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Walker, MN

November 17, 2019   Jesus is Coming;  LIVE Like It

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Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

In the Epistle lesson we heard this:   “Now we command you,  brothers,  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  that you keep away from  any brother  who is walking in idleness,  and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”

One of the problems with the young NT Church in Thessalonica  was that,  after Paul had come thru with the Gospel message of Christ Jesus, & people were believing in Christ,  some other men came thru with an alarmist message of catastrophe = that the end of the world was very, very soon.   Many there were swayed by that message,  that their Lord Jesus was going to be seen in the heavens any day now.   So they were selling all their possessions,  and spending their days on the local hills  with their eyes on the skies.

They were not working;  but were still needing to eat,  so they were begging off others. They abandoned their homes & jobs;  but their children still needed to survive,  so they became unnecessary welfare cases,  sponging-off others  when they -themselves-  were capable of work.   Paul hears of what these converts-of-his were doing, {or not doing},  and he writes to scold them for this false belief & for being bad stewards & lazy servants of Christ.  Earlier in this letter, Paul tells them not to be alarmed about the coming of the Lord.   That day IS coming, he says,  but no one knows when  =(in a day /year /1,000 yrs)=   and therefore,  believers must BE BUSY,  living in wholesome & productive ways;  not being idle,  or dependent upon others = it wasn’t right.

It’s a mistake we’ve seen in our lifetime as well;  some people are fooled into thinking  that they can stop their daily living,  maybe follow some charismatic leader & live in a compound,  because The End is so near.  Of course, The End IS the next thing;  but no one knows when;  we can’t hurry it, or delay it.   Therefore, the person of True Faith must daily be busy  living in faith,  responsibly providing for themselves & their family.  The Coming Lord Jesus expects to find us BUSY ~ not idle ~ when He returns.

This was not the first time Paul had to write to a church he planted,  to correct them in their theology & practice of the faith,  after some other men came thru their town  with a different message & false teachings.

It’s true that Jesus said many things about Judgment Day,  like he did in Luke 21.

And even though we are to keep our eyes open for the signs of the approaching End;  the purpose of signs is to ‘not forget’  that He’s coming = not to try to ‘predict’ the End.  Our Lord is quite specific about His return,  “No one knows the day or hour,”  he said,  “only My Father in heaven.” (Mat.24)    And even though many will try to sinfully predict the time of the End,

He says,  “Do not go after them.”    Instead,  He says:  stand firm, / endure, / and do not be afraid;   your redemption is drawing near.

As the phrase ‘Judgment Day’ implies,  our lives  -every soul-  will be judged ‘guilty or innocent’,  pass or fail.  But as children of God,  covered in baptismal grace, you have the complete assurance & trust in Christ Jesus to save you.  Altho He is The Judge,  He is also your Savior.  You are forgiven of your sin by His cross;  you have been adopted & brought into the family of God thru baptism new birth.   Judgment Day has become the day for your resurrection into eternal peace & paradise.  Jesus is coming back;  but because IT‘S HIM,  we are not afraid.

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This is our faith.  And yet,  even our old nature is not fully content with God’s limited information.  Like Adam & Eve,  we are tempted to want more;  we want to know everything that God knows about our last days,  & when it will be.  This makes the overly-curious,  & the weaker-of-faith,  vulnerable to spiritual con-men,  who will add things to God’s Word  to make it more dramatic & appealing;  OR they will remove some key items from the Gospel message to make it more emotional or mysterious.

As for me & you,  it is enough that we have -what we have-  in Jesus’ Scripture teaching.  He said,  “See that you are not led astray.  For many will come in My name,  saying,  ‘I am he!’  and ‘the time is at hand!’   Do not go after them.   And when you hear of wars and tumults   do not be terrified,  for these things must first take place,  but the End will not be at once.”(Lk.21)

In fact,  He says,  there will be /political & national struggles, /earthquakes, /famines, /& epidemics.  There will be persecutions against God’s people;  perhaps even your own relatives may turn against you,  to have you punished,  or put to death.   “You will be hated  by all  for My name’s sake,”  He says.   But you will not ‘perish’ == heaven is still yours.

