December 1, 2019 Come, Lord Jesus
Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,
“Come, Lord Jesus be our guest and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen.” So goes the common table prayer; or as our children may say: ‘the come Lord Jesus’ prayer. The intent of this prayer is to ask Jesus to bless our food, & to be present during our meal. During our Sundays in Advent, we’ll use these 3-words with another intent. The word ‘advent’ itself means ‘arrival’, or more simply -‘coming’; and it’s not a common-use word in our language or culture. So, for us Christians advent is used -almost exclusively- to refer to the Lord Jesus.
Our Bibles have 775,693 english words; the 3-words “Come, Lord Jesus” is the final message of the Bible = the 2nd last sentence. Except for the 3 years when Jesus physically walked the earth, doing His ministry, those 3-words have been the basic prayer of all believers, from Genesis to Revelation. The saving-faith has always been an ‘advent faith.’ Come, Lord Jesus should always be on our lips. So, Revelation 22, vs.20 records Jesus saying, “Yes, I am coming soon!” and John provides our response, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
For our Advent-Sundays, we’ll review the 3-arrivals of Jesus, His past, present & future advents. The past was Jesus’ first coming to seek & to save the lost; / His present coming is in His Word & Sacramental real-presence with us; / and His future arrival will mark that final day when He returns with physical glory. Come, Lord Jesus will be our prayer, and we will combine this theme to our need for -and the blessing of- daily devotions.
To be meaningful when we pray Come, Lord Jesus, one would expect that we will know WHY we would be praying that; knowing why must come from faith; and our faith must be instructed & supported by the Lord’s Word & the Spirit of God. The faith of the believer knows that a prayer for Jesus’s presence is not only for church services, but is something needed every day; AND not only as a brief meal prayer. but a prayer for ALL of the activities of our day. To pray everyday for Jesus’ presence is part of a daily devotion.
The church seasons of Advent & Lent lend themselves well for special daily devotions; our church body has a number of sources for daily devotionals thru-out the church year, including from The Lutheran Hour & Portals of Prayer.
Advent devotions have been popular; sometimes including special children’s devotions, maybe with those cards with the little numbered-windows you can open for each day leading up to Christmas Day. All of these devotionals will have the underlying theme of asking the Lord Jesus to come among us, and bless us = bless me, my children & household this advent season.
Scripture is God’s nourishment for our soul-in-faith; so a daily devotional is even more important than some of the other things we consider important for each day. Such as: /food, /clean clothing, /our supply of medicines, /sleep, /or even a good-paying job. If we think it’s important -each day- to keep up with world-news, or with the weather, it’s even MORE important to
re-direct our mind & clean-out our heart so that our lives will reflect that we are God’s own holy people, who have a solid foundation now, and a future hope that’s beyond this fallen & passing world. The daily devotions of God’s people are what Deut.6 is speaking about when it says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.”
So, Deut.3 sets up the common scene: A person, or a few members of a household,
sit down each day to read -or hear- a portion of God’s Word, to apply the thoughts the Spirit brings to mind, and to have a brief time of prayer. Since Jesus says in John 6 that His words are ‘Spirit & Life’, so the Bible passages we read will shape our lives in the strength & hope of the Lord.
A devotion-time is also ‘interactive’ = receiving & responding. God speaks to us in His Bible-words, and so those verses will then lead us to speak back to Him. We’ll thank Him for blessings, ask for help in our troubles, and ask Him for guidance for the day’s work. People often don’t have more time than 10 or 15 minutes for their daily devotion; but those who do it regularly find that they do not want to live without it.
It doesn’t sound very difficult =does it; and some people have this special time down pat. BUT for a lot of folks, this time for a daily devotion is a real struggle, even if it’s only for the month of December, or for the 40 days of Lent.
You can ‘reason’ with yourself & say: ‘I’m awake for 16 hours each day, times 60 min/per hour, that’s 960 minutes. I can take 1% of that time, about 10 minutes, for a Bible reading & a prayer.’ That’s logical & reasonable; we could all find those 10 minutes. But, what that doesn’t account for is that this is a spiritual activity.
The second we take up a Christian activity in the name of Jesus -even a personal one- there are spiritual forces that do not want Jesus to come to us; there are forces outside and inside. It’s important for us to know that. Mature Christians know it, & perceive these opposing forces when they speak or show their faith in public. We feel opposing spiritual forces when we speak up for moral issues, & speak against someone’s sinful behavior. When we relate what Jesus teaches to our politics, or how we work on the job, we will face hostility. We can be mocked when we refuse to participate in certain worldly activities with our friends.
We are not immune from peer-pressure, family ridicule, or cultural resentment & intimidation. Jesus even told us that being friends with God will mean that the world will treat us like an enemy. This is a major theme of both the Old & New Testaments. There is a constant spiritual battle, & the Christian will be opposed by the ‘unholy trinity’. That is, the devil, the world, & our own rebellious inner nature. This is why it is difficult to pray ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ in our daily lives.
