Jesus is going to come, and He will take the true and faithful home. As we watched the new millenium, as it has developed with all of the articles that were printed, the televised programs, and the debates that went on of the complex situations that could occur, it made us stop and think, did it not? Some of you did more than think. You began to react. Some of you put some water back. Some of you stored a little bit of food. Some of you stored a whole lot of food.
Preparing for the Worst
Something could have happened, and we were trying to make necessary preparations for this event that could change the whole world, as we know it. Some said such action showed a lack of faith. Oh, they said, we are not going to put anything back, we are just going to go for it. Then, when nothing happened, they probably strutted around and said, See, I told you so.
But I am telling you, it gave us food for thought. More than food for thought, it drove some of us into starting to do something about the time in which we live. We began to react. Let us consider reaction and the promises that God gives us.
Hebrews 9:28 says, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Here is a promise that is sure. This is positive. This is better than any savings and loan bank. This is better than anything the world has to offer.
Are You Preparing for Jesus?
What is the key? For those who are looking for Him, He is going to appear the second time. Now that is a promise! The Bible is strong! There are promises about Jesus coming back, but we have to do more than just say an event is about to take place. Many of us made more preparation for the millennium than we are making for the coming of Jesus. As time counted down to the year 2000, we made great preparation. Means, time, and energy were spent in preparing. How much more important it is to prepare for Jesus’ soon coming!
He said, I am going to come back again, if you are looking for Me you will see Me. Oh, it is sad to say that the majority of the world really is not looking for Him to come. They are talking about it, but who will make the necessary preparation? There is preparation needed, by the way.
I love these promises in God’s Word. I cannot think of any subject that should be more appealing to Christians around the world today than the coming of Jesus. People should be getting excited when they think about how near it is. There are things happening all over the world that tell us Jesus is coming soon.
Promises! We live in a world of promises. Every individual has had people make promises to them. They promised you that they would do this. They promised you that they would do that. And you have made promises, have you not?
How Binding is a Promise?
Let us make this personal. You have made promises to family; you have made promises to friends; your friends have made promises to you. Practically total strangers have made promises to you. We promise to pay back money we are loaned, or we borrow something, and we promise to return it. When those kinds of promises are made, what does that do in your heart and in your life?
Jesus promises, “I will come again.” (See John 14:3.) What does that do for you? It has to be more than just reading that He is coming. What does it do in your life? What effect does it have on you?
There are people who have made promises to me that, if I was judging, I would say, because of past experience, they probably would not honor. But do you know what? It gave me a little bit of hope, even if they had failed me times before, that they would follow through with their promise.
So promises then, whether we give them or receive them, somehow lend a little glimmer of hope inside of us. We live in an hour when we need that hope, because there is no hope outside of Christ. There is nothing sure outside of Jesus Christ. (See That I May Know Him, 80.) If we have not made that choice, that decision to follow Jesus all the way, let me tell you dear friends, fence riding will not get it done.
Riding the Fence
The best fence riders, in my opinion, are in Adventism. Yet we are the ones who should not be fence riders. We know that we have to quit straddling the fence and get on one side or the other. We have to begin to make choices and decisions.
We are at a time of year when you hear people say that they made their New Year’s resolutions. They talk about it.—I think they really mean it right then.—I promise you that I am going to do better in school. I am going to watch my diet. I promise you, things are going to be different. I am going to quit drinking. I am going to quit smoking. I am going to quit doing this. I am going to change things around. I promise it is going to happen.
Hope Springs Forth
When you hear those words, hope automatically springs forth inside of you. It does! So when Jesus says, I am going to come back, we say, Man, there is some hope here.
What do we really understand about a promise? I do not claim to know about everything that is involved in a promise. I do know this ( it may not make any sense to you, but it makes sense to me, and believe it or not, I learned it from my mother). She defined a promise this way: A promise is a promise.
