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In the Blink of an Eye

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In the Blink of an Eye: A meditation on the Second Coming

Introduction

·        It is a joy to be with you today and to have the opportunity to share with you some thoughts from the Word of God.

·        Turn in your Bibles with me to 1 Thessalonians 4:13

·        Have you ever been reading along through the Bible and the words suddenly jump right off of the page and into your spirit? It may have even been a passage that you have read 100 times, but the Holy Spirit takes those words and causes them to come alive in your heart.

·        When I was praying and thinking about this morning, that was just such an occasion, and I cam across these words.

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

·        Let me encourage you this morning: Jesus is coming again.

·        Think about it:

o       Jesus said in John 14:3, “I am going to prepare a place for you. I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

·        Now fast forward a little bit:

·        After Jesus’ resurrection, he gave the disciples the great commission. Then,

o       After He had ascended to Heaven, two angels appeared and proclaimed, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

·        Jesus is coming Again!

o       The Bible last words are a promise of Jesus, “Surely I am coming soon.” And John’s reply, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

·        Jesus is coming again!!!

·        Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great poet and writer once said, “That which dominates our imagination and our thoughts will determine our lives and our character.”

·        How would our lives be different if we often wondered about, daydreamed about, and in our mind’s eye experienced his coming?

·        What if we expected Him to appear at any moment, and in the blink of an eye, we’d be changed and forever be with Him?

o       How would our lives be different? Would our motivations change?

§         The Bible continuously instructs us to Watch! Be ready! Prepare to meet Jesus!

o       How would our devotional lives change?

§         Would our Bible reading come alive?

§         How about our prayers? What would we pray about if we were truly concerned about the Lord’s work?

o       Would our singing be different, if we longed for His coming?

§         What if we thought the next song that we sang would be with the great hosts of heaven?

§         What if we could envision the Lord, seated on his throne, enjoying the praise of His people? How would our worship be different?

o       What about our witness? Would our passion for seeing the lost come to know Christ change if we were longing to see Jesus face to face?

·        What are you living for? What are you giving your life to? Will it last, and in the light of eternity, does it really matter?

·        What if we were a people who longed for His appearing?

·        Bart Millard knows what it means to long for Christ’s appearing.

o       You may not know who Bart is, but most of you know his music.

o       In 1991, when Bart was only 18 years old, his father, a devoted Christian, died after a long battle with cancer.

o       During a time of tremendous personal pain, people would encourage him by sharing with him the joys his father was experiencing in heaven.

o       As Bart meditated on the joys of heaven, he kept repeating to himself the phrase, “I can only imagine.” He would write it everywhere, on napkins, paper bags, scrap paper. Each time he thought of and longed for his father, he would repeat these words: “I can only imagine.”

o       The phrase resonated in his heart and gave him the strength and hope he needed to move on.

o       Meditating on the awesome moment when he too would lay eyes on the Lord gave him hope.

o       About 8 years later, Bart was the lead singer for a new band, Mercy Me, and as they were writing songs for their new album, he came across the phrase in an old notebook. Ten minutes later, a song was born:

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By Your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When Your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son
I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

·        We all know what it’s like to long for someone’s return. It is one of those threads that binds us all together in the human experience.

 

o       Some of the most touching stories on the nightly news involve families waiting in anticipation at an airport or a bus station. They hold signs bearing the name of a husband or wife, or even a new daddy. They are longing to welcome a loved one home from serving our country in the military abroad.

o       We also see the anticipation in the eyes of a groom on his wedding day, as he awaits his first glimpse of his beloved bride. The groom longs for his bride’s appearing.

o       We have had the wonderful experience of taking part in their lives as they anticipate the arrival of their first child. We long for their appearing.

o       Just as Bart Miller and just as the Thessalonian church, we have all longed to be reunited with a loved one that has “fallen asleep” in Christ.

§         The church at Thessalonica was only a couple of years old.

§         They had experienced intense persecution from the Romans and the Jews.

§         They were new Christians, and were saddened that some of their loved ones had died, and had missed the return of Christ.

§         Paul instructs them to look forward to Christ’s appearing. As a result of this expectation, you will be encouraged, and your life will be characterized by self-discipline, faith, hope, and love.

§         They were longing for His appearing

 

 

·        My question for us this morning, is do we really long for Christ’s Appearing?

·        If we did, what kind of Christians would we be?

·        What if we truly believed, as the Bible says, that we are strangers and aliens in this world. That we are only ambassadors here, and that our eternal citizenship lies in Heaven?

 

How would we be changed, if we longed for His appearing?

