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Faithlife Corporation

He's Coming Back

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I want to invite you to stand up on your feet right now, if you wouldn't mind. It's one of those gloomy Saturday mornings. I don't know if you know that our windows are tinted, so it makes it even darker and gloomier…one of those days. I want you to take your arms out and just stretch them like this…up high, really high, in the back. I want you to repeat after me. I want you to say, "Yes!" I want you to say, "Amen, brother!" I want you to say, "Come on now!" I want some of you to say, "Preach!" Some of you say, "Yes, I will!" All of you say, "Yes, I will!" I want you to say, "Take it home now!" I want some of you to say, "Thank You, Jesus!" Alright, you're going to be ready for today. Sit on down…get you started.

I grew up in a very religious home. We had family worship every morning and every night. Every year my father would buy six Morning Watches, one for each member of the family and then one for a guest in case they were visiting our home. I began memorizing Bible texts early on. My faith in Jesus was strong, and I believed that Jesus was coming back very, very soon. My prayers every night were that Jesus would come back soon and take me home. I dreamed about heaven. I spent hours dreaming about my first hours in heaven…what I would do, who I would look for, where I would go. I pictured in my mind Jesus coming out of the clouds of heaven and saving the entire human race. It was overwhelming for a seven year old.

Somehow along the way I began reading some books and attending some meetings which made the second coming of Jesus very frightening. It seemed too complicated. It was filled with graphs and charts and world events and disasters and judgments and calamities and behavior and consequences, and my childhood dream of seeing Jesus again was marred with anxiety and fear. I questioned my own worthiness and whether or not I was ready and worthy to receive the gift of forgiveness and salvation. (This is where you say, "Come on now!")

A couple of months ago, I began thinking about my childhood dreams, and I wondered why I had stopped dreaming those dreams of Jesus' second coming. I stopped thinking about His coming and His return. I stopped thinking about His coming and how it had overshadowed the conversations that I had as a child. What I did, now, a few weeks ago, was just sit in silence and listen to the conversations that were taking place around me. I took a step backwards, and I listened carefully to my circle, my friends, my church members, my leaders, my administrators, the books that I was reading, the journals that I was getting. There was silence on this topic.

It seemed that we were more preoccupied with the present…with the now. It seemed like we were worried about jobs and kids and education and travel and vacations and property and investments and finances and retirement. If we did have conversations regarding religion it was petty and it was minor things…arguing over small issues and references in the Bible. But as I listened carefully to my friends and to our church members, the questions were very mundane, and it was things like, "Is brown the new black? Is Taco Bell better than Don Pablo's? Is it wrong to pierce ears or not to pierce ears? Should I get a tattoo or not get a tattoo? Ocean City or Rehoboth? St. Martin or Jamaica? Public schools or private schools?

What happened? Where did this conversation…when did this conversation of Jesus' coming, His imminent return, become silenced? Do we still share that same hope, or have we completely lost interest? Do we talk about it anymore? Do we talk about it at home? Do we long for that? Do we hear other people talk about that? The very name is in our denomination, The Seventh Day Adventists. Adventists refers to the Advent, the second coming, the return of Jesus.

I remember growing up, and my dad has this hymn book and a CD or tape or eight-track that went along with this song. There was a very popular song that in the 1960s through the 1990s that…it was a song called We Have This Hope. By show of hands, how many of you know that song We Have This Hope?

We have this hope that burns within our hearts,

Hope in the coming of the Lord.

We have this faith that Christ alone imparts,

Faith in the promise of His Word.

We believe the time is here,

When the nations far and near (Organ!)

Shall awake and shout and sing (Everybody!)

Hallelujah! Christ is King!

Does that hope still exist in our hearts? Do we still think about the second coming of Jesus anymore, or are we just living our lives just trying to get ahead of our relationships? Our lives, our ambition, our thoughts, our deeds, our relationships, our lifestyles, our commitments, our vocation, our church, our worship, our prayers, our faith, would be lived out completely differently, in a different fashion, if our hearts were truly living out the faith and hope of Jesus Christ and His second coming.

