Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

The Road to Nowhere

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The Road to Nowhere

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The Road to Nowhere

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In Matthew 24:42-44 Christ tells us to be watching, but what does this mean? Is it enough to be watching world events and for the signs of Christ's coming? Scripture tells us to be making ourselves ready to be part of the bride of Christ. How should we be going about doing this?

Sermon Notes

These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.

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In case you haven’t heard, the US Stock Markets fell Thursday & Friday. The Dow Jones, NASDAQ and the S&P 500 Index, all fell 2%, 2./6% and 2% respectively. All over concern in President Obama’s plan to revamp the US banking industry. A lot of investors were shaking about that. Obama was quoted as saying: “"Never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by banks that are too big to fail," Mr. Obama said. Europe also closed low, Japan closed at a 3-week low. The United Kingdom raised their Terror Threat Level. Since July 2009 it had stood at “Substantial”. Just yesterday however, they raised it to “Severe”, meaning a terrorist attack is considered “highly likely”. The raise in threat level is believed to be in response to the perceived increased threat from international terrorism following the failed Detroit airliner bombing on Christmas Day here in the States. Republican Scott Brown's major win in the Massachusetts (a very liberal state) Senate race kicked off what may have been the best week yet for Republican’s – perhaps even a strong boost to their deflated sails over this past year. It is believed that this win gives the Republican’s the power to slow or stop the rapid Democratic policy agenda. It will help curb the Democratic agenda. Democrats seem disoriented and dazed, and now admit health care reform is on life support. And Republicans have been revived, states one news source. "I don't think it's possible to pass the Senate bill in the House," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday, in a back-to-the-drawing-board moment.

You’ve heard of the 7.0 earthquake on 1/7 in Haiti. There are tent cities being erected. Haitians are fleeing their capital city by the hundreds of thousands, aid officials said Friday, as their government promised to help nearly a half-million more move from curbsides and vacant lots into safer, cleaner tent cities. Aid officials said some 200,000 people have crammed into buses, nearly swamped ferries and set out even on foot to escape the ruined capital. For those who stay, foreign engineers have started leveling land on the fringes of the city for tent cities, supposedly temporary, that are meant to house 400,000 people. I can’t imagine living in such a large city, and it was almost annihilated. The earthquake on January 12th was a 7.0 magnitude quake. In other news, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for San Bernardino County (just east of greater LA in Southern California), citing county estimates of 124 homes damaged by the storm and costs of more than $11 million for emergency response, building damage and debris cleanup. The storm this week brought FEET of snow to the mountain regions of Southern California and Arizona. Rain was being measured in INCHES. Tornadoes were spotted and caused damages in the region – one not usually known for tornadoes.

On Facebook, there were a lot of comments from our friends in Phoenix that don’t have basements. What do we do? Where do we go? I told them, “Bet you lived in Wichita now, don’t you?” (Laughter.) You have weird weather in parts of the country that shouldn’t have it. You have strife in the Middle East. Matthew 24:36-38 Matthew 24:36-38 [36] But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. [37] But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [38] For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
American King James Version×
, 42 Vs. 36 – A great admonition. If anyone comes and says these words, red flags should go up. There are people who claim to know when He will return. They are wrong. Christ said that He didn’t even know. Don’t let anyone weasel snap you into thinking they know when Christ will return. Vs. 38 – Should we not eat, drink, or get married? That is not what Christ is saying. The focus of these people was self centered. Noah’s world was destroyed for lack of God-involvement in their society. None of these things are wrong in themselves. But they had the wrong priorities. That was a world of lying and hate. Sounds like our world. Turn on the news and listen. These are the days we are living in. So Christ’s return must be right around the corner. Go to verse 42. Vs. 42 – We should be watching the news. We should be poking around our favorite news sites on the net. We should know who the world’s leaders are. We should know about the rise and fall of the dollar. We should know about all of that. Right? Let’s let Christ answer that question.

