Next Time

Started in on my reading plan for 2018–always like to be a few days ahead . . . creates a bit of buffer and reduces the risk of getting behind.

Feels good to crack open a new Bible, ready myself with my colored pencils, and anticipate the blessing God promises those who delight in His word (Ps. 1:1-2). That blessing being less about what I receive and more about Who I experience.

Every year I become more and more convinced that there is no more sure way to have an encounter of the divine kind than to open the Book. Not only is it God-breathed and God-revealing, but it is also God-engaging as the Holy Spirit’s active agency is present as He guides me into truth (Jn. 16:13). As I read, I realize increasingly that it’s not my cognitive processes that bring the Scriptures to life, but God Himself who brings them to light through the supernatural dynamic of illumination by His Spirit who lives in me.

And this morning, I’m thinking about Jesus’ second coming . . . and the fact that the next time won’t be like the first time.

And when [Jesus] had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”

(Acts 1:9-11 ESV)

Hopefully the afterglow of Christmas has not yet dissipated. The wonder of Immanuel, God With Us, is still with us. All the cool gifts we’ve given and received haven’t overshadowed the greatest Gift. The main thing still being the main thing.

And we still marvel at His lowly birth. Divesting Himself of heavenly glory, cloaking His Almighty power in flesh, humbling Himself to being born of woman, Jesus came quietly into the world to save people from their sins. Relatively little fanfare. Most not knowing anything of what happened that night.

But it’s not gonna be like that the next time.

Next time, He comes in the clouds. There’ll be no confusion as to where He’s from–no debates about Bethlehem, Nazareth, or Egypt. Just as heaven received Him, so heaven will reveal Him.

Next time, He comes with great fanfare–with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first, followed by those still living who have patiently and faithfully waited for the blessed hope and His glorious appearing (1Thess. 4:16-17, Tit. 2:12-13).

And next time He comes, it won’t be just a few around a manger who ponder the arrival of such a meek and lowly Savior. Instead, when He comes again, every eye will see Him (Rev. 1:7) and He will be robed in power and majesty (Mt. 24:30). The One born king of the Jews the first time, will be recognized as the King of Heaven next time.

Just as we savor the awe of His birth, we should taste the anticipation of the promise of His coming.

Next time, the Son of Mary will come in power as the Son of Man. And we shall behold Him! Amen?

By His grace. For His glory.

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