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Summary: With the end of the age at hand, Peter gives us important steps to take for the Church to be ready for the return of Christ.

IN REGARDS TO TODAY’S MODERN CHURCH, EUGENE PETERSON, IN HIS BOOK "A LONG OBEDIENCE IN THE SAME DIRECTION" WRITES, “IT IS NOT DIFFICULT IN OUR WORLD TO GET A PERSON INTERESTED IN THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL; IT IS TERRIFICALLY DIFFICULT TO SUSTAIN THE INTEREST. MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN OUR CULTURE MAKE DECISIONS FOR CHRIST, BUT THERE IS A DREADFUL ATTRITION RATE. MANY CLAIM TO HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN, BUT THE EVIDENCE FOR MATURE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP IS SLIM. IN OUR…CULTURE ANYTHING, EVEN NEWS ABOUT GOD, CAN BE SOLD IF IT IS PACKAGED FRESHLY; BUT WHEN IT LOSES ITS NOVELTY, IT GOES ON THE GARBAGE HEAP. THERE IS A GREAT MARKET FOR RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE IN OUR WORLD; THERE IS LITTLE ENTHUSIASM FOR THE PATIENT ACQUISITION OF VIRTUE, LITTLE INCLINATION TO SIGN UP FOR A LONG APPRENTICESHIP IN WHAT EARLIER CHRISTIANS CALLED HOLINESS.”

WE WONDER IF ANYONE, LET ALONE THE CHURCH, IS READY FOR THE RETURN OF CHRIST. DOES IT EVER OCCUR TO US THAT THE EVERYTHING NEEDED TO ACCOMPLISH GOD’S REDEMPTIVE PLAN FOR HISTORY HAS BEEN COMPLETED?

EVERYTHING IS READY FOR JESUS CHRIST TO RETURN FOR HIS CHURCH TO BEGIN HIS MILLENNIAL REIGN. IN HUMAN HISTORY WE HAVE RECORDED THE EVENTS SURROUNDING CREATION, THE FALL, THE CALLING OF ABRAHAM, THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT, THE RISE OF THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL, THE EXILE IN BABYLON AND THE RETURN, THE BIRTH OF CHRIST, HIS LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION, HIS ASCENSION INTO HEAVEN AND THE OUTPOURING OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT TO ESTABLISH THE CHURCH. ALL THAT IS LEFT IS FOR CHRIST JESUS TO RETURN AND USHER IN THE END OF THE AGE.

THIS IS WHY PETER WROTE, "THE END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND." IT HAD ONLY BEEN ABOUT 30 YEARS SINCE JESUS ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, AND PETER WAS READY FOR JESUS TO COME BACK AS PROMISED. ARE WE READY AS WELL?

WHEN CHRIST RETURNS WILL HE FIND US ASLEEP AT THE SWITCH AND RECLINED IN LEISURE, OR WILL HE CATCH US IN DILIGENCE TO HIS GREAT COMMISSION WORKING TO MAKE DISCIPLES AND TEACHING THEM CHRIST’S COMMANDS?

PETER GIVES A WONDERFUL PRESCRIPTION TO HELP US BE IN A CONSTANT STATE OF READINESS. IF THE CHURCH WILL ADOPT THESE GUIDELINES, SHE WILL BE READY FOR CHRIST. THOSE GUIDELINES ARE TO: KEEP SANE AND SOBER IN PRAYER; HAVE UNFAILING LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER; AND BE HOSPITABLE TO EACH OTHER WITHOUT COMPLAINT.

FIRST: KEEP SANE AND SOBER IN PRAYER. WE NEED TO ADVANCE AND DEEPEN OUR PRAYER LIFE. IN ORDER TO ADVANCE AND DEEPEN OUR PRAYER LIFE WE MUST DEEPEN OUR KNOWLEDGE OF OUR SURROUNDING CULTURE. IT IS A MATTER OF MAKING OURSELVES AWARE OF WHAT’S GOING ON.

WE DO SO BY BEING "SANE" IN OUR MINDS. IT IS THE STAUNCH REFUSAL TO TURN OFF OUR BRAINS SO THAT SOMEBODY ELSE CAN THINK FOR US.

IN OTHER WORDS, WE ARE CONSTANTLY EDUCATING OURSELVES SO THAT WE’LL HAVE THE ABILITY TO CORRECTLY EVALUATE THE SITUATIONS OF OUR SURROUNDING ENVIRONMENT WITH THE UTMOST MATURITY.

ALONG WITH BEING "SANE" OF MIND, WE ARE SOBER AS WELL. THIS MEANS WE HAVE NOT LET THE WAYS OF THE WORLD INTOXICATE OUR THINKING.

IT IS SIMPLY REFUSING TO LOSE OUR SPIRITUAL CONCENTRATION. WE REFUSE TO LET OURSELVES GET DISTRACTED AND LURED AWAY FROM THE THINGS OF GOD BY OUR WORK, LEISURE, HOBBIES AND SELF-INTERESTS.

WE ARE SANE AND SOBER NOT SO THAT WE CAN PRAY, BUT THAT WE’LL BE ABLE TO PRAY EFFECTIVELY AND PRAY APPROPRIATELY AND INTELLIGENTLY.

SECOND: TO BE READY FOR CHRIST’S RETURN WE MUST HAVE UNFAILING LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER. ANOTHER WORD FOR "UNFAILING" IS EARNESTLY. IN OTHER WORDS, WE MUST KEEP LOVING EACH OTHER EARNESTLY.

LOVING EACH OTHER IS THE SECOND GREATEST COMMANDMENT OF ALL. EVEN OF ALL THE VIRTUES, SUCH AS FAITH AND HOPE, THE GREATEST IS STILL LOVE.

1 JOHN 3:11, "THIS IS THE MESSAGE YOU HEARD FROM THE BEGINNING: WE SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER." THIS IS THE TYPE OF LOVE, THAT PETER SAYS, WILL COVER OVER A "MULTITUDE OF SINS." THIS LOVE ALSO SAYS, "BECAUSE JESUS FORGIVES A SINNER SUCH AS I, THEN I SHOULD FORGIVE IN SUCH A MANNER."

WHERE THIS LOVE IS ALLOWED TO ABOUND, IT WILL ALWAYS WORK AS A SHOCK ABSORBER, CUSHIONING AND SMOOTHING OUT THE BUMPS AND COOLING OFF OFFENSES AND IRRITATIONS CAUSED BY FELLOW BELIEVERS.

LOVE MAKES US BLIND TO OTHER’S FAULTS IN ORDER TO LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY. OUR LOVE WILL REFLECT CHRIST’S AGAPE LOVE TO FREE US TO LOVE EACH OTHER DEEPLY WITH AN UNFAILING LOVE.

THIRD: TO BE READY FOR CHRIST’S RETURN WE MUST BE HOSPITABLE TO EACH OTHER WITHOUT COMPLAINT. THIS COMMAND REQUIRES US TO GO BEYOND BEING "NICE" AND ACCOMMODATING TO OTHERS.

IN FACT, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SOCIAL ENTERTAINING. WHY? IN SOCIAL ENTERTAINING, THE FOCUS IS ON THE HOST OF THE PARTY. BUT WHEN ONE IS HOSPITABLE THE FOCUS IS ON THE GUEST BEING WELCOMED INTO THE HOME. THIS IS WHAT MAKES HOSPITALITY SUCH A STRONG EXPRESSION OF LOVE FOR EACH OTHER.

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