His Coming

One Biblical topic that has always fascinated me since a young teenager has been the end times and the second coming of Christ. In my teenage years, even before I surrendered my life to Jesus, I couldn’t get enough of the Left Behind series. I can remember reading the Book of Revelation with little to no context and being absolutely stunned by the imagery and the promise of what was to come.

Since surrendering to Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9) in 2011, my fascination with the end times and the second coming of Christ has only intensified. In fact my fascination reached an unhealthy level that led to a paralysis, spiritually speaking, that led me to a place where I was looking so intently for the second coming of Christ that I was no longer fulfilling the Great Commission in my life (Matthew 28:18-20).

With all that said, the Bible has much to say about the end of days, the second coming of Jesus, and all we can expect as history reaches it climax in the fulfillment of all God’s promises. A quick cursory search reveals that over 20% of the Bible is prophetic in nature. Jesus Himself spoke at length (and in detail) concerning the end of days and His second coming.

Before we move forward I want to share a few reminders… it doesn’t matter if Jesus comes back today or a 1000 years from now, He is coming again. Jesus said it this way in the Scripture: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3 NIV) Before you dismiss this promise as some type of “spiritual” reunion only, remember that the sum total of all Scripture points to a physical, bodily resurrection and a physical, literal second coming of Jesus. 

To be sure, the second coming of Jesus is a physical, visible event. Scripture says: “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30 NIV) There are literally tens of thousands of books, messages, podcasts, websites, and other media devoted to discussing the end times. I would strongly encourage you not to fall into the trap of debating other Christians about their view of the tribulation, the rapture, etc. Instead, I would focus on the truth: Jesus is literally coming again and all those who trust in Him as Lord will enter His eternal rest in a place free from death, pain, hunger, suffering because all the former things will pass away. (Revelation 21:4)

So the truth we’ve explored so far is this: Jesus promised to come again and His second coming is a physical, literal event that all humanity will witness. Now, and the primary point of this message, since Jesus promised to come again and we believe this promise is true, did He have anything to say concerning what to expect before He comes again? As it turns out, entire chapters in the New Testament are dedicated to answering this question.

It turns out that we aren’t the first people to ever wonder when the end of time will be. The disciples asked Jesus this same question as recorded in Matthew 24 and Luke 22. Jesus told the disciples: You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Matthew 24:6-8 NIV) Notice a few important thoughts: Jesus told us not be “alarmed” when we see these promised things unfolding (they shouldn’t catch us unaware). Also all the things Jesus describes are “birth pains”, so we could expect the frequency, volume, and intensity to increase as it gets closer to His coming.

Some of the signs that Jesus gave us can speak to many different times throughout history. But an honest, critical examination of events we see unfolding in the world today point to an increasing frequency in every sign Jesus said we would see (in dramatic fashion). 

In case you are like some who claim that the events in Matthew 24 have already occurred… a parallel account of the teaching of Jesus is found in Luke 21. Remember this promise: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:25-27 NIV) If we aren’t careful this type of promise can really drive anxiety, fear, and despair as we think about all the awesome signs and wonders that will proceed the second coming of Jesus. In fact, Jesus promised people would “faint from terror”, but this doesn’t have to scare us as His followers. Jesus tells us: When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28 NIV)

Question… knowing that Jesus is coming again (spoiler alert: there is no doubt about this truth), how do we respond? I think our response must be one of joy, refreshing, and commitment. We should be serving Jesus every day like He could arrive at any minute. We should be sharing the Gospel with family, friends, colleagues, and our community as if today was the day that Jesus returns.

The Apostle Paul challenges us concerning the second coming: But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 NIV) The second coming of Christ should cause us great joy! The hope we have in Christ is sure, His promises are true, and we can rejoice knowing that His coming (and our being with Him) is not something just to hope for but something to look forward to. More simply… we don’t have to wonder if these things will happen, we know they will.

