door_6978cnpAdvent 1 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
Dec. 3, 2017
Isaiah 64:1-9, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37

Sermons online:
Full Service Audio:

There is a burglar and fire alarm system here at church.  In the sixteen years that I have been here there has not been one time, thank God, when the alarm system was set off by someone breaking into the building or by a fire.  We’ve had false alarms.  We’ve had it set off by a raccoon chewing threw a wire, we have had it set off by a lightning storm, we have had it set off for no apparent reason.  For a while we had a gremlin in the system and it would set the alarm off even while we were in the building and the alarm wasn’t set.  The alarm system is a source of lots of aggravation and issues and not once, in my memory, a real burglar or fire.  But you know, I still make sure I set the alarm every time I am last to leave.  Because…you never know.

We set alarms, buckle seatbelts, lock doors, all to try to be prepared for the unexpected and yet so many people remain completely unprepared for the greatest unexpected event of all.

I buckle my seatbelt every time I am in the car.  So far in life I’ve never once needed it, but I buckle it every time because…I never know when I might get in an accident.

I check the deadbolt locks on my doors at home each night before I go to bed to make sure the house is secure against any possible break in.  No one has ever tried to break in that I know of, but I still bolt the doors because…you never know when someone may try.

I take precautions at home, on the road, here at church because you never know when something might happen and I want to be ready.

We set alarms, buckle seatbelts, lock doors, all to try to be prepared for the unexpected and yet so many people remain completely unprepared for the greatest unexpected event of all.

Jesus is coming back.

Jesus is coming back and we don’t know when.

We have entered the season of Advent; the four Sundays before Christmas when we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ first arrival as God in flesh; His humble arrival as that little Jewish baby boy born in Bethlehem.  It is a time of anticipation of the celebration of Jesus’ birth; the celebration of God taking on human flesh to save you from your sin.

In Advent we also look forward to Jesus’ second arrival when He returns on the last day; judgment day.  When He returns again it will not be as a humble baby but rather He will return in power and great glory.  On that awesome day everyone, everywhere will know that Jesus has returned.  For those clothed in Christ’s righteousness the second coming will be a wonderful day of restoration and new life.  Jesus will return to destroy evil and sin and sickness and death and mourning forever.  Jesus will return and there will be no more divisions; no more hatred, no more warfare.  Jesus will return to raise the dead from the grave and everyone will be caught up in the air for the judgement.  Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead.  Those in Christ will be judged based on Jesus perfection given to them and those who have rejected Christ will be judged based on their own actions.  Those in Christ will receive eternal life with the Lord forever in the heavenly city; those outside of Christ will receive eternal torment in the lake of fire.

Jesus is coming back and you need to be prepared.  Jesus is coming.  Be prepared.  Stay prepared.  Now if Jesus left yesterday and said be prepared for my return it would be easier; but it has been a long time.  How long can you stay ready?  Jesus ascended into heaven almost 2,000 years ago.

A rich man leaves on a trip and leaves his servants in charge of his mansion and estate.  He tells them that he doesn’t know how long he will be gone but they should be ready for Him to return at any time.  They should keep doing their normal jobs.  Days go by, then weeks, then months, then years.  At first the servants are very attentive to their duties and keep on doing what they are supposed to be doing anticipating the boss’s return at any moment.  For days and weeks they keep doing their duty, but then as weeks drag into months and months into years the servants get sloppy and lazy.  They stop working to keep things in good shape and start to drink the owner’s good wine and whiskey and swim in his pool and sleep in his bed. They begin to let the mansion and estate sink into disrepair.  The longer the owner is gone the worse it gets.  The servants figure that it has been a long time, so the owner must not be coming back.  It is hard to remain prepared for a long time.  It is hard to wait.

Jesus is coming back.  Be prepared.  Stay awake.

It is easy to be lulled into a sense that since it has been a long time, Jesus is never coming back so why bother doing what you are supposed to be doing?  It is very easy to just get lazy and sleepy and let things slide and adjust to living as if Jesus is never coming back.  But Jesus is coming and you don’t know when.  It could be today.  It might not be for another 2,000 years.

So set the alarm, buckle your seatbelt, lock the doors and be prepared.

Set the alarm.  Set the alarm to go off when someone tries to teach lies and say that it is the Word of God.  Set the alarm to go off when someone teaches that the Bible is about living your best life now or dreaming big dreams or achieving great things.  We love to hear messages about being successful and happy and fulfilled, but that is not the message of the Bible.  It is too easy to listen to false teachers and be led astray; too easy to believe that there are many ways to the Father.  Set the alarm.  Cling to the true Word of God in the Bible.  Know the true word.  Read the Bible.  Study the Bible.  Hear the word.  In this world full of counterfeit religions there is only one true faith.  Know the truth of the Bible so well that you can easily spot a counterfeit.  Lots of people like to quote the Bible but that doesn’t mean they are teaching the truth.  Set the alarm.

Have your seatbelt on keeping you in your place each Sunday gathered together with other believers looking forward to Jesus’ return.  It is too easy to let other things become just as important, or more important, than coming to church each Sunday to hear God’s Word taught and receive the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus is coming back!  Be prepared.  Stay prepared.  What can be more important than that?  Well…maybe a sporting event…maybe a youth athletic league…maybe staying out late the night before…maybe just sleeping late…maybe getting a jump on the yard work…maybe just not feeling it.  The danger is that a week or two missing from church can quickly lead to a month or two, and to a year or two, and you give up your place in the family of faith waiting for Jesus to return and you just fall spiritually asleep and you are no longer prepared for Jesus’ return.  Keep your seatbelt on.

Lock the doors.  You are the light of the world and yet you live in a world of great darkness.  Lock the doors to keep the darkness from pushing into your life from all around you.  The pornography, the sexual immorality, the hatred, the lies, the anger, the coveting, the abuse of alcohol, the abuse of drugs, the violence, the love of money, the self-centeredness, the neglect of others.  Lock the doors.  The darkness of the world wants to flood into your life and take it over and extinguish your light.  The darkness wants to take the place of the true God and become your idol; the darkness wants to be the thing that you fear, love and trust above anything else.  So lock the doors against the darkness.

Stay prepared.  Jesus is coming back, and no one knows when.  The next time someone claims to know when Jesus is coming back know this.  They are lying.  They don’t know.  You don’t know.  I don’t know.  No one knows.  The angels don’t know.  God the Son does not know.  Only God the Father knows.

Jesus is coming back and He has left you to do what you are supposed to be doing until He returns.  So keep on doing what you have been given to do and stay prepared for the greatest arrival of all time.  Stay prepared for Jesus to return and make all things right in the world.  Bring the light of Christ to those around you in your gentle love and care for those you encounter.

You have Jesus who is the light of the world; the light that overcomes the darkness.  Live in the light waiting for Jesus to return doing what you have been given to do.

Set the alarm.  Buckle your seatbelt.  Lock the doors.  Stay awake.  Stay prepared.  Jesus is coming back for you.  Amen.

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