Luke 21:7-9 Luke 21:7-9 [7] And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? [8] And he said, Take heed that you be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draws near: go you not therefore after them. [9] But when you shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.
American King James Version×
Vs. 8 – What? No CNN? No Fox News? No keeping track of the stock market? In some ways, He doesn’t even answer their question. They wanted to know what the signs were for His coming. He skirts their question. His response is not what they were expecting. His response told them to watch that they were not deceived. Don’t worry about when these things will be. If you are in school, and have a test, when do you start studying? The last night. What if He had said when this nation rises against that nation? I’ll do a deathbed repentance and clear it up right before I die. But Christ didn’t tell us any signs. Vs. 8 – You may know of someone who has said these words. My dad attends with a group that has said these words. If they say something contrary to scripture, red flags should go up. NIV: Watch out that you are not deceived. If you are driving and a deer comes out, your wife may say, “Watch out!” Watch out that you don’t hit that deer, or that kid. All hands on deck kind of emotional response. A hypothetical question: Is it better to focus completely on prophecy, understanding when currencies rise and fall, and where armies are stationed, and know all things prophecy. Or is it better to be on guard for your spiritual life and put on godliness? A silly question. We all know the answer. Vs. 8 – This is a serious warning for us not to be fooled. Not to be swayed.

Vs. 9 – There are going to be wars. There are going to be superpower changes. Economies will rise and fall. They will happen. But we should not focus solely on the signs of the times. We should focus on not being deceived. Prophecy is fun. God has laid out the timeline of mankind. He has left a lot of holes in that timeline. We like to play with theories. We want to know how events play into prophecies. But prophecy can be very time consuming. Ever try to lay out a timeline of Revelation. To try to piece together OT and NT scriptures is time consuming. We must be mindful of our focus. Is our focus on the events of this world, or on making sure our spiritual house is in order? What are you watching? We should not focus solely on world events. We must not be glued to the TV sets. We should not be glued to the news on the Sabbath. If we fail to pray and study and fast and do all the things we know we must do, what good does it do if we are the go to guy for prophecy? Or for world events? But we are ignoring what we need to be ready. Revelation 22:14 Revelation 22:14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
American King James Version×
It doesn’t say blessed are those who know all things prophecy. Or those that know who commands the EU. Or what is going on in American politics and the effect on this country. It doesn’t say that. It says those who do His commandments. I want to look at the concept of watching. I want all of us to recommit to preparing for our part as Christ’s future bride.

Matthew 24:42-43 Matthew 24:42-43 [42] Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come. [43] But know this, that if the manager of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
American King James Version×
Vs. 43 – In Greek, the word “watch” means “to give strict attention to”; “keeping steadily on alert”. G1127 γρηγορεύω grēgoreuō gray-gor-yoo'-o From G1453; to keep awake, that is, watch (literally or figuratively): - be vigilant, wake, (be) watch (-ful). Thayer Definition: 1) to watch 2) metaphorically give strict attention to, be cautious, active 2a) to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G1453 Citing in TDNT: 2:338, 195 It is interesting to think and teleport yourself into the audience as Christ spoke. What would have popped into your mind? Our concept of watch back then would be very different then. When we hear "watch", we think about TV and the internet and other news sources. There was no TV and internet and CNN or BBC in Christ’s time. News traveled by word of mouth and camel and ferry in that time. It traveled slowly. What was Christ’s intent? World events? Think about how slowly news would have traveled half way around the world? It doesn’t mean what our 21st century word means. It is important not to be oblivious to world events. God wants us to keep our antennae up. But we must keep it in the proper focus. God’s priority is to maintain the right relationship with Him. That should be our daily focus. Not diving into world events. If that is our focus, it is wrong.

