The Future: How to Prepare

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The perspective of age

I’ve been a senior three times in my life: a high school senior, a senior in college, and now in the senior stage of life.

A congregation provided visitors with a card that requested the usual contact information, and also a place to indicate the visitors’ age categories: child, Jr. High, Sr. High, 20-30, 30-40, 40-50, 50+.

Many of us are in that 50+ slot—and have been for quite some time. How should we feel about it?

First, aren’t we grateful that God has allowed us to live this long? So many obituaries I see in the paper are for those who were far younger than I.

Second, don’t we feel an increasing sense of the preciousness of the time remaining? It’s true that the 50+ category may last longer than any of the other age brackets, but we don’t know that it will.

“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).

“. . . you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

Soon it is gone, wrote the Psalmist. Just a vapor, says James.

We speak of longevity, but never shortevity. Perhaps we should.

And third, doesn’t it make good sense to make diligent preparation NOW for what lies beyond? “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

The two stages

The future can be divided into two parts:

Future: Part I is whatever time remains for us in this world.

Future: Part II is eternity.

When we die, Part II begins. Part I is temporary. Part II is forever.

Part II is dependent on Part I. How we spend the first part determines how we spend the second (Romans 2:1-11; 2 Corinthians 5:10). We have a choice.

Satan seeks to distract us with the “worries and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). God calls us to raise our sights and make wise choices (Colossians 3:1-2).

“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17).

What does it mean to do God’s will?

It means trusting and obeying the Son He sent to be our Savior (John 8:24; 11:25-26; Hebrews 5:8-9).

It means turning from doing our own will to doing His (Acts 17:30-31).

It means being united with Christ in baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Galatians 3:27).

It means remaining faithful to the end (Hebrews 3:6. 14; 10:35-39; 12:1-3).

“. . . so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).

“. . . the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17).

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“Then What Shall I Do with Jesus?”

His question/Their answer

The governor was in a dilemma, and he knew it. As Caesar’s official representative in Judea it was Pilate’s responsibility to deal with those brought to him for judgment.

Never in his career had Pilate dealt with anyone like Him. He knew this Galilean was innocent of the charges so vehemently made against Him. He also knew what lay behind the vicious accusations: It was envy.

When Pilate asked, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” The people shouted, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:22).

Countless sermons been preached on the subject “What Shall I Do with Jesus?” It’s a good question, a disturbing question, one that deserves and demands an answer.

When we meet Jesus

Jesus is not simply a great Teacher who lived nearly 2,000 years ago. He lives today, reigning at the right hand of His Father.

Someday He will return. His second coming will be quite unlike His first. He came the first time to make our salvation possible. He’ll come again to bring it all to a conclusion. He will judge the world (Acts 17:30-31).

Each of us will face Him personally in Judgment. Awesome thought!

The choice we make

We can face Him prepared or unprepared. We can hear Him say, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father . . . .” Or we can hear Him say to us, “Depart from Me . . .” (Matthew 25:34; 7:23).

Do we want Him to bless us? “. . . God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways” (Acts 3:26).

Do we want Him for our Friend? Jesus said to His disciples, “You are My friends if you do what I command you”: (John 15:14).

Do we want Him to save us? “. . . He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation . . .” (Hebrews 5:9).

What will you do with Jesus?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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In Advance

Opposite outcomes

Some troubles are avoidable, some are not. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells of two builders (Matt. 7:24-27). Both build a house. A violent storm slams both houses. One house stands firm. The other falls. The difference? One had been founded on the rock, the other on sand.

Jesus’ point is that those who hear His words and do what He says are like the wise builder. Those who hear His words and don’t obey can expect disaster.

The wise builder had one problem to face: the storm. The foolish builder had two problems: 1) the storm, and 2) the collapse of his house. The storm was unavoidable, but the collapse of his house could have been prevented. Had he done what the wise builder did, there would have been two houses standing instead of one.

Which will we choose?

