In speaking of the Lord's return, the Bible tells us many times to be ready. We should be alert and be watching. But, let me add, we shouldn't be afraid.
Sept. 11, 2001, is a day we should never forget. We have all been affected by what happened on the horrific morning in New York City, Washington D.C., and a place called Shanksville in the Pennsylvania countryside. Our nation will never be the same. Now there are more threats. The question on everyone's mind is, What will happen next? It is amazing to consider how we entered the 21st century with so much optimism. Remember all the great celebrations? Now there is a lot of fear and anxiety.
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In John 14, Jesus spoke to a group of people who were frightened, troubled and agitated by what was happening around them. Here is what He had to say:
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (vv. 1-3).
The word "troubled," in verse 1 means "don't be agitated, disturbed or thrown into confusion." How could we not feel this way in light of all that is happening in the world? Jesus gives us three reasons in these verses.
- We can take God at His word
"You believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1). In the original language, this is a command. Jesus was saying, "I am telling you … I am ordering you … you believe in God, also believe in Me. Believe that I know what I am doing and that I will return for you. Your agitation is a result of not believing what God has said. You don't have the big picture, but one day, it all will become clear to you."
In other words, we will have to trust Him on this. We may not understand, but we must believe in Him. We must take Him at His word.
Things that happen in life can stress us out – not only what happens nationally and globally, but also personally. We have some kind of health problem. A tragedy hits, and it seems as though our world has come to an end. But we need to remember that God is still on the throne. He is still in control of our lives.
Dial 911 for emergency
We remember that tragic day in September as 9/11, which of course is the number we dial in an emergency. But we also need to remember Psalm 91:1:
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." This passage goes on to say, "I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.' You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday" (vv. 2, 5-6).
As Christians, we do not have to be afraid, regardless of what is going on in the world. Mark that in your mind. My future as a Christian is as bright as the promises of God. No matter what happens, I know that God is still in control of my life. The same is true for you.
The Bible teaches that God appoints the day of our birth and also the hour of our death. Job 14:5 says, "You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer" (New Living Translation). God determines when each of us will die, not some terrorist organization or anyone else for that matter. Therefore, we don't need to live in irrational fear and panic and anxiety.
This is not to say that we should not be careful and take precautions. But it is to say that God decided when we would live, and He also decides when we will die (or are taken up in the Rapture). As Paul said, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). If you are a Christian, it is a win-win situation. Although there is cause to be troubled, there is greater cause not to be. Regardless of what you are facing, take God at His word.
- We have the hope of Heaven
If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, you will go to heaven when you die. Jesus said, "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). When we read the word "mansion" in this verse, it does not refer to a palatial estate like those in Beverly Hills. It doesn't mean that if you live a godly life, you will have a gorgeous megahome waiting for you on the other side; that if you were semi-committed, you will have a nice tract home; or that if you only went to church occasionally, you will have a little place with a half-moon cut in the door. That is not what this verse is saying.
When Jesus spoke of "many mansions," He was not speaking of a home in terms of a building as much as He was speaking of a new body that God has prepared for you. This phrase could just as easily be translated, "In my Father's house are many dwelling places." God will give us brand-new, resurrection bodies (see also 1 Cor. 15:51). So if someone was in a wheelchair on Earth, he will not be in one in heaven. If someone did not have the use of her eyes or her arms on Earth, she will have the use of them in heaven.
The human body was not meant to last forever. In fact, the Bible compares it to a tent: "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor. 5:1). We do all sorts of things to try to prolong our lives. But eventually, our bodies will wear out. Philippians 3 reminds us:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Phil 3:20-21 NLT).
We are going to heaven, where God will give each of us a new, glorified body. What a great hope. That is one reason we don't have to be afraid.
- We know that Jesus Is coming again
Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3). Jesus is speaking of the Rapture here.
Notice that Jesus says that He will come again and receive us unto Himself. He doesn't say that He will take us. He won't take us if we don't want to go. Hebrews 9:28 says, "To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." Are you eagerly waiting for the return of Jesus Christ? That is the kind of person whom Jesus is coming back for.
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Are you ready?