Good morning. For those of you who don’t know, my name is Brian Morrissey and I am the Worship and Teaching Pastor here at Connect. I’m excited to share a message with you today that I am very passionate about and I cannot wait to dive in this morning, so we’re going to get started with a question.
How many of you have a sibling? For those who don’t have a sibling, how many of you are married? For those of you who don’t have a sibling or are not married, how many of you have a close friend?
Good, then all of you know what an argument is.
An argument is when two or more people set up camp on opposite sides of an issue. An argument is not just a disagreement, this is a line drawn in the sand and you’re vehemently opposed to the other person’s point of view.
For example: Coke or Pepsi? Chicken or Beef? Chocolate or Vanilla? Now, somebody just said strawberry and that’s really interesting because our culture is one that prefers multiple arguments at the same time. So instead of arguing about two things, we argue over three or more.
McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s? Well, that answer’s easy – Chick-Fil-A and if you’re thinking to yourself, that’s not a burger restaurant, you’re right. McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s are all irrelevant because if it’s a burger you’re looking for then you all need to visit the left coast and eat at In and Out Burger. That settles all debates right there.
We like to argue our perspective. It’s in our nature. We all have an opinion and we like to plant our flag and stand for what we believe in or what we approve.
You and I have both had our fair share of these arguments. As a matter of fact, I have a really good ongoing argument with my father in law. Now guys, it’s not advisable to get in an argument with your father in law. Trust me on this, you don’t win many brownie points from that and you’re likely to find your nose at the business end of a shotgun, but this one is okay.
How many of you have ever listened to classical music? That’s probably just the question you were expecting to hear asked this morning when you rolled into church isn’t it? I know that for most of you, you were forced to listen to it in grade school and you hated every moment of it because you couldn’t wait to get home and roll out Led Zeppelin or MC Hammer, but for those of you who appreciate classical music, you know that there is really only one true music composer and that’s Mozart right?
Wrong. How could any of you even think that? That’s who my father in law thinks is the true musical genius and greatest composer of all time.
The real genius of classical music and the pinnacle of all composers was and will always be Ludwig van Beethoven. Here is why:
Beethoven decided early on that he would compose exactly what he wanted and not what anyone else wanted him to. At the age of 22, when most men were apprenticing for other professions, Beethoven was already playing in the mansions and palaces of nobles and royalty.
Beethoven started to go deaf at the age of 25, before he composed the majority of his major symphonies and certainly before all of the “famous” ones
Beethoven actually sawed the legs off his grand piano and placed his ear to the floor so that he could sense the vibrations of the notes in order to compose his music
Piano Sonata 14 redefined the thought that minor keys could be used in composition of music. It is widely considered Beethoven’s second greatest work and wasn’t given its nickname that stuck until 5 years after his death. We now know it as Moonlight Sonata.
Beethoven was the composer who perfected the use of a choral in musical symphony when he composed his 9th symphony. Some of you know it as Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and it is still widely used in film and television today. In fact, it was adapted to a hymn and sung in the church as praise to God for years. Beat that Mozart.
Now I’m sure that in my brief exposition, I’ve convinced you of my side of the argument right? No? Well then what are arguments all about? Convincing each other? Making a stand and a point? The argument itself?
The church has argued for years like this over the end times. Through this series, we are exploring the book of Revelation and the End Times and what scripture has to say about it.
What we’re not doing in this series is arguing. We’re presenting scriptural evidence and simply telling you what Jesus himself said. Just as there is room for debate and interpretation in every argument, there is room for debate and interpretation in the symbolism that Revelation gives us through imagery like the beasts and the trumpet and bowl judgments and what they all mean.
But that’s not the point of this series or of this book. The point is this, Revelation 1:1a (ESV) – The revelation of Jesus Christ…” Jesus is being revealed through this book. We are getting a glimpse into exactly who Jesus really is.
You say to yourself, but I thought I knew who Jesus was? I read about him healing the sick and talking with little children and giving up everything for everyone else through sacrifice and love. Yes. That is Jesus, but that’s not the whole picture. Your view and your picture of Jesus is incomplete without the Book of Revelation. And that’s where our focus is going to be today.
