The Lord’s Message:  Be Ready!

The Lord’s Message:  Be Ready!
Date:  December 3, 2023
Where: Tilghman Methodist Church
Scripture Reference:  Mark 13:24-37

            Happy New Year!  Now, I have not lost my mind.  The First Sunday of Advent begins the new church year.  So, once again, I say Happy New Year.

            Let us pray.

            Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.  The Season of Advent is preparing oneself for the celebration of the Christ Child’s arrival and preparing for the return of  Jesus Christ upon the earth. 

            Please take your pew Bible this morning and turn to page 1578.  Jesus is talking to His disciples.  The disciples asked Jesus to marvel at the beautiful stones that King Herod used to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.  We find this in Mark 13:1. Jesus begins this long talk with the disciples telling them about what is going to happen in the future.  First this Temple will be destroyed.  The Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 AD.  Today the only part that is left standing of that original temple is the western wall, which is referred to today as the wailing wall. 

            The disciples ask Jesus when is this going to happen? Jesus never tells them.  He only says in Mark 13:5-8.  How many wars have happened since Jesus ascended into heaven?  Hundreds, Thousands, Millions.  Today, there are 32 conflicts or wars going on all over the world.  There has not been a time that there was not some kind of war on this planet.  As far as famine goes there are five hunger hotspots that the United Nations has identified.  Those are Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen, and Gaza.  There has never been a time when there was not some kind of famine in the world.  Earthquakes happen at a rate of 55 per day or about 20,000 earthquakes per year.  So, if we try to use any of this data to point to the return of Christ, then we are going to be sadly mistaken. 

            Jesus goes on to tell them about the persecution that is coming in verses 9-13. Persecution has always been part of civilization. Today more than 360 million Christians, or 1 in 7, face high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith.  Some of the persecutions have resulted in businesses being taken over or burned.  In the Muslim community, if a family member says that they are a Christian, they can be killed by their family.  Other Christians are being jailed, tortured, and martyred.  Churches are being destroyed.  Even in India, Christians were prevented from burying their dead on their own land.  They must recant their Christianity before they can bury their dead.  If they do not, then the bodies of the dead are taken by the government and buried in some far-off place.  In China, a Christian has to worship at one of the state’s authorized churches.  China keeps very tight control on the churches.  Persecution will not signal the return of Jesus Christ. 

            Jesus goes with another event that will take place, found in verse 14.  In the Book of Daniel, two places are described:  9:26-27 and 12:11-13.  Some people today think that the abomination has been set up.  In 685 to 691, the Muslims set up a mosque called the Al-Aqsa and a shrine called the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Site.  Muslim pilgrims have been traveling to this ever since.  This is supposedly the place where Abraham was going to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, by God’s command.  Abraham was faithful and did as God said to do, but just before he is to plunge the knife into his son, God sends an angel to stop him.  The Muslims have great respect for Abraham.  This site is both a holy site for Muslims, Jews, and Christians. 

            In verses 21-22, Jesus warns his disciples about false Messiahs.  If we go back through history, many people have claimed to be god.  Pharaohs, every dictator, almost every king or almost every person in power have claimed that they are essentially god.  Then, we have all these false prophets that claim one thing or another.  Some claim to know when the world is going to come to an end.  Some claim to know when Jesus is coming back.  Some claim to know when we are going into a recession or a depression.  Some claim to know when this country is going to attack that country.  Some claim to know how to make lots of money and retire while you are young.  People have claimed all kinds of things and most of them are untrue. 

            Again, in verse 23, Jesus tells us to be ready.  Why does Jesus tell us all of this, so that we will be ready.  We will not be surprised when He returns as it says in verses 26-27.  You might recall Jesus used a parable:  The Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13.  Warning:  Do not be like the virgins who would did not bring with them enough oil for the lamps.  Do not be unprepared for Jesus’ return.  Jesus has told all that is going to happen.  I have explained to you in great detail that all the signs are now in place for Jesus to return.  There is nothing stopping Jesus from returning to this earth to take us with Him. 

            Any day could be the Second Advent, so we should be ready at all times.  Do not trust anyone that says Jesus is returning at such and such an hour or to such and such a place.  In verse 32, Jesus says that only the Father knows.  So do not trust these people. 

            Instead, once again in verse 33, Jesus says “Be Ready.”  This is the third time in this chapter that Jesus says to “Be Ready.”  So, what should we do, “Be Ready.” 

Now, this does not mean that we are to just sit in our lazy boys and do nothing.  Look what Jesus says in verse 34, “each with his assigned task.” All of us have been given jobs by Jesus to that we need to be at work in.  We are not to simply rest on our laurels.  Paul describes some of those tasks in 1 Corinthians 12:27-28. 

Jesus goes on to say in verses 35-37 that we do not know when He is going to return, so that we should be working on the tasks that He has given us.  I believe that we can lose our salvation if we are not careful.  Paul says in Philippians 2:12-13.  I do not believe in the theology of once saved, always saved.  I believe that we need to continue every day to be obedient to God.  It should not matter whether we are with a group of Christians or not, whether we are in church or not or whether we are alone.  What we do in secret will be revealed in the light.  It will be revealed on Judgment Day. 

That should cause us to fear and tremble, but the Good News is that here and now we can confess our sins and receive forgiveness for those sins.  We do this by confessing them to Jesus and asking for His forgiveness.  The Bible tells us in Psalm 103:12 that God will forgive our sins as far as the East is from the West. 

So, as we celebrate that the Christ Child has arrived, we are on constant guard for the arrival of Jesus returning to the Earth.  There is nothing to stop Him or nothing that has to be done for His return.  If we have not already done this or if we need a reminder or refresher, let us use this Advent Season to be prepared for His arrival.   “Be Ready!”  Amen.

December 5, 2023 11:31 am