1.      If we longed for His appearing, we would be an encouraging people, utterly convinced of the faithfulness of God.

  • Look again at Chapter 4, Verse 18. “Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
  • Again, in Chapter 5, Verse 11, “Therefore, encourage one another, and build each other up, just as in fact you are now doing.”
  • Why would we be encouraged if we longed for his appearing?
  • It is because we will be utterly convinced of the steadfast faithfulness of God.
  • Illustration: Jesus is coming to pick us up!
  • In the Greek, the word for encourage or comfort is parakaleo meaning to “stir up, to provoke, to incite people in a given direction, to inspire hope, courage, and confidence.”
  • It is the same word used by Jesus to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit: He is the comforter.
  • It is the idea of one person joining someone else on a journey, and speaking words that encourage the traveler to keep pressing on despite obstacles and fatigue.
  • In Hebrews 10:24-25, the Bible says: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
  • What if each one of us walked in these doors this morning with the goal of encouraging someone else?
  • Be encouraged because God is faithful! No matter what you may have been going through, God’s purpose will prevail, He has a purpose for your life, and a reason for you to be here.
  • How would we be changed if we longed for His appearing? We would be an encouraged and encouraging people, utterly convinced of the steadfast faithfulness of God.

2.      If we longed for His appearing, we would not be so concerned with the temporary pleasures of this life, but would be consumed with the eternal pleasures of Heaven.

  • Don’t waste your life on temporal pleasures!
  • We have all heard that you can’t take your possessions with you when you die, that you will never see a U-Haul following a hearse.
  • “That which dominates our imagination and our thoughts will determine our lives and our character.”
  • Richard Foster, speaking about the discipline of simplicity in The Celebration of Discipline says, “We often crave things we neither need nor enjoy. We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.”
  • The more Christians are caught up in enjoying the “good things” of this life, and the more they neglect genuine Christian fellowship and their personal relationship with Christ, the less they will long for His return.
  • There will be no room left. The reality of the kingdom just gets crowded out.

  • In Luke 12:16-21, Jesus give us this illustration:

16 And he told them a parable, saying, The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops? 18 And he said, I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. 20 But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.

  • How can we be about furthering the Kingdom of God, when we are so wrapped up in our own kingdoms to care?
  • Store up your treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thief does not break in and steal.
  • I love the song, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Open the eyes of my heart, I want to see you, I want to see you High and Lifted Up! Shining in the Light of your Glory! Pour out your Power and Love, as we sing Holy! Holy! Holy!”
  • When God answers this prayer, the “Things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of his Glory and grace.” And the real purposes in life will become clear.
  • What is the one passion of your life that makes everything else look like rubbish in comparison?
  • Oh, that God would waken in you a single passion for a single great reality that would unleash you, and set you free from small dreams, and set you free for the glory of Christ.

·        If we longed for His appearing, we would not be so concerned with the temporary pleasures of this life, but would be consumed with the eternal pleasures of Heaven.

 

3.      If we longed for His appearing, we would be concerned with the chief objective of sharing our faith with the lost.

  • Do we view the lost in the light of eternity?
  • Christ came and died and rose again in order to gather a joyful, countless company for his name from all the peoples of the world. This is what every Christian should dream about. This is worth giving your life for.
  • If you really want to experience the joy of your salvation, and the encouragement of the Second Coming to be complete, then share it with someone else.
  • There comes a point in our Christian walk, when our song transforms from “Open the eyes of my heart Lord!” to “Open the eyes of their hearts, Lord, Open the eyes of their hearts!, I want them to see you, to see you High and Lifted up, shining in the Light of your Glory, Pour out your power and love, as we sing Holy, Holy, Holy!”
  • Philemon 6, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
  • Pray that God would give you vision to see the lost through His eyes. These are the ones that He died for.
    • This is why His appearing has not yet come! To give as many people as possible the opportunity to be together with Him on that day.
    • So many people are living without hope. You can see it in their eyes. Be the one to share that hope today.
  • Is there someone God has been leading you to share the love Christ with? Don’t delay!
  • Do you know how to share Christ with someone? If not, learn how!
  • The Bible says in Matthew 24:14 that “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
  • If we longed for His appearing, we would be concerned with the chief objective of sharing our faith with the lost.

 

Conclusion

·        “That which dominates our imagination and our thoughts will determine our lives and our character.”

·        Jesus is coming again! Do you long for His appearing?

  • Are you encouraged by the faithfulness of God to the point that your life has become an encouragement to others?
  • Are you alert and prepared for His appearing, or have you fallen in love with the world, so that your love for Christ has grown cold?
  • Are you so passionate about His appearing, that you continuously invite others to make an appointment with you in the sky, to meet Jesus in the air, and be with Him forever.

·        One day, each of us who are in Christ will be caught away to meet Him in the clouds. What kind of life do you want to look back on? Will you hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things, you will be given much. Come and share in your master’s happiness.”

·        Let us pray.

Invitation

·        We have come to the time of response to what God has been saying to us today.

·        If you have never received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, do not delay. Come now and we’ll pray together, and you can receive the resurrected Christ today.

·        Perhaps you are looking for a new church home. If you have not become a member of our congregation, I invite you to come, and we will welcome you and rejoice with your decision. We will commit to encourage you as together we long for the Day.

·        If you are a Christian

o       You may need some encouragement.

o       Or maybe you need to repent for living a life that in the light of Christ’s coming won’t really make a difference.

o       Or perhaps you may need to ask God to reveal these truths to you, igniting your passion for His kingdom and glory, as well as a passion for the lost.

o       Let us pray together, and ask God for these things as we sing.

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