Twenty-seven percent. Only twenty-seven percent of Christians believe that Jesus can return any moment between now and [the year] 2050 (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2010/07/14/jesus-christs-return-to-earth/). That means 73% of Christians feel that Jesus will not return for another 40 years (or longer)! So, let’s put that another way: according to those percentages, it would mean three out of every four you feel Jesus is not returning anytime soon, which sounds odd as you listen our reading from Mark 13:32-37:
[Jesus says:] “No one knows about that day or hour, 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 his 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!’”
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, and yet, seventy-three percent of Christians apparently have pinpointed when Jesus will return. They have done what Jesus says no one can do. I know, that 73% of Christians did not determine the precise day and hour of his arrival. Yet, by feeling Jesus will not return until after [the year] 2050, three out of every four Christians have just claimed: “Jesus is not coming soon. There is still time.”
Feeling there is still time between your life “now” and Jesus’ return may sound like you still have an opportunity to deal with spiritual matters at a more convenient time. Yet, feeling there still time between your life “now” and Jesus’ return can actually leave you unprepared to meet him. That’s why Jesus sounds the warning: Keep Watch for the Savior’s Coming! Remain alert and Remain active.
You have every reason to remain alert. Before Jesus enters heaven, he tells you what to expect before he returns to earth. He gives signs that point to the end of this world (Matthew 24:3). “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars… Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places… [Y]ou will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” (24:6-12).
You see those signs happening, don’t you? The media reports wars erupting in the Middle East. Civil wars break out in Libya, Syria, and Zimbabwe. You constantly hear rumors of war with North Korea. Famines rip through Africa. Earthquakes level cities in Mexico, Haiti, Indonesia, India— all over the world. Cold-hearted murderers show no love for life; they barge into churches, gun down concert-goers, and transform schools from a place of safety to a place of concern. False prophets still exist; pastors (that is, people who look and appear honest) stand up in church buildings (places that look like your church— with Bibles and songs and seats) and [they] openly announce that the Bible is full of errors. They share teachings on forgiveness, sexuality, or money that openly contradict what God so clearly says. Wickedness is increasing. What was once considered “wrong” is now praised as “right,” and what was once considered “right” is now condemned as “wrong.” Children disrespect parents, teachers, and authority-figures. Parents neglect children, argue with police officers and teachers, and refuse to care for those in need. Masses are not just leaving worship, but are leaving their faith in Jesus as Savior behind.
Are you paying attention to these signs? These “signs of the end” are not just entertaining fun-facts meant to settle your curiosity; each individual sign powerfully preaches: Jesus is coming soon! (Luke 21:28)
These signs are the reason why you Keep Watch for Your Savior’s Coming. You have the ability to remain alert because as you watch the signs unfold, you know Jesus will follow them!
Or, does this all sound like something you have heard before? After all, these signs are nothing new, right? Wars and earthquakes and famines and persecution and hate and violence and unbelief have been going on ever since Jesus walked on the earth. (Maybe you can remember connecting these signs with other wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes, acts of lovelessness, and people staying away from worship.)
When you hear the same warning repeated so often, you begin doubting the seriousness of the warning. At first, you expect something significant to happen soon, but if nothing happens, then you start believing that the warning is not really all that serious. That’s why 73% of Christians do not feel Jesus will return anytime soon. Many watch these signs of the end, but do not see Jesus coming down from heaven. And if Jesus is not coming down from heaven, then his arrival must not be too serious. And if he is all too serious about returning, then you do not need to seriously consider how you stand before God. “There’s still time,” is the thought.
And if there is still time between your life “now” and Jesus’ arrival, then it feels that you still have an opportunity to deal with spiritual matters at a more convenient time. The Master leaves and stays away for a while; the servants realize he’s not returning soon and so they ignore the command to work. (1) You feel there will always be a later time to turn from sin and so (2) the sins God hates no longer bother you.
