Summary: First of series of initial 2007 series based on congregational requests.

(Cover slide) The movie ‘Shrek 2,’ includes an obnoxious, for lack of a better word, but faithful donkey by the name of ‘donkey.’ The movie is a humorous and satirical take on our favorite childhood fairy tales and includes a trip to that magical place of ‘Far Far Away’ complete with a Hollywood type sign which announces that you have arrived!

It is the home of Fiona’s parents. Fiona was the beautiful princess of story who has a problem. Her problem is that due to one of those spells that all childhood fairy tales seem to have, she turns ugly at night. In fact, she turns ogre ugly!

So her parents put her in a secure location, a tower, I think, with the goal of having her Prince Charming (capital P, capital C) come and break the spell. Unfortunately, he does not get there in time and an ogre named Shrek, rescues her, takes her away, and they get married.

Now, they are headed to visit and meet her parents for the first time since they were married. It is quite a journey and as they slowly make their way to ‘Far, Far Away,’ the donkey starts asking the question that all children ask their parents on trips, ‘Are we there yet?’

He asks it at almost every mile they take much to the increasing frustration of Shrek and Fiona who finally tell him to ‘shut up!’ This causes him to start making an irritating sound which does not help the situation.

I think that this same question, ‘Are we there yet?’ is being asked a great deal by many believers when it comes to current events in the news and the return of Christ. But I think that Jesus tells us in the text that has been read for this morning there is a more important question, implied in the command to ‘be ready all the time,’ ‘Are you ready?’

(Slide 2) Are you ready for His return?

This morning we start our first series of 2007 with the ‘The People’s Choice Series’ and here is the schedule for the next six weeks. (Slide 3) Thanks to those who submitted requests.

This morning our start at Matthew is going to lead us straight to the final book of scripture – Revelation. Now, I hope that I am not offending anyone when I remind us that the title of this book is ‘Revelation’ not ‘Revelations.’

I say this to make an important point – it is a revelation from Jesus Christ to John which is revealed by an angel as we read in chapter 1, “This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him concerning the events that will happen soon. An angel was sent to God’s servant John so that John could share the revelation with God’s other servants. John faithfully reported the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ—everything he saw.”

As we continue to read in verses 9 through 11 we also become aware that John has been exiled for his public testimony of Christ. “I am John, your brother. In Jesus we are partners in suffering and in the Kingdom and in patient endurance. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and speaking about Jesus. It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard a loud voice behind me, a voice that sounded like a trumpet blast. It said, “Write down what you see, and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” So, he is alone when he has his heavenly vision, his revelation from the Lord.

What he is given is a word from the Lord to encourage and challenge him and the entire church during a difficult period in history. And, according to one source that I read, ‘[John] denounces evil and exhorts people to high Christian standards [and] he offers hope rather than gloom. John was not a psychic attempting to predict the future; he was a prophet of God describing what God had shown him.’

Now in addressing this important and much discussed book I am aware that there are many different interpretations of this book. I acknowledge and respect those views but I am not here to mock or ridicule them. Many years ago, however, I came to a personal conclusion based on a thorough study of both Revelation and the entire Bible that Jesus clearly told the disciples, and in turn us, to be ready and to be about our business of witnessing and help others to grow in their faith. I also think that this book has a pastoral word to us not just in this time and place but also in the past that we have experienced and the future we will experience.

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