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We’ve come to the end of another year of the Christian Church on earth. You have to add that bit about “on earth” because the Christian Church also exists in heaven BUT no one keeps track of time there BECAUSE there’s no time to keep track of in heaven. Calendars, watches and alarm clocks are all as obsolete as chemotherapy, air raid sirens and money.
But we’re not there yet, we’re still here, and as long as we are still in this world, we count hours 60 minutes at a time and days 24 hours at a time,
• and some LIVE IN THE PAST hoping that someone will finally TURN BACK THE CLOCK;
• and some LIVE IN THE FUTURE waiting for BETTER DAYS TO COME;
• and some LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME because ‘who knows what tomorrow may bring’;
• and some LIVE FOR THE MOMENT because the MOMENT is all that matters.
But it doesn’t matter really, because no matter where you live, ‘time marches on.’ It’s one of the few things that we have no control of and can’t seem to get control of. We can’t slow it down or speed it up or stop it.
Once the Lord God created TIME… “and there was evening and there was morning’ the first day and the second day and the third day…, there was no stopping it and TODAY becomes YESTERDAY and TOMORROW is always getting closer but never arriving. And maybe that’s okay because as Jesus says, TOMORROW has PLENTY TO BE ANXIOUS ABOUT.
BUT, says Jesus, there is A DAY when even TIME will stop. There is a DAY when ALL THE YESTERDAY’S are swept up in a whirlwind and gone from both sight and mind in the ‘twinkling of an eye.’ And ALL THE TOMORROWS, filled with either hope or fear will vanish at the sound of a trumpet.
When THAT DAY comes, there won’t be any LOOKING BACK either in nostalgia or regret and no LOOKING FORWARD either in hope for a better day or in fear that it probably won’t.
On THAT DAY all the WORK will be over and all the PAIN will be gone and the REGRETS are all swallowed up in joy because the VEIL IS LIFTED and I see what I could not see;
• I see every single time that the LORD JESUS saved me countless disasters that I never knew were about to break on me;
• And the HAND OF JESUS in every trial and trouble and tribulation in my life, working each one FOR GOOD and NOT EVIL and,
• And that it was HE WHO BROUGHT ME every joy and moment of happiness I ever knew like a dear Father who delights in giving good things to His dear children.
And all that I WANT TO DO is thank and praise and worship my Lord Jesus for as long as the DAY lasts, and the DAY NEVER ENDS.
Everything shall become as nothing BUT one thing will become EVERYTHING. “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words will not pass away.”
“In those days, ‘those FORMER days’, when men and women acted as if they were gods and ‘these PRESENT days’ when they still do, “the sun will be darkened,”
• But “you shall be my people and I shall be your God,” for “my words shall never pass away.” (Jer.30:32)
“In those days… when men and women worshipped the created things and forgot the Creator of all things, the moon will not give its light…
• But “you shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy,” for “my words shall never pass away.”
“In those days… when men and women lived as if there was no tomorrow, the stars will be falling from heaven…”
• But “my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed, for “my words shall never pass away.” (Is.51:6)
“In those days… when nation went to war against nation and kingdom against kingdom, the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”
• But “And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted…” (Is.12:4) for “my words shall never pass away.”
So, all of this talk about the END OF TIME is clearly not cause fear or scare anyone into believing. To the one who considers Jesus Christ to be his FRIEND and GOOD SHEPHERD and PROTECTOR and DEFENDER and SAVIOR, His word to about the THOSE DAYS are WELCOME WORDS if only because they come from HIM. And instead of arousing fear, they arouse CONFIDENCE and PEACE even in the midst of turmoil and chaos, and we are bold to say “Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20)
So, DO NOT BE AFRAID. The same LORD hung the sun and the stars in the sky in the beginning will take them down when they have served their purpose.
But Jesus is and will ALWAYS be the “light of the world.” And He has redeemed you with His precious blood and He will never “leave you nor forsake you.” TODAY you belong to Him and TOMMORROW you will still belong to Him because He has given you His Word in your Baptism and “heaven and earth will pass away, [His] word will never pass away.”
So, stand FIRM AND DON’T WAIVER in your faith. Remain in your Baptism and don’t let TODAY with all of its CARES or TOMORROW with all its ANXIETY tempt you to give up on the ONE THING THAT WILL NEVER PASS AWAY.
The day will come when you “will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then, He will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”
So, STAY AWAKE. “Wait for the Lord. Be strong, let your heart take courage, and wait for the Lord.” (Ps. 27:14)
But we are only human and as long as it is still TODAY we are weak and our patience wears thin. We check our watches and our calendars and we wonder, “how long MUST WE WAIT?” The Psalmist repeatedly asks, “how long, O Lord?” “Return O Lord. How long?” (Psalm 90:13).
To which our Lord replies, “concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not ever the angels in heaven, nor the Son but only the Father.” It will come when it comes, not a second sooner or later than God scheduled it before the beginning of the world.
In answer to our ‘how long?,’ Jesus says, “It’s like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, EACH WITH HIS WORK and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake.”
“Each with his work…” God has given us work to do while it is still called “TODAY.”
• Has God entrusted you with the care of a spouse? Then TODAY focus on doing that.
• Has He entrusted you with the care of children? Then TODAY focus on doing that.
• Has He entrusted you with the care of your parents? Then TODAY focus on being a good son or daughter and honor your father and mother.
• Has He entrusted you with a job? Then TODAY do it well and put in an honest day’s work and take pride in the work that the Lord has given you.
• Has He entrusted you with income and possessions? Then TODAY be good stewards and use these things as the master, who entrusted them to you, would have you use them.
In other words, with all of this talk about what the world is coming to, do not get so caught up in the future that you forget that you have been given work to do in the present. “Therefore stay awake, for you do not know when the master of the house will come…lest He come suddenly and find you sleeping.”
Staying awake and alert is hard. Jesus asked his disciples to stay awake and watch while He prayed and they fell asleep, and so do we. But with Jesus there is always forgiveness and even when we fall, He raises us up again with His holy Absolution and strengthens us with His Holy Communion and He puts us right back into our Baptism where we belong and says, “stay awake.”
Jude is the half-brother of Jesus who echoes the words of his Lord and ours. “But you beloved… keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to lead us to eternal life.”
Jude says, “build yourselves up in your most holy faith…”
We build ourselves up in the MOST HOLY FAITH by becoming more and more familiar and conversant with that which this most holy faith is built upon – the Holy Scriptures. Reading and hearing God’s Word, meditating on it and even memorizing it and discussing it together with others, this is how we are “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” (Col. 2:7) It is how we ‘stay awake’ and keep from ‘falling asleep.’
To “building yourselves up in your most holy faith,” Jude adds, “praying in the Holy Spirit.”
As we build ourselves up in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit brings us before God the Father in the name of His Son and says, ‘ask it shall be given to you.’ And in our weakness, we do not know what to ask for. But the Holy Spirit gives us His Word and says, “ask for this.” And we ask for
• ‘forgiveness for our sins’
• and ‘the wisdom to discern the difference between right and wrong,’
• and ‘the strength to do the right and refuse the wrong,’
• and ‘the patience to wait for the Lord,’
• and ‘the confident trust in God to rule this world so that I may do the work that He has given me to do today.’
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25).