Soon return of Jesus?
I have talked about loving God with all of our heart mind soul and strength.
I have shared with you that according to Peter we are always to be ready to give a defense of the Gospel with gentleness and humility
I have talked with you about the various ways we can and should worship the Lord.
If you need a review of these things they are all on our website at www.christiancenter.us
All of these things and many more are about the establishing of God’s Kingdom on earth, in all our hearts, prior to Christ return.
You have heard me say many times
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be lost, but wants everyone to repent.
Verse 10 says this
But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.
I have heard for my entire life that things are so bad surely it is time for the Lord to return…
Jesus taught us to pray…
“Your Kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:10
God’s Kingdom must be established in the hearts of people all over the world. They must hear the Gospel message everywhere before Christ will return.
And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.
I have established that with you many times. We also know that the Holy Spirit is already about the business of drawing people to God
The disciples were grieving and confused because Jesus was telling them He was going to leave them
7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate, the Helper, the Holy Spirit won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11 Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.
The Holy Spirit’s job to the.. “not–yet believer” is to convict them of their sins, to show them how far away they are from God’s righteousness, and to reveal to them that apart from Christ they are condemned.
The Holy Spirit is already at work and it is obvious that the Gospel of the Kingdom being spread is to be our job, however all of this is contingent on God’s waiting on one thing….our maturity
Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. 28 The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. 29 And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”
As in so many of Jesus’ parables we are the grain that the Good News has sprouted in our heart.
Here it is tomato season already but we will not pick the tomatoes until they are ready. The Father, the farmer in this parable, is waiting for the grain also to mature before He comes to harvest it.
The New American standard translation puts it this way
“But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
The original Greek word here is “paradidomi” which means as soon that the crop itself determines it is ripe
In other words, you and I are the hold up for Christ return. He is waiting for us to mature before He will come and take up the harvest.
You see the Holy Spirit is already doing the job of convicting as I had mentioned earlier but we must be in a mature place.
What are the signs of a mature believer?
1) It is attitude – not age, it is not “extensity” of years but “intensity” of years and what we learn in the process. All people age, but not everyone matures. Our life experiences either cause us to grow and mature or fail and become embittered but it is our choices that determine whether we mature or not.
Paul explains it this way to the church at Colossae
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ Jesus.
Paul talks about his suffering his struggles and difficulties not as problems but as things to advance the kingdom and cause others to come to maturity. These by the way are also the things that lead him to understanding, wisdom and insight into all the things God has promised.
Our attitude is one of I trust God even if I don’t understand what I’m going through or I am in a suffering or difficult place because I know He has me regardless of what is happening
2) Spiritual maturity takes time. It is not instantaneous nor is it automatic.
Hebrews 6:1 says
“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.”
The phrase “let us go on instead and become mature” is most diligently translated “Let’s keep progressively moving toward maturity”
Growth toward spiritual maturity will, of necessity, involve moral effort, discipline, renunciation, and perseverance in pursuit of the goal. There are no shortcuts.
3) Spiritual gifts can be a sign of Spiritual maturity but not always.
In 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 we have a list of how the Corinthian church is moving in all of the gifts. They flowed amazingly in the gifts but Paul says this about them.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. 2 I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, 3 for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?
The same church that was flowing powerfully in all of the gifts was still a childish church lusting, quarreling, not listening to leadership, jealous, because they lack one of the true signs of a mature church…found in 1 Corinthians 14..
4 Maturity is truly being a reflection of Christ in all we say and do being “Christ-like”
Ephesians 4:11- 13
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Paul is saying here that maturity comes through submission, learning, growing, tearing down walls, building one another up, and we will see it reflected in ourselves because we are truly a reflection of Christ.
The supreme goal of God is not evangelism, as important as that ministry is but as Paul writes
We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete, mature in Christ.
God’s purpose is to produce disciples who reflect the perfect humanity of His Son so the whole world might easily see Jesus!
Why? Because as I started this teaching with the parable from Mark 4, He is waiting for the harvest to mature and then He will take it in
Once again I am pushing you all to maturity, as I am pushing myself everyday.
As long as we allow and I use the word “allow” because that is what we do, it is not the devil we need to worry about as much as it is our choices. As long as we allow sin, bad attitudes, past failures, unforgiveness, prejudice, fear to control us we will stifle our maturity.
Are you trusting that the Lord has your life in His hands and that everything coming your way…good or bad is simply and opportunity to grow?
Are you maturing everyday?
Are you allowing “love” to be the overarching control in your life?
Are you being a reflection of Christ in all you do?
If you are taking time to rest you should be starting on this journey.
Let’s work together to make it so Jesus might come soon but maturing, being ready for the harvest.