Monday, December 11, 2017

Sermon Dec. 9-10, 2017 Advent 2

Title: Jesus has come and will come again!
Text: 2 Peter 3:8-14

8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

"Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind."

Leonardo da Vinci.

My dog Abby is a big girl. She is a Rottweiler and close to 100 lbs. Patience is not something she thinks about or is interested much in. when I go to put her out in the backyard she waits, just long enough for the door to open before bolting out to play. She understands wait but is not much interested in it. And while we tell her to wait … she does so … but just enough to show that she hears us and is listening. But in reality she is ready to bolt at the slightest hint of Okay.

In his second epistle the Apostle Peter writes to fellow believers to be patient, to make ones calling and election sure by living Godly lives;

5 … [by] add[ing] to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. NIV

He assures his readers that he and those whom God called to be prophets and Apostles were not following cleverly invented stores but were eye witnesses of Christ’s majesty and by the Holy Spirit they spoke as God directed them.

He warns of false prophets who teach falsely and will bring destructive heresies that lead many away into blackest darkness which is the realm of the devil.

18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.

We might ask: What has mastered you … or me?

And certainly we see this leading astray in our day as false teachers, in the church and in the world, support lifestyles and choices contrary to scripture - twisting the word of God to champion abortion rights, Euthanasia and the homosexual lifestyle in all its forms.

3 Above all, you must understand [Saint Peter continues] that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?

And certainly many over the last 2000 years have asked this same question causing some to predict when Christ would return contrary to the teachings of Holy Scripture.

The doubting of the word of God had occurred in Peter’s day - and has been occurring since sin came into the world - and we see it today and live it daily in our lives – for though forgiven we still sin daily. Peter’s hope in his epistle is to leave an enduring hope in Christ through his writing to his readers … and to you and me. That hope is still a blessed hope because it is in Christ, the word made flesh, that he was an eyewitness to. His word is not made up from stories but is real and foundational and shows that the Lord is not slow but patient …

8… toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

The Advent season lets us all watch and wait for the blessed gift that is the child Christ Jesus – God with us – whom Peter saw and heard and was called into following and made an Apostle so that by the call of Christ he might feed the Lord’s sheep. It is the call of every pastor also to lead and feed the sheep given under his care and as under shepherds of the Lord’s flock to also bring the truth of God’s word to each and every hearer so that all might come to repentance.

As the gospel reading for the day attests:

2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way” —
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”

It was John who came out of the wilderness to prepare the way, to bring a baptism of repentance that would find its fullness in the words of our Lord Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

George Gallop wrote some 30 years ago: “There's little difference in ethical behavior between the churched and the unchurched. There's as much [stealing] and dishonesty among the churched as the unchurched. And I'm afraid that applies pretty much across the board: religion, per se, is not really life changing. People cite it as important, for instance, in overcoming depression--but it doesn't have primacy in determining behavior.” 

George H. Gallup, "Vital Signs," Leadership, Fall 1987, p. 17.

In his book I Surrender, Patrick Morley writes that the church's integrity problem is in the misconception "that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior." He goes on to say, "It is revival without reformation, without repentance." 

Quoted by C. Swindoll, John The Baptizer, Bible Study Guide, p. 16.

We as Lutherans understand the Saint / Sinner distinction that though forgiven we sill sin and by God’s Spirit we desire to be more holy and sanctified by God’s work in us. Though we daily fall short we remember also daily that we are baptized and marked as God’s child and return to God’s house to hear the blessed absolution each week in the divine service. 

During Advent we wait and we watch but we too are seen and heard. We are called to repentance by God’s Holy Spirit and are also call to faith by that same Spirit so that Goodness, Godliness, self-control and love as St. Peter says should be evident in our lives.

8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As you wait and watch - and hear and receive – God will increase in you the blessed hope that is Jesus, and bring you to true repentance and joy, so that in him you receive the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ.

By his work you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and with that blessed hope wait and watch for a new heaven and new earth that are promised and will be brought to bear by our loving God no matter how long it takes – just as he has brought you into the loving arms of the savior and has forgiven you all your sins.

In the season of advent we know that Jesus is coming. But we also know that Jesus has come, and will come again!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!


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