Thanksgiving is less than one week away. Maybe you already started on the stuffing about three days ago! Because one of the greatest parts of Thanksgiving is the food.
There’s hot food.
Hot turkey, fresh out of the oven.
Hot potatoes, mashed with a butter melted down the top of the mound.
Even hot green bean casserole with the crispy things at the top acting as some kind of barrier.
There’s cold food.
Cold cranberries sauce – with just the right kick of tang.
Cold desserts each more delicious than the last.
A cold drink to wash it all down.
How many of you are looking forward to a lukewarm Thanksgiving meal?
Lukewarm cranberry sauce.
And a lukewarm drink.
Today’s letter is to a church that was lukewarm. (And to Jesus – it’s just as disgusting as lukewarm mashed potatoes.)
Today’s goal is to determine what it means to spiritually lukewarm and to ask the difficult question: “Are we lukewarm?” Before we begin, a prayer: O Lord, strengthen us by the truth, your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see, our ears to hear what you want us to hear and our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. Lukewarm Laodicea
This letter starts in Revelation 3:14, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
Laodicea was located just south of the Lycus river. It was a fertile area lush with green landscapes. It was great for sheep and led to an impressive wool industry in the city. This industry made Laodicea into one of the wealthiest cities. In fact, in 60 AD an earthquake destroyed the city. But Laodicea didn’t need Roman help to rebuild. They paid for the rebuild on their own.
Within Laodicea was a church. This church is mentioned four times in the letter to the Colossians. In that letter, Paul even mentions a letter he penned for the Laodicean church that never made it into the Bible. Laodicea was an important center in early Christianity.
Similarly to the other letter, Jesus begins by introducing himself. He reminds the church that he is Faithful and true. This prepares the people for what he’s about to tell them: whether they see it or not, whether they believe it or not, whether they want to believe it or not, he speaks the truth.
It matters too! Because Jesus is the Ruler of God’s Creation! He’s the one who provides the fertile land for their rich sheep and wool industry. He’s the one who cares for the sheep that are grazing. He’s the one who gave the merchants the abilities to develop this industry. If it wasn’t for him, their wealth wouldn’t exist. And if it wasn’t for his loving kindness, he’d just send another earthquake to destroy Laodicea.
This truthful, powerful God is the one speaking to them. He says:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15)
Another well-known feature of Laodicea was the natural springs of water that occurred there. The water bubbled up from within the earth. It was warm. It was clean. It came packed with minerals. The water relaxed the muscles, melted stress away and promoted healing.
And the temperature was just right.
Not freezing like an ice bath.
Not hot that it’d burn their skin.
But imagine for a moment that instead of soaking in the lukewarm bathwater, you decided to drink it.
How’s it taste?
You’d spit it out?
So would Jesus.
Only he’s not talking about bathwater in Revelation 3.
He’s talking about the spiritual temperature of the Laodiceans.
Jesus hates a LUKEWARM spiritual temperature.
Because when the Bible speaks about faith, it lauds faith that’s on fire for Jesus.
On fire with love for the Savior.
On fire for his teachings.
On fire for sharing his message.
Cold? That’s a reference to unbelief. It’s the cold heart of someone who has never come to faith and never been on fire for the Gospel. Don’t get this wrong – Jesus is not saying that he wishes the Laodiceans were unbelievers. But rather, that a cold heart might know it needs something – a warmth that only the Gospel can provide.
But the Laodiceans…they couldn’t care less.
They knew the Gospel and…were APATHETIC.
They were APATHETIC about their need for a Savior.
They were APATHETIC about their Savior.
They were APATHETIC about their spiritual state.
And Jesus? Was disgusted by it.
Jesus hates spiritual APATHY.
It’s easy to understand why:
Apathy leads his people away from faith.
Apathy leads his people away from their savior.
Apathy leads his people away from heaven.
Apathy leads his people away from sharing their faith.
Apathy leads his people away from people who need the Gospel.
Apathy leads people, that he wants in heaven, away from heaven.
Apathy kills his church.
II. Causes of Apathy
As we start thinking about whether or not we are apathetic, I think it’s helpful to identify what leads to spiritual apathy. Look at what Jesus says: Revelation 3:17, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
The text reveals a few things that lead to spiritual apathy.
(1) Being Presently Cared For
Laodicea was one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient world. The church was blessed by the economic boom. The people were physically, temporally, and presently cared for. They had enough things and stuff that they began to think – “Do I really need Jesus?”
Of course, Jesus said: “You need me.”
Laodicea said: “I think I’ve got all I need in this big old bag of money.”
Jesus said: “I’ll give you nourishment.”
Laodicea said: “No worries. I can pay for a night at the Angus Barn on my own.”
Jesus said: “I’ll quench your thirst.”
Laodicea said: “I’m not actually that thirsty Jesus. I just got done with my second glass of Merlot. It’s from 17 AD. A good year, no?”
Being presently cared for isn’t bad. (That’s why God takes care of us.)
As a pastor, I’ve seen it often.
Someone comes seeking God’s help in time of trouble.
Low on funds.
Job was lost.
Sick, in need of prayer.
We study God’s Word.
We seek God because the person feels poor and in need of Jesus.
But then, life turns around.
Finances are ok.
Job is ok.
Relationship is ok.
Health is ok.
It isn’t long…
I mark absent on their worship attendance record for the 12th week in a row.
(2) Past Accolades
Past accolades can also lead us into a lukewarm faith. Look at the brag of the Laodiceans. They said: “I have acquired wealth.” That’s past tense. The Laodiceans had worked hard for their money and success – even making their church a success.
So now, when they were reminded that God called them to share the Gospel, they responded: “Why? We did that 10 years ago.”
Try to tell that to your boss sometime:
“Boss, I don’t think I need to come into work today. I worked a Monday in 2016.”
That won’t work.
It doesn’t work with Jesus.
He doesn’t care about past accolades.
And your past accolades cannot get you to heaven.
(3) Future Needs
The final brag in verse 13 says, “You say…You do not need a thing.” There’s a future sense in that implication. The Laodiceans looked at their wealth, at the 70” HD TVs, at their brand new iPhones linked to their Apple Watches, at their kids being in the number 1 academic school in Laodicea and said:
“Thanks for getting me here Jesus, but I can’t fathom having any need for you anymore.”
It’s almost as if the Laodiceans couldn’t foresee life happening.
Worse --- they couldn’t see death happening.
The warning is for you too.
If you think you’ll never need Jesus.
If you think you’ll never get sick…
…never lose a job…
…never lose a home.
Your faith will grow lukewarm.
This is a big deal because…
Jesus isn’t APATHETIC about APATHY
I think that’s important to hear.
Because usually, the Christian church, even apathetic Christians, can find some sins they aren’t apathetic towards:
Since that we are convinced Jesus would love to spit out:
And to be fair – these things are sin.
God is not apathetic about them.
But he isn’t apathetic about apathy either.
He violently spits the apathetic out.
Because to the Savior who cared so much for you that he came out of heaven, lived in this sin filled world, and suffered a violent death for you...
III. The Solution for Apathy
Because Jesus is not apathetic towards apathy so he offers the solution in verse 18, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Take a look at the ways that Jesus provides the solution for apathy.
(1) Spiritual Gold
The Laodiceans were so rich that they had their own mint to mint their own money. To take copper and silver, to melt it, to mold it, and to put little designs on it.
None of this money would be a valid payment for forgiveness.
None of it could earn heaven.
None of it could buy eternal life.
But gold from Jesus?
It is refined in the fire.
It has been purified from all impurifies.
It is righteous.
That’s important. Because righteousness is the payment required from heaven.
God says, “You want to get in? Pay me righteousness.”
But righteousness means perfection.
So…we are fresh out of righteousness.
That’s where Jesus’ comes in.
He has righteousness.
He has no problem making the payment for us.
If you’ve been apathetic towards Jesus and need righteousness to pay for that sin…
…the very one that you’ve been apathetic towards is the one who will make the un-apathetically make the payment for your apathy.
(2) Spiritual Clothing
Jesus said, “You think you’re rich…but you’re naked.”
You think that the Versaci dress can cover your vanity. It can’t.
You think that your Gucci watch can cover your greed. It can’t.
You think that your Slim fitting suit can cover your sin. It can’t.
God can see your heart.
God can see your being.
God can see the ugliness of your sin.
But the clothing Jesus’ offers? It covers your completely.
It covers all of your sin.
All of your ugliness.
All of your pride.
All of your greed.
All of your lust.
All of your really big sins that you figure everyone knows about!
Jesus death and resurrection covers our sins completely.