You fall into spiritual slumber. You start drifting from what you were taught: you cannot remember the Bible stories of creation, the Flood, or Jesus’ Passion; you have forgotten those accounts and are content to have a gap in knowledge. Yet, that gap does not stop there. Soon, you stop listening to the other parts of Scripture. You disrespect your God-appointed authorities; you argue with your parents (because you don’t get your way). You challenge your God-given Pastor/Shepherd because you do not want to hear God’s instructions expose your wrong behavior. The more you stay out of the Word, the more you focus on yourself; you live in ways that serve you, that make you feel happy, that will benefit you most. And so, your love grows cold. You gossip and cut down. You no longer offer to help others; instead you make excuses as to how other are taking advantage of you. You accuse and criticize. No longer do you check what your heart believes. Rather, you grow content behaving in whatever way makes you feel happy at the moment. You become perfectly content to let your heart fall into a deep spiritual sleep.
My friends, If [Jesus] comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping-- because when Jesus arrives, it will be too late to wake up.
That’s why Jesus sounds the warning. He wants you to prepare for his coming. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. Who does not know when that time will come? You. You do not have the privilege to put off spiritual matters for another day because you do not know if you will have another day to deal with them. So, Keep Watching for the Savior’s Coming!
Remain alert because Jesus has given you the ability to remain alert. When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, born for you (Galatians 4:4-5). For you— that is, Jesus lives constantly aware and alert that earth is not your forever-home. He lives constantly aware and alert of making heaven your eternal home. His alertness means that he keeps God’s Word central in his life. He worships. His words and actions fall in line with what God calls “right.”
When the time had come, he allows himself to be betrayed, arrested, sentenced, and crucified. And on the cross, he makes heaven a reality. His life is used to open heaven. He leaves the tomb to show you that there is life after death. He enters heaven to prepare a place for you. Then he makes a final promise: I will come back for you (John 14:3).
Keep Watch for Your Coming Savior! Remain alert because Jesus has done everything necessary to set up eternal life for you. Through his Word, he focuses your heart to see him reign as your forgiving King. Since you know what is coming, you can Remain active.
If you live in Florida and hear reports of a hurricane barreling towards your house within the next three days, what would you do? Sleep?... Sit around?... Wait until day three to finally prepare your house for the hurricane? No! You breathe a sigh of relief that you still have three days to get everything done that you needs to get done. In the same way, God tells you want is coming so that you may remain active now and prepare for his arrival now!
In verse 35 Jesus says: 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. You do not know when Jesus will return, but there is something you do know: Jesus will come back. Instead of using that knowledge as an excuse to grow spiritually lazy, use that knowledge to remain active. Put another way, instead of saying: “Great! Another day to not care about how I live my life!” Let your thinking be: “Great! Another day for me to let the love of God dwell in me and through me!”
Remain active in your watching by making God’s Word a priority in your life. It will always feel like you do not have enough time to worship Sunday mornings or read your devotions at home or even pray. During the Christmas season, there’s parties, activities, friends, family, Christmas lights and presents—all good things that you get to enjoy during the season. Yet, remember that on Christmas Day, you get to say “Thank you” to God for giving the gift of eternal life through Jesus. What a reason to make God a priority during a busy season.
When you set aside time and make sure nothing steals that time away, you will find that you do have opportunities to worship, have devotions, and pray. When you set aside ten minutes in the morning or before bed, you will discover that you suddenly have time to read a chapter of the Bible or a devotion from the Meditations booklet. When you keep Sunday worship times open in your schedule, you will discover that you have time to worship (and still have time for other family activities). Remain active in Watching for Your Coming Savior!
Do not merely make hearing the Word a priority, but keep its teachings a priority in your life. As you hear the Word, consider what areas of your life to which it applies. Let the Word set your heart at rest as you trust God. Let the Word shape the words that come out of your mouth. Let the selfless love of Jesus transform your thoughts into selfless giving. Remain active in Watching for Your Coming Savior as you let the Word sink into your head and heart
Because No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son. Since you do not know when Jesus will return, it means that today is the day to get your heart ready to meet him. Today is the day to remain spiritually alert and active! Today is the day to Keep Watch for the Savior’s Coming! Remain alert and Remain active.
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