Thursday, February 25, 2021

Matthew 25 - Part 2


Read Matthew 25

Read Matthew 25:14-30

God numbers every hair on your head.  Some of us are making his job easy.  Some try to camouflage those hairs with dye and highlights, but he knows every detail about you.

Some of you might put your hair in a man-bun.  That might not be my preference, but God can still count what’s on your head.

It’s not about your hair.  It’s about the fact that God knows you.  He knew you before you were born, and as we contemplate this parable, consider, he knows your abilities.  He knows what you can do.

Between a parable that tells us to be ready and one that reminds us to be known by our love, we find the Parable of the Talents.

In this parable that we should calibrate our minds to think of the end of the age, one servant gets 5 talents of money.  Another gets 2 talents and yet another gets 1 talent.  The master in the parable gave each servant—trusted each servant—in accordance with his abilities.

The servant given 1 talent was not overwhelmed by what to do with 5 talents.  His master knew if this servant put his abilities to work then he could put the money trusted to him to work as well.

Perhaps the 1 talent servant’s abilities would peak a putting the money into a 1-year CD.  He wouldn’t want to tie up his master’s money for too long.  The Master was shrewd.  When he came back, he would probably want to take his money and his interest and invest it in something with higher risk and higher reward, so the 7-year CD would be out.

But a 1-year CD would give his master some return on his investment.  If the master was not back after a year, this servant could put the money into another 1-year CD or into a money market account.  There would be no risk and the return would be low, but it would be something.

This servant had the ability to do this.  It took more time and effort to bury the talent in the ground than it would to put it in the bank.  If he buried it in the ground, he had to check it frequently to see that it was secure.  He would be anxious about having to protect his master’s money.

This servant took a risk, but the risk offered no reward.  The best he could hope to accomplish was not to lose the money.  His master knew he could do better, even if it was just a little interest.

The master also knew that the servants to whom he gave 5 and 2 talents would not be challenged to use their abilities with only 1 talent.  The master knew what they could do, which surely involved investments with greater risk and the potential for greater reward.

A century ago, author John Shedd penned these words.

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

It has been reworded a few times and used by the likes of Albert Einstein and Admiral Grace Hopper and surely others, but it speaks to us living out the fulness of our abilities.  There is risk in life, but some see the risk as part of the challenge and others fear it.

Our Master knows what we can do.  He provisions us in accordance with our abilities.  When we shy away from using our abilities for his purposes, we should experience dissonance.  There should be internal conflict.  Our hearts and minds should wrestle with our choices.

Over time, we can become numb to not using our God-given abilities.  We convince ourselves that it’s not for the best.  We talk ourselves out of producing fruit for our Master and for the body of Christ.  We bury our talents in the ground and frustrate ourselves in the process, but we can grow comfortable with not using our talents.

When we trust in the Lord with all of our heart and our Master trusts us with something, we take that something—whatever it is—and put it to work at once.

There is no hesitation.  There is no delay.  There is no doubt.  We do not act in haste.  We act out of preparation.  We are ready for our Master to trust us with what is next. 

In so doing, we come to know abundant life.   

Consider the readiness of the first two servants to make their reports when the master returned.  Look.  See what I have done with what you gave me.

These first two servants looked forward to their master’s return. They wanted him to see how well they had done not only with their master’s money but with his trust.

They faced risk but they produced reward.  They might have considered burying the talents in the ground, but they had abilities that they knew would produce more.  Fear did not govern their choices.  The love of their master compelled them to do the best they could with what he had given them.

Their reward was that they would get promoted.  They would be given greater charge and responsibility.  Surely there is some status with that, but these things were secondary to the real reward.

Come and share your master’s happiness.

The master who they so longed to please wanted to them to know the joy that he knew.  For all of the things that the third servant saw in the master that led him to act in fear, the thing that he missed was that the master loved his servants.

He wanted the best for them.  He wanted them to realize their potential.  He wanted them to know the happiness that he knew.

You can’t get there just waiting for the master to return.  You have to use what he gave you. Put it to work right now.

We must use what our Master gave us.  We must put it to work at once.  We are called to produce a return on investment.  Elsewhere we might call this fruit.  We are to produce good fruit for our Master.

In the previous chapter and the first parable of this chapter we find counsel about being ready for the return of the Lord.  How are we to be ready?

Producing good fruit for the body of Christ and bringing glory to God in what we do gives us a good start.

I can’t get through a message on this parable without asking the question that is never stated but ever so obvious.  I will put it in our context.

