A Thousand Years Are Like A Day

August 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Advent Meditations, Devotions

“You must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’ … But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 PETER 3: 3-4, 8-9

We live in astounding times.  The combination of momentous political change and unusual natural phenomena in recent years has many folks wondering just what the heck is going on. The evangelist Billy Graham recently wrote that he has never in 50 years of ministry had so many people ask him if the end of the world is at hand. The timing of the Second Coming has always titillated Christians, perhaps because it is concealed. For as Jesus said, “No one knows that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

That instruction often gets forgotten when believers see events that correspond with the signs Christ said would foreshadow His return. There is growing speculation that the Second Coming is imminent, a trend that will only intensify as the turn of the millenium approaches. Christians must take care to not be deceived – either by those who insist He’s coming tomorrow, or those who claim He won’t return in our lifetime. Read more

The Second Advent

August 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Devotions

“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in Heaven, and the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” MATTHEW 24:30-31

Advent is a season with a two-fold focus. It is a time in which Christians recall and celebrate Jesus Christ’s entrance into our world to redeem mankind and triumph over death. It is also a period in which believers look forward to the “Second Advent” – the day when He will come back.

For nearly 2,000 years, Christians have lived in the hope of Our Lord’s imminent return. Jesus’ description of the event spans two chapters in the Gospel of Matthew (24-25) and is usually read as part of the lectionary as Christmas nears. The Second Coming was also an emphasis in the epistles of Paul, Peter and John. Bible scholars cite more than 300 references to it in the New Testament.

In his teachings about the Second Coming, it’s important to understand that Jesus emphasized spiritual preparation rather than irresponsible speculation.
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August 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Devotions

After Gabriel appears to Zechariah, Luke presents the account of his appearance to Mary. And if the angel’s news for Zechariah seemed astounding, it was but a trifle compared to the bombshell Gabriel drops on Mary.

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Whatever upheaval Zechariah had to grapple with was minor league compared to Mary’s dilemma. Let’s consider her situation when confronted with the news that she would bear God’s Son through the virgin birth. What might this mean to her?

Mary was probably about 16, perhaps even younger. She becomes pregnant. Given the societal mores of the time, she could have fully expected that she would be disgraced, that her fiancee Joseph (who knew he wasn’t the father) would abandon her, and that she would probably never marry. It’s also important to understand that Jewish society in the first century took a real hard line on “blasphemy,” as later accounts of Jesus’ ministry and death make clear. A young, single woman claiming that God had made her pregnant would have encountered trouble.

We can try to imagine ourselves in Mary’s shoes, but I don’t expect we can ever really grasp the enormity of her situation. Mary must have known there could be problems. But rather than focusing on the size of her problems, she chose to trust in the size of her God.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” she replies. “May it be to me as you have said.”
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August 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Devotions

What would happen if one morning, during the middle of your daily routine, an angel appeared and told you that God had a plan that would completely change your life? How would you respond?

Luke’s account of the Christmas story includes two such incidents, and there are important truths and lessons to be found in these events.

In the first instance, the angel Gabriel appears to the priest Zechariah in the temple as he conducts his duties. Zechariah “was startled and gripped with fear.” Well, I suppose you and I would be, too.

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah,” Gabriel tells him. “Your prayer has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John … he will be great in the sight of the Lord. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Zechariah has been confronted with the heavenly glory of God’s messenger, a clearly supernatural interruption of his day. Yet his response to the angel’s astounding news is to try and fit it into his existing assumptions about his life and his future.

“How can I be sure of this?” responds Zechariah. “I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” Zechariah can’t believe that he and Elizabeth could have a child, much less grasp the magnitude of John The Baptist’s mission.
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