Friday, April 26, 2013

Waiting With Expectation

For a couple of days this past week, I joined the thousands (probably millions) of people in the New York City Metro region, who commute to Manhattan via public transportation each day.  I had the privilege to attend a pastors’ conference at the Times Square Church.  Rather than drive in and pay the tolls and parking, as well as deal with the traffic, I decided to take the bus (which, by the way, is something I haven’t done in a few years).  So, early in the morning I joined people all over the region who stand in lines at bus stops waiting for their bus to show up and transport them to the heart of New York City.  Not only that, but later in the day, I wanted to get uptown to visit someone in the hospital. Since I didn’t have my car that meant taking the subway. Once again, I joined the millions of people all over the City who regularly stand on subway platforms waiting for their train to come. 

As I waited for my bus and then the train, I couldn’t help but notice how many people would periodically glance down the road to see if their bus was coming or down the tracks to see if they could catch a glimmer of the headlights of the train. Why? Well, if you think about it, people only stand on line waiting for a bus or a train because they actually expect that bus or train to show up.  There would be no point in going to the bus stop or to the train station if you didn’t think that the bus or train was actually going to come.  No one goes to the bus stop or the train station hoping that, just maybe, someday, sometime a bus or train will arrive. In other words, we wait with expectation. 

The New Testament believers were a group of people who were waiting—waiting for the return of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. And, they were waiting filled with the expectation that he was actually going to come.  In many ways, they were like those people at the bus stop who keep peering down the road looking for their bus; or, like those people at the train station who keep their eyes on the tracks expecting that at any moment they will see the lights of the train coming through the dark.

So the Apostle Paul wrote of the Corinthians, “…as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” (I Corinthians 1:7 – NIV)  He wrote of how the Thessalonian believers were “…(waiting) for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10 – NIV)  And, to Titus he writes of how the believers are to live, “…while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…. “  (Titus 2: 13 – NIV)

I’m reminded that as followers of Jesus Christ, we ought to be living our lives with great expectation as we wait for the return of our Savior.  He has made a promise that he will return. Thus, as we live our lives here on this earth, doing what he has asked us to do and living the way he has called us to live, we keep on glancing down the road and peering down the tracks, expecting that at any moment, he just might show up! 
May your heart today be filled with great expectation as you wait for the wonderful return of our Lord!

“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”  (Revelation 22:20 – NIV)

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Good and The Bad

Years ago Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”   Many people feel that way about springtime.  We love the budding of the trees, blooming of the flowers, and the return of the birds. The warmer weather motivates us to be outside to work and play. We feel energized by the longer days and brighter sun.  Yet, at the same time, for many of us, it is also allergy season! That can mean runny eyes and a stuffy nose, difficulty breathing, congestion that can lead to infection, and feeling just plain miserable.  Like much of life, springtime brings along with it, the good and the bad. 

The question is, how do we respond to it all? I know my tendency is to rejoice in the good, but complain about the bad.  Sometimes I can allow the bad to overshadow the good to the point that I only see the bad, thus losing sight of any of the good. Even in the midst of so much good—i.e. so many blessings—I can end up complaining, whining, and losing all sense of gratitude. 

The Apostle, as he reflected on the good and the bad of his life wrote these words:  “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12 – NIV)  And, because he had learned to accept and be content in all circumstances he could write earlier on,  “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 – NIV)  Paul had learned to rejoice, not just in the good, but in the midst of both the good and the bad. He had learned to rejoice always!

For most of us, today will probably be a mixture of the good and the bad. Our lives as a whole will contain both good and the bad. The question is, how will you and I respond?  Let’s not become so negative that all we can see is the bad. Instead, let’s see God at work in every situation and season of our lives. Let’s take note of the blessings, even in the midst of difficulty. And, lets rejoice in the Lord always!   

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Other World

I began writing this devotional on my flight back to the U.S. from what I have come to call "my other world": Leon, Nicaragua. It's really kind of strange, but because of the number of times I have now been there, I feel like Leon has become an intrinsic part of my life. There are people there who have become like family to me. The children we serve at our school and in the various communities our program is established have come to know me well.  Even the people in the hotel, bakery, and many of the stores and restaurants know me (and I them).  So, when I arrive I feel like I'm arriving into my other world.

The hardest part about it all is that, although I'm in Leon a number of times per year, my trips are relatively short, most being four to five days. It can really feel like a whirlwind as I try to accomplish as much as possible in such a short time.  I arrive and before I know it, it's time to leave. In reality, I am just passing through.  Why?  Because, Leon is not my home. It's a place I go to for a particular period of time to accomplish a particular number of tasks. As much as I enjoy the work there and love the people there, the time comes when I have to leave and go (or come) home. 

The Bible tells us that although we are currently living our lives in this world, we who have given our lives to following Jesus, are really part of another world. This world in which we live is not our real home. We are here to build relationships, to do good works, to enjoy the blessings of God, and be a blessing to others. But, we are here for only a relatively short period of time. When we are done with what God has for us in this world, the time comes for us to go our real home. 

This is why the Apostle Peter calls us, "strangers in the world" and, "aliens and strangers in this world...."  The writer of Hebrews, writing about the people of God throughout history says, "...they admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth."  (Hebrews 11:13 - NIV) Gods people have always understood that they were here in this world for a short amount of time, awaiting the time when they would go home.

The New Testament writers would encourage us today to realize that although we are living in this world, it is our other world, not our home. Thus, as much as we may love the people around us and enjoy what we are doing here; or maybe at other times feel the pain that this world can bring upon us, ultimately we realize that we are from another place.  And, the time will come when it will be time for us to return home.

Remember: heaven is not our other world; heaven is our home!

Have a great day.

Pastor Tim Harris