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Michael Youssef - Be Ready

Michael Youssef - Be Ready
Michael Youssef - Be Ready
TOPICS: Enduring Wisdom, Second Coming

Throughout history, there were people who have sought to predict precisely when the last day is and when the return of the Lord is going to be, precisely, I mean to the date. Others, of course, as we're facing today more than ever, the deniers, those who will not only deny the coming of Christ, they said, "Oh, for 2,000 years people say Christ is coming; he's not gonna come". But even in my lifetime, just my lifetime, and like most of you, I've encountered people who thought they knew exactly what day the Lord is returning, and the world coming to an end. This is amazing to me, because even the Lord Jesus Christ himself said, "No one knows the hour except the Father". But nonetheless, that did not stop them from trying.

But, beloved, I want to tell you, more dangerous than that, that is dangerous enough, but more dangerous than that are there so many today who are now denying the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ altogether. Beloved, listen to me. Both deniers and sensationalizers (I just made up a word) both are in error. Both are wrong, and that is why it is of uttermost importance for all of us to hear from the lips of our Savior, from the source, the Lord Jesus Christ himself about this issue, and he tells us how we should live in the light of that great hope that we have, the certainty of his return. The Bible, from cover to cover, makes it absolutely clear that history is going to come to an end one day, that Jesus is coming back to take his children home and to punish the wicked, that the second coming of Jesus will end the world as we know it, that just as the first coming of Jesus, the Christ, it was a historic event, so will the second coming gonna be a historic event.

The doctrine of the second coming of Christ is a vital, important part of the gospel. Every details in the Bible regarding the second coming of Christ will be fulfilled with the minutest details and the most meticulous precision. Just like the first coming of the Lord fulfilled all the prophetic pronouncement about his first coming that we see in the Old Testament, so will the second coming will fulfill all the prophetic pronouncement; therefore, anyone who denies, or obscure, or misinterprets, or abandons the truth of the second coming of Christ will be severely judged. At the end of the Word of God, the Bible, the very last book, in the book of Revelation, chapter 22, verses 18 and 19, the Apostle John said, "I testify to everyone who hears the words of this book. If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away his part in the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book".

Most of you know that Christians are divided on the minute details about the second coming of Christ. They're divided over, you know, the rapture, or the thousand-year reign, or the tribulation. And so is it the mid, is it past, it's post, it's present, it's pre... all of that, all of that. And I'll tell you, I have studied all these different positions, because they're held by some people I love and respect. They're people who love God, that love the Word of God, every one of them, but I came to my own solid conclusion I believe that's of the Lord and a conviction from the Word of God. My own conclusion is this: I must live every day in a state of readiness. Whether I go to him first, or he comes back to take me home first, I'm a happy camper either way. I have, and I tell the Lord this literally every day, I have my spiritual bags packed and ready. He can call me home any time, or he can come back any time. I will not waste my time, I will not waste my life arguing and debating the finer points about the return of Christ.

If Jesus comes this moment, the next moment, I'm going to still be preaching the sermon. I'll finish it. I'm not gonna go up on the steeple and look for it. I'm going to be right here preaching, finishing the sermon. If he does not come for many years to come, great, because that gives me more opportunity to tell more people about Christ, so they can come and believe in him. Please hear me right. I think in this passage here, the Lord Jesus Christ is far more concerned about those who will get so bogged down with this life that they will totally forget about his second coming. Let's look at verse 35. "Be dressed and ready, and keep your lamps lit". Now, in the original language, it doesn't... this is more of an interpretation, really, than even translation; because in the literal translation, it says, "Gird your loins".

Well, that language comes from the time of Jesus when men and women wore flowing robes, long kaftans or whatever. And they are wonderful if you're sitting there and leisurely kind of having a conversation, but they're not very good when you are doing some manual work or in the battlefield. They're gonna get in the way. They're gonna trip you, and you're gonna fall and stumble all over the place. So, what he's saying, literally, is you take these up, and you tuck them into your belt. You tuck them into the sash and so that you are free to move and not be hampered. He is taking this image and applies it to the mind. You see, our mind, visualize this with me, it's like a free-flowing robe. They get all over the place, right? We get all sorts of distractions, a lot of things that can trip us up in our walk and our anticipation of the coming of Christ.

