We must as Christians to be always be on watch. Bible tells us to watch ourselves, watch the church, and watch world conditions.
Niagara Falls has been alluded to a Feast site for many years for Church of God groups in fact there are some Church of God that go to the Falls even now for a Feast. We have been there off and on from time to time. I think both Mr. Pinelli and Mr. Antion have been Feast coordinators there in the Falls both sides of the border in fact. There are many attractions in Niagara Falls, not just the Falls themselves but it has become a little more glittzy than we would like for it to be perhaps approaching somewhat of the atmosphere of Las Vegas with lights and commercialization, we would like that diminished of course. But years ago, the Falls were very different than they are today in terms of attraction and so because humans are what they are it’s one of the seven wonders of the physical world, the marvelous Horseshoe Falls and the lesser marvelous but still impressive American Falls side by side (can this be edited from the tape?).
Two gorgeous Falls, side by side but that’s not enough for people so even in the 1800’s there was a means of drawing people to the Falls by way of showmanship and stunts and so you are aware if you’ve been to the Falls in recent times you can get your photo taken and a sort of a makeshift setting where you’re in a barrel and you’re about to go over the Falls. Well many people have. Some live to tell and some didn’t live to tell what it was like in a free-fall in a barrel.
But one of the other means for getting people to come to the Falls was tight-rope walking and there was an actual competition in the late 1800’s of tight-rope walkers where a rope was strung just below the Falls and individuals were actually walking across the cavern across the straight the chasm between the U.S. and Canadian sides. The most famous tight-rope walker at that time was the great, the inimitable, the famous Blondine, the French tight-rope walker and he could do amazing things on the tight-rope way over the chasm of the turbulent waters of the Niagara river and when a number of friends went to see this astounding performance a young farm boy from Ontario said to his buddies, “I can do that” and they laughed him to scorn and he said “I’m serious” so he then developed a repertoire and changed his name from Willie, he had a last name like Smith or Jones, I forget what it was and he called himself instead Guarmo Antonio Ferinni because he’d have to compete with Blondini, you can’t be Bill Smith or Dave Jones, you’d have to have something astonishing and so then they had a competition over the Falls where Blondini could actually go out on stilts, go up on stilts. Ferinni, otherwise his new stage name was not to be outdone. He went out there, put down his pole, you know the Flying Milandes when they walked will have a pole for balance, put down his pole, walked without it, crossed his arms, jumped off the rope and as he went past it, caught it just in time, hauled himself back up. They would compete, back and forth to see if who could outdo the other. One of them bought out a wooden washtub into the center of the Falls on the rope and reached down to the river with a bucket on the end of a rope, bought up the water and did some wash (ladies hankies and then hung them out) and came back to land and said if you have any doubt that they’re clean, you can go out and check them. The other, not to be outdone on the competition, took his manager on his back and walked out onto the rope into the center of the Falls. They had a row, they put him down on the rope and attempted to leave him there to make his way back on his own. The Prince of Wales was there to watch this, this was very astonishing thing to see, stupendous and the other gentleman said “well look, I’m not going to be outdone too easily, I’ll take out the Prince of Wales out onto the Falls on my back, I’ll guarantee that of all the onlookers that are here to observe what is happening if anything should happen to him, everybody gets his money back.” But the Prince of Wales didn’t volunteer for the occasion. In fact he advised the tightrope walker, please be careful, don’t look at us, look at yourself and don’t ever do this again was his advice to the men who were tightrope walking in those days.
Turn in your bible please if you will and to Matthew 25 and we’ll read the first few verses in this well known passage (appreciated the Sermonette today, very much), for some reason it reminded me of Babe, the movie that you’re familiar with, had some parallels.
Matthew 25:1 Matthew 25:1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
American King James Version×“Then the Kingdom of Heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
This is talking about a wedding. A wedding situation, a wedding party and a complicated extensive one. The Kingdom of Heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. The ten virgins being part of the wedding party.
Verse 2: “Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
This has nothing to do with Joe Millionaire, and the competition that presently is occurring when it comes to that today.
Verse 3 & 4: “Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them.
” But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
So five made preparations, five did not.
Verse 5: “But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
King James remembered had (still has) tarried. He was taking his time.
