Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Advent -mid week #1

 Mid-week Advent 1
4 December 2013
ROMANS 13:11-14

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church-Friedheim
Celebrating our 175th Year Chartered February 25, 1838
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith Acts 2:42

The day of salvation is at hand

Introduction: In our text this evening St. Paul speaks of the “Hour” as an opportunity. Paul considers Jesus’ return as the chance to share Christ and this occasion is just round the corner. The time is at hand. The return of Christ will happen quickly – in an instant – in the blink of an eye – in a flash!  In this passage Paul looks at the return of Christ as an opportunity. The hour of Jesus’ return is an opportunity for us to awake form sleep, to live in the light of day, to cloth ourselves with Christ.

What St. Paul would say to us this night – size the opportunity -

1. Seize the opportunity to awake from sleep v. 11 “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

The time of salvation, the closing period of the present age, before the consummation of the kingdom - is this “present time.”  Now is the time for action, now is “the hour.” The full realization of our salvation will come at the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is not a new concept. Scripture speaks of this in many places.

Romans 8:23; “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Hebrews 9:28; “Christ was sacrifices ones to take away the sins of may people; and He will appear a second time not to bear sin, but to bring salvation, to those who are waiting for Him.

1 Peter 1:4-5; “[we] have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”}

The time is “nearer now” then it was before.  Every day brings us closer to the second advent of Jesus Christ. Every day that passes brings us closer to that glorious day when we shall take a walk – from one end of the kingdom to the other. We walk - from the kingdom of grace - to the kingdom of glory.  We step over from earth which is fixed and limited - to heaven - which is beyond time and space. 

Transition: Seize the opportunity to wake form sleep. Seize the opportunity to live for the day.

2. Seize the opportunity to live as in the day – v. 13 “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.”

Shopping, lively Christmas parties, getting the family together, a lovely tree, good food, and fun - Is that all there is to Christmas? You don’t have to be a Christian to have that kind of Christmas.

What is the real significance of Christmas? St Paul would remind us in his letter to the Galatians that at just the right time God sent His Son that we might becomes sons and daughters of God. {Galatians 4:4-7}  The Father sent Christ to the world at the right time – “When the time had fully come.”  At just the right time this same Jesus will return as Judge and King. Now is the time of preparation – here is the key – if we are prepared to welcome Him when we commemorate His birth we will be ready when He returns to judge the earth. In all of our preparations for the season keep your eyes heavenward. 

Transition: Seize the opportunity to wake form sleep, to live for the day, to put on Christ.

3. Seize the opportunity to put on Christ – v.14 “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about who to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

St. Paul would remind us in Galatians 3:27; “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Paul exhorts believers to display outwardly what has already taken place inwardly – including practicing all the virtues associated with Christ. In our daily lives we shine forth the light of Christ by our works. By our words and actions we prove that our religion is “for real”.

There is perhaps no greater deception than this: that being in Christ is a benefit to us. Do you want to partake in the new creation? Leave YOU behind. Is this not the true message of Christmas? God became flesh and inhabited this world, walking among us. Love and Faith demonstrated Holiness and Healing.

Then Jesus, the Christ, lifted Himself up as a sacrifice for us, so that through His death might come new life for every man and woman; be it boy and girl, or those about to leave this world for the next. Jesus died so that we might live. He killed sin and the darkness so that we may walk in liberty within the light.

God’s Christmas tree was the cross, and the Gifts were those which came out of Christ’s crucifixion. Salvation. Sanctification. Confession. Repentance. Restoration. Resurrection. So Christmas is not about receiving. It is not about food and drink and festivity and caroler in front of the door or gift-giving behind the door. Christmas is about Death. And Resurrection. And Hope. And Faith. And Love.

Conclusion: We work while it is day. When you cut wood you heat twice. We prepare for the season and for our entrance into glory. Believer in Christ – now is your opportunity. Make the best of your time now while it is day - for night will come when no one will work. 

+Soli Deo Gloria+

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