November 30th, 2003, Sunday Morning Thanksgiving Weekend
"He is Coming"
Preparing for the Lord's any-moment return
OPENING: 2 Peter 3:8-13
HISTORY LESSON: The greatest underlying factor and basis for Thanksgiving is giving thanks to God not so much for providing our tangible, earthly needs but His intangible gifts: His love, daily sustainment, guidance and His gift of eternal life after earth burns away (literally speaking)
The Pilgrims (Puritan separatists from England) were the pilot for this holiday when they desired to escape their country's religious intolerance (sounds familiar)
September 6, 1620: they departed Plymouth, England, for "the new world;" Landing in Massachusetts over two months later, the Pilgrims met and befriended native Indians
December 13, 1621, the grateful Pilgrims declared a three-day feast to thank God and celebrate with their Indian friends (while not Thanksgiving holiday, this was the ground-breaking festival)
1789: Under a proclamation by President George Washington, America celebrated it's first "Day of Thanksgiving to God"
For the next 30 years, a Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale petitioned the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day to President after President until President Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving, which succeeding U.S. Presidents honored for the next 75 years
1941: Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday
Since then, the world's view of this important holiday has diminished:
Now Thanksgiving is about getting together with family and distant relatives (not including God) to gorge on turkey on football
The name itself is more commonly being referred to as "Turkey Day" (just like Christmas is now "X-mas" and Easter is
about bunnies and eggs--completing secularizing the three most important holidays of the year)
Thanksgiving is seen by some as simply a "roadblock" to Christmas where retailers are filling their shelves with Christmas decorations and products the day after Halloween in preparation for the Christmas shopping race where the start line is traditionally the midnight after Thanksgiving
However, for some, Thanksgiving is not a time of joy; it's a time to remember lost jobs, loneliness, or lost
loved ones--either from natural causes or otherwise; however, that's no excuse not to be thankful daily for what you do have
SELF-EXAMINATION: Consider what situation would be better to live in: Suppose...
The next 10 years were the best of your life: you have more money than you can spend, your children are well and successful, your marriage is nothing but joy and happiness--day after day; then you hit 60 and suddenly discover that you've "missed life's boat" by living so much off the world for yourself you have a spiritually empty bank account to present God at Judgment Day
Matthew 25:14-30: Synonymous to Jesus' parable of a master giving money to three servants to invest: upon the master's return (Jesus), two of the men capitalized (made use of what was given them--like the Bible) but the third did nothing for the entire time the master was gone (his entire life) and for that, the third unprofitable person was cast into outer darkness where unending pain and suffering awaits
OR the next 10 years are the worst and most miserable of your life: you live at-or-below the poverty line, paycheck-to-paycheck, you can't hold a job, your family is broken, with internal strife and you're constantly in the hospital or in surgery; then you hit 60 and realize you made the most of your last 10 years by going to Church, being committed to God and constantly looking to help your neighbor; you can hardly wait to tell God about how you've helped His children when He comes for you at the Rapture
Many--if not all--of God's saints, messengers and prophets lived this way--some most of or their entire life; one of the most prominent was Paul (2 Corinthians 11:24-27):
The Jews--his own people--publicly whipped him 39 times
Three times beaten with rods, stoned almost to death, suffered shipwreck three times
Sailed in hostile waters, walked amongst robbers, the heathen, false friends, the wilderness
Was weary, in pain, went hungry and thirsty, was cold and sometimes naked
2 Corinthians 11:28: And in all that, his daily concern was not his personal troubles but the church!
2 Timothy 4:7-8: At the end of his life, he reflected on all his injustices not with complaining but by saying, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
This is the road less taken--the straight and narrow--the road you want to travel
2 Peter 3:9: We live in a day and age where the world (man) does not take responsibility for his actions and disregards God's promises of forthcoming justice because nothing happened to man today that's been prophesied for thousands of years; But be on-guard that the Lord's return is potentially today
This sermon's passage of scripture is only one piece of this entire epistle (2 Peter) by Paul with the purpose of keeping people's hearts and minds stirred, motivated and attentive to keep watch for Christ's return (Rapture)
The "shock and awe" of the Spring 2003 U.S. liberation of Iraq will be nothing compared to God's Rapture; while it will be the ultimate day of rejoicing for the saved, it will be THE terrible day of destruction for the lost and the world
1 Thessolonians 5:2-3 and 2 Thessolonians 2:8: Contrary to the world's belief, God's return is not about bringing world peace and harmony but about the final justice and destruction of the wicked
Matthew 24:40-41: He is coming for only his saved children--those lost will
be left behind
2 Peter 3:10 and Luke 12:40: God will come "as a thief in the night" and "at an hour when ye think not" meaning no man knows or has been given Biblical or historical clues the appointed time and date pre-determined by God; man will not expect and cannot guess the time of His return
2 Peter 2:1: Another warning from Paul is about "false teachers"--an example being those who try to predict the Lord's return
(If you're in a Christian bookstore and pick up a book that refers to predictions or mathematic calculations of God's return, put it back; the credibility of the entire book is shot because man not only cannot predict God's return but, historically, has been wrong on all guesses, thus far in the world's history)
TESTIMONY: This church's pastor was robbed once: in his new house, in broad daylight, with family home, thieves went into the open garage and cleaned out as many tools as possible; this is a severe example of not expecting the "thief in the night" because this happened at day with family members home!
