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Eat, Drink and Be Judged! - Matthew 24:37-44

Taught on | Topic: Judgment | Keywords: judgment, judgement, end times, tribulation, Indifference, Depravity,

When Noah built his ark, most people thought he was nuts. Only seven others listened to his warning and went with him. Jesus spoke about the fool who thought he was prepared for the future because of his wise investments. This man said to himself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." (Luke 12:19). Jesus also tells us that the world will largely adopt this attitude in the final days of history unaware of what's ahead.

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10/15/2006
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Eat, Drink and Be Judged!
Matthew 24:37-44
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
When Noah built his ark, most people thought he was nuts. Only seven others listened to his warning and went with him. Jesus spoke about the fool who thought he was prepared for the future because of his wise investments. This man said to himself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." (Luke 12:19). Jesus also tells us that the world will largely adopt this attitude in the final days of history unaware of what's ahead.
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Rumblings of War and the Prince of Peace

Rumblings of War and the Prince of Peace

For 2,000 years the church has awaited the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For 2,000 years men have tried to predict the exact moment of His return. Though no man knows the exact hour or even the day He will come back, there are signs to indicate His coming is near. In the teaching series Rumblings of War and the Prince of Peace, Skip Heitzig thoroughly expounds upon Matthew 24, explaining prophecy of what must take place and encouraging the church to always be ready.

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Outline

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I. Demonstration of Man's Indifference (Vss. 37-41)
A. Noah's Days
B. Nowadays
C. Last Days

II. Direction for Man's Obedience (Vss. 42-44)
A. Be Aware
B. Be Alert
C. Be Ready

LIVING IT:
1. A fun group project would be to find current newspaper headlines that correspond to the description of the world of Noah's day. Then think of examples of people who have stood against these trends—it could even be an example from your own life.

2. Memorize Romans 12:1-2

3. How do you personally feel about the return of Jesus? Do you think He could come in your lifetime? Would there be any time you would be nervous if He came?

Topic: Judgment

Keywords: judgment, judgement, end times, tribulation, Indifference, Depravity,

Transcript

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Eat, Drink and Be Judged!

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Let's turn to Matthew, Chapter 24. Heavenly Father, once again we turn in prayer to you because we need your help. We need your Holy Spirit to take the things that we hear, and help them be translated into the way we think, and the way we live. So we have carved out this time. You have our undivided attention.

We pray you speak to us. In Jesus' name, amen. I heard about a tombstone with a very interesting inscription on it. It read, here lies an atheist all dressed up but no place to go. That's sort of sad, isn't it? They look so nice in that casket.

They're all dressed up, but they don't believe they're going to go anywhere, that life ends at all here. Because the truth of the matter is, we all will go somewhere. And we also know that God doesn't want us to perish. The Bible tells us that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The only way not to perish is to be prepared. Prepared for the future, come what may. Prepared for the coming judgment that will come upon this Earth. But I've discovered most people aren't prepared, by and large. I mean, think about it. We've heard that there could be an economic crisis in this country. But how many families are truly prepared if that happens?

Or an illness that would hit you. You know it's a possibility. But few of us are prepared if that happens. Or if there were another terrorist attack in our community. You may remember back, in fact that I know you'll never forget the day, September 11, 2001. In fact, venture to say exactly where you were when you heard the news.

And you turned on the television, and then you saw not only the towers burning. But you saw as the news captured the faces of the New Yorkers looking up in horror. You remember the looks on their faces. They looked up in horror because they didn't expect what was coming. And we found out as a country we were wholly unprepared for that.

OK, now segue to the future, and imagine and you can only imagine the shock on people's faces as they look up and see not two towers burning, but in blazing, flaming glory Jesus Christ coming back to judge the world. And people are not, for the most part, prepared for that inevitability. In fact, not only are they not prepared, a lot of people would openly defy God, or the thought of the possibility of a coming judgment.

Oh, yeah. Right, don't want to hear it. No, the motto is eat, drink, and party on. I even heard about a liberal church, and they invited a conservative preacher to come and speak. He was to be the guest speaker and the conservative preacher said, well, I want you to know, if I'm going to speak that I'm going to give a message from the Bible, because I believe in the Bible. It's inerrant, and that's what it's going to be.

The liberal church said look, you're just a guest speaker, you can do whatever you want. We don't care. Well the preacher got up and spoke on temperance, abstinence from alcohol. And toward the end of his message, he said, if I had all the beer in the world I'd throw it in the river. And he kind of liked hearing himself say that, so he worked himself up emotionally and he said, if I had all the wine in the world, I'd dump it in the river.

