THE TIME IS NOW         
Luke 12:54 59

Now is the time for all men to get right with God. This is the burden
of these words from our Lord. As He sensed the response He was receiving from the multitude, He was moved to
speak these words that close this great chapter.

We need to understand these words. Many of us have an inclination to put off imŽportant things. We allow a thing
of lesser importance to crowd out the most important. Some of us have just not considered the urgency of getting
right with God. Now is the time! Our Lord presents two primary evidences that now is the time.

Human beings the world over learn how to read the signs of nature. Jesus reminds the crowd of how they did it in
Palestine. When they would see a cloud rising in the west, they would immediately conclude that it was going to
rain. The Mediterranean Sea was to the west of Israel and most of the rain on that land comes from the west.

This was accepted as a pretty sure sign of rain by most everyone. Then when the wind began to blow from the
south, they would conclude that a hot spell was upon them. To the south of Israel lay the Sinai wilderness and the
Arabian desert. Wind from that direction almost always meant scorching hot weather. Everyone knew this.

Unfortunately we have not been as adept at reading the moral and spiritual signs as we have those in the
physical realm. Jesus emphasizes our fault in not understanding the signs. "Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the
face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?" We do have the responsibility for
underŽstanding the moral and spiritual significance of the times in which we live.

Religion may become one of the things that keeps us from understanding. When Jesus addressed this crowd as
"hypocrites", He is pointing toward this. They gave outward signs of being religious men but they had failed to
really cultivate the important things about their faith. They were playing at their religion without any real reality in
it. We have people like that today. They master the rituals of religion without ever touching the reality of God.
Their regular performance of religious rituals keeps them from ever realizing their great need before God. That
generation did not feel their need of what Jesus had to offer because they felt self sufficient in themŽselves and
in their performances of religious duties. They assumed that everything was all right.

The very world system in which we live keeps us from realizing the signs of the times. The worldly system will put
out your spiritual eyes as surely as the Philistines blinded poor Samson. Some of us have become so
preoccupied with our work, our home, our hobbies and our goals in life, that we have given little time to the
consideration of what God is doing in the world. We keep pushing out of our minds thoughts about death,
judgment and eternity. We will think about it just a bit when we have to attend the funeral of a friend but we will
put ourselves in front of the television and before long all thoughts of it have been erased. According to Jesus
this is a fault for which we are responsible. As human beings we do have a God given capacity to give attention
to these important matters.

We need to look carefully at the facts. Jesus is accusing the crowd of overlooking impressive evidence that God
was at work in the world. They could see that a rain was coming but they could not see that God's Son was
actually visiting in their midst. They decided not to consider the miracles that He was performing. They decided
not to listen to the lessons He was teaching. They decided not to give attention to the demands that He was
making. They would just ignore Him.

Do you wonder at this? I do! This makes me wonder if we may not be overlooking facts that are just as impressive
in our day if we only had eyes to see. We may be like the priests in Russia. According to reports I have read,
while the Red revoŽlution was sweeping across their country they were gathered in a conference discussing the
color that the robes worn by the priests ought to be. They were overlooking the signs of political unrest all around
them. They were ignoring the signs of the time.

Someone ask Solzhenitsyn if he thought there would be a Third World War. He replied, "O haven't you heard,
there was one and we lost." Then he pointed to a map to inŽdicate how much of the world has fallen under the
rule of the Russians in the last twenty five years. We Americans have chosen to sip our booze, pursue our
pleasures, make our boasts, trust in our wealth and weapons, while the world about us falls apart and slips into
the hands of atheism. The signs seem to be on every hand that history is moving toward a great climax. Jesus
Christ is coming again. We need to ask God for eyes that can see the signs.

All of the signs shout at us that it is time to get right with God. The time is now!

Jesus highlights our situation with another little parable. He takes the kind of
situation that happened in everyday life. "When thou goest with thine adversary
to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be deliŽvered from him; lest he hale
thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the
officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart
thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite." Not to be able to pay a debt in that
day was a felony. You could be jailed or enslaved for the non payment of a debt.
It was a wise thing to make an appeal to the one you were indebted to rather than to allow him to take you
through the legal process. While this is an important insight to us in our relationships with others, the concern of
Jesus goes deeper. His word to us is that we should do all that we can to get right with God right now. He is
declaring that the time is now. Let us see what we can learn about our present sitŽuation.

We have a debt we cannot pay. Jesus spoke of sin being a debt to God we cannot pay in the Lord's Prayer. We
owe to God perfect love, devotion, and obedience. We owe to God perfect righteousness. When we give him less
than that, as we do, we are building up a debt I cannot pay. In the parable Jesus is setting forth the situation of a
man who knows that he is indebted in such a way that he will never be able to pay his way out.

This is the reason that we are negligent about getting right with God. Too many of us have not understood that
we owe a debt to God that we cannot pay. Or if we know it, we assume that God will let us get by without doing
anything about it. The Bible presents a different view of the living God. He is the God who will extract every mite.

Another factor in our situation is our limited time. Jesus emphasizes this about the debtor when he says, "When
thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate". Our adversary is the holy law of God which we have broken.
The magistrate to whom the holy law will take us is the great Judge of the universe Himself. The debtor has only a
limited time to sue for mercy in a direct confrontation with the one he owes. Jesus is emphasizing that we have a
limited time to do something about our situation with God. It is a tragic mistake to think that there is plenty of time.

Death sets one limit on our time. We do not know when death may come. If we have not taken care of this debt
before death comes, it will be too late.

Health sets another limit on the time. I am healthy and have my mental faculties working this morning, but before
next Sunday a stroke could render me incapable of a decision. An accident could take away my reasoning
faculties. Then it would be too late.

The Coming of Christ is another limit. I do not know when He may come but whenever it is the time is up. What if it
were today? The door would be closed. All opporŽtunity for you to get right with God would be over. Surely such
a situation demands that we do something about our debt before God today.

The other element in our situation is the coming judgment. Jesus states it emphatiŽcally, "I tell thee, thou shalt
not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite." Everyone of us have our day in court coming. It is
appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment. We must all stand before the judgment seat of
Christ. We must all face God for our debts. The certainty and the severity of the judgment call on us to get right
with God now.

When you sum up our situation, it is rather simple. We are living in the period of time between the two comings of
our Lord. We are living in the space of time in which God extends to men the opportunity to seek peace with Him,
in which God is open to forgive our debts against Him. If we fail to take advantage of the time that He has given to
us, then we will have to bear the consequences.

One of my friends buried his wife just over a week ago. Her death came rather suddenly.  I spoke with her in
Pittsburg at the Southern Baptist Convention and everything seemed to be well. After returning from the
convention, she went to the doctor for a checkŽ up because she had not been feeling well and tests revealed
that she had wide spread malignancy in her body. Exploratory surgery was made but nothing could be done.

After she had recovered from the exploratory surgery, she requested the doctor to let her go home for one
afternoon. Even though she was a meticulous housekeeper, there were some things she wanted to do. There
were some pictures she had not hung in a room that had recently been painted. There were some closets she
wanted to clean.

Over the protest of her husband, this is what she did. They spent their last afternoon at home getting the house
in order. She did not want to die without her house being just right. She rightly assessed the signs of the time,
and her situation, and took advantage.

What        was true of her physically is what needs to happen to us spiritually. Every
Sign and everything about our situation says to us, "Get right with God today". "Get your spiritual house in
order." "Open your life to the Son of God and submit your life to the will of God. Repent of your sins and commit
your life today!" What will you do about it?