…that when God looks at us –
People who are wretched with sin.
He says, “My you look nice tonight.”
Praise God for covering us!
(3) Spiritual Salve
Another thing documented about Laodicea is that they would use water from the natural springs to make ointment salves. The natural minerals were helpful in healing all kinds of ailments in the body. The purity of the water went well with medicines to heal people – especially when it came to eyesight.
Yet even the finest Laodicean salve could fix the fact that the Laodicean church couldn’t see its own sin.
His salve is eternal.
His salve is perfect.
His salve is healing.
His salve is God’s Word that gives us the proper spiritual eyesight – to see our great need for our Savior and the eternally important value of sharing his message.
Because of Jesus’ salve…
I don’t just see a clerk at Food Lion. I see a soul in need of saving.
I don’t just see a snotty nosed kid next door. I see a soul in need of saving.
I don’t just see a friend who was mean to me that one time on Facebook. I see a soul in need of saving.
IV. What Now?
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (v.19-20)
Understand what Jesus means.
He loves his people.
He wants to be with them.
Yet our apathy threw Jesus out of the church.
He speaks through these words to the apathetic Laodiceans.
“Repent! And I will come in and dwell with you.”
If you’re apathetic…
He is knocking.
He is speaking.
He is saying to you right now…
I want to be with you.
Repent or your apathy.
Turn back to me.
Because when we do, he promises to sit down with us.
That’s the intimate part of Thanksgiving. Everyone sits down and eats together.
They eat with you because you love them.
You love them because they eat with you.
Look at what Jesus says to the formerly apathetic, now repentant:
“I’ll sit with you.”
“Even though I found you so gross that I spat you out, because of my love – I’ll sit by you.”
Through the good times.
Through the bad times.
Through all the times.
I’ll sit with you now.
And in the future..?
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Amen.
Today we are continuing our series called The Kingdom of God is Like. It’s a series all about parables. Parables are short earthly stories that teaching about the eternal kingdom of God. So far, we have heard that the kingdom of God is like buried treasure—which, to be fair, seems like a very flattering comparison.
Treasure is valuable
Treasure is beautiful.
Treasure is worth selling anything and everything to make yours.
Treasure seems like a great comparison for God’s kingdom.
We compare God’s kingdom to a fishing net.
Fishing nets are stinky.
Fishing nets are smelly.
Fishing nets come with those some of those little algae goobers encrusted on around the edge.
It’s not as flattering of a comparison.
Why is God’s kingdom like a fishing net? Before we look at this strange comparison which teaches us some very important truths about God’s kingdom, a prayer: O Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is the truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; open our ears to hear what you want us to hear; open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. 1st Century Fishing
Jesus’ parable is from the parable-filled Matthew 13. It comes right after the parable of the treasure and stands in stark contrast to it. Remember – each parable emphasizes a different aspect of the Kingdom of God. The parable of the Treasure reveals the value of God’s kingdom; the parable of the net reveals methodology.
Look at what the parable says:
Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. (v.47-48)
Anybody here go fishing? Nowadays fishing consists of packing up a rod and reel, stopping by the local bait shop, picking out a nice, big juicy earthworm (or maybe a wriggly, black leech), then heading out to the local pond, casting, stopping to untangle the line from the tree branch behind you, casting again, watching as your line drifts into the middle of the lake…and then…
And waiting some more.
Eventually some fish grabs the hook, line and sinker.
You pull him in and…
If he’s an acceptable length and weight – you keep him.
If not …plop!
If it’s a delicious looking salmon, in the basket.
If it’s a creepy looking dogfish, not so much.
Back at Jesus’ time, the fishing is a bit different. Fishermen would drag their nets to the shore and paddle to the middle of the lake. Then, they’d toss a weighted net overboard. Then, slowly they’d move along with the waves, while their net dragged against the bottom collecting any and every fish that happened to get in the way of the net. When they’re done fishing, they pull up the ropes, cinch the corners and pull the net up.
But here’s the thing:
Can you tell which fish are bad?
Can you tell which fish are good?
Can you tell which fish are future 5-star restaurant menu items?
And which fish belong on some Discovery Channel documentary on deep sea monsters?
No. It’s too much of a jumbled-up mess!
So…what do the fishermen do?
They take the net back to the shore.
They open the net and begin separating:
Too much like Uncle Joe…
Fishing at Jesus’ time required a lot of sorting. But…
The fish cannot be sorted from the good from the bad while they are in the net; rather they are sorted when the fishing is finished.
II. A Priceless Treasure
But remember – this is a parable.
Parables are short earthly stories that teach about the kingdom of God.
Things are about to get real.
Real and a bit uncomfortable.
Look at the meaning of the parable:
This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (v.49-50)
At first glance, this might seem to be another parable.
The parable of the furnace…
But – let’s be clear: The second half of the parable the part about the blazing furnace and the angels, that’s not the illustration part.
It’s the explanation.
It’s not an illustration, but the reality.
In fact, this parable is all about realities.
Realities that are quite uncomfortable.
(1) Hypocrisy is Real
Because… that dragging net represents the kingdom of God at work. And there is no greater representation of the kingdom of God at work than visible local churches.
In a church, God’s Word is proclaimed.
In a church, people are baptized.
In a church, people celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
In a church, people pool resources to go and plant the Message of Jesus in the Hearts of North Raleigh.
In a church, God’s kingdom is at work.
And when God’s kingdom is at work, it’s like a big old net that collects people of all type and varieties.
Big and small.
Young and old.
Black and white.
Tarheel fans, Wolfpack fans and Duke fans.
But most importantly to this parable…
People that are a part of God’s kingdom.
And people that only look like it.
NOW STOP! Immediately. Because what some of you are about to do is quietly, sheepishly raise your finger and slyly point at someone else here. “Pastor, I think it’s him…”
NOPE. That’s not the point.
In fact, the point is the exact opposite. Because remember – while the net is in use – that is, while the people of God are using God’s Word – it’s impossible to see which are true believers and which are hypocrites.
It’s kinda like trying to identify which fish are good and which fish are bad when they’re still in the net.
You won’t be able to tell who’s a hypocrite and who isn’t in a church simply by looking at them.
You won’t be able to tell most hypocrites simply by looking at them.
But there is one person in the church…
That you should be able to identify as good or bad.
You know you.
You know your heart.
You know if your heart is following Jesus or if this is all just some big show.
Something you do because your parents told you to do.
Something you do so pastor will get off your back.
When it comes to facing the reality of hypocrisy, it doesn’t start by looking into the world…
Or looking into another Christian church…
Or looking at other people in this church…
It starts by looking in your heart.
(2) The End is Real
The second reality has less to do with now and more to do with later.
Take a look at Jesus’ words – This is how it will be at the end of the age. (v.49) He then goes on to describe angels, divine, holy messengers of God – no longer invisible – fully and completely perceptible - picking people up like fish and separating them.
If you are a hypocrite, you need to pay very close attention to this section.
Because, truth is, you might be able to fool other Christians.
You might be able to fool them with a fish sticker on the back of your car and “Christian” listed on your Facebook profile’s religious preference.
You might be able to fool others at church.
You might be able to fool me.
You can’t fool God.
And at the end, you will be separated.
And placed wherever it is you belong.
And can I say something obvious? There’s one place that you don’t want to be your final destiny.
(3) Hell is Real
Look at the description of where the bad fish go:
“The blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v.50)
Notice. The verbs are present tense.
Notice. The verbs are continuous.
That’s because this is eternal.
Stop – real quick – because the devil is doing everything possible right now to make you say:
“Pastor has gone off the deep end. Pastor is talking all mean like. Pastor is saying thing I wish he wouldn’t.”
I am because I love you.
And I don’t want you to go to this very real and very awful place.
But more importantly Jesus loves you.
After all, look at whose words about hell these are:
The same guy who told the blind guy to see…and he did.
The same guy who told the deaf guy to hear…and he did.
The same guy who told the lame guy to walk…and he did.
The same guy who told the storms to stop…and they did.
The same guy who told the Pharisees to go ahead and kill him because he would come back to life…
And they did…
And he did.
Jesus has street cred.
Whatever he says will happen, will happen.
And to those who reject Him?
This hell thing?
(4) Good Fish are Real
I’m not gonna lie.
Thus far this is one of the least uplifting sermons of all time.
Because – if we are talking about bad fish – how do you not begin to be filled with absolute fear!
We are sinners.
All of us.
And I am included!
I’m like some ugly carp at the bottom of a mutant ooze infested landfill with three eyeballs where his gill should be.
