(The audio is a bit different from the manuscript here. The scriptures were projected on screen and some of them read together as a congregation. Also, the content after our readings is fuller in the audio. This lesson was to conclude 2017’s mission of SEEKING THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, and to introduce our 2018 mission of SAVING THE LOST BY HIS GRACE AS WE SHARE HIS WORD).
For our final Sunday morning of 2018, let’s read together several scriptures that teach us and remind us of why our primary mission is to be seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. That reason is this: Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came here seeking us sinners to save, has redeemed us from sin, paid for us by His life’s blood, purified us through His gracious High Priestly offering on the cross, and has been raised to eternal life as Lord of lords and King of kings… this Jesus, will come again and receive us to Himself that where He is, there we may be also.
This week I heard a lesson on the story of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16. You know the story. A rich man lives in luxury while at his very door step a poor man, Lazarus, rots away, completely ignored by the selfish rich man. Both die. In eternity, the rich man is in torment while, across a wide gulf, Lazarus is with Abraham and all the saints of God, feasting with joy. The rich man first begs for Abraham to send Lazarus to simply dip his finger in water and give it to him to relieve his burning pain. Abraham replies to the rich man: “Son, in your life you lived sumptuously and Lazarus was in pain, now the roles are switched. We can’t go to you and you can’t come to us.”
Then the rich man, who never thought of anyone but himself in life suddenly becomes evangelistic. He pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his five brothers, so they will not come to torment.
Here is the part I want us to take special note: Abraham says, “Let them listen to Moses and the prophets.” But the rich man replies, “No, Father Abraham, but if one comes to them from the dead, they will listen!”
Hear Abraham’s response: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded even though one should rise from the dead.”
What’s the point? God’s word, spoken by a faithful servant of God, is the most powerful witness there is to bring someone to saving faith.
We are entering 2018, and our mission focus for this next year is: SAVING THE LOST BY HIS GRACE AS WE SHARE HIS WORD.
We have the power of God to save people from sin and bring them to eternal life in Jesus Christ! It’s called the gospel.
The good news that though we have fallen into sin, God so loved us that he gave us Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, to be our saving sacrifice and our Lord and King.
Jesus came to us, born to be our King, and gave Himself for us. He gave everything He had for us: He left glory and put on flesh, grew up tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin, taught us of God’s kingdom and love, revealed God’s power through miracles, was betrayed by a friend, brutally tortured and crucified. Jesus gave it all up for you.
Question: is He worth your trust and loyalty? Is He worth your love and faithfulness?
He certainly thought you were worth His life. We either believe and accept Him as Savior and Lord, or we don’t. He calls us to come to Him, before He comes again.
Jesus is coming. Our King will return to take up His own.
Let’s share some scriptures that show us this:
#1. Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said. “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
#2. Acts 3:19-21 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
#3. Acts 17:31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
#4. 1 Corinthians 1:7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
#5. 1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
#6. 1 Corinthians 11:26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
#7. 1 Corinthians15:23-24 But each in his own turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
#8. Philippians 1:10 So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.
#9. Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
#10. Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
#11. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
#12. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
#13. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
#14. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-5:4 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of god, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
#15. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
#16. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
#17. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
#18. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
#19. 1 Timothy 6:13-16 I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time – God the blessed and only Ruler, the King of Kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
#20. 2 Timothy 4:1-2 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage- with great patience and careful instruction.
#21. 2 Timothy 4:8 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.
#22. Titus 2:12-14 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
#23. Hebrews 9:28 Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
#24. Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.
#25. Hebrews 10:37 For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.
#26. James 5:7-9 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
#27. 1 Peter 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
#28. 1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
#29. 1 Peter 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
#30. 1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
#31. 1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
#32. 2 Peter 1:16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
#33. 2 Peter 3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is the ‘coming’ he promised?
#34. 2 Peter 3:8-10 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 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. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
#35. 1 John 2:28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
#36. 1 John 3:2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
#37. Jude 1:14-15 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
#38. Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
#39. Revelation 1:4 To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from who is, and who was, and who is to come.
#40. Revelation 1:7-8 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega”, says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
#41. Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it.
#42. Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
#43. Revelation 22:12-13 Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
#44. Revelation 22:20-21 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen, Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
One thing is certain: the Bible teaches that Jesus is coming back!
For those of us who trust and follow Him now, He promises eternal life in glory with Him, reigning together on the very throne of God. Revelation 3:21.
For all who reject Him as Lord and Savior now, He promises eternal condemnation, cast out of His presence forever in utter darkness.
Won’t you come to Him now, so that when He comes again, it will be to receive you as His own?