Jesus Contact 22

Preparing for Jesus’ Return – part 2

In part one of this two-part series, we looked at some of actions necessary to take in order to be ready for Christ’s return. We saw that we have to have our spiritual house in order (being right with God by accepting the salvation that He offers (through Jesus) now. Because, if you die or He comes back (whichever comes first) and you haven’t made that commitment, you don’t get a second chance. You have to accept Christ and do your best to walk in HIs footsteps. To help you accomplish that, Jesus said to be persistent in your prayers.

Also, He told us to be on the alert for imposters claiming to be Him, or, know where He is. In addition, He said that we must remain humble, having the simple unquestioning faith of a child, so as to be able to enter the kingdom – throwing any ‘self-righteousness’ aside…

Jesus and HIs apostles are still making the last journey to Galilee when He is approached by a wealthy young ruler who asks Him what kind of good deed is it that must he do, in order to earn eternal life. (Wrong question, because you cannot earn your way to heaven.) Christ responds by telling the ruler to keep the Ten Commandments.

The ruler says that he is already doing that and then asks Him what else it is that He must perform. Jesus replies:

If you would be perfect [that is, have that spiritual maturity which accompanies self-sacrificing character], go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; and come be My disciple [side with My party and follow Me]. Mt. 19:21 AMP

Jesus is not telling the young ruler to make himself poor. He is trying to get this him to see his disobedience to the first of the Ten Commandments by making wealth his god. Sadly, the young man could not let his ‘god’ go and departed from Jesus, because in spite of all of his riches, his soul was poverty-stricken. Christ then says to His apostles:

“Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Mt. 19:23, 24. NKJV

Wealthy people are not necessarily wicked. They can enter the kingdom if they don’t make a ‘god’ out of their possessions. Wealth is a blessing from God. Jesus is only saying that it can be a great struggle for one to step into the kingdom if they try to keep a death grip on their worldly concerns.

The apostles are besides themselves over Jesus’ declaration. The cultural thinking of their day was that riches were blessings that gave one an advantage for attaining salvation. Now they are wondering if anyone can be saved. Jesus perceives their distress and says:

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Mt. 19:26 ESV

What He’s saying is that when you bring God into your life, make Him your focus and implement His wisdom regarding the stewardship of your worldly blessings, your passage to heaven remains intact.

In a typical human fashion, the apostle Peter tells Jesus that all of the apostles have given up everything for Him; and he wants to know what’s in it for them. Jesus doesn’t answer Peter’s selfishness at first. Instead, He tells him that their reward will be the honor of being able to sit with Him at the heavenly governing council. Then Jesus expounds upon what everyone will receive if they put Him first in their lives:

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mt. 19:29, 30. NKJV

Again, Christ is speaking metaphorically. You don’t have to literally leave your house or your family in order to be able to follow Him. Just don’t make ‘gods’ out of them by prioritizing them over Jesus.

Notice too, the admonition at the end of Jesus’ reply, which was for Peter’s sake – to teach him that one must serve for the sake of serving, from their love for God – not for the express purpose to get a reward. Later on in their journey, Jesus would emphasize this again by telling the apostles to follow His example:

Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many [the price paid to set them free.] Mt. 20:28 AMP

On Monday of the last week of Jesus’ incarnate life on this earth, He re-emphasizes the importance of one’s focus of servitude:

“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” Jn. 12:25, 26. NKJV

On Tuesday of that same week, Jesus taught in the Temple for the last time. When He and the apostles were leaving, Jesus told them that near the end of time, the world will be filled with wars, famines and earthquakes, and that the followers of Christ will suffer persecution from an unbelieving world:

“…they will lay their hands upon you and persecute you delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought out before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not to be able to contradict or resist.” Lk. 21:12 – 15. NKJV

“…he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Mt. 24:13 NKJV

It’s all about staying in faith…

Wars, persecution and tribulation; but then, Christ will return!

“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Mt. 24:30 NKJV

The majority of the world will ‘mourn’ because they rejected Christ; and at that moment, they will know that He is the real deal, and that they have missed the boat. Yet His return will carry a far different meaning for His followers – because they prepared for His coming!

