Actively Waiting For Jesus (Part 2)
By Rich Carmicheal
"...and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Heb. 9:28).
Last month I shared three of the actions that mark the lives of those who are waiting for Jesus. First of all, these believers pursue holiness, desiring to please God in every way and to be set apart for His purposes. They also turn away from sin, realizing that Christ shed His blood to set them free from the power and stain of sin. And thirdly, they persevere through the difficulties of this life, in full confidence that when Jesus returns, everything will be made right for all of eternity.
Work Hard for the Lord
Another essential mark of those who are waiting for Jesus is that they "occupy" until He comes (Luke 19:13). The Lord has entrusted each of His people with work to do, work that has the potential to impact the lives of others for eternity. It is work that deserves our wholehearted effort because we know that our "labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58).
The work we do for the Lord is significant and precious to Him, and it will be good for us if He finds us doing His work when He returns (Luke 12:43). If we are faithful to carry out the responsibilities He entrusts to us, we can look forward to the Day when He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness" (Matt. 25:21). On the other hand, those who become complacent and lazy will face His anger.
The writer of Hebrews illustrates it this way: "Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case – things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what is promised" (Heb. 6:7-12). This passage emphasizes how the Lord’s blessings in our lives are not only to work in our lives, but also through our lives, in turn blessing the lives of other people. This passage also points out that our service is a very personal matter to the Lord. In fact, He considers the help we give to others as acts of love toward Him! As Jesus shares, "...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me" (Matt. 25:40).
So as we wait for Jesus to return, we dare not become lazy, but must remain diligent to His work to the very end. No matter what the cost, your faithful service will be worth it all. Consider how the Apostle Paul expresses the reality of the cost and the reward of ministry: "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
Encourage Others in the Lord
Another mark of those who are waiting for Jesus is that they encourage others in the Lord. "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Heb. 10:24-25). As Jesus’ return draws nearer, and as pressures on people increase, there will be all the more reason and need for encouragement.
We can encourage others by providing comfort, inspiration, exhortation and warning. A major source of the encouragement we are to offer others is the Word of God. As the Apostle Paul points out, "...everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom. 15:4). The Word of God is vital. It is "living and active" and "penetrates" and "judges the thoughts, and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). It is "God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Therefore, preaching, teaching and sharing the Word are paramount. Preachers must preach the Word and "correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction" (2 Tim. 4:2). All of us are to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly as we teach and admonish one another with all wisdom (Col. 3:16).
There is no doubt about how great the need is for us to share the Word of God with others. People all around us need the comfort, encouragement, correction, warning, guidance, hope, inspiration, counsel, perspective, strength, knowledge, truth, promise, endurance, revelation, renewal and foundation the Scriptures offer. Those who are waiting for Jesus to return are those who are eager to encourage others in the Lord through His Word so that they too might be more prepared for His Coming. Of course, to encourage others, you must yourself be full of encouragement. So this is the time to press in ever closer to the Lord and to His Word, and then allow the overflow to spill into the lives of others.
Rely on God’s Power
Perseverance is needed in the Christian life because the "race marked out for us" (Heb. 12:1) can be long, hard and costly. There are many trials along the way, together with temptations, spiritual battles, persecutions and other challenges. While we must do our part in enduring hardship, this is ultimately done in strength the Lord provides. Therefore, one of the marks of those who are waiting for Jesus to return is that they rely on God’s power.
There are a number of Scriptures that stress this important truth. For example, the Apostle Paul assures those who eagerly await Jesus that "He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful" (1 Cor. 1:8-9). The Apostle Peter, looking forward to the day when Jesus Christ is revealed, reminds us that we are through faith "shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Pet. 1:5). Likewise, Jude writes, "...dear friends, build yourselves up in the most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.... To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord..." (Jude 20-24).
As you look to the Lord, you can count on Him to keep you strong to the end! He will shield you by His power! Nothing is able to separate you from His love, not even "trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword" (Rom. 8:35)!
Of course, one of the primary means to rely on the Lord is through prayer, and so one of the marks of those who are waiting for Jesus is prayer: "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray" (1 Pet. 4:7). Prayer is not only essential to our own spiritual well-being, but also impacts the lives of others as we intercede for them. Prayer is significant because our God is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God who has chosen to work through prayer. The articles in this issue of the Herald provide strong encouragement in seeking the Lord, and I hope you will be deeply stirred in your private and corporate times of prayer.
With this in mind, I invite your prayers in the days ahead for Herald of His Coming. The desire of this ministry is to encourage and exhort others in the Lord, "and all the more" as we see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:25). We long to share the Lord’s message with more readers, in more places and in more languages. This will happen only as the Lord moves in response to the prayers of His people. This is a huge request given the troubled state of many world economies, but with God all things are possible!
Therefore, we hope you will remember the ministry of Herald of His Coming as you spend time in prayer before the throne of God. You will find some specific prayer requests for the ministry as you read through this issue, and please also remember to ask the Lord for His provision of messages, His anointing, His protection, His direction and His provision of resources for the ministry. And please ask Him for His grace and power to be at work so that as we wait for Jesus, this ministry can herald His Coming until He comes again!