What did you do with what God gave you?

What did we do with what God gave us?

Some do not want to ask and surely do not want to answer this question.  We know that we all have some talents that we buried in the ground.

Some are afraid of burnout.  If I keep using the gifts that God gave me, someday I will burn out.  It will be too much.

You will not burnout putting the gifts of God to work to produce a return for him unless you start comparing your return to that of others.

Thinking that you are producing more than others, produces conceit and self-righteousness in us.

Thinking that you are not producing enough, brings shame and guilt and they were never invited into our lives by our Master.

Remember that each servant was given a different amount of money—trusted with a different amount—based on his ability.  The master in the parable didn’t say to the second servant, “Good job, but you are nowhere near the performer of the first servant.”

The servants were not in competition with each other.  If there was a competitive factor it was within themselves.  They wanted to be better than they were before they were trusted with so much by their master. 

The master knew their abilities.  I think he knew what they could do because they were trusted servants.  They had been trusted before and produced a good return.

There is an acronym that I came up with almost 15 years ago.  It is TURN.  Each letter represents a nugget from this parable.

T is for trusted.  These were trusted servants.  The master knew what they could accomplish.  Even the third servant was trusted.  A single talent might have been worth a hundred thousand dollars, probably more in today’s currency.  He was trusted in accordance with his ability.

U is for urgent or urgency.  The first two servants put their master’s money to work at once.  They did not act in haste.  They were prepared to be trusted with more.

Do you ever wonder how major military operations take place in a very short time?  The logistics to bring forces to bear on the other side of the world takes planning.  Plans are revised on the move and on the ground, but planning and preparation are ongoing.

Most of these plans will never be executed, but when you have to be somewhere in overwhelming force and be there now, you don’t huddle up and say, “What should we do?”

You are ready to act confidently with urgency.

R is for Return on Investment (ROI).  The servants knew the master expected a return.  The first two turned this expectation into a mission statement.  The third started preparing his excuses.

N is for No Fear.  All of the servants experienced fear, but the first two would not give it purchase in their minds, their decisions, or their lives.  Purpose nullified fear.  They made their decisions without giving fear time or space in their thinking.

The third servant let his fear govern him.  His battle was lost before it began.

Fear is resident in our human nature.  Fear is the leveraging factor of the world.  Fear can be debilitating if you give it a say in what you do.

Fear must not be a part of our new nature—our Christ nature.  We make our decisions based upon our trust in him, even when we don’t understand where he is leading us.

If you noticed the title, it reads:  Parable of the Talents—2021.  I will add a couple things that might have been controversial in 2020.  Perhaps they still are.

The first is white privilege.  Is it real or perceived or manufactured?  That’s not where I am going.  If you think you have it, do not do what the world says and divest yourself of it.  Put it to work for the Lord immediately.

If we have been given something that gives us privilege or advantage or status in this world, put it to work for our Master and do it right away. If the color of your skin gives you advantage—white, black, brown—then put that trust to work for your Master right now.

Here is one that I came up with—American Privilege.  I believe that it does exist.  You may or may not agree, but I am convinced that it does.  Being an American gives me status that so many in the world don’t have.

While serving with the United Nations in Iraq and Kuwait, I used to take runs through the DMZ.  I had no radio and no uniform markers on my running gear.  My tee-shirt likely said Marines on it somewhere, if I was wearing a shirt. It was usually 100 degrees or more so the shirt often became optional.

One day, I was a few miles from my headquarters running on one of the roads that usually didn’t have any mines on it and I saw a Hummer with a .50 caliber machine gun approaching in the distance from the Kuwaiti side of the DMZ.

The vehicle drove right up on me with the .50 caliber pointing at me.  I said the only Arabic words that made any sense to the locals on either side.

Ana Ameriki.  I am an American.  The Kuwaiti soldiers executed the military maneuver they knew best and retreated.

If I was in uniform, I had the United Nations patch on my right shoulder and the United States flag on my left.  It is common in that part of the world for people to get up in your face when they want to make a point.

Most Americans don’t care for this but I knew that throat punching some local trying to get in my face wouldn’t go over so well.  The way you get someone out of your face is to turn somewhat sideways and let them talk over your shoulder.

If I wanted to put an end to the conversation, they got the left Shoulder and the American flag.

Flying back from Africa the last time, we scheduled a couple days in Rome.  If I was going to fly halfway around the world and preach for two weeks, I was going to see something on the way back. 

