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30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world —from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
32 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near.
33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door.
34 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place.
35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day.
38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat.
39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.
40 “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.
42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.
43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into.
44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

Matthew 24:30-44

6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

9 Timothy, please come as soon as you can. 10 Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, be sure to bring the coat I left with Carpus at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm, but the Lord will judge him for what he has done. 15 Be careful of him, for he fought against everything we said. 16 The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. 18 Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely into his heavenly Kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.

19 Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila and those living in the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed at Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick at Miletus. 21 Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends you greetings, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers and sisters. 22 May the Lord be with your spirit. And may his grace be with all of you.

II Timothy 4:6-22


Come, Before Winter

Randy K’Meyer

Over the years, there were several popular songs written with a theme of ‘time.’ One of my favorites was Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller band. And the memorable line is, Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.

As Thanksgiving memories yield to Christmas anticipation so Fall eventually gives way to . . . we’re not ready to even say it yet are we? Oh come on . . . you can say it, ‘winter.’ Just the sound whistling through our lips sends shivers down our spines. Yes, cool frosty mornings, the smell of burning leaves, pumpkins, and turkeys are about to give way to shorter days, longer nights bare branches, frozen ponds, and icy shadows and we will begin to experience the “dead of winter.”

And because we know that wolf is at the door we have time to get ready . . . to prepare for it. Bringing in the garden hose and lawn furniture, mowing the grass one last time, putting up storm windows, putting the cover on the grill, replacing worn-out insulation, and winterizing the car are just a few of the things we do to get ready for Winter’s blast.

Are you aware that the changing of the seasons is not unique to North America?

I want to invite you to take a journey in the imaginary time tunnel back to a city called Rome; where it’s late Fall and in a cold dark, damp prison cell, a man named Paul is making last-minute preparations for winter.

It’s not only the Fall of the year, it is the autumn of Paul’s life. He knows that his final winter on earth is rapidly approaching. And it is his desire before his time is up to see his son in the faith, Timothy, one more time.

Paul had assigned Timothy to pastor a church across the Aegean Sea in a place called Ephesus. So Paul writes this kind, gentle, loving . . . yet urgent letter, in which he twice asks for Timothy to come to him . . . before winter.

Why before winter? Because during winter navigation across the Aegean became impossible and heavy snow in the mountains made it extremely difficult to travel on foot between what is present-day Greece and Italy. If Paul was going to have the chance to see his son in the faith before he died, Timothy would have to . . . ‘come before winter.’

Sadly, there is no biblical evidence that Timothy made it to see Paul before he died. Perhaps Timothy was too busy in the church to get away right then. Maybe he reasoned he had plenty of time to see Paul so decided to wait until the spring thaw. If so, when he arrived in Rome he would have discovered that time had run out, that Paul had already been executed.

To all of us come opportunities such as Timothy had. Opportunities that must be taken ‘before winter;’ before time runs out before it becomes too late.

Like Paul, children have a way of saying to parents, “Come before winter.”

Parents the greatest gift you can give your kids this Christmas and really, all year round, is the gift of your TIME. They crave it. They really don’t want electronic devices as much as they want you.

Tony and his son, Terry Monsanto, lived across the street from my family when I was growing up and terrorizing my neighborhood in Mogadore, Ohio. Terry was a typical boy who loved and idolized his father, and like many kids just wished that his father had more time for him. Tony was a typical working father; good intentions, and he’d been promising Terry for over a year to take him fishing. but just so busy working and coming home tired, you know how it is. One summer, my cousin and I and a couple of other neighborhood cronies had the opportunity to attend a week-long church camp. That’s when I became known as a holy terror. When Terry heard about it, he wanted to go too, but the Monasantos were a Catholic family, and Tony had to tell his son that he couldn’t go. But to make up for it, he promised Terry that he would take him fishing that week.

I’ll never forget being picked up at the end of the week and I can still see my mother turning around to tell me that when Tony and Terry went fishing, a bolt of lightning struck the tree that they were fishing under. And how Tony who was temporarily paralyzed, lay under that tree as his son, Terry, died from his injuries.

So perhaps this is a wake-up call for some parents to make sure they are giving their kids what they want more than anything else. The truth is, they really want you.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping . . .

Parents and grandparents have a way of saying to their adult children and grandchildren, “Come before winter.”

Now I know our intentions are good. We know we should visit or call. And we know that there are important things that we need to say.

I recall a day, many years ago now, when one Sunday after worship, a friend, Jack Blank, long gone now, asked me, “When was the last time you told your dad you loved him?”
I said, “It’s been quite a while.”
He said, “Promise me you’ll tell him you love him the next time you see him.”
I said, “Okay, I promise.”
And so the next Sunday afternoon I drove over to my folk’s house in Mogadore. It was a little awkward finding just the right moment to say to my dad something that I couldn’t remember saying to him or him saying to me for a long time. But I’ll never forget the moment: “Dad, I really need to tell you something that I haven’t told you for too long now.” I can still see him sitting in that chair next to the piano as I said, “Dad, I love you,” then him standing up and giving me a hug and saying, “I love you too, son.” It was quite a moment for both of us.

The following Sunday I recall telling Jack that I made good on my promise and how thankful I was that he encouraged me to do that. And I was especially grateful a few months later when I walked into the ER at City Hospital in Akron and was told by my mother that my dad was gone.

