The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.” (New International Version)
I am so looking forward to that day!
As an ordained Minister, I have done my share of weddings over the years. Working with engaged couples anticipating marriage is both exciting and awkward. It is, in some ways, a difficult time for the betrothed because they are committed to one another in a manner different from just dating. But they are not yet in a marriage relationship.
The same is true for the Church. She is betrothed to the Lord Jesus. They are both quite committed to each other. But the marriage hasn’t yet happened. There is still this engagement period. We’re ready for permanent unending marital bliss.
The kingdom of God has been inaugurated, but not yet consummated. That’s a fancy way of saying that God’s rule and reign has come to this earth, but its fulfillment has not yet occurred.
This present time we are now experiencing between the two advents of Christ – his incarnation and his coming again – is a weird and awkward time of engagement. We’re trying to figure out how to live in the world but not of it.
Yet, there is a time coming at the consummation of the ages, at the end of time, when Christ will return to take his bride. Then, the Church will celebrate in a great wedding feast, the marriage supper of the Lamb. From then on, the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of our Lord, and he will reign forever and ever.
Just as marriage is designed for permanence, so our union with Jesus will last forever. His gracious and benevolent reign shall never end. Christ’s rule will be complete and extend over all the earth.
Until then, however, believers must patiently persevere with fidelity to our Lord Jesus, who loved us and gave himself up for us.
Slow and steady is better than nothing at all.
We keep going, despite all obstacles, adversity, difficulty, and discouragement – without comparing ourselves to others or making everything a competition.
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV)
Persevering to the end is the goal, not being perfect all the time. Perfection is the sure road to depression and feeling defeated. Endurance, however, is able to focus on the small efforts of each day to get where it wants to go.
Even though we anticipate our eternal life, that very life has already begun, right now. So, we can live with confidence, knowing the Lord is with us.
Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9, NRSV)
Perseverance can only happen with physical, mental, emotional, as well as spiritual health. We compromise our ability to keep going and remain encouraged with a lack of self-care.
We need to pay attention to our bodies because they are the vehicles by which we do the will of God.
We must attend to our minds because that is where we do battle with the enemy.
We have got to become comfortable with talking about feelings because we are emotional creatures, created by a God with deep feeling and emotion.
And we are to be disciplined with spiritual practices, just as we are with anything which requires our attention.
Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers. (1 Timothy 4:8-10, MSG)
In those times we are confused or just don’t know what the heck to do, we turn to the Lord.
With all your heart
you must trust the Lord
and not your own judgment.
Always let him lead you,
and he will clear the road
for you to follow. (Proverbs 3:5-6, CEV)
Keep moving. The Lord will direct you. The kingdom is coming in all its fullness.
Gracious heavenly Father, may we never lose the way through our self-will, and so end up in the far countries of the soul. May we never abandon the struggle, but endure to the end, and so be saved. May we never drop out of the race, but continually press forward to the goal of our high calling.
May we never choose the cheap and temporary things and let go the precious things that last forever. May we never take the easy way, and so leave the right way. May we never forget that sweat is the price of all things, and that without the cross, there cannot be the crown.
So, almighty and everlasting God, keep us and strengthen us by your grace so that no disobedience and no weakness and no failure may stop us from entering into the blessedness which awaits those who are faithful in all the changes and chances of life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.