Waiting for the final act

2 Thessalonians 3

The end of another book.

While we are waiting for the return of Jesus here are some things we can do:

1. Pray for the workers who are out there spreading The news that Jesus has come to forgive our sins.

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”

Wim and Jennifer Dufoort

Chris Bowman and his wife Vicky

Marc O’Dare Shaw and his wife Kathy

Rory Lewellyn and Debbie Lewellyn

Brandon Bee and Leanne Bee

Just a few that I know. Please join me in praying for them.

I’m not sure what all has to happen before Jesus comes back but when the very last person who will accept the message of salvation has heard about Jesus, I think he will come and get us. We should be praying for these to get those. And let us not forget our own role in sharing Jesus with our world, our neighbors and coworkers and friends, The folks we see everyday.

2. Work. Earn the bread we eat.

“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”’

3. Live a life that reflects Jesus. Live morally, with grace and mercy.

“And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn him as you would a brother.”

My shift is almost over. I just want to finish up and go home.

I will end today with what I grew up hearing at the beginning of every sermon,

“Grace and peace to you, from God our father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Substation explosion prompt

Our little town of Ephrata experienced a weird thing last night. There was an explosion in a substation. The substation is behind our house about 4 blocks away. Because of a low hanging cloud cover the blue/green light from the arcing filled the night. The explosion behind us was shining in front of us. Just briefly I thought to myself, is this it? Is this how Jesus returns? Then all the lights went out.

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

We are in the harvest season. Ice and snow with drifts up to our knees. Yet it’s harvest.

In case you are reading this and you don’t know who Jesus is or what he is done I will give a highly condensed version.

Jesus is the son of God. He came to earth through a virgin, he lived a perfect life, no sin, he was falsely accused yet submitted himself to a horrifically cruel death but rose from the dead 3 days later. Then he went back up into heaven to prepare a place for us to live. His death paid for our sin, our mistakes. I use the word our because all of humanity has sinned and is separated from God. But we were created to be with him so he made a way to bring us back together again.

The Bible says that God so loved the world, the word world there refers to the people of the world, us, you and me. God loves us. He gave up his son Jesus to bring us back together.

There is a little bit of business that must be transacted. The Bible says that if you confess Jesus is Lord, that he is your boss, your master, that he is your God, and believe in your heart that he rose from the dead, you will be saved.

If you just did that please PM me. I want to talk more with you about becoming a child of God.

For the rest of us who already know the story and are already part of the family, can we start sharing it? Can we tell someone that God loves them? Can we show someone that God loves them?

Jesus is adding to his number daily.

Journaling

Our pastor has recommended that we, his congregation, read this journal. I have been reading. It has been a good experience for me. There is a 60 second reflection period followed by reading out loud a short scripture, reading up to 3 times, and then a space to write out a prayer, responding to what we have read and there is a contemplation where we digest the words from God.

It’s been good. The readings seem to be random, Proverbs, psalms, Gospels, epistles, history like Kings Chronicles and Joshua.

Yesterday’s was from John chapter 2:1-11. Jesus turns the water into wine.

The verses that stood out to me were what Mary said, “do whatever he tells you”.

And how the servants respond.

6 stone water jars each holding 20 to 30 gallons, “so they filled them to the brim”.

When Jesus tells me to do something, do I do it? I’m going to say yes I do the majority of the time because my obedience only has to be 50.0000000000000000001% to be in the majority. But do I do it like these guys did, to the brim? My obedience could be better, and my whole hearted response, to the brim mentality could change.

But no matter how I respond, Jesus is the one who changes ordinary into extraordinary.

“and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

John 2:9-10

The party that is my life frequently runs out of wine. Will I follow Jesus’ instructions and receive new wine? Filled to the brim?

Buckle up and hang on

2 Thessalonians 2

The thrill of a good carnival ride is when we get taken right to edge of danger… And then we are yanked back to safety. The thrill is seeing the danger and then not going past it.

Our world economy is like a carnival ride right now taking us right to the edge….but this carnival ride is not built of welded steel, it’s made from a stack of playing cards. How strong can it be?

Are we scared yet?

We are waiting for Jesus. We have been waiting for 2000 years. When will he come? What is he waiting for?

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

We have never been closer to Jesus return than we are right now. The stage of the world, the political unrest, the fragile economy, it could be the his return is immanent, or maybe it’s just one more twist and turn of the carnival ride.

He will return. It could be today.

