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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

“It’s Later Than It’s Ever Been Before!”

By Joe Chesser

Do you have one of those clocks that chimes a tune at the top of every hour? Does it also count the hours? I heard about a couple that had an old grandfather clock that did both. One night as the couple slept, the clock malfunctioned and instead of striking twelve times at midnight, it struck thirteen times. In his subconscious sleep, the husband still heard the thirteen “bongs.” He immediately sat up and, with panic on his face, said to his wife, “Honey, wake up! It’s later that it’s ever been before!”

The fact is, each tick of the clock takes us closer to the Lord’s return than ever before. Despite all the hubbub recently about the world coming to an end on a specific date, and despite the fact that no one knows but God when that day or hour may be (Matthew 24:36), the truth is that it could be at any time. As Jack Graham recently wrote, “THE END IS NEAR isn’t just a sign hanging on someone’s neck, but it’s a present reality for all of us living in the last days. There is no sign that awaits fulfillment. There is no prophetic message that has yet been untold and unfulfilled before the return of Christ. It could happen any time!”

Christians in the first century lived with that expectation. Properly understood, it affected the way they lived and gave them hope. To Titus Paul wrote that God’s grace taught people to say “NO” to ungodly living and “YES” to righteous living in this present age, “while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13). There is no need for Christians to live in panic. There is need, though, for godly living every day and for a healthy expectation of the Lord’s second coming and the end of time. It helps us keep our value system focused on God and not on this world (Colossians 3:1-17). Knowing the Lord could come at any moment should motivate us to work faithfully in His vineyard, bearing fruit for His glory (Matthew 25:14-30). It should motivate us to be drawn closer to Him day by day and to be prepared for His return no matter when that happens (Matthew 25:1-13). It should create within us a deep appreciation for God’s mercy, allowing us time to be prepared (2 Peter 3:8-11). Like the Christians in the first century, we should develop a longing for His quick return (Revelation 22:20).

Does the thought of the second coming of Jesus fill you with hope or with fear? Does it cause you to worry or to smile? Would you rather it happen right now or wait until later? Do you try to ignore it or do you think about it often?

Whether we have a grandfather clock or not, we should awake every morning knowing that it’s later than it’s ever been before. There’s no need for panic, but there is need for preparation and joyful expectation.

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.cofcfruitland.com/


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