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift your heads, because your redemption draws near…when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.” Lk. 21:28 & 31. NKJV

On Thursday of Jesus’ final week, He tells His apostles that everything has now been set in motion for His imminent death, which will bring forth the glory of God’s redemptive work for His children. Then, He lays down the last aspect of how to prepare for His return:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn. 13:34, 35. NKJV

He follows this with a demonstration of ‘communion’ and how we are to practice it regularly to remind ourselves of God’s grace through Christ – exercising our faith in the forgiveness of our sins that He facilitated with the sacrifice of HIs body and blood, symbolized in the sacrament that we receive.

Jesus then touches upon how to express our love:

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make our home with him.” Jn. 14:23 NKJV

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Jn. 15:11 – 13. NKJV

The love of God is the love that keeps on giving. We are commanded to prepare for the second coming of our Savior, but God doesn’t leave us to just our own efforts. He sends us the Holy Spirit to build upon them:

“When He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will tell you of things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” Jn. 16:7 – 14. NKJV

And with that, Jesus faced His persecutors and stepped up to the cross to make good the Promise – the one guaranteed for those who prepare for His contact…

Goodnight and God bless.

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Finishing The Race For Jesus: The Book of 2 Peter

In the mid 60s A.D., there was a fire in Rome; and the emperor at that time (Nero) blamed the Christians. Subsequently, he launched a murderous campaign against them.

The apostle Peter writes a letter during this time, to the same churches in Asia minor where he had sent his previous one (now known as 1 Peter). This new letter has come to be known today as the biblical book of 2 Peter. In it, Peter intimates that he is imprisoned yet again, and that he is certain he is about to be executed. Indeed, this would be his last letter.

Yet, Peter is finishing his race for Jesus in full steam – writing now to encourage the church to stay committed to godly ways, and to resist any false teachers who try to distort the pure doctrine of the church of Christ.

Peter begins by describing some of the gifts that God bestows upon His children to help them reach that godliness: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Pet. 1:2 – 4. NASB

God empowers us, through Christ, to be able to live a godly life; and we advance that empowerment when we continue to walk in the word of God – becoming more Christ-like daily.

Peter then tells us how to hang on to our divine gifts:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Pet. 1:5 – 8. ESV

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Pet. 1:10, 11. NKJV

Peter is asking us to run our race for Jesus until we take our last breath, or until He returns, whichever comes first. Jesus will be waving the checkered flag, congratulating you, saying ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’

Peter continues to encourage his audience by reminding them that Christ Himself conferred apostolic authority and the wisdom of God upon him. So, they can take everything that Peter says right to the bank:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Pet. 1:16 – 21. NKJV

We can see then that all of the authors of the books of the Bible were Holy Spirit-inspired, so that they could receive and reveal the pure, unadulterated word of God…

At this point in his letter, just like the apostle Paul, Peter warns the church about satanically driven false teachers, who will try to destroy it. This will be a continual battle that will be fought right up until Jesus returns:

But also [in those days] there arose false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among yourselves, who will subtly and stealthily introduce heretical doctrines (destructive heresies), even denying and disowning the Master Who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

And many will follow their immoral and lascivious doings; because of them the true Way will be maligned and defamed. 2 Pet. 2:1, 2. AMP

And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment…making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly…then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…for them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.  2 Pet. 2:3, 4, 6, 9 & 17. ESV

Peter is saying that we must always be alert, discerning the godly from the ungodly – following God’s righteous path so that we do not fall prey to the darkness that awaits the sons and daughters of disobedience. Regardless of what they may spew from themselves, we are to stay firm in the true hope of Christ’s return:

…you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Pet. 3:3 – 4. NASB

Nevertheless, do not let this one fact escape you, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should return to repentance. 2 Pet. 3:8, 9. AMP

God has a plan; and He promises that all of it will come to pass. It will be fulfilled when He decides that it is time for time to run out, and not a second earlier. God is not stretching out the time for your heavenly transition because He’s sadistic. He does so because of His great love for the human race. God wants everyone to have a chance to latch onto his or her salvation.

God made that promise over two thousand years ago. However, if you look at how old the universe is, (believed to be over sixteen billion years), 2000 years is just a flash in the pan.

God is a promise keeper. He will send His Son for us. How will that look?

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works upon it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation. 2 Pet. 3:10 – 15. ESV

You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Pet. 3:17, 18. NKJV

When Christ returns, He’s going to help His Father do a major universal re-do; and it will be a wonderful, marvelous new beginning for the children of God – who have been doing their best to live holy lives, rejoicing in the fact that Jesus makes up the difference when they have fallen short. Hallelujah!

Good night and God bless.