Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Catastrophy, Suddenly

This last Friday, at about 11:30pm, I checked the weather and noticed a severe thunderstorm warning for my area for the next couple of hours.  I really did not think much of it other than to put the tops back on my Jeep.  We went to bed later than usual thinking of our usual Saturday mornings of going to garage sales.  Then the storm came.  I wish I could paint some kind of a written picture of what this storm was like.  The sound of the wind is something I can not really describe but also something I can not really get out of my head.  The lightning was scary, even for people who like to look at lightning.  It was constant and all around you.  It was like the end of a fireworks show when they send up all those white-exploding boomers, only this was all around you and lasted for a good hour.  Power was out by that time so the only sound was the rain, wind, and thunder, and the only light was the constant strobe of the lightning.  After an hour, over 200,000 people were without power, countless trees older than anyone living through the storm were ripped up by their roots, houses were damaged, cars were crushed, lives were lost, and even an old church was burned beyond repair.  This was all without any time to prepare.  This reminds of a scripture passage.
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Now five of them were wise, and five [were] foolish. Those who [were] foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,  but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.  And at midnight a cry was [heard]: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us [some] of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, '[No], lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'  But the wise answered, saying, '[No], lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'  Matthew 25:1-10 NKJV
The lesson from this storm was preparedness.  Some say that there was no time to be prepared,  In fact, I just said that there was no time to be prepared.  I certainly wasn't.  I did not know where our flashlights were nor did I know if they worked.  We had no emergency supply of water or nonperishable food.  We had only 1/4 of a tank of gas in both of our cars.  We had no evacuation plan should it have come to that.  We were left scrambling, thankfully finding enough open stores to get by.  Of course, most of the stores were cash-only and cash was not something we had a lot of on hand.  To make matters more complicated, my wife was sick so our options were limited.  It was only two days, but there are still many others who do not have power.  For many, the nightmare is still ongoing and getting worse and worse each day. 

So how does one prepare for something when there is no time to prepare?  The answer is simple: always be prepared.  You should always know where your flashlights are and whether or not they work.  You should always have some supply of water and nonperishable food on hand.  I am not talking about those people who are preparing for the apocalypse, but I mean having a few days supply to get you through an emergency.  You should always have at least 1/2 of tank of gas in your car.  You should always have an emergency store of cash.  You should always have a plan or an agreement with friends or relatives to have a place to evacuate to should it ever come to that.  If you are always prepared, you will never be caught unprepared. 

This same message of preparedness applies to our waiting for the return of Jesus.  God says that no man knows the day or the hour and the Bible is clear that it could happen at any time.  It could happen today, it could happen next week, it could happen ten years from now.  The fact is that while we can read some signs, no man knows for sure.  That is the point that Jesus was making in that parable.  Those virgins all knew the bridegroom was going to come, but no one knew when.  The wise virgins were prepared with lamp oil for his return.  The others did not.  Perhaps they thought they would receive ample warning.  Perhaps they thought that they could get by.  Sadly, they were wrong.  When the bridegroom did come they left to try and buy something that they already should have had only to find out that it was too late.  They also pleaded with those wise virgins who did have lamp oil to share some of theirs.  They could not share.  Their oil was prepared for the bridegroom and could not be shared.  They were unprepared and when Jesus returned, they were left behind.

So what is this oil?  Oil in the Bible is representative of the Holy Spirit.  Those wise virgins had the Holy Spirit.  Those foolish ones did not.  The foolish ones thought that maybe they could come to Jesus when they finally saw him return.  Maybe they thought they would come to Jesus on their deathbed so they could live how they wanted.  They thought they would have time to come to Jesus, but found out that they did not.  Their time was all the time they wasted not coming to Jesus and now they will live all time in judgement with that knowledge.  Perhaps the other unwise think that they will make it into Heaven because of their family ties to the church.  Maybe they have friends who pray for them and think it will be enough.  Maybe their parents are Christian and they grew up in the church and so that will be enough.  Maybe they think that their spouse will get them into heaven.  They are tragically wrong as well.  The Holy Spirit is not something we can share.  It is not a thing, but a Person.  It is not just a Person, but the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.  In other words, it is God.  We can not share God.  We can share the gospel and the knowledge of God but we can not give God, salvation, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to anyone.  Everyone must have their own relationship with God.  Everyone must accept the Gospel on their own accord.  Everyone must have the Holy Spirit residing in their own hearts.  If Jesus is not inside you, no one else can put Him there but Him and He will not lest you pray to receive Him.  No one can pray you into Heaven, no one can wish you into Heaven, and no one can pay for you to enter Heaven.  Only your own decision to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can get you into heaven.

The point I am making is that if you have not received Jesus as Lord and Savior, now is the time to do it.  There are storms coming culminating in His return for His people and a time of tribulation like this world has never known.  The storm we experienced last weekend was bad, but for a very small area and it only lasted an hour.  The tribulation is many times worse, encompasses the entire world, and lasts for seven years.  More than that, you never know what storms are going to come in your life.  You do not know if you will have time to prepare before those preparations are needed.  Every day you hear of people killed instantly in a storm, a car wreck, a medical emergency, by some kind of crime, and many other ways.  You do not know that you will ever have that time to prepare.  Once that times comes, you will be left outside.  In other words, you will enter judgement and have all of eternity to wish you were ready.  Accept Jesus today then you will not have to worry about any storm or any circumstance that comes because you have what you need should even the worst happen.  There are many bad things to not be prepared for that can have serious implications on your life.  Not preparing for eternity will have serious implications on your eternal life.  Again I say, prepare today, accept Jesus now. 
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.   Matthew 25:13 NKJV

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