Sermon June 11 2017 What time is it? Part 1

One of the most frequent questions we hear is, what’s is the time?

Frequently we want to know the time to prepare for an event or to prepare for an appointment.

On God’s schedule, the world is one a timer as well, every day takes us closer to the end of the World. It begs the question, what time is it?

Jesus spoke quite plainly to his disciples about the end of the world, the events that would precede his coming again, as we read Matthew 24:1-14

Matthew 24 and 25 is what is known as the Olivet Discourse, where Jesus talks to his disciples privately. Jesus begins with a warning; “Watch that no one deceives you!”

In this the information age, it is so hard to know what is truth and what is deception. There is only one sure foundation and that is the Word of God. We must know and study the Bible, not simply read it on Sunday morning, or listen to sermons on the radio, we need to be digging into the word of God for ourselves. Without a solid knowledge of the truths of the Word of God, you will be deceived. Truth is under attack all around us, and if you don’t know the truth, you will be deceived, and that will affect your eternal destiny.

Jesus continues in verses 6 to 8 and says that his followers will hear of wars, nations rising against nation, famines and earthquakes. Sound a lot like our day and age. But Jesus said, don’t be alarmed.

This is not the end, it is merely the birth-pains or a time of suffering before the end.

In verse 9 Jesus shifts from the suffering happening over there to the very personal persecution and suffering happening to his followers. V9; “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”

This is very personal and real, we are seeing this kind of persecution happening to Christians all over the world. We in America, have no idea of some of the persecution taking place against followers of Jesus Christ. We get upset if someone hints that the churches tax exempt status might be removed!

We had better wake up and take stock of where we stand, we have been lulled into a comfortable Christianity that is socially acceptable, but Jesus clearly warns that this is not part of his plan for the church, the true followers of Christ.

The book of Revelation is a book comprised entirely of what is known as Apocalyptic material. That word Apocalypse comes from the similar sounding Greek word which means unveiling or revealing, hence the name Revelation. I know some of you when you read the book of revelation, you come to believe that it is anything but a revelation. But I encourage you to not shy away from this book because of the many varied theories and speculations. Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Don’t you want to take God up on his offer to bless you?

Here is the great truth about the Bible, we have a promise from God that by his Holy Spirit, we will be given insight and understanding. Before you sit down to read, ask God to speak to you and reveal his truth to you. You may not be able to understand all the details, but as you read God will begin to reveal new truths to you.

John’s Revelation and the book of Daniel predict a threefold process of the end of times.

There are several prominent beliefs regarding the sequence of events that include a time of tribulation, Jesus reigning on the earth for a thousand year and the final judgment, where everyone will stand before Jesus to be judged.

Theologians have wrestled with these scriptures for hundreds of years. And unfortunately, because of the strong opinions of some, we have seen churches split and Christians falling out of fellowship with one another. I know this is not part of God’s plan for the church. The bottom line is that just as the angels promised in Acts 1:11; Jesus is coming back. We do not know when, but one thing is certain, it nearer today than it was yesterday.

Are we eagerly longing for that day?

The more a Christian gets caught up enjoying the good things of this life, the more we neglect genuine Christian fellowship and our daily personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the less likely are we to desire his coming.

On the other hand, our Christian brothers and sisters around the world who are experiencing real suffering and persecution, or an elderly person who is suffering on a bed of illness, or someone who’s walk with the Lord is genuine and deep – these people have a real tangible desire for the Lord to return.

The depth of your desire for Jesus to return is a good measure of your Christian walk and your relationship with the Lord. Are you desperate for Jesus to return?

We might not know the time or the day, but we can see the signs around us that Jesus is coming soon. However, by being lulled into this world of entertainment and comfort, it seems unreal to think of the reality of the return of Christ.

So why do we need to know the time? Are you looking at the signs and getting ready? Preparing for Jesus to come back again.

One of the most terrifying verses in the Bible is verse 10 and 12 of Matthew 24. Jesus said in verse 12, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,”

Let us never grow cold in our love for the Lord, rather let us provoke on another to live every day for him with the intense desire for his return.

Verse 13 is our hope; “but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved

I challenge you to be one of those who stand firm on the Gospel, the only way of salvation.

Journey to Jerusalem Part 2. March 13 2016

Journey to Jerusalem part 2 newsletter

Read: Luke 9:51-56

Here we have an account that only Luke records. At first glance, this seems like a strange passage of scripture, why would Luke record this detail of the travel plans that didn’t work out.

