As 2011 draws to a close, many would say, looking back, this year has been a whirlwind of catastrophes worldwide. We have witnessed financial turmoil that has rocked the worldwide markets and brought many, seemingly wealthy nations, to the brink of disaster. Some would say, the United States isn't far behind other debtor nations that have gone down in the flames of their own greed.
Wars and rumors of wars abound, reminding me of the words of Jesus speaking to His disciples who, even then, wondered about the signs of the times: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows...” Matthew 24:6-8
Jesus went on to teach a good deal about the end times and the great tribulations the world would go through as the end draws near. He also cautioned us to beware of false prophets, of which He told us there would be many. We even saw a few surface this past year. But to anyone who knows the Word of God, we know that Jesus declared very clearly: “But of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Matthew 24:36
It is tempting to stand by and think that we are helpless victims of the events unfolding around us. But Jesus Christ has not called us to stand idly by, nor to assume the position of helpless victim. Rather, He has called His disciples to be wise stewards of the gifts and talents He has given us to prepare us for whatever is coming. We are called to watch the signs of the times and to be ready to meet Him whenever He comes. In the world we live in, it is so easy to get caught up in the culture and the demands of our everyday lives that we may forget to look for the Bridegroom – to be prepared to go out and meet Him whenever He comes. To keep “the oil burning” until the hour of His return. Not an easy calling in these frivolous, often, self-centered times we live in. But He has given us fair warning. The consequences of failing to heed His warning will be eternally significant. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' But He answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matthew 25:11-13
What Do You Think?: Do you ever find yourself sinking into complacency like the five foolish virgins, who grew weary of waiting for the Bridegroom to return? What do you need to do to “keep the oil burning in your lamp” until He returns? What does that mean to you?