CHRIST SAYS WATCH AND BE READY

The disciples ask Jesus about the destruction of the temple and Israel’s defeat. Jesus paints a picture of hardship, confusion and waiting. He then goes on to tell them what will happen in the end times. It appears most people on earth seem complacent while the end is getting nearer. Most live each day as if there will never be an end. Many do not even know what to expect.

Mark 13:24 – 31 – “But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Scripture tells us that when it seems that things can’t possibly get any worse, they will. Heaven and earth will be completely changed. There will be a sunset but the sun will not come up the following day. The earth will be so dark that the return of Jesus will be seen by all. He tells us the entire universe will be changed. In Revelation John said there would be a great earthquake, the sun will turn black, the whole moon will turn blood red and the stars in the sky will fall to earth. The sky will be rolled back like drawing a huge curtain.

The normal reaction will be one of terrifying fear. However, Christians should be confident waiting for Jesus to bring justice and restoring direction to the world. Everyone will see His return as He comes to defeat Satan and judge all people as He sets up His kingdom in a new and restored earth. All Christians will be brought together and none will be lost. The hope of Christians will be fulfilled.

We are told to learn the lesson from the fig tree. When the leaves come out it will be a sign that the end is near. Theologians believe that the fig tree represents the nation of Israel. For over 1800 years they were without a homeland. They were scattered all over the world. In May 1948, Israel was established as a nation and Jews have been returning to their home land ever since. This generation will not pass away until Christ’s prophecy is fulfilled.

Mark 13:32 – 37 – “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch’”.

Jesus was teaching that no one, not even He, knew when His coming would happen. We will not know by science or Scripture but we must be prepared. We do know that His second coming will occur quickly and all of a sudden. There will not be any time for repentance or asking for forgiveness. The choice that we have previously made, concerning salvation, will determine our destiny. We must ask ourselves: Are we prepared and living a holy life?

God tells us He has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can have a nature like Christ. Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly and fulfilling. However, the world does not have lives that are fulfilling nor do they have an abundant life. A person can have a habit that controls him/her so completely that they cannot break it. An addiction or careless living can so dominate them that they are powerless to break from it. An individual can love and hate sin at the same time. Meaning, a sinner can lose the power to do what he knows should be done. We can become slaves to habits and sinful pleasures that have total control over us. If this fits you, Scripture is saying you had better repent and change who you are. You are allowing your carnal nature—the old man, direct your life. You will rarely change without yielding to the Holy Spirit. Your conduct, being controlled by sin, could eject you from the family of God. However, if you are expecting Christ to return you are told to watch and be prepared.

Romans 7:15 & 16 – “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.”

This sounds like a cry from a person desperately struggling against sin or trying to keep rules in order to please God without the Holy Spirit’s help. Paul lets us know that we have two natures: The old man and the new man. One delights in pleasing God and the other wages war against God’s commands.

Romans 8:1 – 4 – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Christians who are trying to please God on their own strength probably have not surrendered and are struggling to meet the demands of the law and measure up to God’s standards. We know God promises there will be no eternal punishment to those who have committed themselves to Christ and do not allow their self-centered natures to control their lives. They follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Paul is telling us that the Holy Spirit liberates us from having to face life on our own. What the law was asking for, we could not fulfill on our own. Normally, we cannot change who we are but the Holy Spirit can.

Self-gratification will overpower the sinful nature of man. We on our own are too weak to resist. We have learned spiritual maturity is not instant gratification. The harder it is to submit totally to our self-centered desires to control our lives, the longer it will take to reach maturity in the Spirit.

Once we have learned we cannot live a holy life on our own. We must constantly be preparing for the return of Jesus Christ and being ready. Complacency and having not received the Holy Spirit can cause separation from God through eternity.

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