Looking FORWARD to the End! (Advent 2)

Can you remember the last time you truly looked forward to something good?  I’ll give you a moment…  I believe that we should try to find something good to look forward to every single day.  It doesn’t matter if it’s something big, like getting ready to spend some time on an airplane to go and see family, or if it’s something small, like looking forward to hearing the sound of the can of spray whip cream as you stick it in your mouth after pouring some on top of your glass of egg nog- just an example…But looking forward to something good can truly make your far too many days of “somethings bad” turn right around.  Well, airplane tickets are expensive.  And whip cream cans run dry.  But today we look forward to the greatest thing ever- and it will never cost too much, nor ever run out as Peter tells us what it’s like to live every day Looking Forward to the End- as he tells us in our text: “to the day of God…as we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.  Today we celebrate looking forward to the end!  As we do, our God encourages us to continue trusting in his patience and his promise, and he instructs us on how to do just that- with a repentant, blameless, and peaceful heart!

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:

Now let me stop right there actually…Wow, does God know us.  I sure know he knows me; because if there’s one thing that’s easy to do- its forget things.  Speak to anyone that knows me and they’ll pretty much tell you that it is rather common place in my life.  So God begins his comments on looking forward to end by reminding us not to forget about it after we hear them!  Now let’s see, why would God remind us not to forget about Him and the Last Day at this time of year?!  Hmmm…that’s a toughy right?!  Yeah RIGHT!!  Let me ask you this simple thing, “When was the last time you thought that Jesus might come back before Christmas?”  Well, guess what?  Jesus could very well come back before Christmas!!  Or…have you forgotten that’s true?  Judging by the way we carry ourselves this time of the year, is it?   Sadly, I think so.

Our devotion life, our worship life, our stewardship- why is it that at this time of year when Christ is so up front, we often-times put him in the back seat?!  We get caught up in commercialism, our devotion life ebbs rather than flows and grows… our priorities of how we use the already-gifts that God has given us turns into apathy and laziness- and we transfer it over to our children, and our friends, and our coworkers.  Or if not apathy, we forget Christ’s promises and grow careless or hostile towards others as opposed to remembering Christ who, being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant…and became obedient to death, even death on a cross! (from Philippians 2)

Man, when this earth burns, I’ll be frank, we should probably go down with the ship too!  Now that’s something to remember!  But then God goes on…

With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 

Are we almost there?  We’ve been on this road for-EVER!!  You told us that we’d stop to eat 83 hours ago!  When are we going to be there?!  You told me that you’d pay me back last month, what’s the big hold up?!  You promised me that I would get to go shopping with you last YEAR- it seems!  When are you going to keep your promise?!  If you ever heard anything remotely close to that, you know why most parents will never, ever make a promise to their children again.  Because they remember…every one…even if its mumbled in the middle of a Sunday afternoon nappy… Have you ever waited on a promise of God?  Are you waiting on one right now?  God makes many promises to us throughout his Word, and we see them fulfilled every day- in so many different ways, but there is one promise that God has made that will only be fulfilled in one way.  The promise to come and bring an end to this world.

Now this text for today gets in to some pretty serious and pretty awe-inspiring stuff, right?  I mean it says, 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 done in it will be laid bare. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.  Throughout Scripture we hear of two things happening on the Last Day- the earth, AS WE KNOW IT, will be destroyed, and there will be a new heavens and a new earth.  Now as to the other details of this in Scripture- they’re actually pretty vague, and the subject of a whole Bible study in and of itself, but one thing we know for sure is this- it’s going to happen, and it’s going to be big, and it’s going to be rocking, and its going to bring something we’ve never seen before- perfection and righteousness, because it will be the dwelling of God and man!  And God simply reminds us today- please, please, please, be ready for it- because it is coming.  And I simply want you to look forward to it!

But I want you to look forward to this too:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise…he is just patient with you, because he doesn’t want anyone to perish, but to come to repentance.   Thankfully, our God knows us, just like he knew Peter’s readers, and so he said:11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to  live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. 

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

What are some different things you do when you’re looking forward to something?  I see how all of you Seahawks and, “ack, ack,” Packer fans get ready for a game- tell me, is that a good example of what we’re talking about here?  Or how about all of you who are looking forward to our meeting between services today?  How about that?  Have you been thinking about that and praying about that at all for the last week?  Or how about those of you looking forward to a visitor coming to your house…or think about what runs through your mind when you’re looking at spending the night at someone’s house?  Or for those of you getting ready for a scheduled C-section?  You change up everything as you look forward to something that means a lot to you and your family- well, you mean a lot to God.  So he tells you simply- I’m patient, but I’m not an idiot.  I know how you will fail me, I know how you will forget me- daily- but I will not forget you.  I did not forget you.  So before I come to destroy this earth, I will send my son to save it.

You see brothers and sisters in Christ, before God keeps his promise to end this world as we know it, he kept his greatest promise ever.  And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  And he dwelled, without sin. And he kept the great promise of God… on a cross, and three days later he kept another promise- by leaving a tomb.   And now, by grace, God kept that promise in your heart.  By faith, Jesus’ work is your work.  Remember what that means.  It means you are spotless, blameless, and your Lord wants you to be at peace with Him.

God speaks to you hear this day, and he says simply, “The Day is coming.  So am I.”  But we are ready.  We have been made ready.  Jesus made you ready.  And he will not forget your name.  So you, remember him.  Remember him by acknowledging your sin, and laying it before your Savior.  Remember him, by repenting and turning from the path that leads you away from your Lord and your King.  Remember him, by journeying to his cross whether it is Christmas or Easter or not.  Remember Him, and how he rose triumphant from the grave.  Remember Him, when the “somethings bad” come into your life- again- remember him, and how he rules over everything for you, his people, his Church.  Remember him, and how he is by your side and will walk with you, and if needed, carry you, through the terrors and trials of this world.  Remember him, as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  With prayer, with hope, with peace, and with the life led by Christ, holy and godly- by grace through faith.

What have you looked forward to lately?  I pray this day that you will forevermore look ahead with me to that great and Final Day- and prepare your heart to meet your Lord.  Until that day, let us join with the Church of the Ages and freely confess- Come Lord Jesus, Amen!

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