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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Rick Warren » Rick Warren - A Faith That Knows the End of the Story

Rick Warren - A Faith That Knows the End of the Story

Rick Warren - A Faith That Knows the End of the Story
TOPICS: A Faith That Works When Life Doesn’t, Second Coming, Faith

Hi everybody, I'm pastor Rick, and welcome back to another week in our study. You know, because Saddleback is a global international church family with members on four different continents, we have to pay attention to what's happening all around the world, not just in one single nation. On Friday, I received reports from our pastors in Asia, in Europe, in South America, and I'd like for you to remember all of our Saddleback congregations around the world in your prayers this week, because everybody is going through tough times these days. I learned from Saddleback Buenos Aires that they are part of the strongest lockdown and quarantine in the world. And people are really getting frustrated about the isolation and loneliness there, and it has hit their economy very, very hard, and of course, as a result, Argentina, like a lot of other places is having political protests and a police strike and violence.

And then our Saddleback Hong Kong campus reports that increased political unrest there is due to restrictions from this new national security law that's been put in Hong Kong. And many Hong Kong residents are actually trying to immigrate to other countries and that's affecting the economy, and young people in Hong Kong especially, feel doubtful about their future. So we wanna pray for Hong Kong Saddleback too. Then Saddleback Berlin reported to me that many people from other parts of the world are now pouring into Berlin during COVID-19. They're in Germany, because there's now a housing shortage for all of these refugees and that's caused them problems. That's caused them stress. There's also been a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases from travelers who go on to and from other parts of the world into Germany. And that has caused both anxiety and chaos there.

So pray for Saddleback Berlin. And then Saddleback Manila in the Philippines reports that many of our members there in the Philippines are struggling financially because they've been out of work for six months, largely due to this COVID-19. And like everywhere else, of course, parents in the Philippines are worried about longterm emotional and mental health effects of six months of lockdown on their children. And in the Philippines, they're in a very strict laws about not going out in public. So there's very little personal connection in community. Now, of course, those of you who live in the United States, are facing many of these same problems that we're facing in Asia, in Latin America and in Europe.

Now, in my previous message, I mentioned five factors that are causing stress and what I call dis-ease all around the world. The viral infirmity, that's the COVID-19 pandemic, the social instability, that's all the unrest and violence we're seeing in our cities, financial insecurity with millions of people who are out of work right now around the world, racial inequality and political incivility. I think hatred and bitterness are at an all time high. Last Friday, I went out to get my mail in my mailbox and inside were three magazines and one thick package. Now the cover of the thick package said this, are you feeling down about the state of the world? Read what's inside. Well, as you can see, I still haven't opened it 'cause I'm not sure I need any more bad news. But are you feeling down about state of the world? Yes. And then I picked up The Week magazine and the cover of this news magazine headline is, "Playing at Civil War". As extremists and vigilantes battle in the streets, how will this affect the election? "Playing at Civil War".

So then I picked up the next magazine, which is called Decision magazine, that's a Christian magazine, and the first article was called "America in Chaos". How did we get here? So I set that one down and I picked up Business Week. And the cover of it is "I survived". And I open it up and the first article says this, it's 2020 and everything is broken. The Corona virus is ravaging the globe, the economy has cratered, unemployment has soared, and the killing of George Floyd and other unarmed black men have set off the largest wave of protest since the 1960s. And now those peaceful protests have been taken over by radical right wing and left wing groups clashing in the streets. Now, of course, they could have added in all those things a lot of other things too, like the hurricanes in the Southwest and the worst wildfires in California history.

Friends, we're going through some really tough times right now. And I have been asked many times, more than once, do you think these are the last days? It feels like the world is coming to an end. You know, last week somebody asked me, "How do you stay so positive when there's so much negative news in the world"? And I responded, "because I know the end of the story". I know the end of the story. I've read the last book of the Bible and I know how it's all gonna end and we win. We win in the end. If you've ever watched a movie or read a novel where you already knew how it would end, you just don't get as nervous about the tense parts that happened in the middle of the story. And so that's why today in our series through the Book of James, I want us to look at "A Faith That Knows the End of the Story". And maybe it'll just relieve a little bit of your tension and anxiety. "A Faith That Knows the End of the Story".