The Book of Revelation has two main themes. It has a lot of imagery in it that we could argue about over and over again, but at the end of the day, the main two themes of the book are these – It is a book of hope and it is a book of victory
And throughout this series, we’ve touched on the overall purpose of the book and read through the letters that Jesus gave to his Church, his bride. Then last week, Mike laid down a very powerful and important reminder of who the real fight is against. Our enemy is very real and very present and tries to hinder our work as Christ followers in every single area of our lives, but we have victory over him through the Blood of the Lamb. If you missed last week’s message, you can jump online at connect.cc and browse to our current series page to watch it.
Today we’re going to talk about the most exciting event in the entire Bible. This is the event that if you were going to lay everything out that is in Scripture, this is the one event that everyone looked forward to. The prophets, the disciples, the early church leaders all concurred that the greatest event in history would be what we’re going to explore in today’s message: the second coming of Jesus Christ.
When I was growing up, my favorite superhero was Superman. It’s not now because Batman is just that awesome (yet another argument we could get into, but we don’t have time.) Superman though, like most superheroes, had an alternate identity in Clark Kent. Clark Kent was someone who he could be to blend in and walk amongst other people so that they wouldn’t be afraid of his power. Someone who he could be in order to identify with other people and the struggles they faced in life. When he was Clark Kent, he acted as if he was powerless, he ran into things, he klutzily tripped on occasion and he was always pushing his horn rimmed glasses up on his face over and over again.
But it was never the complete picture of who he was. His real identity was Superman.
When Jesus walked upon this earth 2,000 years ago, he was Clark Kent, but as we’re going to see this morning through the book of Revelation, we didn’t have the complete picture of who Jesus really was. Clark Kent may have been 2,000 years ago, but Superman is who is coming back.
Jesus’ Second Coming will be a complete revelation of exactly who he is to the entire world. It’s been shrouded over time in a lot of mystery and it really begs a lot of questions. The disciples even wanted to know these questions. As a matter of fact, they went so far as to ask Jesus these questions and the Bible actually contains Jesus’ responses. The disciples got their curiosity piqued through Jesus’ teaching regarding “the end” and they decided to ask him two really big questions that Jesus didn’t duck or dodge. He actually takes the two whole chapters of the gospel of Matthew to answer them and we’re going to explore those responses.
The disciples asked Jesus to tell them when the second coming would happen and how the second coming would happen and here’s how it all went down.
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You 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. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. – Matthew 24:3-8, NIV
Now, I’m not going to spend much time unpacking this passage for us all this morning. Mike really touched on this during week one of our series and if you’re really interested in it further, we did a series back in 2010 called How to Survive the End of the World where we spent four weeks breaking this entire passage of Scripture down. You can head to our website and check it out there.
What I do want to draw your attention to in this passage this morning is that Jesus warns the disciples of two major challenges they will face as the end gets closer –false prophets and the threat of war.
We see these every day in every area of our lives. So many false prophets are trying to speak into our lives and it seems like another war is ready to break out each and every day. We learned just this week that there are small skirmishes heating up between North and South Korea. You just can’t escape the fact that Jesus said it and it’s happening.
The disciples also asked Jesus, How will it happen? Jesus reply was this – 29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ – Matthew 24:29, NIV
Now a lot of Jesus’ imagery here is actually Him quoting Old Testament prophets. Isaiah, Ezekiel and Joel were three men who prophesied that the sun and moon would not give off light and the stars would fall from the sky before the Day of the Lord.
So if you went outside after church today and the sun immediately went dark, what would you think? What about going outside and watching meteor after meteor rain down on the earth? That’s what they would have thought the stars falling from the sky would be.
But Jesus wasn’t done. Check out the next verse. – 30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. – Matthew 24:30, NIV
Right now, you’re saying to yourself, “That doesn’t sound exciting, that sounds terrifying. How can he say that’s the most exciting thing in Scripture?
You’re partially right. It does sound terrifying. All the people of the earth will mourn? Wow. Yes, all the people of the world. All of the people that belong to the world, not those that belong to Jesus. The people of the world will mourn. Those of us who see Jesus coming will be thrilled. It will be the most exciting moment in all of time.