“But while the bridegroom was delayed or tarried they all slumbered and slept.
Who slumbered and slept? The five foolish? Nope, all of them. All ten slumbered and slept. Are you feeling a little sleepy right now? It happens to us, it’s the human condition. After a while we get settled in, we are comfortable and after a while, it’s a natural condition, we get a little bit sleepy. Why is it? It’s one of those strangest things that happens to us that when in the evening if you have a meal late at night you can’t sleep but if you have a heavy meal at noonday, you want to go to sleep right after that, fall asleep. Why doesn’t the opposite work so you can sleep better at night after a meal and then be wide awake after a noon meal mid-day. It doesn’t happen that way does it?
Verse 6 & 7: “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ “Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
Remember the days of kerosene lamps if you ever used them, you’d have a wick in the lamp and from time to time you’d trim that wick because after a while a wick would get charred from usage, you’d have to trim it and then relight it and you’d get a better flame, a brighter flame. Some of you are nodding knowingly and others are saying, did it have batteries? Why don’t you change the batteries?
Verse 8 & 9: “And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of you oil, for our lamps are going out.’
” But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’
Now that wasn’t a very nice thing to do. Shouldn’t they have shared? Shouldn’t they have given some of their, (isn’t that the proper Christian thing to do) is share your resources? Well, the point of the matter is certain things we can share and other things we cannot. Certain things we have to do for ourselves. No one can do them in our stead, or in our place.
Verse 10, 11 & 12: “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’
“But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
I’d sure hate to hear those words said to me as you would said to you. Now the point of the parable is verse 13, what I’m driving at here, watch therefore.
Verse 13: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
One of the parable, there are many points I suppose one could draw but the main point I’m drawing here is watch therefore. Just like a tight-rope walker, watches his every step even though he may pretend to an audience at the Falls or one of the Flying Milandes that they’re not watching, they’re watching very carefully.
They’re watching with their feet, they’re watching with their eyes, they’re watching more ways than we know by which they’re watching as to what they are doing.
What is watching all about? It is a command as you heard in the sermonette, certain things become so common- place to us after a number of years we don’t hear them anymore. Is watching still important? Is watching in our day and age for the people of God that have been around for ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years. Is it still vital? Is it still necessary? Are you doing it? Am I doing it? How can we access our capacity to watch and in fact what should we be watching?
Well the year 2003 is upon us and with this in mind, framing this in light of the next calendar year, I’d like to identify three areas that you and I need to be watching in the next twelve months in particular in the next calendar year. Three areas that you and I need to keep an eye on.
Area No. 1: Keep a close eye on or watch, keep a close eye on yourself for the next twelve months as we measure time. First of all watch or keep a close eye on yourself.
I Thessalonians 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
Now sleep here is used as a metaphor or description of being in a spiritual stupor or being spiritually out of commission. Have you in recent times talked with someone who you know in years past was converted, had the spirit of God, was attuned to spiritual matters and spiritual values and you’ve talked to them in recent times and found you couldn’t talk to them about spiritual things anymore, about religious things anymore, about church matters anymore, that is was like speaking to a neighbor from across the road. You talk about the weather, you talk about certain political issues but avoid them if they got too personal and what used to be there was gone. They’re still a nice person, they’re still a kind person, they’re a thoughtful person but the spiritual component was missing. This is what it’s talking about by metaphor. Therefore, let us not sleep as others do who are spiritually asleep but let us watch and related to that is and be sober, meaning be for the most part, serious. That doesn’t mean we can never smile, we never joke, we never share a funny story but for the most part we are sober, we are serious.
Verse 7: Now for those who sleep…
Well, typically they sleep at night
… those who get drunk,
Typically they are drunk, when? At night.
For there are those who are drunk in the day as well as night. They’re equal opportunity employers, they’re not too concerned about when that happens. Now recently, I’m not sure if it made the news here, probably it did not, but one of the Premiers of Canada, the Premier of British Columbia was pulled over while he was on vacation in Hawaii of all places and was charged with driving while under intoxication. He was given a test and he was twice the level of the legal limit and so he came back to his home providence in Canada and this was national news of course and he was teary eyed, apologizing to his constituents, to the people of British Columbia for the terrible mistake he made and explained how he had consumed three martini’s during the course of his meal and them some wine. Now when the toxicologist explained that he was over twice the limit of what was legally allowed, that was quite some wine. But it is probably going to cost his political collapse and affect his whole party, it’s affecting a whole providence. An indiscretion of this nature can really hurt an individual, a political party, and a Christian of course. So then in goes on to say.
