Tuesday, December 26, 2006

THE YEAR OF OUR LORD...2007

The year of Our Lord...2007. It doesn't seem possible...at least to me. You see, I've believed for the past thirty years or so that Jesus was coming back before the end of each particular year. I readily admit that, at first, it was a fascination with both dispensationalism and the approaching end of one Millennium and the beginning of another. Later, as my dispensational views began to alter with study of the text, it became a more serious personal belief/longing that He would return that particular year and a conviction that He was going to do just that.

My Father-in-law, Fred Cherry, a Southern Baptist Evangelist, preached a message for years entitled "why I believe I'll be alive when Jesus comes." He died on October 29th 1970. It was devastating to his family and to me personally. Not just his death, that was difficult enough. But what about his message? Could he have been wrong to preach such a thing?

He always started that message with this statement. "Since you don't know when Jesus is returning and I don't know when I'm going to die, I have as much right to say I WILL be alive as you do to say I won't." having said that...he preached on his conviction that Jesus was coming soon. I have to say it infected me with that same belief and longing.

But what do you do with his message? At Fred's memorial service a long-time pastor and friend, Keith Wiggington, said these words. "Some of you will be wondering about Fred's message, 'Why I believe I'll be alive when Jesus comes.' [He must be a mind reader, he sure read mine.] Should Fred have preached it? I believe God is infinitely more pleased with a person who truly believes that he or she will be alive when Jesus comes, and says so, but dies, than He is with one who doesn't believe that, or care about His return and lives to see it." Nuff said. I returned to my assurance of His return each year.

So, the end of 2006 has come. I'm surprised. 2007 is beginning. It will not end without Jesus returning is my firm conviction, belief, desire. But, as one year ends and another begins, it truly is the Year of Our Lord...2007. May I say to all of you...Happy New Year...and get ready...

Paul Burleson

10 comments:

Chuck Andrews said...

Paul

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
(Re 22)

I, too, anticipate and await His coming quickly. The final word that brings us through Until and When He comes--grace.

Thanks for the conviction and encouragement.

Chuck

Bob Cleveland said...

Paul:

Interesting: A couple of thoughts. I used to subscribe to the Woody Allen School of Dying: he said he didn't mind the thought of his own death, but he just didn't want to be there when it happened. When I finally stopped chuckling over the thought, it occurred to me that Jesus willingly died for me, and that I really shouldn't in any way disdain the thought of dying in the faith. In fact, that's grown since into the thought that the lucky ones will be the ones that die in the faith, not the ones who are "raptured". I think the joy of tasting death and then having our faith and trust proven true, will overshadow what anyone would experience in the rapture.

I'm still in no hurry, I hasten to add.

The other thing is something I heard in a sermon once. The preacher asked how many thought Jesus would return before the end of the sermon. No one raised a hand, so he said "Jesus said He would return at a time "we think not". Like .. during the sermon.

I cannot tell anyone what they should or should not preach. But as a teacher, I'll always just stick to what Jesus said, and not go beyond that via conjecture or conclusion.

Paul Burleson said...

Chuck,

Thanks for the comment. I want people to know you and to know you are my friend. {As well as being on my staff and later my pastor.] This, so they can pray of you, as do I, while your Cardiologist investigates a heart transplant list possibility.

For those of you reading this comment, Chuck is not yet fifty, but has a deteriorating heart muscle that very well may require a transplant. He has gone through extensive research and experimental proceedures and, so far, nothing has reversed it.

But, while a weak heart muscle bodily is his gift in life, a strong faith, love of family and friends, and a confidence in God's purposes are all stronger than any human heart muscle could ever be.

Chuck, you are my brother and I love you and am praying for you..


Bob,

As always, a delight to hear from you. I don't think Fred Cherry [my Father-in-law] had any particular problem with dying. I certainly don't. In fact, if I undestand 1 Corthians 3 correctly, where it says "all things are mine," and goes on to mention "life and death," I'm thinking dying is very much a gift to be enjoyed if it comes, as is life itself. [Woody Allen obviously doesn't know much about a christian dying does he. :)]

But the idea of the return of Christ to finish all the purposes of God in time is the longing of my heart. [As it was Fred's.] While death cetainly puts us in the presence of the Lord, our hope is more tied to the resurrection I think. It must be that the state of being with the Lord after dying, whatever that is really like, is not quite all His coming and raising/transforming our bodies will accomplish. I think it must have been this knowledge and hope that would have caused the Apostle John to explain under inspiration, as Chuck Andrews reminded in the comment above, "even so come quickly Lord Jesus."

I think I know how he felt when he said that. So at the beginning of 2007 I'm convinced this is the year [as every year] He will do that. :)

Boy, to speak of it like we've done gets my spiritual adrenaline going and I'll bet it does your's too.

Debbie said...

Paul: I do believe in Christ's return and I do anticipate it as we will have all the things that I personally do not deserve in our heavenly home.

To be honest however which I am much to my detriment most times, I have just in the past few years learned to love life and to live in a personal relationship with Christ.

