Tuesday, February 5, 2019


                We were warned, but we were skeptical. They had warned us before and nothing materialized. This time they were correct. The snow began gently falling at noon, but by 6:00 PM the wind had picked up and the snow was heavier. Soon it was white out on the roads and we were facing another winter storm.

                For the past 30 years, living in southern Minnesota, I learned to not be too concerned when the national weather service predicted bad weather. Many times, for some strange reason, the predicted storm would dip below us or rise above us and miss us completely. If the storm did materialize, we were surprised. So far, my experience in North Dakota has been different. Since Christmas, we have had five major snow storms come through. I am learning that when the national weather service predicts a snow storm is coming, I had better get prepared.

                This morning, in our Men’s Bible Study, the topic of the return of Christ came up. I was reminded of how we have become dull to the promised return of Christ. There was a day when the return of Christ was at the forefront of our thinking. I remember as a child actually praying that Christ would delay His return until I had had the chance to live a little of life. I know that sounds selfish and even silly, but as a child I actually feared that my life would be cut short. During that time, there were those who boldly predicted that Jesus would return in our lifetime. Some went as far as speculating on the exact time when He would return. We were told that all the signs of the times had aligned and Christ’s return was just around the corner. Forty plus years later we are still here.

                So much focus on the imminent return of Christ has actually had a negative effect on the Church and on non-believers. So many claiming that Christ would return in their lifetime, only to have them pass from the scene, has dulled us to the message. People rarely talk about Christ’s return today, and if they do, most people aren’t listening.

                Peter understood the mind of humanity. He predicted that a time was coming when people would no longer believe the truth of Christ’s return. So Peter gave us some timely instructions for how to live in a time of widespread unbelief.

    First of all, 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 they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. [7] By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
    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 in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
    But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
    Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (2 Peter 3:3-12)

                There are some important things that we need to glean from what Peter wrote. First, we should not be surprised when people turn a deaf ear to the reality of Christ’s return. For those who choose not to trust God’s word, time dims the message and makes it sound like foolishness.

                Second, we need to remember that God always does things intentionally and with purpose. Unlike us, God is not in a hurry to bring the story of the human race to an end. He has a much more significant goal; He wants to see as many people as possible come to faith in Christ. God is willing to be patient in order for more people to come to genuine faith.

                Third, those of us who are followers of Christ need to live within the tension of two realities. We need to live anticipating the return of Christ and we need to make the most of the time we have now. Someone once told me to live as if Christ was returning today and work as if He will not return for another hundred years. Peter instructed us to live holy and godly lives in anticipation of Christ’s return.

                Matthew 24 records some of Jesus’ teaching on His return. He made it very clear that we cannot figure out the when of His return. But He made it very clear about how we should live our lives in light of His return.

    "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
    "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:42-51)

                Jesus is not impressed by our speculations about His return. What He is looking for are those who are faithful to the task He gave them to do. Knowing that Jesus could come back at any time should be a motivation for us to make the most of the time we have. Having a clear understanding of the return of Christ should motivate us to be wise about how we live each day of our lives.

Ephesians 5:15-16
    Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

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