There had been a fire in the airport the night before and everything was in disarray.  The customs and immigration line went on forever and we were at the back.  Out of nowhere, an immigration officer came and started calling for those with American passports.  They gathered us up and walked us through immigration.

We only had to show the outside of our passports.  In 5 minutes, we were through the checkpoint.

I have many more examples of American Privilege. I will not divest myself of it but will use it to produce fruit for the Lord.

If you have something extra that was given to you by nature of your skin color or geography or anything else, consider it a gift from your Master and put it to work.

Consider the Apostle Paul.  He was everything Hebrew that he could be.  Circumcised on the eighth day.  From the tribe of Benjamin.  A Pharisee.  He had not only checked all the blocks but excelled in them and he said he counted all of that for loss.

It was only faith in Christ Jesus that matter in his relationship with God.

In Paul’s enumeration of everything that he now counted as worthless—the King James Version would say dung—what was not there?

Paul did not divest himself of his Roman Citizenship.  It had nothing to do with his relationship with God but everything to do with taking the gospel to a godless world. Paul was born a Roman citizen.

His citizenship got him out of beatings and out of prison.  In a single sentence—I appeal to Caesar—Paul’s fourth missionary journey was funded by the Roman Republic.  Now, it was typical government travel with a shipwreck and a snakebite, but Paul leveraged his Roman citizenship to do the Lord’s work.

Paul divested himself of the baggage that got in the way of his relationship with God and he leveraged the advantages of his birth to produce good fruit for God.

Whatever you have been given that gives you privilege, status, or other advantage in this world, use it to produce good fruit for the body of Christ and your Master.

You have been trusted with what you are given.  Image the first servant telling his master, “No thanks to the 5 talents.”

Act with urgency.  Do not hesitate.  Do not delay.

Produce a real return on your Master’s investment.

Kick fear to the curb.  Do not let it debilitate you as you live out your God-given purpose.

Let us not throw a pity party because we don’t think we have been given much and let us not divest ourselves of what we have been given because the Father of Lies is trying to seduce us to do so.

This message will conclude as many before it.  I love the Parable of the Talents.  It is so rich.  So here is the question never asked but answered by all three servants.

What did you do with what I gave you?

Here it is for us.

What did you do with what God gave you?

And here it is in the first person—something to chew on this week.

What did I do with what God gave me?


Matthew 25 - Part 3


Read Matthew 25

Read Matthew 25:31-46

This sounds like it could be Jesus coming to set up his millennial reign but the fact that he is coming with angels and not a huge host of redeemed saints indicates more strongly that this is the end of the age.

It seems that he is saint-sorting in this parable.  Some to the right and some to the left.  He uses sheep and goats as a parallel for sorting purposes.  There is nothing intrinsically good about a sheep or bad about a goat, but it is sorting the people could understand.

Do you remember the words come and share your master’s happiness from the previous parable? That happiness comes with an inheritance for those made right by the blood of Jesus and who followed Jesus as their Lord.

Those who have followed Jesus as Lord will ask, what did we do to deserve this blessing?

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

The rest—the goats in this parable—are sent away to eternal darkness.  They ask, but why?  What did we do?

 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

The parable ends with this statement that again makes us think of that final judgment.

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

So, whether this happens at the catching up or sometime later, we need to know that it will be the life we lived now that will be judged.

Did we receive Christ as not only Savior but as Lord?

Did we live as his disciple?

Were we known as his disciple by our love?

We can wrestle with the timing but not with what is at stake.  Are we known by our love?  Have we professed Jesus as Lord, have we taken his yoke, are we known by our love?

Timing is up for discussion.  Living with Jesus as our Lord is an eternal decision.


Matthew 25 - Part 1


Read Matthew 25

Long ago and far away, I used to fly from Orlando, Florida to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on a regular basis.  Nothing outside of North Carolina goes to the Albert J. Ellis Airport that services Camp Lejeune with it’s one or two flights every day.

The pilots that serviced that airport always chuckled when they started to taxi, “Looks like we are first in line for takeoff.”  Of course, we were first in line.  We were the only aircraft in line. 

All of that to bring us to this point.  I spent a lot of time in the airport in Charlotte.  My layovers were longer than both of my flights. I always flew in civies.  I didn’t care to get my service uniform splashed as the drink cart went by.

One day In Charlotte Douglas Airport, I was at the food court getting lunch when one of the girls behind the counter said, “You work here right?”

I said, “No, I just spend a lot of time here between flights.”

