December 1, 2019: NOW!

Readings:
Isaiah 2:1-5
Matthew 24:36-44

Recently, BIC, the company famous for its pens and razors,
Surveyed over 2,000 British adults on Patience.

And the answers all pointed out that the luxuries of modern life have made most people incredibly impatient- across every aspect of their lives.

For example:
Respondents reported becoming frustrated after just 16 seconds of waiting for a web page to load, and after 25 seconds of waiting for a traffic light to change.

it only takes 22 seconds for people to start cursing their computers or TVs if a show or movie doesn’t immediately start streaming correctly. Surveyed Brits also reported losing their cool after just 18 seconds of searching for a pen.

Waiting in line seemed to especially annoy respondents, with 45% admitting they had lost their temper after waiting an “excessive” amount of time. But, what exactly is excessive? Respondents said just 30 seconds of waiting in a line would be enough to try their patience, and half said they are likely to switch to a different line if the one they are in isn’t moving fast enough.
Surprisingly, 95% of respondents still admitted that they believe patience is a virtue.

Much of this impatience can probably be traced back to the convenience and instant gratification of the internet

But the problem is we have become very impatient people.

It is not only a problem when it comes to finding pens,
But it is a major problem when it comes to faith.

Because just like we lose patience with one another
We at times lose patience with God.

We want God’s help NOW.
We want God’s love NOW.

But Faith is not about Fast.
Faith is about patience.
It is about waiting.
And waiting.
And waiting.

That is the lesson we get from Isaiah and Matthew.

The book of Isaiah opens up with the prophet sharing really REALLY bad news with Israel.

The bad news is God the Father is very disappointed with Israel, the children.

The children have rebelled against God.
And God uses medical imagery to express that disappointment.
The people are sick
They have a virus.

“The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint (1:5).”
And to deal with this sickness, God is going to bring judgment and wrath.

It doesn’t look good.

But then we get to today’s lesson.

God moves away from a vision of destruction to a vision of a big party where God will teach his children new ways and how to walk in the path of righteousness.

But even with the image of a party, what is more important is the promise that God makes:

That there will be an end to war.

This is big because for most of its existence, Israel has known nothing but war.
Rarely has Israel been in a state of peace.
Israel spent most of its time in constant battles with neighboring countries.

Imagine living in a place where every day you were surrounded by war.

Sadly that is a reality today where there are countries like:
Afghanistan
Yemen
Syria
Where in 2019 alone there have been over 72,000 deaths.

So to hear God promise an end to war, that there WILL be an end to war would bring much needed comfort to the people.

Now they just have to wait.
And be patient and prepared.

And being prepared is the message that Jesus shares in the Gospel.
To show us the readers how important being prepared is, Jesus uses not one not two not three but FOUR examples on being prepared.

The first is from the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-40).
Jesus focuses on the SUDDENNESS of the flood, and how it caught the people who were partying WAY TOO MUCH off guard.

The second and third examples feature four people at work, and suddenly two people are taken away.

Just like the Flood, it happens suddenly.

And this leads to the fourth where the homeowner was not prepared for the thief.

Had the householder possessed such information, had he been PREPARED, then he would have stayed awake and prevented the break-in.

When it comes to Jesus’ return we need to have the same preparation.

But here is the problem.

We cannot stand not knowing when that day is.

We want to know and we want to know now.

And because of this need to know now, Christians can fall for too many so-called preachers who claim they know the answer.

Which I find very sinful since the only one who knows is God the Father, and he ain’t telling.

So please be careful when you hear someone say they know the date.

They don’t.
They never will.

As Jesus says to his disciples, they CANNOT know.
They CANNOT.
As if they don’t have the power or the capacity to do so.

ALSO we need to be careful when it comes to these disappearances.

Many jump to the conclusion that the ones who disappeared are the saved ones.
But Jesus never reveals where the field worker and grinding woman are taken.
Who is to say the ones left behind are not the saved ones?
Who is to say the ones who disappeared are not the ones who face wrath?

The point is we cannot say that.
Because we do not know.

So we don’t know the WHEN
And that makes us crazy,

But here is the key for Christians.
Rather than focus on the WHEN (which we do not know) God will return

focus on knowing THAT God will return!

God has not left us to live our lives on our own.
God has not left us on this planet to fend for ourselves.
God will come again,
God will judge the living and the dead,
And God’s kingdom will be here to stay.

But until that day comes,
We hold on to the promise God makes at the font and at the table
And we start being patient.
How do we do that?

A few weeks back I was sitting with Paul and Maddie both on my lap.
Love it!
But as they sat there, I started to think of the future:

His first day of First Grade
Her first day of Kindergarten
His first sports event
Her first ballet recital
Their first broken bones
Their first crush
Their first broken hearts
His first date
Her first boyfriend who will not exist until she is 35 years old

I was looking so far ahead,
trying to plan for each moment,
that I almost took my eye off what was important and that is living with them IN THE NOW.

Because they are only 5 and 3 once.

And living in the NOW makes one appreciate the blessings and the opportunities given to us by God.

Living in the now.
Taking one day at a time.
Being patient.

And live out our lives knowing that God’s got this.

And God’s got us.

Together, let us focus on the NOW, while God deals with the LATER.

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