Pastor’s Sermon

Pastor’s Sermon

The Lord is with Us!
Photography by Don Blais

Be Ready

AUGUST 2, 2020

In the past few months, a centuries old question is once again being asked. Are we nearing the end of the age, the time of Jesus’ return? Over the years many authors have looked at events in this country and around the world and pointed out similarities with Biblical events and prophesies. Some have even interpreted the signs as indications that Jesus’ return is eminent. Two books I read as a new Christian were The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey and Carole C. Carlson published in 1970 and Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins published in 1995. Even though I was already a believer when I read them, they left me fearful. Three books that I have read in the past couple of years are also based on this question. The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn was published in 2011; Four Blood Moons by John Hagee published in 2013; and Is This the End by Dr. David Jeremiah published in 2016.  They all raise interesting points to consider, primarily are you ready? But none can, with any degree of certainty, answer the basic question of whether or not Jesus will return soon.

Let’s take a moment and look at what Jesus had to say. Matthew 24:3-4 tells us. “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?’”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.” He then proceeded to list a number of things that will happen at the end of the age but also told them in verse 6, “…see to it that you are not alarmed.”

As further clarification in verses 36-39 Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 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. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

Mark 13:1-4 records the conversation a little differently. It reads, “As he [Jesus] was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.

“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?’

After listing several signs that will precede his coming, Jesus continued with verses thirty-two and thirty-three. “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”

As Covid -19 was capturing worldwide attention Dr. David Jeremiah was asked if this was a sign of the end times. He responded with a sermon directed to that precise question. In that sermon he said that he could not conclusively say that the appearance of this global pandemic was or was not a fulfilment of Biblical prophesy. In his sermon he said that even if Covid-19 isn’t a sign of Jesus’ eminent return, the Bible tells us that wars, violence, storms, earthquakes, diseases, etc. are all things that will come when the time is fulfilled. What we are seeing may only be a preview of things to come.

Since no one knows, or can know, when the Son of Man will return, how are we to respond? Jesus said in Luke 12:25 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” I think the question that we need to be asking isn’t whether or not we are nearing the end time. I think the question we need to be asking is how does the Lord want us live regardless of what the future may or may not hold?

It has been almost two thousand years since Jesus had this conversation with his disciples. Less than forty years later the Romans responded to a Jewish rebellion by destroying the city of Jerusalem and the temple. When the Romans were through, not one stone of the temple was left on another, fulfilling Jesus’ prophesy.  It is now almost one thousand nine hundred and fifty years later. During that time there have been many events that match the signs he mentioned but the end has not yet come. Since no one knows, or can know, when the Son of Man will return, what are we to be doing? Jesus said in Luke 12:25 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Also, in Mark 13:5-7 “Jesus said to them: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you.  Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.  When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.’” Jesus tells us not to worry, be not deceived, and do not be alarmed.

So, what should we do, what does it mean to be ready?  In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul wrote about being strong in the Lord and in his mighty power and utilizing the full armor of God. I’d like to focus on the last four items he mentioned in verses 17-18. He wrote, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” A helmet protects your head, or more specifically your mind. To protect your mind from worry, deception, and alarm, keep you mind focused on the fact that through your faith in Christ, you are saved. The second item he mentioned is the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Reading the Bible, knowing the Bible, believing the Bible will help you stay connected with the Lord in the uncertain and troubling times we are living in. Third, all kinds of prayers will also help maintain a strong relationship with the Lord. Lastly, be alert and pray for one another. With all the distractions we have around us it is easy to lose focus and drift away from the Lord and to forget to be praying for those around us. Whatever comes, we are in this together, we are not alone.

Finally, remember and believe the words of Psalm 121. I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you — the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

As in all uncertain times, our hope is less a matter of what we know and more about who we know. Knowing things about God, Jesus and the Hoy Spirit and knowing Bible verses that provide us that information is important only is as much as it leads us deeper into relationship with the Lord.  Our hope is less a matter of who we are and more about whose we are. Who we are only matters if we are a child of God by virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Amen.