Have you ever been told to get ready for something that might happen?
Maybe it was an upcoming test. Get ready for it.
The NFC championship game featured two starting quarterbacks that were not the starting quarterback at the beginning of the year. Nick Foles stepped in for the injured Carson Wentz and did a great job. I remember seeing a quote from him when Wentz first got hurt. It was something to the effect that he was extremely sad to see Wentz get hurt and he was praying for him, and the second half of the quote was, “but I have been preparing for this and I am ready.” He came in to games and looked great and has take his team to the Super Bowl.
Just a couple years ago after being released he had contemplated retirement. But he came back, committed himself, and when something happened he was ready. He had been practicing with the mentality that he could be playing.
This stood out to me because I remembered reading about another backup quarterback who was released this year, and a couple months after his release people started opening up and they said when he was thrown into a game, he went in and didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know the plays the calls, and he was embarrassed.
Your attitude has a huge effect on what you do and how you do it. We need to have an attitude of readiness.
Being a Christian is not just about what you believe. Often times the focus is on what we believe and not what we do. That is a false dichotomy. True belief leads to living differently. If I believe in gravity I am not going to walk on air. If i believe bitcoin is a great investment I am going to put my money in it. If you believe Jesus you are going to abide by what he said. If you believe he is coming again to judge the world then you are going to live every day preparing for that day.
As we begin a new year, with what kind of attitude are you approaching your life. We are looking at a passage today that Jesus tells us to be ready. Jesus promises to return to judge the world- are you ready for it?
"But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:36-51 ESV)
This passage of Scripture has some hard things in it. Does this passage teach a rapture in which people will be taken from the earth in the middle of their activities? What about the abomination of desolation? How can Jesus not know when he will return. That’s like Steven Spielberg not knowing when the movie will end.
There is a time to talk about these, but here in these parables the clear point of them is that Jesus is going away, but will return to judge the world, and you need to be ready for when he comes. You need to be vigilant. V44 the clear command is be ready! Be prepared. Don’t be surprised.
All God’s creation, both rich and poor, great and small, king and beggar, will have to give an account to him.
Be ready is the dominant theme of this section of Scripture. There are four parables in these chapters of Matthew that explain how we are to wait on the Lord. We are to worship him, live to his praise alone.
He mentions a thief coming in the night. No one wants a thief to come in at night, but fewer are willing to stay up all night every night waiting for it. If you knew the thief was coming you would prepare. You would be sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee and your buddy Smith and Wesson.
Later Jesus tells a parable about 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom to come. The foolish women took no preparations and had to go get what they need. When they were gone the bridegroom comes and they miss out. They are told keep on watch; be vigilant (v25:13).
Then there is the parable of talents. A man goes on a journey and entrusts his servants with money. One gets two talents, another gets three talents and the next gets five talents. The one with two puts it to work and gains two more, the one with five gains five more. When the master returns he calls them “good and faithful servants” and welcomes them into his kingdom, but the one with one talent is wicked and lazy and does nothing with it. When the master returns his talent is taken away and he is told to depart and is thrown into a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus previously rebuked pharisees and the hypocrites saying they would end up in a bad place, and now he warns his disciples of what will happen if they do not keep his commands.
Jesus has told us how we should live. He has spoken to us, he has modeled for us and he has commanded to live a certain way. He commands, his example, and his word are to have the primary shaping influence over our lives.
Are you living as though Jesus would come back today?Even if he does not come back today, you will have to give an account for how you have lived today. Being ready for his return means we live faithfully each day. Here are three ways to be ready/faithful.
- Ready with the Word
Jesus has stated that he will come back. He has stated how we should live in the world. We ought to be vigilant to do that. Here he tells how Noah was given a command to build an ark, and normal life continued right up until the day the flood came. Noah was faithful to heed God’s command for years, building a giant boat in place with much less water than his boat required. I'm sure he grew weary at times, but he persevered.
Jesus warns against breaking his law. He warns against violence and laziness. Both expressions of not serving God. A man saw his masters delay (v48) and started to beat his servants (tyranny) and then he started to get drunk. Jesus words are to shape us.
Are you reading the word and is it shaping you? Consider Noah and how each day God’s command shaped what he did. He put work into an ark, and each moment he did that it was time that he did not put into other things. God’s word should shape us, define our priorities, define our time. We need to make sure we don’t grow tired of following it.
Step 1 is getting in the word. Read it. Step 2 is being shaped by it. Step 1 doesn't always lead to step 2.
Each night we do “Bible time” with the kids, and we all circle up and we read the Bible and pray about what we read. It is at the end of the day when everyone is tired, and there are days I begin ready, we have to stop to tell someone to pay attention and then realize no one is paying attention. What did i just read? Blank stares. Sometimes I am reading and Amanda will have to get my attention because the kids are acting up. Not only were they not paying attention, but me, the one reading, wasn't even thinking about it. It has been a reminder that it is not enough to be around the things of God, you have to have the right heart. Are you taking it to heart.
Laziness keeps us from reading. Dullness keeps us from hearing. Dullness is like Captain America’s shield. It deflects everything whether a bolt of lighting from thor or a blast from the hulk. When we are in that place it does matter if we are reading God’s word, listening to a sermon. We leave unchanged and unaffected by the spirit of God.
