Because there's so much mystery surrounding the Second Coming of Christ, it's tempting to become passive about the realities of His return.
Sometimes we think, well, since we really can't know the details, I'll just figure it out when it happens. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll contends that when it comes to the return of Jesus, there's no room for passivity. In this study, he'll describe essential disciplines to employ while we're waiting.
Chuck titled his message, Until He Returns, What? You want to know how to occupy until Christ comes? Live responsibly, work diligently, think realistically. In no place in the Old or New Testament is laziness smiled upon. Even laziness that is rationalized because one believes in the soon coming of Christ, our Lord frowns on a lack of discipline and diligence.
And I do hope you are listening, especially if you are the type who tends to be irresponsible. 2 Thessalonians is written to a body of people who bought into that mentality. They thought since we know Christ is coming and since our teacher, the Apostle Paul himself has assured us of His coming, then why work?
We'll just live off of others. Let them do the work and we'll be the ones who live by faith. 2 Thessalonians 3 verse 6, Now we command you brethren in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. Now he explains that, For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it. But with labor and hardship we kept working night and day, so that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have the right, after all he was an apostle, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order, If anyone will not work, neither let him eat. Does that sound like your dad's counsel? That's our father's counsel.
That's the word from our Lord. Those who eat are those who work. And if anyone does not work, neither let him eat.
Now that's Occupy. Work hard. Think realistically. And in the process of preparing for his coming, purify yourself.
That's second. We're in 2 Thessalonians. We're not far from Titus. So go beyond the books of Timothy to Titus chapter 2. Last five verses in Titus 2.
2.11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, our worldly desires, and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from every lawless deed, and here's our word, purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. Now that's a command given to those who teach this. Speak it with authority. Speak it with assurance. Drive the point home.
What point? That we who are looking for the blessed hope, verse 13, and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, even Jesus Christ, are the ones who are to deny ungodliness and worldly desires. If indeed he is coming again, and surely he is, there is one way you prepare for that, and that is with a pure life. I can't imagine a person who talks about being a good surgeon who at the same time doesn't worry too much about sterile instruments. I wonder how much business he would have if he said, now tell you the truth, I've got a new plan in surgery. We just do all of our surgery in the back room here. I just push this stuff out of the way and you crawl up on the table and I give you a shot, and you know, I'll use these things, chisel, hammer, screwdriver, a few things I've got over here. Oh, I've got a paring knife. I'll also, I have a feeling not too many people are going to come to a guy like that. One thing about practicing good medicine is that you go with the rules of sterilization. You don't play games when it comes to that act of surgery itself.
You can't be too clean. If you're going to talk about the coming of the Lord Jesus, then be sure that you balance it with a talk regarding the purity of life. Just one more thought on this and that's 1 John 3, please. Way over toward the end, 1 John 3, love these three verses. Verses 1-3, see how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us.
Excuse me, I went a little fast there. I'm going to wait for you to find it. 1 John 3, verse 1, page 407. No, that probably wouldn't be your Bible, would it? See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God and we are.
Isn't that a great line? And we are. For this reason the world does not know us because it did not know him.
Beloved, now. Now we are children of God and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that if he should appear, we shall be like him because we shall see him just as he is.
And everyone who has this hope fixed on him purifies himself, even as he is pure. Why, of course, you've been to enough wonderful and beautiful and unforgettable weddings to remember that the object of attention is the beautiful bride dressed in white. And that climax of the entire ceremony occurs when those doors are opened and the organist begins to play full crescendo and this bride with this proud, frightened father is making her way down the middle aisle and she stands there in all purity and beauty. Now our Lord often calls his church his bride. Brides of beauty and purity dress in no other color than white. White. Representing that they are untouched, they are pure virgins, awaiting the joys and intimacies of marriage with their groom.
And he speaks often in the scriptures of our being presented to our groom at his coming as a bride dressed in white. Pure. Clean. Now I understand how that can be frustrating to some. In fact, to all of us who are sinners, who don't deserve such a calling as that. The best answer I can give is that you have at every conscious moment brought to the Lord's attention whatever may have broken your relationship with him. You live by short accounts. You don't let the filth of your life stack up.
You don't ignore even the little things that have brought a break in a relationship with him or with others. You live, in the New Testament words, with a clear, clean conscience. That's how you prepare yourself in white for his coming. Why he often talks about our judging ourselves that we not be judged. Now from 1st John, let's go to the word watch. Mark chapter 13. Back over toward the gospels. The second book of the gospels, chapter 13 verse 31. The word watch is referred to in the terms be on the alert in Mark 13.
