Monday, February 28, 2011
Today’s Topic: Our Redemption Is Getting Close
Today’s Text: Luke 21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
I have only one thing on my mind this morning – stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. When I look around I see trouble. I see soaring gas prices predicted to be an average nationwide of over four dollars a gallon by spring. I see food prices climbing, and wages being cut. I see nations rising against nation in war, and people rising up against their own governments in revolt. I see gloom and despair on the faces of people all around me. Except a few. A few who know the love of God.
Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with my friend Dudley and we attended a worship service for homeless and despondent people. But their faces showed anything but hopelessness. Their faces would never be seen in your average church in America, and certainly not in most churches around us in our city. They would be people who might be allowed to come once, but they would never be embraced and certainly not endured.
Yet when the music started, and these people who struggle far more than any of us will ever know or experience started singing, the joy of the Lord was all over them. Their faces lit up with the love of God. They raised their hands and exalted the name of Jesus. They listened as a man from our church gave his testimony of the miracle – yes miracle – of deliverance from heroin addiction and life on the streets in the gangs of Chicago. He now serves as the janitor for our church and as an usher. They listened to his story of the God’s relentless pursuit of him and the transforming power of God’s unfailing love.
These people deal with far more pain and suffering than most of us will ever know as we look down on them from the ivory towers of our middle class castles. They deal daily with physical addictions and emotional bondage. Yet they have found a place where they can worship and serve the Living and Loving God we know. In those moments of worship, standing with hands and heads lifted high, they saw their redemption, bought and paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. They saw their hope.
There was no complaining in this fellowship. There was no recounting of the tragedies of their lives. There was no seeking of sympathy for their status. There was no participation in pity. There were smiles on their faces. There was friendship in their eyes. There was joy in their hearts.
When Jesus spoke the words of Luke 21:28 they came near the conclusion of a teaching He was doing about what will happen in the last days of humanism on the earth before He returns to set things straight. I would challenge you to read the entire passage. (Luke 21:5-34) The Apostle Paul reiterates the teaching in Romans when he writes:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us… but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved… And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (from Romans 8)
I believe we live in the last days before Jesus returns. It’s not very good news for a Monday morning, but the reality is that it’s going to get worse on the earth in preparation for His return. But there is Good News. Stand up. Don’t sit down or lay down under the weight of worldly worries. The lift up your heads, fixing your eyes upon Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. It was Him – Jesus – who for the joy of glory that was set before Him endured the cross and paid for our redemption. Look at Him and not the things of the world, for it is from Him and Him alone that you will receive hope and peace to endure until He returns. Look up, your redemption is getting close.