Living In the Light of Eternity

I remember that day very well.

I heard on the radio on my way to the office that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. ‘What a tragedy’, I thought, ‘I hope there weren’t many people involved’ (the initial radio report was that a “small plane” had hit). Terrible accident.

I started a meeting with the rest of our staff when our phone started ringing…like crazy! Eventually we interrupted the meeting to pick it up, and my friend said, in a tense voice, “A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center!”

“I know”, I said, “We were just praying for them”.

“No”, the caller said, “a SECOND plane has hit the OTHER tower!”

At that moment, everything changed. We knew we were under attack.

If you’re old enough, you remember the rest of that day…in some ways, a blur…but specific details stand out.

I do remember getting several calls within the next hours from people asking us we we Pastors thought this was the beginning of WW III, and could this be the beginning of the end.

At first, I almost chuckled at that…but then I realized that people were really worried about it, and I needed to answer them in an educated, compassionate way.

Fast forward sixteen years.

The headlines on our newsfeeds (back then, we didn’t have ‘newsfeeds’), read about hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, earthquakes, floods…nuclear armament and threats of attack…

As I wrote yesterday, I think there IS something to pay attention to here! After all, Jesus said,

“Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’[a] They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

“When these things begin to happen, watch out! You will be handed over to the local councils and beaten in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.[b] 10 For the Good News must first be preached to all nations.[c] 11 But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. 13 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers.[d] But the one who endures to the end will be saved…

21 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 23 Watch out! I have warned you about this ahead of time!

24 “At that time, after the anguish of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
    the moon will give no light,
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the powers in the heavens will be shaken…

28 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that his return is very near, right at the door. 30 I tell you the truth, this generation[k] will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” (Mark 13:5-13, 21-25, 28-31)

These, Jesus said, are the beginnings of the birth pains.

These are a warning.

These are to get our attention, and lead us to repentance and worship.

They are for our good!

Note that Jesus said “…when you see all these things taking place, you can know that {My} return is very near, right at the door…”

That’s why Jesus calls them ‘Birth pains’…like contractions which lead to birth.

However, we don’t know exactly how long they will last.

This, together with other Scriptures which have been or are being fulfilled, leads many Christians to think ‘This is the time He was talking about!’

Is that true?

Obviously, we can’t know ‘for sure’. However, I think they may be.

Here’s the thing: To an extent, it doesn’t matter–in this way:

We should ‘prepare’ as if His return is immanent, because it is!

He could come back any day!

…and this isn’t just your typical ‘live each day like it’s your last’ slogan…I’m talking about taking an active posture of readiness for His return.

Jesus continued,However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!” (Mark 13:32-33).

Peter wrote this:

Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.” (2 Peter 3:11-14)

Peter (and Jesus) say that it does matter how we live–if we are to be ‘ready’ and ‘alert’.

We should be living holy and godly lives…

It matters.

So, Christian: Are you paying attention? Are you watching, praying and ready? Are you repenting for any sin in your life, and making the changes necessary to worship Him fully–not just in word, but in lifestyle? Are you sharing the good news of the LIFE that is offered, through Jesus, to others?

For those of you who are not Christians, let me ask you: What will it take?

What do you have to see happen before you begin to realize that you’re not ready?
More trouble? More natural disasters? More ‘shaking of the earth’ and ‘signs in the heavens’?

I would encourage you to start to pray and ask Jesus to show you Himself, so that you can know…then turn to Him in faith and be saved from whatever the future holds!

The great news is that God loves you and wants to save you! Drop your guard and let Him!

 

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