“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” – Matthew 24:29-31
In a Peanuts cartoon, Peppermint Patty reminds Charlie Brown, “You heard what that speaker said, Chuck. He said we’re in the last days!” Charlie Brown responds with: “I know. I heard him say the world is coming to an end.” In the third frame, Peppermint Patty continues with: “Marcie said the world can’t end today because it’s already tomorrow in Australia.” In the final frame, we see this final interaction, as Charlie Brown begins with: “Maybe we should go to Australia.” Finally, Peppermint Patty retorts: “Don’t make jokes, Chuck.”
For many, the end times is understood no better than it seems to be by Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty. Nor does it help when you have people making predictions over the years. “I think the world will end on Tuesday.” It can all be confusing but fortunately, there are timeless truths to which we can cling to in the end times.
Here is the bottom line. Whether you stand before God next week, or whether you stand before Him 60 years from now, is not important in the scope of eternity. The important thing isn’t when you stand before God; it’s where you stand with God. Someday, maybe soon, one way or the other you will be facing Jesus. He’s warned us He’s coming. The warning lights are on. So what do we do?
We go to the source and look at the instructions Jesus gave us on the end times? First, he put an end to all the speculation. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) More importantly, Jesus tells us what we should do while we wait for the end. After telling his listeners that they don’t know the day or hour, Jesus goes on to a series of parables in Matthew 25. These speak to how we should live as people who live between the time of Jesus’ first and second comings. The first tells the story of bridesmaids waiting for a wedding to begin, half of them are wise and wait fully prepared, the other half are foolish and find themselves unprepared when the groom arrives. (Matthew 25:1-13) The parable is pretty straight forward. The question is which group do we fall into? Are we prepared? Sunday’s message was on how we can be prepared. If you missed it, I would encourage you to listen to it by going to northstar.cc.
The second parable is also pretty straight forward. (Matthew 25:14-30) A man goes on a journey and gives his servants various gifts. He is gone for a long while and when he returns he sees what his servants have done with what they have been entrusted with by Him. Like the previous parable there is a waiting period. We live in the waiting period, so what do we do? We don’t speculate on when the end might come, rather we focus on using the gifts we have been given. We have been gifted and are called to use these gifts. The question is what are we doing with the gifts and abilities God gave us?
If you haven’t done it recently or at all, I would ask that you take a moment to do a self-evaluation on the person that God created you to be. Ask yourself the following questions: What am I good at? What do others say I’m good at? What am I passionate about?
Those can be your gifts. Now reflect on how well you are doing taking that particular gift and using it to do the work Jesus has laid out for us? Now ask yourself one more question; Where am I needed? Reflect on that and put it all together and you’ll see how God can use your gifts right now to advance His Kingdom so that His will can be done “on earth as it is in heaven.”
- How high is the end times on your priority list?
- Why do you think so many people try to predict the day Jesus will return?
- What does being prepared for the second coming mean to you? What can you do short-term to prepare for Jesus’ return?
- What comes to your mind when someone says, “Spiritual Gifts?” Why do some Christians fear this? Do you? If so, why? Did you ever wonder why you are given a gift? How are gifts a responsibility?
- How would spiritual gifts help you serve God? Do you see needs in your church community that you could meet?
- Pray and ask God that we go about His business with a sense of urgency as we await His return.