by Mike Ratliff
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, ? but the Father only. 37 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.” (Matthew 24:36-42 ESV)
Jesus own words from the Gospels tell us that the time of His second coming will be as it was in the day of Noah. What was that like? People were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage right up to the time Noah entered the ark. They were unaware of their coming judgment until the flood came and swept them away. People were going about their normal business of making a living, doing the best they can, just like now. Jesus also tells us that no one knows when He is coming back, therefore we are to stay awake.
34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36 ESV)
I debated whether to title this post “Watch Yourselves,” but that sounded innocuous to me. Therefore, I opted for “No One Knows that Day and Hour.” Since we don’t know when Jesus is coming back what are we to do? We are stay awake, watch ourselves that we do not become weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life. Dissipation is carousing or partying. If we look at what Christians are called to live like and compare it with this list what do we learn? Aren’t we called to be separate from the world? Doesn’t that mean that we are not to have the world’s values? We are supposed to put God first in all things, deny ourselves and take up our crosses and follow our Lord. Christians who are not doing this are, instead, not following after Jesus, but are conforming themselves to this world. We have looked at this a great deal my brethren. What happens to Christians who are bound to the flesh? Aren’t they spiritually blind? Their hearts are calloused or hard towards God. Their hearts cannot discern anything spiritual to any fine degree. Instead they only have a faint sense of God’s values, His voice of admonition is not well perceived. They rarely experience the Joy of the Lord. Little fruit is produced in them. They are most definitely not “Watching Themselves.” They are not ready for the Lord’s return.
On the other hand, those who have committed themselves to following hard after God are becoming transformed by the renewing of their minds. They are living sacrifices whose hearts are tender towards God. There is no callous layer on their hearts because they obey their Lord as they hear His voice and follow Him. These believers are Watching Themselves. They are building on the rock while the fleshly believer builds on the sand. When Jesus does return, and He will, those who have built upon the rock will be ready. Those who have built on the sand will be…
Jesus told us to be as wise as serpents, but as harmless as doves. That is why it so difficult to deal with professing believers who are obnoxious, mean, hateful, judgmental, all while refusing to listen. Yes, we are to be wise and discerning. We are to tell the truth to those in error, but we are to do so in love. Our motivation to them must be one of correction, healing and restoration. At the same time, we are to seek personal holiness.
Those who “Watch Themselves” so that they will be ready when Jesus returns do so by becoming all God wills for them to be. That means that they do not build empires here on earth. They don’t become wealthy by treating their ministry as if it was a business venture. If they are shepherds, they don’t abandon the flock given into their care by the Lord. They don’t trade that flock in for one of their making. Instead, they pastor their flock. They lead them, teach them, disciple them, correct them, pray with them, laugh with them, cry with them, hurt with them, and serve them as Jesus served those who followed Him. Oh, to be found doing what the Lord has given us to do when He comes! Think of it! At the moment of His return, would we rather be found building our own kingdom, or found to be obediently doing His will?
32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning— 36lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13:32-36 ESV)
Christians are supposed to be continually on the alert. This means that we are live our lives as if Jesus could return at any moment. Our motivation is that we must not dare become complacent and self-absorbed. The problem for the vast majority of professing Christians is that they are in churches that never teach them that they are commanded to be holy, penitent, and obedient to their Lord. Instead, their Sundays are filled with entertainment and teachings on how to have their best life now. We are not to seek these things. Instead, we are to seek personal holiness by having a prayer filled life that is grounded in the Word of God. From this “mind renewal” we are transformed from our old self to a chosen vessel by our Lord. We are simply the clay, our Lord is the potter. As a result, our lives here and now may be full of pain and trouble, or not. However, those circumstances are in the Lord’s hands. Those who find victory here may never leave the fire in this life, but instead, find genuine humility in their submission to His will by His grace.
I have no idea when Jesus will return, but I am positive that He is going to return. In the meantime we must be obediently doing what we are called to do. Those who are using their ministries for their own gain must repent and return to their calling of service and genuine ministry. If they don’t then I think they will stand before their Lord ashamed at the Judgment Seat. That is something I don’t think any of us want.
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