Jesus is Coming! (Are You Ready?)

Posted on 06/29/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)

Good morning, and welcome to Abundant Living Ministries CyberChurch! It's truly a blessing to be back here with you today. I want to reinforce to you the fact that we're not going anywhere. We are completely dedicated to continuing to minister here in the virtual community. And as we continue to focus on Jesus and to work together as the Body of Christ, we will continue to see God move through us more.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge and welcome our visitors. I hope you'll click the welcome sign in the foyer before you leave, and that you'll stick around after the service so we can get to know you a little better.

A quick announcement, we're considering holding a weekly live praise and worship service every Thursday at 4:00pm Second Life Time (Pacific) here in Second Life, and we want to know if you'll be able join us for worship.

Please take a moment right now to click one of the overhead slides to the right and the left of the stage, and designate whether you will be able to come at that time. That will give us an idea of how well it will work out for everyone.


Let's stand to our feet and welcome the Spirit of the Living God.

Lord God, we welcome you here today. We reach out eagerly for your presence, and for your hand to touch us. We ask you to come have your way here today. Give us a more clear focus upon Jesus, as you continue to change us into his image.

Lord, we want to take just a moment pray for Paulie's friend S.J. We ask that you would lead her and guide her, making her paths straight as she learns to trust in and depend upon you and you alone. We also ask that you would raise up others around her to give her Godly support and to encourage her to walk the path you have set before her.

And Lord we also pray for Phil, who is asking for blessings, for, as he says, a "soul mate," and for the empowerment of your Holy Spirit. We ask that you would bless him as he obeys your voice. We ask that you give him the good desires of his heart as he delights himself in you. And we ask that you pour your Holy Spirit out upon him, filling him to overflowing with your presence, so that he will have the boldness, the power, and the clear direction to serve you and impact the world around him for the Kingdom.

*** other prayer -- listen to the audio to hear ***


Please remain standing, as we worship God with our offerings.

Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the door, and give as the Lord directs you.


Click the pulpit for a notecard, and let's worship God with our songs of praise.

JOYFUL JOYFUL

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
    God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee,
    Op'ning to the sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
    Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
    Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
    Earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
    Center of unbroken praise.

Field and forest, vale and mountain,
    Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
    Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
    Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
    Ocean depth of happy rest!

Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
    All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
    Lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus,
    Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o'er us,
    Brother love binds man to man.

Ever singing, march we onward,
    Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
    In the triumph song of life.


SALVATION BELONGS TO OUR GOD

Salvation belongs to our God
Who sits upon the throne
And unto the lamb
Be praise and glory
Wisdom and thanks
Honor and power and strength

Be to our God
Forever and ever
Be to our God
Forever and ever
Be to our God
Forever and ever, amen

And we the redeemed shall be strong
In purpose, and unity
Declaring aloud
Praise and glory
Wisdom and thanks
Honor and power and strength


HOLY HOLY HOLY

Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy!  All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy!  Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.


I LOVE YOU LORD

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear

*** transition -- listen to the audio to hear ***


The title of today's message is "Jesus is Coming!"

Since the first day Jesus was physically taken up into heaven after bodily rising from the dead, those who follow the risen Savior have been watching and waiting for his return.

Today, prophecy after prophecy is being fulfilled, pointing to the possibility that Jesus could very well return in our lifetime.

But whether he returns today, tomorrow, next week, next year, or centuries from now, these three things are certain:

1. He WILL return.

2. Nobody knows when, and...

3. We must watch and pray, treating each moment of every day as if he will return right now.


Let's take a look at these three things in Scripture.

First, He WILL return. First Thessalonians chapter four, verses sixteen and seventeen say this:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Jesus is coming!

This is a promise, a sure thing. It is echoed through Scripture over and over again. And His Holy Spirit bears witness within us, giving us a hope and a joyous sense of expectancy, looking and watching for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to split open the Eastern skies.

As Revelation 1:7 says,

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

The idea that every system of belief is right and true for the person who believes it, flies in the face of truth. For EVERY eye will see Him, even those who did NOT believe him, and ALL the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.

Jesus is coming. Are you ready?

At the very time Jesus was taken up into heaven, he spoke these words by his angels. We read this in Acts chapter one, beginning with verse four.

Acts 1:4-11

4 And being assembled together with them, He (Jesus) commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me;
5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
  
9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

Jesus is coming. Get ready!


2. Nobody knows when.

In Matthew 24:36, Jesus says, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only."

There have been many false prophets who have claimed to know when Jesus is returning. But Jesus said that NO one knows, not even the angels.

This means that he COULD come back today. We don't know. Jesus said that we can tell the seasons by the signs they bring, and we know that we are in the last days. But if you are waiting until people start walking around with the number 666 on their hands and foreheads before you get serious about actively watching for his return, you just might be too late.

In fact, to those who are doing their own thing thinking they have plenty of time, Jesus says that he will come when they least expect him. Unless you are ready and waiting, that day will come upon you unexpectedly. But if you are ready and waiting for his return, it will be the most glorious day we could ever hope to see in this lifetime!

Jesus is coming!


3. We must watch and pray, treating each moment of every day as if he will return right now.

Let's read the words of Jesus' from Matthew chapters 24 and 25, and ponder how this relates to you and me today.


Matthew chapter 24, beginning with verse 36.

Matthew 24:36-51

36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

You know, in the days before the flood, people didn't believe it would come. To them, Noah was just a religious fanatic. There had never been a flood, and there never would be. Floods didn't exist. Certainly not a world-wide flood.

And today, in the days before the return of the Lord, people don't believe it will come. To them, we are just religious fanatics and the Bible is just a fairy tale. Jesus has never return before. Certainly not a Jesus they believe is dead and gone.

