Summary: One of the greatest temptations for Christians is to "just stand around" and watch others do things for God. This sermon got a great response from many in the audience.
OPEN: Back in the 1800’s there was a group of believers known as the Millerites, who were led by a man named William Miller – a Baptist preacher who had predicted (in 1831) that about 12 years later - sometime between March of 1842 and March of 1843 - Jesus would come ….
His announcement caught the imagination of the nation and many people became his followers.
When Jesus didn’t show, there was widespread disappointment. The followers were disillusioned… until August 12th of 1844, during a camp meeting in New Hampshire, one of the men stood up and declared that he had received a message from God:
Jesus was coming…and He was coming that year… on October 22nd.
It was like somebody lit a match. The entire movement exploded with excitement. As the day approached, one Philadelphia store window displayed a sign which read: “This shop is closed in honor of the King of Kings who will appear about the 20th of October. God ready, friends, to crown Him Lord of all.”
A group of 200 people left the city to prepare for His coming.
Most of the Millerites gave up their occupations during those last days. Farmers left their crops in the fields, workers left their work unfinished in their shops. October 22nd came… but Jesus didn’t.
APPLY: (…pause…) These people meant well… but they fell into a trap. They are a cautionary tale to us to remind us of the truth Jesus told us 2000 years ago: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36
So… when someone comes along and tells you he/she knows the exact year or day that Jesus is coming back, smile gently and just walk away.
NOW, JESUS IS COMING AGAIN. Maybe in our lifetimes. Maybe today… maybe tomorrow.
Peter wrote: “…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. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Peter 3:10-14)
Jesus IS COMING AGAIN… and we should live our lives looking forward to that day. Living holy and Godly lives that will please Him when He comes back.
I. But… what we want to be careful of is falling into a trap.
What trap am I talking about?
Turn with me to Acts 1:6-8
“So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
These men were concerned with dates and times. They had questions. They wanted to fill in the gaps of their theology. BUT Jesus told – you don’t need to know that stuff. What you NEED to know is:
You’re going to receive a special gift… My Spirit/ My power
And when you receive that Power/ that Spirit… you’re going to be my witnesses to the world.
THAT’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. Everything else is window dressing.
And when Jesus had said all this… He left them. He ascended into the heavens.
Now, understandably… that would have been awesome. One moment Jesus is talking to His followers… and the next, He’s rising up off the ground. Ascending into the air and floating out of sight until He was hidden by the clouds… awesome.
So you can appreciate the fact that His followers just stood there for a while. I don’t know if they expected to come back in a couple of minutes. Or if they were so shocked by the experience that they didn’t know what else to do.
But they hadn’t been standing there long “… when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘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.’” Acts 1:10-11