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Ready or Not: Living Every Day on God's Clock (Luke 17:20-37)

Luke 17:20–37 - 20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” 22 And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 “They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them. 24 “For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. 25 “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; 29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 “It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 31 “On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 32 “Remember Lot’s wife. 33 “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 “I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. 35 “There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. 36 “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.” 37 And answering they said to Him, “Where, Lord?” And He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.” What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, Jesus says God's Kingdom emerges not through visible signs, but within hearts submitted to His lordship (vv. 20-21). He warns fake messiahs and prophets will falsely announce His return (vv. 22-23). But He says His eventual, public return will be evident to all (v. 24). First Jesus must suffer rejection by this generation (v. 25). He warns that, at His return, people will be caught unaware, absorbed in worldly routines until facing destruction (vv. 26-30). Jesus urges His followers not to cling to their old lives as Lot's wife did. Those focused on this fallen world order will lose eternal life (vv. 31-33). He says at His coming, one person will face destruction while the other will inherit eternal life (vv. 34-36). When His disciples ask Him where this will happen, He tells them that it will be as obvious as when the vultures circle over a corpse (v. 37). How can I apply Luke 17:20-37 to my life? The Pharisees wanted to know when God’s Kingdom would arrive thinking that it would be accompanied by unmistakable spectacle that no one could miss. But in this passage, Jesus upends these preconceptions. He reveals that God's Kingdom manifests in the world quietly and organically as Christ assumes His rightful rule within the hearts of those who follow Him. One day Jesus will return bodily in great power and glory for the whole world to witness. But before that final triumphant manifestation, the Kingdom permeates society subtly through the grassroots spread of individual lives transformed by allegiance to the King. As more people crown Jesus Lord of their character, priorities, attitudes, and relationships from the inside out, His righteous reign increasingly influences structures and institutions. In this passage, we gain crucial insight into the upside-down values of God's Kingdom rooted in humility and obedience more than public fame. We must embrace Kingdom priorities now to be ready whenever Jesus physically returns. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. The Kingdom of God is Wherever Christ Is (vv. 20-21): The religious leaders expected God’s Kingdom would arrive accompanied by unmistakable signs for all to see. But Jesus declared the Kingdom had already begun within the hearts of those who receive Him as King. When you yield your life fully to Jesus' authority and righteous rule, you experience His Kingdom internally right now, regardless of external circumstances. This Kingdom starts small and unseen as Christ's love, joy and peace take root in individual hearts. But it holds unlimited power to incrementally transform society through changed lives reflecting Christlike principles of grace, integrity, and goodness. Do not get distracted looking for visible manifestations of God's Kingdom coming. Instead, keep embracing Christ's lordship over every attitude, relationship, ambition, and habit. Wherever the King reigns supreme within human hearts, His Kingdom permeates and transforms culture. As multitudes submit themselves to the King of Kings from the inside out, the character of His Kingdom righteously renovates society’s structures. So, stay focused on your personal obedience more than public spectacle. One day the whole world will witness the external manifestation of Christ's Kingdom in glorious power at His return. But it starts small and quiet today within everyone who exalts the King through obedient lives (Romans 14:17, Matthew 6:33, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 17:20-21).

Food for thought: Is Jesus ruling as King within your attitudes, habits, and choices each day? What evidence is there that His Kingdom resides within you?

  1. Be Prepared for Jesus' Return at Any Moment Avoiding False Teachings and Rumors (vv. 22-30): After warning that God’s Kingdom comes unassumingly now through internal heart submission, Jesus pivots to the startling way history will culminate. He pictured people carrying on life as usual when He visibly returns, catching them completely off guard. Examples like Noah’s flood and Lot’s escape show many will be unprepared when destruction suddenly falls on the disobedient. We likewise must not grow complacent about Jesus’ return, presuming we have plenty of time to get serious with God later. Instead, walk in wisdom and holiness now, ready to meet Christ at any moment. Evaluate whether your priorities align with coming face to face today with your Creator. Ask God to nurture vigilance against drifting into spiritual apathy about Christ’s imminent coming. Continuing in blatant sin while presuming on His mercy only brings dire consequences. Use whatever days you have wisely, living faithfully under His watchful eye. Also reject ungrounded speculation about dates, false signs, and conspiracy theories about His return. Fix your gaze directly on Jesus through Scripture, not the distracting rumors swirling around you (Matthew 24:36-44, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8, 2 Peter 3:10-12, Mark 13:32-33).

Food for thought: What choices might reflect more readiness to meet Christ today? How can you avoid entanglement with false speculation?

  1. Only Those Who Have Given Their Lives to Christ Will Survive His Coming (vv. 31-37): Jesus concludes with perhaps the soberest reminder about His eventual return—everyone's eternal destiny depends completely on their response to Him. All who have repented and received Him as Savior will be caught up to Him and secured with Christ forever. But those who continually reject Him face irreversible agony of abandonment. With such vastly divergent eternal paths before every person you meet, how can you not plead urgently with them to examine Christ before their window of opportunity closes forever? Ask God for His anguish for souls headed toward destruction without Him. Then bravely share His warnings and desire to show mercy to all who will turn to Him. Celebrate joyfully whenever another lost one receives new life in Christ! And walk faithfully in your own relationship with Him as the ultimate priority, no matter the cost. Your undivided devotion to the King now ushers you into glorious companionship with Him in eternity, rather than isolation and despair (John 3:16-18, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Revelation 20:11-15, John 5:24-25).

Food for thought: Do you balance urgency to warn people in your life about coming judgment with God's desire to show mercy to all? What relationships need more courageous spiritual conversations before it's too late? Jesus makes it clear in this passage that we cannot become preoccupied predicting dates or spectacular signs of His coming Kingdom. We might easily embrace misguided teachings or empty rumors that only distract us from wholehearted obedience in the present. As His true disciples, we stay ready for Christ’s return at any moment by fixing our eyes on Him, allowing His Kingdom values to transform us from within. Every restored life multiplies His righteous reign on earth exponentially. Though the process seems small and invisible now, we look toward the day His Kingdom is revealed in fullness forevermore. With such divergent eternal destinies hanging in the balance, we plead urgently with everyone we know to surrender to the King for their everlasting joy. May our undivided devotion to exalting His name house us safely with Him when heaven and earth pass away. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would increase my vigilance and readiness to meet You face to face even today. Guard my heart against drifting into complacency or entanglement with false rumors about Christ’s return. Empower me to invest each moment wisely in light of eternity, living faithfully under Your watchful eye. Give me Your urgency to plead with lost souls around me to repent while they still can. Embolden my witness to family, friends, neighbors and strangers of both coming judgment and lavish redemption through Christ. As Your Kingdom takes deeper root within me, make my life a conduit of Your righteousness permeating all areas of society. I long to hear You say, “Well done!” as I enter into the infinite joy of Your glorious Kingdom forever. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Luke 17:20-21 - 20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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