Now, today we're in part 24 of our series in the Book of James, "A Faith That Works When Life Doesn't" or "Principles for Living Through the Pandemic". And as we walk our way through the Book of James, I need to point out that four times in this book, four different times, James reminds us that Jesus is gonna come back to earth one day. He says it four different times. Jesus is gonna come back to earth one day. We don't know when that's gonna happen. Nobody does and if anybody claims to know the time when Jesus is coming back, you can know they are dead wrong. But you know what? I have discovered that even most Christians don't realize that there's more information in the Bible about Jesus' second coming to earth than there is in the Bible about Jesus' first coming to earth, yeah, more information about that.

More information about when He's coming in the future than when He came to earth 2020 years ago at Christmas. I read in one book that almost one out of every four verses in the Bible is related to the future second coming of Jesus and what's gonna happen in the future and in heaven. So this is a subject you need to know about. Now, a lot of Christians know that Jesus is gonna come back someday, but it doesn't matter to them. Or they think it's unimportant. Or they think it has no relationship to the problems I'm going through right now. But James would disagree. And I want you to notice the four verses from the Book of James on your message notes outline today.

Now, for those of you who are listening on Daily Hope, you can download the message outline at either or Notice these four verses from the Book of James. James 5:7, be patient then brothers until the Lord's coming. That's it. That's a mention of the Lord's coming. James 5:8, do not give up hope because the Lord is coming soon. Don't give up hope. Be steadfast. James 2:12, speak and act as those who are going to be judged. The first time Jesus came, He came to save the world. Second time, He's coming to judge the world and to reward those who have followed Him. James 5:9 forth, the judge is near, ready to appear. The judge is near, ready to appear. He's standing at the door. He's right there.

Today, what I want us to do in this message is answer two questions. First, What will the last days be like right before Jesus comes back? What will those last days be like? We don't know when it's gonna happen, but what are those days gonna be like? And number two, how should I prepare for Jesus' second coming? Even in the middle of all that's going on right now, okay?

So number one, what will the last days be like? Well, Jesus sums it up in Matthew, 24:21. New Jerusalem Bible, Jesus says, "There will be great distress". Sound familiar? There will be great distress in the world at that time, unparalleled since the world began. It will be a time unparalleled stress in the world. Now to know the details of the second coming of Christ, you can find Jesus' description in Matthew 24, then Paul gives his description of the last days in Timothy 3, and then Peter gives his description of the last days in 2 Peter 3. Now these are long passages, but I wanna read them to you because you need to know, and I want you, as I read these passages about what it's gonna lead up to in the last days, some of these things are going on right now, okay? Here's what Jesus said in Matthew 24:7-14. He said this, "There will be famines and earthquakes," and Luke adds epidemics or plagues, "in various places, but these are only the beginning of birthpangs".

This isn't it. He said, "This is just the beginning. You will be hated and hurt because you're committed to me in the last days. So at that time, many will turn away from me and give up their faith and they will betray each other and do hurtful things. And many teachers of false ideologies will appear and deceive many". Does that sound familiar? Because evil will increase in the world, many people will stop showing love to each other. There'll be less love in the world. But those who keep faithfully loving to the end will be saved. "And the good news of my kingdom," this is Jesus talking, "Will be preached in all the world as a witness to every nation and group. And then the end will come".