John 14:1-3, the verse that I never hear anymore says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God, trust also in Me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I'm coming back to prepare a place for you. And when I come back and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you and be with you and there you may also be with me." There's room for all of us.

So today what I want to share with you are four questions that we need to be asking ourselves as we prepare for the second coming of Jesus. The first question that we want to ask is, 'How should I wait for Him?' 'How should I wait?' A few weeks ago my wife and I were talking on the telephone, and she was working down in Silver Spring, and I said, "Hey, why don't we have lunch together?" We rarely have lunch together when she is working. So she said, "Great idea! I actually have a pretty open afternoon. Let's meet together." So I drove down to Silver Spring off 29 and turned left at Chipotle which is off Cherry Hill Road.

As I walked into Chipotle, into the restaurant, as soon as I opened up the door I saw a friend of mine named Kathy. I walked over to Kathy, and I said, "Hey, how's it going?" She said, "I'm on a date with my husband. I called him, and he had the afternoon off, and we're meeting here…no kids; it's going to be awesome. We have at least an hour together." I said, "Me too! Rej is coming as well, and we're going to be having an hour together…no kids; it's going to be awesome." So we got our food. She sat down, her husband came, and they were sitting around. About half an hour later, I was still waiting.

As I watched Kathy and her husband eating and talking and laughing and holding hands, I could tell that they were looking over at me and feeling bad for me as I sat at my booth eating my Chipotle, waiting for my wife to arrive. I began to feel anxious and a little surprised, and my eyes were fixated on the doors…all of the doors…the back door, the front door, the windows overlooking the parking lot in anticipation for my wife. (She wants to make clear today that she is usually prompt.)

Another 15 minutes later, Rej walked in, and I immediately stood up feeling relieved that she had made it in. What happens when you are waiting for somebody? Your body language changes. Your sense of anticipation increases. There is a sense of urgency. This kind of demeanor is the kind of demeanor that we should have while we're waiting on God. Kathy wasn't looking out the doors for me. She wasn't looking out the window. She was sitting in her booth engulfing a huge burrito, lost and transfixed in conversation with her husband. Many of us, we have stopped looking out the window. We have become lost in other conversations with other people and other interests. We have become easily distracted and forgotten to look out and wait on God.

Luke 21:26 says, "Be always on the watch and pray that you will be able to escape all that is about to happen, that you may be able to stand before the Son of God."

Titus says "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'no' to ungodliness and worldly passions and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God, Jesus Christ."

Hebrews 9:28, "So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people, and He will appear a second time not to bear sin but to bring salvation upon those who are waiting on Him."

Should we continue?

Second question…what signs are we looking for? I want you to look at your neighbor and say, "What signs are we looking for?" Matthew 24 says, "As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, 'Tell us,' they said, 'when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?' Jesus answered, 'Watch out so that no one deceives you.'" Do you hear that? 'Watch out so that no one deceives you.'"

In Matthew 24, in Luke 21, in portions of Revelation, we get a better understand of what things are going to look like prior to the second coming of Jesus. Jesus gives us signs, many of them which are generic in nature. Like wars will wage, famines and earthquakes, false prophesies and persecution and death.

Second Peter 3:10 says, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."

One of the things that I want to share with you today is that we can easily become distracted…easily become distracted. Do you know that a couple of weeks ago when we had the miracle and healing night, I had been praying all week. I had been praying, "Lord, keep me focused as we prepare for miracle and healing night. Lord, let me not get in the way of anybody else. Allow me to be just ready and on target pinpoint for that night."

It's amazing because, you know, God didn't come after me. He came after my daughter. All of a sudden out of nowhere she threw up in the car the day before. She was sick. She had a high fever, a stomachache. No one knew what was going on. I was able to understand at that moment that I was being easily distracted. I was going to do everything that I could for my little girl and not focus on the prayer life that I needed.

I walked in on Friday night and our prayer leader, Renee, was sitting right here in the second row. I said, "How are you doing Renee?" And she said, "I'm being distracted." You see, the Devil knows that we can be distracted in so many ways. One of the things that I want to share with you is that we get distracted on trying to figure out when Jesus is coming. The Bible makes it clear in Jesus' own words, He says, "I don't even know when I'm coming. It's in my Father's will." Yet we write books and make charts and graphs and give seminars and try to scare people into knowing when He is coming. We can be easily distracted.

