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. Watching and waiting for His return

 

WAITING AND WATCHING FOR HIS RETURN.

INTRO.

 

On Thursday the Church celebrates the Ascension of Jesus, and so it seems appropriate to be reminded again ...that we are a people who live in" the time in between  " ...We live in the time between the first coming of Christ as The Lamb ....And His second coming as Judge of the living and the dead. Therefore we are a people who should be WATCHING AND WAITING…

Let me take you to the book of Acts where we are told of the day of the Ascension.

 

(Act 1:1) In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach(Act 1:2)  until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.(Act 1:3)  After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.(Act 1:4)  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.(Act 1:5)  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."(Act 1:6)  Then they gathered around him and asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"(Act 1:7)  He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.(Act 1:8)  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."(Act 1:9)  After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.(Act 1:10)  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.(Act 1:11)  "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."(Act 1:12)  Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city.(Act 1:13)  When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.(Act 1:14)  They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

 

I have wondered often how those disciples felt and what their thoughts may have been on that day. None the less, whatever they were. One thing that is obvious from further reading of the Scriptures is that they expected the Lords return to be soon. So they were entering a period of time in which they had to wait for a promise to be fulfilled, for an event that they were looking forward to, to take place.….remember how...

 

After the resurrection Jesus visited with His disciples on several occasions.Teaching them,  encouraging them, and then commissioning them to do a task, and then - on the day of His ascension into heaven, when they were asking Him when He would restore the Kingdom of Israel ,

 

He tells them that it is not for them to know the times or methods determined by God - but that they should go back to Jerusalem - and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit -

FOLKS…Life teaches us that waiting is something we don’t like doing.  Just watch any child – BIRTHDAY/ TRAVEL (SLEEPIES)…

Brenda and I are sort of in that time in between with our move to our new home … We just cannot wait and much of my waking hours are spent working and preparing for our move.

In fact my preparation for todays message has challenged me to consider whether I am spending more time on preparing our new home here on earth, than I am in preparing our family for a new home above.

 

Living between times, living between occasions of anticipation can, in fact, be quite wonderful.

It can be - for us - a time of refreshing … a time for gaining strength – a time, for the Christian, of spiritual growth and a time…for refining.      For what purpose ?

To prepare us for the next step along lifes journey with God. It is I.O.W. supposed to be a time which can be, highly beneficial. Both for ourselves and more importantly for the Kingdom of God.

But times of waiting and watching for a future event, can also be difficult times for us if we don't know how to wait in the manner recommended by the word of God.

So how should we live in the times between?

FIRST - we need to remember the times in between are meant to be active times - not passive times; …times in which we are meant to work at things that are present before us - rather than at that which is yet to come.( OR MAY COME)  I want to take you to Mark 13

There isn’t time to read the whole chapter so I will fill you in very briefly. Firstly in this chapter we have the disciples asking Jesus when the end time events will take place. vv. 3 + 4

 

(Mar 13:3) As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately,

(Mar 13:4) "Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"

 

Secondly : Jesus then speaks of a time yet to come

(Mar 13:5) Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you.(Mar 13:6)  Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many.(Mar 13:23)  So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.(Mar 13:26)  "At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

Notice… v23…Jesus is telling them AHEAD OF TIME… I.O.W. IT WILL BE A FUTURE EVENT.

Then in verses 32 and 33 He says: (Mar 13:32) "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

(Mar 13:33)  Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.

 

The NKJV reads: (Mar 13:33)  "Keep watch! Stay awake! You do not know when that time will come.

 

KJV (Mar 13:33)  Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

 

The N.T. Greek verb for “watch” is

AGRUPNEO………..Vines definition is:

 

4. agrupneo (G69), "to be sleepless" Oviously it’s not used purely in the physical sense, it’s used spiritually as in being spiritually watchful. It’s also used

metaphorically, "to be watchful," in Mar_13:33; Luk_21:36; Eph_6:18; Heb_13:17.

Vine says: The word expresses not mere wakefulness, but the "watchfulness" of those who are intent upon a thing.

The other word that we focus on and link with WATCH is, WAIT and they cannot be easily separated…

VINE defines wait as:

1. ekdechomai EXPECT, "to wait" in Joh_5:3, KJV; Act_17:16; 1Co_11:33, RV.

2. opekdechomai  "to await or expect eagerly," is rendered "to wait for" in Rom_8:19, Rom_8:23, Rom_8:25; 1Co_1:7; Gal_5:5; Phi_3:20, RV (KJV, "look for"); Heb_9:28, RV (KJV, "look for"), here "them that wait" represents believers in general, not a section of them; 1Pe_3:20 (in the best texts; some have No. 1). See LOOK (for), Note (1).

5. anameno "to wait for" (ana, "up," used intensively, and meno, "to abide"), is used in 1Th_1:10, of "waiting" for the Son of God from heaven; the word carries with it the suggestion of "waiting" with patience and confident expectancy.

6. perimeno "to await an event," is used in Act_1:4, of "waiting" for the Holy Spirit, "the promise of the Father."