So that's some of the details from Jesus. And here's what Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. "The last days will be very difficult times to follow Jesus. People will be self-absorbed thinking only of themselves and money. They'll use their time in prideful self promotion". That sounds like social media to me. "And enjoy insulting and demeaning others". That sounds like the internet. "They'll be ungrateful and ignore their parents". They'll push the elderly to the side. "Nothing will be considered sacred or Holy as they make fun of everything". Have you turned on the TV lately? What comedy is all about? "They'll be unloving and unforgiving, and they will slander and gossip about others, and people will lack self control of their impulses in the last days". He said many will be cruel and violent and they'll hate everything that is good. And people will recklessly do foolish things in pride.

That's to the extreme. Be puffed up with ego, be addicted to lust and love pleasure more than God. That sound familiar? They will claim to be spiritual, but they will reject the power that could make them Godly. Hmm, so we heard what Jesus said, we heard what Paul says, here's what Peter says in 2 Peter 3. "In the last days, there will be mockers who laugh at the truth. They laugh at the truth, and they ridicule you for being a believer, because they are controlled by their feelings". In other words, I feel this, so it must be true, "and evil lust". They just wanna do every evil thing that they desire.

Now, then Peter explains what's gonna actually happen on the actual day of Christ return. 2 Peter 3:10-13. The day of the Lord's return will come unexpectedly like a thief. So since everything we see will one day come to an end, what kind of people should we be? That's the question I want us to think about. He said, okay, there's coming an end to history. And history is not circular, it's not gonna go on forever. It will eventually shut down, Jesus is coming back. What kind of people should we be? And he says, "We should live Holy and Godly lives. We should look forward to the coming day of God and we should speed it's coming". How do you speed the second coming of Christ? Well, we're gonna look at that in a minute. But he says, "We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth that Jesus has promised. A world where goodness lives".

Look at that verse, a world where goodness lives, and everything will be good. There will be no bad. It'll all be great. There'll be no sin, no sorrow, no suffering, no sadness. He said, "Yeah, it's coming to conclusion". But he says, "It's gonna be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth and everything will be good. Goodness will live there". So having read those three passages, are we living in the last days? Well, nobody knows, but we do know this, we're living in the later days. In other words, it's later than it's ever been before. 2000 years have happened since that's been written, we're living in the later days and it's later than it has ever been before, and we are closer to his return than it has ever been at any other time in history.

And we do know that this generation right now is serious and seriously working toward finishing the task of having a believer and a Bible and the body of Christ, church, in every tribe of the world so that Matthew 24 will be fulfilled. Matthew 24:14, Jesus says, "And the good news of my kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to every nation and group, and then the end will come". He's not coming back until everybody who He wants to have a chance to hear has heard the good news. You probably know that I've been asked to lead a global coalition called Finishing the Task, composed the thousands of mission agencies and churches who committed to finishing this task as quickly as possible. And if you're listening to this and you'd like to be a part of Finishing the Task, contact us about being part of FTT, Finishing the Task.

Now three times in that passage where Jesus describes what it's gonna be like in the last days before He comes back. Three times in Matthew, 24, He says this, "Be ready, be ready, be ready". So we don't know when He's gonna come, but the Bible says, be ready, are you ready? You say, well, I don't know if I'm ready or not. Well, how do you get ready? Well, I'm glad you asked that question because that's what James tells us how to do.

How should I live in light of the fact that Jesus Christ is coming back one day? How should I prepare for his coming? How should it affect how I live now whether he comes back tomorrow or in a year or in a hundred years or whenever? How should I live to prepare for his coming? James gives us, in the Book of James, six practical instructions we're gonna look at. But I also want you to see how every one of the things that James says, these instructions given by James, are repeated in other parts of the Bible also as preparation steps for Jesus' return. So get out of pencil. Here are the six things you need to do, regardless of how long it takes for Jesus to come back, alright? Here's what James says.

