In preparing for our sermon this week, I was led to this passage, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning. Like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him,” (Luke 12:35-36). I wondered what the phrase in the verse means, “Men waiting for their master to return?”
One of the perils of our modern world is we are so occupied with the immediate that we fail to lift our eyes and look toward the ultimate; Jesus’ return. This pre-occupation with the immediate means we have lost the vision of God, and His final victory. A characteristic of a life based on the immediate means a life that is always being disturbed; a life that is always seeking more.
The Christian life is never disturbed, because the Christian is always watching and waiting, and therefore, ready for Christ to disturb us. The Christian understands that God is leading, guiding, preparing, honing, and purifying them, so that at any moment He can change the direction of our life with a new command.
Jesus never lost sight of His ultimate work; the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth, and that is because He never took His eyes of the Father. What then is the ultimate work for the Christian? It is to be dressed ready for service, with our lamps burning. We are waiting for Jesus return, and when He knocks we are not disturbed.
Watching and Waiting,
“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God,” (Ps. 40:3).
Music is important to us, and perhaps that is why, when it comes to church music, everyone has an opinion about what the correct music is to play in church. These opinions have led to many arguments within the church. It is obvious there is such a thing as Christian music, but the Bible is silent on what music is good or bad church music.
We all come from different parts of the country, and came of age in different eras. Therefore, some of us like Country, Dixie-Land, Blues, Polka, Rock and Roll, Classical, and Bluegrass. Thus only an elitist would say one style is better than the other.
The controversy over music is not new. The music for Martin Luther’s, A Mighty Fortress is our God, was borrowed from a popular 16th century song. Charles Wesley used tunes from taverns for some of his hymns. John Calvin used secular song writers of his day. The Queen of England referred to them as, “Calvin’s jigs.” When Silent Night was first published it was called “Vulgar mischief and void of all religious feelings.” Handel’s Messiah was condemned as “Vulgar Theater.”
Today we are taking a break from our normal service to sing some of the old hymns. These hymns were not composed in a vacuum, but came from a story that was behind the song. Thus we conclude that what really makes a hymn sacred is not the style, but the message it brings.
Jesus’ Olivet Discourse contains a dizzying array of prophecies that are unclear. Because they are unclear one can easily find, with a little research, many differing opinions as to what they mean, and when they will occur. A good attitude to have about some prophecies is to just trust God as you wait for Jesus return.
Waiting for Jesus is not laziness, sleeping, or abandonment of effort. Waiting for Jesus means remaining active, being alert, and prepared for God. Isaiah 64:4 informs us, “God works for him that waits in Him.” The Hebrew word, “Waiting,” has a close relationship to another Hebrew word that means, “To entrench.” We do no damage to Isaiah’s verse by saying, “God works for him that entrenches himself in Him.” I like this thought because the idea of waiting sounds passive, but the image of entrenching is one of action. It’s the idea of digging ourselves in to God.
Waiting for Jesus to return then is an adjustment of our lives to the truth concerning Him that is revealed in the Bible. When circumstance are chaotic, impossible to understand, or know what the outcome will be, then that is the hour in which we entrench our self into God. Why? Because God is the one certainty that we can rely on. We do have a sense ourselves, but there are infinite number of mysteries of our being, and of what tomorrow will bring. Thus we entrench ourselves in God, for it is only God we can be certain of.
Waiting for God,
The final sermon by Jesus in Matthew is found in chapters 24 – 25, it is known as the Olivet Discourse. In the sermon Jesus instructed His disciples on the events of the end times. The sermon reveals a time of tribulation, for there would be: False messiahs, wars, and natural calamities. He further warned the disciples that there would be a personal price to pay for being one of his followers, for there would be: “Persecution,” (24:9), “Death,” “Hatred,” “Betrayal,” (10), “Deception,” (11), and “Wickedness,” (12).
Jesus gave a somber picture of the coming age of tribulation. The sentence in the sermon that stands out for me is, “He who stand firm to the end will be saved,” (13). One concludes from the sentence that active resistance is needed by a believer in order to withstand all that the age of tribulation will throw at us. No matter what is happening around us, we must stand firm.
Today, we do live in un-parallel times of temptation, distress, tribulation, and persecution. There are false messiahs, wars and natural calamities just as Jesus predicted there would be. The message of the Olivet Discourse is: Through it all, stand firm. Through it all, no matter what it is, continue to proclaim Him, so in the end he welcomes you in to the completely revealed Kingdom of Heaven with the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant,” (Matt 25:23).
Today we begin Jesus final discourse that is found in the Book of Matthew; The Olivet Discourse. Jesus gave this sermon to His disciples while sitting on the Mount of Olives which overlooks the rugged Kidron Valley and the Jerusalem temple. The first part of the sermon gives a thumb nail sketch of the turbulent years that will occur between Jesus resurrection and His return. It will be a time of wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, and the persecution of Jesus followers.
Last week four star general, and chief of staff to President Trump John Kelly touched on a profound point when he addressed a White House news conference. In his talk he noted how many things that our country once held sacred are no longer held sacred. Things such as: Women, religion, and the private mourning of a family over its fallen soldier. I personally thought he should have included our flag, the family, and unborn life. General Kelly’s comments seem to mirror the age Jesus described in His sermon.
It’s time we realized that our country and the world no longer holds anything sacred. I for one am tired of the level our nation has sunk too, and I think you are too. Therefore let us each commit to change the direction our nation and world seems to be heading in. Let that change begin today individually. Let us again remember those things that are
sacred, and begin standing firm for them.
Jesus said, “The greatest among you will be your servant,” (Matt. 23:11). The statement warns us against legalistic burdens, public displays of piety, and honorary titles by pointing out His followers are to be a new type of leader – a servant leader.
I think this is a radical concept in leadership, for throughout man’s history leaders have always been served. Contrary to history Jesus taught the Christian leader’s highest priority is to be that of a servant. Therefore greatness in the Christian community is much different from that displayed by the world. Too often religious leaders have patterned their leadership roles after the example of worldly rulers, whose primary goal was to extend their own power and authority. Jesus offered a different model – that of the servant. The ideal servant lives to care for others, protect others, and make better the lives of others. Thus the Christian leader is to arrange their life in such a way as to be a benefit to others.
Jesus said, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted,” (11). Jesus calls us to be a different type of leader. He warns if a disciple follows the world’s thirst for power, prestige, and exalts themselves, they will be humbled and lose their place of leadership. However, those who example Jesus, that is not to be served but to serve and live out the humble role of servant, they will be exalted in God’s Kingdom as true sons and daughters of the kingdom.