After-Christmas reflections – Greg Laurie –
All that preparation, hype, expense and excitement … and now it’s over. Hopefully, we all took the time to remember the real reason for the celebration. It wasn’t about "Let it snow!" or "Let us shop!" but rather, "Let us worship."
Yes, Jesus came at just the right time in history, according to God’s schedule. We read in Galatians 4:4-6:
But when the right time came, the time God decided on, he sent his Son, born of a woman, born as a Jew, to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own sons. And because we are his sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, so now we can rightly speak of God as our dear Father. (Galatians 4:4-6, TLB).
And Jesus will come again, at just the right time.
In the last book of the Bible, He tells us, "Behold, I am coming soon! …Yes, I am Coming Soon!" (Revelation 22:7,12, NKJV). The Bible very clearly points out that Jesus Christ is coming back to this Earth. There are 260 chapters in the New Testament, and Christ’s return is mentioned no less than 318 times in those chapters.
Jesus Himself spoke often of His return. In John 14:3 (NKJV), He said, "I will come again and receive you unto Myself." In Mark 8:38 (TLB), He declared, "If a person is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in the glory of my Father with the holy angels."
Sometimes, as we look at the world around us, we wonder if Jesus might be late. The people who were alive at the time of His birth may have felt the same way.
But here is the truth of the matter: When the time is just right, Christ will come again! No, God isn’t late … you and I are just a little bit early!
The apostle Peter tell us: "The Lord is not slow in 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 3:9, NIV).
Make no mistake about it, Jesus Christ is coming again. So, here is a question for us today: Have we done more to prepare for the celebration of a past event than we have for a future one? In other words, have we done more to remember His first coming, forgetting that He is coming again?
At His first coming, there were many "signs of the times" that alerted people to the miracle in their midst.
·         Angelic appearances to Zacharias, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds
·         Mary’s supernatural conception
·         The magi seeing a special star in the East
Most people of that day, however, missed all the signs, and didn’t realize the incredible significance of the day in which they were living.
We have our "signs of the times" today, as well, telling us just as clearly that He is coming again. In Matthew 16:2-3 (TLB), Jesus said, "You are good at reading the weather signs of the skies – red sky tonight means fair weather tomorrow; red sky in the morning means foul weather all day – but you can’t read the obvious signs of the times!"
And there are very clear "signs of the times" that Jesus is coming again – and soon!
Talk of the Lord’s imminent return was really premature until the following historical events unfolded:
No.1: The re-gathering of the nation Israel into her homeland
This is a "super sign" of the end times that has happened before our very eyes. (Ezekiel 37-38 deals with this in depth.) God not only predicted the re-gathering of the Jewish people, but also how this tiny nation would be isolated – and how these occurrences would set the stage for the final events of human history, including the Battle of Armageddon.
No.2: The development of technology that could make possible events like the simultaneous viewing of a single event all around the globe
This will happen when the two prophets spoken of in Revelation 11 are killed and resurrected. Bible scholars of previous generations could never quite figure how the events in Jerusalem would be viewed by everyone in the whole world. Now all you have to do is say, "CNN."
Now, of course, there’s all the information on demand out there in cyberspace (including video) that we can access on our computers – and even phones. We can all witness events simultaneously around the globe in real time.
And one day, many will.
No. 3: A cashless society, whereby all buying and selling would be accomplished by a "mark" embedded somewhere in the body
Now we have technology like the recently developed "RFID" (Radio Frequency Identification). Vast amounts of information can be stored in this device planted in your body. Transactions can be done, and much more. Also, with this recent economic meltdown in the U.S. and the rising power of China and the EU, we see how close we could be to this sort of thing.
No. 4: Weapons of mass destruction that could threaten the very existence of mankind
We read of warfare in the book of Revelation that is now literally possible with our present technology – not to mention the terrible weapons nations have on their drawing boards.
The sad truth remains, however, that many will blithely carry on with complete indifference to these clear "signs of the times."
Jesus said to His people: "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matthew 24:44, NKJV).
When you think about preparing for Jesus’ second coming, the stake are much higher than preparing to celebrate His first coming. Some of us have a better idea about how to prepare for a great Christmas celebration than we do about how to prepare for Him to come again.
When you think about it, Christmas preparations aren’t all that difficult. We have it down. Put up the lights … decorate the Christmas tree … choose and wrap presents … make plans for a few nice meals … and of course, make sure you get to church for the Christmas service.
In the same way, there are some things we need to do to prepare for His return. So, how should we prepare for Christ coming back again? I’ll deal with that in my next column, but let me close by saying this: We have never been closer to the return of Jesus then we are right now.
Are you ready?