If we are going to hear well done good and faithful servant we must spend time we must listen well. When you hear a sermon write down a couple things you need to remember and aim to do that week. You are not going to do everything, but there are probably a couple things you need to remind yourself of. When you read God’s word in morning pick one or two things to keep coming back to that day. Let the Christ’s word shape you.
- Ready in Prayer
We all know we should pray, But are you praying as though you stand on ledge of eternity and at any moment you could take that next step forward, or your friend might take that next step forward. Do your prayers reflect that reality or more of loafing in the living room as though already at our final destination.
We are to pray always. We are to pray for little things. But if you are like me it is easy to get into a prayer rut. I have a list of things that I need to get through, that I should pray for. But my prayers become “God help me have a good day at the office. Help me to get done all that I need to get done. I pray there would not be any inconveniences. I pray you heal my cough.” My prayers can easily reflect a lack of attention to all the people out there who will die in their sins. A lack of awareness that many will step off the ledge of eternity and be separated from God. A lack of awareness that my greatest need today is not to get my to do list done but to do it all with an awareness of what I have in Christ.
When I look at the prayers of Scripture I am immediately shaken that my prayers don’t look anything like the prayers of those in Scripture.
“having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:18-23 ESV)
Am I praying for the eyes of people hearts to be enlightened. Am I praying for that person’s surgery to go well and also for him to know “the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us who believe.” It is a shame if we have a successful surgery, we get through the sickness, or we get the business profitable if on the other side of that we do not have a greater realization of the power, might, and love of God. Are we praying for those things.
My greatest need is to behold God for who he is. To see his power for what it is. Your greatest need is not to have a successful surgery. It is to know God more through it.
Are you praying for the real needs of people? Have you asked them how can I pray for you? Pray for the hurting in our community. Pray for the hurting in our church.
Are you praying for life to come into our church. We need revival. And it’s not revival in other people. We need it in ourselves. It’s not pray for the church to reach the lost. It a prayer that you reach the lost. And it’s not that you don’t have opportunities; it is have the spiritual insight to see it and take advantage of it.
Are you praying prayers that will make a difference for eternity? If your prayers are answered would it make a difference for the kingdom of God?
“It is clear that he does not pray, ... who resorts to prayer not to stir the man in us to will what God wills, but only to persuade God to will what the man in us wills."-ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
Have your prayers grown dull or cold or small? That is an indicator of your spiritual vitality. Get around people who pray.
“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,” (Act 4:29 ESV)
- Ready in Doing
The faithful servants are doing what the master said (). Consider Noah, many people laughing at him building an ark in the desert, going through life as there were nothing more to expect than what they did. Same day after day. No concern that one day our every action will be judged.
There are many opposed to Christ and we have to resist those. There is also a tide of indifference and apathy toward the Christian life by Christians and we have to resist that. Many live like either Jesus didn’t speak or didn’t intend to do what he said. He will return and judge. We have to go against the flow. Set an example of serving God.
It takes time to prepare. In suburban American one of your most important resources is time. We spread ourselves out so thin. That can be the greatest threat to your spiritual life. Are you spending time in the things of God.
Some need to be encouraged to devote yourself to the Lord. You get 168 hours a week. How many are devoted to the Lord? You should think about daily time and weekly time. It may be helpful to consider tithing your time. 1 day a week. One hour a day.
Others, don’t grow weary in doing good. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." (Mat 10:42 ESV). I think some of you need to be comforted by that. Be faithful with small things. They matter. Your Lord knows when you did something for him. Your boss may not notice, your husband, your pastor, your doctor might not know, but God does, and just keep being faithful.
He tells the good and faithful stewards “Enter into the joy of your master” (25:23).
A few weeks ago I got together with some friends and read the Bible and talked about it. As we talked we started to realize how we had not done what we are called to do. We just stopped, prayed and confessed our sin. Confessing where we had not reached out, where we had not led and loved our families. It was such an encouraging time, but afterwards I was aware of how rare that is. Guys confessing their shortcomings and failures. We can do that because we are preparing for our Lord’s return. Sometimes being faithful is admitting where you have failed, where you are weak. And that praises him and can strengthen you to keep on going.
About a month or so ago I saw on facebook that someone had written a song about a good friend of mine. He was actually that guy who reached out to me in college and led me to Christ. He is in Nashville and a singer wrote a song about how Craig had done the same for him.
The singer walked into church and met my friend Craig. Craig saw his “i don’t wanna be here face,” knew his breath smelt like beer and reached out to him. Apparently Craig got to know this guy and found out he was down on his luck and needed a car, so Craig gave him his old minivan, said he did it because someone had done it for him before. That was the same Craig I knew back in college.
I watched an interview with the singer and he was asked “What did this person Craig do when he found out about the song?” The singer laughed and said well i sent it to him and then called and his wife answered his phone and said Craig was crying too much to talk. I emailed Craig totalk about it. Craig said he was floored by the song, he did that three years ago and he had no idea it even matter to Walker. He was utterly floored.
Jesus return is going to be a scary thing for many who have not been faithful or served him. It should sober you. And for others who have served him, I think it is going to hold some surprises like Craig experienced. Things we did but never knew anyone was watching or that it mattered. It will be a time to enter the joy of our master. How is your preparation for that day? Are you singing his praise in everything, praising him in great and small. Praising him in church and home. Praising him with your time, with your mind. Everyone will have to give an account. Be ready for his return.