And he kind of liked what he heard and he said it even further, if I had all the whiskey, in the world I'd throw it in the river. Closed his message, sat down. At which point the song leader of that liberal church stood up with a little wry smile on his face and said to the congregation, and shall we now turn for our closing hymn, to hymn 365. The hymn, "Shall We Gather At The River?"

See, he's thinking if you're going to dump it all on the river, guess where we're going? Eat, drink, and be merry and we've studied Matthew 24, and I've thoroughly enjoyed the last several weeks. This is our 13th week in this chapter. And with all that we have read, with all that's here for the world to read, all of the detailed descriptions of the signs, the signals that are coming, the detailed events the Jesus spells out, you would think that with all of this information available, that people would be ready for it, would be prepared.

And here's the question. What will the spiritual, moral, and ethical condition of the world be like at the time of the coming of Christ? And, furthermore is there any other period in history that is a parallel to it, or compares to it? And then, what should our attitude be? What responsibility, if any, do we have concerning these things as believers?

All of these questions are answered in these verses. Verse 37 is where we begin. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the Ark. And did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Then, two men will be in the field, one will be taken, and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill. One will be taken, and the other left. Watch, therefore, for you do not know what our your Lord is coming. But know this, if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

Therefore, you also be ready for the son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. If I were to sum it all up, Jesus is saying the judgment will come. And when it comes, people will be wholly unready and unsuspected. Now what we'd like to do this morning with you to unpack these verses is to look at it in terms of a comparison.

We're going to compare an attitude that Jesus said once was in the past, and will be at his coming, with an action. Attitude versus action. The attitude of indifference, and the actions of obedience. And it's that final one that spells out our responsibility. But let's look at the demonstration of man's indifference. He mentions the flood of Noah.

He mentions the Ark. He mentions the flood. Before we jump in, just a side note, you know just the fact that Jesus Christ mentions an Ark, mentions a guy by the name of Noah as existing historically, and mentions a flood tells me that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ believed in them literally. He authenticates the historic worldwide flood.

He authenticates an Ark, and he authenticates a guy by the name of Noah. I say that because there's a lot of people who like to sound smart, I suppose, and say, well you know, there are certain things I believe, and certain things I don't. I like what Jesus had to say, all those red words are good. But I don't go for all those myths in the Bible, like Jonah and the whale, or Noah and the Ark.

Well then friend, I'm here to tell you you got a real problem with Jesus Christ. You can't take Jesus seriously, who took those things seriously, if you don't. And if you are to say, well you know, Jesus was simply speaking to an audience he knew was ignorant, and superstitious. He knew they believed in it, so he was accommodating what he said to their belief system.

Well, that makes Jesus a deceiver and a liar. And I don't want to follow anybody like that. So Jesus mentions Noah and the flood in the Ark, and he authenticates it. Now before we jump into the exact meaning of this attitude, I kind of want to do it by backing up. I want to go around the block to get next door, if you will.

I'd like to compare Noah's days with nowadays. That is, it's interesting that of all the examples Jesus uses to speak about the attitude that will prevail in the last days, he goes to the time of Noah. There were a lot of examples he could have used, but he chose that one. And I bring it up because at Noah's time, there was a rise in 5 worldwide conditions that I think we could safely say we're seeing today.

And if you'd like to, you can put a marker here and go back to Genesis chapter 6, and read along. Or I'll simply read the verses to. Condition number one at the time of Noah was an increase in worldwide population. It says in Genesis chapter 6, verse 1 men began to multiply on the face of the Earth. And you may recall back in Genesis 5, there's a list of people, genealogy, genealogical records.

And the lifespan of some of these characters was enormous. For instance Adam, 930 years old when he died. Seth 912 years old, Methuselah 969, et cetera, et cetera. There were a couple of scientists a few years ago named Dr. Whitcomb and Dr. Morris. They decided to take the genealogical records of Genesis 5 on back and figure out lifespan, put in the average number of children, and come up with a population base at the time of the flood.

And they wrote, at the end of 18 generations there would have been 774 million people. And they continue, a conservative estimate of the Earth's population at the time of the flood would be 1 billion people. And could have far exceeded even that. Let me tell you why that's significant. If there were, conservatively, a billion people on Earth at the time of the flood, it makes it significant because when Jesus spoke these words, there were barely 250 million people on Earth at best.