I’m gross and my sins are gross.
I think -- There is no reason that God would ever want to collect me in his basket and take me to heaven!
Here’s something interesting. When Jesus uses the word “end” here in verse 50, he uses the word: syntelia. That’s a form of the world telos which means: the end.
The end is when judgment will happen.
The end is when God will bring justice against sinners.
Now – here’s where things get really interesting.
Because about a year and a half after Jesus spoke this parable --
Jesus spoke something else.
On the cross.
Right before he died.
Which is the exact same root words that Jesus used in our parable to denote the end times.
IT IS FINISHED.
In other words, judgment has happened! From God’s perspective – Jesus has been judged as the bad fish.
And you – friends—you have been judged righteous.
Think about that!
We are sinners.
We are filled with a yucky past.
We are grody to the touch.
Yet because of what Jesus has done, you have been declared GOOD.
Ready to take home in the take basket.
And understand this point too:
We are not judged by our good merits.
We are not judged by our good deeds.
We are not judged by our good tries.
We are judged entirely by what Jesus did for us on the cross!
And we are judged righteous.
And by faith in Jesus, we are the good fish!
We will not be thrown out.
We will be collected and taken home.
(5) Heaven is Real
Because that’s what the good fish have to look forward to.
This parable just touches the surface of it. It says that the good fish, will be placed into baskets.
But what it doesn’t say is that those baskets have someone’s name written on the handle.
They have someone’s name written in Black, Permanent Marker.
Because the good fish – that is – those made holy by faith in Jesus Christ – will be brought to God’s home.
The kingdom of righteousness.
The home of peace.
And unlike this world --
With danger lurking on every corner…
And predators chasing after us…
And giant waves of life hitting us again and again…
Heaven is peaceful.
Heaven is a place of forgiveness.
Heaven is a place of peaceful rest.
Heaven is yours.
Friends! Praise the Lord for being caught in the net and taken home to heaven. Amen.
Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright. Sleep in heavenly peace.
Is that usually how you feel during Christmas? Peaceful. Calm. Quiet.
I don’t know about you but I often think that song would need to be rewritten to cover my Christmas:
Busy night. “Things need to get done by next Tuesday,” night.
Not so calm. My heart’s filled with fright.
Because baking, wrapping, and decorating need to be finished before Grandma comes in.
Did I buy the Christmas cheese? I need a break from Christmas please.
I don’t think that’s supposed to be the tone of the season. Yet – it is so easy for Christmas to become so complicated that our hearts are filled with stress and anxiety rather than peace and joy.
How do we stop that?
Over the next couples of weeks, we will be going through a new sermon series called A Simple Christmas. Our goal is to learn from God how to make this Christmas season – the simple, peaceful, reflective season that it’s meant to be. We want to recapture that simple joy of the shepherds, the simple peace of the Mary, and the simple song of the angels.
There’s no better place to start when you’re trying to make things simple, than with your schedule.
I. Schedule Complicators
What I mean is this. Take a look at my Google calendar. Here’s what it looks like around October. I’ve got a good game plain. There’s a few events. But in general, things are nice and easy.
Then, November comes around. I make a few additions here and a few additions there. Then, suddenly….my calendar looks a lot more like this. It’s so loaded and so full that I have to schedule time to interpret my calendar into my calendar!
Check out this warning from Jesus in Luke 21:34 “Be careful,” he says, “or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.”
Anyone here like shopping at the mall? Did you ever notice that you can travel a lot more quickly at the beginning of the mall run than at the end? Once your arms are weighed down by bags from Macy's, Nordstroms, Best Buy, the Apple Store, and Spencer’s – you can’t move as fast as you used to. You may even have to sit down at one of those nice benches and watch the kids sit on Santa’s lap.
The same thing is true spiritually. When we weigh our hearts down with things and stuff – things and stuff that might not even be inherently evil – the things and stuff make it more difficult to prepare our hearts. They slow us down when we’re running to God. They distract us in hearing his Word. In fact, they might even prevent us from ever getting to the peace of God altogether.
Every holiday season there are a few culprits that repeatedly fill up our schedule. Watch out. These things aren’t bad. But when they become more important than seeking God, then there is a heart problem.
I already mentioned this one as an illustration. (And no, dads, this isn’t your excuse to say, “Hey, I don’t have to get anyone any gifts. Pastor said so.”) Gifts are just fine. Gift giving is a godly trait. Gift giving is a fine tradition.
But when scouring through the Toys ‘R Us catalog is more important than scouring the pages of the Bible, when a search of your internet history brings up the Word “SALE” thousands of times, but the name “Jesus” – once — in the form of a cross for sale at Hallmark. Then, isn’t it possible shopping has become a distraction?
I say this with all the love in my heart, because I am a person who loves baking. Not actually slaving over the oven, but eating what comes out of the oven. Baking is not a bad thing.
Yet somehow, somewhere, we got it ingrained into our skulls that a successful American Christmas has gingerbread, pfeffernusse, sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, cookies in the shape of Santa, cookies in the shape of a star, peanut brittle, bon bons, pralines cookies, peppermint cookies, and those little pretzels covered in dyed green chocolate to look like a wreath and two little red M&Ms to look like a bow.
Ya’ll – we have to skip Advent devotion tonight because I’ll be too busy baking. Problem?
Again – decorating isn’t bad. But we live in a society where there’s more than a few reality TV shows bent on showing us how real Americans celebrate the holidays by disguising their house as a light up pinball machine. And Martha’s Stewart’s magazine Real Simple gives us article after article of 20 step directions for hanging the perfect wreath next to the perfect garland leading up to the perfect mistletoe.
I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to miss that Advent service at church because the little lights on the ceramic church in my Christmas village aren’t working right.
Oh parties. There are lots of parties. Parties with family. Parties with friends. Parties with coworkers – for your job and your spouse's job. Parties for the kid in PreK with the birthday. Parties for neighbors. Parties at that big old mansion down the street that perhaps you were invited to on accident, but you don’t want to miss that party because you've always wanted to be inside the mansion.
Parties aren’t bad. But when we party simply for the sake of partying (or better yet) simply for the sake of telling people “Look at all the parties I have been to.” Isn’t there something wrong?
Thanks for the invite to Christmas Eve service pastor, but…I’m invited over to “the coolest guy at work's” house. You understand, don’t you?
5) Social Networking.
I put this one up here, because the honest truth is that this is a huge problem in society. We are convinced that we are the busiest people in the history of generations on earth. Why? Because of Social Media.
Tasks that should take two minutes – I’m gonna check to see if that place is still having a sale – become hours. “But as I was looking for the sale, I found a good deal that I felt I should SHARE on Facebook with my friends. Which led me to TWEET about how the sales aren’t any good anymore. And then I saw this video condemning how Facebook distracts us all from the true meaning of Christmas, so I thought I’d share it—on Facebook.”
“No, Pastor, I just don’t’ have time to read through the Gospel of Luke in preparation for Christmas. I’m #TooBusy.”
Read the warning from Jesus again. Luke 21:34 “Be careful,” he says, “or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.” That day? It’s not referring to December 25th, 2015. It’s referring to a Day that’s much more important than that. A day that will only happen once and if you aren’t ready for it there won’t be a chance for you to shape up and try it again next year.
Jesus is talking about Judgment Day. The day when all people are judged. The day when people are sent to heaven or to hell. Not just for a day. Not just for the time it takes to go to a bad office party.
Brothers and sisters, there is nothing more important that you can do this Christmas. Then, prepare your hearts for the coming of the Lord. Today God’s Word says, Be careful. Don’t get distracted.
Don’t be Lot’s wife.
Do you remember the story? Lot was a believer. Lot and his family lived in a city of unbelievers. A city that hated God. A city that proved their hatred for God by acting in defiant opposition to everything that God had to say.
A city that God was going to destroy.
But an angel fo the Lord came to Lots’ family. He warned them. He said, “Follow me. There’s little time. We must get out of the city. We must run outside of the gates. We must run to safety and not look back. God is going to destroy this place with fire from heaven. There is no time. Pursuing God’s command right now is the only thing that should be taking up your time.”
His daughters ran.
His wife ran…and stopped. It was too hard to leave her things, her stuff, her friends. She longed for earthly things more than the things of God.
She turned around…and became a pillar of salt.
II. God’s Simple Schedule
I’m not suggesting that you’ll turn into a pillar of salt. But I am suggesting that if things and stuff keep us from following God, we will be punished.
Repent. Confess your sins of filling your time with things and stuff and dropping God from your schedule. Ask for forgiveness.
And know that he gives it.