In this powerful parable Jesus issues both a warning and a promise. The warning is that if you don’t obey Him, you will lose everything. The promise is that if you obey Him, you will be safe and sound when the storm comes.

Preparation. What we do today or fail to do today can greatly affect our tomorrows. Each day we live we are building on the rock, or we are building on the sand. Time will test our efforts.

Those who have not become Christians need to take a hard look at this passage. Those who have fallen away from Christ need to do the same. Faithful Christians would do well to re-read this parable every once in a while to be reminded that it’s definitely worth the effort.

We can’t say we haven’t been warned.

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What Do We Know?

Here’s a multiple-choice question:

What do we know about the future?

A) Everything

B) Nothing

C) Something

D) None of the above

If you picked C, you’re right! If it weren’t for the Bible, we would know nothing about the future. While much of what lies ahead is known only to God, He has drawn back the veil just enough for us to know all we need to know about the end of the age.

Christ will suddenly return (we don’t know when). The dead will be raised. The earth will be destroyed. Judgment will take place. Eternity begins.

Unlike stock market projections and weather forecasts, what the Bible says about the Day of the Lord is not mere guesswork, a possibility, or even a probability. The End is certain─just as certain as the integrity of God’s promises. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:17-19).

What we do with what we know

And why does God reveal these things to us regarding the future? Certainly not to satisfy our curiosity, but rather to help us know with certainty what to expect so we can be well prepared for it. The New Testament equips us be ready for these eventualities.

We must keep in a state of readiness, always active in His service (Matthew 24:42-51). We must be prepared to give an account (Romans 14:10-12). In view of the destruction of the material order, we must live holy, godly lives (2 Peter 3:10-14). And then help others get ready for that Great Day (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11).

Living in a state of readiness, we can look forward to that Day. We’re going home! No more death or pain! We will be with Christ! Reunion with our loved ones! (2 Corinthians 5:6-9; Revelation 21:4; Philippians 1:23; 1 John 3:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Yes, we do know something!

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Last Sunrise Over Sodom

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Sunrises come so routinely, so . . . daily.

Would we take a sunrise lightly if we knew it was our last?

The sun had risen over the earth . . . . Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven . . .” (Genesis 19:23-24, emphasis added).

Did they suspect it was their last sunrise?

“. . . they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling . . . it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30).

Some sunrise will be our last—either the day Jesus comes or the day we die.

So shouldn’t we live this day as if it were our last?

It could well be.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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That’s a Promise!

What He promises

Since the Bible is replete with God’s promises, Herbert Lockyer had no problem finding material for his book, All the Promises of the Bible.

God’s promises fall into three categories: 1) those already fulfilled (e. g., Joshua 23:14), 2) those now being fulfilled (e.g., Matthew 6:33), and 3) those yet to be fulfilled (e.g., Acts 1:11).

God’s promises are guaranteed for three reasons: 1) God never lies, 2) He has the power to fulfill His promises, and 3) He is faithful to do what He says He will do.

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No wonder Peter can speak of “His precious and magnificent promises” (1 Peter 1:4).

Have you found that to be true in your own life?

How we respond

God’s promises are for those who respond to His grace with obedient faith.

Do we qualify?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Prepared?

Preparing today . . .

In Aesop’s fable the ant diligently stored up during warm weather, but when winter hit, the grasshopper had nothing.

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A college student parties all semester, then panics before finals. Another aces the finals. While one partied, the other prepared.

As we mature we learn the value of preparation. Some, however, never learn. They live as thought there’s no tomorrow. But when tomorrow comes, and trouble with it, listen to them howl!

. . . in view of tomorrow

In Jesus’ parable on preparedness (Matthew 7:24-27), the wise builder’s house was firmly secured to a solid foundation before the storm hit. But the foolish builder’s short-cut had long-term consequences.

Both builders represent those who hear Jesus’ words. One applied what Jesus taught while the other did not.

And there’s where the difference lies for each of us.

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