But it is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking there’s always tomorrow or next week or next month. And before you know it, the months have flipped by like so many pages of a calendar blowing in the wind. An opportunity has passed by.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping . . .

As important as it is to tell them we love them, it’s even more important that we convey to them that Jesus loves them.

All of us know people without faith in Christ. Some of these folks are our own family members; our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, moms and dads.

And they just need someone to tell them about the love of Christ. As Paul writes the Romans,

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (10:13-14).

Because my grandparents on my father’s side lived in the same town as us, a week wouldn’t go by without seeing them at their place or ours. But after I was married and moved away and had kids, etc., etc., I didn’t see them much anymore. Mainly on holidays and occasionally at my folk’s house playing cards. On one of those occasions, after I had decided to go into the preaching ministry, as we were leaving, my grandfather said to me, “One of these days, we need to get together and talk about Jesus.”
And I said, “Okay gramps.”
A few weeks later, I went with my pastor and a half dozen other men from our church on a little getaway to Northern Michigan. While there, I received a call informing me that my grandfather had died.

Grandpa said, “Come before winter.”
And I decided to wait until Spring.

We must tell them before it’s too late! We will not always have our loved ones with us. Life is so uncertain that we never know when we are eating our last meal together, or when we are engaged in our last conversation together as a family. We leave home for work (or school, or a hunting trip)—in the morning. We may come back in the evening; we may not. Our dads and moms won’t always be with us. Some husbands and wives might be snatched away unexpectedly.

Perhaps, it’s time for some of us to “wake up” to the opportunities that we have before us to make a spiritual difference in the life of someone dearly loved.

One last example. Jesus says, “Come to Me.”

I know you; that you have this propensity to be selfish, materialistic, prideful, etc. But I love you anyway. I know that you are guilt-ridden . . . I want to forgive you. I know that you want to be accepted for who you are . . . I do. I know that you are searching for the meaning of life, and wish that you could find a profound sense of peace. Then trust me and see what I have to offer you before it’s too late.

Jesus says, “Come to Me before winter; before times run out on you.”

And all too often, the response of men and women young and old is, “That sounds good, BUT, I’m too busy for that right now. There will always be time for that later . . . there’s no hurry.”

How many times have I shared the story of how the devil called a meeting of his henchmen to ask them for ideas about how to dissuade human beings from accepting Christ as their Savior? And how one demon came forward with the idea to tell people there is no God. And how it didn’t take long for the devil to respond that no that wouldn’t work God has planted a seed of belief in every human heart that there is a God.

A second demon came forward and suggested they work on convincing people that Jesus really didn’t die on the cross and that He was not raised from the dead. Although the devil considered it for a moment history he quickly realized that reasonable people who investigate and carefully consider what the Bible says about the death and resurrection of Jesus will accept it.

After a long silence in hell, a third dark spirit glides forward and says, “We won’t tell them there is no God, we won’t tell them that Jesus is a fraud, we will simply tell them that there’s no hurry.” And at that, the devil rubbed his hands and smiled.

That’s why the New Testament has a sense of urgency to take advantage of the opportunity we have now. “Therefore, be ready,” Jesus told those disciples, “for you do not know which day the Lord is coming.”

James 4:14 says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”

Paul writes the Ephesians: “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light. So be careful how you live. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days” (5:14-16)

Retired pastor and author Warren Wiersbe, tells about a frontier town where a horse bolted and ran away with a wagon carrying a little boy. Seeing the child in danger a teenager risked his life to catch the horse and stop the wagon. The little boy who was saved grew up to become a lawless man and one day he stood before a judge to be sentenced for murder. The criminal recognized the judge as the man who years before had saved his life, and said, “Judge, you saved my life once, please help me again.”
But the Judge said, “Young man, that day I was your savior, today I am your judge, and I must sentence you to be hanged.”

One day Jesus will say to all those who neglected Him, “During that long day of grace, I was the Savior, and I would have forgiven you, but today I must be your Judge.”

If you have been contemplating but postponing making a decision of faith in Christ, I plead with you to advantage of the opportunity before you now!

BECAUSE EVENTUALLY, OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS FOR THE LAST TIME! Not that Jesus stops issuing the invitation. The reason that opportunity has a way of knocking for the last time is because our hearts have a way of growing hard and callused. Each time we delay receiving Christ another layer of callousness wraps itself around our hearts. Eventually, the cold of winter comes to the human heart and it just refuses to respond anymore.

I’ll never forget riding in a hearse from the church to the cemetery to bury a 16-year-old boy . . . and the driver was probing me about my faith. He told me how years before he felt strangely moved by a preacher and felt compelled to respond to an invitation to become a Christian. You see, he was a church-going man, he just didn’t have faith in Christ. But he said, “I resisted the moment. I thought I’ll get around to it next week or month.” But he didn’t do anything about it the next week or the next month. “I don’t go to church much anymore, and I have come to the conclusion that this Jesus stuff you were just talking about is just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.” Winter had come to his heart.

Don’t let that happen to you! You have an opportunity to prepare . . . right now. There’s still time . . . right now.

It’s still fall . . . winter hasn’t settled in yet. We are just entering the Advent season. Christmas is right around the corner. And I can’t think of a better time than Christmas to open our hearts to what God has before us.

Oh my friends, “Come before winter.” Before the snows begin to fall and the brooks begin to freeze. And your heart begins to grow cold and desire is gone and your life is over.