And the Bible tells us that Jesus is going to be coming on the clouds with glory. If you’re like me when you read something, I try to close my eyes and form a picture in my head of what something looks like. But we don’t have to do that here, because John saw what this looked like in his vision. He records the description of it in Revelation 19. This is awesome.
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords. – Revelation 19:11-16, NIV
Are you fired up yet? Jesus is seen here as fully revealed. He is the conquering King leading the armies of heaven who has triumphantly returned to set everything right once and for all. He’s ready to dispense justice with the sharp sword that is the very Word of God. He’s got his name tattooed on his thigh – King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He’s a warrior. Not blonde haired, blue-eyed hippie Jesus you’ve seen in the paintings. He’s white-haired, blazing fire eyes Jesus with a big horse and a crown. Jesus, the Warrior King. Now you’re excited aren’t you?
Week One, Mike told us that we are indeed living in the end times since the resurrection of Jesus marked the beginning of the end. So, since we’re living in the end times, when will Jesus return? Do we know specifically? Can we pencil it in on the calendar?
Not exactly. Check out what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica when they asked the exact same question – 5 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. – 1st Thessalonians 5:1-2, NIV
When Jesus comes back, as the Warrior King, it will be at a time when we do not expect it. As a matter of fact, here’s what Jesus himself cautioned each and every one of us. “Therefore, keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…you must also be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” – Matthew 24:42, 44, NIV
A thief that comes to steal something from you tries to come when you are not watching, but there are things you can do to be ready. So how can we do that? What do we need to do?
Before John gives this grandiose description of Jesus returning in the book of Revelation, he writes this in Revelation 19. Check this out – 6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. – Revelation 19:6-7, NIV
In week 2 of this series, Mike discussed this idea of the Church as the Bride of Christ. God wants his people to understand that He loves them as his bride and so whenever we see the bride of Christ in Scripture, it is referring to the Church, God’s people. You and me.
In Revelation, John is telling us that the bride of Christ has made itself ready for his coming. That’s when Jesus comes, when the bride has been made ready.
A wedding doesn’t start until the bride is ready. Think of what would happen if the groom wanted to rush the wedding ahead before the bride was ready. That’s not going to end well for the groom.
The deal with our groom, Jesus though, is that he knows when the bride is ready. He knows exactly when the right time to come back will be and we’re not going to know when that is, but we need to be ready.
Some of you in this room this morning think that you are ready. Some of you know that you are not. Some of you may only be hearing about this for the first time and you don’t understand anything I’m talking about this morning, so let me stop us right here and remind us why this all matters so much.
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ came to earth in the form of a baby. He grew into a man and lived a perfect sinless life. Then he went willingly to a cross to pay the debt for each and every one of our sins – yours and mine. Justice demanded that there be a blood sacrifice for sin and since it would have meant our death, Jesus looked across time at you and me and walked up a hill and surrendered to death to pay the penalty for you and me so that we didn’t have to die.
If the story ended there, it would be a great story. But it didn’t. The story only got better. Three days after dying, Jesus rose from the dead. Here in two weeks is Easter Sunday and we’re going to launch a new series called Resurrection that you do not want to miss which will touch on this incredible event. I can’t wait for that.
After Jesus rose, he spent another 40 days on the earth and then he ascended into heaven where he is preparing a place for you and I to live with him and our Father, God for all of eternity. And then one day, he’s coming back for the church who is his bride and make everything right forever. No more sickness, death, or pain. It’s all gone forever.
That’s going to happen. We don’t know when, but we know how. And the question today is, are you ready? Are you ready for Jesus to come back? How can we as the bride of Christ, be ready for Jesus to come back?
Jesus told us how. He didn’t veil it in mystery or symbolism, he simply told us what we need to do. The gospel of Luke tells us the words of Jesus in no uncertain terms.
Read this with me – 35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” – Luke 12:35-36, 40, NLT
So let’s discover how Jesus wants his bride to be ready when He returns from this passage in Luke. Jesus tells us that the first way we can be ready for his return is to be dressed for service.
All you have to do is jump in and be ready to serve. Whenever, Wherever, However. We have so many ways here at Connect that you can jump in and serve. There are Setup Teams, Kids’ Teams, our Connect Team, our Worship and Tech Teams, our Security Team, our Student Team, and even our brand new Care Team that we’re getting ready to launch.