Jesus

In 722 BC, the Assyrians invaded the northern Kingdom of which Samaria was the capital. The Assyrians left some of the Jews in the region but allowed other foreigners to inhabit the land. The end result was a mixed race, and many of them worshipped the foreign gods of the Assyrians. The Jews who lived in the region did not believe that you had to go to Jerusalem to worship God and set up their own temples. The rest of the Jewish nation regarded the Samaritans as ethnically and religiously impure, and there was a lot of prejudice and animosity between them.

James and John

So with that history in mind, we have the passionate James and John, the sons of Thunder as Jesus called them, being so offended by this Samaritan rejection that they want to call down fire and destroy the city.

In order to better understand their reaction, we need to look a few verses back in Luke 9, where the transfiguration of Jesus is recorded for us. Jesus takes Peter, James and John, up onto a mountain to pray, and suddenly Moses and Elijah appear and begin talking to Jesus.

James and John must have remembered their encounter with Elijah and the fact that Elijah had called down fire from heaven to destroy the two captains and their 50 as recorded in 2 Kings 1.

But the disciples were misguided. In their minds, they were marching into Jerusalem with the King of the Jews, who would establish a mighty kingdom, and yet these mindless Samaritans had the audacity to reject Jesus! Their attitude and request reflects their racism and their prejudice. What they had to learn, and what we also have to learn is that the journey Jesus was taking to Jerusalem was not to judge the world, but it was to save the lost.

They certainly displayed passion, but their passion was misguided. They were influenced by their culture and their prejudice. Jesus was using the situation to challenge their prejudice, to remind them that the Son of God, didn’t come for the Jews only, but for all peoples and that the real enemy is Satan, not the lost people who don’t think or act in a way that they were comfortable with.

As we encounter people who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, how do we respond to the drug addict, the adulterer, the alcoholic, the homosexual, the murderer, and the thief? (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Do we call down judgement on them? Do we confront them with the law and a superior attitude?

As Jesus rebuked his disciples, he rebukes us today. Jesus came to save the lost, not to call down fire on them. Ultimately Jesus will judge all mankind, but we are called to reach the lost as Jesus did, to preach the Gospel to the poor, to release the captives, to restore sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18).

Samaritan Rejection

From the perspective of the Samaritan village there is a legitimate reason why they rejected Jesus.

The Key phrase is found in verse 53; “…he was heading for Jerusalem.” It upset them that he still wanted to go to the temple in Jerusalem rather than to worship at their place of worship. But apart from that, along with Jesus came a large crowd of people. Most of them were probably social outcasts, the poor, and the unclean according to their laws. It was going to be noisy, messy and probably inconvenient. And therein lay the problem, for Jesus to come to town was inconvenient.

The truth is that when Jesus enters a person’s life it is never convenient. When Jesus comes into your life, he asks you to care for the widows and the orphans, to love the downtrodden and the poor. He calls you to give your time, your money and your energy in order to tell others the Good News.

Jesus coming to town is seldom convenient, but if you do not receive him, you miss out. This Samaritan town missed the opportunity of hosting the King of Kings, the creator of the universe.

Jesus’ Response.

What took place here was a serious cultural and social offence.

No wonder the disciples wanted to immediately call down fire and destroy the city. How dare they!!

Yet, we read how Jesus responded (Luke 9:55-56). Jesus is rejected, he doesn’t try to plead his case or convince them that they are going to miss out, he simply moves on.

Jesus wasn’t surprised by this rejection, he knew exactly what would happen. He sent his disciples ahead on purpose, knowing that they would be rejected. He was using this as a teaching moment for his disciples, preparing them for what was about to happen to them and setting an example for all believers to follow. When you are rejected for being a follower of Jesus, don’t fight for your rights, simply move on (see Luke 10:10-11).

In our post-modern culture of self-importance and pride, this is a tough lesson to learn. Fortunately we get many opportunities to learn this lesson!

But Jesus had his eyes fixed on a bigger goal (see Luke 9:51). Jesus is focused on the ascension. He is looking forward to going home. He knows where he is going and nothing is going to detract from that. Not the cross, not the grave, not even his rising from the dead, he is looking forward to the day when he ascends into heaven to sit next to His Father.

We also must have a heavenly focus, viewing every day in the light of eternity. Sadly we are so focused on trying to make this life as comfortable as possible, that we forget where we are going.

  • If we would focus on eternity, we would stop trying to call down judgment from God on those who reject him.
  • If we would focus on eternity, we would not miss an opportunity to be used by God to help those around us and set the captives free.
  • If we would focus on eternity, we would be able to look past all the trials and sufferings of this world and look forward to the day when Jesus comes again or calls us home.