"PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE"
TEXT: Mark 13:1-37
INTRO:The world right now is focused on the future. For some they see the collapse of technology which will usher in chaos on a global level. For others they see much to do about nothing! For some it is an opportunity to attempt terrorism, for others a time to stay home and not get too excited. Some will celebrate with others, some will simply ignore most of the celebrations and try and get a good night's sleep.
The fact of the matter is however that the future is upon us! Ironically, Jesus spoke a great deal about the future, but most people were not listening then, and most don't listen much to what the Bible says today either. Not too many years ago preachers used to preach on the second coming of Christ, but it seems it has gone out of style to speak on such things.
If there is anything clear in the Bible however it is that Jesus is coming again and we need to be prepared for the future! We cannot ignore the truths about the future as Jesus tells us. As sure as Jesus came the first time, He is coming a second time, only this time it will usher in the end of all things! It won't be the computers that end the world, it will be the coming of Jesus Christ!
Some people (even some Christians!) think we should avoid the frightening images of what the Bible says will take place in the last days, yet how can we ignore such an important element of the Bible, and the need to be prepared?
ILLUS:Some of you have heard me tell about my early ministry when I served a little church in rural Georgia. One Saturday we went to the funeral of a relative of somebody in my church. It was in a little country church not of my denomination. I grew up in a big downtown church. I had never been to a funeral like this one. They had the body out there. The casket was open, and the funeral consisted of a sermon by their preacher.
The preacher pounded on the pulpit and looked over at the casket. He would say, "It's too late for Joe. He might have wanted to get his life together. He might have wanted to spend more time with his family. He might have wanted to do that, but he's dead now. It is too late for him, but it is not too late for you. There is still time for you. You still can decide. You still are alive. It is not too late for you. Today is the day of decision."
Then the preacher told how a Greyhound bus had run into a funeral procession once on the way to the cemetery, and that could happen today. He said, "You should decide today. Today is the day to get your life together. Too late for old Joe, but it's not too late for you."
I was so angry at that preacher. On the way home, I told my wife "Have you ever seen anything as manipulative and as insensitive to that poor family? I found it disgusting."
She said, "I've never heard anything like that. It was manipulative. It was disgusting. It was insensitive. Worst of all, it was also true." -- William Willimon, "The Writing on the Wall," Preaching Today, Tape No. 129.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that the future reality of Christ's coming should have a real impact on how we live in the present, and how we are to be prepared for the future!
I. THE PRESENT CELEBRATION 13:1-2
A. Man's Focus 13:1
1. The disciples in this text show the true heart of the natural man, pride in what man has made and the marvel he feels about his own superiority over the rest of creation!
a. They are awe struck by the temple MAN made!
b. They invite Jesus to be amazed too at man's clever creation.
c. They are impressed with the technological capabilities of their own kind.
2. While there may not be anything wrong with having SOME pride in what we make and do, to look at what should have been God's temple and only see what MAN did to create it was to lose the proper focus and become like the world.
a. They saw magnificent buildings, Jesus saw lost and dying people!
b. They saw what man had made, Jesus saw only how empty man was!
c. They looked on blocks of stone, Jesus saw hearts of stone!
3. Jesus' constant frustration with His own disciples was their failure to see through spiritual eyes the greater realities … the choice to see only what they wanted to see.
4. Mankind so often sees and hears only what it wants to see and hear, even when God tries to reveal Himself!
ILLUS:Our student body settled down for another session of daydreaming as our college president launched into one of his weekly Monday morning messages. Though he had many good and thought-provoking points in his sermons, his pedestrian method of delivery made it difficult to focus our attention on what he was saying. As we fixed our gaze on him and our thoughts on other things, our minds were programmed to listen only for his always welcome conclusion, "Now we shall stand."
Time crept by and finally we hear the words we'd been waiting for. We all stood and found ourselves facing a startled president who had asked in the course of his message, "How shall we stand in the day of judgement ...?" -- Jean Crist, Niagara Falls, NY. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."
5. Our culture has found it fashionable to make movies about the apocalypse but yet ignore the Biblical call to prepare ourselves spiritually for the coming of the Lord!
a. The world makes it only as entertainment such as in movies.
b. It is really prophetic reality!
6. The future really will catch up with us, and then the past will catch up with us too!
B. Man's Folly 13:2
1. Jesus makes it clear in His response to their observations on how great man is and how marvelous man's creation is by simply stating the folly in the natural man's heart … all this marvel of technology will soon fall away!
a. This must have been a shock to their systems!
b. This temple had taken over 80 years to build to completion!!! It was started by Herod the great in 18 BC and finished in 65 AD!
c. It was not even yet finished when Jesus had this conversation with His disciples.
2. Jesus makes clear that what they marveled in, what man had made - will simply fall apart and be destroyed in their own lifetime!
a. What took over 80 years to build will come down in less than month!
b. Indeed the temple was totally destroyed, not one stone left on another in 70 AD when Titus the Roman invaded Jerusalem. This was only 5 years after the completion of the temple!
c. The Romans had heard rumors that the Jews had hidden gold in the blocks of the Temple so when they conquered Jerusalem they literally dismantled the entire structure looking for this gold … Jesus' prophecy in this verse that not one stone would be left upon another was literally true and fulfilled only about 40 years after Jesus spoke it!
