NOW PLAYING:BACK TO THE FUTURE

Now Playing: “Back To The Future!”
1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18; MATTHEW 24:42-44; 25:13



1 Thes. 4:13-18
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.
Matthew 24:42-44
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Matthew 25:13
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Did you ever read signs and get amused at how they are worded at times? Sometimes the simple can become so complex and yet humorous. Here’s a sampling of some sayings or words that were sent to me recently:

SILLY SIGNS

• Bargain basement upstairs.
• Would the person who took the step ladder yesterday please bring it back or further steps will be taken.
• After tea break staff should empty the teapot and stand upside down on the draining board.
• This is the gate of heaven. enter ye all by this door. (This door is kept locked because of the draft. Please use side door.)
• We exchange anything - bicycles, washing machines etc. Why not bring your wife along and get a wonderful bargain?
• The town hall is closed until opening. It will remain closed after being opened. Open tomorrow.
• Out to lunch: if not back by five, out for dinner also.
• Slow cattle crossing. no overtaking for the next 100 yrs.
• Due to increasing problems with letter louts and vandals we must ask anyone with relatives buried in the graveyard to do their best to keep them in order.
• Anyone leaving their garments here for more than 30 days will be disposed of.
• Elephants please stay in your car.
• For anyone who has children and doesn’t know it, there is a day care on the first floor.
• The farmer allows walkers to cross the field for free, but the bull charges.
• If you cannot read, this leaflet will tell you how to get lessons.
• We can repair anything. (Please knock hard on the door - the bell doesn’t work)
• Beware! I shoot every tenth trespasser and the ninth one has just left.
• Tattoos while you wait.

They, too, were looking for a sign. They were just like you and me. The followers of Jesus Christ were sitting with Jesus one day on the Mount of Olives and they asked some very important questions:

“Tell us, when will this happen (end of age) and what will be sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

I read sometime ago about the President of a large corporation who was dismissed by the Board of Directors with the following explanation:

“He was so involved with detail that he missed the big picture. He could see today, but not tomorrow.”

Could that happen to us? I think so! We can become so involved and harried over life’s daily grind that we lost sight of the big picture. I think this especially true regarding the future. Is the Future a thing of the Past, even to Christians? Could it be that we are so busy that we could miss the next greatest event on God’s calendar?

I read recently about a university professor who was riding in his ca and saw a bumper sticker that said, ’Jesus is coming. Look busy!’"
When we examine the Scriptures and compare them with what is happening in our world today, we cannot help but think of the Future. What will the future hold? Where are we headed? Will this be the dawning of the day when Jesus returns?

The June 2002 issue of Time Magazine was most revealing to say the least. Who would ever think that such a nationally known magazine would have this unique subject on its cover page and inside?


“The Bible & the Apocalypse! Why more Americans are reading and talking about THE END OF THE WORLD!” Nancy Gibbs authored the article entitlted: Apocalypse Now.

“What do you watch for, when you are watching the news? Signs that interest rates might be climbing; maybe it’s time to refinance. Signs of global warming, maybe forget that new SUV. Signs of new terrorist activity, maybe twice about that flight to Chicago. OR SIGNS THAT THE WORLD MAY BE COMING TO AN END, AND THE LAST BATTLE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL IS ABOUT TO UNFOLD? . . . We seem to be born with an instinct that the end is out there somewhere. We have a cultural impulse to imagine it – and keep it at bay.”

For many years the Church and Bible scholars have used the word “Apocalypse” and even said we live in such an age. The word actually means in Greek: “Revelation or Lifting of the veil.”

Time Magazine writer (Nancy Gibbs) says, “In an apocalyptic age, people feel that the veil of normal, secular reality is lifting, and we can see behind the scenes, see where God and the devil, good and evil are fighting to control the future.”
The article continues by pointing out that even the pre-Christian is thinking about the future. Recent polls suggest that 35% of Americans say they are paying closer attention to news events and how they relate to the coming of the world since the terrorist attacks of September 11th. 17% of Americans believe the end of the world will happen in their lifetime. 36% of Americans believe that the Bible is the Word of God and is to be taken literally. 59% believe the prophecies in the Book of Revelation will come true.
If you have followed the book market you will note that the “Left Behind” Series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are some of the best sellers. They have written 10 boys in the series and have sold approximately 36 million copies.

While I do not know when Jesus Christ will return, I do know this: the Bible says that He will. And in light of what is happening today, it is time for us to do some serious thinking about the Future.
When we look at Jesus’ life and ministry, we see that He spent considerable time talking about the future events. Even the disciples had many questions regarding the future. The Apostles in their writings, especially Paul, spent considerable time speaking about the future events. While the Book of Revelation speaks of the seven Churches of Asia Minor, its main emphasis is on the future.
Jesus reminds us in this passage of Scripture (Matthew 24, 25 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) that we are to “watch” and “be ready.” He emphatically states it over and over. One cannot read these words without feeling a sense of urgency and expectancy today. As someone has written:

“The improbable happens just often enough to make life either disturbing or delightful.”