How do we know that? Because your forgiveness was a part of God’s simple schedule. Take a look at this passage from Galatians 4:4 “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Notice the simple two part schedule that God planned.
Might I add that this has been a part of God’s schedule since the beginning? Did he not say to the devil in the first few days of this earth’s existence – “I will put enmity between you and the woman..and one of her offspring, will crush your head.” (Gen. 3:15)
Romans tells us that when the time was just right. Eve’s great, great, great, great, great, great (many times over) grandson, her offspring Jesus, was born. Born of a woman.
God didn’t get distracted. He didn’t let questions like – “How can your Son be the Savior? He’s God. He isn’t held to the same restrictions as humans. He can’t trade in his perfect life for their perfect life because they aren’t on the same playing field.” “And How can he be God? If he is born of a human, he needs a mommy and a daddy. But then, he wouldn’t be God and your plan wouldn’t work. He wouldn’t be aable to save human beings.”
God did what he did. He sent his Son. Born of a woman. Born of to a woman who had never had sex. Born to a husband who knew that she had never had sex. Born of God’s miraculous power.
2) Save the World
And he was born, to save you. It says, “to redeem those under law.” That’s us! We were the ones who were to be punished for not putting God first. We were the ones who had missed the boat because we were spending our time pursuing our own fleshly desires.
But God came to save you. That was part two of his simple plan. Live perfectly. Die Innocently. Rise triumphantly. Save you.
God didn’t get distracted. He didn’t get distracted by our wants. He’s not like Santa Claus who gives us what we want. “I want a New Transformer toy that I’ll play with twice and then get bored with and leave in the bottom of my toy closet.” Nope. God gave us what we needed. He didn’t come to get us a million dollars. He didn’t come to get us a challenge free life on this earth. He didn’t come to make sure that our Christmas trees are fully decorated with hundreds of gifts beneath it.
He came to save us from sin, death, and hell.
Scripture says, he came to “redeem us who were under law.” To buy us back from the punishment we deserve. He came to win forgiveness. He did this to “give us the full rights of sons.” We have the right to have peace with God. We have the right to have joy this holiday season. He gave us the right to heaven.
He gave me the right to say “You are forgiven.” And for it to be true.
III. A Sample of a Simple Schedule
Peace, joy and God’s love must be what predominates our Christmas schedules. We do that in three simple ways:
Specifically. Meditate on his word. Read Romans 13:14 “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
There are a lot of ways to dress for Christmas. When I was younger, my mom insisted on dressing me up in a matching velvet suit coat to my sister’s matching velvet dress. Some people love wearing Christmas sweaters.
Jesus reminds us to dress up in Him. In his righteousness. In his purity. In his forgiveness. You do that by meditating on his Word.
It’s so much easier to dress, of course, when it is the only thing you are doing. It’s hard to dress when you are doing the dishes OR to dress while you are hanging tinsel.
It’s the same thing with studying God’s Word. Set aside time to put it on your schedule. Make it as a part of your day as getting dressed is. Put on the LORD Jesus Christ. First thing in the morning. Do it in the afternoon. Do it in the evening. Literally go into your schedule and mark it in permanent marker. Make it the one part of your schedule that you will not and cannot give up.
In the section we were reading from Luke earlier, Jesus offered this is a second way to prepare. He said, “Be always on the watch and pray.” (Luke 21:34)
Can you imagine what it would be like if we spent as much time in prayer as we do on our iPhones?
“This is exciting. Rather than post it on Facebook, I’ll say a prayer of thanks.”
“This is challenge. Rather than complain via mass text, I’ll say a prayer asking for God’s help.”
“I feel terrible. Rather than soothe my conscience with pictures of dogs dressed up in Santa costumes, I’ll ask God for forgiveness.”
Pray brothers and sisters. Know that God hears you. It is a “right of sons” to talk to their dad and it is a right that God has given you through Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 63:7 says, “Tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is praised.” This is probably the hardest one for us. It’s the one part that we dread.
But it’s so important.
Think about it. There is no better gift than the message of salvation. Salvation doesn’t get old. It doesn’t wear out. The batteries don’t die. It is one size fits all. You don’t need to take it back to the store. There isn’t a salvation 3.8 set to come out next year – so why bother on it this year?
Salvation is one of kind because it comes from our eternal Lord. There is no better gift than that.
We need to do that together this Christmas. We need to invite others to come hear this message – it’s why in the back of the bulletin you have a worksheet to help you determine who to invite. Please read that. Please partake. This is one of the MOST important things for you to do this Christmas! So important that God promises to go with you as you share.
IV. The Time is Now
Jesus told them this parable. “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Lk. 21:29-31)
God's kingdom is near, but we don't know how near it is. Share His message with others and keep it a SIMPLE Christmas. Amen.
Do you have anyone coming over for the holidays? Family? Friends? Third cousins twice removed? Ever notice how your preparation for guests depends on who the guest is?
For instance, if my mom is coming to visit I’ll deep clean the house, strategically place photographs of my family on all of the walls, and make sure that there are only organic, Gluten free, healthy food choices lining our shelves.
It's different with my college buddies. No cleaning required, a couple of old WWF DVDs on hand, and a bunch of bags of Doritos ready for supper—and lunch.
What if Jesus was coming to your house? What would you do? Throw out your explicit rap CDs? Dust a few Bibles off their shelves and place them opened on the tables? Print off some inspirational Scripture verses and hang them on your wall? ("I always have these up Jesus!") Train your live in boyfriend to say, “No, I’m just stopping by for a visit. I don’t live here.” What would you do if Jesus was coming?
Guess what? Jesus is coming. He’s coming for you! Take a look at Revelation 22. It’s our final vision and in this vision John sees and hears Jesus saying this, “Behold, I am coming soon!” Listen to the words that John hear from Jesus himself:
Take a look at that first phrase. Notice that adverb. “Soon.” That’s very nonspecific, isn’t it? The Packer game will happen soon. Thanksgiving is coming soon. Christmas is coming soon. This sermon might get done…’soon.’
Since it is so general, I fear we can often delay getting ready. But that's not smart NOR is it what Jesus wants us to do. The word implies urgency. Jesus is very specific. He is coming soon. Not later. Not after a while. Not after a delay. “I am coming soon.” Whether he comes for you specifically to take you to heaven OR whether returns on the Last Day – Jesus wants you to be ready, because either one of those things could happen at any time.
Now you might be thinking, “So what? Why should I prepare to see Jesus? What’s the big deal? What makes him any different than preparing to see my dentist?” The next part of the text gives us three reasons why Jesus coming is a big deal. Look at verses 12-13, “My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
1) Jesus is Bringing an Awesome Reward
Whenever my grandma visits, she always brings gifts. Specifically, she always bring Chex Mix. It’s delicious. So…when I know she is coming, I get excited for such an awesome gift.
What is Jesus’ gift? It’s better than Chex Mix. It’s heaven! Remember last week’s sermon – Heaven is a pretty sweet gift. Heaven means no more evil. Heaven means no more sin. Heaven means Jesus is completely and absolutely victorious forever. Heaven means Jesus wins. Heaven means no more temptation, no more fear, no more guilt, and no more pain! Heaven means that Jesus rules and we are servants in his kingdom. Heaven means people of all races, nations, and cultures joining together in one loud continuous Hallelujah to the King!
Heaven is awesome. It’s the awesome gift Jesus brings. Since he is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Jesus is in control of all things. He's the start of all things. He is the end of all things. He alone is the reason that you have life on this earth. He alone will be the reason that anyone has life in heaven!
Heaven is not too difficult of a gift for Jesus to produce.
2) This Reward Depends on What You have Done
Look at what verse 12 reminds us, “I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Simply put. God will give you heaven if you have earned it.
Remember the old Raisin Bran commercials? They said, “You deserve to scoops of Raisin Bran.” And maybe you do. Maybe you smile enough to deserve two scoops of oats and raisins. But…what about heaven? Have you done enough to earn it? Have you done enough to earn an eternity of evil-less, joyful existence with the perfect and all holy God?
Look at what happens if you haven't done enough to earn heaven in verse 15, “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
Being outside of heaven isn’t where anyone wants to be. Time to rethink your actions.
3) This Reward Depends on The King’s Opinion
Now it’s real easy to hear that declaration and think, “I’m fine. God and I are good. I’m in a decent position to get to heaven.”
But consider verse 13. Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega. The First and the Last. The Beginning and the End.” There is no one else who has the authority he does. No one ever has. No one ever will. He is the one who always has ruled. He is the one who is ruling right now. He is the one who will rule into eternity.
