End Times

Tent Life

Hard wood floors, maybe?

I don’t know if people still go camping in tents. And I don’t know if tents have improved since my parents took me camping back a million years ago. But, from my experience, tents have no HVAC and no indoor plumbing. They leak and tear. Tents may or may not keep out the bugs. And if a bear wants to eat you, it’s like opening the refrigerator door—one swipe of a paw and dinner is served.

Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed camping. But never, ever did I confuse a tent with a house. We never put hardwood floors in our tent. We didn’t hang works of art in our tent. We didn’t put a sectional and a TV in our tent. Why not? Because a tent is temporary. We don’t plan on living in a tent forever.

In 2 Corinthians, chapter five, Paul compares our earthly bodies to tents. Just like a tent, these human bodies are temporary. Our tent bodies are subject to aches, pains, viruses, wrinkles, gray hair, disease, injuries, wrinkles, and death.

“We inwardly sigh as we live in these physical “tents,” longing to put on a new body for our life in heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:2). We instinctively know our earthly bodies are temporary and come with limitations and problems. From scraped knees to heart disease, our “tent bodies” show their temporary nature.

That’s the bad news. The good news is these tent bodies will one day be replaced.

“For we will discard our mortal “clothes” and slip into a body that is imperishable. What is mortal now will be exchanged for immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). When Jesus returns, every believer receives a shiny-new, indestructible body. What now is susceptible to bee stings and frost bite will be impervious to both. The diseases that now wreck our tent bodies will no longer affect us.

Nothing can hurt Superman, right? That’s the kind of bodies we will have, except better, because even kryptonite won’t be able to weaken them.

When Jesus returns, death is defeated forever. Death will have no power over our supernatural bodies.

And when that which is mortal puts on immortality, and what now decays is exchanged for what will never decay, then the Scripture will be fulfilled that says: “Death is swallowed up by triumphant victory!”

1 Corinthians 15:54

I hate death. I believe God hates it, too. Death wasn’t part of God’s original plan for us. Death entered earth because of sin. The power of sin has already been broken. And one day, the Lord Jesus will return to earth and the power of death will be defeated forever. Our bodies will be transformed. What is now subject to injury and illness will be free from that tyranny.

Let’s not miss out on this. Let’s place our faith fully in Jesus so we are ready for his return and ready to have our earthly, fragile bodies transformed into immortality. What a day that’s going to be!

Dear God, place a picture of heaven in my heart. Let me bring you glory while I am serving you on earth but help me remember my eternal destiny. Thank you for the transformed body I will receive when you return. Thank you for loving me, forgiving me, and saving me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

End Times

Where Is the Promise of His Coming?

Never forget the promise…

The Bible is filled with promises—over 8,000 of them. There are promises for healing, blessing, forgiveness, peace, and provision. In different seasons of our lives, we cling to different promises.

But one of these promises is different. It is a promise that changes everything. This promise reminds us we aren’t home. It points us to the day when Jesus returns for his church and takes us to our forever home in heaven:

 “…I go to prepare a place for you to rest. And when everything is ready, I will come back and take you to myself so that you will be where I am” (John 14:2-3). The promise is sure. He WILL come back. It’s not a maybe or a hopefully—it’s a definitely!

When the time is right, Jesus WILL return for us.

Peter gives us some valuable insights about Jesus’s return in 2 Peter, chapter three.

  • In the last days, many will not believe in the promise of his return. Mockers will question the promise, pointing out that time has been marching on and Jesus hasn’t returned. (See 2 Peter 3:3-4.) Don’t be swayed by those who don’t believe Jesus is coming back. They are acting out of their own evil desires.
  • Jesus will return unexpectedly. Jesus will return like a thief sneaking into a house when the owner isn’t looking for him. He will command the dead in Christ to rise from their graves and the living Christians to join him in the air. He will take us to heaven to be with him for eternity. (See 2 Peter 3:10.)
  • The promise isn’t to scare us, but to comfort us. Regardless of what craziness is happening in the world, we know our future is secure. Though the world may be shaken, the people of God are unshakeable as they await his return. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.)
  • We live in readiness. Every new day could be the day Jesus returns. Do we really believe in the promise of his coming? If not, we are probably living more loosely than we should be. But if we believe, we will be living godly lives, filled with the love of God, and sharing the message of Jesus with those who do not know him. We will be ready. (See 2 Peter 3:14.)

