Are You Ready?

A little late in the day for these magazine articles, but I thought I'd put them up anyway. They may give ideas for future years.


Later the others also came. 'Lord, Lord,' they said, 'open the door for us!' But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I don't know you.' (Matthew 25:11-12 NIV)

Are you ready for Christmas? It's a question you may hear with increasing urgency in the coming month as the pressure mounts for the Christmas shopping to be completed, the presents to be wrapped, the food prepared and the house decorated. But there's another kind of preparation.

During Advent we prepare for the coming of God's King, Jesus. Of course at Christmas we remember when he came as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. That was the first time he came. He came that time to be called Immanuel, which means “God with us”, and Jesus, which means “the Lord saves” (Matthew 1:21-23). At Christmas, we remember God coming himself to save us. God came, because no-one else could do it. We needed to be saved because all our sin left us separated from God and deserving his judgement (death and hell). So Jesus came to save us and he died on the cross, taking our punishment, to do just that.

But in Advent, we don't just look forward to remembering the first coming of Jesus, we look forward to Jesus coming again. This year in our morning services in Advent we're looking at some of the stories that Jesus told about his second coming in Matthew 25 and I think the big question throughout is: Are You Ready? The verses above come from the story of the ten virgins waiting to celebrate a wedding. Five make sure they have some spare oil for their lamps, so that when the bridegroom is longer than they expected, they are still ready when he comes. But five run out of oil and they're out trying to buy more when the bridegroom comes. When they are ready it's too late to get into the banquet.

The same may be true of people today. It may appear that they are Christians, waiting for the coming bridegroom, Jesus, to return. They may claim to be Christians and they may seem to be doing many of the right things. Yet when Jesus comes it turns out they were never properly prepared and so they are not ready. And not being ready means being shut out of the kingdom of heaven.

The Lord says to the virgins who were shut out: “I tell you, I don't know you.” That gives us the hint of how to be ready: the only way to be ready for that day is to know the Lord. We need to know Immanuel, God with us. We need to put our trust in Jesus the one who saves us from our sins.

It may be that there is a longer delay in Jesus' return than we expect. We may have died, as many before us have. It may be that Jesus comes again before we have the chance to celebrate Christmas this year! In either case you will face the returning King as your judge. Are you ready?  As Jesus says:

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13 NIV)

This Advent, will you take the opportunity to make sure you are ready. Don't just be ready for the celebrations of Christmas. Make sure you are ready for Christ, when he comes again.



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