Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ready Or Not Here He Comes

My scripture text today is from Luke 12:32-40.
As a child I really enjoyed playing hide and go seek. I loved it .... no matter if I was the one hiding ...... trying not to get caught, ...... or if I was the one seeking; .... who was trying to catch those hiding .... unexpectedly. Although I have not played in a quite some time,.... I do remember that the seeker, .... was called the "It".  The "It" would close their eyes and count to 20 ..... giving time for the others ... to hide. Now sometimes the seeker would cheat a little bit ..... I must admit I did ..... and would peek around. But you could hear the count, ..... "One Mississippi Two Mississippi" All the Way To 20 Mississippi.  Then you would heed the cry, ..... Ready or not here I come."
Four things were always certain in the game:
(1 Finger) - The "It" was surely coming
(2nd Finger) - The "It" was coming when they were good and ready .... and not before
(3rd Finger) - The "It" was coming whether you were ready or not
(4th Finger) - And If you were not ready, .... then you would pay the consequences.
Little did I realize as a child how much this game of hide and seek paralleled the Return ..... The Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In our Gospel Text. The master is off to a wedding banquet. His servants .... are at the family farm. Some are alert, .... ready for his return; .... some are not ready. .... The countdown has begun.  No one knows exactly when the master will return. Thus Jesus exhorted his disciples and us today concerning the importance of being ready.  And at the end of our story, Jesus states this command, "You ... must be ready, ..... for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour" (Luke 12:40).  The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is one of the most repeated teachings in all of   Scripture.  The Apostle Paul was well aware of Christ's return and he explained it to the believers gathered in Thessalonica.  As a matter of fact, Paul told them that the signs would be clear ..... and that he should not have to remind them about this fact again. It is much like the story of a tourist driving through West Texas who stopped at a gas station. He observed a piece of rope dangling from a sign labeled ...... "Weather Forecaster."  The tourist was curious and asked ...... "How can you possibly tell the weather with a piece of rope?"  "It's simple, Sonny," was the droll answer.  "When the rope swings back and forth, ..... it's windy. When it gets wet, ...... it's raining.  When it's frozen stiff, and it has white stuff on it ..... well it's snowing, And when it's gone......... tornado!"   There are simply some things that should be clear .... That should be obvious without even asking. The return of Jesus Christ is one of those things.  Our Gospel Text informs us that the Messiah will return how? "... As a thief at an unexpected hour."  The question is not "If Jesus will return?" ..... but "When Jesus will return?" Again the Scripture are clear... no one knows!  Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians' explains this by describing the time of Jesus return as ..... A thief in the night. Just as a thief plans his entry at an uncertain time ...... that is when least expected; ...... so it will be with the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus Himself proclaims this truth as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt. 24:35)  "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." In our Gospel reading from Luke ..... Jesus shares this warning: "You must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians discusses the return of Christ in greater detail. Hear his words to us this day. When they say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.  (Thessalonians 5:3-5).  Paul often refers to the Second Coming of Christ as the ..... "Day of the Lord."  And throughout scripture the "Day of the Lord" was the designation of that latter time ..... when God would pour out His wrath on the ungodly. In the latter time, Our Lord will begin to pour out His judgments upon them; ...... in a time which is often referred to as the ..... "Great Tribulation." The tragedy of this day .... is that so many, .... so many people .... will be unprepared. And not only will they be unprepared ..... they will actually be ..... deceived. And they will be .... actively deceiving others as they proclaim ..... we have "Peace and Safety." Many will be convinced that there is no danger when in fact .... destruction ..... the end is near.  We must live daily ...... with an Attitude of Watchfulness.   Paul goes on to warn us: So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep; sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night.  (Thessalonians 5:6-7)  Much As a soldier is commanded to "Stay alert while on the post", .... so must we ... as Christians. Paul instructs us to watch .... In the Greek "gregario" .... which means to stay awake .... to be vigilant.  Beloved ..... This command is in the present tense which means .... this vigilant act of being prepared... must be a continual practice in the life of .... a mature Christian. It is a matter of attitude.
A Roman soldier ..... would be put to death .... for falling asleep on the watch. The eternal outcome .... could be just as fatal .... for those who are not constantly on alert.  We as disciples .... must be ...... Disciplined. We are image bearers of the Lord ..... and should be diligent .... in that calling .  Disciples know who they are .... in Christ.  Disciples seek to be ...... conformed into the image of Christ.We must Not allow anything to invade our lives ..... that will be harmful to our....moral alertness. Just as an overabundance of alcohol will inhibit a person's ability to focus and make wise decisions.  So Sin .... will affect one's ability to make moral and Spiritual decisions. A person does not become drunk with just one drink. Slowly they become intoxicated. And a point is reached when all of the senses become blurred.  You become a danger to yourself .... as well as to others. In the same way,..... if we do not control sin in our lives, ..... we could soon be overcome and be blurred by its effects. We must live daily in the light .... in obedience to God's word.  Paul goes on to say that …We must be prepared. ...... We must be prepared at all times. During WWII there was a seamen who served on a small submarine chaser in the South Pacific. While on the ship .... one of the strict commands ..... was to always combat ready.  Which meant .... even when you took a shower ..... you were to keep your gear nearby. Now, there were times when the crew would not see another ship or plane for weeks.   And during those times they would become a little lax ..... in their readiness. Then one morning the seaman and some of his shipmates where showering when the air-raid siren went off.  And they were all called to immediately man their stations. The only problem, ..... no clothes. As he came out of the shower a helmet was slapped on his head and he had to run immediately to his post as an artillery loader .....with nothing on ..... but a helmet. Can you imagine the look on the enemy pilot's face .... when he looked down on the ship .... with naked men manning the guns? This seaman and his buddies found out quickly that not being ready at all times ..... had some pretty tough consequences. There is a blessing when we walk in readiness.  According to the word of GodHear God's Word He has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. There is a special spiritual Peace in knowing that you are always Ready ...... always prepared for the Coming of Our Lord. If you are ready ..... you will have God's heart. A heart full of love and a yearning to serve others.  The Scriptures are clear, ..... Crystal clear.
If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God ..... you are to be a servant to all.  Jesus said I came to serve ..... not to be served.  If you are always ready, ..... you will look for Christ's Coming with excitement and with expectancy.  Let me close with this illustration:  During one of his expeditions to the Antarctic, ..... Sir Ernest Shackleton left some of his men on Elephant Island.  He did this with the intent of returning for them ..... ..... But he was delayed. By the time he could go back for them ....the sea had frozen ...... and he had no access to the island. Three times .... he tried to reach them .... but was prevented .... by the ice. Finally, on his fourth try, ..... he broke through and found a narrow channel.  Much to his surprise, ...... he found the crewmen waiting for him,..... supplies packed and ready to board. They were soon on their way back to England.  He asked them ..... how they knew .... to be ready for him. They told him they did not know when he would return, ..... but they knew that he would return.   So every morning, ..... the group's leader rolled up his bag, ..... packed his gear ..... and told the crew to do the same saying, .... "Get your things ready, boys. The boss may come today." Beloved ..... You should plan for a voyage of a thousand years, .... but each day ..... be prepared to leave this ship .... of life.  Lay up your treasure in heaven, ..... for where your treasure is ... there your heart will be also. You are Children of the living God. You are Children of the Light. You must be prepared. You must be ready ....  18 Mississippi .... 19 Mississippi .... 20 Mississippi ...... Ready or Not He Will Come.   Amen and Amen!


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