Saturday, July 29, 2017

Signs of the Times

It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.

-- Luke 12:38

California might come to mind when we think of places where earthquakes are common. But did you know that Yellowstone National Park, which straddles Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, experiences hundreds of them each week? What's more, the area sits atop a so-called supervolcano, and it's been 70,000 years since it last erupted. Then there's the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), which covers parts of seven states from Illinois to Mississippi. During the Winter of 1811-12, it experienced 15 tremors with estimated magnitudes of 6.5 to 8.0. That's on par with the 1989 San Francisco, 1994 Los Angeles and 1995 Kobe, Japan, earthquakes. Seismologists report that the NMSZ appears to be 30 years overdue for a magnitude 6.3 quake, which could cause billions of dollars of damage and perhaps thousands of injuries and deaths.

Disasters, whether natural or manmade, Hour Glasshappen every day. They're often unpredictable. And there's no guarantee that we can actually save ourselves, our family or property from the resulting destruction--even if we recognize their warning signs. But today, there are cautions of a much greater world-changing event that could strike in 100 years, 20 years, 2 weeks or maybe even tonight.

God promises us through the Bible that one day, a Savior (Jesus) will return to right all the wrongs of this world, save and reward those who place their faith in him, and direct all others to an eternity of torment. No one knows exactly when he'll reappear. But many of the Bible's prophesies on the matter have already been fulfilled, such as the relatively recent prediction about the re-birth of the State of Israel. There's actually nothing to stop his Second Coming in our lifetimes.

Yes, Jesus could return in 5 minutes or in 500 years. But either way, we must be prepared. That's because none of us knows when our time on Earth will expire. Check the news on the Internet, television or the paper, and you're bound to find stories about deaths through accidents, crimes or sudden illness (such as a stroke or heart attack). Like the victims of a tsunami, they had no idea that the day would be their last.

This brings us to the obvious question: Are you prepared to meet your Maker? Your answer has eternal consequences. "So you also must be ready," Jesus warns us, "because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

Our God is a God of justice. And since we've all failed to live up to his standards, we all deserve the penalty that Jesus endured on the cross--for our sake--about 2,000 years ago. So whether we leave this life from a natural disaster or naturally through old age, the question remains: How can we be assured that we'll spend eternity with God rather than forever without him? The simple answer is not a particular action we can take, but rather a certain Person we must trust:

"I am the way, the truth, and the life!" Jesus assures us through John 14:6. "Without me, no one can go to the Father."

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