There are 2,700 days, minus 600 times 10 to the square root of four, and you equal that up and that's when He is coming. You can go online to find Bible prophesies that were done in the 1900's, and Bible prophesies that were done in 1948. Folks, you don't know when He is going to come. One of the criticisms that we often hear at New Hope Church, especially among the pastors, is that the pastors don't preach enough about prophesy. Satan is a great distracter. We can be easily misled in doing God's work but not doing His work. However all the work that we're trying to do we think is just trying to solve some kind of puzzle.

Let me share with you this right now. If you're looking for a church that helps you to solve puzzles, I tell you rather that you should just go to Borders and pick up a book of Sudoku and solve that puzzle before you come to church. Two things that you should know about the second coming of Jesus…number one, it isn't going to be a surprise. Revelation 1:7 says, "Look He is coming in the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So it shall be! Amen."

See, Jesus isn't coming in surprise. He's not showing up at the Ritz Carlton selling $50 tickets and trying to get you to come and talk to Him. When Jesus comes on this earth, the whole world will know Him. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing…you will know He is coming. You will hear Him, you will see Him, and you will feel Him coming in the clouds of glory.

Matthew 24:30-31, "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."

First point: It isn't going to be a surprise; you're going to know about it. The second point: You won't be left behind. John 14, again, it says, "If I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be with me." Romans 10:9, "That if you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead…" What will happen? Does it say that you have to follow a bunch of rules? Does it say you have to read all sorts of documents and sign on the dotted line? It says if you believe and you confess…that's what it takes to be saved. God wants every single person to be saved with Him. He's not trying to get people out of the party; He's trying to get people into the party.

The third question we need to ask ourselves is…how should I prepare for His second coming? The obvious question that is raised is…what should I be doing while I am waiting for God's return while I'm here on this earth? Should I be hiding out in a cave reading and memorizing Scripture all day? Should I be selling everything that I own and run to the hills? How can I seriously wait on His return without jeopardizing my family and putting them at risk?

There are three things that I want to share with you…three sub points that I want to share with you that we should be doing in order to prepare for His second coming. Take a look at Matthew 24. It says, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

So what happens? What do you have to do in order for the end to come? Preach. You have to start talking and living and breathing and sharing Jesus. Second Timothy 4:2 says, "Preach the Word. Be prepared in season and out of season. Rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction." It's going to take the whole wide world united by their faith in Jesus to share His awesome love with other people.

There are hundreds of thousands of people in our community in Fulton, in Columbia, in Silver Spring and Arlington, Virginia who don't know about the saving grace of Jesus. Sure, they've heard about the Christmas story and the baby Jesus, but they've never been told the rest of the story about how He came here as God Himself in human form to save you and me. Sure they've been invited to an Easter play, and they've seen some kind of show at some church, but have they been really introduced and invited to a relationship with Jesus?

The world will band together when there are atrocities and injustices in the world. We will donate funds and hold free concerts. We'll buy red products. We'll write to our congress person. We'll march and hold demonstrations; however, when it comes to our neighbor, our family, our coworkers…it's silence. We are unwilling to lose our reputation or unwilling to lose our job status, our rank, in the name of Jesus. We're more concerned with bonuses and job security and retirement benefits than to risk it all for the God of the universe.

The question we have to ask ourselves is…what am I unwilling to do for the sake of Christ?' Did you hear me? Not what am I willing to do, but what am I unwilling to do for the sake of Christ? You write that down, we write that down, and I guarantee you that list is going to be very short. Though we have to ask ourselves…why am I not doing it? (I don't mean to be yelling at you, I'm just excited.)

Second Corinthians 23…I know people are scared, they're like…I'm sorry, I didn't mean to. I will start preaching. Good! Second Corinthians 23…I want you to see this because when I'm starting to feel sorry for myself, when I'm feeling overworked and stressed out and feeling like I've done enough for the sake of the Gospel, I have to go back and read what Paul says. Sometimes I think…you have to read this. What does Paul say? It's not on the screen, so listen to me.

