Summary: A short look at some recent signs of Christ’s soon return, and how we are to respond to them.
Yesterday, desperate, homeless villagers on the island of Sumatra mobbed American helicopters carrying aid. From Dawn until sunset on New Year’s Day, 12 Seahawk helicopters shuttled supplies to the hungry and traumatized inhabitants of the island. (DENIS D. GRAY, AP)
Currently, the death toll for the earthquake and tidal wave that hit that part of the world last Sunday stands at over 120,000 and is expected to top 150,000.
Just a few months ago, our state was hit by a record number of hurricanes. Many in our area still live in homes draped by blue tarps, which daily remind us of the nights we sat with only flashlights to pierce the darkness of our homes. They remind us of the thousands killed by the storms on Caribbean islands before the winds and rains even reached us.
Frequently during the holidays, we have seen greetings televised to loved ones in the area from soldiers overseas, reminding us of the fighting and war going on in Iraq. The increased security and increasingly intrusive searches air travelers experienced in the past few weeks, remind us that the world is becoming a more dangerous place.
In the past month, major swarms of locus have begun attacking crops in Africa and the Middle East.
Last week, a prosecuting attorney in Philadelphia said that several Christians were guilty of using hate-speech because they quoted the Bible from a sidewalk at the scene of a gay parade. That capped off a Christmas season which saw Christ, the real reason for the holiday, the Holy Day, removed from more and more schools, stores, and public places.
This past week, I had the opportunity to drive through parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, and even preached in Mississippi, and I saw new Kingdom Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and worship places for Mormons in places there weren’t any just a few years ago. It appears that the cults are spreading and growing in this country while true Christianity in increasingly attacked.
My friends, I want you to know that we are living in an age, a time Jesus warned would be coming. This morning, I would like us to look together at how you and I are to respond in the days ahead.
- Read Matthew 24:1-14, 23-31, 36-42
I. PREPARE FOR ARRIVAL – vv 30-31, 40-42
These verses remind us that one-day Jesus will return for you and I. One day, Jesus is going to come again. When He comes, it will be just like in Noah’s day. People will be working and playing and living. Some will be getting married, and others will be planning to retire. When He comes, it will be a surprise.
When Jesus comes, some will be ready and those will go with Him. Others will be left behind. On that day, 2 will be working, one will leave and one will stay. 2 will be playing, one will leave and one will stay. 2 will be married, one will leave and the other stay.
Oh my friend, when Jesus returns, when He comes again, there will not be time to say, “Hey, wait for me.” There won’t be time to make it right. There won’t be time to change your mind. You and I need to prepare for Christ’s arrival. In 2 Corinthians 6:2 God says,
> 2 Corinthians 6:2 In an acceptable time, I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation. (HCSB)
Oh dear friend, the signs are there. The Lord is coming. Are you ready for His arrival?
II. STUDY FOR SURVIVAL – vv 4-5, 11, 23-24
In these verses, Jesus warns that the Devil will attempt to lead some astray. He warns that some people, some in the church, some who believed they were Christians, some who believed they were saved, will be led astray. Even, perhaps, some who are saved will become confused. Why? Because the Devil is a liar. He has been practicing his craft for thousands of years and lie better than any politician, better than any cheating spouse you’ve ever seen, better than any wayward child, better than any scam artist you’ve ever seen. It’s his words they use.
Jesus calls him the Father of Lies. My friend, if you and I are to stand against him, if we are to stand against his lies, if we are going to remain faithful and true, then we had better be students of God’s Word. We had best study for survival.
A number of years ago, I worked as a youth pastor in Arkansas. While serving there, I spent a great deal of time at the home of a couple of the youth. I was single, they kept feeding me, so like a bad stray, I kept going back.