Verse 8: But let us who are of the day…
The People of God, people like us, people in the church of God.
…let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
Here’s what we need to be doing. Putting on the breastplate of faith and love and for the helmet the hope of salvation.
Now when you came to church today you had to make a decision of what you are going to wear. You probably went into the closet and thought what will I wear today to go to church. I don’t have anything to wear. You call in your spouse or your call in a family member and say “what do I wear today, do I wear this or do I wear that and this does this go with this and does this go with that, do my socks match, does my top match.” We make some serious decisions, coming to church today, wearing what we wear. Did we put on spiritually speaking the breastplate of faith and love? Did we put that on today? Did we put on the helmet of salvation today? Are we planning on wearing those tomorrow? Did we wear them yesterday? These are the things we need to watch for spiritually speaking.
There was a news item back in April of 1988 where a photographer who happened to be a sky diver was taking some incredible footage and this is where you will occasionally see some remarkable footage on t.v. where the camera is mounted on a helmet where sometimes they’re actually holding the video cam as they’re sky diving. Now I wouldn’t be able to do that because you have to stay conscious for those things but they somehow are able to pull it off and be quite relaxed in the process. Well the film was showing some remarkable footage on the evening news back in April of 1988 and finally the sky diver who was holding the camera, after the final parachutist opened his chute they noticed that the picture went berserk, completely out of focus and askew and the announcer reported that the cameraman, after the last parachutist had pulled his rip-cord and released his chute discovered when he reached for his rip-cord that in the process of getting everybody ready and preparing his camera, forgot to put to put on his parachute. It really happened. He fell to his death, his physical death and what a horrible mistake to make, to have confidence in something that he had forgotten to do.
Well, each day we too need to put on our spiritual parachute, if you will. Or our spiritual breastplate, if you will. Or our spiritual helmet, if you will. It has to become a habit so we never forget, it’s vital, it’s important for our survival.
Turn next if you will please brethren to Luke chapter 9 (this is another familiar passage that bears review from time to time)
Luke 9:51 Luke 9:51And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
American King James Version×Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received…
That’s referring to Jesus Christ.
… came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set up His face to go to Jerusalem.
His death was rapidly approaching, this was the time of His final Passover.
Verse 52: And He sent messengers before His face…
Jesus Christ did.
… And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.
Probably to make arrangements for lodging. He couldn’t call ahead to make a reservation, you couldn’t use the internet, or your computer or telephone so He had to send someone to make arrangements which of course he did.
Verse 53: But they did not receive Him…
…didn’t receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.
The Samaritans and the Jews, even then deeply distrusted, despised, disliked, even hated each other and that occurs today as well in the Middle East where Arabs and Jews despise one another, kill one another, have a huge hostility towards one another. You may have seen occasional clips on the news where a mother, a grandmother is holding her little infant, a year old, two years old, describing how this little boy is going to grow up to kill Jews or grow up to kill Arabs. How do you remove that from them when they’ve been taught that from age one? Is a peace treaty going to solve the problem? I don’t think so.
Getting back to this account.
Verse 54: And when His disciples, James and John saw this…
That the Samaritans were rebuffing Jesus Christ.
…they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
James and John were asking permission from Jesus Christ and they knew if they got it they could do it. They were asking permission to singe a few tail feathers. They were going to make some sparks fly. We’re going to torch this community. We’re going to make a statement. If they’re going to insult our leader, if they’re going to rebuff our desire to stay in their town, we’ll see to it that they’ll remember their insult.
Verse 55: Jesus turned and rebuked…
Who? The Samaritans, no He didn’t rebuke the Samaritans, He rebuked James and John.
…He rebuked them and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.
Verse 56: “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.”
Now where did James and John go wrong? Their attitude. They weren’t watching their attitude. You know not what your spirit is of Jesus said, and is it not significant that Jesus Christ wasn’t easily insulted, wasn’t easily hurt, wasn’t easily annoyed? He simply picked up and went somewhere else. He didn’t take it that personally.
