Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 25 October 2017

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.  Hebrews 12, verse 28.

Awe.   That concept comes from Malachi 2:5, which mentions revering God with awe.  When was the last time you really felt awe about something?   One time when I was at sea, I felt in complete awe being caught in the middle of a storm off the coast of Alaska.   And standing on the ridge of the Grand Canyon was awe-inspiring (and awesome).  The courage of my son standing up to give his very real confirmation testimony gave me a feeling of awe.   And now, during my last days on my east Texas farm, when I look out at the simple beauty of morning mists shimmering off the pond my heart is full of awe and wonder at the beauty of it all.

God has that effect on us.  Imagine the feeling of awe at falling at the feet of Jesus when this life is over, of having Him reach down and take your hand and lift you up.   “I’m so glad to see you,” He might say.   Imagine the awe of having the very much alive Jesus speak those words to you.   Of simply being in the presence of the Alpha and the Omega.  Of knowing He chose you and I to be with Him forever.

All that is possible because His kingdom is unshakeable.   The verse doesn’t just talk about the temporal, earthly kingdom here.   No, it’s talking about His kingdom inside us.   We are the church; we are His church and His vessels for carrying Him to the ends of the earth.   We do that because He lives and reigns within us.   When we live our lives following Jesus, we can’t be shaken.   The world around us may quiver, tremble, and quake, but we won’t.   We may get knocked down but we won’t be knocked out.   We may be hurt but we won’t be vanquished.   With Jesus as our lead, we will always advance.

That’s because His kingdom is within us.   Noodle that thought for awhile and you’ll find it’s awesome as well.  It will inspire real awe, real star-struck feelings within you.  He who died on the cross thinking about you, He who faced down the moneychangers and Pharisees and Pontius Pilate, He who walked on water and talked with Moses and Elijah on the mountain, He who was born in that manger, He who told Sarah she was pregnant, He who walked in Eden, He who spoke and made everything appear:  He has built His church on your heart and lives day to day here on this earth through you.   He’s real and He’s now.  When you live in godly ways, you’re letting Him work through you.   When you have mercy, you’re letting Him act out through you.   When you choose real love, you’re letting Him love through you.  You are a knight in His kingdom because His kingdom is alive and in your heart.  The world of hurt and pain can inflict those on you but it can’t destroy what Jesus has instituted within you.   Nothing can.

Yet His kingdom is also physical, tangible, and on its way.  Jesus’ coming kingdom will be a real, physical place here with real, physical work and real, physical actions.   There will be true government that is un-corrupted by sin.   There will be true justice that is measured by love.  There will be true leadership that is exemplified by Jesus on His throne yet walking with each of us.   There will be real people and real angels and real apostles and real work to be done.   To paraphrase my friend, Phil (of Calvary Chapel here in Paris), our personality, passion, character, and skills – core traits of Christian servants – will be put to work in service of Jesus’ real kingdom, even more than they are here and now.   In that day we will live in the kingdom He intended for us all along:  a place for us to thrive in harmony with Him and in unity with others and even nature.   Remember those words about the lion and the lamb living together?   They weren’t poetry.   They were an advance preview of what’s to come.   Real peace in the life we’ve all longed for.

And it is awesome to think of it all.

My friend, Mark (of Water’s Edge in Frisco), is fond of saying “you’re part of eternity now.”   Right on brother.   You and I get to choose that awe right now.  We don’t have to wait for the end of this life to be in awe of Jesus.   We get to do that now because He has made us righteous and worthy of Him now through what He did at Calvary.   That’s more awesome than an Aleutian storm, or a misty morning in Paris, or even the love of my kids and grandkids.   You and I:   we’re part of Him now, and it is an awesome God we can ponder.

For further reading:  Psalm 15:5, Isaiah 11:6, Daniel 2:44, Malachi 2:5, Hebrews 13:5.

My Lord I am in awe of you, of Your love, Your power, Your heart.   Align my life more and more with Yours.

 

 

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Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 24 October 2017

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.  Hebrews 12, verses 26-27.

Some words about the end.   Remember that movie line from our last time:   “everything will be alright in the end.   If everything isn’t alright then it isn’t the end.”  Today’s words talk about the end.  The end is coming.

According to the internet, the end should have happened this past weekend when the hidden planet, Nibiru, was supposed to crash into the Earth.   It didn’t happen.   And, if you remember your American history, the Millerites thought the world would end sometime between 1843 and 1844.   It didn’t happen then either.  And REM sang that this is “the end of the world as we know it.”   So far it hasn’t happened, which is good for their record sales.

When the end comes, you’ll know it.   You’ll hear the trumpet.   You’ll see Jesus in the clouds.   You and everyone around you and everyone everywhere will acknowledge that He is God, that all you’ve learned about Him is true, and that He’s back.  Will you be what remains because it cannot be shaken?

In the past, God came with fire and earthquakes and, well, announcing His presence.   Throughout history, He’s made His presence known.   I think about that scene from Forrest Gump when Lieutenant Dan is screaming at God to show Himself, and Forrest says “and then God showed up” as a hurricane starts to blow.   When the storm had passed, the tortured lieutenant was at peace, and God provided a new wealth for Dan and Forrest.  Isn’t that kind of a small picture of what God does?  The majesty of God is an amazing thing.   The power of a storm, the magnificent sunsets and sunrises, volcanoes, vast seas, sun-swept deserts and snow-capped mountains:   nature screams out praise to God simply by existing as He created it.   That’s here and now in a fallen world where His majesty is viewed through the gauzy lens of our sins.   God can do as He pleases; we’re here in the world He created for us.

When the time is right, God will shake it.  What God created by words – by The Word – will be shaken again by His words, by the return of The Word.  Only God the Father knows when; not even the Son and Spirit with whom He’s in perfect union know.   When the Father deems it time, all will be shaken, all will be turned over, all will be moved.   Everything will be turned upside down.

Will you remain?   By accepting Him as your only salvation, you can stand fast.   When the physical and spiritual shaking starts, will you be able to?  When the fallen world realizes its predicament and quivers in terror, will you stand up and welcome this advent?   Will you have put your trust in Him and realize that, once again, He will make all things new as He shakes the world at its foundation?

The end didn’t happen in the 1840s, and it didn’t happen when REM sang about it 20 years ago, and it didn’t happen this weekend.  Today, weathermen forecast the weather for tomorrow and the next few days.   Project managers plan work for the next few weeks, months, and years.  Government bureaucrats march towards deadlines, athletes train for the next game, and kids are planning for Halloween (next week).  And if God deems that, right now, the world should be shaken and time be at its end then that’s exactly what will happen.   Nothing we can do can stop it.   Indeed, if it ushers the return of Jesus, I don’t want to stop it.   I’m ready for the end.   How about you?

For further reading:  Exodus 19:18, Haggai 2:6, Isaiah 34:4, Isaiah 54:10, 1 Corinthians 7:31, Hebrews 1:11-12, 2 Peter 3:10, 1 John 2:17.

Lord, You will shake everything when the time is right.   When You do, I pray I am standing for You, eagerly awaiting Your return.