The Lord is at Hand
July 9, 2017
Brothers and sisters, I begin this sermon with very good news. The Lord is at hand. Jesus is coming back. He came and died and rose again and ascended. And now we wait for his return. When he comes back, the Lord will bring a swift and final end to sin and death and the evil one. When he comes back, the Lord will bring forth an everlasting kingdom in a new heavens and a new earth. Jesus has spoken to us these words in Revelation 22: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end…. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star…. Surely I am coming soon.” The Lord is at hand.
May this be very good news to you. May you believe this. May you look forward to Christ’s return. And may you rejoice in him.
We are commanded to rejoice in Jesus. This means that we ought to be happy because of him. We should be excited to see him. We want to be with him. We love him. This is what it means to rejoice in the Lord.
What brings you the most happiness? I hope it is Jesus - and the fact that you are going to see him soon. It is easy to be happy when we eat delicious food or when we accomplish big things or when we are with family and friends. And it is easy to be unhappy when there is traffic or when your team is not doing so well or when things don’t go your way. We get our happiness from joy from so many people and places and things. But for the believer, it is Jesus himself and the good news that we are going to see him soon that brings the greatest happiness of all.
So, if the Lord is at hand, then let us rejoice. But also, let us be reasonable. This means that we are to be gentle and patient and meek before an unbelieving world. We are to be wise and courteous and not jealous or selfishly ambitious. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
This is a wonderful way of shining brightly in this world. If we do this, then non-believers will know that we think differently about the world. Our friends will know that we do not love the world. People at work will know that our citizenship is in heaven and that we left our hearts there. Our enemies will know that we handle suffering quite differently as they do. Neighbors will know that our joy in worldly things is a real joy but a detached joy. Everyone will know that in our hearts and minds the Lord is at hand.
So, if the Lord is at hand, then let us rejoice. Let us be reasonable. But also, let us pray.
There are many ways to explain what it means to pray to God. But this morning I’d like to put is this way (and in doing so, I am certainly not saying the final word on prayer right now). Prayer is an anticipation of Jesus. Prayer is a looking forward to the Lord. Genuine believers cannot wait to talk with the Lord face to face. But since Jesus is not physically with us yet, genuine believers “settle” for the next best thing besides God’s word and the Lord’s Supper: prayer. Genuine believers pray. Prayer is therefore a profoundly eschatological activity. When we pray, we are ultimately saying that the Lord is at hand. When we pray, we are ultimately saying yes and amen to God’s promises to us and God’s future for us. When we pray, we are saying, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” Prayer is a profound and awesome thing that we do.
And there is a profound and awesome benefit and result of our prayer to God. When we pray to God for help, when we let our requests be made known to him, we get the peace of God. And God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. It will be like a mighty fortress for your soul.
What a wonderful benefit of prayer! We are strengthened when we ask God to help us die to sin and live to righteousness. We are comforted when we ask God to stretch and strengthen our faith. We are led to contentment when we ask God to grant us the joy of salvation. We are given a sense of calm when we ask God to build his church. We get the peace of God when we pray to the Lord. And it is a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Brothers and sisters, let us do these things. Let us rejoice in the Lord always. Let us be reasonable before everyone in the world. Let us pray to God. Let us receive the peace of God for our hearts and minds. Let us do all of these things… because the Lord is at hand.
But, in closing, I ask you to realize that in the perspective of the Lord, you are at hand. And when he meets you face to face, there will be a joy for him - a joy that will surpass all human understanding. And I leave you with this encouragement. When we are finally with the Lord, there will be no more need for prayer. There will be nothing more to be anxious about. Our hearts and minds will no longer need guarding. All these things will be obsolete. But the rejoicing in the Lord? I’m pretty sure that our rejoicing in the Lord will remain forever.