The time to get ready…
Dr. C.S. Lovett
Did you ever hear of a runner retiring during a race?
I always chuckle when that question comes up, and I have a ready reply: “I’m not going to retire. Such an idea never crosses my mind. If it did, I’d know who put it there. . .SATAN. Have you ever heard of a servant telling his master he can’t work anymore, because he’s going to retire? As servants of the Lord Jesus, the word retire doesn’t belong in our vocabulary.”
The apostle Paul would probably be horrified if someone suggested he retire. He’d no doubt reply. . .“Did you ever hear of a runner retiring during a race?”
Any competitor who wants to win a race must cross the finish line. Picture a soldier going to his commanding officer saying he wanted to retire from the war. The apostle describes those Christians who believe they can retire from serving our Master, as failing the Lord Jesus. But people do retire from the ministry. Some denominations even have retirement funds so their pastors can retire at a certain age.
Many years ago, I visited a retirement village for pastors and teachers of a large denomination and I was accompanied by the president of our foundation. We were looking for trained people who’d like to work with us in preparing the New American Standard Bible, but not one of those experienced people wanted to work. They all said, “We are retired!”
Well, the work was done. The NASB is a popular version of the Bible, but imagine people with all that experience not willing to use it for the Lord. They probably think they have already earned enough treasure in heaven and can afford to sit back and rest. But what a surprise awaits them when they find out what it has cost them to drop out of the race at the last minute. Retirement from the secular world may come, but not from serving the Lord!
I CAN RETIRE YOU SAY
It would be so easy to say, “Look, I’ve done enough. I’m almost 65 and I should take it easy and enjoy the later years of my life.” And don’t think Satan doesn’t whisper that kind of nonsense in your ear.
If I understand God’s Word correctly, 7 millennia or 7,000 years have been appointed for man on the earth. 4,000 years went by during the Old Testament era. We’re in the years predicted for the last days. That includes the appearance of Antichrist and the Great Tribulation, plus the Lord’s return. Which means things could start happening any day now. Then comes the final 1,000 years of the Lord’s personal reign over the earth.
When was the last time a pastor warned you that the Lord’s coming means judgment for each one of us? Before that, we may be tested in the fires of tribulation. You may not have heard of it at all. That’s not surprising, for what preacher tells his people what they don’t want to hear? Therefore, the task falls on people like myself who are called and equipped for the task.
BUT THERE ARE VERY FEW OF US
So few, in fact, that I don’t dare quit. I’d be afraid of what the Lord would say to me if I abandoned the thousands who have no one to tell them how to prepare for what’s ahead. There’s possibly a good chance that you and I could die for Jesus. In fact, it’s more than a good chance. Listen to these words from Revelation 13:
“5. The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander His name and His dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation. 10. If anyone is to go into captivity, he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.”
CAN YOU FEEL THAT?
Do you see those words “with the sword he will be killed?” Christians have got to be ready for that. If you doubt that these saints are Christians, then hear what the apostle John says to us in the 14th Chapter of Revelation:
“11. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. 12. This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandment and remain faithful to Jesus. 13. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ”
These are the people who remain FAITHFUL TO JESUS. If you’re still fuzzy on our having to die for Jesus, let’s hear from John once again. This time from the 6th Chapter of Revelation:
“9. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until You judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ 11. Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.”
No doubt you’ve read these passages, but who is expounding on them and WARNING you that they’re about to be fulfilled? Who is telling you how to get ready? As close as we are to the end, can you see why I can’t retire? It would be unthinkable.
When the Lord appears, I don’t want to meet you in the sky and have you say to me. . .“Why didn’t you tell me suffering and testing were at hand! I would have prepared myself had I known!” It would be awful to hear those words from you. No, I have to stay on the job until the Lord calls me home or takes us out.
NOW IS THE TIME
Have you found some of these things puzzling? The Scripture verses I’ve cited are very convincing in themselves. I’m sure you are challenged to go for a nice position in Jesus’ government. Believe me there is little competition. Most Christians are more interested in family, fun, and earthly comforts than in competing for a place near Jesus. That leaves the field wide open for you. . .if you truly desire to be near the Lord in eternity.
The human story will not go on indefinitely. It’s coming to an end and I want you to be ready for that moment. You can do that if you put Jesus first in your life! But you won’t put Him first unless HE IS REAL TO YOU and I mean more real than the pleasures and comforts this life has to offer. The time to get ready. . .
IS NOW!C. S. Lovett
(edited by Marjorie Lovett)