13, 31. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed. Watch. Or as it is rendered, keep on the alert, for you do not know when the appointed time is. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.
Keep watching. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, at cock crowing, or in the morning. Lest he come suddenly and find you asleep, and what I say to you, I say to all, watch. Be on the alert. Isn't it interesting how many days of our lives we live without the conscious thought flashing through our minds, it could be today.
Isn't that amazing? I've noticed that those who become increasingly more sensitive to spiritual things, fix their attention more often on his coming. They don't need the reminder from others. I don't know if you've had the experience that I've had, probably you have, of having a friend tell you that he's going to come see you on a particular day. He doesn't give you a time, but he tells you it'll be sometime during that day. And you find yourself getting the drapes dirty as you go to the front. You're looking, you're pulling the Venetian blinds, you're opening the door, you're checking, you're calling somebody, have you heard from him?
You look again, you check again, night falls, you turn the light on, you prop the door up, you make sure it's unlocked, you check it four times, on and on and on. Why? Because you're anticipating it's coming. You watch every light that flashes around the corner as it turns down toward your block.
Why? Because he's coming, you're watching, you're alert, you're thinking about it. That's what he has in mind here. I at times feel a little bit like a parent who warns a child against a stranger. When I teach on the subject of prophecy, I, at times out of real zeal, trying to keep people from fanaticism might go too far and talk you out of being full of anticipation.
Parents who teach children to be careful about strangers have to be careful not to overdo it because a child can begin to live so suspiciously that everyone is in question and you trust no one. So while I warn you against the extreme of fanaticism, let me quickly add that God honors watching, having a heart that pumps faster when we think of his return. In fact, do you know there's a reward promise, there's an actual crown that will be given for people who look forward to his coming as a regular diet, as a regular habit of their lives? 2 Timothy chapter 4 mentions the crown.
Paul was going to get that crown and he tells us that it's not exclusively his. 2 Timothy 4, 7 and 8, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. In the future, verse 8, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness. What is that crown? Why does he get it? Which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.
How about that? The crown of righteousness is reserved for those who live their lives, anticipating on a regular basis the Savior's return. He honors us for living with a watchful eye. By the way, it's a whole lot easier to keep your life pure when you think of his coming.
There's a lot of motivation when you think of that. Now, 1 Corinthians 11 is the last. 1 Corinthians 11 verse 23, we've learned that we are to be occupying till he comes, we are to purify ourselves, we are to watch, and now we're in a scene of worship. 11 23, I received from the Lord, writes Paul, that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, the cup also after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this as oft as you drink it in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, literally, you keep on proclaiming the Lord's death until he comes. How long are Christians to worship? How long are we to gather around the table and hold in our hands the elements of bread and the juice that represents his blood? How long until he comes? Every time we observe the Lord's table, it is another reminder, he's coming, he's coming, he's coming. One of these times will be our last time to observe it on earth.
It's kind of exciting, isn't it? It'll be our last meal on earth together. And then from then on, it'll be meals with him. Now how to stay alert and ready, there's no reason to get complicated about this. I'll give you a couple of thoughts. The first is remember Jesus promised it would occur someday. Keep that in mind. Remember that. He tells the truth. When you read the paper, think of his coming. And read as you see these events transpiring that relate to the nation Israel or relate to calamities in our times or those signs and tragedies he said which would be telltale signs of his arrival coming soon. Remember that.
Call it to mind. When you hear of events, when you lose a loved one, when you experience a surprise, or when something is cut out from under you, remember he's coming soon. Hope takes the sting out of the present.
Life won't be so hard if you live in light of his soon return. Here's the second little tip. Realize the promise could occur today.
Let me make a suggestion. Let me help you form a new habit for getting out of bed in the morning. Some of you need a little help in getting out of bed in the morning, and this will help you. Just as soon as your tootsies hit the floor before you ever force yourself up and on your feet headed for the day, look out the window.
Look out the window and repeat two lines. Good morning, Lord. Will I see you today?
Good morning, Lord. Will I see you today? I've started doing that and it is amazing how often I have seen him in the face of a child, in a circumstance that I would otherwise have missed him, in a response from an individual, in an interruption, in a telephone conversation, and for some of us, one of these days, sooner than we think, we'll see him in death. That'll be the day we see him. Who knows, one of those days in which you've said that, that day he'll come. How great to be able to say, I've been looking for you.