Number one, the first thing James tells you to do since you know the end of the story is this, clean out the garbage in my life. Clean out the garbage in my life. You know, whenever you're gonna have a guest at your house, what do you do? You pick up the garbage, you clean up the place. You straightened up, you tidy up, because you want your home to be as nice as possible for your guests. Well, Jesus is coming and you wanna prepare your life for that event. Here's what James says, James 1:20-21, getting angry at things will never help you live the righteous life God wants, do you hear that? Getting angry at whatever's going on in the world, going on in your life, all stuff that's happening, he says none of that's gonna help you live the righteous life God wants. So he says, instead, get rid of all the filth and all the evil habits that you've learned. Then humbly accept God's word planted in your heart, because it could save yourself. He says "Get the garbage out of your life". That's the first thing you need to do. So you need to do a little spring cleaning.

Paul says the same thing in Colossians 3:4-8. He says this, "Christ is our life, and when He comes again," so he's talking about second coming, "When he comes again and you will share in his glory". Did you know that? You're gonna share in the glory of God when He comes back. But he says, "because of that, put all evil things out of your life". Sexual sinning, doing evil, letting evil thoughts control you, wanting things that are evil, greed. He says, "these are really serving the false God. These things make God angry". In your past evil life, you also did these things. Then he says, "but now, now, now that you're a believer and you know the end of the story, put these things out of your life". No more anger, no bad temper, and no doing or saying things to hurt others, and no using evil words when you talk. Did you notice how much of the garbage that's in our lives is an attitude? How many of those things I just mentioned are bad attitudes? Do you need to make an attitude adjustment 'cause you know the end of the story?

Now, the second thing James tells you to do since you know the end of the story is this, stay close to Christ. Stay close to Christ. James 4:5 and following, he says this, "The spirit that God gave to live in us wants us for himself alone". So give yourselves completely to God. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Now, regardless of whether or not we're moving to the climax of history, regardless of whether Jesus is coming back tomorrow or in some distant day, that's good advice for any time of crisis or chaos. Draw close to God and He'll draw close to you. The apostle John says it like this in 1 John 2:28, "Continue to live in fellowship with Christ so that when He returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from Him in shame". He says, "Stay connected, stay close to Jesus".

You know, here's what's actually gonna happen on the day that Jesus Christ come back. Did you know that there's gonna be a transformation in you? 1 John 3:2-3 says this. Yes, dear friends, we're already God's children. We're already God's children. And we can't even imagine what we're gonna become when Christ returns. But we know that when He comes back, we're gonna become just like Him for we will see Him as He really is. You'll see Him face to face for the first time. This hope, the fact that we know we're gonna become like Him the instant we see Him, this hope causes us to keep ourselves pure, just as Christ is pure. Now, when we think of purity, we often think of like sexual sins and things like that, but pure in the Book of James literally means just unpolluted. It says, you're not polluted by the world. You don't buy into the world system, you don't buy into the world's biases, you don't buy into all the things that culture says are important. He says, "keep yourself pure". That's the second thing you do. 'Cause He said, one day, He's coming back.

Now, third thing you ought to do since you know the end of the story is this, there's a big one, use trouble to become spiritually strong. Yup, that's the third thing James says you do to prepare for Jesus' second coming. While you're still here, while we're still waiting, use trouble, use problems, use stress, use difficulties to become spiritually strong. James 1:3-4, he says this, you know, you know that troubles test your faith and develop endurance. So let your endurance grow, for when it's fully developed, you'll be strong in character and you'll be ready for anything. That's what you should be doing. That's what I should be doing. In the time between now and when Christ comes back, use the problems in my life to grow spiritually, to develop endurance, to become more and more like Christ in character. Now Paul says the same thing in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Listen to this on the message version. May God, may God who makes everything Holy and whole, did you see that? God makes everything Holy and whole, make you Holy and whole. Put together, okay? Are you whole? Are you fragmented? Are you all chopped up? Or you have wholeness in your life?

