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Last Sunday of the Church Year 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
November 20, 2018
Isaiah 51:4-6, Jude 20-25, Mark 13:24-37

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

On this last Sunday of the Church Year a good question to ask is, “when is Jesus coming back?”  2,000 years ago Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives and He promised to return.  So…when is He coming back?  The unsatisfying answer is…we don’t know.  No one knows.  If anyone tells you that they know when Jesus will return; they are lying.  Remember what Jesus says in Mark 13:32 (ESV) 32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.[1]

Jesus is coming back, but we don’t know when, so, Jesus tells us,  Mark 13:33 (ESV) 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.[2]

Now, it is hard to maintain vigilance over a long period of time.  For 2,000 years Jesus has not returned and so it is difficult to stay awake.  It is like being a night watchman in a place where nothing ever happens.  After a while it is easy to become complacent.  It is easy to neglect your duties.  Companies with watchmen have systems to track their security guards to make sure they are doing their duty; walking their rounds and checking what needs to be checked.  When I was a guard one summer they had a watchman clock the guards carried and there were keys at various locations that they need to turn in the clock to show they were making their rounds.  Now there are electronic systems and GPS.  The companies paying the guards want to make sure the watchmen are staying on guard and keeping awake.

For Christians it can be hard to remain vigilant over the long haul and there is no GPS system to track you.  No key system to make sure you stay awake and do your duty.  So, how do remain on guard?

Maybe a different question is what do you do in order to let down your guard and fall asleep?  For a security guard working nights just sit down and lean back and close your eyes for minute.  Next thing you know.  You need a new job.  What about for a Christian?  How do you let down your guard?  How do you fall asleep?  How do you lose faith?

You should forget that you are a baptized child of God.  Go through the day without remembering that God has made a promise to you through the blood of Jesus.  Forget that you have been set apart from the world to delight in God’s will and walk in his ways and instead reject God’s will and walk in your ways.

Let bitterness and hatred build up in your life.  Stay aggressive and belligerent.  Never back down from an argument with someone you disagree with.  Stop loving your enemies and stop praying for those who persecute you.

How do you let down your guard?  Separate yourself from Word of God.  Don’t read the Bible.  Don’t engage in any study of the Bible.  Don’t feed on the Word of God.  Instead feed on the things of this world.  Look at porn.  Read trashy books.  Watch junk.  Let your Bible disappear from your life and gather dust.  Start to accept as true that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something.  Design your own god who is there for you when you want it but does not interfere with anything that you want to do.

How do you fall spiritually asleep?  Feel no need for the body and blood of Christ.  Forget that you have sinful flesh and you live in a sinful world and are tempted by the Devil himself.  Start to believe that you are more than good enough and more than capable enough and you don’t need Jesus.

And if you do something and you feel shame and guilt about it do not confess the sin.  Do not admit your guilt.  Just try to rationalize the sin.  Make excuses.  Blame others.  Compare yourself to really bad sinners.  And if that doesn’t work numb the guilt with alcohol or drugs or casual hook ups.

Act like an unbeliever.  Conform your life to the ways of the world.  If you see it on TV or in the movies, it must be okay.  If everyone else is doing it, join in.  If others are cheating; cheat.  If others are lying; lie.  If other people are getting drunk and getting high; go along.  If others are engaging in sexual intimacy outside of the marriage of a man and a woman; it must be okay.  It is so hard to swim against the current; just give in and go with the flow and conform your life to fit in with everyone else.

How do you lose faith?  Stop praying.  Don’t set aside time to go to the Lord with adorations, confessions, requests and thanksgivings.  Quit acting like you are dependent on God and assert your independence.

Stop giving an offering to the Lord’s work.  Find some excuse or perceived way that the church is wasting money and instead keep that money for yourself.  You are better at using it anyway.  You could pump up your retirement or buy a car with the money you give to church.

And whatever you do, stop coming to worship services.  Stop gathering with those weak-minded people who think they need Jesus.  Come up with an excuse that works for you.  I worked too late.  I partied too late.  The pastor did something I don’t like.  It is my only day to sleep in.  I don’t have the right clothes.  Come up with some excuse and stop coming to worship on Sunday.  Coming to worship and confessing your sins and hearing you are forgiven just shows how dependent you are on God.  Who needs that?

This is what you can do in order to let down your guard and fall spiritually asleep and lose your faith.  You know this can happen.  You have seen it happen to members here; family members; friends.  They lean back in their chair close their eyes and fall asleep.  They are taking a spiritual nap.

But the end is coming.  Jesus is going to return and you don’t know when.  Those who have let down their guard and fallen spiritually asleep will be judged with the unbelievers.  At the judgment Jesus will deny He knows them and they will be forced to spend eternity with the devil and all his angels in the lake of fire.  So stay on guard.  Stay awake.  The end is near.

Remember who you are in Christ.  Remember you are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Stay in the Word.  Read the Bible.  Study the Bible.  Hear the Word.

Stay hungry for the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion.  It is a meal for sinners; you are a sinner; Jesus is here for you.

Confess your sins and receive forgiveness.  If a particular sin troubles you confess it privately to the pastor and know that sin is also forgiven.

Act like a follower of Jesus.  Be salt and light to the world.  Delight in God’s will and walk in God’s ways.

Pray.  Pray together here.  Pray alone in your room.  Pray throughout the day.  Bring your needs and concerns to the Lord along with thanksgivings for all He has done for you.

Give generously to the Lord’s work.  Matthew 6:21 (ESV)  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.[3]

Come to church.  Kneel down and confess your sins.  Sing the truth about Jesus.  Hear the words of forgiveness.  Receive the body and blood of Christ.  Know you are not alone in the struggle against sin, death and devil.

Be on guard.  Stay awake.  Jesus is coming back and you do not know when.  But living in the anticipation of Jesus’ return is not like being a security guard watch an empty building through the long, dark night.  Living life as a Christian waiting for Jesus’ return is living out your ordinary life in an extraordinary way.  Living out your life in your various vocations of child, parent, grandparent, worker, employer, citizen, church member according to God’s will.  Living out the Ten Commandments, not in fear, but because you are already a child of God marked for salvation in your baptism.  Repent when you sin and struggle against sin.  Jesus is coming back to save you.  You are His baptized child of God.  Be on guard.  Stay awake.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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