In fact, there wasn't another one billion people ever again until 1930. That's the first time in modern history we reached 1 billion world population. Interesting, 1 billion in 1930. We reached 2 billion in 1960. We got up to 3 billion in 1975. We hit the 4 billion mark in 1986, or '87. 5 billion in 1999. Today, last time I checked 6.6 billion people on the Earth, and it's estimated by 2150 there will be 11 billion people.

So when you read, men began to multiply on the face of the Earth, Noah's days is a lot like nowadays. Number two, there was an increase in moral depravity. Genesis chapter 6 versus 2 and 3 tells us the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful, and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the Lord said, my spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh.

Yet his days will be 120 years. Now I'm going to spare you. I'm not going to talk about who the sons of God were, who the daughters of men were, what the Nephilim were, and there's a huge debate as to what that is. And if you want to, go for it. But honestly, I don't care. Because what I'm reading here is this whatever it was a moral deviation from the norm.

The norm being the traditional marriage that God gave to Adam and Eve, and his progeny. All of that changed. That there was something that happened, some trend that caused a muddling, and a confusion in these traditional roles. And people became loose, and exploratory on a sexual level so much so that God finally said all right, I've had enough.

I'm not going to always put up with this. I won't always strive with man. His days will now be 120 years, the lifespan gets shortened after the flood, God judges because of this. Now you've got to admit, though that is a different scenario, that's not unlike our age right? Don't we always push the envelope morally, sexually? What we allow on television.

People are always pushing for exposing more body parts. The courts are filled with cases about adultery, and homosexuality, and pedophilia, and even bestiality as to what is morally acceptable. So much so the chief sociologist of Harvard University noted, our society is preoccupied with sex. Would you agree with that?

Why is that? I don't exactly know. But I do know that the average person viewing television in a year will see 9,230, or up around 10,000 implied or described sexual acts, 81% of which are outside the bounds of traditional marriage. Now you can't tell me that doesn't have an effect when you see it that much.

You start thinking well, that's just the norm. Number three, there was an increase in wickedness. I know that's a general term. But I'll tell you what you're going to see here in Genesis 6, verse 5 is the Holy Spirit lets us peer into the very minds, the thought processes, of people living just before the flood. Genesis 6:5, then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

There's two English words in that little verse that are the same in Hebrew, different in English. Wickedness and evil. They're translated to different ways here. It's the same Hebrew word, "ra." Wickedness and evil. You might translate it, I know it doesn't sound like good English, but their badness was really, really bad.

Or they went from bad to worse. Whereas, the Berkeley translation puts it human wickedness was growing out of bounds on the Earth. Now hold that thought, because if you read Paul's opening treatise in the Book of Romans, he indicates that God in observing humanity, when a culture gets to a point, a certain point, that God reacts to it, responds to it, begins to judge. And I bet you've heard, I've heard people say, you know what?

God's going to judge America. You know what I think? He already started. Because as I read Romans the first step of God judging isn't to send cataclysmic catastrophes. You want to know what it is? Paul tells you what it is. They became feudal in their thinking, their foolish heart was darkened, and because they didn't wish to retain God in their thinking, their knowledge God gave them over to a debased mind.

You know what the first step of God judging a culture is? Is giving them over it all they say that they want, letting them become so immersed and preoccupied in that preoccupation of theirs, that he just gives them over to a debased mind. I was reading Reader's Digest once and it had this little quip, the way many people are living today you'd think that hell has become air conditioned.

And nobody wants to talk about, that or think about the future, or ponder that. It's like Jesus said, eating, drinking, merrying, giving in marriage, life as I see fit that satisfies myself. That's the norm. That's the way it ought to be. Any thought of God, any thought of a future accountability is off the radar screen. And before there was an increase in violence in Noah's day.

Genesis 6:11, the Earth was also corrupt before God and the earth was, notice this, filled with violence. Interesting description. If you went back-- that's Genesis 6. If you went back a few chapters, the first murder shows up. And what does that? Cain kills Abel it's the first murder. First homicide. Same chapter, there's a guy called Lamech who kills a young man based on Cain's example.

In fact, Lamech said, well if Cain is going to be avenged sevenfold, and I'm going to be avenged 70 sevenfold. He took that example and it became a little more-- the bad went to really bad. Here, it says the Earth was now filled with violence. That is murder, homicide, the taking of life has reached epidemic proportions. There is a point I want to make here. There is a downward progression.