A promise is a promise! When it is said like that, it is a must that you do whatever it is you said you would do! Now it is not a Webster’s definition of what a promise is, but it was my mother’s. Sometimes that far outweighs old Webster, does it not? Do we really understand what is involved in promises and the possibilities and the circumstances and the things that could change to prevent your keeping a promise?
There once was a young lady who lay in a coma, in a hospital. She was in the Emergency Room; she had swallowed a large number of pills. If her stomach was not pumped quickly, and the medications put into her system, she would die.
She meant to take her own life. She wanted to die. But after she took the pills and she began to feel her body changing, she became afraid. She picked up the phone, before she became unconscious, and dialed 9-1-1. She said, I took some pills; I need help, then she passed out. The first thing they wanted to do at the hospital was to get rid of the pills that were causing the problem. Having your stomach pumped is not a pleasant experience. But it is a lot better than leaving that poison in the system and dying with it. She thought that taking pills would be the answer to her problems, the answer for a broken promise.
When she recovered, she was asked, Why did you do this thing? She looked up from the hospital bed and said, Because my boyfriend and I broke up. He promised that he would never leave me. He promised that we would be together. He promised me engagement. He promised me marriage, and now he is gone. That is why I did it!
Promises are important. Commitment is important. But you know, I have come to this conclusion, and I think you will also come to this conclusion,—I need more than just promises of family and friends and people that I know and love. It is nice to have those. But in our society today, with the world like it is, I need something stronger than that, because I have seen so many promises that have not been kept. I have seen so many broken commitments.
Everyone is Looking for a Cure
We have to look beyond the situations of life right now, and God is calling us to do that. Did you ever wonder why God gave us so many promises in His Word? Many people have tried to count them. Some say 2,500, and others say over 3,500. Why, in God’s Word, do we have all these promises? Do we really need them?
You will very seldom if ever, find an individual attempting suicide whose life is full of promise. It is when there is nothing there, nothing to live for, no hope anymore, that some individuals want to die.
Do you realize you are here to give hope to the world? This message of hope is to go unto the whole world. You are to give the message of righteousness by faith. You are to give the Third Angel’s Message to give people hope and encouragement, something for which to live. We need hope today.
Depression is a real thing. Someone who is depressed cannot see through the darkness of despair to a future of hope. They think there are no answers to a lot of the questions they have, that there is no place for them to go. They do not know what to do, so they get into a bigger dilemma. Why does God have so many promises? He gives us all of those Bible promises to lift us up.
The Hardness of the World
He knew that we would need encouragement. He knew that things would beset us if we walk in His footsteps. He said things are going to be tough. (See Matthew 5:11; John 15:20, 21.) He knew that we would need to be encouraged, because the world, as we read in inspiration, is going to rub hard against us. If you have not yet experienced that rubbing, that hardness of the world against you, you will. (See In Heavenly Places, 151.)
You should be sensing it right now. The world is getting ready to rub hard against those who love Jesus with all their hearts. You sense it; you see it; you know it. God’s Word has said it. I believe that God put the promises there to encourage me, and I know that He put them there to encourage you.
Some of the most precious promises I have ever read in God’s Word have to do with His Second Coming. He says He is going to come and restore us. I am going to put things back right, He says. That is what you want, is it not? You want things to be right; you want them to be like they are supposed to be.
Isaiah knew about this, and he wrote about these precious promises some 700 years before Christ. He wrote one of the most familiar passages that we, as Seventh-day Adventists, quote: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth.…” Isaiah 65:17. That means something is wrong with this earth.
Former Things Forgotten
Why would He re-create it if it was fine, if everything was all right? That sure slows the speculation and the theories that men are putting out nowadays that everything is all right. I am so thankful that He tells me that “the former [things] shall not be remembered, nor [even] come into mind.” Ibid.
Who would want them to come to mind? In the bliss of heaven, do you want to have to think about all the things that used to be? Absolutely not! Everything is joy and peace forever more in the presence of Jesus. Why a new heaven? Why a new earth? the Bible tells us in
2 Peter 3:9–13. It says this old world is going to be burned up, it is soon to dissolve. It is contaminated. It is diseased. There is something dreadfully wrong with it. And Jesus says He is going to create all things new. (See Revelation 21:5.) How wonderful that is!
