Monday, November 30, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 11/30/09

The Last Judgment, Michelangelo, 1536-41

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”
2 Peter 3:10-12

The final days are upon us, yet none shall know the time. Movies and books, scientists and theologians, they have wrestled with the end of the world. Some have even put forward their own predictions of how and when this will happen. What we know though is that Christ, he shall return like a thief in the night, quietly until suddenly he is upon us. There are signs that point to that return, but they are just that signs. Not even these things will tell us the year or the day or the moment or the instant when it will occur. Anything we can offer is nothing more than a shallow prediction based on our own incomplete knowledge and understanding.

What we don’t know about the end times and the return of Christ, it could fill an encyclopedia. Yet what we do know is that when it comes there we be no escaping it. There will be no missing it. The noise of heaven shall overwhelm us, the elements shall melt, and all of the earth shall come to pass. In a flood did God destroy the wickedness of men in days of old, preserving only the righteous, (Genesis 6-8) now will He destroy it with fire and heat. Again though, shall only the righteous be left to stand according to His abundant mercy and timeless grace.

Yet none are righteous. (Romans 3:10) All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So who shall be saved from these final days?

Those redeemed in the precious blood of the lamb. It is those who are justified freely through the grace of God by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. (Romans 3:24) Though their sins stained their soul, by his blood are they washed as clean as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) The blessed gospel message of the Redeemer, that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) It is a free gift of grace, shining light and love into our souls, based solely on the works and the will of the Lord our God.

Yet our deeds matter. Without our works our faith is proven to be dead. (James 2:20) They magnify the glory of God and show forth our faith in Him. As the Apostle Peter then asks us, what manner of Godliness should we bring forward from our spirits and our souls? With the confidence we have in Christ, what manner of good should we exemplify in our lives, through our lives, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of the Lord?

Love… the love first taught unto us by Jesus. It is his great commandment for us and it’s how we prove ourselves to be his disciples. (John 13:34) When we show forth love and compassion, mercy and kindness in our lives we live a good and Godly life filled with the Spirit, letting those fruits edify and nourish people wherever they are, whoever they are. The light of the Lord shines forth from our being in the most significant of ways. Then we know that our Heavenly Father lives within us through the hope that we have in our faith and those blessed assurances that we have in them. In the final days we shall then see the Lord in our flesh and stand beside Him in all confidence.

Yet, in this world, there are those folks who are of this world, letting themselves conform to its wickedness rather than being transformed by the Spirit. (Romans 12:2) They abide in their own self righteousness, rather than in the righteousness of the Lord, following their own will and desire rather than seeking what is pleasing to God. They work all sorts of iniquity, bringing pain and suffering, sorrow and agony with them. They take prisoners and hostages; they make slaves out of men and women. These are ones who hold humanity cheap without any intrinsic value or worth as they hold the power of life and death in their hands and choose death. Whether it is a physical murder or a murder of the spirit, they hold no love in their hearts for their fellow man as they rip away the innocence from all of us and let us all die a little inside.

It’s not always going to be like this though. Even these things too shall come to pass, and there will come a day when all of their evil shall be put to flight. In pride do they show their true nature, and what we know is that, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) The flaming sword of the Lord shall cut through the darkness that they bring and the light shall shine forth according to His love and mercy. Then shall they come to see the errors of their ways.

In the final days all of their wickedness and iniquity shall be brought forth and they will discover that there is no hidden place they can keep themselves that is out of the sight of the Lord. They shall come to know that He is ever present and ever vigilant for the cause of His people, never failing them or forsaking them all of the days of their lives. He brings them courage and strength even when brutal captivity holds them hostage. Just as He ransomed even the most captive of souls, imprisoned to the power of sin, death and the Devil, through His only begotten Son, so too shall He then set free all who are held in even the most bitter of captivity amidst this world. There will be no yoke of bondage that will be too strong that He will be unable to break it.

It is therefore why we pray not just for the prisoners and the slaves, the hostages and the captives, the victims of human trafficking, but those who take these people from their homes, ripping them away from all that they love. Like God, we wish for all people to abide in the light of the truth and to let that truth set them free. Our fervent desire has to be that they see the error of their wicked ways before those final days and to repent of them that they will find mercy and righteousness which will come to encompass their lives.

It’s hard to do. We see the chaos that they bring and the suffering that comes from their hand. Yet we have to believe that God can work in the spirit and the soul, the heart and the mind of even the most lost that finally good shall come from the evil they work. We have to believe that just as He redeemed us through the free gift of grace, so too shall He redeem them in the love that He has. Our desire cannot be for any to burn amidst the fiery pits of hell and that desolation that is waged. For when we do we desire for them to be held captive and slave as well, this though to the power of the old Adversary.

Therefore wait and look for the end times, but pray also. Pray for the repentance of all those who work such pain and iniquity, such wickedness and hatred in this world. Let the love of Christ move your heart to desire you to hope they will see the error of their ways before it is too late and their time has passed. Pray that the Spirit moves them and know that even if they reject the coming of the Holy Ghost in their lives, these things too shall pass and their will come a day when God puts all evil and worldly captivity to flight, refusing to let it stand for all time in all ages.

Then shall we all dwell in the blessed assurance and the hope-filled promises of the Lord our God amidst the love and mercy, compassion and grace that shines for from Him as a loving Heavenly Father caring for His children.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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