And they will not know until Jesus comes and takes his Bride away.

40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.
42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

We need to be watching. As we read last week, we need to watch that we remain in prayer and in the Spirit, and that we take up the whole armor of God daily; for Jesus is coming!

43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
  
45 "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.
47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.
48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,'
49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,
50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour of which he is not aware,
51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Now this is not talking about a servant of the king and an unbeliever. Rather, this is talking only about a servant. That's you and me, all of us who are followers of Christ and therefore servants of God.

The first one was faithful and wise. He was fulfilling the task his master had given him to do.

Are you fulfilling the calling God has placed upon your life? First and foremost, are you fulfilling the calling he has placed on all our lives to live a life of fellowship with and obedience to him?

If so, you are faithful and wise. And you will be blessed in that day when Jesus comes and finds you doing what he has told you to do.

Or do you think you have plenty of time, saying in your heart, "My master delays in coming"? And are you neglecting your fellowship with God, and neglecting to obey his Word and his voice?

If so, you are referred to in this passage as an evil servant. This says that he will "cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Jesus is coming. Obey his voice!


Next, Jesus gives a few examples that paint us a picture of the day of his return. Let's take a look at these, starting with Matthew chapter 25 and verse one.

Matthew 25

1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,
4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

6 "And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!'
7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'
9 But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!'
12 But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'

13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."


Are you wise or foolish? All ten of them were virgins. All ten of them were invited to the wedding feast. All ten of them slept at night. All ten of them believed that he was coming. The only difference between the wise and the foolish, according to Scripture, is whether they kept their lamps full.

Are you keeping your lamp full? Oil can represent the Holy Spirit. Are you keeping your vessel full of the Holy Spirit, the presence of God, by staying in his Word, watching and praying, and obeying the Word and the voice of God?

If so, you are wise. If not, you are foolish. "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."

And that's the main underlying difference. The wise virgins kept themselves ready, preparing as if he would come at any moment, while the foolish virgins were not prepared, but acted as if they had time, as if, although they knew he would come, they didn't think he would come TONIGHT.

Jesus is coming. Make sure you're ready!

  
14 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.
15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.
16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.
17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.
18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

20 "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.'
21 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'
22 He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.'
23 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'

24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.'

26 "But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.
27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.
28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

29 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.
30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'


Now it's interesting that in our language, the value of what was given to the servants was measured in "talents." But whatever the measure is called, the fact remains that the master had given something to them, something that did not belong to them, and that he would return for it some day.

We also see that he gave to each of them according to their ability.

What has God given you? Perhaps he has given you many gifts and talents. Are you actively investing them and making them grow?

Or perhaps God has given you something you consider quite small and insignificant. And because you think it's too small to be of any value, imbarrasingly small in your eyes, you have burried it.

But when Jesus returns, we will have to give an account for what we did with what he gave us. Maybe he has given you a lot. Maybe he has given you a little. But whatever he's given you, it isn't yours, but his.

If you do something with it, it will grow, and he will reward you when he comes.

If you do nothing with it, it will be hidden, and you will be judged when he comes.

You see, it's not about you. It's not about me. It's not even about our gifts, talents, and abilities. Rather, it's all about Jesus. And whatever he has given you, big or small, use it for his glory! And it will grow. And no matter how insignificant you think it is, as long as you have put it to use, he will reward you when he comes.


31 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'

37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
40 And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'

44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?'
45 Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."


Do we pretend we don't see those in need around us? Do we make excuses to pass them by? Or do we, who have food and clothing and other blessings from God, share with those who are in need?

While it's most certainly possible for us to blur the line between wise assistance and being run over and slowly destroyed, I think most of us tend to go too far in the other direction. I know I do.

So pray for wisdom, give a hand up when possible instead of just a hand out. But above all, remember that whatever you do or don't do unto others, you do or don't do unto Jesus. And walking or not walking in his footsteps of a servant, according to this Scripture, has eternal consequenses.

But if we acknowledge the needs of those who are hungry, thirsty, lonely, strangers to us, are in rags, are sick, are in prison, and are without a place to live, and if we do what we can, sacrificing a little of our self-indulgence to meet their needs, then we too will hear the words of Jesus saying,

"Well done! I was hungry, and you fed me! I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink! I was naked, and you clothed me! I was a stranger, and you invited me in! I was sick, and you ministered unto me! I was in prison and you visited me! Enter into the joy of your Lord!"


The ministry team can come to the front now.


So from these three examples Jesus gave, we can learn these three main lessons:

1. We must stay ready, keeping our vessels full of oil, being fully prepared should he come before our very next breath.

2. We must use that with which God has entrusted us, no matter how small and insignificant we might think it is, being ready to give an account and give back to him something that we have made to grow by our actively investing it into the Kingdom. and

3. We must do our part to help those around us, ministering to their needs, and treating them as though we are seeing Jesus face to face.


Jesus is coming! Are you ready?

This altar is open. If you've been lacking in any of these areas, you're invited to come dedicate those areas of your life to God. Just step out of your seat and come to the front, and spend some time with God.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you can know today that you are right with God. Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice and open up to me, I will come into him, and we will have a great feast." Just open up to Jesus today. Let go of whatever is keeping that door shut, and just surrender to him today. And he will come into your heart, and make you a brand new creation, freeing you from and forgiving you for your sin and raising you to walk in newness of life.

If you would like someone to pray or talk with you, please instant message someone on the ministry team.

If you need to go, you're free to do so, and we ask that any conversations be held outside.

Otherwise, let's gather at the altar and seek after God together.