Despite what the world wants you to think: YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE. You never have been. You never will be. You aren’t in charge of your life. You aren’t in charge of whether your morality was good enough. You aren’t in charge of if you should be let into heaven.
If that were the case, we'd have hundreds of billions of different standards of morality each being declared by one person (the one who lived that morality) as "good enough."
Your opinion doesn’t count when it comes to whether you should get into heaven or not. That matter is decided by God himself.
Brothers and sisters, do you see the urgency? You don’t know when Jesus is coming and when he comes he will only hand out the reward of heaven to you if you have done enough good in his own eyes!!!!
So, stop putting this off. Stop waiting to get ready for Jesus "until I get older, have kids, and it's important for them." Get ready now!
How? How do you get ready to meet this Eternal, all Holy King when he returns? It has nothing to do with cleaning up your house or making a nice pie. It has everything to do with making sure your spiritual self is right with God. And there is only one way to do that. Look at verse 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city."
Certain places enforce a strict dress code. Private schools might require students to wear a polo and khakis. A fancy restaurant might require a tie. Most gas stations require you to wear shoes and a shirt.
What do you need to wear to get into heaven? A clean life worn like a beautiful robe. As you might have noted, our sins sully our clothes. They set in deep. They are impossible to remove. Our clothing is filthy and grimy like the clothing of one of those Spartan Races who trudges through a mud obstacle.
But blessed are those who wash their robes.
Jesus' robes weren't white. Not on Good Friday. On Good Friday, they were stained by the blood of brutal beatings, the dirt of falling on the ground, and the sweat of a failing body.
But what happened to His clothing on the outside, is nothing compared to the staining that happened to his soul on the inside.
He took on your guilt.
He took on your sin.
He took on your impossible to get out stains.
And He got rid of them.
Blessed are those who wash their robes. Not in Tide. Not in bleach. Not in their own efforts. But in the blood of the Lamb. The blood of our Savior. Because in Jesus, the dirtiness of our sinful addictions is washed off. In the waters of baptism, the slime of sexual sin is removed. The blood of our Lord penetrates even the deepest stains of pride and completely clean us off! Then, with faith in Jesus as your Savior, you wear Jesus’ perfect life as your clean, white robe. You are dressed appropriately “You may go through the gates into the city.”
How is that last statement so confident? Through faith in Jesus I will be in heaven!?! How can anyone possibly say it so confidently?
Because they have been cleaned to the specifications of the one in charge of setting the cleanliness specifications for heaven!
Think about it: In your household, who does the best job on the dishes? It’s usually mom, right? Mom is picky about those dishes being clean. She doesn’t want any smudges on the glasses or an crusty food in the corner of the oatmeal bowl. So when mom does the dishes, there are no send backs. Every dish is clean. Every dish passes her inspection and specifications.
Similarly, the one who determines whether you are ‘holy’ and able to enter heaven – is also the one who promises in Scripture to clean up your sin filled life and makes it Holy. He promises “I really hate sin and I really demand perfection. So I’m gonna do this myself. I’m going to live perfectly. I’m going to die innocently. I’m going to rise triumphantly. Then, you will put your faith in me. And with your faith in me, all of your sin will be removed. You will fit my standard of cleanliness…You will be perfect.”
By the way, THIS IS ALL TRUTH!
Look at what Jesus says next in verse 16, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.” It’s important that Jesus says this. It’s so easy to doubt the message of sins forgiven and the promise of Jesus’ righteous robes covering our sinful flesh. But look at these words again! This isn’t something the pastor made up. It is a message from Jesus himself. Remember: Jesus gave this message to John who wrote it down and who had his scroll copied at which point a translator translated it, then printers printed it, Biblegateway put up a web page, our church secretary copy and pasted and then printed, I presented and you read it. But it still came from Jesus! Your King! The Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End…the one who has the authority to make such powerful declarations again and again: He is the One who speaks this message to you!
Get Ready! Consider what the last couple of verses mean for your preparation:
1) He is The ROOT…so stay connected to Him. Just like a root sucks up nutrients and passes them on to the rest of the plants, so Jesus nourishes all who are connected to him. And the connecting point? That’ s faith. Through faith he nourishes you for your everyday life. He strengthens you with the peace of sins forgiven, the love of God the Father, and the promise of eternal life.
2) He is The Offspring of David…so say prayers to Him. David was a king. So was Jesus. Kings listen to requests. Jesus will listen to yours too. Whatever your requests may be, feel free to lay them at the feet of your king. He is always in charge. Always on the throne. Always accepting these requests – no matter when, no matter how much, no matter how great! Keep talking to your King – and you’ll stay ready for Jesus’ return.
3) He is the BRIGHT MORNING STAR…so gaze on his beauty. See the aurora borealis of salvation. Look at the bright sunlight of salvation. Gaze at the beauty of his bloodstained brow. Marvel at the joy of the cross. Take time each day…take time later this afternoon to appreciate just what Jesus had done for you. Don’t look away from Jesus and you’ll stay ready for his kingly return.
4) Come. Come. This is a message not only from Jesus, but also from the Spirit – the Holy Spirit himself, also true God – and the bride, that is the church, all the saints in heaven cheering down to you – say, “Come!” But come where? Come to Heaven, certainly! But heaven comes through the message of Jesus. Thus, again, the Bible – Jesus – the Holy Spirit—and the Christian church encourages you – come and learn at the feet of Jesus. Come to Bible study. Come to devotion. Come to church. Come to the radio. Come to WELS Daily devotions. Come to our website to check up on sermons. Come. Come anywhere you can hear the message of Jesus!
5) Tell others to Come! Literally it says, “Let the one who hears say, “Come!” Did you hear? Good. Then say “Come!” Tell your family. Tell your friends. Literally tell them to come to church with you next week. Do it! The message that Jesus is literally that fantastic!
In fact, now that I think about it, why wait? Why wait for Jesus to come? His gifts are so awesome – forgiveness, peace, love, and joy. Why wait for him to come?
Why not come to him...now?!?
Jesus says this, “Let the one who is thirsty come" – thirsty for forgiveness? Come. Thirsty for peace? Come. Thirsty for purpose? Come. Thirsty for love? Come. Thirsty for salvation? Come. Come…and take, "take the free gift of the water of life.”
So what are you waiting for? Jesus is coming soon, but why wait?
Why not come to Him now!?!
Do you ever get nervous about what’s going to happen to you in the future? Will you get a good grade on the test? Will you ever make enough money to pay the bills? Will you ever get your dream job? Will you ever find the right guy to marry? Will you get cancer? Will you get ebola? How long will you live? Will you be happy?
It’s nerve racking to think about the future. The reason is that we don’t know what the future holds!
Except…sometimes, we do.
We know exactly what will happen.
Normally when we gather together on a Sunday morning for worship, we discuss things that have already happened. The Israelites sinned; God punished; they repented. Jesus lived; Jesus died; and Jesus rose. But this Sunday we’re going to begin a three week series where we take a different glimpse at the timeline. Instead of looking back, we’re going to look forward. Through the eyes of the prophets, we will look not into the past, but into the future.
Nervewracking? Maybe, not as much as you think.
Our first glimpse into the future comes from Daniel. He’s the guy who was in the lion’s den last week, but God kept him safe. So you know…Daniel was on God’s good side. In fact, the following vision takes place before the Lion’s Den. Again, you know it’s going to be truth…otherwise God would have let those lion’s tear him to pieces in response to any lies Daniel had written down.
But since God protected Daniel, we know God was also protecting the truth. Here is the truth God revealed to Daniel about the future.
In his vision, Daniel saw 4 beats rise up out of the earth. One looked like a winged lion; one was like a flesh eating bear; one was like a leopard, and was a giant, iron crushing beast that was so destructive it was hard to describe.
But suddenly, all of these beasts stop their destruction. They stop their fighting. Because someone more incredible than any type of creature J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings could never come up with what had appeared. Daniel describes it this way:
As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. (Daniel 7:9-10)
Wow. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Despite the destruction, despite the scariness of these beasts, they are nothing compared to this judge. He commands their attention and they stop.
Why does the world stop for him? You’ll find the answer in who that judge is. Look at the clues in the text:
1) He’s Experienced.
Verse nine calls him, “The Ancient of Days.” Ancient means “around a long time.” He’s garnered respect with his judgments in the past since the Genesis of the world.
In fact, Genesis – the first book of the Bible – records some judgments made against sinners. A flood to destroy the blood thirsty, unbelieving people at the time of Noah, a confusion of language for the proud who wanted to build a tower to heaven, fire from heaven to burn up the sexually deviant of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The judge in question judged then AND he will judge in the future.