Once people turn from God, they will turn on one another. They make movements away from God. They rationalize their thinking about God. And so, they don't look at other people as being in the image of the creator, but just a fortuitous occurrence of accidental circumstance. And it's easy to make the step once you turn from God to turn on one another.

I was speaking to a doctor this week, not because I went to a doctor for any health reasons. I was on a phone call. I serve on a committee, a board meeting of the World Medical Mission. Most of them are doctors on this committee. And one doctor was telling us. He said, I don't know if you guys have seen it but I have certainly seen an increase in violence in my practice like never before.

He said, it used to be in the emergency room I saw between maybe one and two gunshot wounds per week. He said, now I see five to six per night, that's the average. Five to six per night. People are walking into schools and killing children at random, walking into malls and pulling the trigger at a group of people. Newsweek magazine calls this a rampant make my day ethic.

And they give one of the reasons why. Our national icons tend to be men who excel at violence. Well, you remember even that movie. Go ahead, make my day. I got to tell you, all the little boys saw that and went yeah. Hero. Don't put up with anything. No guff.

A rampant make my day ethic. Number five, there was an increase-- and now I think we're going to the point here of Jesus in this chapter, there was an increase in Noah's time, Noah's days to nowadays, an increase of unheeded preaching, unheeded preaching. That is, people didn't want to hear about God, about absolute truth, about the coming judgment.

Had no time for them. Now, did you know that Noah was not only a boat builder, but a preacher? In fact, for about 120 years while he's building this boat, and by the way, he's building it inland, not even the sea coast around, he's building it inland in Iraq. What do you think people thought of that? I mean, it's like having a yacht factory in Gallup.

[LAUGHTER]

Hey old man, what are you building? Big old boat. Yeah, I can see that, how come? Well, God talks to me. And God told me he's going to judge this world. And you've got to get on this boat to be safe. How do you think people responded to that? They laughed him to scorn.

They scoffed. Oh, old man. You've been out in the sun way too long. This is nuts. Well, and we know how they responded. The Bible tells us only eight people got saved. The majority of the Earth was flooded, and only eight people were saved. They didn't want to hear what he had to say. Now, I want you to see this.

So turn with me to second Peter, chapter 2. Keep turning right, keep going, several blocks. Almost to the end. Second Peter, chapter 2. I'll wait till you get there. Second Peter, written by the apostle Peter. Followed Jesus around, you know him well. He's talking about God's judgment. He gives several examples, look at verse 4 second Peter chapter two.

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved for judgment, and did not spare the ancient world but saved Noah, one of eight people. A preacher of righteousness. That means a proclaimer, a herald, a spokesperson. He said words. Bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly.

And then I'll give more examples of judgment. Look at verse 9, then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment. So there's Noah, building a boat. For a long time, speaking to people. Look down to chapter 3, second Peter, same book. Verse 1, beloved.

I now write to you the second epistle in which both, which I stirred up your pure minds by way of reminder. That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets. And of the commandment of us, the Twelve Apostles of the Lord and Savior. Knowing this first, that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts and saying, where is the promise of his coming?

For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. For this they willfully forget that by the word of God, the heavens were of old and the earth standing out of water and in the water. Now, that's describing the antediluvian cosmology, the vapor that hung around the Earth before the rain. By which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.

But the heavens and the Earth, which are now preserved by the same word are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. So they were saying, not going to be a flood. Peter says in the end times, scoffers are going to come and say, where's the promise of his coming? You know, my great-grandmother used to say Jesus is coming back. He never did.

Then, grandma picked up the mantra he never did. Then my mom used to say it, now you're saying it. And I'll say it again, Jesus is coming back. OK? Well, nothing has changed. All things remained the same. Steady state theory, uniformitarianism. These people said Peter, forget that there was a time when God cataclysmicly broke into human history and made a big statement of judgment.

Here's the point, just like in those days, so in the last days, there will be an increase unheeded preaching. More and more people are saying, I don't want to hear it. Even making fun, be it Saturday Night Live, or David Letterman. You know, you can say anything you want to about Jesus. You can scoff at him, and scoff at Christians, and they're all nitwits.

And there's an interesting little trend I'm noticing, maybe you are as well. I keep hearing words on the news, and it's an interesting word I keep hearing a lot. Fundamentalism, and it's usually coupled with two other words. By the way, fundamentalism has never been in our culture a good word regarded as such, because it describes a person who actually believes what their book teaches.