Growing up as a teenager, I heard a lot about the future. I think more then than I do now. Our prayer meetings and Sunday evening services were noted for messages and studies on “prophecy.” What will happen in the future was the topic over and over.
Revival meetings resounded with message about the Future and the end of the age. What has happened? Whatever happened to the guy who walked up and down the streets carrying signs warning “The End Is Near?” What has become of teaching and preaching on the Second Coming of Christ? Has this Biblical message fallen into one of those recurring sinkholes of history that gobble up truth when we aren’t looking? Could it be that we have become pessimist? That the Good News is no longer the Good News? Could it be that we lost our perspective?

We need God’s help! Paul Harvey tells the story of an 8 year old boy leading His Sunday School Class in prayer.

“God bless our mothers and father and our teachers and our brothers and sisters - and please God take care of yourself; if anything happens to you, we’re stuck.”

I. WHY IS THERE A RENEWED INTEREST IN THE END OF THE WORLD?
A. Catastrophic Events have gotten our attention.
We were as “snug as a bug in a rug” before September 11, 2001. Since then we hardly know what normal is and most of us believe we’ll never know it again. The downing of aircrafts in New York, Washington, DC and a barren field in Pennsylvania all got our attention. Then came the anthrax scares and loss of life.
B. Continuing events keep us watching and looking!

• Unrest in the Middle East – the war between Israel and Palestine has been a long war. Hal Lindsey in the 70’s wrote about such unrest. He said years ago, “The Muslim terrorists are going to strike the U.S. again and strike us so hard that we cease to be one of the world’s greatest powers.” Suicide bombers have no conscience and see their role vital to lifting their message and glorying in becoming a martyr for the cause.
• Continual attack on our freedoms – the Pledge to the Flag declared unconstitutional by a Circuit Court in California that has a bearing on 9 other states.
• Loss of security in a wealthy land! When consumer confidence falls, we begin to look at what’s happening in us and around us! It’s more than a “bull” market, I believe it’s characteristic of what Jesus said would happen in the last days.

C. Cultural Changes rivet our attention.
Who would have ever thought that technology would have come as far as it has? I read recently that when television was invented it took 38 years to find its way into many household. It took the Internet only 7 years to find its way into our homes. Through the use of satellites we can now know the movements of troops thousands of miles away.

Billy Graham in his book, Storm Warnings, says:

Our world remains restless and uncertain. Storms of plaques of many kinds: Aids, alcoholism, and drug addiction. We see the results of unrestrained greed, corruption and manipulation on Wall Street, financial mismanagement in the Halls of government, fraud and perversion at the highest levels of both Church and State. We have lost our foundational values . . the world is spinning faster and faster . . . most people have a pessimistic view of the future . . .

Corrie Ten Boom used to say, “The Worst can happen, but the best remains.”

III. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT THE END TIMES?
A. Things are going to get worst, not better.
2 Tim. 3:1-9
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth--men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

Matthew 24:4-14
Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ’I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

B. The Good News of the Gospel will be preached in the whole world.
C. Jesus will be as faithful as He has ever been! He does not change! He will be forever faithful! In the midst of increasing sin and tragedies, God will continue to walk on our turf and seek to keep us looking up!
D. Time is important! Every day is important and every tick of the clock brings us closer to eternity.

III. THE CHRISTIANS’ RESPONSE IN LIGHT OF THE FUTURE!
A. Don’t be deceived.
B. Don’t be troubled.
C. Don’t be careless - be watchful.

“God is Lord Almighty, Omnipotent King, Lion of Judah, Rock of Ages, Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Provider, Protector, Paternal, Leader, ruling Lord and reigning King of all the universe. He is Father, Helper, Guardian and God.
He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the Keeper of Creation and the Creator of all He keeps. He is the Architect of the
universe and the Manager of all times.
He always was, always is and always will be. He is unmoved, unchanged, undefeated and never undone. He was bruised and bought healing. He was pierced and eased pain. He was persecuted and bought freedom. He was dead and bought life. He is risen and brings power. He reigns and brings peace.
The world can’t understand Him; armies can’t defeat Him; schools can’t explain Him; and leaders can’t ignore Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him; the Pharisees couldn’t confuse Him and the people couldn’t hold Him! Nero couldn’t crush Him; Hitler couldn’t silence Him; New Age can’t replace Him and you can’t explain Him away!
He is light, love, longevity, and Lord. He is goodness, kindness, gentleness and God. He is holy, righteous, mighty, powerful and pure. His ways are right; His Word is eternal; His will is unchanging and His mind is on me! God is in control. I am on His side and all is well with my soul.”

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