“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings[c] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

I say this to myself, fear not little one. Your God is able to save you. From the next chapter, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. “

There may be a catastrophic global economic collapse. If there is Jesus will be our strength. If the economy recovers Jesus will be our strength. Jesus is our strength. Living for him and telling other people about him, what he has done in our lives does not change. Our master and our mission remain the same no matter where the ride of life takes us.

The next day

The next day two guys who used to be blind walk into a bar.

“Aren’t you the blind beggars?”

One of them answers.

“I was blind but now I see”.

“That’s impossible. How, how can you see now? What happened?”

“I’m not supposed to say anything. The guy that touched me asked me not to tell anyone.”

“The guy, what guy? Who touched you? Who healed you?”

“This guy, some teacher guy. His name is Jesus. He..he can do things, can fix things.”

“He’s a healer then?”

“Yes, the first thing we saw once we were healed was him

Casting a demon out of a mute and then he could talk. But its more than that. He says things, he talks about God. I can’t explain it. You should meet him. You need to hear what he says. Ah, I’ve said too much already..”

“Two blinds guys, healed…”

“Yup, we once were blind but now we see.”

“His name is Jesus you say, I gotta meet this guy…”

The day before.

“27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”’

I have been touched by Jesus.

He has forgiven all of my sin. He has set me in a family. He has provided for me. He has shown me love and mercy and grace.

I’m writing this today to tell people who don’t know about Jesus that he has died to Pay for our sins. I’m also writing to remind those of us who do know Jesus to tell others about him.

We get today. We only have today. What will we do about this Jesus? Believe him and receive him?Please do.

If we already know him will we tell other people about him? Will we live in such a way that we honor him and attract others to him by our gracious way of life? Please do.

Watching and waiting

2 Thessalonians 1

Prelude

When I was 5 years old we lived in Moses Lake on Stratford road. My mom told me that my grandparents were coming to visit. I spent the morning straining my eyes, watching the road from the south, the direction my family always came from when driving to my house. I gave up watching at some point but I wouldn’t have seen them because they came from the north. I was overjoyed to see them but I remember being perturbed because they surprised me by coming from the other direction.

The people of Thessalonica were watching and waiting. Watching and waiting for Jesus to come back for them. Some had sold everything and basically sat down by the road to wait. This letter from Paul is to encourage them to continue to wait, but to stay busy until he comes. The first chapter sounds harsh but may have been intended to re-energize the waiters to get busy and share Jesus because eternity is hell for those who don’t accept him as savior.

“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”

I saw an interview with the magician Penn Jillette who although did not accept Jesus yet, talked about an encounter with a christian who was praying for him. Penn reprimanded all Christians because if we believe God is sending to hell all those who don’t believe, then we should be better at telling the world. Otherwise it shows that we don’t really care if the world burns in hell. We have our salvation, too bad for the rest of you.

So what am I to do? What are we to do?

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Trading ashes for beauty

I was listening to a radio pastor yesterday and heard

something new or at least fresh. A fresh thought.

As I get closer to Jesus , the light he brings into my life continues to expose more and more of the mess in my life.

Like if I were with Jesus in a dark room. He asks me if the room is clean. Hmm, the room is dark, nothing under my feet, I say yes. He then lights a match and we see just a little way around us. There are dirty dishes, litter, a pair of underwear that didn’t make it to the hamper. Then he turns on a flashlight and we see deeper into the room, more mess, then he flips on a light and we see clearly, smudged walls, mildew and mold.

The longer I hang out with Jesus the more stuff he exposes. Sometimes the pain and shame of a life exposed is too much and I want to push Jesus back out of my life and shut the door and please oh please, kill the light. The mess doesn’t go away when Jesus leaves and the light goes out, but if we don’t have to see the mess of our lives, we can pretend it isn’t there, and the pain and shame fall and fade.

Meeting Jesus and inviting him into my life will not make my life a blissful rose garden. Well not just the flowery part. Jesus will begin to clean up and the fascinating thing he will do is to use the poop of my life to grow beauty. The bible says the he will give us beauty for ashes. Ashes are the waste product of the end of something, something gone and useless. God has the ability to turn that part of life, and poop is a useless waste end of life product too, the poop and ashes and reuse them to bring us beauty, like roses.

This will only happen if we allow him into our lives and trust him enough to expose the mess behind the door. Denying a mess doesn’t make it go away. Admitting to a mess doesn’t make It go away either but it can start the process of cleansing.

Isaiah 61:1-6 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.”

Today will you let Jesus into your life to help you declutter your your heart and soul? He will turn it around for you. Beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise for despair. He loves us and just wants to help.