The entire point of this message is to remind every follower of Jesus of His promises. As Paul says: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV) So brothers and sisters, be encouraged! Our hope is sure. Our God’s promises are true. Jesus is coming again! The other hope for this message is to tell every man and woman who hasn’t trusted in Jesus yet: time is running out. None of us are promised tomorrow… the most important question you will ever answer in life is this: what are you doing about Jesus?

If you find yourself here today and you aren’t really sure about Jesus, who He is, how you can know Him, or what all this is really about… please visit www.myemanuel.com/i-am-ready/

Disclaimer: This entire message is intended to simply remind the reader of the Scripture concerning the second coming of Christ. This is not a theological statement or defense of any specific view of the end times (i.e. pre-tribulation rapture, etc.). 

The Miracle of the Bible

Today my 12 year old son Kasen asked me how I know the Bible is the Word of God. There is something quite special about deep theological discussions over breakfast before school. Maybe today if you are being honest you have the same question: is the Bible really the Word of God? I mean… after all it was written by men, can I trust it?

Before we explore the miracle of the Bible, I want to share a very serious note… if you have doubts, God already knows. Instead of hiding those doubts and fears, pray about them. Share them with God. Seek His guidance, wisdom, peace, and teaching on the truth about the Scripture. Don’t let those doubts drive you to a place of shame or guilt and certainly don’t hide or ignore them. You aren’t the first person to ever question God about the Bible (spoiler alert: you won’t be the last). God is big enough and loving enough to patiently and tenderly help you walk through those doubts as He helps grow your faith.

Before we can really explore a solid answer to Kasen (and your) question, we need to understand the Bible. So often I hear people say: “it’s just a book”. Actually the Bible is a collection of 66 books. These 66 books where written over 1500 years on three different continents in three different languages by 42 different men. These men ranged from the kings to fishermen. The collection of authors also included a tax collector, a doctor, prophets, priests, and even a civil engineer.

Now that we’ve established that the Bible isn’t “just a book”, the next thing we need to ask is: can we trust the Scriptures? Isn’t the Bible full of contradictions and inaccuracies? The truth is that from Genesis (the very first Book of the Bible) to Revelation (the very last Book) the story of God’s plan for mankind is clearly revealed. All those contradictions? When pressed most people have no idea where these world shattering opposites are found (hint: that’s because they aren’t there).

I find it fascinating that so many men and women who have set out to debunk Christianity have themselves ended up bowing their knee to Jesus. From ancient examples like Saul of Tarsus who became the Apostle Paul (see the Book of Acts) to modern examples like an investigative journalist who wrote “The Case for Christ”. One of my real favorites is about one of my favorite speakers Nabeel Qureshi who wrote “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”. History is replete with men and women of all walks of life who have sought to destroy Christianity once and for all… so many ended up trusting in Jesus themselves.

I find it fascinating that so many are so quick to dismiss the Bible and God outright without ever searching out the facts for themselves. They believe because their mom or dad told them, a professor, their spouse, a trusted and educated person. Over and over again people regurgitate all they’ve been told without ever really researching, studying, or honestly seeking God themselves.

“Only hillbillies and the uneducated believe in Jesus.” Its funny when people make statements like that without any facts. The fact is that some of the most educated men and women in the world, the most brilliant among us, all have reached the same conclusion: Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be (God) and the Bible is exactly what I’m telling you (the God breathed Scriptures that teach us everything we need to know about life, faith, and practice as God’s beloved creation – 2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

So one last thought about the Bible… take 66 other books from any library and try to create a cohesive story that doesn’t contradict itself and I’ll start considering whether the Bible is a fake and not the divine Word of God. There is a catch… your 66 books have to:

  • Be written by 42 different authors
  • Be written over the course of 1500 years
  • Be written originally in 3 different languages
  • Be written on 3 different continents
  • Be written by authors who didn’t know each other and didn’t have the other writings to reference

After you spend some time thinking about that prospect, just admit it… it isn’t possible. If it isn’t possible (and it isn’t) then even if you don’t attribute the Bible to be the divinely inspired Word of God, you have to begin exploring the truth that this is a special Book. There are literally tens of thousands of videos, articles, research papers and more about the Bible… maybe its time to stop taking someone else’s word for it and start investigating the truth yourself.