2) He’s Holy.
Look at what the judge is wearing: “Clothing as white as snow; hair as white like wool.” This isn't written down to tell us that the judge was a clean freak. Nor it is a quick subliminal message in the Bible for Clorox bleach.
The truth is that the color white in the Bible – pure white, not beige – stands for purity.
The point then is not that the judge is a certain race. The point is that the judge is pure! He is without sin. He is without corruption. He is holy. He doesn't accept bribes. He doesn't let things slide. He doesn't let people off easy. He uphold the Law.
3) He’s Powerful.
If you’ve ever been to a court room, you’ll notice the judge’s seat is very professional looking. It usually has a large back and is very ornate. The higher up you get in court the more ornate. Supreme court? Rich mohagany, right?
Look at what this judge’s throne is made of. Look at verse 10 it says, “His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him.”
You ever sat down on fire before? Me neither.
This shows you the power of this judge. He is not some guy phoning into the police that “the kids are on my lawn again,” whom the police ignore, and the man remains powerless to stop these kids.
This is a judge who has a river of fire at his disposal. And then, just so that we get a real clear picture of his power, listen to how verse ten continues, “Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.”
Of course, if you saw him riding his river of fire, it’d probably be in your best interest to serve him, right?
Then, perhaps the scariest thing happens. The judge opens the books. Court is in session. It’s time for this all powerful, completely holy, no nonsense, all experienced, fire wielding judgment judge to put men on trial.
“Boy,” I bet your thinking, “I’d hate to be the bloke who got stuck with him as the judge for his trial.”
Umm. Here’s the truth. You…are…that…bloke.
Because this judge, Daniel reveals later in chapter 7, is “the Most High,” and those mythical beasts were none other than different kingdoms on earth. Each rules for a time, but then is that kingdom’s time is judged to be up. Judged by the ONE in control of it all….God.
And you…are a part of all nations. You too will have your time on earth come to an end. You too will be judged by God.
This is what Jesus recorded in our Gospel. On the Last Day God will separate the sheep from the goats…the righteous from the unrighteous. (Mt. 25:32) And he will do it, by looking at your deeds.
How do you think you’ll do? When you face the fire wielding, dressed in holiness, sin hating, history of judging with complete wrath Ancient of Days…how will that court session go?
Immediately, you might want to start gathering evidence for your case. Find the list of charity donations you've made in the past year. Print off photos of you doing nice things for your kids. Get a few signed testimonies from your coworkers about how nice you.
But then again, what can you do? You can’t delete your Internet History files. You can’t hide in a portion of the mountains where the satellites haven’t been trained to pick you up yet.
The judge is God. He knows all sin. He hates all sin.
This is not good news.
But here’s the thing. The Bible tells us more about this End Time Court room in the book of Revelation. Revelation 20 tells us that God actually will open two books. The first will contain all the deeds of unbelievers. Those who rejected their Savior. They will have to answer for all their deeds on their own.
Here’s a mystery. In Revelation 20 there is another book opened by God. This book is different. It’s shorter. It doesn’t contain deeds. It only contains names. It isn’t written in ink either. It is written in red. Blood red.
This is the book of Life and it is the only book that matters. For this is the book that Jesus promises to place the name of every believer in. Revelation 3:5 has this promise from Jesus, “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my father and his angels.”
Do you get what’s going on here?
When someone is getting ready for court, it’s important to get your documents straight. It’s amazing how many times in People’s Court, someone may have a case, but they don’t bring any photos, any documents, any bills, nothing. Because you need proof. You need evidence to prove your innocence.
What do you need to prove your innocence before your Father? Only one thing. EXHIBIT A: An empty cross.
Remember what the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23) Justified is a courtroom term. It means “Declared not guilty.” And it means “Declared not guilty” by faith in the Son of God. Not by our works. Not by our trying harder. Not by our “not being so bad.” But by faith in Jesus, our Savior.
Understand then. This is your future. One day you will meet God. God will judge you at this meeting. If you choose to go to this meeting based on your own merit, you don’t stand a chance! But if you go with your Lord Jesus, well, you’ve got one awesome lawyer working for you. Through faith in Jesus you will be saved from condemnation and you will enjoy eternal life.
1) Sleep peacefully. You don’t have to convince God worthy of being saved. Jesus did that for you. He is your proof. He is the evidence God needs to set you free from eternal condemnation.
2) Live thankfully. If you just got off of death row, what would you do? Celebrate? Give thanks? Find the people you love and squeeze them real tight? Why not do the same thing this afternoon!?! You have just been taken off of spiritual death row! Celebrate. Go to Golden Corral. Give thanks to God!
3) Tell others about your awesome lawyer. Perhaps you’ve seen those commercials on TV for lawyers. The commercials have real people (you know they are real because of how bad the acting is), but these people are excited to share their story. They are excited because they had good lawyers and they want you to use the same good lawyers. There is no better lawyer than Jesus. And he doesn’t just save you from earthly lawsuits. He saves you from eternal punishment. Tell your friends about him. Pass this sermon onto your friends. Pass invites out to your friends. Tell them to come and hear about what Jesus will do for them.
Here’s the truth about the future. Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us who we’ll marry, where we’ll live, when we’ll retire, and when our favorite football team will win the Super Bowl again. The Bible doesn’t get into the specifics for such minimal things.
But when it comes to our eternal salvation the Bible is clear: God will judge you. But through faith in Jesus, right before he strikes the gavel, He will look at you, smile, and say something marvelous, “This one is innocent. They will enter paradise.” Amen.
There are a lot of famous spokesmen in the world. Tony the Tiger. Mr. Clean. Ronald McDonald. Lebron James. The Honey Bee from Honey Nut Cheerios. (Although I have to admit that I have no idea what his name is.)
A spokesman is important. These spokesmen help to sell the product. They tell you to invest in what the company sells. They tell you "you aren’t as cool as Lebron James if you don’t eat the Club Hamburger!”
If you had to name one spokesman for Christianity, whom would you name?
The whimsical and kind words of Max Lucado? The theologically heavy, yet humanly raw writings of Martin Luther? How about the wise, well-known voice of Billy Graham? The Gospel sing-song voice of Reverend T.D. Jakes?
All of these Christian speak and write in very different ways. Which one is the best? Which one is most correct?
What does the voice of Christianity sound like?
I wonder if the post Ascension disciples were pondering that very question. They had just received their marching orders. They were to “go and make disciples of all nations by baptizing them…and by teaching them to obey everything (Jesus) had commanded them.” (Mt. 28:19) Teaching involved talking. They would have to use their voice.
Should they be hellfire and brimstone like the Old Testament prophets? Should they speak mildly in one on one conversation? Should they hire speech writers to help them write the first sermon OR should they just hire someone to preach it for them? Maybe they could buy big rolls of papyrus, make bolded posters with crosses on them and place them all over the Colisseum?
As they sat their quietly in that Jerusalem room and pondered what the Christian voice might sound like, little did they know that God was about to reveal to them exactly what it sounded like.
1. What does the Christian Voice Sound Like?
Suddenly, they heard the sound like the blowing of a violent wind. Think of a hurricane without the rain. A tornado without the wind. Then, they saw what appeared to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. Finally, Scripture says they were filled with the Holy Spirit and then it describes how they went and immediately began preaching sermons. (Acts 2)
Understand what this means. These disciples – ordinary men – fishermen, accountants, untrained, unschooled – suddenly knew what the Christian voice sounded like. It was familiar.
It was their own.
What does it sound like today?
Look at what the prophet Joel has to say about Pentecost and the time after it in chapter two of his prophecy. He says, “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants – both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29)
Consider then what the Christian voice sounds like.
Sometimes, Joel says, it sounds like sons and daughters.
If you have older children who have grown up and left the house, you might be nodding your head. But notice that Joel puts no age limit on this prophecy. Meaning that if your kid is still a kid, this prophecy is no less valid.
Now you may be thinking, “My kid? The voice of Christianity? Not so much. She’s inquisitive (always asking “Why?”) to be sure and she’s knows all the words to “Let It Go,” but the voice of Chrsitianity? That might be taking it too far.”
…Think of those Precious Lambs last weekend. They are nothing more than preschool . Not even tall enough to ride the Ferris Wheel at an amusement park. Last week they sang in church. High pitched? A little. Off key? Some. Off beat? Definitely.
But did that change their message? It was the Word of God from Matthew 28: “Surely, I will be with you always to the very end of the age.”
Wonderful. Beautiful. God’s Word.
