From: Our Daily Journey
My parents were married one year when my dad’s mother fell ill and came to live with our family. “Gran” had diabetes and was too weak to walk. Because we lived on an upper floor of an apartment building with no elevator, my father carried her up and down the stairs. Mom prepared special meals for her, bathed her, cut her nails and gave her regular insulin injections.
Gran had never been the easiest woman, but now she became unpredictable and caring for her was a real challenge. I was too young to remember her, but mom often spoke of the way God helped her to love her mother-in-law. In time, with much prayer, a good diet, and special care, Gran grew stronger and was eventually able to walk again.
My mom believed what James taught, that “faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (James 2:17). It’s our actions that make our faith evident (James 2:21-26). What are these actions produced by faith? They’re not giving special attention to the rich and well-connected at the expense of the poor and marginalized (James 2:1-5,8-13). Instead, they’re showing mercy (James 2:13) and meeting others’ needs as we’re able (James 2:14-17).
When we focus on faith to the exclusion of practical care, we become irrelevant. In the same way, however, emphasizing good behavior alone denies our total dependence on God’s grace. It’s because we’re saved by God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8) that true believers will reflect faith and loving action (James 2:24).
We might wish to happily coast through this life, merely looking forward to the day when we’re with Jesus. But God wants us to put our faith into action. He intends to accomplish beautiful things on this earth by working in and through us.
Our soul’s personal history with God is often an account of the death of our heroes. Over and over again God has to remove our friends to put Himself in their place, and that is when we falter, fail, and become discouraged. Let me think about this personally— when the person died who represented for me all that God was, did I give up on everything in life? Did I become ill or disheartened? Or did I do as Isaiah did and see the Lord?
My vision of God is dependent upon the condition of my character. My character determines whether or not truth can even be revealed to me. Before I can say, “I saw the Lord,” there must be something in my character that conforms to the likeness of God. Until I am born again and really begin to see the kingdom of God, I only see from the perspective of my own biases. What I need is God’s surgical procedure— His use of external circumstances to bring about internal purification.
Your priorities must be God first, God second, and God third, until your life is continually face to face with God and no one else is taken into account whatsoever. Your prayer will then be, “In all the world there is no one but You, dear God; there is no one but You.”
Keep paying the price. Let God see that you are willing to live up to the vision.
|July 13, 2018
Waiting for the Shout
I’m waiting for my parents to come home.
No, they aren’t wayward or lost. Actually, they are happily on a long vacation while I am missing the greatest babysitters in the world (also known as grandparents). I can hardly stand the wait until they return. They live right in our neighborhood and shower our family of five with love … and feed us delicious dinners. (Bonus!)
Knowing they are coming back soon puts a smile on my face. My mom, who is constantly laughing, has a loud voice that I love and miss. I’ve never had to ask her to speak up or repeat herself. I can hear every word, crystal clear. People know when she has entered a room.
Friends, as much as I look forward to my parents’ return, there’s a day coming that’s even more exciting than being reunited with family. Jesus is coming back, and when He enters the atmosphere, everyone will know it. He will come back with a shout no one will be able to miss!
Our key verse describes His triumphant return, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). This mighty sound is likened to a shout, a voice and a trumpet. Imagine what people will say about this thunderous noise piercing heaven and earth. Those who do not know Christ will no doubt wonder, “What was that???”
You will know.
It will be the ultimate sound of joy for every believer. It will be reunion-time! We will be with the Lord, with the dead in Christ who have gone before us.
Let’s take a closer look at two of the Greek words the Apostle Paul uses in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 to describe this event: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor [epiphaneia] of his coming [parousia]” (NIV).
Epiphaneia means “appearance” or “visible manifestation.” We will hear the shout and we will also see His brilliance. Christ will destroy the antichrist with the brightness of His coming. Parousia means “coming” or “presence.” This term was often used in secular Greek literature to refer to the visit or presence of a king or important dignitary. When the King of kings comes on the scene, you will see pomp and majesty beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed of.
So when you feel discouraged by the news or the circumstances of your life, remember His shout is coming. Paul exhorted the Christians in Thessalonica to comfort each other with reminders of their destiny: “We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18, NIV).
You are on the winning side. Just as Christ came as a baby, someday He will return as a victorious King. God doesn’t take vacations. He is constantly working behind-the-scenes on your behalf and mine.
Are you waiting expectantly, looking to heaven with hope? It’s easy to forget the promises and prophecies in the Bible when day-to-day duties scream for our attention. But let us remember — we are waiting for the Lord’s return with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. What a day that will be!
Lord, we’re so encouraged to know You are returning as the triumphant King. You will come and bring justice on the earth, and defeat Your enemies. I look forward to Your glorious return with hope and gratitude. Help me point more people to You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (NIV)
Revelation 19:11-12a, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.” (NIV)