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Jack Graham - Are You Ready?

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    Jack Graham - Are You Ready?
TOPICS: Why Believe?, Second Coming

Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ? Are you ready? Now we ought to live our lives with a sense of urgency. Not emergency in the sense that we're in panic, but with a sense of urgency because we know that God has everything under control; that our King rules the universe and that one day, and one day soon He is coming again! This speaks of the eminency and the immediacy of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that's what this parable, this passage is about. That in a world of uncertainty we should live with expectancy. Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, elections, nuclear threats... even now armament of rogue nations, causes us to wonder: are we living in the last days? Could this be the end? Could this be near the end? Are we on the way to Armageddon? Will Jesus come back in our lifetime? Even skeptics are asking this question. Cynics are wondering could this be it? Could this be the end of time as we know it?

Jesus said, "I am returning to earth". And it is a day that is appointed, known in heaven and heaven only, but it is a date with destiny, it is a date with Deity! Book it! Jesus is on the way and He is at the door! The Bible clearly tells us this, teaches us this. Old Testament and New Testament, that while Christ came the first time as the Savior to die on the cross, to rise again, He's coming again... this time in great glory and great power to judge the earth, to reward the righteous and to establish His eternal kingdom. Three hundred and eighteen times of the 260 chapters of the New Testament we're told that Christ is coming again.

That computes to one out of 25 verses in the New Testament only that refer to the return of Christ. Jesus made it clear. He said it often and He said it clearly. "I will come again". John 14:3 "I will come again". The last chapter of the Bible, Revelation chapter 22... and the Revelation, of course, is all about the coming of Christ and the rule of God. He said in chapter 22 of Revelation, verse 12, "I am coming soon". And it adds, "And my reward is with me". This is called in the Scripture the blessed hope, the living hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Angels which will accompany Him at His return, announced when He ascended into heaven, Acts chapter 1 and verse 11, "This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven will so come in the same way that you have seen Him go".

Actually, literally, physically, visibly, victoriously as you've seen Him go, He will come again! The Apostle Paul wrote so often of the truth of the Second Coming and in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4 and verse 16 he said, "The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, and the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. And then we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord". Jesus is coming for us who know and follow Him! And in Luke chapter 12 we have the first and most extensive teaching of Jesus regarding His return, and the theme is readiness. The theme of this story... and remember a parable is a little story with a big idea, little story with a big idea. And the big idea of this little story is that we are to be ready for His return. Are you ready?

Let's read beginning at verse 35, Luke chapter 12:35, "Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at the table, and he will come and serve them". In other words, when the master returns and we're going to celebrate forever at His table, and there's room at His table. Verse 38: "If he comes in the second watch, or in the third", that is, in the middle of the night, "and finds them awake, blessed are those servants"! Happy are those servants! "But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into".

And here's the theme verse; here's the text verse. This is the verse you ought to underline in your Bible that would explain this story. "You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you don't expect". We are to be ready and responsive everyday to the promise and the prospect that this could be the Day! I have a little plaque in my library that I've kept there for years and years, since I was a seminary student. It simply says: "Perhaps today... perhaps today". I want to live like that. With that sense of anticipation and that sense of adoration that I long for, look for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to be ready when He comes back.

So Jesus tells a simple story, it's a common story as the stories of Jesus go, regarding a wedding. But the wedding of the Middle East and the culture of that time in particular was very different from the weddings of our day. We do a lot of preparation and planning in advance typically with weddings, and a date is set, and there's a reception and a celebration. But in Hebrew wedding there was a long celebration that could last for days, even weeks. So in this case if the master of the house, this wealthy landowner, landowner went to a wedding at a different place, a distant place, it wasn't exactly... they weren't exactly sure back at the house when he would come back. And so Jesus said it's important for the servants back at those householders, those stewards of the house, to make sure that everything was ready and that each one was waiting on the return of the master.