This is what Paul says, "I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, I've been exposed to death again and again. Five times I've received from the Jews 40 lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I've been constantly on the move. I've been in danger from rivers and danger from bandits and danger from my countrymen, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at the sea, in danger from false prophets. I have labored, and I have toiled, and I have often gone without sleep. And I have known hunger and thirst, and I've often gone without food. I have been cold. I have been naked."

Even Jesus warns in His own words the consequences of what it means to share our faith on His behalf. In Luke 12:53, He utters these very controversial words. He says, "They (meaning the Gospel) will be divided. Fathers against sons, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother. Mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

You see, when we have the Gospel in our hearts, and we are radically changed for Jesus and we are unwilling to compromise our beliefs, sometimes we're going to lose our family. Sometimes we're going to lose our jobs. Sometimes we're going to lose our friends. Sometimes we're going to lose our income. Sometimes we're going to lose our reputation. Sometimes we're going to lose our standing. But you gain the kingdom. The question that I want to share with you and ask you is…what are you unwilling to do in order to preach the gospel to this world?

The second thing that we should be doing while we are preparing for the second coming of Christ is to invest in the labor. First Corinthians 15:58, "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." The bottom line is that it takes work, it takes energy, it takes time, it takes volunteers, it takes brain power, and it takes money. Every single Christian in this room today has something to offer to God. Do you believe that? Whether it is through the church called New Hope or whether it is through the community, we represent Jesus Christ.

I was having breakfast with a friend of mine recently, and I was telling my friend about all of the talent that exists in New Hope Church. I said, "There are television producers, there are physicians, there are nurses, there are teachers, there are homemakers, there are computer analysts, there are adventure capitalists, there are financiers, there are realtors, there are car mechanics, there are scientists, there are seamstresses, there are accountants." I said, "Our church is filled with professionals." My friend looked at me over the table and said, "Kumar, your job is to get these people in your church to leverage their skills and hobbies for God's kingdom. Your job is to get people in your church to leverage their skills and their hobbies for God's kingdom."

Luke 10:2, we hear this verse all of the time, "He told them…" Jesus' words, "the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into this harvest field."

I think of Monty Jacobs. Is Monty here today? Monty Jacobs is an attorney in our congregation who has been leveraging his skills for the kingdom of God through New Hope. He's been volunteering his time…unbelievable amount of billing hours that he has been giving to New Hope Church as a member of the finance committee, working with an issue with Howard County. Billable hours being given for free because he is leveraging what he has for God.

I think about Steve Malcolm who has been leveraging his expertise and time with the church auditorium and sound system. He has spent hundreds of man hours in the last nine months since we have moved into this property, volunteering to make sure that we can worship God, our Creator, on Saturday morning. With the crippling and aging sound equipment that we have, he has spent long hours in church, this week as well, coming here and working through long-term planning committees, coming here and working on this auditorium, working to remodel an auditorium that will bring greater glory to Jesus Christ.

I think of Rajinie Dixit, the hottest woman at New Hope, who is often shadowed by her husband's incredible need to be in the spotlight. She is leveraging her kingdom skills of leadership to organize Sabbath school meetings for all of our volunteers at New Hope this afternoon…to help improve the children's classes so that every child will know and experience Jesus.

I think about Eric Straw who works for the military, has top-secret clearance, flies everywhere to help the government and war ships work on their computer problems. Then we call Eric who is on a war ship, trying to work on the war, and say, "My internet is not working. Can you help me?" Eric has never turned us down as leveraging for the kingdom of God, no matter how small or how big it is.

If you're attending church week after week here at New Hope Church and have not leveraged your talent for the cause of Jesus, I want to invite you to do so today. If you are a church member who has made a commitment to ministry but haven't shown up to meetings, doesn't do your ministries very well, kind of does them haphazardly, you're on the verge of committing spiritual suicide yourself, I want you to reassess your gift orientation today.