But it's usually accompanied with radical Islamic fundamentalism. So here's the picture people are understanding, there's a whole group of people, and a lot of them around the world they're fundamental in their belief of the Quran. And they're willing to live their daily lives, and even die for what they believe. So what happens in that rhetoric is that you just spinning that word enough. Fundamentalism, fundamentalism, and it doesn't take a huge jump from Islamic fundamentalism to Christian fundamentalism.

And the feeling of the world is all fundamentalists are whacked. And the only ones that will be tolerated are moderates, as you can believe there is a God that exists, but just don't take him too seriously. So more and more, you're going to see unheated preaching. People won't want to hear anything about truth, and absolute, and certainly not about the coming judgment. Go back to Matthew and look at two verses that are tagged on to this.

He describes the attitude that happened and will prevail in the last days, verse 40. Then two men will be in one field, out in the field. One will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill, one will be taken, the other left. What does that mean? Some people see the rapture there, like Noah was taken in the Ark, up off the Earth.

So will be taken? That is go out working in the field, turn around. And his buddy, Shlomo, is gone. It could mean that. I don't tend to see it as that. I tend to see it means taken away in judgment, not taken away in the rapture. Because I'm tying the context into it. Look at verse 39, they did know until the flood came and took them all away.

What took them away? The flood. What was that? The judgment. Verse 40, then two will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. So either way, here's the point. And it's a good point. God always makes a difference when he judges.

As Peter said, God knows how to reserve the ungodly for the day of punishment. You know, the word oops has never fallen out of God's lips. You'll never hear go oops. Oh, no. I'm judging these people, but I forgot there's a few over there that I should have separated. He always makes the difference.

It's throughout the Bible. Remember, the hailstones storm in the Book of Joshua? It says hailstones came out of heaven and killed the enemies of Israel. They're the only ones that they struck. God was a good aim. He got just those guys.

God will always be a good aim when it comes to judgment. So that's the demonstration of man's indifference. That's the attitude. Now, let's shift gears in closing to the actions. The direction for man's obedience, he says in verse 42, as if to apply it and to sum it up, watch therefore. For you do not know what our your Lord is coming.

But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready for the son of man is coming in an hour when you do not expect. Let me take all those verses, and give you a summary statement. You could write it down, or you could just memorize it.

The Bible's revelation of the world's consummation should result in godly motivation. Once again, the Bible's revelation gives you all the information you need to know. The Bible's revelation about the world's consummation, the end of the world should inspire godly motivation. That's his point. Therefore, he uses that term.

There's three things we ought to do to respond to this in obedience. Number one, we should be awake, aware, knowing. Number two, we should be alert. And number three, we ought to be ready. Be aware. You know, he says here you don't know what hour your Lord is coming, verse 42, but know this.

In other words, you can't put a timetable together when all of this is going to come down exactly. But I've given you enough information for you to be aware of this. That's the same thought back in verse 25, look at it. See, I have told you beforehand. I'm making you aware. Same thought, back in verse 15 at the end. Whoever reads, let him understand.

So number one, we had to be aware. There's no other group of people on the face of the Earth that ought to be more aware of where we are today and what's coming up ahead than us. You know, the Bible refers to us Christians under the name of the spiritual man, or the spiritual person, generically. In 1 Corinthians, Paul divides people up into a natural, carnal, and spiritual.

And he says something really fascinating. He says but the spiritual man discerns all things, or judges some translations say. Or better yet, the spiritual man understands all these things. So we have to be very aware of where we're at. I was reading this week about an eagle.

You're going to like this, I think. I loved it. And eagle's I has eight times more visual cells per cubic centimeter than a human being's. What that means is an eagle at 600 feet above the ground can spot a moving creature the size of a dime through six inches of grass. Eagle-eye vision.

It also means that an eagle can spot a three-inch fish jumping in a lake five miles away. I couldn't see it if it's in front of the boat half the time. In other words, an eagle can see and is aware of more than lots of other creatures. That was Noah. There's a flood coming, Noah saw what others didn't see.

Hebrews 11:7, by faith Noah being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear and prepared an ark for the saving of his household. So number one, brother, sister, fellow believer, learned to be aware of your surroundings, aware of biblical prophecy, aware of the news. Be aware. Be awake.

Number two, be alert. Look at verse 42. Watch, therefore. In verse 43, if the master of the house had known, he would have watched. So we're to be prophetically aware and spiritually alert. We have too much information to be apathetic. We could never say, oh, well, he's coming, so what? In fact, I hope that you wake up in the morning and you think, this could be the day.

