Advent 2 (Populus Zion), 2014
Audio
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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
December 7, 2014
Central Passage
Luke 21:25-36
Description

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Are you afraid of the end of days? Are you afraid of the Muslim, that his god requires him to kill you? Are you afraid of the so-called progressive liberals, that their gods require them to silence, ostracize, and persecute you until you conform to their religion? Are you afraid of what is coming on the world, the perplexity of nations; that our rulers often rule with unrighteousness? To put it in our colloquial language: are you worried about society and the direction it’s taking?

Repent. Do not be afraid.

The fig tree is in blossom and your redemption is drawing near.

There is an old question that you are no doubt familiar with. What will you be doing when Jesus returns? It’s really a terrible question. It assumes that you are not right now doing what you should be doing when Christ returns, which in fact you are doing what you should be doing. You are calling upon the name of the Lord. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. The question also makes it sound like whatever you’re doing when Christ returns will determine your eternal status and destination. So if you happen to be doing something right and good, you’ll have a pleasant experience when Jesus returns. Or if you’re doing something wrong and bad, you’ll have a terrible experience when Jesus returns. It makes you think that you’ll be caught off guard, hoping that whatever you’re doing – which, given our lives and what fills our days has about a 1% chance of being godly – will be acceptable to Jesus.

Repent. You are not in the dark for that day to catch you unawares. Unbelievers are in the dark. They don’t know the signs or seasons. They are not watching and praying. They think there will always be a tomorrow and a future. … The whole world is consumed with the future. Political and social speeches are dripping with comments and sentiments about the future: where we’re headed; where we should be headed; where we want to be headed. Everything is geared toward a brighter and better tomorrow. Not just on a grand national or worldly scale, but future speak is so pervasive it has invaded our day-to-day lives in a most unfortunate and yet fundamental way so that what we most all of what we do today we do really only for tomorrow.

We have to get this or that done so that this or that will happen in days to come. All of our activities and goings-on in life are seen mere building blocks for some future event or goal – events and goals, by the by, that go just as quickly as they come so that we don’t even enjoy them or recognized them when they arrive. But instead of all our activities as building blocks for some future, what if all our activities were for the moment, for today?

We do some things like this. But far from being considered the important, primary things of life they are considered mundane, routine, even bothersome. We have to buy groceries so we can eat. We have to get dressed so we can go outside. Mundane. We have to wait for the grocery line. We have to wait in traffic. All the while we want to be going somewhere and arriving somewhere. The things we do right now that are for right now always seem to be the things that are in the way of the future. But what if…

But what if we loved our children not so that they would grow up as well-adjusted adults, but so that they were loved right now? What if we taught them the things of God not so that they would be good people in the future, but so that they would know today the good things the Lord has done for them? What if we prayed daily, not for the sake of something in the future, but for the sake of our faith today? It’s not the same as stopping to smell the roses; that implies only a stop along the way toward the future, toward some goal. Advertisers have caught on to this concept of stopping to smell the roses. They sell their products, from nutrition bars to a pair of jeans to baby wipes on the concept that their product will give you a break in your busy day and bring relaxation. But they don’t. We’re so busy with trying to reach the goal of that break in the day that when it comes it’s filled with thoughts and worries about the future.

But the Christian – you – are not pursuing relaxation or a break in your busy day. You are pursuing righteousness. And righteousness can be had if we are busy or if we are at rest. Righteousness is found in watching and praying: feet firmly planted on the ground while our eyes are wide open toward our Lord.

I know. You have deadlines and others expect things of you. Well I’m convinced we’ve built our own prison. The foundations being either our lust and greed, our gluttony for worldly pleasures and leisure, or our being duped into the world’s way of looking at life. But the hungrier we are for the future the more we starve ourselves of in the present. Not only of life’s enjoyment – though that too – but of heavenly enjoyment. For who has time to pray and meditate on the Lord’s salvation in Christ when we’re always busy working toward the future? A future that may or may not be there?

Our eyes are always toward the future. Repent.

Do today what is given today, which is to watch and pray. Don’t spend today giving tomorrow something to do. Today has enough temptations of its own.

Now what has this to do with Christ and His Church? With our salvation and redemption? Everything. For today – as long as it is called Today – is the day of salvation. The apostles and ancient Christians weren’t ignorant or foolish because they thought the Lord’s return was eminent, they were wise enough to live in the present. We are often the ignorant fools who try to live in the future. But when you live in today your prayers become more focused. You’re thoughts become clearer. Your actions become more pointed. Your time becomes more valuable. And your faith looks all the stronger to the coming of your Lord who is at hand.

The Christian life is as much about daily living as it is about theology. In fact, our theology is daily living as we are taught to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

So our Lord says, “When all these things take place…” well they are taking place today. Truly they are if we will open our eyes and see them. Your redemption is drawing near for we are closer to salvation today than when we first believed. Our Lord is not slow in coming, but is today calling His people to Himself. And should tomorrow be called “today” then He will do the same then as He does now.

Events and appointments will come and go, most of which really affect nothing but only fill our calendars with things to do. But one thing remains the same yesterday, today, and forever: our Lord Jesus Christ who has promised you the kingdom.

Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.

+ In Nomine Iesu +