So one of the first things we need to do as the people of God in the times in which we live is to keep a close eye on ourselves, our attitudes, our relationship with God, meaning daily prayer, daily bible study, our priorities, our motives, why do we do what we do. What’s behind what we do? Is it because we really want to serve or do we have ulterior motives at heart? How close are we through daily prayer and daily bible study? Is prayer still fascinating to you? You know occasionally as a pastor and if other ministers were here would verify, that when someone is having some very serious difficulties and I’ll ask them, “how’s your prayer life?” They’ll often say “well, could be better.” Rarely does anyone ever say “I can’t understand it, I’m praying faithfully, studying faithfully, meditating faithfully, fasting regularly and having all of there horrible catastrophes.” Now there are trials, there are tests, I know that and we can be doing all those things and know God loves us because he chastens every son whom He receives. We sometimes ask for a little less of that kind of love and more of the other kind of love. Prepare is undervalued, underestimated, sometimes people say, “I forgot to pray” and sometimes you wonder when God the Father and Jesus Christ are listening to your prayers, do they say, “well you listen, I listened yesterday and this person’s prayers are boring, it’s your turn, no I listened yesterday.” Do our prayers interest God? Do they engage Him?
So number one, keep a close eye on yourself.
The second area that you and I need to be attuned to during the next calendar year and beyond of course is the following: keep a close eye on the church. First of all you and I keep a close eye on ourselves. Have you ever seen people watching themselves in a mirror or see people watching themselves as they walk past the store front and you see their reflection (they’re kinda looking to see how they look, interesting, people are funny). Art Linkletter made a living at it didn’t he years ago? Keep a close eye on the church.
I Timothy 4 - This gets into a little more prophecy perhaps. I Timothy 4 — keep a close eye on the church. Of course we keep a close eye on ourselves as well. Now the Holy Spirit inspired writers of God through the aged servants of God to write about the end time.
I Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressively says…
Specifically says , zero’s in on the following
… that in latter times some will depart from the faith…
Now it doesn’t say depart from faith, depart from believing but depart from the faith, correct doctrine, correct beliefs.
…giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons .
Now behind apostasy is satan the devil, behind apostasy are demons. It describes here deceiving spirits, doctrines of demons and some of the arguments that promoted deception were very very clever. Hard to dispute in some instances or neutralize in other instances.
Verse 2: Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron.
Now we heard in the sermonette about sheep ranching, and goat ranching. Maybe you’ve been in cattle ranching where you’ll find calves, having to be branded in the spring roundup. If you’ve seen “City Slickers” you know it’s an authentic movie on ranching and how they have a branding iron and it’s put into a fire and the branding iron gets really, really hot, white hot and then they take the branding iron with the circle M and put it into the haunches of a calf, it bawls, it don’t hurt. The calf can’t feel nothing (look’s to me like it hurts), you can smell burning, singeing cow hide, that feels like it hurts. But it happens to human beings too, maybe you have been burned and where you have been burned you have a scar, there’s no more feeling left in that area. They say that if a cat ever sits on a hot stove, he’ll never sit on a hot stove again and he’ll never sit on a cold one either, so we can sometimes recoil from that. But the terminology here having their conscience seared with a hot iron, it happens to people sometimes. I harkened back to the voice of a white-haired patriarch who said (and it’s the most important thing he taught me, and he taught me many things) don’t believe me, believe the bible and I still want to practice that, still want to follow that, that when information comes from the national office or the home office or wherever it comes from. I want to look it up in my bible, still and read it for myself and still mark my bible and still do my own studying to be sure everything is on track and not leave the thinking to someone else. Mr. Armstrong taught us, don’t believe me, believe the bible.
Matthew 24, keep a close eye on the church, what it is teaching, how it is teaching. Make the truth your own, internalize it.
Matthew 24, this is again, getting back to something somewhat commonplace but after a while it can be forgotten.
