbs 4:25, 27).
The committed follower of Jesus Christ faces each day with a single-minded devotion to honoring and glorifying him. Recognizing the many distractions that compete for our time and attention, the wisdom writer offers practical and strategic counsel for achieving our goal. Success is a matter of focus; it’s knowing who you are; what you’re about and not being side-tracked by those things that enter into your peripheral vision. When God is ready for something or someone to be part of your life, he will move it front of you.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
For the followers of Christ, Jesus’ words are a historical treasure; the touchstone in all matters of faith and practice; a repository of truth. While numerous outside voices, and competing authorities seek to espouse a culturally accommodating “Christian” religion, Jesus’ words, alone, hold forth the words of life. Just as his words proved true regarding the siege of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the temple, it would be foolish to think otherwise in regard to his return.
“Now learn from the parable of the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near, so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:32-33)
Though evergreens dominated the tree population of ancient Palestine, both the almond and fig tree were exceptions; losing their leaves with the changing of seasons. The leafing of the almond tree occurred in early Spring, while the fig tree leafed in late Spring, indicating that the hard winter and rainy season were ending; that summer was imminent and the bountiful harvest was near. In similar fashion, the chaos of these trying days can be a source of joyful reassurance; that the hard winter season of tribulation draws us nearer still to the Lord of the harvest.
“And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other” (Matthew 24:31).
Being both a visual and audible event, the return of Christ will surely be an experience of sensory overload. Whatever else you missed in the events of life and history, that God might have used to, perhaps, capture your attention, you will neither miss nor misinterpret his triumphal coming. It will be the crowning rendition of a hallelujah chorus, the definitive vindication of God’s persevering elect, and the closing of the door to all who could have known him as Savior, but will now only know him as Judge.
“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and glory (Matthew 24:30).
Having borrowed the galactic language of the prophets, as they described God’s coming judgment (v.29), Jesus now answers, specifically, the question posed by the disciples as to the sign of his coming (v.3). That he offers his appearing in the sky as the only sign is a needed reminder that our hope and anticipation does not rest upon the deciphering of celestial movements, but the coming of the son of man alone. In this, those who have endured in the life of faith will rejoice, while the masses will mourn for an opportunity lost.