Sun. a.m. AGCC 5/7/2000

TEXT:      Ex. 12:11 Deut. 30:16-20 I Cor. 15:51-58 Rev. 22:20


The final direction from Moses for Israel in preparing for the Passover was to eat the meal quickly. There is the sense here of urgency, of not procrastinating, to not linger too long! When God is ready to deliver us we must not procrastinate! The consequences for a slow response could be tragic. In a sense this is still true for the world today. God is calling sinners to Himself, He asks us to come to Him, not sometime in the distant future, but now! If we believe God exists and that we are sinners we need to realize that a decision needs to made. Faith should produce action! ILLUS:After church, where she had been taught about the Second Coming, a little girl was quizzing her mother. "Mommy, do you believe Jesus will come back?" "Yes." "Could he come this week?" "Yes." "Today?" "Yes." "Could he come in the next hour?" "Yes." "In a few minutes?" "Yes, dear." "Mommy, would you comb my hair?" -- Don Hussong, East Wenatchee, Washington. Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 3. PROP. SENT:      The Bible teaches us to be ready to respond to God when He calls us to Himself, both in salvation and for His second coming.

I. QUICK TRANSFORMATION       Ex. 12:11 Deut. 30:16-20

A. Ready!     Ex. 12:11 1. Why would anyone want to leave slavery slowly? a. God's Passover was ready to take place, and as soon as the death angel was finished they must be ready to leave! b. There could be no hesitation, for the moment of Pharaoh's softness would not last long. 2. Everything they were to do this night had to do with "making haste" it was to be their deliverance. 3. Though they were to eat a meal, and get dressed, they were to be thinking only of getting out of slavery, not enjoying a great meal or wearing the latest fashions. a. How sidetracked do we get with all the frills of society while forgetting about those who are lost in slavery and need a means of escape? b. We must be careful or we could forget the marching orders of the Church, we live to win the lost not just to get comfortable. c. The focus of a Christian should be toward helping the lost find Christ we must be careful not to get lost in all the distractions of this world that we fail in the most important mission given us by God. ILLUS:In Christian Parenting Today, Douglas R. Sword told this story: As I was giving my 4-year-old son a bath, I was trying to hurry because Monday Night Football would be on soon. He began telling me that Christmas was coming and that we needed to have a birthday party for Jesus. We talked a little more, and then he asked, "What does it mean to have Jesus in your heart?" On the outside I was calm, but inwardly my heart was doing flips. I explained that sometimes we do bad things and that God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for when we disobey. We need to ask God to forgive us and for Jesus to come into our heart to help us to obey God. He said, "Can I pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart?" It was the greatest pleasure a father can have. I do not remember who won the football game that night, but I will never forget leading my son to Christ. -- Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1. 4. Certainly there were a lot of things to occupy their minds that night, but the main focus was escaping from bondage hence they were to eat in haste! B. Responsive!     Deut. 30:16-20 1. God's best in our lives is not just an automatic thing, it requires a certain responsiveness on our part. a. Escape would not "just happen" without their preparation and obedience to respond correctly. b. This is why it is true that some people will not be saved and go to heaven unless they respond to God in an appropriate manner. 2. Failure to take seriously the proper preparations asked by God would mean being left behind. a. IT DOES matter how we live in this world, not just what we believe. b. God does not have a passive relationship with anyone! 3. God lays out the choices, and shares with us the consequences but the final choice is ours. ILLUS:During a thunder storm in the Midwest, my parents turned on the TV to watch for tornado warnings. Just as the screen flashed a warning, a limb crashed outside the living room window. Mom bolted toward a safer spot in the dining room, but a terrific lightning strike stopped her in the doorway. Wringing her hands, she shouted to Dad above the storm, "Where are we going?" "I guess," he said calmly, "it depends on how we've lived." -- Martha Vancise, Ft. Pierce, Florida. Christian Reader, "Lite Fare." 4. God presents to all people the choice of life vs. death, blessings vs. curses but the final choice always remains with us. a. Our choices will not only affect us, they will our children also. b. We must realize that choices we make have a life span beyond our own years. c. Israel's failure to choose wisely would result in a short stay in the Promise land, on the other hand, choosing wisely would result in a long stay. 5. God still presents choices for us and the future generations of this land. II. QUICK TRANSLATION     I Cor. 15:51-58 Rev. 22:20 A. Readiness!     