One of the members in the Toronto area some years ago I mentioned that while he was a Canadian peacekeeper and he was serving in Cyprus, some years ago, trying to keep peace between the Greek Cyprians and the Turkish Cyprians. Remember the ongoing hostilities they would have and Canadians were sent there as part of an U.N. force to be sure that they weren’t killing each other but they would have a peaceful co-existence and he was on duty one evening and saw a Turkish soldier, because you could see one another (probably with binoculars), he was on guard duty and he’d fallen asleep on guard duty. Wrong thing to do and while he was watching a Turkish officer was making the rounds saw his soldier asleep, pulled out his revolver, walked up to him and shot him, put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. You don’t fall asleep when you’re on guard duty in the military at least not in the Turkish military in Cyprus in that day and age. It’s serious business when you’re on guard duty and people’s lives are dependent upon you. When scripture tells us to watch therefore, how serious is God the Father? How serious is Jesus Christ when He commanded the believers through the ages (us today) to be watchful, to be vigilant? Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
Verse 43 & 44: “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect.”
Now was he speaking to the general public or was he speaking to believers? Speaking to believers.
Now from time to time you’ll get a phone call from somebody who says: ” You have won a free demonstration for carpet shampooing or vacuum cleaner demonstration, we would like to make an appointment to come and show you at your home next week on Wednesday. We’ll be in your neighborhood in just so happens, will you be in at two o’clock?” You usually say, sure. Probably you’ll say no I’m busy. Now does a thief ever say that? “I’ll be in your neighborhood next week, Tuesday I’d like to come and burglar your house. Can I make an appointment for two, would that be convenient?” The scripture says, they don’t do that. If you know what time someone’s going to be breaking in you’ll be there waiting for them, with a bat (an aluminum one, aluminum persuasive bat).
Verse 44 & 45 & 46: “Therefore be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?
“Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.
Traditionally the Church of God through the years has explained verse 46 as interest in doing the work, involvement in doing the work, realizing that there is a work to be done. There are certain Church of God groups today who say there is no work to do, been done, it’s complete, there’s nothing more to do other than wait, get the red carpet ready for Christ’s return, nothing more to do. We know there’s lots to do. You heard an announcement today on local initiative, there’s much to do, we’ll never get it all done between now and Christ’s return. So keep a close eye on the church in terms of the work that’s being done, the work that yet needs to be done.
Verses 47 & 48: “Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.
“But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming’
Well Jesus Christ has put off His return, it’s been delayed and he begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with the drunkards. Now how does beating fellow servants occur? Well it can occur within a congregation where one servant in a given congregation can beat on another servant in a given congregation verbally. Sometimes this happens congregationally where one congregation in a given fellowship beats on another congregation in the same fellowship saying we’re better than you are or one Church of God organization will beat verbally on another Church of God organization and say we’re better than you are. It amounts to the same thing and no one likes to be beat on verbally. After a while we all have experienced that and we feel punch drunk after a time. It’s like trying to ref a match and you have four boxers and you’re the referee and after a while the boxers turn on the ref, beat him up real good and then you ring the gong and you start another round. You know what’s that like.
Verses 48, 49 & 50: “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’
“and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,
“the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,
We have a wonderful rapport with our neighbors, one of the finest rapport we’ve ever had and when they’re gone we look after their home, (you probably have neighbors like this as well) we have the key to their house, they have the key to our house and so they were gone for two weeks this summer, we looked after their home, picked up the papers to be sure everything was fine. They returned, we gave them a whole stack of papers after their two-week absence in the cottage. They came back on a Sunday. On Monday afternoon we returned from the church office, pulled into our driveway, he walked up the driveway, (I thought that was interesting, he normally doesn’t do that) he said “you people did a better job watching our house than we did.” “How’s that?” He said this afternoon we were broken into. Good thing it didn’t happen yesterday, because we were still responsible. One day this guy scheduled a good B & E (breaking and entering) they caught him, the police did, it was a team, he had done three or four houses, probably a drug habit, they took fingerprints, located him, got back some jewelry that he had taken and they actually showed me how (he was a neat burglar, he didn’t make a mess) he was 14, he knew which jewelry was valuable, which wasn’t, which was costume jewelry, which wasn’t, I wouldn’t have a clue. I would have taken all of it, actually I would have taken the cheapest stuff because the costume jewelry is impressive but he was already educated at 14/15 on how to pull off B & E’s. Thankfully they got him. Now the neighbor did not put in any alarm system, they just put a big sign, big sign: Beware of dog! It’s working really good. You gotta be aware of dog.
