Coming with the Clouds
“Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead but, but look – I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death.... Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him. And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen.... Yes, I am coming soon.”
Revelation 1:7, 1:17-18 & 22:20
God has recently been impressing upon me these wonderful words, “I am coming soon!” Revelation 22:20. I am certainly feeling an inner pull to these scriptures and perhaps more importantly I am feeling the challenge that He is placing before me and I believe before us as a church today. This is the challenge that I hear is simple, “Wake up and pursue me for I am coming soon!”.
In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about His coming and the end times. He tells a story of ten virgins, five wise and five foolish. They all carried lamps but only five were prepared with enough oil. Those who were ready were ushered into the wedding banquet but the other five ran to buy oil. When they returned they were refused entry. The groom said, “I assure you, I do not know you” v12.
I'm sure there are many interpretations of this parable and many books have been written on it, but here are my thoughts. We know from Scripture that the groom is Jesus Himself and we the church are the bride. Oil is often used as a picture of the Presence of God, anointing, the Holy Spirit. It is by the Spirit that we are born again. The emphasis here is pursuing relationship with Jesus by the Holy Spirit. The foolish virgins ran to buy oil and were late in coming to the banquet, and so were refused, but they were also refused because the groom said “I do not know you!”. These words are so sobering to me! In another Scripture Jesus says that He will even say this to some who performed miracles and cast out demons in His name! Matthew 7:23 Although obedience and works are important as an expression of our relationship with Jesus, they will not stand alone. They will not give us a rich welcome into the banquet unless we can stand before Him and look into His eyes and be recognised by Him.
As the great song says, In Christ Alone I stand. In Christ. Jesus said, “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me”, John 14. And we are in Christ. So how do I pursue this relationship with Jesus? How can I stand before Jesus and have Him recognise me? Look at how Jesus pursued relationship with the Father. We so often read, “And Jesus got up early to pray...” Mark 1:35 This I believe is the secret to knowing God, and perhaps more importantly, being known by Him.... Prayer.
We are bombarded in the present day with distraction, perhaps more than ever before in history. With smartphones always at hand, we have instant access to knowledge, social media, entertainment. TV can fill our days and nights and can be a constant draw to our attention. People and relationships demand our energy an time. There are so many other distractions in a world that is constantly offering us much. So many of our distractions can seem legitimate. Even ministry can draw us away from intimate relationship with Jesus. Maybe these are not a struggle for you as you pursue relationship with Jesus, but I certainly struggle myself and know those who do.
I think another good word for worship is attention. Where is my attention today? What or who am I thinking about? Where is my heart? If I look at what I am thinking about, hankering after, there I will find what my treasure is. That is what I worship. Misty Edwards writes in one of her songs, “content to be hungry”. Hunger for Jesus is, I believe one of greatest gifts He can give us. If you are hungry you know about it! It doesn't go away until you eat and are satisfied. Hunger for Him is a good sign that we are living a life of worship. I want to live in perpetual hunger for Christ!
So I challenge myself and you today. Make some space where nothing else will threaten to take His place. Give Him your full attention and just say “Lord, here I am”. By His grace may our thoughts and lives be filled with Jesus so that on that day He will look at us and say “Ah yes, my friend, we were just talking a minute ago, come in and enjoy the banquet, it's ready for you!”. Come quickly Lord!