Matthew 24:43-44: Obviously, if the pastor knew the time of the thief's coming, he would've been alert to be
at home to prevent the thief's actions
In order to be best prepared for God's return, you must live each day like it is your last; live it like you're preparing for major event in your life, like an upcoming wedding, graduation, birth of a child or that retirement vacation
1 Corinthians 15:52: And the Rapture will last only for "a moment, in the twinkling of an eye"--so quickly and overwhelmingly
2 Peter 3:7,10: Earth and all of man's works ever produced and Heaven will be fully consumed in a fire so hot, even "the elements shall melt"
Everything you've ever gathered and built in life: houses, antiquities, gold, land, cars, money--all will count for nothing except how you've lived your life according to the Bible, at the Judgment
Encyclopedia Britannica (15th ed., 1989) and the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed. CD-ROM, 1992) define a (chemical) element as "a substance that cannot be decomposed into simpler substances by ordinary chemical processes"
Think of the Fall 2003 California wildfires as covering the entire globe!
Cities evaporate in seconds
The Egyptian pyramids, standing for centuries, will dissipate in a flash of light
Acts 2:20 and Revelation 6:12-13: Those on the dark side of the world will experience pitch black and those on the sun-side will see the sun fade, the moon lose its color and the stars of Heaven fall to earth
2 Peter 3:12: Even the Heavens "being on fire shall be dissolved" and its elements melt
The fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah will look like nothing compared to this frightening event--and while Sodom and Gomorrah's existence is historically proven with found antiquities (example of proof of the Bible's truth), the city itself has not yet been re-discovered
YOUR RESPONSE: The way you live now is a storybook you write each day that will be presented to God at Judgment Day--you're still writing it and you can change your future right now
2 Corinthians 6:2: "now" is the accepted time of salvation (becoming saved)--not later today, not tomorrow
When you encounter temptation, stop and weigh the consequences before you react to it
1 Corinthians 10:13: God will not allow you to be tempted more than your will and ability to escape it; therefore you can't ever make the excuse the temptation was overwhelming
Matthew 26:41: Jesus says the best way to avoid and conquer temptation is to be vigilant of its coming and pray for escape
John 7:4: Just because man is in darkness without being watched or surveyed by other men or cameras doesn't mean he's not being watched; God is always watching and as a result, "there is no man that doeth any thing in secret"
James 3:7: A wise man is proven with not only his words but actions; examples:
Galatians 5:16: Abstain from fleshly lust (sensuality, drinking parties, idolatries, carousing, etc.) by constantly being in God's Word
1 Timothy 2:1-2 and Daniel 2:21: Submit to those in authority above you; God allowed them to be there--from your supervisor to the President
Matthew 5:11-12: Respond to persecution and suffering with rejoicing
Ephesians 5:22-23: Wives: lead quiet, gentle lives (unlike women portrayed in Hollywood movies today) and obey your husbands
Ephesians 5:25: Husbands: love your wife just as Christ loves (and gave His life for) the church
Galatians 5:22-23: (Definition of "Fruit of the Spirit":) Be hospitable toward one another, enduring without complaint
Ephesians 4:11-12: (Examples of some not all tools God has given man:) Use the gifts God has given you to strengthen and glorify the Body of Christ
2 Peter 3:7: And with the disintegration of Heaven and earth will be the "perdition of ungodly men" (unsaved men)
Matthew 7:6: The ungodly will laugh and scoff and not believe this sermon so do not persist with them; synonymous with agriculture, while it's man's duty to plant the seed (introduce the Bible) and water the seed (show proof and exhort the lost man), only God gives the increase (changes the heart and brings the growth)
Historical proof that God can and did bring global destruction: Noah and the flood
Genesis 9:13-16: God's symbol back then which man sees today--the rainbow--means that the world was once and will never again be destroyed by water
(Notice God didn't specify preventing global destruction through other means--like fire)
Revelation 21:1: So why be thankful today? Because if you confess Christ as your Savior (become saved) then you belong to Him, you can never lose Him and you'll escape the coming Judgment Day and live forever with Him in the new Heaven and earth
2 Timothy 3:12: While being saved doesn't mean you won't still encounter trials and tribulations in life (even Jesus was still crucified) it does mean God will give you extraordinary success in life and never leave you until it's time for the
Rapture--to come home
Our pastor is an example: his sister died at 17; he's worked with ministries in towns where farmers made more money; he's
lost close family members; had major back surgery; but in all that, he's comforted and content simply with God's Word assuring him
God has the pastor's soul protected in His hands--forever
Purpose of this coming day:
1. Salvation of God's people
2. Day of Judgment
3. Destruction of ungodly people
4. Destruction and re-birth of Heaven and earth
2 Peter 3:13: So what are we living for? What is "the meaning of life?" It's not knowing the future like fortune tellers; it's not finding out who the anti-Christ is; it's not even knowing the day and time of God's return--it's God's promise to the saved of the new Heaven and new earth that awaits us
The earth is not our home--we're just "passing through"
Earth is not our utopia--it's not the place meant to store your fortunes and treasures
Man may scoff and laugh today and turn the other way but that doesn't mean God's promises from thousands of years ago will not come to pass
EXAMPLE: Spring 2003 U.S. initial attack on Baghdad: Saddam disregarded the warnings, maybe turned off his T.V. and looked the other way, but the U.S. promises came to pass