Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Bethany Bullet - Week of November 29, 2015

When Soon and Very Soon Seem like Never if Ever!
Advent I - November 29, 2015

·        “Are we there yet?” 
·      “How much longer do we have?” 
·      “When is it going to be time?”

I am sure that every one of us has said these very phrases.  For all of those who are parents, I know you have heard these phrases from your kids or even your grandkids.  The answer is usually the same isn’t it?  “Soon!”

I’ve been venting and complaining using these phrases as I have been waiting for the new Star Wars movie to be released. 

This past week I heard a few of them on vacation, and that was just from my wife.

We all like to vent, to complain.  Sometimes it makes us feel better; other times it makes things worse.  Of course we never seem to vent about those times filled with joy and jubilation.  But those seem to pass in the blink of an eye.  It’s those moments that seem to drag on that get us down, that cause us to complain and vent. 
  • The monotony of a long plane ride 
  • The countless hours spent in the office on that huge project 
  • The eternal list of things to do before Christmas arrives 
  • The  drudgery of worrying about what the future holds 
  • The tedium of focusing all your energy on the guilt of the past 
  • The pain and longing that come because your loved one is already in heaven 
  • The endless course of chemotherapy or dialysis 
  • The long and endless wait for Christ to return

There are times we just want to vent all of our frustrations and cry out to God, “How Long, Oh Lord!”
Our God answers our questions like many loving parents have done for generations.  From Revelation chapter 22, Jesus says, “I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22: 12a) 
  • Soon the monotony will be over 
  • Soon the work will be complete 
  • Soon the waiting will be over 
  • Soon the future will not matter 
  • Soon the guilt will be gone 
  • Soon the pain will be erased 
  • Soon the disease will be eradicated  
  • Soon Jesus will return to take us home

And like most children who hear that answer, we are not satisfied.   For us, soon and very soon feels like never if ever!

How long Oh Lord? Will you forget me, forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?

God’s people in Jeremiah’s time felt the same way.  They vented and lamented that God had turned away from them and had given them over to defeat at the hands of their enemies.  Exile was soon to be their fate.  The vast majority would not listen to the words of the prophet who vented his frustration at them and at God. 

But in the midst of trying times, when soon and very soon felt like never if ever, Jeremiah gives hope to the people.  From our Old Testament lesson from today, “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will keep the promise that I made to Israel and Judah.  In those days and at that time, I will cause a righteous branch to spring up for David.  He will do what is fair and right in the land.  In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live securely. Jerusalem will be called The Lord our Righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

To those who lived in the days of Jeremiah, soon would be in the time of Caesar Augustus.  The place would be the small town of Bethlehem.  It would be the fullness of time when the hope of the world would be born of a virgin to bring peace on earth.

Soon that child would grow in stature and in wisdom and would take upon Himself the sins of the world. 
As the Babe of Bethlehem stretched out his arms and willing gave his life, soon became now. 

As Paul tells the Corinthians, “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2b)

In Christ, soon is now, for Jesus did not stay dead, He rose to defeat the power of sin for you, now, today.

In Peter’s second letter we find this, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”     (2 Peter 3:9)

When soon and very soon feels like never if ever, we too can look to the promises of God, and hold on to the hope that He will come back soon and answer all of our complaining and take away all those things we vent about.

+ For even now you have the promised forgiveness of all your sins.
+ Even now you have a place in heaven secured by the blood of Jesus.
+ Even now the Spirit of God works faith within you to hold on to the hope you have received in Christ.
+ Even now, when soon and very soon, seem like never if ever, you have Christ, who won salvation for you.

For all the times you have struggled with God’s timetable.  For all the venting you have done toward God.  He gives us His Word that our sins have been forgiven, that He will return, that as we wait, even more will come to the understanding of God’s amazing grace and that one day, this will all be gone, and soon will become forever.  For the days are coming when Christ has promised to return…soon!

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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