Now clearly you get the point, right? That we are first and foremost to wait eagerly on the return of the Master. We are to wait eagerly if we're going to be ready because no one knows when. If somebody tells you they know when Jesus is coming, don't listen to them because they don't know. Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew that no one knows the day or the hour when He comes again. You know what that means in the Greek language? It means no one knows the day or the hour that Jesus is coming again! But it is a certain event in an uncertain time. No one knows the time but God Himself!

And so, like these servants waiting on their master, we should look for Him everyday and any day. He could come at midnight in the middle of the night, today or tomorrow, but the servants of Christ are to be dressed and prepared, waitful and watchful. And the attitude of every believer should be "Can't wait! Can't wait because I get to see Jesus"! Gird up, gear up, keep your light shining, live with alertness, live with assurance, live with anticipation, joyful anticipation! The Scripture says Jesus is at the door. He twists the story just a little bit as He's telling it. He moves from masters and servants at a wedding to a thief. And He said if you expected a thief you would lock the house down. But thieves, of course, do not announce their arrival. Thieves come in suddenly and secretly, covertly, unexpectedly.

And the message is the same, whether you're talking about a wedding or a thief; that we are to... to be on guard, to be on alert, to be ready, because Jesus is coming again. First John 2:28 tells us how we are live in the light of His return. It says, "Now little children", talking to Christians, "Now little children, abide in Him so that when He appears, we may have confidence", that's one way to live... with confidence, with certainty, but another way to live is, "and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming". If I'm walking with Christ, if I'm living for the Lord, not perfectly but progressively, walking with Him, I'm in union and communion with Him, I am connected with Him, I am in fellowship with Him, then I can live with confidence because I know that my faith is strong and getting stronger.

But if I'm not walking with the Lord... if my life is wasted on other things, lesser things... if I'm living in some disobedience to God, in particular in regard to my stewardship of my life and my things and my possessions... if I'm living like that, then I'm going to be ashamed when He comes again. And frankly, if Christ were to come at this very moment... there are people that are here this morning, you'd want to hide under the pew because you're not ready. You'd be ashamed. Your money's still in your bank account, not invested in eternal things, your attitude... your actions don't express your Christian faith and walk with Christ. You're not living for the Lord. Jesus is going to come just like that and you're going to think "I wish you'd told me He was coming". Well, He is coming and we need to be ready!

You know, this happens in the work force, doesn't it? You know, you got an employee sitting around, playing solitaire on the computer till the boss comes in. And then everybody scurries around and looks busy. But as Christians we shouldn't have to run around, scurry things, rush things up and fix things at the last minute. We should... If Christ were to come this moment I hope you could just keep doing what you're doing, living for the Lord, honoring Him, serving Him. Doing it in a way that pleases Him. That's what He's talking about here. That we... It is with eager anticipation. We wait eagerly.

Deb and I, we have a couple of beagle dogs, Duce and Yogi. These are great dogs; they're brothers, nose brothers, cause they've got their noses down together everywhere. They're beautiful dogs, wonderful dogs. And one of the things about having a dog if you've got a good dog is dogs wait on you for when you come home. If you've got a cat, a cat could care less when you come in, right? Don't... all you cat lovers, don't send me emails. Tell me how your cat comes and licks your face, you know... eewww! If you've got a good dog, that dog will stand by the door all day long for you and just wait. Now these two beagles, they hear us coming a mile away. Maybe they smell us coming, I don't know. But they can't wait. That's a good thing about having a pet that you love, that loves you cause they can't wait for you to get home. Well, we're to be like those beagle dogs, standing at the door, waiting for Christ to come! Can't wait! Well, we are to wait eagerly, we're to watch expectantly.

Now there's a difference in waiting and watching. You know, waiting is standing by, but watching is... is being active and alert and observant. Certainly we are to observe the things of this world so that we would understand our times and be effective in our witness. We're to watch and pray the Scripture says, so that's one way to watch, watch prayerful. In fact, Jesus even gave us a prayer, the model prayer which is actually a Second Coming prayer. "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". That's a prayer for the return of Christ, for the kingdom to come. So we're to watch in that sense. But we're to watch in the sense that we know this is our only hope.