She said, “That’s OK.  It’s like you work here so we will give you the employee discount.”

It’s nice when they know you. It’s like being Norm on Cheers.  It’s nice when everybody knows your name.

The parable begins At that time  What time?

What preceded was the short course on eschatology.  What time?  It’s the end of the age and this is a parable, so Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to 10 girls waiting on the wedding party to come. Weddings were big deals. 

They did not take place at an exact time.  Waiting was involved and we are told that the bridegroom was a long time in coming.  These girls were waiting well into the night.  It was midnight before anything started to happen.

And the cry came that the bridegroom was on the way.  The girls awoke and trimmed the wicks but 5 of them had run out of oil.  The other 5 brought oil enough for the entire night.

The unprepared asked for oil from those who came prepared.  They said no.  That seems mean but we should consider the first words of this parable:  At that time.  What time?  It’s the end of the age.

The end of the age will be a come as you are affair.  You knew to be ready.  You either were or were not.

All the way up to this point, there had been plenty of time to get more oil, or if we see that this is about more than oil, then there was plenty of time to get ready for the coming of our Lord.

Those who had oil trimmed their wicks and their light shone brightly.  The others saw their light going out and there was nothing they could do about it.  Sure, they could leave to buy more oil, but they had waited too long.

They waited too long.  They were only prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival if it was convenient.   We might say their seed did not take root in good soil. 

What did I ask you to take home last week?

Do not be alarmed.

Do not be deceived.

Be ready.

The girls who ran out of oil were not ready.  They had been deceived—by their own thoughts and human nature—that they would not need to be ready for more that a few hours.  Now they were alarmed.

What could they do?

They went to get more oil but we know how that came out.  There were no timeouts here to get resupplied.   

There is something that is not written here but relates to the previous chapter.  How do you think the 5 who ran out of oil thought about those who were ready?

I am sure that they hated them.  If there had been more time, they might have persecuted those who came with extra oil, but the time for the bridegroom’s arrival had come.  Time to persecute those who were ready had come to an end.

The 5 who needed oil did make a desperate attempt to refuel.

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

For those who believe, think of being persecuted.  You are hated.  You might be physically abused.  You might get nailed to a cross.  You might be separated from your family. Your possessions might be stripped from you.  You might be strapped to a chair and forced to watch The View. You might be imprisoned, and in these days of persecution don’t expect prison to be the luxury housing facilities that we see today in this country.

Those seem harsh and they are but here is something worse.  It is to hear your Master say, I don’t know you.

I don’t know you.

But I have 2 forms of ID.

They let me cash a check anywhere I go.

I can rent a car or book a flight or buy stuff with one click.

The world knows me!  The whole world knows me. Nobody has to ask me, what’s in my wallet?

I am connected to this world in so many ways.  I have 4500 Facebook friends and 1200 Linked In connections. I have premier status on 3 airlines.  I know everybody.  Everybody knows me.

But, does your Master know you?

Are you ready for his return?

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Which brings us to the United States Coast Guard for your weekly nugget to chew on.  What is the motto of the Coast Guard?

Semper Paratus

It means always ready.

We are charged to be always ready for the return of our Lord.  Be ready.


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Matthew 24 - Part 7


Read Matthew 24

Jesus had bested the Pharisees and silenced the Sadducees and then went into an extended monologue chastising the religious hypocrites who should have been shepherding God’s Chosen People but who were spiritually blind and manipulated God’s directives to their own liking.

Then Jesus left the temple but the disciples sought his comments on the structures.  They were surely magnificent.  If Jesus was the Christ—if he was there before Abraham—then surely he had seen Solomon’s Temple as well.  He must have something to say about this temple made to glorify his Father.

Maybe he could do a compare and contrast paragraph or two for them.

Jesus did not admire the structures.  It was if he was indifferent to them.  There will come a time where not one stone will be left upon another.  Jesus had chastised the religious hypocrites.  Now he admonished his disciples for their Tower of Babble thinking. 

The disciples had not yet realized that their very bodies were much more valuable temples. Sometimes we get so fixated on structures that we forget relationships. God had previously presented himself in all his glory in a tent in the wilderness. 

The architecture of the temple and its courts was surely something that God’s people had wanted to do to honor God, but the greatest thing that his people would do would be to live in the way that God prescribed.

The greatest thing that we can do is to follow obediently the Spirit of the living God that resides within us. We put the words of our Lord into practice.  That’s the best building ever—the one built on solid rock.

