Message from the Pastor

Are you preparing Or Procrastinating? Genesis 6:9; Matthew 24:37-44

37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Our lives are filled with the unexpected. The events that took place in September were unexpected – very sad events. Our lives are filled with unexpected good things as well – maybe a surprise birthday party or a surprise bonus from your place of work (that really would be a surprise this year). Last year at this time, what was the big thing on the news – something unexpected? The election controversy! Our lives are filled with unexpected things.

The second coming of Christ will be one of those unexpected things – you won’t see it coming, but it will happen – it’s on the calendar, we just don’t know when. Of all the unexpected things that take place in our world, this one will be the biggest surprise of them all.

Today, we plan on focus on Christ’s second arrival. Instead of coming as a humble baby, Jesus will come as a powerful, divine king. That’s why the Advent colors of the church year are blue and purple, the colors of royalty, the colors of a king. This morning, I want you to ask yourself: Am I prepared for that day? Or, am I procrastinating? Am I getting ready for that unexpected day when Jesus returns?

Jesus tells us to get ready in Matthew 24
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times
1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.
2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Christ tells us that most people won’t be ready – he compares the world at Judgment Day to the world at the time of the flood: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” What was wrong with those people at the time of the flood? They weren’t ready. They had no relationship with God. Their entire lives revolved around earthly things, and nothing else. I’m sure they all knew about Noah, the man building the boat in the desert. But they ignored that. They ignored having any real type of relationship with God. And then the flood came, and took them all away.

Jesus goes on to say, “This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” People will be left behind when Jesus arrives. It is interesting how an entire series of fictional books have been based on these verses – the Left Behind series. The basic idea in those fictional books is that the world will keep on running, but people will disappear. And while that’s interesting to think about, you have to remember that the Left Behind series is fictional, not Biblical. When you take this passage and line it up with all the other passages in the Bible about the end of the world, you get a very different picture of what will happen on Judgment Day.

Imagine that the end of the world would take place at 5:00 this afternoon. What do you normally do at 5:00 on a Sunday afternoon? At that moment, everything will stop. Everything is done. You will hear the trumpet call of God, the voice of the archangel. According to the Bible, all the dead will be physically raised to life. You and all the other believers will be caught up into the sky to be with Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (KJV)
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. read more »
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by Permission of Biblica, Inc.® All rights reserved worldwide.
That’s what these verses are referring to. What about the unbelievers who are left behind? Jesus tells us in John 5:28-29 (KJV)
28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,  29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Then the world as we know it will be destroyed, and some kind of new heaven and earth will be created, a place where believers can worship God free from sin. That’s how God describes the last day in his Word.

Are you preparing for this day? Or, are you procrastinating? A spiritual procrastinator is someone who’s not ready. Someone who says, “Eventually I’ll get my act together spiritually. But not right now. I have too much going on.” Is our world ready for Jesus’ second coming? The media would have you believe that it is. According the media, a mass spiritual revival has taken place in our country, due to the events of September 11. Churches are thronged with new faces! But the reality is, attendance did rise for a little while, but according to most statistics, is now just about back to where it was in August. Most people are still unprepared for the arrival of Christ.

A fable is told about 3 apprentice devils who were talking with Satan about their plans to destroy all of humanity. The first apprentice suggested that they would succeed, if they told people that there was no God. Satan rejected that suggestion, because he realized that most people know that there is a God and would not be convinced otherwise. The second apprentice suggested they could succeed by telling people that there is no hell. But Satan rejected that idea because he knew that too many people know that there is a hell. Then the third apprentice devil spoke up: “Let’s destroy all humanity by telling them that there is no hurry!” The fable concludes that Satan loved that suggestion because he knew that people would procrastinate in their spiritual lives, and would be destroyed by the millions.

What about you? We struggle with this too, don’t we? “I will grow in my spiritual life,” we say, “but I will grow later.” I will pray, but I will figure out how to do that later. I will live like a child of God, but later in my life. I have plenty of time. It’s OK for me now, to not grow, to not pray, to live like my unbelieving friends. I have time.

What happens when we live that way? Our relationship with God falls apart. And then Jesus comes when we least expect him, and it’s too late. You can’t get it together spiritually on Judgment Day. Time’s up. And then you are left behind, and judged, and sent to hell.