Some resources to get started:

I Am Angry.

Since as far back as I can remember, writing has been therapeutic for me. From writing poetry, to devotions, messages, and stories, it helps me to get my emotions and thoughts out in the open. Today I had to face a reality that has been sneaking up on me for about 30 years: I am angry. 

Pastor of Life.Church Craig Groeschel says: “you can’t heal what you won’t feel”. As someone who has been walking with Jesus for about 10 years, as a teacher and preacher, I am embarrassed to admit it. The anger in my life lurks consistently beneath the surface waiting for any catalyst to burst through the surface. They say the first step to resolving any problem is admitting that you have one… consider this step 1.

I find it fascinating that over and over again in the Scripture God promises things like grace, mercy, and rest. All of these promises are conditional on one command: “come”. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says: come all you who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest.” If we come… we will experience rest. More than coming though… we need to admit we are weary and burdened. OK Lord, you caught me… I’m more than weary. I’m desperate. 

One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 4:16 where again we are commanded to come” boldly before the throne of God in our time of need and we will find mercy and grace to help us. Again we must come. Again we must admit is our time of need… again Lord, you caught me… I desperately need you right now.

As I think about the Scripture that says: in your anger do not sin (Ephesians 4:26), I have to be honest… I rarely get angry without sinning. When I get angry I do way more talking than listening even though James 1:19 reminds me to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to become angry. You caught me again Jesus… I can’t seem to shut my mouth. I won’t even mention 1 Corinthians 16:14 that says: do everything in love. Everything? Well… what a wretch of a man I am.

Love is patient… love is kind… it is not easily angered… it keeps no records of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). It is so clear to me… I desperately need Jesus. So often I’ve used these Scriptures in devotions meant to remind others (and me) of the simple, practical ways we are called to follow Jesus. Right now they are a mirror that shows me: I have so far to go.

So now I’m feeling it. I’m angry… more than just angry, I am bitter, frustrated, full of unforgiveness, and hurt. But the question for me really is: why? How did I get this way? When did this all begin? I’m almost embarrassed to admit it all began almost 30 years ago. I’m embarrassed to admit it because I am only 34 and I’ve been saved for 10 years. I’m still needing to learn so much about God and His grace.

Maybe you are reading this today and you think I’ve lost my mind. Maybe you are reading it and saying: “amen”. You know someone just like me… maybe you are me. For me, the anger started from a broken childhood. I don’t mean just an emotionally distant mom or absent dad. I mean sexual abuse. Mental abuse. Emotional abuse. Physical abuse. Spiritual abuse. I mean seeing my mom and dad do and say things that most people only read about in story books. My greatest hurt is probably the simplest: why did my dad abandon me? Why wasn’t I enough to be loved by him? Why no matter what I did could I not win his love and a place in his life as my dad?

Such a sob story, I know. You had a hard childhood too… maybe yours was even worse. But you know what? That broken childhood has led to a broken man, husband, dad, and servant of God. I am not free today because I haven’t dealt with the pain, anger, betrayal, and brokenness from my childhood. What about you? Be honest… does your past still have power over your tomorrow?

Remember Hebrews 4:16? The verse right before it tells us something very important: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus, our Great High Priest, can empathize with our weakness because He was fully human. The same God who left the glory of heaven to live a life in the creation He created knows the weakness I struggle with. The same God who created me and died for my sins (John 3:16) so I could be forgiven and free knows exactly what I’m feeling and facing.

Today I don’t know what it is from your past that you’ve refused to face all these years, but it is stealing your future. Maybe you were raped. Maybe someone violated you in a way that still causes you great regret and shame today. Maybe someone should have been there for you and they weren’t. Maybe someone broke a promise and your heart in the process. I don’t know what you are feeling or facing… but Jesus does.

I wish I could tell you how much God loves you. Even though I am broken (and angry) Jesus still loves me. He will never leave me or forsake me. His grace is still enough for me and His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I say all that to say this: Jesus loves you too. Your life is precious to Him and He is ready to heal the hurt deep within your heart… are you ready?