WG Burns wrote, quite honestly I don't know who WG Burns is, I just found this quote. It makes me sound like I know what I'm talking about. Quoting others, a Christian is not likely to fall asleep in a fire or in deep waters, but he is likely to grow drowsy in the sunshine. I'm going to ask a question, are you looking for the coming of Christ?

Are you looking for his coming for the church? Or I'll put it to another way, are you looking forward to it? You might say, well, really, I'm not. I don't want Jesus to come back until I get married. Yeah, you do.

[LAUGHTER]

I don't mean anything negative by that, but obviously you're taking it as such.

[LAUGHTER]

Well, I don't want Jesus to come back till I finish that project. Yeah, you do. Well, I'm working on this cool house. I don't want Jesus to come back till I'm in it. Yeah, you do. Look for it, look for him, looking for that glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. By the way, you know there is a difference between looking at something, and looking for something.

When you look at something, that's just observation. When you look for something, that's anticipation. Take a wedding. We had a wedding here Friday evening. And people came to the wedding, and people who come to weddings that are out there that are observing it, they're looking at the wedding. But that bride, she's been looking for this day for a long time.

Big difference. Alexander McLaren, one of my favorite now dead expository preachers said the early church thought more about the coming of Jesus Christ than they did about death, or even heaven. They were not looking for a cleft in the ground called the grave, but a cleavage in the sky called glory. They were not watching for the undertaker.

They were looking for the upper taker. That's a way to live. That's being alert. Be aware, be alert. Number three, be ready. Get ready. So how do you get ready for that? Number one, you get saved. If you are not saved this morning, if you have not made a personal commitment to Christ, and asked him to come in your life, you are not ready.

Because it means you're going to see him, and meet him, not as King and Lord, but as judge. You know it's sad, really sad? The closest some people may get to heaven is this message. That's sad. It's not even a great message. It's the closest some people are going to get to heaven.

Don't be like the atheist all dressed up, no place to go because the truth is we all go somewhere. Get saved, get busy. If you're a Christian, most of you are, please don't be content where you're at in your Christian life. Don't plateau. Don't stop growing. Grow, Peter said.

And the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Remember, Jesus said go into all nations and make what? Disciples. He didn't say converts. Getting saved is a convert, growing in Christ afterwards is a disciple. You're a convert, great. Now follow him. And number three, get active.

Get involved with other believers in the kingdom enterprise, and we'll talk more about that next week. I've always loved what an old Scotsman named Duncan Matheson used to pray. Many times he would be in the pulpit, and it is thick Scottish brogue, he'd say Lord stamp eternity my eyeballs.

[LAUGHTER]

I love that. What a grid with which to face your day, your life. Everything you look at, think of eternity. That potential car, eternity. That potential spouse, eternity. That venture, what about eternity? That little thing I'm thinking about doing this week, eternity.

Hey, I heard about a town in England, southern England, it's named Tiptoe, England. Isn't that a cool name? Where do you live? I live in Tiptoe. It got its name years ago before roads were paved, and it would rain. Does that a lot there, and the roads get muddy.

And people living then wore those long, cumbersome clothing. They'd have to walk through the streets on their tiptoes. I think every Christian ought to live in tiptoe, not England. In the state of living on our tiptoes. Not getting flooded with the muck and indifference of this world, but living on our tiptoes in anticipation of His coming. You're looking forward to it? Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, what a privilege we have of gathering together with your people, singing the songs with such a wonderful worship band to lead us. Fellowship with so many wonderful believers. Godly, happy men and women. Great activities.

Thank you for that. Thank you that we could sit under the teaching of your word as your Holy Spirit breaks the bread of life, and the teachings of Jesus to our own hearts. Thank you for the last 13 weeks of being able to plow deeply through this chapter, and get a full orbed view of your plan. But now, Father, we're left with the therefore. And the therefore can never lead us to indifference or disobedience.

But we pray that the information, the revelation of the Bible that tells us about the consummation of the world would lead us to a godly motivation and obedience. We're already aware. Make us alert and ready. Because today could be the day.

Father, I'd pray that if anybody here has come with a friend or relative, or maybe they showed up on a number of occasions, but they're not ready for the future, because they're not yet personally committed to you. They've never invited you to come into their lives. They've never invited you as their personal Lord and Savior to wash away their sins.

They're not following you as a disciple. I pray that today would be a deep conviction that would lead to action. I pray that you'd save a few more. Only you can do it, Lord. No message, no preacher, no song, only you. And as we're praying with our heads bowed, and we're thinking about our lives, if you haven't yet surrendered your life to Christ, but you feel like the Lord's telling you to do it now.

