I've been praying about the direction of this blog, and what to cover each day. I'm trusting (not a feeling, but a conscious decision based on my knowledge of God's character - see the blog from Friday) that God WILL direct me as the days go on. There are so many wonderful things in God's Word to write about, but I kind of feel like Jude, when he wrote:
Jude 1:3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
The very first thing that Jesus warned when asked about the last days was, "Watch out that no one deceives you." (Matthew 24:4)
Deception is coming - so good, so bold, so ingenious, that if possible, the very elect would be deceived. Then entire New Testament is filled with warnings about it. Here is just one:
1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
I believe those days are in our immediate future, and I feel a great urgency to share the Scriptures concerning them with you. However, I'm going to pause and remind myself and you of something important. If those days are upon us, it means that Jesus' return is upon us also.
In Paul's second letter to Timothy, he knows his death is near. He warns Timothy, again, but look how he ends:
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
That word, "longed for" is agapaō. Even if you've had just the tiniest exposure to Greek, you probably recognize that word, used for agape love. We have one word for love, but the Greeks had several. The agape love is love which is totally given over to something. It is the kind of love that Jesus has for us. It is the kind of love which we strive for. Paul is saying that there is a special crown for all those who long for, agapaō, LOVE, Jesus' return.
You remember that Peter had disowned Jesus three times on the night before His crucifixion. After His resurrection, Jesus reinstated Peter, but unless you realize what words are being used, you lose some of what it is about.
John 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love (agapaō - This is the agape love, the love Jesus had when he died in our place) me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”(phileō - This is brotherly love - the kind of love we are to have for our fellow believers. Peter is not willing to shoot his mouth off again. He knows he failed before. He doesn't want to do it again)Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”(Again - agapaō)
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”(Again - phileō. Now that you know the what's really being said, can you hear the desperation in Peter's voice? He knows he's not at the point Jesus is asking him to be)
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” (Now, this time, Jesus says phileō. That's why Peter is hurt. He feels like Jesus is saying, "Do you only have phileō love for me, Peter?)
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”(He's saying, "you know I only have phileō love, Lord)
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (Not to leave the story at that point, notice how Jesus is saying that is enough. "Feed my sheep with your phileō love, Peter")
That agapaō love - is the peak of love - unselfish, whole-hearted, love -
1 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness (phileō); and to brotherly kindness, love. (agapaō)
If you love Jesus' appearing - if you are watching, waiting, longing for His appearing - there is a special crown for you. Some people call it the "Watcher's Crown." There are several crowns promised to believers at the judgment seat. They are not all the same, and they are not all given for the same reason. (I know talking about a differentiation in rewards is kind of controversial in Lutheran circles, and it is easy to get off track, so I'm not going to stroll too far down that road)
Romans 8:23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
2 Corinthians 5:2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,
Jesus' return is near. Time is very short. The watchmen on the wall are crying out. This is not a reason for terror. It is not a reason for fear or dread, but for excitement - for joy!
Over and over, we are told to watch. And, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”(Luke 21;28)
I see that day drawing near, and the deception that comes with it. However, it means Jesus' coming is near, too. Can you even begin to imagine the wonder of that day? So, I watch - and I warn, and I hope you'll watch with me. Look up! Our redemption really is drawing near. We are ALL commanded to watch, but some are truly called to it. Are you one of them?