I love this story. When former President Eisenhower was vacationing in Denver a number of years ago, his attention was called to an open letter in a local newspaper, which told how six-year-old Paul Haley, dying of cancer, had expressed a wish to see the President of the United States. Spontaneously, in one of those gracious gestures, remembered long after a man's most carefully prepared speeches are forgotten, the President decided to grant the boy's request. So one Sunday morning in August, a big limousine pulled up outside the Haley home and out stepped the President of the United States. He walked up to the door and knocked.
Mr. Donald Haley, the father, opened the door. He was wearing blue jeans, an old shirt, and a day's growth of beard. Behind him was a little boy named Paul. Their amazement at finding President Eisenhower on the doorstep can hardly be imagined. Paul, said the President, I understand you wanted to see me.
I'm glad to see you, Paul. Then he shook his hand and the little six-year-old walked with him out to see the presidential limousine. They talked together for a while, shook hands again, and the President left. The Halys and their neighbors and a lot of other people will probably talk about this kind and thoughtful deed of a busy President for a long time to come. Only one person was not entirely happy about it.
That was Mr. Haley. He can never forget how he was dressed when he opened the door. Those old jeans, that faded shirt, my unshaven face, what a way to meet the President of the United States, he said.
I can tell you one a little more embarrassing than that, can't you? One day there will be a trumpet blast and you won't even have time to change clothes. You'll be swept into his presence. But until he comes, occupy, purify, watch, and worship. If you're engaged in those four things, one of the greatest joys of your everyday life will be to share your faith regarding Christ with others.
That all just flows so naturally. I'd like us to bow together. Father, I pray that you will be glorified in a very special way as we turn our attention and affection back to you. Hear the praise of our lips, the feelings of our hearts, and as you meet with us this moment, make our worship meaningful and sweet. It seems so right, our Father, that you have arranged a meal that anyone can prepare and any age can understand.
And all that's involved is simply placing something into our mouths and tasting it and swallowing it and absorbing it. We would do that with you, our Father. Probe down within us and find any area that is unwilling to be placed at the cross and don't let up on us until it's been dealt with.
Then we might prepare ourselves to be a pure bride awaiting our groom. Find us occupying and purifying and watching and worshipping. In Jesus' name. Amen.
There were four major points to Chuck Swindoll's message today. Until Jesus Christ returns to retrieve His children, our role is to 1. Occupy, 2. Purify, 3.
Watch, and 4. Worship. This is Insight for Living. Chuck titled his message, Until He Returns, What? It's just one of the studies in the larger 22-part series called Growing Deep in the Christian Life.
If you'd like to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. If you're prepared to take your next steps towards growing deeper in your walk with God, let me recommend Chuck's brand-new book called Clinging to Hope. In his book, Chuck describes how to cultivate a satisfying relationship with our Creator. Plus, Chuck tackles tough questions such as, how do we make sense of the suffering in our world?
How do we recover when we lose someone we love? And where is God when we're deeply disappointed? You'll enjoy reading Chuck's biblical responses to these questions and more. And this is a wonderful book to pass along to a friend or perhaps to a child or grandchild who needs a dose of encouragement. Again, Chuck's book is called Clinging to Hope.
To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash hope or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. As we close today, let me encourage you with this comment from a grateful listener in Michigan who said, Chuck, I am 58 years young and yet my soul has been empty and lonely for as long as I can remember. One dark morning at 5 a.m. while driving my hour-long commute flipping through radio stations, I stopped the search. Thank you, Chuck, for sharing God's Word with me in the mornings. I now have hope. Well, that moment was made possible in part by those who give voluntary donations to Insight for Living. We invite you to join us in this worthy effort to bring biblical hope to the hopeless.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or you can give online when you visit insight.org. Take it from Chuck Swindoll. There's nothing quite like the beauty of the great frontier. Wide open skies, pristine glaciers with various shades of blue and turquoise mingled within them, towering pine trees and all manner of wildlife. I'll tell you, Alaska is truly a masterpiece of God's creation. I've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things, but honestly, nothing compares to the beauty in Alaska.
God is awesome. Come with us on the Insight for Living Ministries Cruise to Alaska, July 1 through July 8, 2023. When I'm in Alaska, I feel like I'm in an amazing painting created by God. Let yourself get lost in the majestic beauty. Spend quality time with those you love.
Allow God to refresh your soul as you reflect on His Word and His goodness in your life. To learn more, go to insight.org slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444. The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer, urging you to join us again next time when Chuck Swindoll describes visiting the real Twilight Zone right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Until He Returns, What?, was copyrighted in 1985, 1987, 2005, and 2011, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2011 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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