I want you to raise your hand up. And keep your hand up in the air, we'll close the service praying for you. God bless you, and you, to my right, couple of you toward the back. Two more in the way back. Anybody else? Slip those hands up. You're saying, I'm going to give my life to Christ. Yes, sir.

I see hands even way in the back where the lights went out. More than that, God sees your heart right over here. God bless you. Now's the time. You've got everything to gain. You've got nothing to lose, who else? Raise your hand up. If you're in the overflow room, over in the hub, they'll tell you there's a pastor over there that'll direct you. If you're in the family room, you can raise your hand up.

God bless you. A couple of you back there. Father, we thank you and we pray that each life, each person, that your Holy Spirit has touched and brought them to this moment, indicated by these raised hands, that you would come into those lives, make this the first installment of a life of change. And bring a settled peace, a real, true joy from knowing you in Jesus' name. Amen.

Let's all stand. And I'm going to ask as we do this final song if you raised your hand, wherever you're sitting, whether it's the family room balcony back, middle, find the nearest aisle, and come right up in the front row I'm going to lead you in a prayer publicly to receive Christ.

So often Jesus called people publicly, and it'll do something in your own heart when you make that stand. Come stand right up in the front. Don't delay any longer. We'll wait for you.

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

I'm going to ask for just a moment that nobody leave the building. I know, you've maybe got other stuff to do. But this is like a birthing room. You're watching a wonderful, spiritual work. And so stay there and pray for the people that are next to you, as they come.

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

All right. Come on up.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[APPLAUSE]

There's room. There's room for you. Seeing these people coming forward may have inspired a few of you, or at least you're thinking. I know I need to be down there. This is something I know I've needed to do for a long time. OK, here's the opportunity. The Holy Spirit of God is still at work in your heart. So respond, so obey.

Come right on up.

[APPLAUSE]

I love it. Full families. Now, I have the opportunity to lead you all who have come forward and a word of prayer. More are still coming.

[APPLAUSE]

Now, you all remember this date because this will become your spiritual birthday. The day when you're born again. And next year, you can say I'm a year old. But this is where it begins, just in simplicity asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. So I'm going to say a prayer out loud.

And I'd like you, if you don't mind, to say it out loud after me, just like somebody would say vows to each. Other and you're going to say this to the Lord. Let's pray, Lord, I give you my life.

Lord, I give you my life.

I know I'm a sinner.

I know I'm a sinner.

I ask you to forgive me.

I ask you to forgive me.

I believe you died on the cross.

I believe you died on the cross.

And rose from the dead for me. And so I turn from my sin. I turn from my past. I'm yours. You're my Lord. My Savior. Strengthen me to live for you every day. In Jesus' name, amen. Yeah. Congratulations.

Yeah. It's exciting.

[APPLAUSE]