Do you remember when Jesus directed his disciples to get in the boat on the Sea of Galilee and go to the other side, and He said, "I'll meet you on the other side of the Galilee". And He went up to the mountain to pray. So while Jesus is in the mountain, praying, the disciples are on their way to the other side, across the sea, and as was fairly common in that day, a storm suddenly struck the Sea of Galilee and before you know it, these disciples are in big trouble. The waves are beating against their boat, they're fighting it like crazy but they're going under! And they can't see Christ!

Now while they lost sight of Him, He never lost sight of them. And in the middle of the night, in the darkest point of the night, when those disciples were fatigued and struggling and going under, Jesus appeared and came to them, walking on the water! And said, "Be of good cheer! I've overcome the world"! And Jesus demonstrated authority over the winds, over the waves, over the storm! Isn't it interesting, it was when they were at the end of themselves that Christ came? I wonder if on a personal level God doesn't allow us to get to end of ourselves and our striving and our struggling, bring us to the place where we give up, and then He comes just when I need Him the most. He's never early, He's never late, He's always on time!

We have His promise that He's coming again! And if you want to live every day hopeful and happy then live everyday as if this is the day... this is the day that He could come. It could be at midnight, it could be at noon, it could be today, tomorrow, next week, next decade. I don't know. But I know I'm going to get ready and I'm going to stay ready. I want to be waiting eagerly, watching expectantly and working energetically. Here in this parable it's all about these servants working. They were getting things ready, they were constantly active, just as faith is to be active, that love is to be active, we are to wait eagerly, watch expectantly, work energetically, work enthusiastically because Christ is coming again! Are you ready? Are you ready?

The Bible says prepare to meet your God. Jesus says not everybody's ready. Peter asked a question in verse 41. Look at your Scripture. We're going to wrap this up, but I want to show you this: "Peter said, 'Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?'" That's verse 41. And then reading at verse 42 and following, "And the Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the their proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes'". Working when He comes, serving when He comes, and therefore, reward him, for verse 44 says "Truly I say to you, He will set him over all His possessions". There will be a reward for those who are faithful and fervent in their service for Christ. Jesus said, "I'm coming and My reward is with Me".

The Bible teaches rewards. Not in order to be saved. Salvation is not a reward for the righteous but reward is the result of the faithful life. And the Bible speaks of crowns that will be given. You Say, "Well, I don't want a crown. Just give me a little piece of heaven on the backside somewhere. I'll be fine". Well, the Bible says that we're going to take our crowns and throw them at Jesus' feet in celebration and adoration. I want one; don't you? So there will be a reward. Some will be rewarded. Others will be rebuked. Verse 45: "But if a servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of the servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful". That's pretty serious. "And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating". There's retribution; there's hell to pay if you're not ready for the coming of Christ. Are you ready?

Frankly some of you are not certain where you would spend eternity. You don't know, you even fear that you may be left behind. So what do you need to do? Number one, realize you've sinned and that you need a Savior. Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". Romans 3:10, "There's none righteous, no not even one". You may have done better than others but you haven't done better than God, and God's standard, His holiness and perfection, and we've all fallen short, we all fall short. Realize that you have sinned and that you need a Savior; that you cannot save yourself. Secondly, recognize that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose again from the dead so that you can live forever. Romans 5:8, "For God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". Romans 10:9-10: "If we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in our hearts God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved, for with the heart we believe unto righteous, with the mouth confession is made unto salvation".

Recognize that Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead for you. Then repent of your sin. The Scripture says, Acts 3:19: "Repent, and be converted". That means let God turn your life upside down. You're going in the wrong direction; turn around. That's repentance. Turn from yourself and your sin and the direction you're going and turn to Christ. Go to Him. You've been running away from God; run to Him. That's repentance. And Jesus Himself said, "Unless you repent, you will all perish". Repentance is one of the missing words in the contemporary church. Repent. And receive Jesus Christ into your life. Being a Christian is believing and receiving. Revelation 3:20: Jesus said, "I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in". So you must receive Christ as your Lord and Savior.
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