Make you put together, you put together you've fallen apart. May He make you whole, Holy and whole put together in your spirit, in your soul and your body. And keep you fit. Are you physically fit? Are you spiritually fit for the coming of our master Jesus Christ? He says, you know what? You need to focus on your physical fitness, no. He says you need to focus on your spiritual fitness. Are you healthy? Are you growing stronger? Use these problems. If you're out of work, if you're facing COVID-19, if you're feeling prejudiced against, He says, "use all every problem in your life to grow spiritually stronger, more spiritually fit, whole and Holy, put together, you're not falling apart". He say that's what you need to be working on. Don't work on making a ton of money. He said you're not taking that with you anyway.

Number four, a fourth thing James tells us to do since we know the end of the story is this, practice loving everyone. Practice loving everyone. And we looked at this verse earlier, but James comes back to James 2:8. He says, "You'll always be doing the right thing if you obey the most important law in scriptures". And it is the law that commands us to love everybody, to love everybody else as much as we love ourselves. Now, friends, this one is especially important in our world today because our world's become more and more hateful. It's becoming less loving, less patient. It's becoming more biased, more bitter and more partisan, more polemical. This means you can't, if you're gonna do what God tells you to do before He comes back, learn to love everybody, it means you can't demonize people, you can't stigmatize people, you can't stereotype people. You can't dehumanize people. All those people you disagree with, He said you got to love them.

The Bible says the exact same thing in 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13. It says this is how you get ready for the end of the story. It says this, may the Lord make your love grow more and more, more and more and multiply. God wants your love to, God wants you to become a famous lover. That you love more and more and multiply for each other, and for all people, you see that? It says, may God make you love more and more each other and all people, who's not included in all people? Nobody, so that you will love others as much as we love you. May your hearts be made strong so that you will be made Holy and without fault before God, before God, our Father, when our Lord Jesus comes back with all who belong to Him. And He's coming back. So what do we do? We do these things. We do the first four things I've just mentioned. This last one is learn to become a great lover. Loving everybody. He said that's what you do, even in a crisis and even in chaos.

Number five, now the fifth thing James tells us to do since we know the end of the story is this, this is a big one. Invest in the bank of heaven. Invest in the bank of heaven. He says there's a bank in heaven? Oh yeah, there's bank in heaven. Five times in this short five chapter book, James emphasizes the generosity of God for us. He says everything you've got is because of God's generosity. You'd have nothing if it weren't for God. Every good and perfect gift comes from God. It's all because of God's generosity. And then he points out that not only is everything in our life, including life itself, a gift of God, he said if God wasn't generous, we'd have nothing, we would not even exist, then James says, couple of times in the book, he makes the case that God's generosity should make us generous with other people. He said, "You've been given too, you should help others".

You know, one day a very wealthy man came to Jesus. And he asked Jesus for the best advice on how to prepare for eternity in heaven. How can I have eternal life? And he said, "What can I do"? And he said, "How do I prepare for eternity in heaven"? And Jesus gave this man some investment advice. He gave investment to this guy, and this guy had far more than he needed or could even enjoy. He was a rich young ruler. He was a wealthy man. And he couldn't even enjoy all that he had. And Jesus said this, "Why don't you liquidate some of your assets here on earth and send them on ahead to heaven and start earning interest for you there in heaven"? He said, "Where is that in the Bible"? Well, actually Jesus said it five different times, this phrase store up treasure in heaven.

But in Luke 12:33, Jesus says this, "Sell what you have and give it to those in need". You don't need everything you've got. Is there something you could sell and help others? He said, "Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven. By getting your treasure in heaven," Jesus says, "it will be safe for eternity. No thief can steal it. No moth can destroy it". So my question to you would be in light of where's the end of the story, do you really need everything you've got? Jesus is suggesting that maybe you might be able to sell some of it to help people who have a whole lot less. And He says, you know, every time you do that, you're storing up treasure in heaven.