Now, whether things that are trying to weight us down, in terms of our circumstances, or issues of life, we need to tuck them away, so that we keep our focus on the coming of Christ, we keep our focus on that great day. Let everything you do, let every decision you make, let every lifestyle choice be motivated with that day in mind. Also said keep your lamp lit. Same verse 35. Again, this language comes from the time of Jesus, where they would have lamps or candles or torches where they lit up, and they're able to go around in the dark and see where they're going. That's what the purpose of the lamp is. And this is a figure of speech for knowledge, knowledge, but it's not enough to have just head knowledge. That's not what he's talking about. You need to be watchful of where you're heading, where you're walking, how you're living, where you're going. Make sure that your knowledge of the coming of Christ motivates your life, keeps you in a state of watchfulness, keeps you in a state of preparedness, that you're not going to be surprised when he comes.

In Matthew 25, the Lord Jesus Christ tells us a parable of ten bridesmaids. Five had oil in their lamps. And as soon as the bridegroom came, they were ready. The others were not. First, our minds should not be distracted. Secondly, our lamps should have oil in them and lit up. Thirdly, verses 36 to 38, you are to be a faithful servant. What are the descriptions of a faithful servant? The Lord Jesus Christ himself tells us here. And the reason he uses the imagery of a Jewish wedding, because a Jewish wedding, not like ours, you know, here you come at 6 o'clock, and the reception is 7 until 9 or whatever. A Jewish wedding just went on and on and on, days. They never knew when it starts, and they never knew when it's finished. That's the image here. They understood that.

And so, they're always ready. Whenever the bridegroom comes, they're ready to go on and have a party, right? That uncertainty was not going to put off a faithful servant. He's going to be dressed and ready with his lamp ready. No matter what time of night the master shows up, the faithful servant not only dressed and ready and lamp lit, but he's ready to go. Verse 38, "It will be good for those servants whose master found them ready". They're not just dressed, and they're not just have the lamps lit, but they're ready. And it doesn't matter what time, whether it is the second watch or the third watch. What is that? The second watch was from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. The third watch was from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. What do you call that? The graveyard shift. This tells us that there is a special blessing all its own that is reserved for those who are waiting for the Lord. Isn't it amazing?

Those who are ready are neither the ones who put on the white robes and head for the mountains, setting dates, nor the ones who are so bogged down in this life and the affairs of this life and the circumstances of this life that they have not thought of the return of Christ, neither of them. We're to be dressed and ready, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and in every way. Then our lamp is lit, constantly witnessing the light of Christ, awake, not asleep. And fourthly, the owner of the house is constantly alert. Look at verses 39 and 40. You know, in the Middle East, back then and even now, most break-ins do not happen in the daytime, because now in our culture, most people are out in the daytime. Now, somebody's in the house, so the robbers don't come in the daytime. They only come at night when everybody's asleep. And they come in and out and take whatever they came in to take, and then run.

And that is why Jesus said, about his return, to some people it's going to be like a thief in the night, totally unaware. They did not have a clue. They're not thinking about it. They did not know that sometime during their sleep, he's gonna sneak in. If the owner of the house knew exactly what time or what hour the thief is coming, he'll be up all night, ready to defend his family, ready to defend his possessions, and that is why often the man of the house hardly slept, and the Bible talks about the shepherd. You know, the Good Shepherd, to this day, he will sleep with one eye closed and one eye is open, because he wants to defend the sheep.

Robbers do not send you a postcard and say to you, "On such and such night, we're gonna be visiting in your neighborhood. Just want you to know. Please place all your valuables in a place where I can get in and out and get them very quickly". No, no, no. That does not happen. Thieves always silently, stealthily, undetected. The goal is to come on the inside and leave very quickly. Nobody notices. There's another imagery the Lord gives us in Matthew 24 and 25, another imagery, and I'm going to explain the two for you in a minute, and it's gonna make you rejoice, and that is the imagery of an expectant mom, who is experiencing labor pain. Don't miss this, don't miss this, very important, because there is a great deal of difference between a thief coming suddenly, totally unexpectedly in the middle of the night, and an expectant mom experiencing labor pains, is about to give birth. The thief is totally unexpected. The labor pains, while they come suddenly, but they are certainly expected. Why? Because the expectant mom had months to think about it and plan for that happy event.