The third thing we should be doing while we are waiting on Jesus…take a look at 1 Thessalonians. It says, "For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." Then verse 18 says what? "Therefore encourage each other with these words."

The third point that we should be doing while we're waiting on Christ's return is to encourage one another. Our church…our church filled with Christians, filled with non-Christians, filled with seekers; this church is filled with pain. Miracle and healing night at New Hope Church is a testimony to the heartache that is filled often in this room on Saturday morning. As I look into this audience today, I see eyes that are filled with pain, remorse, abuse, disdain, cancer, depression, infertility, death, disease, divorce, loneliness. And every one of us who is filled with pain and agony in our own lives are waiting for the other person next to us to encourage one another.

First Thessalonians says, "And I urge you brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone."

Second Thessalonians says, "Encourage your hearts and strengthen in every deed and in word."

Hebrews 3:13 says, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called…" What? You're falling asleep on me. As long as it is called what? Oh, I'm sorry. Today. As long as it is called what? "…Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."

Hebrews 10:25, "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."

The final thing that we need to be doing while we're waiting on God's return is to stand firm…is to stand firm. Satan is a great distracter. His great work is to get us from thinking about one thing that we're living for. Our Christian faith hinges on the promise of Jesus' second coming. Our hope is upon His return. It's easy for us to get distracted. It's easier for us to live our lives for today. It's easy for us to concentrate on getting ahead in this world. But when the trials come our way, when the distraction clouds our vision, we are called to stand firm.

First Corinthians says, "Therefore my brothers, stand firm let nothing move you."

Luke 21, in Jesus' own words says, "When these things begin to take place, stand up…" When these things begin to take place, when hardship comes into your life, stand up. When things get into your place and you have no job, stand up. When things are getting into your place and you don't know who to go to, stand up. When things are getting into your place and you are not sure the right direction where to go, stand up. When things are getting in your way and you have cancer, and you're going through the treatment every single week, stand up. When things aren't going you way and your spouse tells you that they want to leave you, stand up. Stand up!

Have you seen people who have bad posture? Have you seen people with bad posture just sitting around, just kind of walking around like this all day long? Stand up; it's bad for your back. Stand up, it makes you feel better. Stand up, you're able to breathe better, you're able to get oxygen from your lungs to your brain. Stand up! When things are going wrong in your life, stand up. Jesus says, "Stand up," and what? Lift up your heads! Stand up and lift up your heads. When things are going wrong, and you look up at Jesus and you say, "Lord, I can't wait for you to come back!" Look no other place but to Jesus because your redemption is drawing near.

This is for all the lonely people

Thinkin' that life has passed them by

Don't give up until you drink from the silver cup

Ride that highway in the sky

This is for all the single people

Thinkin' life has left them dry

Don't give up until you drink from the silver cup

You'll never know until you try

'Cause, I'm on my way, yes, I'm on my way

Yeah, I'm on my way back home

This is for all the lonely people

Thinkin' that life has passed them by

Don't give up until you drink from the silver cup

You'll never know until you try

'Cause, I'm on my way, yes, I'm on my way

Yeah, I'm on my way back home

'Cause, I'm on my way, yes, I'm on my way

Yeah, I'm on my way back home

You have an opportunity…I have an opportunity to live life to its fullest. Jesus said in John 10:10 that, "I have come so that you may live life abundantly." I want to give you the opportunity today to give your heart over to Jesus completely, that without a shadow of a doubt that you will live every single minute and hour, every day of your life, waiting on the second coming of Jesus. You see we can have pain. We can have sorrow. We can have illness. We can have death in this lifetime, but I pray that every single one of us here today at New Hope Church will be living for tomorrow.

There are two ways that you can do that. Today, directly after the service, I'll be here at Seven Minutes or Less, and you can share with me your desire to follow Jesus without any kind of restrictions, or you can come right over here to our prayer warriors who will pray for your needs.

Today, Oh God, thank You for reminding us that You're coming back. Thank You for reminding us that You have not forgotten about us. Thank You for reminding us that You love us. So today God, with every breath that we take, allow us to honor You, to live for You, to fight for You, to love for You. In Your name, Amen.

God bless you.

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