Sometimes the voice of the Christian sounds like the voice of a child!
But that’s not all the Christian voice sounds like. Joel writes, “Your young men will see visions.” (2:28)
Again, that might sound a little strange. Teenage boys aren’t usually thought of for their responsibility. Culturally, we think of them as talking about the latest cheat codes on a video game, the stats of their favorite football team, and whether Marci Fischer has a crush on them or not!
But Joel tells us that “your young men will see visions.” High schoolers will challenge their public school teachers on the origins of the world. Teens from New Ulm join forces with some of our teens and go door-to-door inviting people to church. In a few weeks, the WELS Youth rally will gather over 2000 teens from across the United States united in singing praises to God. Shortly after that we will have teen confirmation and two young adults will confess their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ before all of us!
Sometimes, the voice of the Christian sounds like the voice of a teenager!
But that’s not all the Christian voice sounds like. Joel writes, “your old men will dream dreams.” (2:28)
Again, you might struggle to think this possible. Especially with a much older man who lives in a retirement home. One might think, “They need help with every aspect of living. They need someone to push the wheelchair. Someone to bring them food. If I want to hear anything they are saying, I have to lean in close and listen intently! How could they be the spokesmen of the Lord?”
Monday mornings I head over Brighton Gardens retirement home. The majority of the residents who join me for worship there have to be wheeled in. They need help finding the page in the bulletin. They need help finding a spot to sit.
They don’t need any help singing Amazing Grace! They sing “How Great Thou Art” at the top of their lungs. Sure, their fingers might write a with a tad more of a crook, but they can still write letters of blessing. Sure, their ways might be a bit old fashioned, but if you listen…really listen, you might learn wonderful lessons about God.
Respect your elders. Because sometimes the voice of Christianity sounds just like the voice of your grandparent!
But young men, old men, and young children are not all that the voices of Christians sound like. Joel tells us "I will pour out my Spirit on all people….even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28, 29)
In other words, at different times the voice of Christianity will sound like the voice of every believer.
But here’s where you really need to pay attention.
First, make sure no one’s around. Close a door. Breath deeply. Then, hum a bit. Softly a first, then a bit louder.
Did you hear it?
You just heard the voice of Christianity! You just heard the voice of one of God’s spokesmen.
2. How does a Christian Voice Speak?
Now I’m sure you are immediately objecting:
“I’m terrible at speaking.”
“I freeze up and say silly things.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“If I can’t convince my kids to eat their broccoli, how can I convince others to believe in Jesus?”
I’m sure the disciples might have had similar objections. In Jerusalem that first Pentecost was a United Nations of the Ancient World: Parthians, Median, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontians, Asians, phyrgians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Romans, Cretans, and Arabs!
Yet, Scripture tells us that they heard the message of Jesus – clearly—and each in their own language.
This was long before the time of the Rosetta Stone. How could the disciples have been able to speak all these different languages so quickly?
Were they studying in their off time? When? They had been following Jesus for over three years. Were they naturally brilliant? Not necessarily. Some of them were fishermen and farmers. Were they drunk? Not at all!
Peter answers by pointing to the words of the prophet Joel: "I will pour out my Spirit on all people….I will pour my Spirit in those days.”
In other words, the disciples weren’t in it alone. Their voices didn’t speak by themselves. They had the Holy Spirit of God guiding them.
The same is true for you.
Now you might not have a tongue of fire on your head. You probably can’t speak in tongues and I don’t want you to even try picking up a poisonous snake.
Yet, if you are a believer, know this: You have the Holy Spirit with you!
How do I know this?
Scripture says, “No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3) You can’t be a believer unless the Holy Spirit is with you – in your heart.
This is comforting isn’t it? You, dear believer, are an instrument of the Holy Spirit. As you speak his Word, he is using you for his purposes.
Which means that there is no reason to worry!
I imagine that a rickety old violin might feel a little worried in the way that he will sound as a concert approaches. But, if that old violin hears that it will be played by a world renowned violinist, all that worry fades away!
You are an instrument that is in the hands of the Holy Spirit of God! He is world renowned for the faith that he works and strengthens through the Word. Though you may be broken and rusty in your speaking skills, that does not mean that He can’t use you to beautifully share God’s Word!
Scripture tells us, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
This is true. It’s true even when you, yes, you, speak God’s Word.
3. What Does a Spokesman Say?
Now about the only objection you might have left is to ask the simple question, “what does the Christian voice say?”
Take a look at Peter’s speech in Acts 2 and you see that answer. Peter continues in his Pentecost address to speak of the past. Specifically, the past 50 days. He tells how Jesus lived. How Jesus died. How Jesus rose again. He tells them of how they sinned and how Jesus save them from their sins.
You know this. You know it well. So speak it. Speak of how your Savior lived perfectly, died innocently, and rose triumphantly for the forgiveness of sins.
Then, don’t just speak the past, but speak the future.
Now, you might be thinking, “The future? How am I to do that? I don’t own a crystal ball. I don’t get visions. I can’t read palms. My magic 8 ball is broken. How am I to speak about the future, if I don’t know it!?!”
But, dear Christian, as a believer in Jesus, might I add that you do know the future. Look at the words of Joel for a reminder:
God says, "I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood on the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Joel 2:30-32)
In other words, you know the Law. The end is coming. It comes as death for many of us. For others, it will come as Judgment day. And without Jesus, it will be dreadful.
But, you also know the Gospel. Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance! (Joel 2:33)
Don’t shudder in proclaiming comfort for the future. Confidently and boldly speak the good news of Jesus!
When Peter and the disciples had finished their work on the first Pentecost, Scripture tells us that over 3,000 were added to their number that day.
Brothers and sisters, you may not see thousands of people coming to faith as soon as you start sharing your faith, but don’t be surprised to start seeing results. The LORD is at work! He will cause people to think. He will cause people to ask questions. He will be at work as you share his word!
So, be a spokesman!
Just about the only time that a spokesman doesn’t do his job is when he doesn’t speak for the product he represents.
You represent Jesus. Do your job. Speak of him. At home, at work, on the job, with your neighbors, at the dog park, in the coffee shop, online. Be a spokesman for Jesus! Amen.
The other day I was waiting for somebody to pick me up at our apartment.
I was certain that they wouldn't come for a while though, so I was on the couch in my Green Bay Packer Zubaz sweatpants lounging and eating a bag of chips.
Then, there was a knock at the door.
I brushed off the chip crumbs and hobbled embarrassedly to the door. I opened it a crack and told him I'd be out in a few minutes. I ran to the bedroom threw on some jeans and hustled outside.
Good thing he wasn't in a hurry, because I wasn't ready.
Jesus told a similar parable:
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 25)
One needs to understand the way things worked in first century Jewish weddings. The virgins were basically bridesmaids and they weren't yet at the wedding celebration. They were waiting for the groom to come and pick them up. In order to make it easy for the groom to identify them, they would carry lamps (think torches) that were fueled by oil. When the groom saw these lamps, he would know whom he needed to bring to the wedding.
The wise ones made sure they had enough oil to be ready. The foolish ones did not and they missed out on everything!
The way Jesus takes us to his heavenly banquet works a little differently. It has nothing to do with oil and fire and everything to do with faith in his Son, Jesus Christ as our Savior.
But faith isn't just something where you close your eyes, clench your fists, and think "I believe" as hard as you can. It's not something that you "earn" once and then have for the rest of your life. Faith needs to be fed. Just like those lamps needed oil to stay burning so our faith needs fuel to stay burning.
Only the fuel isn't kerosene. It's God's Word.
How are you at keeping your faith burning? Do you run to God's Word on a daily basis? Do you take advantage of opportunities to hear His Word at your church? Do you have a Bible study you attend? Or devotionals sent to you on a daily basis?
There is nothing more important.
Sometimes we get to thinking: "I need to go to exercise, make breakfast, go to work, drop the kids off at softball, get a haircut, and read two hours worth of blogs on Facebook or my day isn't complete!"
Yet there is often something conspicuously absent from that list. Let's rethink that. If you don't remember to feed your faith, your day isn't complete.
Your faith needs to be fed the nutrients of God's promises, the vitamins of God's guidance, and the assurance of God's forgiveness. Why go a day without it?
Jesus could return at any time. Repent and turn to his Word. He will create a burning fire in your heart. The Holy Spirit will feed your faith. The Lord Jesus Christ will personally come and escort you home to heaven.
Even if you're wearing Green Bay Packer Zubaz Pants.
Right before it storms, the clouds get really dark. It gets a little colder. The birds stop chirping. The wind picks up.