A lot of what Jesus was speaking about in Luke 21  happened at the fall & destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD;  other things have happened since,  & will keep happening.

Overall,  God’s people have been waiting almost 2,000 years;  but The End has not yet occurred.  We are certainly closer now  than those of the church in Thessalonica,  but our Lord is still instructing us to be wise,  & to trust him = no one still knows when.   So we have    2 things to do:  +we will behave & hope like the End is tomorrow,   and  +we will live & work like it’s still a long-time away.

Rv. Dr. Paul Maier  =perhaps our church body’s foremost historian=  observes,  ‘Every false teaching & heresy we have in our day  can also be found in the first two centuries of the early church.’  He’s right.  No sooner did Jesus die on the cross,  rise from the dead,  & ascend into heaven,  than the false teachers & preachers came out of the shadows with their own goofy & dangerous misinterpretations of who He was, / & is, / & what all His actions mean for man.

After Pentecost,  those Apostles had a full-time job teaching the truth,  as well as

re-teaching corrections to what the false prophets & heretics & confused people were saying.   Thankfully God-the-Holy-Spirit had some of them write down those corrective teachings of absolute Truth,  so that the Church today has a solid foundation to stand on,  with the Bible.

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We believe that God perfectly preserved His Word of Truth,  so that WE can stand against any error  with the clear simple 4-part Gospel message of  +the cross of our forgiveness,  +the empty tomb of our salvation,  +the Word for our living, +& our Lord’s return to bring us home.  The Apostles were the ones blessed to hear Jesus say,  “I am the Resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me  with live, even tho he dies,,  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (Jn.11)    And those same Apostles  came away from Pentecost Day filled with the Lord’s Spirit    to accurately deliver that saving message of the one & only Savior.

Peter acknowledges this unique role & responsibility they were given,  as he says,

“We did not follow cleverly devised myths  when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,  but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty; … and we have something even  more sure:  the prophetic word,  to which you will do well to pay attention to  as a lamp shining in a dark place…. Know this first of all,  that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.   For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man,  but men spoke from God  as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2Pet.1)

God’s people =the Church=  survived the first few centuries of satanic deception & human confusion  because there were those who were willing to know God’s written Word, / trust in his power, / and take their stand on nothing more & nothing less  than Holy Scripture.   Nothing has changed.   People can still be conned & confused,  and the world is still bent on being the enemy of God in our day.   False teachings & preachers have continued to attack &  confuse;  to obscure the Savior & His teachings,  His suffering & sacrifice;   to ignore His resurrection,  and to blur the only hope of our redemption & His glorious return.

Dr.Meier is right about religious heresies & false teachings in the church = nothing new.   But I think WE DO have a different type of deceit from the world;  it distracts us from Jesus’ 2nd Advent;  it’s the  cry of ‘Armageddon’, world destruction, & disaster because of  (so-called) ‘climate change’.   We have political leaders crying out that we have only 12 years left before we have destroyed our climate & made this earth uninhabitable for human life, & trying to change our lives because of it.  I don’t believe that,  because I don’t see real science to their claims = I do see money & control.

But my point with this is:  their cry of ‘destruction’ & no future & no hope  is a serious distraction from hearing the good message of God,  and His glorious plan for the end of days = that’s hurting our neighbor & the next generation.  Jesus’ warning is still valid:  Don’t go after them, & don’t be led astray by the world’s false teachings;  as if God is not in control,  as if we have the power to ruin God’s creation, & bring about our own ‘end of the world.’

It’s another diversion from Satan.  The distraction is this:  the devil doesn’t want people to think about the Lord’s good salvation,  or talk about our soul’s need for spiritual rescue.  *Which one gets more attention:  the politics of climate change,  OR the Gospel of Jesus’ 1st & 2nd coming?   Both involve the topic of ‘the end’ & death;  but only the one is true,  and involves the promise of hope & joy of deliverance & life.

