The Hope of a Returning Savior
December 1, 2008 - The church in Liberia, Africa, was cut off from the rest of the world during that country’s bloody civil war. The pastor of a church in the capital city of Monrovia, writing his Christmas letter by candlelight to the leaders of his denomination, expressed the hope of his heart: “My candle is soon to go out, but the sun is rising. And who needs a candle when you have the Son?”
By Anne Graham Lotz
What has caused you to feel that the candle of hope in your life is soon to go out? Civil war in your home? Discord in your marriage? Turmoil in your business? Is the source of your hopelessness nothing you can really pinpoint, just a general feeling of depression? Disillusionment? Discouragement? Are you convinced Jesus Christ will reign in the world at some future time, but you don’t know what difference that makes in your life today?
The Old Testament describes how, for approximately 14 years after David was anointed by God as king over God’s people, he did not sit on the throne. His enemy, Saul, was in power, and during that time, Saul desperately did all he could to destroy David and those who were loyal to him.
Faced with Saul’s seemingly permanent rule, 400 men became discontented, distressed and discouraged in their daily life. Their candle of hope went out.
Then they heard about David. They heard that he was God’s anointed king. They heard that one day he would rule from the throne in Jerusalem. They heard of his victory over Goliath and the Philistine army, and of his repeated skirmishes with Saul and other enemies. They heard he was a courageous, compassionate leader who was undefeated in battle. So these 400 men forsook everything and put all their hope in David. “All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader” (1 Samuel 22:2, NIV).
David, as a king in exile, became a rallying point for God’s people.
In one sense, the Lord Jesus Christ is God’s anointed King in exile. The enemies—Satan, self and sin—reign supreme on His earthly throne of authority. Often these “kings,” seem to be invincible in their power and immovable in their position, causing our candle of hope to flicker and falter.
But we have heard of the King! We have heard of God’s anointed One! We have heard of His courageous and compassionate leadership. When our candle flickers, our hope in Him ignites the fire of our hearts in devoted faithfulness to Him. Perhaps our candle of hope has almost gone out, “but the sun is rising. And who needs a candle when you have the Son?”
The vision of His glory is the King’s rallying cry to His people, challenging us to place all our hope in Him. Make Him your priority. Give Him your loyalty. Fan the flame of your love for Him. Live for Him. Serve Him. Be faithful to the King in exile. One day, you will reign with Him!
Hope Ignites Faithfulness to His Word
The vision of His glory ignites our faithfulness to the Word because, increasingly, we will experience its firm stability as everything else in the world around us seems to collapse. There is no other foundation on which to build our lives, no other Rock on which to stand, no other purpose to live for, no other Lord Who is able to rule our lives so that we live victoriously in a world that is increasingly defeated and hopeless—only Jesus! And He is revealed by God through His Word! Therefore, you can do nothing more important than to make time for the Word every day.
Hope Ignites Faithfulness in Worship
To worship God literally means to attribute worth to Him. We attribute worth to God by being preoccupied with Him, by making Him our first priority, by focusing on Him, by obeying what He says, by praising Him for who He is and what He has done, by prostrating ourselves at His feet as though dead as John did in the Book of Revelation.
The vision of His glory ignites our faithfulness in worship by exalting the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. No one else, nor anything else, is worthy of our worship. Only Jesus Christ! In light of the vision of His glory, be faithful to worship Him.
Hope Ignites Faithfulness to His Work
The vision of His glory ignites faithfulness in our work for Him because it motivates us to make use of every moment we have left.
It keeps our focus on the big picture lest we grow “weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9, NIV). In light of the vision of His glory, we live for the crowns given as rewards for service to Christ—crowns that one day we can lay at His nail-pierced feet in the ultimate expression of devotion to Him. In light of the vision of His glory, be faithful to work for Christ!
Hope Ignites Faithfulness to Wash
When Jesus told John, “Blessed are those that wash their robes” (Cf. Revelation 22:14), He was saying, in effect, blessed are those who are not only forgiven but who daily confess their sin that they might be cleansed, maintaining right, sweet, loving fellowship with the Father.
The vision of His glory ignites our faithfulness to wash our robes—confess our sins daily—because we never know when we will suddenly find ourselves standing face to face before the One who is Lord of lords and King of kings. And we don’t want that moment to come when we are living out of fellowship, in a broken relationship, with Him.
Hope Ignites Faithfulness to Witness
The vision of His glory helps us to be faithful in our witness because it makes us aware that any moment, the One who is Lord and King may return for His bride. And those who do not belong to Him will be left to endure His judgment!
How many people do you know who would come under the judgment of God if Jesus were to return today? Name them.
How many people will be saved from judgment because you were faithful to extend to them His invitation to come?
Would you make it a priority to lengthen the second list? In light of the vision of His glory, be faithful to witness.
Hope Ignites Faithfulness to god’s Warning
At the very beginning of human history, God clearly told Adam, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17, NIV). But as Satan cast doubt on God’s Word and God’s goodness, notice how Eve responded: “God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die”’ (Cf. Genesis 3:1, 3). What had Eve done? She had added to God’s Word! Eve’s seemingly harmless exaggeration was rooted in rebellion against God’s command and had devastating impact on herself, her husband, her children, her grandchildren and every generation since!
The vision of His glory ignites our faithfulness to God’s warning by giving us a holy fear of His displeasure, judgment and wrath. Those who destroy, dilute, deny, despise and defy God’s Word ultimately disobey it—to their own personal destruction, and the destruction of others! In light of the vision of His glory, be faithful to His warning.
Hope Ignites Our Faithfulness to Watch
We know He is coming soon; He just has not arrived yet. Hope wakes us up and keeps us awake. In light of the vision of His glory, be faithful to watch!
The vision of His glory ignites our hearts with passionate anticipation, challenging us to live faithfully every day, every hour, every moment in the light of the imminent return of the One who alone is worthy as … the only hope of the world!
EXPLORE ONLINE BIBLE STUDIES BY ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ:
- All Things Made New »
Well Rested »
The Risk of Faith »
How to Seek God's Guidance »
Outcast But Not Forsaken »
Guarding Against Burnout »
Changing the World—One Person at a Time »
His Nearness in My Loneliness »
Make an Impact on Your World »
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