Monday, December 09, 2013

Waiting for His Advent

Reading: Luke 12:22-40  (NKJV)
22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? 29 And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. 32 Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35 Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find themso, blessed are those servants. 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” 
May the Lord bless the reading of His Holy Word, and to His Name be all the glory and the praise, now and forever.

Text for today: 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. Luke 12:37-38 (NKJV)
Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

I would like to start my deliberations today by quoting the saying, or rather the writing of a man I got to know very well during my ministry in one of my previous Parishes. And that man was the then Session Clerk of the  Church where I was serving at the time and who passed away during my ministry in that Church. And when he wrote his last review in his annual report to the congregational meeting, he expressed his thanks to all who had helped to maintain the ministry of the Church in the following words at the end of his report: Session sincerely thanks one and all for their various contributions towards the maintenance of the Parish. And then he added these words to describe how this maintenance had been effected: “In witnessing for Christ in this district, in a world where much is anti-Church, anti-religion, anti- Christ, in fact anti-anything other than that of material valueAnd I am making this quotation for the simple reason that I think that it is important that we all are aware of the circumstances that exist in the world today, and in which we, as Christians, have to live.

Because, my friends, the words that this man  wrote, back in 1982, are still true today, and they are even more true today, because since the day that he wrote them things have not become better, they are worse, and the opposition of the world towards the Church and the Christ of the Church has increased. And the results of this opposition and anti-ism have increased too, and are coming more and more out in the open, and the sins of this anti-Christ world are no longer hidden.

People do no longer have to hide in order to kill innocent little babies by abortion, they can do it openly.
Homosexuals do no longer have to hide to commit their sordid sin of sodomy, they can do it openly. 
  • And in our education system the minds of our children are often poisoned with text books which are anti-God and anti-religion, and in some cases even openly blasphemous. 
  • And the filth of pornography, which is still flowing from our computers, is not only capable of poisoning the minds of young people, but of adults as well. 
  • And when you watch some of the rubbish that is presented as entertainment on television, and notice the hatred and ridicule of the Christian religion that comes through in many of them, you wonder sometimes what this world is coming to and where it is heading for.

But one thing we can be sure of, my friends, and that is that this world can not go on ignoring God, and ignoring His commandments, and spurning His love. One thing is for sure, my friends, that the same Jesus Christ, whom they reject and oppose, and always have rejected and opposed, that this same Jesus Christ will come again, and will judge this world, and will call it to account for all the wicked sins they have committed.

And as we are approaching another period of Advent  we are again reminded that it is absolutely sure that one day the trumpet will sound, and the antiChrist's of this world will have to stand before the bar of the judgement seat of Christ, And they will find then that they can not have it their own way any more, and that they no longer can trifle with Jesus and a just God, and that their opposition and anti-ism will have come to an end.

In the mean time, however, we, as Christians, will have to live in this sinful world. 

And we have to live in a world that is opposed to the Church and the Christian religion. And this opposition is real, and we should not take it lightly or underestimate it. Oh, I know, that we have freedom of religion, and that we can worship God the way we want to and are used to. But make no mistake about it, my friends, this freedom may not last much longer, and  infringements are already with us.

At this very moment it is illegal and punishable under the anti-discrimination act, for any Christian to openly condemn the sin of sodomy, and the sin of abortion. And, in a way already, a Minister can be punished for preaching the truth of the Bible, and for calling sin for what it is, and for the way that God sees it. Our freedom of religion is already being undermined, and the opposition of the world against the Church, and against the Christ of the Church is becoming more and more apparent and out in the open. And we have to live in this world, which is opposed to what we stand for, and what we believe in, and what we know is the truth.

Now, how are we to do this, and how are we to cope under these circumstances? 

And the answer we will find in the passage of the Word of God that is now before us. It is Jesus Himself, who tells us in this 12th chapter of Luke, how we are to cope, and how we are to live and behave in a hostile world. And the first thing we are told is that we are not to worry about our life. And in the verses 22-30 Jesus gives us the reason why we should not be anxious, by making it clear that God, as our Father, cares for us. 

He makes it clear to us that our heavenly Father knows exactly what our needs are, and that He will supply all of them. 

But seek first the kingdom of God, Jesus tells us, seek first the rule and reign of God in your life, and leave the rest to Him. There is absolutely no need for the Christian to be worried about anything, because anxiety is for the world and the people of the world. It is only the world and the people of the world who have an anxious mind, and who are worried about those things.

But for the Christian there is no need of worry, nor of an anxious mind, because our heavenly Father looks after all our needs. 

The next thing we are told by Jesus is not to have any fear. "Do not fear, little flock", He says in verse 32. And that, my friends, is the good advice we all need today. That is the kind of encouragement every Christian needs today, as we live and move in this hostile world around us. "Do not fear, little flock". 

You know, if this advice had not come from Jesus Himself, and if this encouragement had not come from the Son of God Himself, we could have dismissed it as being ridiculous. "Do not fear, little flock", that's easy to say, you know. 

But how easy does fear come to us, my friends? How easy it is to get fearful as we see that big bad hostile world closing in on us, and opposing us. Just look at the Church, and then look at that big world, which is anti-Church, and anti-religion, and anti-Christ. That big world that will do anything at all to destroy all in its way to get what it wants.

Do not fear, little flock”. 

But what about if this anti-Christian tendency in the world gets worse? 

And what about if there will be persecution of the Church? 

And what about if our life is going to be in danger because we are Christians and confess the Name of Christ? It could happen, you know, it has happened before and it could happen again.

