by Gloria Copeland
I pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit I can burn just two words into your consciousness: Be ready.
Be ready for the return of the Lord. Be ready for the catching away of the Church. Be ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb because its appointed time is very near.
Some time back, the Spirit of the Lord spoke to Ken and said, I am coming sooner than you think.
"But, Lord," Ken exclaimed, "I think You are coming soon"!
Well, I am coming sooner than you think! He answered.
There are many people on the Earth today who don't believe that. Just as the scripture prophesies, they scoff: "walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (II Peter 3:3-4).
But those people are mistaken. Jesus is coming back. There's a day and an hour appointed for His return. We know that's true because Jesus spoke of it saying, "Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36). At that appointed time, He will catch away those of us who are prepared for His coming and take us to heaven with Him to celebrate for seven years. Then He'll bring us back with Him when He comes to reign over the Earth.
My, what a day that will be!
It's coming. There's no doubt about that. The only question is, Will you be ready?
A Divine Appointment
You'd better be because when the appointed day arrives, He'll come–regardless. You see, God has set specific dates for some things. He has appointed times that can never be altered. When the Scripture says, "It shall come to pass," it means that event is eternally fixed. To our limited, human minds such a thing seems almost impossible, but in Isaiah 46, the Lord tells us, "...I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all My pleasure" (verses 9-10, New King James Version).
From the beginning, God has declared the end. He has already established how and when certain events will take place.
There was an appointed time, for example, for the children of Israel to come out of Egypt. God set that appointed date in Genesis 15:13 when He said to Abram, "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years."
Sure enough, after the Israelites went to dwell in Egypt, they began to be afflicted. We can gather from the Scripture that they dwelt there 30 years before the affliction began because Exodus 12:40-41 says, "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt."
Just think, 400 years to the day after Egypt began to afflict Israel, God brought the Israelites out just as He promised. He wasn't even one day late!
What's more, He saw to it that the Israelites were blessed, equipped and ready to go on that day. He didn't just haphazardly rush in and move them from one place to another. Psalms 105:37 says, "He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes."
But if you'll read Exodus 12, you see that those Israelites had obeyed the instructions of the Lord. They had prepared themselves. They had eaten the Passover supper the night of their departure with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and their staffs in their hands. They ate it in haste because they were ready to go.
That wasn't the last time God instructed them to be ready, either. He told them to be ready whenever He was about to manifest Himself to them. In fact, if you'll study it through the Bible, you'll see that's how God operates. In Exodus 19:10-11, for instance, the Lord said unto Moses: "Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai."
Then again in Exodus 34:1-2, the Lord said to Moses:
Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount.
Just as surely as God set those appointments to meet with Moses and the children of Israel, He has set an appointment with us. As Acts 17:31 says, "he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."
The end of things as we know them in the earth is drawing near. God has notified us both through His written Word and by His Spirit within us that Jesus is coming back for us. The question is: Will we be ready?
You're Not Home Yet
If you're not ready, the thought of the Lord's return may not excite you like it does me. It may even fill you with dread and anxiety. If so, you need to make some changes. First, you need to get born again by making Jesus the Lord of your life. Then you need to focus your attention and your affection on the things of God instead of the things of this world (see Colossians 3:2).
After all, this world is not our home. It's not our final destination. We're just sojourning here, looking forward to the time when we're in the glory and at home with the Lord. We need to constantly remember that so we don't get entangled in this world's affairs. We need to constantly look toward heaven so when the time comes to depart, we'll be ready.
Jesus told a parable illustrating that point in Luke 14. There, He said:
A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind....and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper (verses 16-24).
Why didn't those who were invited to the lord's supper go when they were called? They had become too involved in the business of daily life. They had allowed those things to become too important to them. They weren't ready!
Be Light on Your Feet
Listen, it's just about supper time in the kingdom of God! Jesus is preparing a banquet for us in heaven and it's almost complete. So get ready. Don't be so caught up in the world's activities that you can't hear what He is telling you to do.
Great things will happen between now and the catching away of the Church. The greatest harvest of souls this earth has ever seen will be gathered into the kingdom of God. You don't want to be out on the fringes of that move. You don't want to be off somewhere wasting time when the glory of God is being outpoured. You want to be right in the middle of it.
Now is the time to consecrate and dedicate every fiber of your being, every moment of your life and everything you do to the Lord's service. You don't want anything to hold you back in this thrilling hour. You don't want anything to keep you from walking in the Spirit and experiencing the glory God is about to manifest in the earth.
So prepare yourself! Consecrate yourself to God and keep yourself full of the Word and the Holy Spirit so that when you hear the blast of the trumpet announcing Jesus' return, you'll be so light on your feet that you'll just lift right out of here!
Jesus taught about that kind of readiness in Matthew 25, saying:
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (verses 1-13).
There's one point this parable makes very clear: When it comes to being ready and dedicating yourself to the Lord, you're the one who has to do it. The pastor can't do it for you. Your husband or wife can't do it for you. You must go and buy oil for yourself. You must see to it that you're ready for God. You must make sure there's nothing in your life that would cause you to shrink back from His presence.
It's our responsibility to be prepared. God has given us everything we need. He has put His own Spirit within us. He has given us His written Word. He has given us teachers, preachers, pastors, evangelists, apostles and prophets to help us learn how to live by faith, how to live separated from the world, how to walk in the Spirit, and how to operate in the power of God. But we must decide to make those things the priority in our lives.
Don't Be Caught by Surprise
One way to keep them a priority is by cultivating the expectancy of Jesus' soon return. The Bible says, "every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he [Jesus] is pure" (I John 3:3).
Do you want to be ready? Then spend time studying and meditating the scriptures about Jesus' coming. Build your hope to the point where you wake up every morning looking expectantly for Him.
Live every day watching for His return. Don't let it catch you by surprise. It's not supposed to, you know. Even though God hasn't disclosed to us the exact day or the hour, according to the Bible, if we're alert we will know the season of Jesus' return. In fact, Jesus Himself said in Matthew 24 that His coming would be like the flood in Noah's day (verses 32-33, 36-39). Think about that for a moment. That flood took the world by surprise, didn't it? They were just going about their natural business, not expecting anything unusual when suddenly they were swept away. They were completely in the dark about what was happening.
But Noah wasn't caught by surprise. He'd been working on the ark for years. He'd been expecting that flood. He didn't know the day or the hour, but he knew it was coming and he was ready. When it started to rain, Noah wasn't in the dark, he was in the ark!
That's how we're supposed to be concerning Jesus' return. We're to be aware of the season (I Thessalonians 5:1-6). If you're watching and walking in tune with the Spirit, you won't be in the dark. You won't be caught unaware at the time of Jesus' coming. You'll know in your spirit He is at the door.
Personally, I believe that on the day He comes, I'll wake up with the anointing of God flowing through me so strongly, I'll know something is about to happen. Spiritually speaking, my hair will be standing straight up. And when I hear that trumpet sound, when I hear that joyful shout, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!" I've already made up my mind, I'll be ready. Will you?