Now this phrase store up treasure in heaven is used by Jesus five times, He quotes it five times. Anytime Jesus says anything five times, He's saying you better remember this one. Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven. How do you do that? Well, James says and Jesus says and Paul says you do it by giving what you got to help people less fortunate than you. Look at this verse on the screen right now, Proverbs 19:17 says this, when you give to the poor, you are lending to the Lord. When you give to the poor you're lending to the Lord. And He will repay and reward you for what you've done. One of the translations I read in that verse says, God will give you it back, pay you back with interest. He pays pretty good interest too. You know, this week there was a man who watches Saddleback services online, who lives in Dallas.

And last week he heard the message that I taught and he heard about we're developing a new initiative for COVID-19 called First Aid for Families to help parents who are pulling their hair out, who have been thrown into the position of, you know, teaching kids at home, homeschooling, and for kids who are bored and frustrated, and for teachers in schools, and so we've developed a series of projects and programs to help parents and kids and teachers for the remainder of this pandemic. And we're calling it First Aid for Parents. That man in the goodness of his heart, God spoke to him, and said be generous, help people out. He sent this week a hundred thousand dollar check to support the new First Aid for Families initiative. That guy doesn't even go to our church. And if somebody outside the church believes in what we're doing certainly, we should believe in what we're doing.

Now, James gave some very specific examples of how to store up treasure in heaven or how to invest in the bank of heaven. He gives very good examples. In Chapter 1, he talks about taking care of widows. And then he talks about taking care of orphans. Those are the two most vulnerable groups in society. Chapter 2, he talks about giving food and clothing to the poor. We're doing that right now through our food distribution. And we've fed a quarter of a million people. Saddleback Church, as your church has fed over a quarter million people in the last 25 weeks through food distribution. Chapter 5, he says if you're a business owner, make sure you pay your employees a living wage. He said you take care of people who are having a tough time out there making a living.

James says that, but Paul says the same thing in 1 Timothy 6:18-19, here's what he says. "Tell people to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works," okay? They should be rich in good works. And they should give happily to those in need. Always ready to share with others, whatever God has given them. "By doing this," listen, the same thing Jesus said, "they're storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven". It's the only safe investment for eternity and they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well.

I know most of you know, Kay, and my testimony on this. For 45 years of marriage, we have been having fun giving away as much as we can before Jesus comes back. We started tithing 10% when we got married, and at the end of the first year, we raised it to 11%, in the second year of marriage, we raised it to 12%, and the next year we raised it 3%. And every year of our marriage, we've raised our giving to be more generous than the year before. Every time I give, I become like Christ. God so loved the world that He gave. Every time I give, I break the grip of materialism in my life. And we've been given more and more every year. Some years when finances were tight, we just raise it a quarter of a percent. Other years when we'd have a big, you know, I get a raise or write a book or something, we'd raise it 3-4%.

Most of you know that now for almost 20 years, Kay and I have been reverse tithers. We give away 91% of our income and we live on 9%. That has been more fun. I've been playing this game with God for 45 years. He says, You give to me and I'll give to you and we'll see who wins most. Most of you know, I don't take a salary from Saddleback Church, I've served this church for free for 40 years, why? Because as I give to God, God blesses me in other ways. And so I would love it that on the day that Jesus comes back, that in our giving account, the day He comes back, there's only $1 left in that account.

You know, some people they wanna save all their money 'cause they're afraid God's not gonna take care of them. And so they save up the big savings account and then they've made it a will, it says when I die, you're to give away all my assets. Okay, that's one way to do it, but here's what I say. I say, do your given you're living, then you'll be knowing where it's going. I love I'm not gonna wait till I die to give away everything God's given me. I wanna give it away now because there's a joy of giving. It is more blessing and there's more happiness in giving than receiving.

