On a Lord’s Day a few weeks ago, one of the children in the congregation I pastor submitted this prayer request:
I try to regularly tell the members and guests that prayer requests submitted to us are taken seriously. This one made quite an impact on me. The “Maranatha” (“Come, Lord”) of 1 Corinthians 16:22 and the promise made to “all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8) immediately came to mind.
As a pastor, I try to be encouraging to the congregation. A brother I love and respect calls himself the “Chief Encouragement Officer,” and I’ve taken that to heart. We just finished worshiping through Ecclesiastes in our Lord’s Day evening service. Over and over again the Teacher of Ecclesiastes calls us to enjoy the good things God gives us here on earth (2:24; 3:12,13; 5:18-20; 8:15; 9:7-9; 11:8,9). Encouragement here is important, and enjoying God's good provision here is biblical. But this prayer request was a needed spiritual balance for me.
I went back to the Word and re-read verses familiar and less familiar, being reminded by the Holy Spirit that the attitude of the believer in this world is that of the exile. The longing is for the return of the Lord.
“If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen” (1 Corinthians 16:22-24).
“…you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, Who rescues us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9,10).
“…I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
“…the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).
“…now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Hebrews 9:26-28).
“…the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:10-14).
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (Revelation 22:20,21).
I love the congregation I am serving. Still, it’s only been six months, so we’re still learning how to dance together. Being amillennial in my eschatological convictions, I know I hold a minority view. That’s okay. As I like to say, if you want everyone to agree with you, you’ll get lonely pretty quickly (a happy, humble, rigid ideologue is like a jackalope). Last night I stepped into those “end times” waters a little in our Wednesday night Bible study. The dry erase board got messy…almost as messy as my handwriting, but it was a sweet time magnifying Christ. My excitement came from a love of the Word. The affection behind it, though, came from a child’s prayer request – one of the most scriptural I’ve received in a long time, and used of God to provide balance to this shepherd’s walk.