And that is why I am absolutely convinced that to the nonbelievers or to the professing Christians, for those who are bogged down with this life and the affairs of this life, those who have rejected biblical truth, the day of the Lord is going to be like a thief in the night. But for those who are waiting, those who are expecting, it's going to be like labor pain. The ones to whom he's going to be like a thief in the night, they haven't given a thought about where they're going to spend eternity. It's just not their focus. These people are too busy building their nest egg here on earth. They are too distracted by too many responsibilities. They are so concerned of what people think of them. They have places to go and people to see. They're busy. Ah, but those who love Jesus, those who are waiting for the return of Christ, those who live expectantly of the return of Christ, those who are prepared for the return of Christ, they are prepared mentally. They are prepared emotionally. They are prepared spiritually.

To them, it is not going to be like a thief in the night, but it's like a pregnancy that culminates in labor pains and the happy moment of birth. Labor pains are expected as inevitable, but we do not know exactly where the labor, when the labor pains are going to begin, but we're waiting for them. We're waiting for them. We know they're coming. We don't know when and how, but we know they're coming, and that is why a pregnant mother is described as expecting, expecting. And we, the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are living this life expecting, but there's more, there's more. Labor pains, which are painful, and they're painful to experience, they announce the joyful deliverance. The thief in the night brings calamity and disaster, and that is why it's going to be a day of judgment for those who have rejected Christ, those who refuse to believe, those who profess Christians but never believe the doctrine of the second coming. But labor pains brings rejoicing and a new life, which we will experience. Not so the thief.

Beloved, when the day of the Lord comes, it is my prayer, it is my prayer that you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you get ready, be expecting, be prepared. That will be to you like a thief in the night, the day of judgment. Always be ready, dressed and ready, always be prepared, always serving and giving and expectant of that day, always working with that day in mind. Verses 41 through 48, there is consequences for the state of readiness. Peter asked the question, verse 41, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, the twelve, or are you telling it to everybody else"? He did not answer his question directly, but indirectly he gives him another parable. First he said the faithful believers who are ready for the return of Christ are going to be uniquely blessed. There is a blessing with the name written on it. Also, Paul added the five crowns in the Bible, added the five crowns. He said there's one crown that is specifically dedicated and will be given to all those who love his appearing.

Ah, but the unfaithful servants, those who are not ready for the return of Christ, they will be judged, they will be judged, but that's not all. The unfaithful person, who becomes an abuser, listen to me, we talk a lot about abuse, who becomes an abuser, abuser of both the divine stewardship, the divine trust that was placed in our hand, an abuser of human beings who are under their authority, misleading them and misguiding them, they will be judged more severely. If you notice, there's a degree of punishment. He's not going to deal the judgment exactly the same for everybody, nor is he going to deal the reward the same for every one of his faithful people. It's going to be degrees of it. The unfaithful professing Christian who only want to please themselves, unfaithful professing Christians who are unfaithful stewards with their life, unfaithful professing Christians who live under the illusion they have plenty of time to get right with God, to do things for God before he returns, you're going to be in deep trouble. You're going to be in deep trouble, but somehow to a lesser degree than those of us who are in leadership.

Why do you think I weep when I hear that some of the great men of God who preached the gospel, turn their back on the gospel, apologize for preaching the gospel? It tears me up. Beloved, the only cure for darkness is light. The light of Christ, living in the light, living awake, fully awake describes the believer who lives in obedience to the Word of God. Don't miss verse 48. The degree of judgment upon the professing Christians, who are unprepared, is directly related to the degree of their knowledge of the truth. That is why it's heartbreaking when somebody had known the knowledge of the truth, and then they turn their back on it. And that is why James, the half-brother of Jesus, says that the judgment upon preachers and teachers and leaders, it's going to be far worse than just the average unfaithful Christian. I pray to God that we, everyone, every one of us in a state of readiness. When God will settle his accounts, let's live our lives being dressed and ready, lamps lit, staying awake, making all your decisions with that day in mind. Can I get an amen?
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