Verse 50 & 51: “The master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,
“and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Because they were caught unprepared, they were caught off guard. Weeping and gnashing of teeth. There are people around it’s been said who grind their teeth at night during their sleep and if you listen carefully to your spouse, if they do that or you can actually hear the grinding. Normally people don’t do that during the day (unless it’s an annual review or something like that at your corporate entity). It’s an interesting expression we’re not attuned into or too attuned to (sorry).
The third area that you and I need to be watching during this next calendar year and beyond, first of all keep a close eye on yourself, secondly keep a close eye on the church, the work that’s being done, relationships within the church between the churches, the work of the church. Thirdly keep a close eye on of course world conditions. Keep a close eye on world conditions which is our usual mindset when it comes to the matter of watching.
Matthew 24:3 Matthew 24:3And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?
American King James Version×Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these thing be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Now the current Good News (that you all have a copy of) and I just got this in Canada on Thursday and prompting bought it back to Cincinnati (stunning cover isn’t it, beautiful cover) and if you read the inside from the editor (A New Age of Uncertainty from Scott Ashley), he framed it very well, describing what it was like in the 50’s when people were building fallout shelters in their backyards to today and how the fear of the alarm, the uncertainty is just as bad now as it was then. You look at these articles and they’re stunning, the end of the world, what does the bible say, will civilization end in global cataclysms, coming calamities, those gone off for protection, the coming clash between Europe and America, the debt trap, how do I get free? I’m thinking now people think, o.k. the world’s coming to an end and I’m in debt. What should I do, shall I get out of debt so the world can come to an end or let the world come to an end and then I won’t have to worry about getting out of debt? But the quality of publications produced by the United Church of God are remarkable, the quality is superb as far as the quality of printing is concerned and the content, the writers, God has assembled a remarkable team in terms of the membership, the ministry in the UCGA. It goes on to say:
Verse 4 & 5: And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.
“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive
(One or two here and there, not in my bible!). It says:
will deceive many.
One of the biggest surprises in my ministerial career has been in recent years and maybe yours too how easily people could be deceived about major doctrinal differences, core doctrinal beliefs and practices. I thought it would be a whole lot harder than it was and maybe you were equally surprised.
Verses 6, 7 & 8: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
“And all these are only the beginning of sorrows.”
It’s only starting, it’s only beginning. So you’ve been watching for quite some time, haven’t you?
I remember visiting a prospective member a few years ago who stopped watching the evening news because after he watched the evening news he couldn’t sleep anymore because of the scary events that happened in the world at large.
Well of course we have to have faith that we’ll be looked after.
Luke 21, the second last scripture. This is also familiar.
Luke 21:29 Luke 21:29And he spoke to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
American King James Version×And He spoke to them a parable (Jesus did): “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.
Jesus Christ was quite adept at using illustrations that were at hand, illustrations that were familiar, visual aids, a prop if you will. Look at the fig tree and all the trees. If you looked at trees and you’ll notice that (and we do have winter here) that the buds for next spring are already in place the autumn before, that the leaves that will bud forth in the spring of the year, they’re already in place the previous autumn and they’re waiting inert and then in the spring as spring gets closer and it gets a little bit warmer and the buds will become larger and thicker they begin to get to the bursting stage and how wonderful it is when spring begins and those first leaves come out and the first blossoms occur. Look at the fig tree and all the trees.
Verse 30 & 31: “When are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.
“So you also know, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
You mean it’s not here yet? No, not here yet but at one time, at a time it will be near.
Verse 32, 33 & 34: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place
“Heaven and earth will pass away my words will by no means pass away.
“Take heed to yourselves
Watch yourselves, that was point one.
Verse 34 & 35: “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.