However you want to serve in the church, we’ve got an area and an avenue for you to serve in. But you’ve got to serve. Here at Connect, we’re not about sitting around on our hands and being lazy. We expect each and every one of you to jump in and serve. And beyond the fact that we expect our members to serve, Jesus expects it of you.
The church is not a country club where you pay your dues and come in and get fed. It’s a place where you roll up your sleeves and get down in the mud with other people so that the kingdom of heaven can grow.
Look around this room. All of this equipment didn’t magically appear set up this morning, someone put each individual chair and cable and light out so that we could worship God together this morning. We have to be dressed to serve.
The church is not the only place where you can serve. You can serve in your community, in your school, at your place of employment, in your homes, I could go on and on. The point is to love others by serving them. Being ready to jump in and do whatever you can to show the love of Christ to others. That’s step one to being ready.
Step two is right after it – your lamp burning. What’s that mean? It means you and I need to be a light for others to see Jesus. Jesus called himself the light of the world in John and he calls you and I the light of the world in Matthew. It’s the only time in Scripture where Jesus calls us the same thing as Himself.
The idea behind keeping your lamp burning though is that you have to be a light for Jesus all the time. You have to constantly burn for him. Not for other things.
There is an epidemic in the church today, and I’m not talking about just Connect, I’m talking about everywhere there are people who call themselves Christ followers or Christians.
Way too many people pretend to follow Jesus. They ignore his leading and burn for themselves and for the world until church time rolls around, then they put on a face and smile and they come to church and pretend that they’ve been burning their lamps for Jesus all week long.
What’s that? Oh you didn’t think we noticed? You didn’t think we noticed all of your posts about being out with that guy or girl last night and how they were so hot? You didn’t think we noticed your tweets about how you went out and binged on everything? You didn’t think we saw all those internet memes you forwarded poking fun at the homeless people? At the poor and the destitute? At the drug addicts and sex slaves?
Guess what? When you don’t burn your lamp for Jesus, you can’t hide it. And what are you doing it for? To be cool? To impress other people? When you try to impress other people, if they’re impressed at all with you, it will only be for a short time. And when Jesus comes back, they’re opinion of you doesn’t matter, so why are you living by it?
All you’re doing is pretending.
I used to pretend. I used to dress up as a cowboy and shoot the bad guys. I used to pretend that I was a knight fighting dragons. I used to pretend that I was a superhero who could fly, but it didn’t make it real.
Here’s what’s real. Wake up and listen to me. Jesus. Is. Coming. Back. WAKE UP CHURCH!
When Jesus comes back, he’s not going to be interested in people who are pretending to have it all together. When Jesus comes back, he’s not going to be interested in Sunday Christians. When Jesus comes back, he’s not going to be interested in your excuses or your circumstances. He’s not going to be interested in what kind of car you drive or how many Facebook friends you’ve got. He’s not going to be interested in your accolades or your failures. When Jesus comes back, he’s only going to be interested in those who have not only accepted him as their Savior, but those who are following Him as their King.
When was the last time you actually did something the Bible said you should do? When was the last time you governed the decisions you made on a daily basis by what Jesus wants for your life instead of yourself?
When was the last time you prayed for God to show you what you needed to change in your life? When was the last time you got uncomfortable doing something for God?
Get yourself out of the throne. You were never meant to be there. That’s Jesus’ place and when he comes back, do you want him to find you sitting on his throne? I didn’t think so. Stop pretending.
Keep your lamp burning for Jesus. It’s tough. I get it. But you don’t belong to the world. You belong to a Savior who died for you so that you could live in heaven with Him for eternity without sickness or pain or death and that means He gets to call the shots in your life. Burn for Jesus alone.
Be dressed for service, keep your lamp burning and the third and final thing we can pull from what Jesus said in Luke is this: Wait for the knock.
Jesus is coming back and when He arrives, he will knock. When He does, He asks us to let Him in the moment He arrives. He has left us to be dressed for service and to keep our lamp burning, but when our Warrior King knocks, we better be ready to open the door.