7. proskartereo, to continue steadfastly, is rendered "to wait on," in 8. paredreuo (G3917a), "to sit constantly beside"

hupomone, "patience" (so RV), is rendered "patient waiting" (marg., "patience").

Let me give you an example:

Paul says in Romans 13: 11

"And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Romans:13:11)

In other words, the closer we draw to the second coming of Christ, the more urgent it is that we awake out of spiritual sleep!  The signs of the times today are that, we have entered the end-time years. If ever there was a time to pay attention and get prepared, it is now!

Furthermore, none of us knows when he or she will die. Being spiritually prepared for the end of life should be our top priority. So Watching in one sense means properly using our minds, God gave us  minds to use —to study, learn, observe, analyze, judge and think.

Many people are just plain mentally lazy—wasting a tragic amount of time on the trivial and temporal, mundane and materialistic. Many waste countless hours vegetating in front of their TV or computer or I-pads, I pods, tablets etc…..seeking only to be entertained.

People who read and study the things of God are becoming rare… A society becomes shallow and superficial when most citizens rely too much on pictures and images rather than words. God's people are to be "people of the Book."

In contrast, most pagan religions emphasize images, idols, symbols and rituals.

You see, God wants His people to zealously read and study, to think and meditate. And for that you need to WATCH…be awake and aware.

When Jesus ascended into heaven before the eyes of His disciples to take His place as Lord at the right hand of God the Father ,(The prophesy of Mark 13 had not yet been fulfilled.)

… an angel visited them and asked them:

 

"Men of Israel - why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same manner as you saw Him go into heaven." (NIV) It's as if the ANGEL was saying... HEY...Stop focusing on that which is out there in heaven...Get back to your earthly task...

FOLKS...your and my attention is not supposed to be focussed so much on Christ's return - or on the next thing that we want to have happen in our lives ....…that we end up forgetting what else is going on, that we end up falling asleep on the job. In the times between, our eyes are meant to be fixed on the present moment and task that God has given us. We are called to live now in the way God intended us to live ....rather than just looking to the future. Those disciples heeded the word of the angel who asked them why they were looking up toward heaven - and they returned to Jerusalem as they had been commanded to.... and they waited there for his promise to them to be fulfilled.

 


And while they waited –

They resigned from their jobs, sold their homes and camped out on the Mt. of Olives, playing games all day, when they weren’t sleeping. !!!!!??????

NO NO NO …..they Firstly devoted themselves to prayer.

When the disciples returned to Jerusalem - they stayed together....... in fact they joined themselves with the rest of those who believed in Jesus,….with Mary and Jesus’ brothers and many others, and they sought to be one as Christ had prayed that they would be. They stayed together and they prayed - ….and in doing that, they secondly prepared themselves for the job Jesus had told them that they would do when the Holy Spirit came upon them as he had promised it would.

 

FOLKS.... In ‘times between’ people often take the opportunity to prepare themselves for what is supposed to happen next... NOT SO?  ..... Between jobs they may aquire new skills / Between relationships they may enter into counseling, / Between physical activities they may sit down and relax and rest so that they have the strength to go on. There are plenty of ways to prepare for what we believe is coming next, Sadly today (after 2000 years of waiting) we experience a Church that seems to have become tired of watching and waiting and praying for Christ’s return –

Maybe that is one of the reasons for all the various gimics and phsyco-babble that Pastor Nicki has spoken of so often.

 

My observation of the Church is that often, after all that is said and done, more is said than is done. Often nothing much gets done... not even prayer....Yet..........prayer is of central importance.

As Jesus told the disciples - "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you - and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria - and to the ends of the world…

Prayer and devotion to the mind and will of God is of central importance because that's what prepares us for the gift of the Holy Spirit - and allows us to be open to the power the Spirit bestows. But I don’t want to focus on prayer today…It’s about watching and waiting.

So before I continue a QUICK  ‘KYK WEER’

First - we need to remember in the times between to focus on what is happening now, not on what is going to happen later.

And  Secondly - we need to be follow the commands of God and keep FELLOWSHIP with him through devoted prayer so that we are strengthened and prepared -

 

I want to take you now to the OT and to Isaiah's words  ISA.40 : 31- those words that say -

 

"those who wait for (or UPON) the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up on wings like eagles, the will run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint".

I just want to preface what I am about to say by reminding us who these words were originally spoken to. First, remember that Isaiah the prophet is primarily addressing Judah and Jerusalem (Isa 1:1) and although the first 39 chapters dealt primarily with judgment, in Isaiah 40-66 the prophet changes the focus to that of comfort, addressing these words of encouragement to the Jewish exiles in Babylonian captivity. If one does a study of Isaiah 1 - 40 in detail then I think it would be true to make the following statement as made by Scofield. I quote…

“To wait upon God is to be silent that He may speak,….. expecting all things from Him, and girded for instant, unquestioning obedience to the slightest movement of His will. That is waiting upon God. All the spiritual senses alive, alert, expectant, separated unto Him, His servant and soldier : It is not the waiting of an idler, it is not the waiting of a dreamer. It is the quiet waiting of one who is girt and ready, one who looks upon life as a battle-field and a sphere for service, who has one master and but one, to whom he looks for everything, from whom alone he expects anything. This is waiting upon God according to the Scriptures. Now, glorious blessings depend upon this attitude toward God. Are we waiting?  Are we silent upon God? Is our expectation from Him, or from ourselves, or from the world?  If our expectation is truly from Him, and we are willing to yield Him an immediate obedience, then we are waiting upon God. Then the four blessings of the text must follow, because God says they shall.