Like a trap, have you ever set a trap for a poor unsuspecting little animal? Did you used to trap when you were a kid, like I did? Beavers? Elks? Mice? You have a mouse problem, you have a nice little trap and mice are really cute, they’re furry, white nice particularly but they don’t like cheese, peanut butter as some of you know, you put peanut butter in a mouse trap, they can’t resist peanut butter, smooth, crunchy it doesn’t matter peanut butter. They come along and say oh this is superb peanut butter, this is gourmet peanut butter and they begin eating it and the next thing you know snap and the poor mouse is a goner. Now we did have one recently in our office and I wasn’t quite sure that the mouse was a goner and sure enough when I released the trap he was alive, he tried to escape. I hade to use certain persuasive powers (poor mouse).
Verse 35 & 36: “For it will come as a snare on all those who believe on the face of the whole earth, dwell on the face of the whole earth (sorry).
“Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Watch, watch yourself, watch the church, watch (for this point) world conditions. So many areas to watch, the Middle East, what is happening there, especially Jerusalem. Watching the European Union, special focus on Brussels and the Vatican. Watching Britain, descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh and even though there’s certain military strength the moral decay is still on fast forward. If you happen to hear Rush Limbaugh yesterday he was talking about Patricia Heaton at one of the presentations in Los Angeles yesterday or the day before where the Osborn’s were the host and she was scheduled to make one of the presentations (she’s the co-star for Everybody Loves Raymond, you know the lady). She was to make one of the presentations, the manner of the Osborn’s and the delivery of these presentations was so corrupt, so offensive, so <inaudible> that she got up and left. She said “I don’t want to be a part of this.” We’re on a moral toboggan slide in spite of our military strength and nothing is turning that around, regrettably. We watch what’s happening in natural disasters, the weather patterns, the drought. We watch what’s happening in other respects also, you’ve read about earthquakes and all you have to do is look at World News & Prophecy, The Good News, United News has new features, we have many, many tools at our disposal. Final scripture:
And how often those two go together, watch and pray, those are linked nearly always, take heed, that is be on guard, be vigilant, watch and pray
…”for you do not know when the time is.
Some people think they do, others believe they can calculate it. We had a gentleman some years ago who had these massive, complicated, prophetic time lines so that he could calculate exactly when Jesus Christ would return. Never works, never does it succeed. Take heed and watch and pray, you do not know when the time is.
Verse 34: “It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work…
(the church has a work)
… and commanded the doorkeeper to…
(to do what?)
… to watch.
That’s the second time the word appears. Verse 33 it says watch, the latter part of verse 34 is says watch.
Verse 35: “Watch therefore for you do not know when the master of the house is coming — in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning
We don’t know, we know it’s near, we don’t know exactly how near.
Verse 36: “lest coming suddenly, he find you sleeping
Doing what? Sleeping, not praying, not studying, not meditating, not fasting, not being part of the work, not attuned to world conditions.
Verse 37: “And what I say to you,…
(to the church)
… I say to all
(disciples then, disciples today)
In the current issue of the Good News explains why it’s so important to watch.
Now George Sweeney (some of you may remember that name) was visiting Niagara Falls a few years ago in the spring. Niagara Falls is beautiful to visit any time of year but springtime is also a good time to visit when the river is breaking up. He was watching ice flows, chunks of ice come careening down the river and then falling over the precipice of the falls and he also noticed that there were frozen fish in many of the chunks of ice and what the sea gulls would do is observe in which chunks of ice the fish were and land on the blocks of ice upstream and then feast on fresh, frozen, recently thawed fish, as the block of ice was just about to be careening over the edge of the falls, the gull would fly off, fly upstream, land on another ice flow with delicious, fresh, frozen, thawed fish and repeat the smorgasbord over and over again. He watched one gull in particular that seemed to be more daring than the others because the others would leave sooner and he just stayed and ate and ate some more and he kept getting closer to the edge of the falls and closer but he was really enjoying his fish, this was one of the gourmet fish he discovered, he was eating with great enjoyment and then the gull reached out his powerful wings and began to flap to escape and found to his horror that its claws had frozen to the block of ice and it flapped a little harder and the ice came up out of the water, came back down in the water, it flapped a little harder and found the ice was too heavy and block of ice went over the falls along with the gull. Oh the danger of delay, the danger of distraction, the gull wasn’t watching. So we find the warning to us as God’s people, particularly in the end time is to watch, so that we’re not distracted, so that we’re prepared.
Jesus Christ said watch and He meant it!