But that’s not the way it will be for you, is it? You and I can pray to our Savior. We can repent, and rejoice that Jesus forgives us. He forgives us for our lack of watchfulness, our lack of readiness. That’s why Jesus was born on Christmas many years ago. His whole purpose was to take away our sin. He did that by living a life that perfectly glorified God – and then he giving us the credit. He did that by taking all of our shortcomings, our spiritual procrastination – all of our sins – he took them on himself and paid for them by dying on the cross. He rose from the dead, to prove to us that we really are forgiven, that we really are going to rise from the dead someday and glorify God in the life to come. You are a child of God – a modern day Noah. Because of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for you, you are one of those people who will be with him on the last day.

Until that day, Jesus tells us, “Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Jesus compares himself to a thief in the night: “Be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” A large number of Christians today don’t believe that Jesus will come during their lifetime. But in these verses, Jesus tells us to live as though he will come during our lifetimes. A Christian is someone who is always preparing, always watchful, always ready for the moment everything stops. That doesn’t mean that we stop doing the things we do. Those religious cults that tell people to quit their jobs and sit up on a mountain and wait for the end of the world – they are way off. That’s not what Jesus means when he says to prepare, to be ready.

Preparing for Christ means prioritizing for Christ. I do all the things I normally do, but Jesus is number one. My relationship with him is not at the bottom of my list of priorities, but at the top. Worship with other Christians – at the top, Bible study with other Christians, and by myself – at the top. Prayer is not something I do for 5-10 seconds a day if I remember, but it becomes a priority. My relationship with Jesus becomes number one in my life – that’s what it means to be watchful, to be ready. Yes, I do the things that I normally do, in my day-to-day life. But I will be different from unbelievers and luke-warm Christians, who don’t worship that much or read God’s Word or pray. I will be different from people who sin all the time and joke about it and justify it by saying “I can’t help it. Don’t judge me!” To be watchful, to be ready, means that I won’t that God, but later in my life. I have plenty of time. It’s OK for me now, to not grow, to not pray, to live like my unbelieving friends. I have time.

What happens when we live that way? Our relationship with God falls apart. And then Jesus comes when we least expect him, and it’s too late. You can’t get it together spiritually on Judgment Day. Time’s up. And then you are left behind, and judged, and sent to hell.

But that’s not it will be for you, is it? You and I can pray to our Savior. We can repent, and rejoice that Jesus forgives us. He forgives us for our lack of watchfulness, our lack of readiness. That’s why Jesus was born on Christmas many years ago. His whole purpose was to take away our sin. He did that by living a life that perfectly glorified God – and then he giving us the credit. He did that by taking all of our shortcomings, our spiritual procrastination – all of our sins – he took them on himself and paid for them by dying on the cross. He rose from the dead, to prove to us that we really are forgiven, that we really are going to rise from the dead someday and glorify God in the life to come. You are a child of God – a modern day Noah. Because of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for you, you are one of those people who will be with him on the last day.

Until that day, Jesus tells us, “Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Jesus compares himself to a thief in the night: “Be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” A large number of Christians today don’t believe that Jesus will come during their lifetime. But in these verses, Jesus tells us to live as though he will come during our lifetimes. A Christian is someone who is always preparing, always watchful, always ready for the moment everything stops. That doesn’t mean that we stop doing the things we do. Those religious cults that tell people to quit their jobs and sit up on a mountain and wait for the end of the world – they are way off. That’s not what Jesus means when he says to prepare, to be ready.

What is our motivation? Not fear of punishment, because Jesus has taken all of our punishment away at the cross. We are forgiven children of God, and so our motivation is joy and hope and anticipation. The unexpected day of Christ’s arrival will be the best day of our lives.

May the Advent season be for you a joyful time, a hopeful time. A time when you recommit yourself to being a watchful Christian. We rejoice now that Jesus came on Christmas, but we also look forward to rejoicing then, when Jesus will come unexpectantly on Judgment Day. We pray: O Lord, give me the heart of Noah, a heart that is watchful, that is ready, for the day you come. Amen.
You went away and left me long time ago, And now you're knocking on my door, I hear you knocking, But you can't come in, I hear you knocking, Go back where you've been
I begged you not to go but you said goodbye, And now you're telling me all your lies
I hear you knocking, But you can't come in, I hear you knocking, Go back where you've been


Ah yeah
Let me hear it
Oh oh woo
Oh

You better get back to your use-to-be, 'cause your kind of love ain't good to me
I hear you knocking, But you can't come in, I hear you knocking, Go back where you've been, I told you way back in 52, That I would never go with you, I hear you knocking
But you can't come in, I hear you knocking, Go back where you've been.