3. Instead of taking pride in the God of the Temple they had been full of pride in the Temple they had made with their own hands!
a. How distracted from truth we can get!
b. Even the disciples who sat under Jesus' ministry day after day can fail to see the true spiritual realities that should have our attention.
4. So often the world would rather ignore God's truth for their own version of it!
ILLUS: To start a discussion on core values, our youth pastor asked the teenagers: "What would you do if your doctor told you that you had only 24 hours to live?" The teens mentioned being with friends and family, and the discussion seemed headed in the right direction. But it came undone when Jason, our 13-year-old, said, "I'd get a second opinion." -- Donna Spratt, Melfort, Saskatchewan. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."
5. The stunned disciples finally start asking the more important questions now that Jesus has refocused their attention away from what man has accomplished to what God is going to do.
II. THE PLAN OF CHRIST 13:3-37
A. Messiah's Focus 13:3-23
1. Now that Jesus had their attention they ask about the future.
a. It is extremely important that we notice Jesus' focus was not so much on the details of the future as much as it was on guarding their hearts and lives in the present!
b. 8 times in this chapter Jesus makes comments like "WATCH" "DO NOT BE ALARMED" "DO NOT WORRY" "BE ON GUARD" "BE ALERT" "KEEP WATCH" etc.
c. Jesus' focus wasn't so much the future details as much as He was concerned about their present lives and how well they are PREPARED FOR THE FUTURE!
2. This is the heart of all prophecy - not to detail the future plans as much as to help us be prepared in the present!
3. How different Biblical prophecy's focus is from the fortune tellers and mystics of this world - the mystics try and wow you about the future, Biblical prophecy attempts to focus our lives in the present as we anticipate the future.
4. Man's best attempts at the future will be nothing compared to what God will accomplish!
ILLUS: In 1241, the Tatars invaded Poland's old city of Kracow. It was the custom there for the hours to be marked, not by a bell, but by a trumpeter. An arrow cut short his song right in the middle. To this day, you can still hear the trumpeter, his song never finished, ending in the middle. At noon each day, the same haunting call is broadcast on Polish radio. The end of the world will come with the sound of Gabriel's trumpet. No one will stop him. He will finish his song.- -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
5. Some of the things Jesus prophesied in this passage came to pass in the disciple's own generation, Jesus' warnings served to prepare them and all His followers later who would read these prophetic words.
a. Indeed in 70 AD when the Romans invaded Jerusalem many of the Christians fled to safety because of the prophetic warnings Jesus gave here, they were one of the few groups that managed to escape and be safe.
b. It is also clear however in the text that some of these things remain to an even greater future time, and yet the same principle should apply, TO BE PREPARED!
6. So how do we prepare?
a. By accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior!
b. By living for Him in the present knowing that He controls the future!
c. By looking forward to the blessed hope of all Christians, the second coming of Christ!
7. Christ's focus was not just the future, it was the disciples' present that He was emphasizing, a present time to prepare adequately for whatever the future brings.
a. The world is storing up money, bottle water, generators, etc.
b. The Christian should be storing up faith as the MOST important thing … and then preparing for the future whatever it brings!
B. Marvelous Fact! 13:24-37
1. The truth is that Jesus will come back again.
a. Only those who know Christ as the savior and Lord will find this a positive time.
b. You cannot be a Christian in name only, it must be in fact a lifestyle!
2. While we don't know the exact day nor hour of His coming, we can know the general sense of the time when He will come … Jesus said "that when trees put forth tender leaves you know summer is near, and so when many of these things begin to happen we can know that His coming is near also!"
a. Many of these things are either taking place right now or have taken place!
b. His coming will be soon … and we must always remain ready!
c. Again, Jesus' focus is obvious in the text since 8 times he warns them to "be on guard", "be ready" … etc.
3. There are probably more people prepared for Y2K then are prepared for Christ's coming!!!
a. Which is more important though?
b. Which are you more prepared for?
ILLUS: My mother knew a boy who was promised a watch if he would be on time for school and church for a given length of time. Upon completion, the boy wanted his watch. With money tight, his parents said it would take awhile to purchase the watch. Each day, the boy asked about his reward, until finally the father told the boy that if he mentioned "watch" one more time, he wouldn't get one.
Each night before supper, the family repeated a Bible verse before asking the blessing. When it came the boy's turn to select the verse, he chose Mark 13:37 -- "And what I say unto you, I say unto all--Watch." -- Betty Bishop, Hampton, Fla. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."
4. Let's keep the call for alertness alive!
a. The early Church was always talking about the second coming of Christ.
b. Shouldn't it be a hope in our hearts too since we are so much closer to it?
5. When we look at Biblical prophecy three things should happen:
a. We should become concerned about how we live in the present (see also I John 3:1-3)
b. We should rejoice in the knowledge that Christ is coming again for all those who believe on Him and have made Him Lord!
c. We should become passionate about winning the lost to Christ.
6. For all those outside of Christ it will be a horrible time, but it is the Christian's blessed hope!
a. Are you full of hope or fear?
b. What will you do to PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE?
CONCLUSION: We face a New Year, a new century, and a new millenium - and with this man's focus will be on two things: (1. All the marvelous things he HAS accomplished and (2. All the dreams of a bright future ahead. The future however has a dark secret, but with a note of hope for all those who know Christ as Lord - and it is focused on what God will do and not on what man will do! Are you ready for the future?