There was nothing wrong with the temple.  Some had defiled it by their practices, but it was a structure build by humankind that would not endure.  Only God and his word will endure.

We are advised to build our lives upon him. He must be the cornerstone of our lives. No one will continue without him.

The disciples asked Jesus a question that prompted an answer that takes up the rest of the chapter.

What will be the sign of your coming at the end of the age?

Realize that in this question is some degree of acceptance that Jesus would go away.  The disciples had not yet wrapped their minds around this sacrificial death that was soon to come.  They seemed surprised at the resurrection even though Jesus had told them that he would rise from the dead, but this simple question indicated some level of acceptance that Jesus would not be with them  in this world all the time.

They do not yet understand the work of the Holy Spirit, but they have an inkling that Jesus will leave this world and come again.  They have some understanding that there will be an end to this age and an age to come.

Jesus began his answer with warnings.  Watch out!  There will be many deceivers.  You will hear rumors and your nature will be to believe that Jesus has come, but do not be alarmed and do not be deceived.

There will be wars and rumors of wars.  Nations and even kingdoms will be pitted against each other.  Famine and earthquakes will seem more and more common.  This is just the beginning of the end of the age.

We seem to think that Jesus will come in our time.  We think that the world could not get any worse.  We could be right or we could be thinking the same thing that disciples did for 2000 years.  Surely, it’s today or this year or this decade.

It’s good to know the signs of the times, but we are not to be alarmed.  We are not to be deceived.  I have witnessed many a credible person of God destroy his or her credibility by proclaiming to know what cannot be known—the day and the hour.

Jesus will not come in stealth mode.  It will be the biggest event in the history of history.  You will know it when he returns so if someone is walking this earth proclaiming to be the Christ, don’t be alarmed and don’t be deceived.

Keep watch. Be ready.

Jesus had described the prologue to the time of distress and tribulation that would come as the beginning of birth pains.  Something more intense was to come.

Think about wars and rumors of war.  Think about earthquakes and famine.  These impact everyone.  What would come would be targeted at believers. It would be more personal.

Jesus noted that his followers would be handed over—that means someone had to seize them first.  They would be persecuted.  That’s a wide-ranging term that could be anything from online bullying to physical attacks to being denied essential provisions and everything in between.

OBTW—and death.

Believers will be hated by all nations because they follow Jesus.

You will be hated by everyone because of Jesus!

This warning is not to be taken sequentially. Persecuted, killed, and hated are not the sequence of events.  Once they kill you, what do you care if they hate you as well?

Jesus gives us a buffet of things that the ungodly will do to his followers in these last days.  And some of the persecutors might claim to be godly for there will be many false prophets to follow, and some will follow them.  We will see this persecution not only from the godless but also from those who claim to be followers of Jesus.

Wickedness will be on the rise. 

Many will turn away from the faith.

The love of most will grow cold. 

That’s some stuff right there.  That’s some stuff that we probably don’t want interfering with our bucket list.  That’s not good stuff, but it will come in the last days.

OBTW—the gospel will be preached to the ends of the earth—to the whole world.  That’s a good thing.  Not everyone will respond in the age of wickedness and hatred, but the commissioned do canvass the entire planet.

It’s going to be an ugly time but the gospel will reach to the ends of the earth.  The work of the church will continue.  The work of the commissioned will continue.  God’s light will shine in the darkness.

And he who stands firm will be saved.

Do you remember the parable of the seeds?  Only the seed that took hold in good soil produced fruit.  Many who claim to follow Jesus will fall away, but he who stands strong to the end will be saved.

What is the message to us?

Stand strong.  Don’t be deceived.  Don’t focus on the storm.  There will be more distractions and trials than you thought possible, but stand strong.

Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and not on the storm of evil and wickedness that covet your attention and faithfulness.

Stand strong to the end.

There are a whole bunch of things that will happen in this world that may or may not signal the last days.  Tribulation is a continual thing.  Pressure and distress are a part of life.  We don’t have to let them control us, but they exist and on a wide scale. 

Jesus said that we would have trouble in the world.

But there will be one thing that will be like nothing else that says these are the last days. 

It is the abomination that causes desolation of which Daniel wrote.  So, what exactly is this abomination?

There is a wide range of discussion on the subject some including that this has already occurred, but let’s see what we might agree upon.

It will be standing.  It could be a person but more than likely an idol, possibly a talking idol or image of some sorts.

It will be dreadful and cause people to flee.  There will not be time to swing by the house, pack a bag, and book a flight. This part might be limited to Judea, but all believers will go immediately to red alert.

