Monday, December 28, 2015

Late in Time


[Photo of Big Ben]

“But now he has appeared once for
all at the end of the ages to do away
with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
—Hebrews 9:26

Many will recognize the phrase, “Late in time, behold Him come” from the popular carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing. 1 It reveals the sigh of “at long last” that comes after people wait for something for a very long time.

The scripture passage from Hebrews 9:26-28 tell us that just as He (the Christ) has appeared once for all:

He will appear a second time…to those who are waiting for Him.

In many verses of Scripture, we see another expression of “late in time”—the term, “last days.” This refers to the period begun by the coming of Christ and in which we now live. It reminds us that “soon” He will bring to pass all that the New Testament promises, as well as those ancient Old Testament prophecies relating to His second coming.

We also read of this “late in time” occurrence in Galatians 4:4-5:

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

Quite appropriately, these verses speak of a late pregnancy in which the mother waits longingly for the birth.

We have been reminded throughout Advent of the urgency of waiting in a prepared manner for Christ’s second coming. But, I see another application of the principle of waiting until “late in time” He comes.

If you have ever prayed and waited over months and years, even decades for a promise that God has given you to be fulfilled, receive encouragement that God will reward your faith and perseverance. He never gives us a prayer that He doesn’t intend to answer.

However, we must also realize that our times are in God’s hands. Just as the nation Israel waited without knowing when the fulfillment of His promises for the first coming of the Messiah would happen—and we wait, not knowing when He will come again—we also can expect a “coming” in response to our God-breathed prayers at a time and in a way that we can’t know in advance.

Be encouraged that God acts in regard to His children just as He does in regard to nations and His own Kingdom. We can expect that “late in time”—or “in the fullness of time”—He will come in response to our prayers. Praise be to God!


1 Wesley, Charles, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Public domain.



Monday, December 21, 2015



[Photo of Simeon]

“He had no beauty or majesty to
attract us to him, nothing in his
appearance that we should desire him.”
—Isaiah 53:2b

“He was in the world, and though
the world was made through him,
the world did not recognize him.”
—John 1:10

If you have seen the television show, “Undercover Boss,” you know that a corporate CEO arrives at various places within the company as a trainee, so that he or she can meet various employees without being known and to also find problems existing within the business. These undercover bosses wear hair pieces, glasses, and unlikely clothing. Poor employees get “found out” and good employees get rewarded at the end of the hour long program.

Did you ever think about the fact that God came to earth incognito, too. According to scripture, He had no outstanding qualities that would speak of His royal position as Lord of All. Therefore, even religious leaders missed identifying Him as the promised Messiah. Even John the Baptist, who God sent as the forerunner of Jesus seemed to confess that he did not recognize Him as the Son of God. In fact, John the Baptist said in the story recorded in John 1:29-34, that he would not have known Him except for the Holy Spirit’s identification by the dove lighting on Him.

Which leads to the Biblical truth that no one can possibly know Jesus unless the Spirit reveals Him to us. In 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 Paul writes:

We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

We remember the story from Luke 24:13-35 of the disciples walking along the road to Emmaus after the Resurrection and how the resurrected Christ joined them. For several hours these disciples talked with Him. But, they didn’t recognize Him. Only after Jesus broke bread did the Holy Spirit open the travelers eyes to see that they had been speaking with Jesus.

In this Advent season, when we admonish each other to watch for the second coming of the Messiah, I wonder how many of us will recognize Him when He comes. The words of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 24:10-13 warn us of such blindness:

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

I am comforted by the presence of two very dear saints, Simeon and Anna, in the Christmas story. Unlike most of the religious leaders, who never recognized the Messiah at His first coming, these two godly people prayed and waited, watched and worshiped. The moment that Mary and Joseph appeared at the temple to present their Baby, these two ran to Him in acknowledgement. The Spirit of God revealed to them that the promised Messiah had arrived. It seems that the true identity of Jesus was hidden from natural eyes. That He had arrived incognito and incarnate.

Those who wait and watch, pray and worship day after day, can expect that God will reveal the Christ at His second coming. Let us anticipate His arrival, made known to a watching Church!