We have some friends in Phoenix that had a break in at their house a few years ago. They have a wash. It is a low level area that when it rains, they are washed away. It is nice to live next to since no one can build in the wash. Some washes are natural; some are manmade. One evening, while they slept, they left the back door open. Some guys hopped the fence and robbed them. The police knocked on the door the next morning. The police had found her purse in the wash. If they had known they were coming, my friend would have been there with his bb gun loaded. They were in their bedroom with them. That is where the purse was. They slept right through it. That is what Christ meant when He said we would not be ready. We will be too busy trying to figure out how to piece together Ezekiel and Isaiah. Imagine one of your kids. The alarm clock goes off. The kid waits for the bus. The bus arrives at the right time. But the kid is still in his PJs. He hasn’t had breakfast or brushed his teeth. He has watched, but he is not ready. He didn’t prepare himself. So the school bus went on by. God expects us to watch. There are two views of “watch”. One means watching world events. That is very passive. You can sit in your easy chair and surf channels and websites. But Christ’s definition is very active. We have to actively pray and study. We have to actively overcome our sins. You can’t do that without action. We must be actively watching and being sure we are spiritually ready.

Matthew 22:44 Matthew 22:44The LORD said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool?
American King James Version×
“Ready” literally means ready. To be prepared. G2092 ἑτοιμος hetoimos het-oy'-mos From an old noun ἕτεος heteos (fitness); adjusted, that is, ready: - prepared, (made) ready (-iness, to our hand). Thayer Definition: 1) prepare ready 1a) of things 1a1) ready at hand 1a2) opportune, seasonable 1b) of persons 1b1) ready prepared 1b1a) to do something 1b1b) to receive one coming Part of Speech: adjective A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from an old noun heteos (fitness) Citing in TDNT: 2:704, 266 Go back to the school bus example. The kid jumps up and gets his clothes, brushes his teeth, and eats breakfast. Then when the bus comes, he is ready. We have to be praying, studying, fasting, and putting God first in our life. If we are not ready, we will be like the unprepared kid. What good does it do to watch for the school bus if we are not ready for school? Luke 12:35-38 Luke 12:35-38 [35] Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; [36] And you yourselves like to men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he comes and knocks, they may open to him immediately. [37] Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he comes shall find watching: truly I say to you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. [38] And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
American King James Version×
, 40 We must make ourselves ready. We can’t be ready if all we are doing is studying prophecy and trying to link it to world events. We have to be so doing. There is this active element. We can’t sit back and expect to be ready when the school bus pulls around the corner. We are told to watch to be ready. We watch so we can be ready. But what are to be ready for? What is at the end of the road? We have built that relationship with God, we are overcoming our sins, but why?

Revelation 19:7 Revelation 19:7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready.
American King James Version×
The Bride here is you and me. It is us. The called and the chosen and the faithful. Those striving to overcome sins. Who are putting God first. Thayer on “ready”: To make necessary preparations. G2090 ἑτοιμάζω hetoimazō Thayer Definition: 1) to make ready, prepare 1a) to make the necessary preparations, get everything ready 2) metaphorically 2a) drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable 2b) to prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure his blessings Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from G2092 Citing in TDNT: 2:704, 266 What preparations do you have to do so that when Christ returns He can see that you have made yourself ready? That is what we must do. Follow God’s commands. Overcome sins. Grow in godly character. All the ladies that are married have vivid memories of their wedding day. There are dresses to pick out. Invitations to pick out. There are address corrections. There are buffet lines. Who will marry us? Who will witness it? Brides are very, very busy people. We must make the necessary preparations for our wedding. We all have a wedding coming up? Will you and I be ready?

