Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times for January and February are provided by P. Ryun Chang, Teaching and Resource Pastor of AMI.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Matt. 24:44-50 (NIV): “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.  Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?  It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.  I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’  and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.  The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.”
The church where I became a believer in 1981 was steeped in end-times Bible prophecy. My fascination with this grew all the more after seeing Christian movies, such as “A Thief in the Night” and “Image of the Beast,” which portrayed a terrifying world following the rapture. My ears perked up when several respectable pastors predicted the Lord’s coming in 1988. The fact that the prediction didn’t come true that year hasn’t stopped others from setting other dates (e.g., Harold Camping-2011).
One consequence of failed date-setting is an increased disinterest in Christ’s coming. Anticipating this, Peter wrote: “They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’” (2 Pet. 3:4). I plead guilty to that because I went from passionately teaching the end time prophecy to becoming somewhat unenthused about reading the book of Revelation (always as the last book while reading the Bible in a year).
The above parable suggests that a pitfall of not taking seriously of Christ’s return is apathy towards fulfilling our responsibilities from God. The servant in charge of taking care of others became selfish and irresponsible, assuming that the master wouldn’t return any time soon; consequently, instead of being faithful, nothing was denied in the pursuit of pleasure for here and now.
Ironically, those who take Christ’s return seriously can be just as callous as those who don’t. For instance, in a mission’s conference organized by a church known for its strong emphasis on end-time prophecy, the speaker chided some in the audience who cheered over a war that just broke out in Russia, believing it to be a fulfillment of a prophecy. He said, “We should be mindful that people die in a war without knowing Christ.”
Peter asks, “What kind of people ought you to be?” (2 Pet. 3:11). Regardless of when Christ will actually return, we need to live each day as if he is coming today. Unlike the irresponsible servant, we should continue being faithful to God’s task; “[we] ought to live holy and godly lives as [we] look forward to the day of God” (3:11). So, approach today with eagerness to let Christ be known through your faithfulness.
O God, I glorify and praise You this morning for your Son Jesus who, in His first coming, died for the sins of the world so that we might live with You eternally. Father, help us to rely on the Holy Spirit to keep our focus on the responsibility that you gave us, even as we wait for your second coming. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 16
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Thess. 5:1-8 (ESV): “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.  For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.  For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.  So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”
John 9:4 (ESV): “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.”
Question to Consider
- In what sense (biblical and current) would the Lord’ coming be a surprise to many?
- Should this day catch us off guard? If we are found to be unprepared, what does that imply?
- How should we live in anticipation of his eventual coming? Hide on a mountain top?
- Being creatures of comfort and habit, it doesn’t dawn on people that something cataclysmic can happen, destroying peace and security that they’ve always known. In our current world, since many are secularists, they simply don’t believe in anything divine and supernatural.
- The expression “A thief in the night” is reserved for the unbelievers; Paul tells the believers that that day should not surprise us like a thief since we have been forewarned. This doesn’t mean we should set a date of His coming, but to live in the present by faith, love, and in hope.
- We are the children of light, which means that instead of withdrawing from the world in anticipation of the world’s end, we “must work the works of him who sent [Jesus] while it is day.” It calls for engagement and involvement with the world to let Christ be known, particularly among the scoffers.
If you knew for sure that Christ is coming by midnight tomorrow, are there things that you would want to change immediately? What does that say about your faith right now? Make changes; be ready.