Well, you ask, what is so good about the earth burning up? It is wonderful, because when the earth burns up, the enemy will be gone. Sin is going to be gone. There is not going to be a reminder of sin anymore. The old things are passed away, and everything has become new! (See 2 Corinthians 5:17.) Does that give hope? Yes, it does!
A New Earth
I know you do not like growing old. Do you know how I know that? Because I do not like it! We do not want to grow old, but it happens to everyone. We may adjust to it, because we cannot do anything else about it now, but I like the promise that I am going to have a new body. It gives me hope. It gives me encouragement. These Scriptures are specifically for God’s last day people. God is saying to us, and He is promising us, that these things are going to soon pass away. They are all going to be gone, and He is going to make all things new again, and when He does, He is doing it just for us. Thank you, Lord! Six-hundred years before Jesus came, the prophet Daniel received a dream, about the events that would take place. Recorded in Daniel 2 are the events in history all the way from Nebuchadnezzar to the end of the world. It says in verse 44, “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed.” In the days of these kings, the God of heaven is going to take charge again. He is going to set up His kingdom. You will not be in the minority anymore; you are going to be in the majority. Is that good news? His kingdom is never going to be destroyed. It is going to last forever. There will be no enemy, no group that can overthrow it.
We live in a society today where we have to be careful about what is happening. All nations are getting ready to turn on each other. The Bible says there will be wars and rumors of wars before Jesus comes. (See Matthew 24:6.) We need encouragement right now when we realize these things are before us. We have to catch a vision of these things that are before us that enable us to maintain, by the Spirit of God, our walk with Him day by day. I am glad that these words were penned. How do you see this passage of Scripture? How do you see what Isaiah had to say about the earth burning up and all the sins and everything all gone? How do you see the vision of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar down to the end of the world? Do you see it as good news, or do you see it as bad news? I see it as good news.
The Lord is King
We see the events unfolding now, and they tell me one thing beyond a doubt, things cannot continue the way that they are. That means some changes will take place. How or what does that have to do with you? What does it have to do with me? It is going to have a lot to do with us. I am thankful that the Bible gives encouragement to me to say that God is going to sit on the throne. (See Revelation 4.)
Everything is going to be wonderful then. Zechariah 14:9 tells us simply that the Lord will be King over all the earth. We are talking about the universe here. The Lord is going to be in charge. “In that day shall there be one Lord.” There are too many false lords around today, too many false prophets, too many mixed messages that are going out, too many people who are confused, too many people who do not know what is truth and what is right, too many people trying to run things and rule things.
When God is back on the throne, no one is going to remove Him. I am thankful that God wanted us to know about His plan for the universe. He wants us to know these things, because it gives us hope today.
In fact, He gave us good instructions. There is a passage of Scripture I am sure you have put to memory. It says, “She shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. Does that not encourage you? We know that Jesus has come! The world may not know it, but we know that He has come. We did not see it; we were not there, but by faith we know it. We know that He has come because of the promises of God’s Word! We have got to hold on to those promises; then we will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He came and that He lived a victorious life.
Saving His People
Do you know where Jesus is right now? Do you know what He is doing right now? John 14:1–3 tells us He has gone to His Father’s place to prepare a home for us, and He will return to take us there.
There are several things that He said were going to take place. As we read the Beatitudes of Matthew 5, He simply says the meek “shall inherit the earth.” (Verse 5.) The meek! It does not say the powerful. It does not say the rich. It does not say the educated. It does not say those with all the advantages. The meek are going to inherit something that has been made new and clean and right again. That is the inheritance that God wants for us. I am thankful for that.
Can You Hear Me, God?
Heaven seems a long way off at times. Sometimes it seems like our faith wanes a little bit, and we ask, is heaven a reality? Is it too far? Is God not big enough? Why does He not hear when I cry for help? Does He not understand what I am going through?