That’s why -when it’s time for our daily devotions- we encounter the following:
/oops, I forgot. /Ah, I can’t today, I have to leave early for work. /Sorry, I have to finish my homework. /But I have my friend over & they’re not churchy. /Nah, it won’t do any good, I’m just too tired to pay attention. /come on, the game’s on; I’ll do double tomorrow. /The kid’s are too wild today; they’ll be too distracting. These seem like harmless thoughts & comments, so we don’t really notice the spiritual resistance. And yet, *the result is what? Our whole day goes by, & we’ve not done anything that sets us apart as God’s own people = just like unbelievers. That’s even more reason for us to pray ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’
Our Lord already knows all our struggles with the forces of evil. Let’s recall the Parable of the Sower. In Matthew 13, Jesus has been experiencing a growing opposition to His preaching & teaching & purpose in His life. The Pharisees were very ‘spiritual’ group; but were very actively resisting Jesus’s teaching & understanding about the Kingdom of God.
The crowds of people who were first wowed by Jesus’ authority & miracles were now resisting Him, because they didn’t like some of His teachings. So, Jesus uses the Parable of the Sower to describe the ‘unholy trinity’ as He explains the roots of this opposition-to-God.
Jesus says that a farmer went out to sow seeds for his crops. +Some seed fell along the path and birds ate them. +Other seed fell on rocky ground but the plants had no roots and withered in the hot sun. +Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked the young plants. Jesus explains that the seed represents His saving message & the Words of God for our life. /The birds are like the devil, /the rocky ground is like our sinful hearts, /& the choking thorns are like the fallen world. These 3 real evil forces are opposed to God’s word.
The devil -& those who follow him- have an evil purpose & desire to snatch-away the Word of God from us. Satan thinks this is his purpose in life; he knows that the truth of God’s word is our salvation, & his undoing. Jesus calls him the ‘father of lies’; the last thing he wants us to know is the truth that God has saved us, and defeated him. So he schemes, lies, deceives, and uses many temptations against us with that one goal: to prevent us from hearing God’s good Word of Truth, and being comforted & forgiven by the Holy Spirit of Jesus.
This is why doing our daily devotions can be a struggle; because it’s actually a spiritual battle. The devil is glad when we excuse ourselves, and think that it’s just because our life is more busy than other people, or that we already know enough about God. It doesn’t matter what the excuse is when the result is the same = that we are not daily praying ‘Come, Lord Jesus’
Now, this is the way it’s been in this world since Adam & Eve disobeyed God’s Word in the Garden. And, this is why it WAS necessary for Jesus to ‘arrive’. Jesus’ First Advent was for the purpose of facing, and visibly -in earthly time- defeating man’s arch enemy =Satan. We are fortunate to live in the time we do, as Jesus’ work for our redemption is completed in the past.
And it was a battle. From the moment of Jesus’s conception, Joseph’s old nature had his doubts about God’s plan thru Mary; at Jesus’ birth, the devil inspired Herod to murder baby Jesus with all the male babies of Bethlehem. After the Triune-witness of His baptism, the devil met Jesus directly in the wilderness to tempt Him away from His mission & righteous behavior.
For that battle, Jesus came armed with the ‘sword of the Spirit’, which is the Word of God. During His ministry, Jesus would silence & cast out evil spirits who threatened the souls of people. And even tho Jesus was attacked & tempted by the devil in every way, He did not sin. And because He did not sin, He was able to make the substitution for each one of us under God’s judgment by dying on the cross = cursed in our place. After defeating our enemies on the cross, we confess that Jesus even ‘descended into hell’ so that His victory would be known, not just in heaven & on earth, but also under-the-earth by all who had rejected Him.
Each time we pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ it is a prayer of confidence in the One who’s first advent has accomplished our eternal rescue. That’s a prayer of thanksgiving which Jesus deserves every day from His people in a few minutes of your worship.
It’s in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that the Holy Spirit instructs us to put on the
‘armor of God.’ We need that armor as protection from those evil forces that are still in the world. We’re told there that we don’t wrestle with mere flesh & blood, but against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” The Spirit says to “take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand the evil day.” *What day is that? Every day for us in this evil & opposing world.
So, thru Jesus we’ve been given our shield of faith, trusting in His blood-bought forgiveness; this extinguishes Satan’s flaming arrows of accusation. It is Jesus’s resurrection that gives us hope instead of doubt as we wear the helmet of salvation. These gifts are promised & given to all who believe & are baptized in the Triune Name.
Along with the spiritual armor of our Christian faith, St. Paul describes the weapon that’s used against the spiritual forces of evil. It is, “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” As Jesus demonstrated against the devil in the wilderness, that Word is to be used against anyone who would oppose God’s holy ways, or try to deceive us, or tempt us away from obeying God’s truths for living. How valuable it is to be daily using the sword of the Spirit when the devil, the world, & our sinful nature comes against us daily to fall away from our Lord.
Some of us may already be doing daily devotions; others of us have tried but have given-in to those opposing forces; and some of us may have never done them. For this Advent Season, I encourage you to do a brief daily devotion.
In the back of the church are copies of this year’s Advent devotions from CPH titled: Behold the Child. We have 35 copies, one per household. You can also make use of the Portals of Prayer which can be found in the narthex. Or, if you prefer, you can subscribe to the on-line daily devotions from The Lutheran Hour, or LWML, or Higher Things, or look at LCMS.org.
Daily devotions is simply living each day with our Lord Jesus, enjoying His comfort & peace. By going to Him daily, we believe Him when He says ‘we have enemies’, and we trust Him when He says, ‘I am your shield and very great reward.’
With His help this Advent season, we can join in daily praying ‘Come, Lord Jesus,’
not just to bless our meals, but to bless our whole day. Amen