We live each day knowing this could be the day our Lord returns for us. The secret of living well is a deep belief in the return of Jesus. When everyone around us is worried, we’re at peace. When others doubt, we trust. We are faithful and fearless.

We don’t obsess about our past, because it’s been forgiven. We don’t worry about the present, because God is always with us. And we don’t fear the future because our Lord is preparing a home for us. One glorious day, he will return and take all of us home. That is our promise and our hope. Let’s be ready.

Dear Jesus, I am comforted by the promise of your coming. I know you will return for me. Help me to be ready and help me point others to you so they will also be ready when you return. Keep heaven in my heart and let the promise of your return shape the way I live. I ask this in your name, amen.

End Times

“The End Times Scare Me!”

“‘Even if the mountains were to crumble and the hills disappear, my heart of steadfast, faithful love will never leave you, and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken…” (Isaiah 54:10)

When we were teenagers, my brother and I went to see the movie, “Halloween.” Thankfully, I can’t remember much about it now, except that it cured me of horror movies forever and convinced me my mom was much wiser than I knew.

John Carpenter meant to scare the willies out of us in Halloween—mission accomplished! But God definitely does not intend his children to be afraid of the events during the end times.

Yes, it can seem a little creepy. Horses, dragons and beasts—oh my! Throw in some famine and pestilence and it can be downright alarming.

But here’s the thing: The end times should be viewed through the lens of God’s great love. He is good and kind. He extends grace and mercy. His character will not change during the end times. God will always care for us, provide for us, and rescue us. God will not stop loving us when the time comes to wrap everything up here on earth.

In fact, the Scripture tells us that Christians are not destined for wrath. “For God has not destined us to experience wrath but to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). In a Bible chapter all about the end times, God tells us that we who are saved are not destined to experience God’s wrath. The word, “destined,” means, “a person’s future developing according to a plan.” The plan for our future does not include God’s wrath.

In John, chapter 14, Jesus tells his disciples he is going to return to the Father, prepare homes for all of us, and return one day to take us home. But he didn’t want any of us to worry or be afraid while he was gone, so he left us a gift: “I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace…Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” (John 14:27).

When John’s was on the Isle of Patmos and God began to share the revelation of the end times with him, John was so afraid that he fainted. The vision was too much for him. But Jesus reassured John with a kind touch and words of encouragement: “Don’t yield to fear.” (See Revelation 1:17.)

You see, we don’t have be afraid because the end times aren’t about famine, plagues, death, and despair. It’s about every curse being broken. It’s about the light of the Lamb demolishing darkness. Pain, disease and death are banished forever. Grief and loneliness become things of the past. Peace, joy, and love flow freely. In the end times, Satan will be completely, permanently defeated, and God’s kingdom will be gloriously established.

So, don’t yield to fear. Be strong and courageous. God loves us, and he has this totally under control.

Dear God, you tell me so many times in your word that I don’t need to be troubled or afraid. When I am fearful, give me courage and peace. Help me trust your plan for my life, for my family, and for the world. You are powerful, wise, just, and loving. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. In Jesus’s name, amen.

End Times

Prepared for His Return

“Be on the alert, be prepared and ready, for you do not know the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.” (Matthew 25:13)

When I go to the grocery store, I’m prepared. I look up recipes. I check to see if I’m out of any needed ingredients. I make a menu for the week, including where to find the recipes, which sides go with a meal, and the number of calories per serving. Finally, I make a list of everything I need to buy and how much of it I need.

Some people may say I’m overly prepared. Maybe so, but I never get home and realize I forgot tomatoes for the salad or ginger for the stir fry. And I never come home with an impulse-purchased cheesecake. (Well, hardly ever!)