The Triune God wants ALL to know His truth.  Each one was given life by their Creator  according to His own calendar;  and their day of death is marked on His same calendar = whether you’re ‘carbon-neutral’ or not.   God’s Day of Judgment can’t be wished away,  it’s ‘on-its-way.’   People may grumble at ‘pushy Christians’ who remind them of God’s truths,    but denials & cursing won’t change God’s plan.  Sadly,  too many are not looking for a rescuer to stand beside them,  to speak gently to them  words of forgiveness & peace, & holiness & life.

But ‘Rescuer’ is the role & office that the Son of God took upon himself.   Thru Him a perfect universe & world was created;  by Him everything made was called ‘very good,’ & holds it all together.  But the first man & woman were tempted to be ‘not satisfied’ with all

God’s word & goodness.  They disobeyed Him,  discarding His good rule over them, & His gracious friendship with them.  Their disobedience was the cause of sin, death, and the power of the devil in the world,  which is well-known to us;  sin has become our master – even from our conception.

*Knowing that we can not rescue ourselves,  the Son of God stepped out of heaven,     and walked into our life of trouble & death.  Jesus then did all that the Father expected of you & me,  since we were not willing or able.  On the cross,  all the justice & anger of God fell upon Him,  so that there would be no anger or punishment left for you & me.  That’s how much God wanted us to have a future with Him.  And once He took it all,  Jesus left it all in the tomb,  and He walked out = alive.  Death is defeated.

Because this is so,  all who belong to Him,  who confess Him as God,  & who bear His name by baptism,  know that death is no longer the Grim Reaper.  A Christians weeps at death because of loss & separation;  but our faith & hope move us into each new day,  because there is more life to come in Jesus,  who will soon return to complete His work.  He is our life,  whether we are here on earth,  or there in heaven.  So,  it doesn’t matter ‘when’ the End will come & it’s not up to us;  it doesn’t change our busy,  faithful living in Him.

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It was back in the early 1800’s,  John Todd was born into a large family in Vermont.   But at an young age,  his parents died,  & all the children were farmed out to the relatives.   John heard that he would go to be with an aunt.   Little John was scared;  he’d never met her.    The aunt’s house-servant, Caesar,  was sent with a horse to get the young boy.   As they road together,  little John asked, “Will my aunt be there?’   Caesar replied,  ’oh, yes, she’ll be there waiting for you.’   Many questions followed.     Will I like living with her? = My boy,  you are falling into good hands. //   Will she love me?  Oh Yes, she has a big heart.  //  Will I have my own room?   Don’t worry.  Your aunt has everything all set,  and everything you need.  When we get close,  you’ll see her candle for you  shining in the window.

And after they cleared the woods,  that’s what they saw:  a candle in the window,  and a smiling,  waiting aunt in the doorway.   She knelt down,  and hugged & kissed the boy,  and said, ‘Welcome home, John!’    She fed him supper,  and sat on his bed until he fell asleep.       At his aunt’s home,  John Todd grew up,  eventually becoming a minister.

Some years later,   he got a letter telling him that his aunt’s health was failing, & she would soon die.  Wishing to reassure & comfort her  that Jesus had broken & transformed death,  so that it was not to be feared,  John Todd wrote back.   That letter was kept in his family;  and this is what he wrote:

My Dear Aunt,  years ago I left a house of death,  not knowing where I was to go,  whether anyone cared,  whether it was the end of me.   The ride was long,  but your servant encouraged me.   Finally,  he pointed out your candle to me,  and there we were in the yard  and you embraced me,  and took me by the hand into my own room,  which you had made up.

After all these years I still can’t believe it = how you did all that for me!   I was expected & welcomed;   I felt safe in your house & had my own room.   Now it’s your turn to go.

I’m writing to let you know that Jesus is waiting-up for you.  Your room is all ready,  the light

is on,  the door is open,  and as you ride into the yard,  don’t worry, Auntie.  You are expected!

We know the same Scripture truth about Christ Jesus,  the Judge,  the Savior.

His Judgment Day is not the scary End;  it’s a day of grace & fulfillment.  Our Rescuer will come when He is ready.  And while we wait with this hope,  we are not idle,  we are busy living in that faith,  & helping others live it, too.

Amen