Monday, December 14, 2015

Wake Up!


[Photo of office workers sleeping on a conference table]

“Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is
about to die, for I have not found your
deeds complete in the sight of my God.”
—Revelation 3:2

One of the classical pieces for the Season of Advent, we know as the Bach Cantata, “Wachet Auf.” The words refer to the call of the Bridegroom in the Parable of the Virgins that Jesus told. The theme speaks of arising from gloom to glorious light, to hear the angels round the throne of God when our Lord returns to earth to take His Bride, the Church, away with Him.

When we look at the churches across our world today, we often hear about vibrant places across the globe. Many we would look at in our own land, unfortunately, may appear awake, but merely sleep walk. Surely, Jesus, our Bridegroom, would say to us, “Wake up!”

Even one of the churches in the Apostle John’s time had fallen into the sleep-walking pattern. When he wrote letters to seven of the congregations in his time, he told the church in Sardis that their heavy-eyed, lethargic patterns would lead to death—unless they would repent and wake up.

We know from scripture that sleep in a Christian, and a Christian church, can lead to death. As Puritan writer William Gurnall writes:

Samson was asleep and Delilah cut his locks. Saul was asleep, and his spear was taken from his side. Noah was asleep, and his graceless son had opportunity to discover his father’s nakedness. Eutychus was asleep, and fell from the third loft…Sleep creeps upon the soul as it does on the body. 1

We need to awaken to sin in our life, silently creeping into our lives and our churches. We need to awaken to the needs God wants us to see in the world around us, and we need to awaken to the ways God wants to use us. When we sleep, our enemy Satan can come in unawares and take advantage of us. We can be near spiritual death and not know it.

Will He find us awake when He comes back? If He visited us today, would He find us sleepy or wide awake?


Lord, your church appears asleep, or at best, very drowsy. We have allowed our eyelids to get heavy, rather than stood to move at your command. Send us watchmen to warn us. Sound “Reveille” and reawaken your church. Alert us to dangers that have intruded our bed chambers and wait to kill us in our sleep. Stir us up. As you awoke our churches in times past, come again, and reawaken your people for your glory. Amen. 2


1 From “The Christian in Complete Armour” by William Gurnall, as quoted in Rushing, Richard, editor. Voices from the Past. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009. p. 358.
2 From Wilson, Shirley W. “Re”wording Our Prayers for Spiritual Change. Erie, PA: Wilson Publishing, 2011. p. 7.



Monday, December 7, 2015

Anticipating With Fear or Joy?


[Photo of flames]

“But who may abide the day of His coming
and who shall stand when He appeareth,
for He is like a refiner’s fire. And He shall
purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer
unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”
—Malachi 3:2-3

Most musicians will recognize these famous verses as the source for the words from the Christmas section of Handel’s Messiah. The alto begins with an air, followed by the chorus. The words portray not a joyful expectation of the coming of the Redeemer, but one of fear. Who can stand the scrutiny of His coming?

Anticipating the first advent of Christ meant allowing God to purify sinful hearts, especially those of the priestly tribe of Levi who served night and day in the temple. It seems rather backwards that God would especially put His own temple servants through the hard process of refining until they were able to reveal the glowing image of their Lord and offer to Him offerings acceptable to such a King.

Does God expect the same of His servants who anticipate His Second Advent? The sobering reality of this great Day comes to us in 1 Peter 4:17:

For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Yes, just as God’s people looked forward to His first coming with joy and anxious anticipation, we too should watch and wait for His second coming in expectation and with joy. But, we also must remember, that as it was when John the Baptist came shouting, “Prepare” for Jesus’ Galilean ministry, we must also prepare to meet Him with hearts purified by His word and by His work of sanctification. And, as with Anna the prophetess who met Jesus in the temple on the eighth day, we should be faithfully, day after day on watch for His return.

As you hear the strains of Handel’s Messiah this Christmas, along with the joyful tidings and great joy, recall the sobering section about allowing God to refine you so that you can offer to Him that which He deserves—offerings in righteousness.

—Posted: Monday, December 7, 2015