Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21: 34 – 36
I can’t believe October is coming to an end and that the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are just around the corner. With much anticipation we look forward to their arrival as we think about our many blessings and prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But there’s a much more important day that God wants us to be prepared for and anticipate with joy – whether it will come tomorrow or far in the future – and it’s one we rarely pause to think about.
In God’s own timing, He will choose the day that Christ will return to earth once again. Is it the uncertainty, the unknown, that makes this day seem so difficult for us to think or talk about? Or maybe in our minds, it signifies the end of life on this earth as we know it, and we aren’t ready to give up what we have grown to love and appreciate. But this too will be a great day of celebration when we see our Savior face to face. This is what our hearts have longed for – a new life – different from this one, but one that we are promised is beyond anything we could ever imagine. It will come, for in Scripture, we learn this day is just as certain to happen as the one in which God’s Son first came to live among us. In fact, many biblical scholars believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ is the greatest single theme in Scripture.
Interestingly, I read that there are approximately 300 prophecies in the Old Testament which foretold the first coming of the Messiah, and more than 8 times as many about His second coming in the Old and New Testaments. About 2400 prophecies reveal God’s promises about the return of Jesus Christ. This increased number signifies the importance of this event in His plan for mankind. God keeps His promises and we can be confident that Jesus will return.
Before Jesus left His disciples, He gave them much hope and encouragement, but also warnings about what was to come for them as His followers. This was a message not only for them, but for us, as well. We are assured that we won’t be alone and that His Spirit will live in us to lift us up when difficult times come because of our faith. We have His Word to encourage us and keep our hearts and souls prepared for His coming. And just as Jesus promised the disciples that He would return for them, we know He will return for us.
There are many warnings for us to heed to keep our hearts ready for Him. We are to be careful not to be lured into worldliness and caught up in evil desires. There are warnings of false teachers and those who claim to be the Messiah, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines, fearful events and great signs from heaven, and especially the warning of Jerusalem being surrounded on all sides by armies. These are not to discourage us, but to strengthen our faith as we see these times unfold.
In 2 Timothy 3: 1- 5, Timothy warns that people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, not lovers of the good, but lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Sounds like our world, doesn’t it? But it has been our world for generations, and each generation has needed to prepare their hearts for Him.
This is Christ’s message for us in the passage above from Luke: Be careful that your heart is not pulled down with “dissipation (entertainment) and the things of this world, and surprisingly, he mentions anxiety. Our hearts can be so filled with things other than Christ, that we take our eyes off Him and put them on the world, or on ourselves. We must be firm in our faith, strong in our principles, and trust in the One true God who loves us and desires to spend eternity with us. May we be committed to Him, ready to follow Him, and trust in His promises. How grateful we can be that there is more than just this life on earth. What awaits us in heaven should fill us with hope and assurance. May we trust in His goodness to us, His love, and His grace.
Heavenly Father, thank you for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for His redeeming grace. Give us strength to live in Him and not in the world. May we stand committed to His Word, His truth, and His promises always. Amen