Daily Reading & Meditation

Thursday (August 28):  Are you ready to meet the Lord?

Scripture:  Matthew 24:42-51

42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, `My master is delayed,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, 51 and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.

Meditation: Has your community or town ever participated in a grand homecoming party for a celebrated hero or champion who courageously and selflessly risked all to serve their people and nation - who risked great odds to protect people from harm and who achieved great victory over an enemy bent on destroying their land and freedom? The Lord Jesus promises us a great victory celebration when he returns again to put down his enemies and to establish his everlasting kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness. That day when the Lord Jesus returns will be joy and peace for those who are prepared to meet him - but grief and sorrow for those who did not accept him as Lord and ruler of all.

Jesus will return to establish his everlasting kingdom
Jesus' first coming was a rescue mission - he was sent by the eternal Father in heaven to save us from the tyranny of sin, Satan, and death. Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross and his triumphant victory over the grave won pardon for us and reconciliation with our heavenly Father, and the promise of everlasting life and joy in his kingdom. The Lord Jesus told his disciples on a number of occasions that he would return again at the end of this present age - not simply to rescue us again from our enemies - but as a victor King and Lord who will vindicate all who have believed in him - by releasing us from the curse of death and condemnation and restoring for us the plan he had from the beginning of creation - a new heavens and earth for a people perfectly united with God in peace, joy, and harmony forever. This is the background to Jesus story (parable) about the householder and the thief in the night (Matthew 24:42-51).  When the Lord Jesus returns, he doesn't want to find us flirting with the enemy or worse joining forces with enemies who are opposed to God and his kingdom.

Don't let Satan rob you of your heavenly treasure
What does Jesus' parable of the thief in the night teach us about God's kingdom? If you knew that a thief was prowling about and trying to strike your home and threaten your life, wouldn't you seek to protect yourself from harm's way? Jesus' parable of the thief in the night brings home the necessity for watchfulness and being on guard to avert the danger of plunder and destruction, especially under the cover of darkness and secrecy! While no thief would announce his intention in advance, nor the time when he would strike, lack of vigilance would nonetheless invite disaster for those who are unprepared to keep their treasure and their lives secure at all times! The intruder strikes when he is least expected!

Our adversary the devil seeks to rob us of the treasure which the Lord freely offers us. What is the treasure which the Lord Jesus wants us to guard lest we lose it? It is the treasure of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus himself - who is our greatest gift and portion in this life. The Scriptures remind us that there is no greater treasure on earth or in heaven than the Lord himself  (Psalm 16:5,11, Job 22:25-26, and Philippians 3:8):

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever" (Psalm 73:25-26).
The Lord Jesus chooses to come and dwell in our hearts through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit. He knocks at the door of our heart and invites us to let him enter (Revelation 3:21).  Are you ready to meet the Lord - each and every day?

Be ready to give your account to the Lord Jesus

Jesus ends his teaching on watchfulness and vigilance with another parable about a master and his servants (Matthew 24:.45-49). The storyline is similar. There is an element of surprise - the master suddenly returns home unexpectedly, probably from a long journey. He rewards the dutiful servant for his faithfulness to his master. He has performed his service with diligence and has done all that the master required of him. The master punishes the other servant who behaved wickedly. This servant was not only irresponsible - he was frequently absent from work and spent his master's money by throwing endless parties with his friends. The wicked servant also abused his fellow workers with physical force and violence - probably to make them do the work he was supposed to do for his master. The master not only throws him out of his house, he fires him from his job! He also throws him into the worst possible place - a prison of no return where there is nothing but torment and misery.

Should we be surprised to see the master acting with such swift judgment? After all he is only giving back what they have given to him. The master rewards the faithful servant with honor, promotion, and friendship, and he punishes the unfaithful servant - who stole from his master and used his position to abuse others - by removing him from his position of trust with the master and by throwing  him into prison for robbing the master and mistreating his fellow servants. The Lord has entrusted each of us with his gifts and grace - the grace to love God with faithfulness, trust, and obedience - and the grace to love our neighbor as our self. Do you love faithfulness?

Always be prepared for your homecoming
The Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in watching for his return and to be ready to meet him when he calls us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God's way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord's warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory.  God's judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.

“Lord Jesus, you have captured my heart and it is yours. Take my life and all that I possess that I may have you alone as my treasure and joy. Make me strong in faith, steadfast in hope, and generous in love that I may seek to please you in all things and bring you glory.”

Psalm 145:2-7

2 Every day I will bless you, and praise your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 Men shall proclaim the might of your awesome acts, and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness, and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: You do not know the day, by John Chrysostom (347-407 AD)

"But his meaning is like this: If ordinary persons knew when they were going to die, they would surely be striving earnestly at that hour. In order therefore that they may strive, not at that hour only, he does not tell them the hour or day. He wants to keep them on their toes looking for it, that they may be always striving. This is why he made the end of each person’s life so uncertain. In this passage he openly implies that he himself is Lord. Nowhere before has he spoken of this so distinctly. But here he seems to me also to be putting to shame those who remain careless about his lordship. They take much more care about a thief taking their money than about their own soul. Those who care about their house and do not want their possessions stolen take measures against the thief. They watch; they are prepared for the thief. So it is with you. You do not know when he will come. But you know assuredly that he will come. If you do not continue to watch, you will not be ready on that day. You will be unprepared. Destruction will come in your sleep. If the person had known when the thief was coming, he would have been prepared. So be like the one who is prepared at all times, so you will escape free. Having then mentioned the judgment, he directs his thoughts next to teachers, speaking of honorable and dishonorable actions. His discourse closes with that which is alarming, for he speaks first of those who do right, then of those who continue in sin." (excerpt from the  THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY  77.2-3)


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author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.  

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