The problem with you and I is this: when we have to wait for something, we tend to get distracted and we quit watching. It’s hard to be patient and wait on something. We live in a culture of instant gratification. We have fast food, we have on demand television, we have instant coffee, and we have same-day delivery. We’ve gotten so impatient that we can’t seem to wait for a video to load on the internet. If it takes 5 seconds or more, we’re on to the next link.
So when God doesn’t do things on our timetable of instant gratification, we begin to lose focus. We begin to lose hope and we can’t afford to do that. God has a reason for waiting. The Apostle Peter gives us a glimpse as to why in his second letter.
Read this with me from 2nd Peter 3 – But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:8-9, NIV
Jesus wants everyone to be saved. Everyone. Look at what Peter tells us – He does not want anyone to perish. You know what that means for you, good news. Jesus loves you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Jesus loves you. You couldn’t have been bad enough or done enough wrong things for him not to love you. He’s standing with open arms, ready to welcome you into His Kingdom.
And if you’re here today, saying that sounds too good to be true, let me tell you a little secret. The only difference between you and the Christians in this room right now, is Jesus. They are living a life that has been changed by the love and grace of our Lord and Savior, and you can have the same thing today.
For the rest of us, we’ve got to learn to be patient as we wait for Jesus to come back. That may mean making some changes in our lives as we wait because we’ll never know when our last day will be.
Most people think to themselves, I have plenty of time. I can do what I want, I can live how I want. I’ll live for Jesus later. The problem is this: there may not be a later.
We need to live every moment of every day like it’s going to be our last. What would you do if today were your last day on earth? I bet you would do a whole lot of things differently wouldn’t you? If today was your last day, a whole lot of things just wouldn’t seem to matter anymore, would they?
Rowena Darby is a woman who lives in the United Kingdom and has a husband and a three year old son named Freddie. This past year, Rowena was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the bowels and her doctors have given her less than 2 years to live.
For Rowena, everything suddenly changed. She realized she was not going to be there to see her son off on his first day of school. She would never see him go to the movies for the first time, would never see him go on his first date, would never see him graduate from school, and would never see him get married.
Rowena could have done a lot of things with her time left, but she decided that she wanted to do something that mattered, so she sat down and wrote a series of cards marking every special occasion she could think of including birthdays, Christmas, first day at school, graduation and even a wedding card.
She has also set up an email account so Freddie can access it when he is old enough, and she has printed a series of special quotations on cards to be given to him later in life.
This is how Rowena is spending her last days. She’s prioritizing and getting ready. Rowena says, “I just want to be a mum and do normal stuff with my son. There is nowhere I want to go, I just want to have a normal life with no regrets, ‘Lots of people with a terminal illness talk about quality of life over quantity, but I couldn’t disagree more,’ she says. ‘Every hour that I get to spend with Freddie is one extra precious hour. I treasure every one.’
Rowena is living every day like it’s her last. She’s prioritized her life around what matters. That’s how to wait patiently for your last day because it’s coming like a thief in the night. You and I have got to be patient.
We need to be listening for the knock. We have got to be ready to open the door at any moment. Jesus will come at an hour when we don’t expect Him and today could be that day. You never know, He could come this very hour, this very minute, this very second. We have got to be ready.
Let me pray for us.
Maybe you’re here for the first time today and you’ve heard what I’ve said this morning and you want to be ready when Jesus comes back. You’ve never accepted Him as your Savior and your King and you want to make that the number one priority today. That’s awesome.
Or maybe you’ve been in the church for a while and your priorities are way out of alignment. Today’s your chance to get started on the road to getting them back in place.
Maybe you’re here today and you’ve been wrecked and terrified at things I’ve said because you know that you’re not ready for Jesus to come back.
Listen to me, whatever your situation, right now, at this very moment, it’s not too late. It might be too late later on today, but it’s not right now. Don’t wait. Don’t take another minute to say, I’ll live for Jesus later because there may not be a “later”.
Our band is going to lead us in one last song and as we worship in the presence of Jesus, those of you who are ready to prioritize for Jesus and say, I’m not going to wait can come to the back. We’ve got guys and ladies lined up, ready to take those next steps with you, but do it today. Do it right now as we all stand and as we sing.