I was always taught and grew up thinking life was a jail sentence until heaven but in the past few years God has renewed my mind through sermons, teaching and my own Bible reading to show me the opposite so I feel as if I am just nine years old and not the fifty(almost 51 next week) years that I am. I want to enjoy this new outlook on life that I have for at least another few years. :)

I also want to see so many all over the world come to Christ and that would include members of my family. I pray Christ does not return until that occurs but I also would welcome Jesus with open arms as sometimes they ache just to hug him and tell him in person of all that He has done for me. I hope that makes sense and does not in any way take away from what you have written.

Paul Burleson said...

Debbie,

As usual, I have to say "amen" to what you say.

I do believe when He returns all things in His purpose will have been fulfilled and that in itself is the heart of our hope. I agree about the joy and shear delight of life...and....since this is all just preparatory for eternity...no wonder Paul wrote, "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of any man what God hath prepared for those who love him." But Paul goes on to say, "But God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit." [1 Corinthians 2:9-10]

While I completely enjoy the vestibule, [so to speak] what a time it will be when we all are there, as family, in the presence of the Father, with our elder brother the Lord Jesus. I think it may be that moment Jesus was speaking of when He told the story of the Lost lamb. [Luke 15] Remember He said He found it, [the lamb] put it on His shoulders, and "when He cometh home he called together his friends and neighbors and said to them, Rejoice with me; [the angels rejoice [v10] at a sinner repenting but this is speaking of getting home] for I have found my sheep which was lost."

I guess my best thought about the difference is when I saw the POW's release after Vietnam. By miracle of television we saw them from a distance walk off that C-130 at that Airbase in Germany. We saw them and it was glorious. We celebrated. But nothing like when that POW walked up a sidewalk to a home in the States to his entire family. That's celebration deluxe.

I guess it's just thinking about God's eternal purpose of a family in eternity, the price He paid to accomplish it, and the eternal joy of seeing it DONE that gets my juices to flowing in a way little else can.

I wonder if this is why Paul was caught on the horns of a dilemma. Wanting to be there, needing to be here, oh well, we"ll let the Father call the shots about it all. You and I will just enjoy whichever part of THE Life we have right now as a gift. That way nothing will keep us from enjoying the Grace of God. What a life. :)

JohnJaxtheBaptist said...

Paul - I admire your faith. Recently, I have began to feel a little guilty that I no longer expect Christ to return in my lifetime, or even in another 1000 years. I see this as a loss of faith on my part, and evidence of renewed faith on your part. Seeing so many die as I get older (I am 42)reminds me that the "hope" they had of seeing Christ return was in vain. As a boy, it occurred to me that Jesus would return before Billy Graham died (I don't know where I got that idea...), now that idea finally seems to be far fetched. Question: Does my "realization/acceptance" that I am going to die before the Lord's return say something about my faith, or lack of it?

Paul Burleson said...

JJthebaptist,

Thanks for stopping by. If I remember correctly, this may be the first time for you. Welcome.

I certinly understand the changes you've faced and even the struggle with so many dying that have been a part of your life. It's interesting that your struggle is similar to the one the Thessalonicans had that resulted in the writing of that first letter by Paul the Apostle. You're in good company.

I would simply say a couple of things.
One is...when He returns or when we die are all speculative in nature. We just don't know. But our death is an appointment if I understand "It is appointed unto man once to die..." That references not only it's guarantee but it's timing. Paul said on one occasion that "for those who sleep [died] IN Jesus"...'in' being a word of agency or, better said, "those who died through the agency of Jesus." [1 Thess 4] It's like He [Jesus] inserts the key and opens the lock. [Death] So the "when" of death is His to order. Add to that, His return is known only by the Father, and it is all speculative on our part and set on His part.

Two...our faith [whether small or great is of no consequence since He does much with little faith as shown in the mustard seed statement] is significant, not because of it's volumne but it's object. Our faith is in HIM. So, having committed ourselves to trusting Him, which ever He chooses for us is His perogative. Thus, faith doesn't get an end...to be victorious faith...but faith itself IS the victory. [1 John]

This is why this little chorus I learned years ago still means so much to me...

"If I live, well Praise the Lord.
If I die, well Praise the Lord.
If I live or die, my only cry,
Jesus in me, Praise the Lord.

I can't sing it over the internet, [another blessing God's given you]
but it's a great chorus.

I would say your faith in Him is the issue and is sufficient [because He is] for living OR dying. Keep living, serving, and looking.

Kevin Bussey said...

Happy New Year!

I look forward to seeing you in a few weeks!

Lee said...

I believe I will be alive when Jesus returns. Whether my imperfect body is still on earth, or I've gone to my perfect body in heaven, I'll be around to see it either way.

The fact that your father in law preached his belief that he would be around when Jesus came didn't invalidate either his faith or his message. It was obviously his desire, as it should be for every Christian.

Paul Burleson said...

kevin,

I'm looking forward to our meeting. We'll have a holy hootenanny together.


Lee,

Good thoughts as always.