Working and watching to prevent terrorist attacks is a top priority for government intelligence and security agencies, in today’s world, the more eyes searching the horizon for danger, the better. When I think about the money and work being invested in watching for something that may or may not happen, such as a terrorist attack, I consider how well the church is doing at working and watching. Resources have to be invested in counter-terrorism efforts whether another attack ever happens or not. But in the church’s case, we know of something that is absolutely going to happen in the future—something we should be working and waiting in anticipation of. And that event is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth.
This article assumes the fact that Jesus is coming again. And it also assumes the absolute necessity, by Jesus’ own words in two of His parables, to work and to watch until He comes. If government agents work and watch for things that “might” happen, how much more should we be working and watching for something that we know is going to happen?
How to Work Until Jesus Returns
The first parable, the one about our responsibility to be at work until He returns, is in Matthew 25:14-30—the parable of the talents. The theme of this well-known parable is “Do business until I come.” Every Christian should be able to answer this question: “What business am I to accomplish for my Master until He comes again?”
From the New Testament, we could list a score or more of specific responsibilities we have as followers of Jesus. But let me summarize them under four headings—and ask you to consider “How’s business?” in your life with regard to each one.
1. Publicize the Gospel. Our Master’s marching orders when He left earth could not be more clear: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). To determine “how’s business,” think about these issues: With how many people have you shared the Gospel in the last six months? How many missionaries do you personally support?
2. Promote the health of the church. Spiritual gifts are given in the body of Christ to enable individual Christians to build up the church. How are you using your spiritual gift(s) to build up the church toward maturity? Where are you serving?
3. Prioritize your life. Just as the servants in Jesus’ parable stood before their master to give an account of their work, you and I will stand before Jesus Christ one day to do the same thing (Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). In the last twelve months, how many times have you adjusted the affairs of your life to be more Christ- and kingdom-centered?
4. Pursue your work with hope. The servant in the parable who did no work (and lost his reward) lived in fear, not in hope. If you truly believe what Jesus Christ said, and what the Bible teaches, you will live with more certainty about the return of Christ than about anything else in your life. Your answers to the first three of these points are an indication of just how hopeful you are about the work your Master has left you to do.
How to Watch Until Jesus Returns
The second parable Jesus told is in Matthew 25:1-13—the parable of the ten virgins. The five wise virgins were ready to receive the bridegroom when he appeared, while the five foolish virgins were not. When they went and made preparations and returned, the door to the celebration had closed.
Since we do not know the hour of His return, we must know how to watch until that day.
First, do not be deceived by anything (Matthew 24:4-5). You and I must live an on-guard life, keeping our eyes focused on the one true Savior and returning King.
Second, do not be troubled by anything (John 14:1, 27). The peace of Jesus Christ is stronger than anything from this world that threatens you.
Third, do not be confused by anything. There is only one focal point in life, and that is Jesus himself. Fix your eyes on Him alone (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Fourth, do not be tempted by anything. Like a child who gets caught doing something wrong when his parents arrive home unexpectedly, Jesus is going to return at an hour you least expect (Matthew 24:42-44).
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
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Don Cantelon grew up on the Canadian prairie amid the incredible poverty of the Great Depression. Nine years of drought, dust storms, and grasshopper plagues added to the misery. Don’s dad, a prairie preacher, continued as faithfully as he could, living on almost nothing; and inspired by his example, Don himself grew up to become a young pastor. But he, too, received little income from the impoverished congregations he served.
Don met a girl named Ardena who he quickly fell in love with—the two became engaged. He was embarrassed that his fiancée’s left hand was bare, but there was no way he could afford a ring on his church salary, so he waited for an outside speaking engagement to provide a little extra money. Finally, he was asked to speak at a youth convention in Alberta.
Arriving in Alberta, he counted ten cents in his pocket; and when he learned that his assigned accommodations were a long way from the meeting hall, he fretted about the bus fare. As Don ambled down the street, a prayer formed in his mind: “Lord, if I had just five dollars, I think I’d be all right until they give me my love offering at the end of the convention. You see, Lord, I need just enough money for bus fare, a little writing pad, and a cheap pen.” As Don continued walking, he stuck his hand in the breast pocket of his coat and pulled out a love letter from Ardena along with a paper giving information about his trip.
Stuck between the two was a five-dollar bill.
At the end of the meetings, Don was given a modest honorarium. After buying his train ticket and returning home, there was enough left for the tiniest of engagement rings. Don never knew how the money got into his pocket, but he said, “From that point in my life, I found it easier to believe that God would supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
 Don Cantelon, The Day I Burned the Hotel Down and Other True Stories (Abbotsford, BC: CeeTeC Publishing, 2002), chapter 18: “The Five Dollar Miracle.”
The beautiful red-bricked church of St. Andrews in Easton, Maryland, was known for its open door. Generations had gathered at St. Andrews to enjoy food, fellowship, and Sunday worship. So it came as a jolt to most parishioners when the bank foreclosed on the building and sold the property at auction.
Sadly, this is not a rare occurrence. There are thousands of houses of worship in America, and every week a few of them close their doors. The Christian Science Monitor ran a column a number of years ago entitled, “The Coming Evangelical Collapse,” which proclaimed, “We are on the verge—within 10 years—of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity.”
But not so fast! I’m not ready to accept defeat. These are exciting times to be a Christian. The Church around the world is growing at a pace unequalled since Pentecost, and this is the greatest harvest season in the history of Christianity.
While I’m realistic about the challenges facing evangelism today, Christianity has a way of outliving its critics. News magazines and newspapers may soon be a thing of the past, but it’s a mistake to assume that Christianity is dead and buried. Don’t discount the power of God in the hearts of men and women.Confidence Still Standing
Rain, wind, and fire—think what life on earth would be like without them. Pretty desperate if not ultimately, impossible.
Rain. Water evaporates as a gas from the earth into the sky where it forms clouds, condenses, and falls to earth as a liquid. That liquid grows our crops, fills our rivers and lakes, cleanses the air and the planet from dirt and dust, and slakes our thirst. Life would not be good without rain.
Wind. We take it for granted, but life would be difficult without it. Wind moves clouds through the sky, making it possible for arid regions to get rain. With the advent of mechanization, wind power fell out of primary use; but now wind has suddenly become a targeted tool for producing electrical energy. Think how different life would be without wind.
Fire. No one knows when the first spark was intentionally struck by a human being, setting ablaze a fuel source, producing heat and light. Wherever fire began, life today would be impossible without it.