These are legitimate questions, especially for the non-believer. But even as a believer many of us go through times of doubt. When does heaven really begin? It begins, the people say, when Jesus comes. I am telling you it can begin right now, but, dear friends, instead of heaven, there seems to be a lot of hell going on in this earth.
That is what life seems to be like today. Many people, who do not know the Scriptures, who do not understand what happens when you die or what hell fire is, see the world getting worse, and they look around and say, This must be hell.
Christians, if you know your Bible, you understand better, but when is heaven to begin? Testimonies, vol. 7, 131, says it like this: “He will plane and polish the material for His temple, preparing each piece to fit closely to the other, that the building may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Heaven is to begin on this earth.”
Are you “material”? You can be if you want to be. It says that the material that inherits eternity has to have a little bit of planing. He is going to do a little polishing. When you talk about cleaning and polishing, dear friends, you are talking about things changing. You are going to fit somewhere in heaven, but you are not going to be there all by yourself. You would not want to be. He is taking every piece, that is you and me, and He is shaping us so that we fit closely together. That is His desire for us even now so that we might experience heaven here on this earth. Oh, what a challenge. That means we may have to make some changes. Have you acted today like you are in heaven?
Heaven Begins Right Here on Earth
If heaven begins here on this earth today, do we find that we have the peace that passeth all understanding? (See Philippians 4:7.) Do we find the faith and the love of Jesus, and all of the fruits of the Spirit, manifested in our lives today, as we deal with others? Here is the key! “When the Lord’s people are filled with meekness and tenderness, they will realize that His banner over them is love.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 131.
He is looking for a people who are meek, because the meek shall inherit the earth. Oh, how hardhearted we have become, because we live in a hard world. We are letting the world mold us, rather than us molding the world. That is why we become hardhearted. That is why we do not care about our brothers or sisters, or about the needs of others.
Jesus says that the meek are going to inherit the earth when the Lord’s people are filled with meekness and tenderness. Then they are going to realize that His banner over them, that which protects them, that which builds them up, that which finishes them off, is love. How wonderful that is! Do you sense it? Do you realize that His banner of love is over you? His protection is over you. He is taking care of you. He is meeting your needs every day of your life. What hope and encouragement that should give us.
There are people who think that one day Jesus is going to come, and they are going to say, I am ready. Really, without any kind of effort at all? You are going to have to do your part, and you must understand that. Testimonies, vol. 5, 345, says, “Character will be tested.…Each one has a personal battle to fight. Each must win his own way through struggles and discouragements. Those who decline the struggle lose the strength and joy of victory. No one, not even God, can carry us to heaven unless we make the necessary effort on our part.”
Is that not amazing? Every one of you has a character. The only way you can win a battle, the only way you can be a child of God, the only way you can enter into the kingdom, it says here, is to struggle through your own discouragements. We usually give up before it ever begins. We say, Well, if that is the way it is, I am out of here.
When the discouragement comes, you must struggle through with God’s help. That is how you are going to win your place in heaven. That is how you are going to shine. That is how you are going to be tested to see whether you are good material for the kingdom. God is not taking any bad material. He is not taking any cracked material. He is not taking any kind of material that is not perfected. If we give ourselves totally to Him, He is going to finish that job.
If, by the grace of God, you get into the kingdom, you do not want some sin to come out there. It is not going to happen again, but you would not want it to, would you? You want forever peace and joy, do you not? Do you have some fight in you? Spiritual fight? When the battle rages and all around you seems to be lost, can you stand and fight? Can you go right to your knees and know that God is going to hear you? Then, when you get up off your knees, do you march forward like everything is done already? Is that not what God wants you to do? Yes, it is! That is why He gives you these promises. That is why He makes these promises to you.
You pray, and you believe, and you claim His promises, and you move on. If you do not have any fight left in you, if you decline the struggle, you are going to lose strength and the joy of victory.