So the fifth thing James says is invest in the bank of heaven. Finally, the sixth thing James tells us to do since we know the end of the story, we know how it's gonna end is this, use the gifts that God gave me to reach others. Use the gifts God gave me to reach others. When God thought you up, He created you with a number of different gifts, useful gifts, talents, abilities, skills. There're certain ways that you think, there're certain things that you do. You're just naturally good at it. Now, God did not give you those gifts or what we call your shape for your benefit. It's not for your benefit, your gifts aren't for your benefit, your gifts are for the benefit of everybody else. And their gifts are for your benefit. I have certain gifts. They're not for my benefit, they're for yours. One of my guests is teaching. I'm not benefiting from it right now, you are. And your gifts are to benefit me and everybody else.

Now you probably know what you're already really good at. Why do you think you're good at it? And how should you use that gift or talent in the time left before Jesus comes back? Well, you should use it to reach others for Jesus. You should use it to be an ambassador of love in the world. In fact, if you don't use those unusual gifts that you've been given and you're not using them the way God intended, then you're really just wasting them. God didn't give you gifts just to use for yourself. James says it like this in James 4:17, "Anybody who knows the good he ought to be doing," and you know what you're good at, and you know what you ought to be doing. "Anybody knows the good he ought to be doing, but doesn't do it sins".

So let me ask you a very personal question, knowing what you're good at and knowing that many people in the world probably need your help, what are you doing about it? Who are you serving? Who are you helping between now and when Jesus comes back? Paul says it like this in 1 Corinthians 1:4-7, he says, "I can never stop thanking God for the generous gifts He's given you. Now that you belong to Jesus Christ". Now you have every spiritual grift you need. He said, "Now you got every gift that you need personally. right now, as you eagerly wait for the return of the Lord, Jesus Christ," okay? He says, "While you're waiting for this, the beginning to happen, God expects you to use those gifts to serve Him by serving others".

Now, let me sum up everything I've been saying in this message. You're not gonna live right today until you understand your future. And the more you understand that Jesus is coming back, the more motivated you're gonna be to do these six things that James tells us to do. You're gonna spend eternity with God if you've let Him save you. Now, if you haven't let Him save you, we need to do that right now. We need to let Him save you right now. You know, I'm often asked, Rick, why do you think Jesus hasn't come back yet? Why do you think He's taken so long? Well, that's not a hard question to answer. It's an easy answer. In fact, Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:15, he says, "Remember, the reason the Lord is waiting is so that people have time to be saved". People have time to be saved. The Bible says the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. He says God's not being lazy. He's not being, you know, just delaying the coming back for no reason at all. He's waiting for people to be saved. If you've never been saved, you need to do that today. You need to become a part of God's family.

Now let me remind you again. We don't know when Jesus is coming back, but there are a bunch of the signs that are given by Peter and Paul and Jesus that we could see clearly in our time. But we don't know these last days, we do know they're the later days, and we do know that, the Bible says, He'll come back at a time when you think not. It's not gonna happen today. Well, that's when it's gonna happen, okay? So He says, "in the time you think not," but He does say this three times, and Jesus said it, be ready, be ready, be ready. Are you ready? How do you get ready? Well, first you open your life to Christ and then you start doing these six things we just looked at. So let me lead you in a prayer right now. Would you bow your heads with me?

Father, we're all going through a tough time right now. We don't know if these are the last days, but we do know they're later, and you're your time is getting closer and closer. Help us to practice these six things. Help us to work on them in our lives this week to be ready that you could come back at any moment. That even in the darkest days, that you shine bright. Help us to use our gifts to reach others for you when people are so hungry for solutions, for answers, for comfort, for strength, for guidance, for purpose, for meaning.

If you've never invited Jesus Christ in your life, say:

Jesus Christ, I wanna open my life to you right now. I wanna get to know you. I wanna develop a friendship with you before you come back. Say, I humbly ask you to come into my life. I wanna learn to love you and trust you. I wanna know God's purpose for my life. And I wanna spend the rest of my life fulfilling it. I admit that I need you, that I've sinned, and I need your forgiveness, that I'm asking you today to be my savior, in your name I pray, Amen.

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