In today's lesson Jesus tell about signs that the end of the world is cominng. A whole lot scarier than a simple storm. Check it out:
1 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end
is still to come. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
That sounds scary.
False Christs. Wars. Rumors of Wars. Earthquakes. Famines. Persecutions against Christians. Family members hating family members because of Jesus. It certainly doesn’t sound pleasant
But that’s not all. The truth is that these things are already happening. Check out the long list of people who have claimed to be Christ in the Wikipedia article here. Go to CNN and read about wars in the Middle East and rumors of wars in Crimea. Check out this website that tracks earthquakes as they happen here. Besides the economic famine in America, take a look at the results of famine in Africa here. Take to the blogs to read about Christians being ridiculed in the Western world and thrown into prison in the East. Don't miss this article about Christians who were killed during worship just yesterday!
Then there’s that last one. Family members hating family members. I could give you a link of Facebook posts from people who are upset with me for spreading the message of Jesus. But you don't need to read about my life for proof. You feel it on a daily basis. From long distance relatives. From people within your own home.
This sounds so scary. Why would anyone want to be a Christian during these times?
Listen to the end of verse 13 again: The one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Because our Savior Jesus Christ is real. He defeated our sin. He destroyed death. He conquered the devil. He thwarts all imposters. He is the God of war. Earthquakes and famines don’t scare him. Persecutions affect him none. He can take anything angry scientists, vicious bloggers, and vitriol governments can hurl against him.
And so can you.
In Jesus, you will be saved. He will hold you firm to the end. He is our Mighty Fortress! Unlike those temple walls that came crashing down in...Jesus will never crash. His church will never fail. It will remain firm – solidly on Christ until we reach the peaceful streets of heaven.
Suddenly, in the strong arms of Jesus, life doesn't sound so scary anymore.
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, bear me up. Keep me firm in faith in the midst of very scary things. Help me to cling to you through devotions, Bible readings, and time in your word. Keep me from neglecting church where I am built up by songs, hymns, spiritual songs, messages of your love, your Word, and prayers from my friends in Jesus. Jesus, be our foundation. Hold us up until the end. Amen.
The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.
So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.
14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. --Romans 13:11-14
It is impossible not to know that Christmas is coming.
Christmas sales are going on in any store you enter. Christmas ads fill up the majority of commercials on TV. There are reminders to get your shopping done in newspapers, on the internet, in your emails, on your smart phones, even via text message! Stores pretty much do everything short of sending an employee into your house while you are sleeping to tap you on the forehead and whisper: "Christmas is coming soon!"
Christmas isn't the only day that's fast approaching.
We're in the season of Advent. Advent means we remember to prepare our hearts for the arrival of Jesus. At Christmastime...to be sure, but also for his next arrival on earth--on the Last Day.
And while you probably won't receive any text message reminders and there probably won't be any full page ads in the News and Observer, Paul tells us this: the Day is coming!
I. Sooner Than You Think
Take a look at what Paul wrote in Romans 13:11 "The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed."
If you are like most people, then you are already making decision about when to prepare for Christmas this year. When do I put up the lights? When do I put up the tree? When do I buy the gifts? When do I wrap the gifts? When do I make the chocolate covered peanut butter bon bons? When do I eat the chocolate covered peanut butter bon bons?
If you were wondering when you should start preparing for the day of our salvation, Paul tells us that we should already have been preparing! Look at his words: "The hour has already come!" You should have been preparing for Jesus' return, years ago!
You might say, "Why? Isn't he coming back in a couple thousand years?"
Because of one simple truth that we learn from Matthew 24: No one knows the day or the hour. It could be any time.
The only thing we know is that it is nearer now than it was last Advent. In fact, it's nearer now than it was when I started this sentence. It's always getting closer. Because unlike Christmas, which, in 25 more days will be 364 days away, the number of days to the day of Jesus' second coming are always getting shorter!
But Jesus' return is not meant to be frightening. Look at what Paul says in verse 12, "Night is nearly over; the day is almost here."
This is a great metaphor! Because night time is generally scarier than daytime. At night you hear noises. You can't see. Shadows deceive you into thinking the Grinch is around the corner ready to steal Christmas! If you have ever been a little kid pulling the covers over your eyes, then you know what a relief it is when the light of the sun finally peeks into your room. "It's daytime. The scary stuff is gone."
When the day of Jesus' second arrival comes, the scary stuff will really be gone.
No more evil. No more sin. No more danger. No more catastrophe, sickness, hatred, or sadness.
No more guilt. Only heaven.
For we will be in the light of the day! We will be with the Light of the World. We will be with God himself enjoying the sun-like rays of from the face of the Son. Soaking in the fresh air of heaven. Relaxing in the cool breeze of the Spirit's gentle movement.
II. Get Ready Now!
It's amazing how often society reminds us that Christmas is coming. But it's even more amazing how many people, come December 24th, will be scrambling to the local Radio Shack to pick up their wives a curling iron that also plays the radio. "Because that's what she wants, right!?!"
Don't make that mistake with the day of your salvation. Get ready now!
If you are wondering, how to prepare for that...look at the next verses from Romans: "Let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light... Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh."
This principle makes sense. Because if you are planning on going Christmas shopping anytime soon, there is one thing you NEED to do. (Unless maybe you go shopping online, but still...bear with me.) You NEED to put on clothes. Take off your footie jammies and put clothes on first!
If you don't, just wait till you see the looks you get at Crabtree Mall!
The same is true in preparing for Jesus' second coming. We take off our old clothes. Get rid of our deeds of darkness. Get rid of a inner psyche that says, "I don't need Jesus. I don't believe in him. I think it's a sham."
That's not ready. Not at all.
Instead, clothe yourself with Jesus. And that doesn't mean go get a WWJD shirt and wear it around town! It means to contemplate what he has done. Meditate on the true meaning of Christmas. Take in the precious truths of the Gospel --Jesus became a human at Christmas only so that he could die a human 33 years later and, in turn, save you from your sins and give eternal life to you through faith in Him!
What happens when you do that? A miracle.
The Holy Spirit works through his Word to clothe us with Jesus Christ. His life. His works. His sinless day to day activities. His God pleasing accomplishments.
This is faith. We might not think of it as clothing, but it is. Holy Spirit produced faith places Jesus' cloak of righteousness on our souls. It means you are forgiven. Forgiven for not preparing. Forgiven for not caring to prepare. Forgiven through faith in Jesus.
Forgiveness as clothing? Through faith in Jesus that's exactly what it is. It's even better than Calvin Klein.
Then, once you have been clothed with Jesus, don't go back to bed! That's like putting on your fresh TJ Maxx clothes for work and then getting back into bed.
Act like it's daytime!
Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone acted like daytime was nighttime? How would your coworkers feel if you brushed your teeth in the water fountain at work? How many men would you meet at the nightclub other than Bob the Janitor? Would your boss would be so keen about wearing your footie pajamas at the investment meeting. How would the other drivers on Six Forks feel if you were sleeping while you were driving? Although, I'm pretty sure that fireflies would be just fine with you trying to catch them in the hot sun.
It doesn't make sense to do nighttime things during the day. Paul tells us that it's the same spiritually. Since it is almost day, we need to act like it's day! We must stop living in darkness. He says, 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.
In other words, stop it! Take off the coat of drunkenness. Get rid of that old, sinful relationship. Throw out the sailor language. Cast aside fears and doubts! Put on the love of Jesus. Live for Jesus. Now is the time!!!
It starts in the heart. Read with me verse 14 again, "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh." In other words, stop worrying so much about earthly things!
"But, pastor," you might say, "that's hard to do during Christmas. If I stop worrying about earthly things, then, I'm going to miss an awesome deal on a pair of diamond earrings."
Yes, you might. But if you don't worry about spiritual things, you may miss out on the diamond studded streets of heaven. I'd rather pay three dollars more for a pair of Doc Martins and be in heaven, then save a bit and endanger my faith!
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to get kids to go to bed the closer it gets to Christmas? They get so excited, they can't sleep! And the night before Christmas? They just want to stay up all night, watch the presents arrive, hand off a few cookies and rip off the wrapping paper before you can even put a scoop or Folgers into the coffee maker!
Wouldn't it be amazing if that was how we prepared for Christ's second coming? If we with tepid excitement, we came to church to prepare our faith. If we happily sat our kids down, to prepare their hearts for Jesus. If we asked for another handful of five more invitations to our Christmas service, because it's so exciting to prepare for Jesus' return!
Brothers and sisters, get ready. Prepare now. Get ready for Christmas. Get ready for Christ. Get ready for your salvation! Amen.