nullEaster 6 2019
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 26, 2019
Acts 16:9-15, Rev. 21:9-14, 21-27, John 16:23-33

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

There is a super hero movie that recently came out, not sure if you have heard anything about it, Avengers end of the game or something.  The ending is really exciting and surprising.  There is a big car chase and then the Batmobile loses its wheel and the Joker gets away.  Or something like that.  I actually have not seen the movie, but I heard that it was a really big deal that people not give away the ending.  People wanted to see the movie for themselves and not have the ending spoiled for them.

When reading books or watching movies it makes it more exciting to not know how the story will end; it keeps up the dramatic tension of not knowing what is going to happen.  In a fictional story we like that dramatic tension.

Now, almost always in movies and books, the mystery gets solved, the guy gets the girl, the good guy wins.  In fictional stories we know in the back of our mind that almost always good will triumph over evil in the end.

In real life it is not so clear.  In real life dramatic tension is not fun.  In life we want to know what will happen, but so often we are in the dark.  A loved one is sick…will they get better?  The economy takes a downturn…will I keep my job?  My health is failing…will I be able to stay in my home?  My child is struggling…will they be okay?

We want to know how things will turn out; but so often there is no way to know.  We tell each other, “It’s going to be okay.”  But we don’t know if that is true or not.  Life is often patient endurance through very difficult times.  In the midst of the difficulties we don’t know where life is going.

In day-to-day life we don’t know what will happen next, but in our reading today from Revelation we find out what is going to happen in the end.  We find out that on the last day the Holy City of New Jerusalem will come down from heaven with its glorious, jeweled radiance, its pearl gates and golden streets.  On the last day you will be in the number of the saints marching into the Holy City where there is no temple because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are the temple.  There is no sun or moon for the glory of God is the light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  This is how it ends; or more precisely, this is the beginning of eternity.  This is where you will be on the last day.  The Holy City of New Jerusalem is your eternal home; you and all whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

This morning we got to witness little Tessa Avaline Morgan be baptized into God’s family and have her name written in the Lamb’s book of life.  This morning God made a promise to Tessa that she is forgiven and she belongs to God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  In the waters of baptism Tessa is marked and sealed as a sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd.  Tessa has a place in the Holy City of New Jerusalem.  God has made a promise to Tessa Avaline and God will not change His promise.

God made a promise to you in your baptism.  You are marked and sealed as a sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd.  You have a place in the Holy City of New Jerusalem.  In baptism you were buried with Christ.  In baptism you were raised with Christ to walk in newness of life.  God’s promise to you is rock solid.  Your foundation is not built on sand, but on the solid rock of Jesus.  God’s promise is certain and secure because it is not contingent upon you doing something; it is pure gift.  You are marked and sealed to live your eternal life with Christ on the golden streets in the Holy City of New Jerusalem.

Baptism is indeed God’s promise to you and it is pure gift.  Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.[1]  Baptism is God’s secure promise to you, but it is not a license to sin as the devil would like you to think.  Being baptized does not mean you can let your guard down.  Stay connected to Jesus and stay alert.  The world is spiritually dangerous.  The cares of life and the deceitfulness of wealth can choke out faith like weeds choke out a garden.  The devil prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  It is possible to fall away from faith.  It is the devil’s goal for you to do just that.  The devil wants you to fall away and forget about God’s promise to you.

It is possible to fall away, but even then God is waiting for you to come home.  His promise to you has not changed.  He is waiting with open arms like the Father of the Prodigal Son to restore you to your place as His child with an eternal inheritance.  You cannot fall so far away that God will not joyfully welcome you back.  We vacillate and change; God does not change.

God’s promise does not change and Jesus will triumph in the end, so do not fall for the devil’s lies.  He is the Father of lies and loves to make use of the His first lie, “Did God really say?”  Do not despair at the devil’s accusations that your sin is too great.  He is right.  You are a sinner who does not deserve God’s grace and yet God gives you his grace freely on behalf of Jesus.  Renounce the devil and cling to the cross of Christ.  Cling to the promises God made to you in your baptism.

Baptism is God’s promise to you of eternal life, but it no guarantee of an easy life.  As Jesus tells us in the Gospel lesson from John, “John 16:33 (ESV) 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” [2]  Real life is hard.  Each day is a struggle, but you do indeed know how it all will end.  Good will triumph over evil.  Jesus has overcome the world.  The day is coming when Jesus will reign on His throne and Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire.  The day is coming, but for now life is difficult.  Life as a Christian can make it seem even more difficult as you find yourself swimming against the currents of society.  Everybody is doing something and you try to resist.  It can feel like you are in a battle against so much evil in the world and it can wear you out.  You struggle against evil around you, and evil within you.  But you know that in the midst of the battle the war is already won.  As we sing in the beloved hymn, For all the Saints, “And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song, and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.”  We do know the ending, but instead of that spoiling things for us, it gives us hope and makes us stronger.  It enables us to continue in faith through the difficulties of life.

It is possible to fall away, but even then God is waiting for you to come home.  His promise to you has not changed.  He is waiting with open arms like the Father of the Prodigal Son to restore you to your place as His child with an eternal inheritance.  You cannot fall so far away that God will not joyfully welcome you back.  We vacillate and change; God does not change.

There are days in the midst of the struggle when it can seem like God has forsaken you; that He has left you all alone.  But remember His promises.  Remember you are baptized.  Remember you know the end of the story.  Jesus knows that life will be hard.  And you know that despite any current appearances to the contrary, Jesus wins in the end and you will win with Him.  You have read the last chapter.  You have seen the spoiler.  You know what will happen.  Good triumphs over evil.  Jesus brings words of great comfort.  John 16:33 (ESV) 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” [3]

In Christ you will overcome the world, and live forever in the Holy City.  That is God’s promise to you.

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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