Let’s play a little math game. The CIA Facebook says the average lifespan of Americans is 78. Find out how many years you have left. Subtract your current age. Or if you are older than that, just make one up. Make it how much longer you would like to live. When you die, the Bible says there is no more conscious thought. The next thought is in the first resurrection. So we all have a maximum number of years until Christ’s return. It doesn’t matter if Christ returns in 50 years or 100 years or whatever. We will be dead in so many years. At any time we could die. Are you ready for your marriage to Christ? You only have so many years left. If you were to die tonight, would you be at the marriage supper? Or are you still working on prophecy and how to get from 27 European states to 10? Or, are you preparing yourself for verse 7? We are to prepare for our marriage to Jesus Christ. That should be our daily action plan. What will we be wearing when Christ returns? Revelation 19:8 Revelation 19:8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
American King James Version×
The Church has made herself ready spiritually. She wears a beautiful wedding dress – the righteous acts of the saints. Psalms 119:172 Psalms 119:172My tongue shall speak of your word: for all your commandments are righteousness.
American King James Version×
All God’s commandments are righteousness. To be prepared, we must do certain things. A primary one is keeping and truly loving God’s commandments. By doing that, we put on this beautiful white garment – the righteous acts of the saints. Us loving God with everything we have. Us serving others. We must be striving to follow Christ’s perfect example in obeying the laws.

Revelation 16:15 Revelation 16:15Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
American King James Version×
There is admonition here by Christ to follow His commandments. To keep our garments white and pure. Failure to do that is like being naked. We have a personal responsibility to prepare. Romans 13:11 Romans 13:11And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
American King James Version×
, 14 Vs. 11 – “Sleep” here is Greek “torpor”. G5258 ὕπνος hupnos hoop'-nos From an obsolete primary (perhaps akin to G5259 through the idea of subsilience); sleep, that is, (figuratively) spiritual torpor: - sleep. Thayer Definition: 1) sleep Part of Speech: noun masculine A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from an obsolete primary (perhaps akin to G5259 through the idea of subsilience) Citing in TDNT: 8:545, 1233 Sleep = Spiritual Torpor – “motor and mental inactivity”; “period of inactivity resulting from lethargy and lack of vigor or energy”. You can think of it as spiritual lethargy. Lacking spiritual vigor and zeal. No motor activity. Those Sundays when you are just spent. You want to watch TV and so you hope your ear hits the right button. But in a spiritual sense. We are told to wake up out of this state of spiritual inactivity. Don’t be lacking the spiritual energy needed to make ourselves ready – with God’s help. Vs. 14 – Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to get our spiritual house in order. Now is the time to wake up spiritually. Now is the time to stop being lethargic. The sermon title today is “The Road to Nowhere”. If prophecy is our sole focus, we are on the road to nowhere. There is actually a road called the road to nowhere. It is in the Sequoyah National Park in California. It is a loop. It is a gorgeous drive. You start high. The King’s River cuts through the canyon. It is a gorgeous ride, but you go nowhere. At the end there is a campground, some bathrooms, and a U turn. You have to go back out. If all we are doing is watching the news, it may be a pretty ride. We aren’t going anywhere. We can’t be on the road to nowhere. We must be spiritually active. When Christ returns, He must find us ready. Instead, we must be on the road to the Kingdom. Praying. Studying. Making sure we are at one with God. Be on the road to the kingdom.

Mark 13:32-33 Mark 13:32-33 [32] But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. [33] Take you heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is.
American King James Version×
Vs. 32 – This is the parallel verse to what we read at the beginning from Matthew. Vs. 33 – “Watch” here is different. It means sleepless. It ties back into the concept of spiritual torpor. We must be spiritually sleepless. Don’t hit the remote with your ear. Don’t sit back and say, “Look at the news! Christ is surely coming in the next couple of months!” But spiritually, they are asleep. Put your focus on preparing the bride. Make it one on one. Make sure you are ready. My dad said you can’t get into the kingdom on someone else’s coat tails. If your spouse prays and studies, fine! You won’t be there! You must do it yourself. Anything else puts you on the road to nowhere. 1 Corinthians 16:13 1 Corinthians 16:13Watch you, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
American King James Version×
Paul makes a simple statement. “Watch” is the same Greek word. Be alert. Give attention to. Stand fast. Stand firm. Think of having your feet firmly planted so nothing can push you over. No one knows when Christ will return. We do need to watch the news. It is not my intent to say we shouldn’t watch the news. But our focus must be on our spiritual house. We must ready when Christ returns, whenever that is. Brethren, don’t be caught on the road to nowhere.

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