Thursday, January 26, 2023

          The last book of the Bible is known by the name we find in the opening verse, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ...” (Revelation 1:1a).  Near the end of Revelation, John wrote, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1).  The word “then” captures our attention.  It is almost like John exhales as he begins to write the last chapter.  He saw something good on the way.  As you likely know, Revelation is a hard book to read.  The symbolism, the weighty themes of judgment and wrath and the alignment of evil against God make for some heavy reading.  So, John lets out a long breath as he begins to bring this book to a close.  Maybe even a sigh of relief.  And what a fitting word to begin the final chapter...then.  Frankly, we live in anticipation of “then.”  We look forward to the day and time when God gathers His people to be with Him forever.
            “Then” is a coming day—the fulfillment of God’s final promise to each of His people.  We have a natural tendency to look forward to times or events.  We anticipate vacations and holidays.  We envision time away, a career change, retirement or a new home in a new place.  “Then” is what we look for—it is that magical time where we have convinced ourselves that our troubles and trials will vanish.  Do you have any “then” moments that you are anticipating?  Is there a season of life that beckons to you?  “Then” can be an almost all-consuming kind of longing or desire.  “Then” rings and reigns with a certain confidence even as we say it. 
            John’s “then” moment was likely the return of Christ.  A bit later in Revelation, Jesus says three times “I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:7, 12 and 20).  As followers of Christ, our hearts should long for the Lord’s return.  We should long to see Him in His glory.  When we speak of a “then” moment, we might be expressing some discontent or unrest over the present time.  But a “then” moment does not have to come from disappointment in or displeasure with the present.  It can simply be a longing or an eagerness to see God open a window of opportunity or a season of service. Maybe God is working in you to generate some sort of passion or drive to serve Him. 
            “Then” can be a way of redeeming time that you have been wasting or simply marking.  Perhaps you could pray for missionaries.  Maybe you could reach out to people who visit our church or seem to be looking for Christ.  That “then” moment you are looking for may be found here and now by doing something to serve the Lord.  The best way to wait for the Lord’s return is to serve Him here and now.  We can easily be so captured by “then” that we are doing little, if anything, here and now.  Waiting for, looking for and anticipating the Lord’s return are good and right.  But wouldn’t it be wonderful to present to Him a life of service, faith and ministry rather than just sitting for that “then” moment to occur?
            Keep that future “then” in mind.  Any day could be the day when the Lord comes.  But besides looking for “then,” live in this present moment of what God has for you to do.  Rather than just star-watching or navel-gazing, look ahead and look forward to what God could use you to do.  And as you serve, remember the joys of that “then” moment when you will bring a lifetime of service, faith and ministry and lay those things at His feet.  “Then” is on the way and will arrive at just the right time.  But until “then” comes, we have today and this moment.  Make the most of every opportunity that the Lord gives you.  Remember we will look at how we can share our faith in Jesus Christ and the gospel with the lost and unsaved this coming Sunday at 4pm.  We will take an hour to look at the Roman Road and the Bridge Illustration.  You are welcome to come.  Have a great Thursday and remember our worship is always at      

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