Preparation makes a huge difference. It’s especially huge to be prepared for Jesus’s return. If we skimp on preparation for grocery shopping, it’s no big deal. But if we’re not prepared when Jesus comes, nothing else we’ve done our entire life matters.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11-22, Paul gives believers a list of what it looks like to be prepared. How should we live while we watch for his return? What should we be doing? Here are eight traits to cultivate while we await his coming:

  1. Connection. “Encourage one another and build one another up…” (verse 11). Don’t be a lone Christian. Stay connected to believers. And don’t tear others down; build others up.
  2. Ministry. “…Take tender care of those who are weak…” (verse 14). Find a way to serve others. View your day-to-day living through eyes of ministry.
  3. Love. “…Always try to do good to each other and to all people” (verse 15). We are called to love, forgive, extend grace, and be kind to everyone, always.
  4. Joy. “Always be joyful” (verse 16). Cultivate continuous joy. God’s supernatural joy makes us strong and prepared.
  5. Prayer. “Never stop praying” (verse 17). Short, spontaneous prayers throughout the day are good. Long, travailing prayers at home are good. Prayer at church is good. Our lives should be filled with prayer.
  6. Gratitude. “Be thankful in all circumstances…” (verse 18). Gratitude changes our attitude. Since we know our lives are held in God’s hands, we can be thankful in any situation.
  7. Discernment. “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies” (verse 19). There is a very real spiritual realm. Ask God for revelation, and for spiritual eyes and ears that see and hear the spiritual realm.
  8. Wisdom. “Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil” (verses 21-22). Anybody can be wise because God promises to give wisdom to anyone who asks. Wisdom comes from above—just ask for it.

How do you implement these ingredients into your life? First, be intentional. Deliberately seek God for each of these ingredients. God loves to give good gifts to his children. This is a request he will honor. Second, be proactive. Think of one step you can take to move forward in one of these areas. For example, what can you do to be more grateful? Or, how can you improve your prayer life?

Jesus is coming back—that is an unassailable fact. And nothing is more important than being ready when he gets here. Be intentional. Be proactive. Be prepared.

Dear Jesus, I want to be ready when you come back to earth. Help me obey the instructions you gave us about being prepared for your return. Help me take one step today that prepares me for your coming. Let my life point others to your love and your grace. In Jesus’s name, amen.

End Times

Is This the End?

“I am going away to make a place for you. After I go and make a place for you, I will come back and take you with me. Then you may be where I am.” (John 14:3)

If we’re expecting company from out of town, we usually have a pretty good idea of when they’re going to arrive. Cell phones give us an accurate idea of what time to expect our guests. We can easily plan our time so we do the dishes, make the beds, head to the grocery store for snacks, and are sitting on the couch when company arrives.

But what did people do back in the 1800’s when a letter came saying someone was coming to visit? Storms, broken wagon wheels, sick horses—many things could change the length of the trip. The host would have no idea when the guest would actually arrive. How does anyone get ready for a guest if they don’t know when to expect them?

If you don’t know when a visitor is arriving, you stay ready at all times.

Jesus told us he’s coming back to earth. One day, he will return from heaven to collect all God’s children and bring them home to live with him forever. We know he’s coming. But we don’t know when.

Jesus said nobody knows when he will return, not even the angels in heaven. Only God knows (see Matthew 24:36). Is Jesus’s return imminent? Maybe. Or maybe not. We know it’s closer today than it was yesterday. And we know that when the time is right, Jesus will appear. We can’t hurry his arrival, we can’t predict it, and we can’t stop it. It’s in God’s hands.

So, what do we do if we know Jesus is coming back but we don’t know when? We stay ready at all times.

In 1907, Robert Baden-Powell created the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. He said that, “Be prepared,” means to always be in a state of readiness in mind, body, and spirit to meet challenges with a strong heart.

It could be Baden-Powell borrowed the Scout motto from Jesus. In Matthew 24, Jesus tells us to be ready. Because the date of his return isn’t given to us, we are to always be in a state of readiness. If we knew a robber was coming to break into our house at a certain time, we would be prepared at that exact time to make sure he didn’t rob our house. But because Jesus will return at an unknown time, we must always be ready. (See Matthew 24:42-44.)

Jesus’s instruction to those who love him and who anticipate his return is to watch. Yes, we watch for his return, but we also watch for as many ways possible to show God’s love to as many people as possible. The best question isn’t, “Is this the end?” but, “What should I be doing right now?” With so many people living in darkness, we must not be complacent. We must watch for every opportunity to be God’s light shining through the darkness.

He’s coming back for us—that’s our sure promise and our great hope. Let’s be about his business until he arrives.

Dear Jesus, I am comforted by the promise of your return. Search my heart for any sinfulness and cleanse me. While I wait for your arrival, help me watch and pray for opportunities to share your love with others and to shine your light into the darkness. In Jesus’s name, amen.