The Night Before Jesus (Religiously Blind)
Earl faithfully sat down in the pew he has so come to know as "his seat" through all the years...middle row left center.. at the church he and his wife Betty have attended for decades
Currently just a lay member, no longer serving his former role as deacon, Earl is able to relax and be off duty
No teaching Sunday School as in years past ...nothing but to just sit and enjoy his golden years. Earl's a good good man.
His family has been a central part to First Christian Church since it's inception in the mid 1880's...His Great Grandparents were founder's and back in the 1980's Earl was honored in their place in the Centennial Celebration
it's a routine sunday morning ...they start with a word in prayer, then a young girl clicks on an overhead projector..and they sing one of the more contemporary songs ...followed by a song out of the hymnals... "now on the fourth stanza let's all stand"
Offering is taken
Prayer request... ."unspoken" "sister's husband's been down in the back"
The Pastor led the congregation in prayer
and "finally" Earl speaks under his breath to his wife as the pastor finishes his prayer with an "Amen"
Earl looks at his watch and his mind drifts to Wall Street, "wonder if my blue chipper's are ok?" "I forgot to call the landscaper's"
then from the pulpit came the introduction that brought Earl's mind back to the time at hand
"Everyone I'm so excited to share this young man with you all today, I've heard great things about his ministry and Know we are all in for a treat today"
"Oh boy" Earl leans over to his wife Betty..."this young man's still wet behind the ears, can't be a day over 40, maybe not even 30""ssshhhh" Betty scolds
stepping to the pulpit and embracing the Pastor, The young minister lays his bible on the pulpit and opens it up
"Wow, what a great honor it is to be here today to be able to share with you an urgent message The Lord has laid on my heart ..one that I know is for just such a time as this"
Then acknowledging the Pastor, "Pastor thanks so much for this invitation and opportunity"
Earl restless, having heard it all in his many years...already begins to position himself for some secret "shut eye" during the sermon
over the years he's perfected his trade... .open the bible ... lay it to his left just between he and the end of the pew then lean on the shoulder of the pew and rest...it looks like he's reading but in actuality he's able to close his eyes and he's not a snorer...
"IF we may, Let's get ready to hear the Word of the Lord... "Heavenly Father, we come before Your Prescence with great Fear and Awe Lord, knowing that we are about to open up Your Word and knowing what You have said that Your Words are Spirit and are Life...well we ask that today, this day..that Your Words will pierce the very soul of each one here including myself with a new and Great Urgency to be Ready for Your Return...in Jesus Name... and All God's People said??" "AMEN"
"I want you all to turn your Bible's to Mathew 7:21-23"
a bristling sound rushes through the congregration ..as the people obeyed and turned their bibles open
Earl was still awake and so followed suit
Reading the Text...
21 Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? 23 And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!
The Young minister finished the passage and then stepped out from behind the pulpit...
"in many churches all across this great nation...people have come to churches just like these for years and years and have gone through the motions of religious duties...sometimes sunday after sunday, sunday night, choir practice night, business meeting, wednesday night prayer service and many "revival service meetings"
"To the carnal eye, if someone was to be that faithful, that diligent, that pious, that dedicated, you would think you would be safe to assume that those persons or any person for that matter with such devotion to their practice would be saved" "from the Wrath to come"
"But that is why I'm here today, because it's obvious after reading this text after hearing the words of this passage, it's never safe to assume"
"I'm sure you've all heard why they say it's bad to assume?" The Young man coaxes and a few giggles assure the answer
"Here in this passage our Lord and Savior...Teaches us ...even Warns Us, that there will be THOSE who will stand before Him and even call Him Lord but in response He will say "who are you?" "But they will say Lord I've done this or I've done that in Your name, I've went to church, I've been a deacon, I've been to hundreds if not thousands of services ...I've given money, I've taught sunday school, I...I ...I ... I" "but Dear Jesus...He will look to these people and say "Depart from Me I NEVER KNEW YOU"
Earl realizing today was not normal...this was no sermon...he wouldn't be able to sleep with a guy preaching with such Tone in his voice... Straightened himself up and took note... "this young whipper snapper but watch it" he thought to himself..."doesn't he realize who he is preaching too?"
The Young Minister...walked back behind the Pulpit and took a drink of water...Then slowly looked up and around the room...
"To my eye...you all look like very Godly people, your here in church when so many don't even bother...your here in this House...and It would be easy for me to assume everyone's ok...BUT... his voice begins to quiver... .I know the Reason God has put this message on my heart is because there are some here today THAT Aren't Alright... .and so therefore I beg you all to Listen..Please hear the heart of this message...I have NOT come Nor did Jesus send me hear to condemn You but to rather Plea with You to make sure your NOT Playing Church...that You haven't lived this life in a way that when You Stand Before Jesus ...He won't look at You and say Depart from Me I never Knew You"
Earl's temper was being stoked... "who is this guy?" he nudged to his wife "Honey...shhhh"
"well, he better change his tune" "I don't need to hear this type of message"
meanwhile the Young Minister continued preach his heart out...beggin and pleading
"People please make yourselves ready...Jesus's coming is even at the door"
many eyes in the congregation showed a sincere brokenness, And when the altar call came... several responded and ran to the altar..crying out..."Jesus Save Me"
but Not Earl, He stormed to the back of the Church..grumbling the whole way...glaring at the Pastor to alert him He was NOT happy ..putting on his coat and hat...left in a huff
Betty cautioned "Earl calm down honey..slow down..you are all worked up"
all afternoon. all Earl could think was how he was going to go to the Pastor's house and sternly let him no ..that in no uncertain terms there was never to be that type of speaker again
still fuming He laid down into bed...The Wall Street Journal in hand..but had to get one more thing off his chest before bedtime
Honey "it reeked of legalism" ... "that holier than thou crap has no place at First Christian Church" "My grand daddy would be rolling in his grave"
"Turn it to KY3 will ya?" "sure honey"
BREAKING NEWS... reports are coming in from all over of the Ozarks of hundreds if not Thousands of people who have just disappeared"... ..."HONEY...HONEY" Earl reached out in desperation to elbow his wife...She was not there!...She had been Caught up to me Jesus in the Air
Earl grabbed his chest and fell to his knees
At 10pm cst... A Shout had went out... ...COME UP HERE
Earl was now praying...but it was too late He was NOT READY!!!
How can you be ready? By being good enough? by going to church enough? even on your best best day ..if you offer up anything of yourself it will be as a filthy rag,
we are saved and made ready the second we place our Faith in Jesus Christ ....please place all your hope and Trust in what Jesus has done
He Died on a Cross because of You and For You and He rose three days later to prove to you and the whole world that He is Our God!
Don't be like Earl, Believe in Jesus and be ready!!!