Our enemy Satan is still the same, still out to destroy the Church, and still going around like a roaring Lion, seeking whom he may devour. He has persecuted the saints before, and he could do it again, if God permits him. 

Could we still take the advice of Jesus, and the encouragement of Jesus, not to fear? 

Can we all look this hostile world in the face and say with confidence, we shall not fear any of its threats.
  • We shall not fear, because of the smallness of our numbers.
  • We shall not fear, because of the multitude of our enemies.
  • We shall not fear, because of the many difficulties in our way.
  • We shall not fear, because Jesus told us not to fear.

Can we all say that, my friends?

Do not fear, little flock”, are the reassuring words of Jesus to us as we are approaching another period of Advent. 

Do not fear, for I am with you. 

Do not fear, for I will come again, to take charge of everything, and to take you home, that where I am now, you may be also. 

"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom".

We don't have to fear this world, my friends, no matter how hostile it is, because we don't belong to it. 

We have been given the kingdom of heaven. 

We've got something the world can never take away, the kingdom of heaven. 

And so, my friends, to live in a sinful world, which is opposed to what we stand for and believe in, and which will do anything to undermine religion and the Church, we need to take our eyes of this world and look for our kingdom.

And we must look unto Jesus, who is the King of the kingdom, and we need to watch for His advent. We need to realise more and more, that we have a glorious kingdom awaiting us. In this world we may have tribulations, In this world we are often mocked and ridiculed, and we may be opposed and rejected. Just as Jesus was opposed and rejected by men.

We know and believe, with the apostle Paul, that the sufferings of this present time are not worth to be compared with the glory that is awaiting us. 

We know, that when Christ shall appear, we shall also appear with Him in glory.

 "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom". 

That's the kind of encouragement we need today, don't we? So often when we look on outward things, and we look at material things, and on numbers, and on the little influence we have in the Community around us, the thought may have come into your mind as it has in mine from time to time:  
  • However are we going to make it? 
  • However are we going to keep our Church going, let alone make it grow?

But we need to rebuff these thoughts, my friends, because Jesus is telling us today that we have made it.       

We have made it! 

For it is our Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom! 

And he has already done so, and we can look forward to receiving it. 

We can look forward to the day that Jesus will come and we shall hear Him say, "Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom, prepared for you from the foundation of the world".

And that is what Jesus wants us to look at. 

We are to be like men who wait for their Master to come home from the wedding. With our waist girded and our lamps burning. Jesus wants us to be waiting for His advent, and to look for His coming. Not with fear, like the world around us will, but with joy, and with anticipation, and with expectation. Ready to open the door when He knocks, and ready to let Him in so that the feast can begin.

"Blessed are those servants whom the Master, when He comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you, that he will gird Himself, and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them". 

You know, when you read these words, you can almost hear the words of Jesus which He spoke after He had gone to heaven, and which are recorded for us in Revelation chapter 3, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with Me".

And the same is true of those servants, whom the Master, when He comes, find watching, He will have them sit at His table, and He will serve them and eat with them. 
  • Are we all looking forward to that, my friends? 
  • Are we all watching for the advent of Jesus, and are we looking for His coming? 
  • Are we awake to the fact that this anti-Christ and anti-religion world will not have the last say, and that, whatever they may do to us can never hurt us?
  • Are we also awake to the fact that we have received the kingdom of heaven, and that we are to inherit it at the return of Christ? 
Do we live in the sure knowledge that Jesus is coming again, and are we ready for that event? That's what Jesus is telling us too, you know. Just read it in verse 40, where He says, "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect".
  • We don't know when Jesus is coming, it could be today, and it could be in a thousand years time. 
  • We don't know, the times and seasons are in the hands of God, and he has kept it a close secret. 

I can remember once that I visited a woman from the Church where I was serving. She had not expected me, and when I called she was busy painting the back door of her house. And she was full of apologies, and said that she felt ashamed of being caught in such a position, But I assured her that I would like the Lord to find me doing what she was doing, doing my daily work with all my heart. You know, we are never in better trim to meet the Lord, than when we are doing our daily work faithfully. "Blessed are those servants whom the Master, when He comes, will find watching".

Finally, my friends, we need to wait and to watch for the advent of our Lord with girded waist, and lamps burning, as we are told in verse 35. 

We need to let our light shine in this dark world around us, we need to show this world what Christianity is all about, by the way we live and behave and by our conduct. And therefore, let our conduct be in such a way that it will do our neighbour good, and let us teach others the way of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.

"May we all stand with our lamps trimmed and our lights burning as we watch for the advent of our Lord. Not walking in darkness, not concealing our lights, but letting it shine before men". Or, as Jesus Himself once said when He preached the Sermon on the Mount, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven".

That's the way to watch for the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Awake and alert and our lamps bright and burning, shining into the darkness of an unbelieving world. A world that is anti- Church, anti-religion, and anti-Christ. A world that needs our light, and that needs to hear the good news that Jesus is coming. 

And that we do not have to fear, but that we can look forward to that event, without fear and trembling, and with joy and rejoicing. "Blessed are those servants whom the Master, when He comes, will find watching". 

And blessed are those whom Jesus find watching for His advent. He will serve them at His table, and they will share His glory, forever and ever.


The Lord bless you and keep you,

The Lord makes His face to shine upon you

And be gracious unto you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you

And give you peace.   Amen.

by Pastor Walter Posthuma Th.C. (Hon.HM)