I Cor. 15:51-58 1. There is a similar nature to the haste in which Israel was to leave Egypt and the quickness in which Jesus will one day come for His Church! a. The same issue of readiness is inherent in the hope of the Church for the second coming of Jesus Christ. b. Being ready for Christ's second coming includes the issue of "haste" it will happen quickly, without time to stop and prepare while it is happening .. thus we must be ready before it happens! c. This is Paul's point to the Church in Corinth, they must be ready for the swiftness of that moment BEFORE it happens in order to be included in the group that will be translated to Heaven. 2. All those who ARE ready will be instantly translated to Heaven ILLUS:Sign in the church nursery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51)-- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 43. 3. While the world may mock such a possibility we who know Christ as our Lord and Savior look forward with anticipation to that day. a. No doubt the Egyptians would mock Israel's preparations for leaving Egypt that night too before the Passover took place! b. What the world considers "impossible" God considers easy! 4. The New Testament Church was filled with anticipation about the coming of Christ, it was the hallmark of Christianity. a. Do we talk and act in such a way as to covey the truth that Jesus is coming back again? b. Is there a pattern of priorities that reflect our belief in this doctrine? 5. The grave and death will have no power over those who belong to Christ, our long dead bodies will quickly respond to the trumpet of God and His call for our bodies to come forth, like Lazarus only better! a. It is tragic that so many denominations no longer preach about the second coming of Christ! b. This is a cardinal truth for Christians! c. It is this hope that distinguishes Christianity from so many other religions. 6. Every New Testament Christian lived with the expectation that Christ was coming any moment and so should we! B. Reassurance     Rev. 22:20 1. It would be easy to relax and feel like Christ has waited now 2,000 years and still hasn't come but the truth is that this means we are 2,000 years closer to the moment! a. Jesus gets the last word at the end of the New Testament .. and it is straight forward; "YES, I AM COMING SOON" b. It is almost as if He wanted to reassure us at the last moment to not lose sight of this truth! 2. God has not forgotten His promise to return and it will be soon! a. To a God whose concept of time is "as a thousands years to man is but one day to the Lord" - it is soon! b. Why is it so important to know about this now? 3. God tells us this so we don't live our lives in defeat or fear though still present on this planet we are citizens of God's kingdom, and we will live with Him forever soon! a. The enemy is powerless we don't have to fear our enemy anymore! ILLUS:I knew an old Glasgow professor named MacDonald who, along with a Scottish chaplain, had bailed out of an airplane behind German lines. They were put in a prison camp. A high wire fence separated the Americans from the British, and the Germans made it next to impossible for the two sides to communicate. MacDonald was put in the American barracks and the chaplain was housed with the Brits. Every day the two men would meet at the fence and exchange a greeting. Unknown to the guards, the Americans had a little homemade radio and were able to get news from the outside, something more precious than food in a prison camp. Every day, MacDonald would take a headline or two to the fence and share it with the chaplain in the ancient Gaelic language, indecipherable to the Germans. One day, news came over the little radio that the German High Command had surrendered and the war was over. MacDonald took the news to his friend, then stood and watched him disappear into the British barracks. A moment later, a roar of celebration came from the barracks. Life in that camp was transformed. Men walked around singing and shouting, waving at the guards, even laughing at the dogs. When the German guards finally heard the news three nights later, they fled into the dark, leaving the gates unlocked. The next morning, Brits and Americans walked out as free men. Yet they had truly been set free three days earlier by the news that the war was over. While Christ's Kingdom is not fully achieved, we know the outcome of the battle. We too have been set free. -- Ray Bakke, Chicago, Illinois. Leadership, Vol. 19, no. 2. b. God reassures us that nothing man does, nothing that Satan does, will change the fact that He is coming soon for His children. 4. Will you be included when He comes? a. The heart of the Christian responds to Jesus' words about coming soon with the response, "AMEN, COME, LORD JESUS!" b. Is this your response? CONCLUSION:    God is a God of action, not just ideas! His offer of deliverance demanded immediate action. This is still true, God stands ready to forgive our sins, but must stan dready to act on the offer! When God is ready (and when isn't He!) things happen one day soon he will act to deliver us not only from sin's power, but even its presence. Are you ready to go?