NOVEMBER 17, 2021

Dear Friends,

On Sunday, we spent time thinking together about Jesus’ instruction about how we counsel our hearts when we are troubled or anxious. Along with trusting God’s promises and having an eternal perspective on life, Jesus tells us that we should find comfort in His promise that he will come again and receive us to Himself.

The second coming of Jesus is a central theme in both the Old and New Testaments. The ancient prophets talked often about the “day of the Lord,” without realizing or understanding that there would be two advents. Jesus Himself spoke often about a day ahead when He would come in judgment. Following His resurrection, the anticipated second coming of Jesus was a recurring theme in the early church. The ladies who have been part of the fall study in 1 and 2 Thessalonians saw that theme repeat itself in both epistles.

There have been times in the past two millennia when the church has become so fixated on trying to decipher the “signs of His coming” that we have forgotten the forest while obsessing over the leaves on the trees. When that happens, more often than not, the church has drifted into error and heresies have emerged.

The opposite error has also plagued the church. In the modern age, some have found themselves embarrassed by the Bible’s claims of miracles and dead men coming back to life, the idea of a second coming of Jesus has been watered down to a vague spiritual truth and not a literal future event. Liberal scholars began to see the idea of the second coming of Jesus as what one writer describes as “a negligible symbol from a bypassed world.”

That, of course, is not how the disciples saw it. When Jesus said “I will come again,” no one thought “It must be a metaphor of some sort. He’s speaking symbolically.” It’s clear that the early church was looking forward to a literal, physical return to earth from the resurrected Lord Jesus.

The church through the ages has seen that idea as an essential element of our faith. To deny the idea that Jesus will one day come to bring final judgment on the earth and to take His own to be with Him that where He is, we may be also is to invalidate your claim of faith in Christ. You would have to conclude that Jesus was intentionally misleading His disciples as He spoke to them in the upper room and in the Olivette Discourse in Matthew 24.

There are at least two ways our belief in the second coming of Jesus should affect how we live our lives each day. First, it should motivate us to live holy and godly lives. In 2 Peter 3, the Bible describes the great cataclysm that will occur on the last day, when Jesus returns. “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved,” Peter asks “what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:11-12). In his letter to Titus, Paul explains that the grace of God has come, “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). And the Apostle John says in 1 John 3:2-3 that “we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

The knowledge that Jesus could come at any time should motivate us to live godly lives. It should also be a source of great hope and comfort for us no matter what we are facing in our lives or in our world today. The Bible calls the second coming of Jesus “our blessed hope.” After explaining to the Thessalonians what the second coming of Christ will be like, Paul goes on to tell them that they were to comfort one another with his words. As we saw Sunday, the hope of His coming puts in perspective the “light and momentary afflictions” that are part of life on earth.

It’s time to dust off the old Aramaic phrase maranatha – “come quickly, Lord Jesus.” And as we wait for His appearing, let us pursue lives of holiness and godliness, that we may “have confidence and not be ashamed at His coming” (1 John 2:18).

Have you done the math? As of right now, there are 38 days until Christmas. Five more Sundays. And a lot happening at church between now and then. Get your calendars out and start making notes.

Of course, for each of the four Sundays in Advent, starting on Sunday, November 28, we’ll be lighting the candles in the advent wreath during our Sunday worship service, as we focus and prepare our hearts to celebrate the good news of His coming.

children’s christmas sing

On Sunday morning, December 5, moms and dads of elementary aged children will need to arrive at church a little early with the kids ready to sing!

first tuesday for men

On Tuesday, December 7, our First Tuesday men’s group meets to hear from Art Rainer about wise money management. The syllabus is available for download here.
6:00p Dinner
7:00p Class

ladies christmas gathering

Five days later, on December 11, there’s a very special Ladies Christmas Gathering planned.

ugly sweater christmas party

The next day, Sunday December 12, it’s time for the Roots Student Ministries to ring in the holiday as they do every year – by dressing as tackily as they can!

family christmas party

The following weekend, on Saturday night December 18, there’s a big shindig planned for children and their parents!

christmas eve – 5:00p

And don’t forget that on Friday night, December 24, we’ll gather at 5:00 pm for our annual hour-long Candlelight and Carols Christmas Eve service.

the dominican republic christmas

This Sunday is the last Sunday to help provide a special Christmas gift for a child at the Arbor Christian School in the Dominican Republic.

If you’ve already selected a child, click here this week to donate $40 for each child you selected, or bring a check with you to church this week that has “Christmas in the DR” in the memo line and put it in the giving box.

Bring the card and the note you have written for the child(ren) you have selected and drop it in the basket in the lobby.

Again, if you need help with your note, write something like this:

Dear (name),

I am praying that you and your family will have a happy Christmas as you celebrate the great good news that Jesus was born to save us.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:11)

And please, don’t forget to pray for the child(ren) whose name(s) you selected. And while you’re at it, pray for our friends Joe and Dana Neff and the good work they are doing with TeachBeyond. There are lots of people who have no issue with Jesus – who respect and even admire Him – who get tripped up when they get to John 14:6. This Sunday, we’ll consider why Jesus’ statement that He is the way, the truth and the life, and that no man comes to the Father except by Him is rooted in God’s grace and mercy. It really is good news!

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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