Have you seen your family change, your own life change, and circumstances change that you thought were unchangeable? That is victory! You tasted that victory, and oh, it is good. It is wonderful! You love that victory. But Mrs. White says that if you lose that struggle, if you lose that spiritual fight, if you do not want to fight anymore and you are backing away from it, she says that you “lose the strength and [you lose] the joy of victory.” She goes on to say, “No one, not even God can carry us to heaven unless we make the necessary effort on our part.…Christ is our model; imitate Him, plant your feet in His steps.” Ibid. Is there victory? Put your feet by faith in the steps of the Master. Oh, dear friends, victory is going to be sweet.
Satan Uses the Indolent
There are going to be some people who are not safe to take to heaven. They can claim they belong to this group and that group and say they followed this one and they have done this, and they have gone to church, and they paid their tithe
and on and on.
“By withholding that which God has given us to use in His service, be it time or means or any other of His entrusted gifts, we work against Him. Satan uses the listless, the sleepy indolence of professed Christians to strengthen his forces and to win souls to his side.…We can never be saved in indolence and inactivity. There is no such thing as a truly converted person living a helpless, useless life. It is not possible for us to drift into heaven.…Those who refuse to co-operate with God on earth would not co-operate with Him in heaven. It would not be safe to take them to heaven.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 280.
Do we work against God? You know what you are doing. The Bible tells us that is a losing cause. (See Joshua 23:16; Deuteronomy 8:19.) Withholding anything which God has given us, whether it is time, means or any other entrusted gift or talent we have is working against God. (See Matthew 25:14–30.) Satan likes nothing better than to use professed Christians. The devil wants to enlist you into his service. Why? So he can laugh in the face of the Master, pointing out our failures as His failure.
Let me tell you, dear friend, we are a pathetic mess without Jesus. The sleepy, indolent, professed Christian, Satan puts on his side. We can never be saved in indolence and inactivity. We need to be active in the service of God, according to our age and ability. You can be active. Perhaps you cannot do anything physically, dear friends, but you can pray up a storm. I do not know anything more valuable. Prayer is the key. As long as we have our mind, we can pray. We may not be able to get out of the house. We may not be able to pass out books. We may not be able to give Bible studies, but we can be a prayer warrior. God says inactive people will not make it to the kingdom of God. (See My Life Today, 276.)
Cooperating with God
Dear friends, are you cooperating with God now? If you are fully cooperating with God right now, you are safe to take to heaven. If you are not, and you are rebelling against God, then you are not safe to take, and He will not take you into heaven.
Some of us have gone into the listless, lazy state, because we have passed the year 2000, and we just wonder how long it is going to be. Dear friends, do not worry about it! Just make sure that you are ready! Are you ready to meet Jesus right now? Have you really given Him your all? Have you really grasped His promises and know that they are sure and as steadfast as God Himself?
He said, “I will come again.” He says, I want to receive you unto Myself, so where I am ye may be also. (See John 14:3.) That sounds like He is almost pleading, does it not? What is there in this life that is holding you back? What is taking your time and your talents? What has lulled you into a sleepy state? Is it a brother? Is it a sister? Has something happened in your life? Now is the time to give it to God, get past it, and rededicate your life to Jesus.
If there are changes that need to be made, and we are not really grasping those pure promises of God, we do not realize that things are soon to pass away and everything, as we know it, has changed. The world is a different place today. These are very trying times in which we live, and evil will magnify, the closer we get to Jesus. Jesus says, He is coming. He will come again, and I cannot miss that. I do not want anything in my way that might cause me to miss that.
He knows your heart and your life. There is nothing this world can offer worth missing out on heaven. We cannot afford to miss the calling that God has on our lives. God has a calling on you, do not disappoint Him in that calling. He has people that only you can reach. He is trusting you to do it. He is trusting you and me to rightly represent Him. When we say, I am a Christian, I am a child of God; He is trusting us to represent Jesus to the world. Do they see Jesus in you? If not, let us make sure to grab hold of those promises today. This can be the most beautiful spiritual time of your life.