Are you ready?


                “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you unexpectedly.  For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21: 34-36.)


                Jesus gave his followers a warning to be ready for his return (second coming.)  The focus was to remain on him and on the future kingdom.  He recognized that human beings tended to get distracted, and he addressed those distractions here.  He had commanded his followers to give their excess wealth away; to refrain from sexual immorality; to desire being servants rather than masters; to deny their own wants, needs, and desires, and to place others ahead of themselves.  To follow these commands sounded like non-sense to those who did not believe in a future eternity with God.  Whenever a person loses site of the eternal, they inevitably begin to live for themselves; they desire wealth, material possessions, beauty, and control; they indulge in their own wants and desires, often without restriction (they lay down the future to take hold of the present; whereas believers set aside present distraction for their future hope.)  Jesus identified three symptoms of a distracted follower; first, carousing: which is identified as the habitual use of alcohol (excessively celebrating every night of the week.)  A second symptom of distraction is drunkenness: which is alcohol consumption in excess (the typical Jewish wine was a mixture of 4 cups of water with one cup of wine; hard to get drunk from this type of combination, unlike today where it is commonly 4 parts liquor to no part of anything else.)  A third distraction would be the ‘cares of this life:’ these cares are anything that distracts a person from focusing on the life to come; which could include money, alcohol, house, cars, kids, career, health, beauty, children’s education, 401 k plans, recreation, a woman or a man, a home, free time, etc.  These distractions cause a person to not be prepared for the return of the Lord.  He likens the day of his return to a snare (a snare is a hidden trap that catches unsuspecting prey in the wilderness.)  That day is completely hidden, and many people who aren’t prepared will be caught by surprise and destroyed by it.  Jesus is warning us that each day we should be expecting him to return, and behaving accordingly.  Distractions can be very deadly.

                Text messaging is a relatively new term in the American language; it is usually used in describing communication between people, and is often described positively.  But recently, text messaging has been associated with tragedy.  All over the country people are more regularly text messaging while driving motor vehicles.  The results have been disastrous.  One case involved a very prominent plastic surgeon who was apparently text messaging when he drove off of a cliff and tumbled to his death.  You might ask, “What could have been so important that it was worth dying over?”  Sadly, Dr. Frank Ryan was twittering a message about his dog that was with him in the car when he drove off the cliff; he died and his dog was badly injured.  Dr. Ryan set out on a journey, but got distracted, and as a result he never reached his destination.  So many people who believe in Jesus Christ start out on a journey toward an eternal destination, but never make it, because they get distracted by some meaningless worldly pleasure or concern.  Something that seems so harmless can lead to destruction; something meaningless can rob a person of an eternity with God.  This doctor was not thinking that death would arrive at his doorstep when he was eating breakfast; he never thought that would be his final car ride; he didn’t wake up in the morning and savor the sunrise knowing it would be his last.  Yet, death came for him quickly, and without sounding an alarm.  Jesus as well, will come for each of us in like manner.

                Today, are you expecting Jesus to return, or are we expecting him to come at time that is more convenient for you?  Are you focusing on the cares of this world?  Have you allowed distractions to take your eyes off of Christ?  How can you keep your eyes on Jesus and not get distracted?  Firstly, the word of God is a road map that helps you to continue heading in the right direction.  Reading the bible daily is essential for reaching your destination.  Praying is another tool that allows god to guide and direct your life.  There are so many opportunities to pray; in the shower, in the car while driving (eyes open please); silently while in line at the grocery store; perhaps while you are on a nightly walk.  The key is, to connect with God in your heart.  Also, fellowshipping with other believers is essential, as is ministering to the non-believers.  You can talk to others about your faith, and you needn’t be ashamed of the God you call your own.  Also, any time that you do what God has commanded, you are moving forward and keeping your eyes on the eternal things in life; giving money to those in need; listening to someone without talking; showing love to a stranger; visiting the sick; returning grocery carts; picking trash up off of the ground when we see it; smiling at people; complimenting others when you see them doing something worthy of praise; sharing scripture with others, etc.  There are so many possible ways to do Christ’s will, but they are all acts of love.  The best way to not do the wrong thing is to continually being the right thing.  Give your whole life to the Lord, make him the central figure in your heart and life, and on the day that he returns, you will not be surprised, or frightened; but rather you will be filled with joy at the knowledge that an eternity with Jesus Christ awaits you.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and lift You up; You are worthy of praise and honor and glory.  Father we ask that You would please remove the distractions from our lives, and help us to focus on the return of Your Son.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit speak to us and give us conviction and knowledge of Your will for us; give us also opportunities to serve You and to serve others.  Help us to recognize moments when we can connect with You Father.  May we always be ready Lord for the conclusion of Your plan, and for the life to come.  We love You Father, we love You Lord, and we love You Holy Spirit, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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