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13 FEBRUARY 2016

THE KING IS COMING

If some stranger on the street approached you and asked what religion you were, what would you say to them? Would you tell them what church you attend? Would you say you are a Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, or Pentecostal, or one of the multitude of other denominations? In today’s political climate, the world has become so polarized that one would think that there is either Islam or Christian and most in the Western world, have come to believe that the opposite of being a Muslim is to be a Christian, and vice versa. In reality, there exists so many more religions beyond those two. While most think of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish as the major religions of the world there are, actually, about 4,200 religions in the world, and Judaism is listed as only a medium-sized faith, rather than major. Understanding even the major faiths: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist, is difficult because even within each there are divisions due to either regional, cultural influences or divisiveness in interpreting the primary texts of each! We recognize this with the two major branches of Islam: Sunni, Shi’a, and then get confused when the media throws in a new one: violent extremist, and try to make them sound like another facet of the same faith. But aside from the politics of labels, what religion would you claim, if asked? When we say Christian, quite often the next question is, “what church do you go to?” or “but what is your religion?” implying that denominational membership is the same as religion. And is religion the same as faith?  

The multi-faceted belief system is makes the picture of the Christian faith confusing! While one church might have rules against dancing and movies, another might have strict dress codes requiring coverage of arms to the wrist and high necklines, and yet another says jewelry and make-up are forbidden! But it’s important to recognize the difference between sinful acts or behaviors and denominational requirements for conformity and standards. Once again, how the leaders of the denomination read the messages in the Scripture combined with socially or culturally acceptable behavior play a large role in the rules set by a particular church. But there must be some points of agreement between churches claiming to be Christians and the primary tenet of the Christian faith rests in the divine nature of Jesus, that He saves the individual from their sin. Beyond that, even the questions of eternal life, heaven and hell, and whether both Old and New Testaments are valid become disputable issues! But Jesus did not come to cause division. He dis acknowledge that faith in Him would separate the believer from others who did not recognize Him as Messiah, even family members: “Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.” (Matthew 10:34-37 MSG). But within the faith, between believers in Christ, Jesus intended unity: “I have honored my followers in the same way that you honored me, in order that they may be one with each other, just as we are one.” (John 17:22 CEV). Jesus wanted His followers, not just disciples of His time, but all of those who, through the ages, chose Him as Lord and King of their lives, to also be united in our understanding of His second coming. His disciples often plied Him with questions about the end times, although most thought of it as the end to Roman dominance, not His second coming; some had yet to accept His imminent absence from them! But Jesus was patient and clear on the subject of His return, just how it would be preceded by political, natural, and moral upheaval, and when it would happen.

Jesus told them, “But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.” (Matthew 24:36 MSG). Even after death, burial, and resurrection, “Jesus said to them, “The Father is the only one who has the authority to decide dates and times. They are not for you to know. But the Holy Spirit will come on you and give you power. You will be my witnesses. You will tell people everywhere about me—in Jerusalem, in the rest of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.” After Jesus said this, he was lifted up into the sky. While they were watching, he went into a cloud, and they could not see him. They were staring into the sky where he had gone. Suddenly two men wearing white clothes were standing beside them. They said, “Men from Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? You saw Jesus carried away from you into heaven. He will come back in the same way you saw him go.” (Acts 1:7-12 ERV). Paul elaborated on the second coming when he wrote: “One word of command, one shout from the archangel, one blast from the trumpet of God and the Lord himself will come down from Heaven! Those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then we who are still living on the earth will be swept up with them into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And after that we shall be with him for ever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 PHILLIPS). And in Jesus’ Revelation to John on the Isle of Patmos, at the very start, told him to record these words, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him…” (Revelation 1:1 ). Just as generations before have waited in anticipation, thinking this event or that pointed to the end and His return, “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.” (Matthew 25:13 NLT).   

I love the heart song that I share today; it sends chills up my spine in anticipation of that glorious day!

“The marketplace is empty, no more traffic in the street

All the builder’s tools are silent, no more time to harvest wheat

Busy housewives cease their labor, in the courtroom no debate

Work on earth has been suspended as the King comes through the gate

Happy faces line the hallway, those whose lives have been redeemed

Broken homes He has mended, those from prison He has freed

Little children and the aged hand in hand stand all a-glow

Who were crippled, broken, ruined, clad in garments white as snow

CHORUS:

The King is coming, the King is coming

I just heard the trumpet sounding and soon His face I’ll see

The King is coming, the King is coming

Praise God, He’s coming for me!

I can hear the chariot’s rumble, I can see the marching throng

And the fury of God’s trumpet spells the end of sin and wrong

Regal rolls are now unfolded, heaven’s grandstands all in place

Heaven’s choir is now assembled, start to sing “Amazing Grace”

Praise God, He’s coming for me, for me, for me!”

Jesus said, “Let the one who does what is evil continue to do what is evil. Let the filthy person continue to be filthy. Let the righteous person continue to do what is right. And let the holy person continue to be holy. Listen! I am coming soon! I will bring rewards with me. I will repay each one for what he has done.” (Revelation 22:11-12 ISV). Have a blessed day!

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