 

FOLKS…..I’ve heard numerous preachers using this verse and they generally focus our attention by telling us that God promises us success or blessings: They usually say the following :

 

‘as proof, notice in this promise the words - will and shall - and the total lack of modifiers in front of them. It is not - might renew their strength, it is not - maybe they will walk and not faint - it is - they will renew their strength and - they shall walk and not faint..’

So they tell their audience that because God has promised :

 

He will renew their strength,….they will mount up on wings like eagles,

they will run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint".

That God must bring that about in their lives…they need just claim it. And in a weird sense that is true but : My question is :

 

Is it an Unconditional promise ?

...NO...- attached is a simple statement of condition - PROVISO....a condition or proviso..... which says -

 

"They who wait for the Lord" - or as it says in the King James- "They who wait upon the Lord". And in the context there were at least four elements of waiting that I want to suggest :

 

  1. (1) First, waiting on the Lord means to long for the Lord. Look at Psalm 62:1. David says "My soul waits upon God; from Him cometh my salvation."

 

(2) Not only does waiting mean to long for the Lord, but it means to listen to the Lord. Here's a great verse. Proverbs 8:34: "Blessed is the man that hears Me watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors."

Do you have a daily quiet time? He says, "... waiting daily at my gates..." Do you have a time when you listen? Do you "report for duty," or are you doing things that you've assigned yourself, or others have assigned you, but you're not doing what God wants you to do?"

 

3) Waiting on the Lord means to look to the Lord. In Psalm 104:27+ 28, speaking of the animals, the beast of the field. (Psa 104:27)  All of those creatures depend on you to give them their food when they need it.(Psa 104:28)  When you give it to them, they eat it. When you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.

The little animals, they look to the Lord by instinct. As believers we look to the Lord through the eyes and experience of faith. The question for us is….if we are watching and waiting as we should, Do you and I look to the Lord?  I mean, where is the source of your supply? Have you ever said, "Lord, You are, indeed, the strength of my life, and You are the source of my supply You are my hope and my expectation, and I truly believe that every need will be met in You?"

4) And here is the LAST I will stress ...Waiting on the Lord means to live for the Lord. Let me give you the verse that points that out and makes that true. Proverbs 27:18:“he that waits on his master shall be honored." Now what does it mean to wait on your master? It means to serve him. When you go to the restaurant, you have a waitress or a waiter. They're there to serve you. And, by the way, have you ever noticed sometime how hard it is to get their attention? You want another cup of coffee, or you want to pay your bill. You can't get their attention. They are there to serve you, to wait upon you. And they are there for whatever you require.

FOLKS…. Do you want God to give you strength to fly like an eagle? Do you want God to give you strength to run like an athlete? Do you want God to give you strength to walk like a soldier day by day?  My thoughts are… Why should God give anyone more strength to serve the devil?.  Let me clarify.

 

I mean, if I don't intend to wait upon Him, if I'm not His waiter, if I'm not His server, if I'm not there for His glory, why should God give me

strength to glorify the devil?

 

Because not waiting on God and not serving God, may in reality mean serving the Devil.

(Mat 12:30)  "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Folks, is it possible to claim that we are ‘for the Lord’ or ‘with the Lord’ and then not watch and wait for or upon Him ? Maybe it is… but then it will be by the spiritually deficient or spiritually anorexic believer.

Let’s wrap this up. We are encouraged today to live as Watching and waiting believers.

We are encouraged to :Live according to His word by prayer and meditation and live in holy obedience and love. Because when He comes again after this time between...He expects us to be busy with the things that matter...With the things that have eternal significance...

 

WITH THE THINGS OF GOD. But also ­ we are reminded that we have a commission to fulfil before the Lord's return, a commission in which we must be engaged faithfully and diligently all the time ­

WHY? ..... we know not when the Lord may come.

 

In Mt. 24.44­51 we read the words of the Lord,

 

"For this reason, you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think he will.

FOLKS...Surely our expectation of our Lord's return should stir us to activity in fulfilling our commission. The commission and the Lord's return are clearly linked together in Acts 1.

And the Lord’s return and our call to watching and waiting is also clearly linked.

Notice finally that the lesson isn’t about being saved because we watch and wait…it is because we have been saved that we watch and wait.

In fact in the closing song now, we will be declaring that Jesus is mine…

And as a result of that we will be Watching and waiting and looking above.

 

Let’ stand together and sing “blessed assurance,  Jesus is mine”.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 25 May 2014