It will begin a time of great distress—more than anything that’s ever come before—and nothing this bad will ever come again.  For those among us afflicted by arid humor, you can’t say, “Could be worse.”

It will be more than you can handle but God will not abandon you.  For you—the faithful follower of Christ Jesus—these days will be cut short.

It will be a time of signs and miracles that are not of God.  Deception will reach the high-water mark.  Deception will be so intense that even the very elect will be vulnerable, but God will shorten those days before his true followers are faced with more than they can handle.

It is something of which Jesus warned us would come. 

There is another intelligence indicator in this scripture.  When you see standing in the holy place tells us that the Holy of Holies will be established again.  The scripture does not indicate which side of the curtain the abomination will be placed.  To be seen, it could not be in the Holy of Holies, unless that place was desecrated. 

It could just be that the altar is restored, but that lacks some fidelity to the instructions that God gave.  The Holy of Holies requires a structure.

Does that mean a third temple?  It would seem that way, but we should remember that God did not require a stone structure.  His first temple—tabernacle—place for the Spirit of God to dwell—was a tent. 

So, what do we take away from this section?  Distress and tribulation come and go in our lives and on this planet, but when the abomination that cause desolation is revealed to us, we know the end is near.  We must strengthen ourselves and our families and loved ones to stand strong to the end.

It’s leaving it all on the field in football terms.  It’s the beginning of the fourth quarter.  It will be a time to trust in the Lord and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus like never before.

As you continue to follow Jesus through the trouble and distress that the world holds, you will be hated by so many in this world.  The world will do its best to make your life miserable.

But we are not to be alarmed, not to be deceived, and we are to keep watch—to be ready at all times.

Christ is coming next Tuesday between 1 and 5 pm.  Great, it’s like waiting for the cable guy.  Guess, I will have to be sitting at home the whole time, just to get a call at 6 pm saying he can’t make it until tomorrow.

Christ is coming this Thursday. Let me see…  I think I can work him in just before noon.

Christ is coming late Saturday evening.  Great!  I spent all week preparing my messages, and now won’t even get to deliver them.

These are all tongue-in-cheek.  What would we do if we knew the day and the hour of Christ’s coming? 

Would we test the limits of grace until a month before his coming?  Would we see what we could get away with until a week before his arrival?

Better not cut it too close.  I don’t know if Jesus observes Daylight Saving Time or not.  Wouldn’t want to do a Maxwell Smart with this one.  Missed it by that much.

We may know the season of his coming but not the day nor the hour.  That leaves us a simple dichotomy.  We are ready or we or not. 

Most of the world will just be living their lives like they would any other day.  Some will go to work.  Some will go to Walmart.  Some will go to work at Walmart.

Only the Father in heaven knows the appointed time.  He didn’t share that with Jesus or the Angels, but they are ready to go at the Father’s command.

When Jesus comes with his angels to claim those who love him, some will be ready and others not so much.  The text says one will be taken and the other left.  We typically don’t interpret this as only 50% make the cut, but we should realize that not everyone will have lived in such a way to meet the desire of God’s heart.

Some claimed and gathered up by the angels and some left behind.

We who have proclaimed Jesus as Lord have a single option—be ready.  Keep watch.  Just like you would protect your family even though you don’t know when the intruder might come, so too we protect our family by being ready for the return of the Lord at all times.

Jesus used the analogy of the thief and of a servant left in charge.  The servant has a simple dichotomy.  The servant who takes care of his master’s business while he is away will be justly rewarded.  The one who abuses the trust will be punished.

We don’t know the hour.  We don’t know the day.  We can realize the season and most would agree we are in the season of the Lord’s return.  He is coming soon.  Will that be a week or a year or a century or two?  We don’t know, but we are called to be ready.

So, as we continue into 2021, we expand our parameters to include awareness of the things that come at the end of the age.  We will still  love mercy, be generous towards God, have Christ as the cornerstone in our lives and be ready to learn from him, not relying upon our own understanding.

And we surely want to walk humbly with your God.

When Jesus returns, we will be easy to spot.  We will be living lives of love and mercy and obedience and generosity as we walk humbly with our God, always ready for his return.

So many get fixated on the events that are to come at the end of the age that they forget how they are to live.  People panic.  People look for answers where they know the truth does not abide and people are not ready for the storm ahead.

Not so with you.  You are not to be alarmed.  You are not to be deceived.  You are to keep watch and be ready.