Are You Ready? - Charlaine Martin
Preparing for Jesus’ Return
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Matthew 25: 1-13
Focus Verse: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matthew 25:13 NKJV
As we readied for hurricane Ian, I thought about how being ready for Christ’s return is like preparing for an emergency. While pulling outdoor furniture inside to avoid damage to our sliding glass doors, my mind wandered back to preparing for and surviving tornadoes. Much of the prep for both is the same, except hurricanes bring in a lot more water. In every case, the tornado jumped over where I had sheltered. One, in particular, tore through the Akron/Canton area where we lived several years ago. We had midweek bible study and prayer meeting at our church, but we went down to the basement due to a tornado watch as a precaution. When we heard warning sirens suddenly blaring, my husband immediately paused the study to lead us in prayer over the area, our homes, and loved ones who could be affected. Our young neighbor worried about his grandparents, who lived with him on the other side of the duplex where we resided.
In the Aftermath, Prayers Answered
We all left the church to check on our neighborhoods and homes as soon as it was clear. Power lines and trees down in several places made some roads impassable. Electricity was out, so the traffic signals couldn’t regulate the flow of frantic drivers. When we came to our neighborhood, we couldn’t get inside. It was blocked off. The police waved people toward another road. Frustrated, we stopped after circling a few times and asked the officer how we could get to our home. We explained that our elderly neighbors were home alone and we were worried and needed to check on them. He stepped aside, giving us the warning to be careful. The dark streets were ominous since electricity was out as emergency vehicles flashed red lights in the darkness. We carefully approached our road and pulled into the drive. Our neighbor quickly got out of our car, ran to his door, and called for his grandparents. We waited nearby in case they needed help. Finally, he yelled to us, “They are fine, Just a bit shaken. Thank you for waiting.” We went into our apartment to assess any damage.
The following day, we were surprised to learn why our neighborhood was so challenging to enter. The tornado tore through some of the rooftops, touched down for a little while, then bounced from the house directly behind our duplex swirling over the top! It didn’t touch down again for a few miles. God answered our prayers for this man’s family and that our home would remain undamaged.
We prepped for that tornado which could devastate the areas it impacts. Since it was a tornado watch, we still held our Bible study at church, yet we prepared by meeting in the basement with food, water, and flashlights, just in case. All we had left on our list was to pray and watch. Sure enough, the tornado did come with an emergency siren signaling its entrance. Being prepared for a disaster makes me consider being ready for Jesus to come back for us.
Why Being Ready Matters
Since 9/11, people—Christians and non-Christians alike—have felt that end times are upon us. As a result, sermons, bible studies, and workshops focused on end times prophesies abound. Some concerned Christians want to know more to be prepared, while others brush it off. Even some have politicized it, sounding false alarms. All the events since then deserve scrutiny against God’s Word, but will we be ready?
Just as we had the warning of imminent danger, Christians have the warning about end times with Jesus’ return for us. The parable of the ten virgins came to mind while I gathered flashlights, bottled water, and emergency food items. In Matthew 25:1-13, ten young women were waiting for the bridegroom to appear, not knowing exactly when he would come. Five kept extra oil for their lamps, but the other five did not. Five were ready to go as soon as word came that his arrival was at hand. This concept is odd for our culture to grasp. The groom, during betrothal (a different type of engagement), would work on building a home attached to his parent’s house. When he finished, he would get his bride and bring her home to live with him. The wedding party and guests weren’t sure when he would come to get her, but they kept watch (Discovery Cruises and Tours, 2017). In our passage, word came that he was on his way five of the young women were ready to go while the other five frantically tried to get the others to share their oil with them. When they refused, the unprepared ladies went into town to buy oil quickly. When they returned, they missed the event. It was too late.
Paul assured the believers in Thessalonica that some people will be taken by surprise when Christ returns “like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). They will feel a false sense of security. Still, they will be overwhelmed by the events that happen. Believers shouldn’t be surprised because it’s been revealed to us by God already. As we wait, we are to assure each other as we see the day approach.
While we wait for Hurricane Ian, we are surprised at the number of people who have done nothing to prepare for its impact. Others are ready, like we are, with sandbags in place, plenty of supplies in case of power outages, and more. As I watched a news report about Southwestern Florida, where the hurricane had hit, I was taken aback by a store that stayed open and kept doing business (AP News, September 30, 2022). They knew it was coming. Why didn’t they close so the employees could prepare for the impact? These front-line workers were available for anyone who needed last-minute supplies. If you didn’t ready yourselves earlier, maybe you could still get what you need. But what if they bought what they needed to go home just to find it devastated by the storm, like the five foolish virgins who ran out to get oil? Some were ready, while others didn’t believe the warnings. Those who didn’t evacuate or prepare their homes in southern Florida learned a harsh lesson.
Are You Ready?
According to our Bible passages, we must be vigilant and ready for Christ’s return for us. There’s no need for panic; instead, it’s imperative we have sober judgment as we see the times approach ( Peter 4:7, 1 Thessalonians 5:6,8). As we watch and pray, we are in a great position to help others come to faith in Christ. We can also help less mature Christians discover what they need to know while encouraging them to remain faithful.
Do you expect the end times described in the Bible? Are you ready for Jesus’ return? If not, what do you need to be ready?
Note: In 2017, we toured Israel with Discovery Cruises and Tours. The Messianic Jew who guided us explained the parable of the ten virgins when he showed us oil lamps from Jesus’ time.
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