Hey, welcome to God's family, by the way. You're our brother and sister in Christ. And we want to help you grow from this day forward. Our brother right over here, can you see him? With his hand raised? Dale. If you'd follow pastor Dale, he's going to take you to a prayer room give you a couple of things, and explain what to do now. Make this a lifelong journey. God bless you guys.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/23/2006
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Rumblings of War and the Prince of Peace
Matthew 24:1-3
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
When you hear of wars and rumors of war what do you think of? When you see TV news of images of the horrors of evil what do you think? Most of us turn to others for comfort and others turn to the bible for answers but the real question is do you believe in your heart that God is your Father? Matthew tells us of the concerns of the disciples as they heard of Jesus speaking of the end times. The disciples are much like you and I for they asked Jesus and He told them plainly but did they really believe? So are you hearing and believing or are you believing what you think you want to hear? Think about it.
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7/30/2006
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Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign
Matthew 24:3-5
Skip Heitzig
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Do you believe signs when you see them? Do you know how to read signs when they are given to you? Jesus, in Matthew 24 tells of His return and the signs we are to look for. If we have a different understanding other than what the bible says then we may miss the greatest happening of all time and be left behind.., the return of Jesus. So, will you read the signs and seek to understand, or will you simply dismiss them and interpret your own signs.
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8/6/2006
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Why We Can't All Just Get Along
Matthew 24:6-8
Skip Heitzig
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War has always been a part of the regular life of humanity since our beginning. So what makes war a sign that Jesus' return is near? And more importantly, why can't people around the world get along? Why is it that strife, conflict, rivalry, and fighting have so marred God's highest creation? Where will it lead and how can we cope?
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8/13/2006
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When Faith Turns Fatal
Matthew 24:9-11
Skip Heitzig
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The Bible extols the benefits of faith. Faith justifies the sinner, appropriates God's promises for the believer and will bring us into eternal joy. But faith can also be fatal - there are consequences to believing! Faith in God brings us into direct opposition with Satan's worldly system and incurs the wrath and opposition of unbelievers and false believers. What will it be like for those who trust Christ just before His Second Coming?
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8/20/2006
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Big Mess; Bigger Message
Matthew 24:12-14
Skip Heitzig
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Whenever there's a mess, a messenger with a message is needed. God has always worked that way. In ancient Israel he sent prophets to herald truth to a recalcitrant nation. In church history God raised up evangelists to proclaim the gospel to sin-hardened and cynical generations. The future Tribulation will be the biggest mess ever, yet God will still have his message heard! Lets notice four human conditions that will prevail in the future of earth's most severe time.
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8/27/2006
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God's House Vandalized!
Matthew 24:15
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This single verse is pivotal in understanding prophecy. It highlights something that is both historic as well as prophetic. This verse, when tied to its historical roots in the prophet Daniel, will help you understand what John wrote in the book Revelation. But it offers more than just biblical information it provides practical inspiration when properly understood.
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9/3/2006
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Holy Land Tour: CANCELED!
Matthew 24:16-20
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For many Christians, a trip to the Holy Land is a once-in-a-lifetime dream. To see where Jesus walked, taught and spoke prophetically of is thrilling. But trouble is in store for Israel's future, in fact Scripture refers to it as "Jacob's Trouble" (Jer. 30:7). What will be Israel's future and what can we learn about the nature of God in adversity? Moreover, what should a believer's response to catastrophic events be?
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9/10/2006
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When God Declares War
Matthew 24:21-22
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War is ugly but sometimes necessary. It's meant to defend the weak and punish deadly aggressors. Jesus' words here depict a time when God wages war on the human race and throws every conceivable judgment to the earth in the Tribulation. These two verses also highlight three prevailing conditions that exist between God and mankind. The first condition has existed since the Fall of Mankind, the second will be a temporary result of the first, and the third condition is rooted in the character of God and takes the edge off of the first two.
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9/17/2006
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The New Dark Ages
Matthew 24:23-28
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Jesus said, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."(John 9:5) and that His followers were to take up the same occupation: "You are the light of the world" (Matt 5:14). But what happens when the light has been extinguished? What happens when spiritual darkness overshadows everything, everywhere? There's an old saying, "It's always darkest just before the dawn." Jesus tells His followers here that just when the world plummets to its darkest moment, He will be returning!
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9/24/2006
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Ready or Not, Here He Comes!
Matthew 24:29-31
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Children love to play games. One of those games is Hide and Seek where a child, after counting to ten, will call out to his friends, "Ready or not, here I come!" One day, after a time of intense distress, Jesus will return to the earth for the second time and many will not be ready for it. Those who survive and are ready will be gathered together with the rest of God's people to be ushered into God's eternal Kingdom. Are you ready or not?
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10/1/2006
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The End Times Farmer's Almanac
Matthew 24:32-35
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For years agrarians have consulted the venerable Farmer's Almanac for predictive signs on what this next season would bring, in terms of weather forecasts, threatening bugs and water table levels. It helps them know how to navigate through the growing year. Jesus gave a story to His disciples on how the future generation can tell when the season of judgment is upon them and how they should live during the last days on earth.
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10/8/2006
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What Angels Want to Know
Matthew 24:36
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Man's knowledge is impressive but it pales next to God's knowledge. The only things we know for certain are the things that God has revealed to us. Some things must be stored in our hearts in the imaginary file marked, "Wait for further information." As we wait for Jesus to come for us, let's consider what we know and what we don't know; in fact let's see what angels don't even know!
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10/22/2006
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Caught in the Act!
Matthew 24:45-51
Skip Heitzig
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Every parent remembers walking into their child's room catching them in some act either good or bad. The youngster wasn't expecting you to be there and that child's look tells all, betraying innocence or guilt. The return of Jesus Christ will catch some people off guard while others will be diligently involved in the Master's work. Ever wonder what you'll be up to when Jesus returns: what activities, conversations and thoughts you'll be engaged in? Let's consider two possibilities.
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There are 13 additional messages in this series.