Summary: Daily we can seek God’s will in our lives. One day at a time we can open ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power. Whether it is our last day on Earth or the return of Christ it will be a day of joy for the elect.
November 14, 2010
25th Sunday after Pentecost
Disciples - Under Construction
Grace mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
A lot of people are fascinated by end time predictions. Some Christians even dangerously seek information from non- Biblical --that is worldly or demonic sources. Some Christians read things in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Daniel, and Revelation that, quite frankly, aren’t there. Last summer we presented a CD series on the book of Revelation by professor Louis Brighton from Concordia Seminary St. Louis. His presentation gave the clear message that God is in charge --trust Him -- our salvation comes from Christ not us. God is in control of the universe -- you can not change the wind but you can adjust your sails. We can seek God’s will and follow in obedience.
End times preaching and study seems to fascinate people who often are amazingly some what illiterate when it comes to the rest of the Bible, in general, and the Gospel message in particular. Many people focus on end times rather than on our Savior.
Some of the same people find fascination with Mayan calendars and Nostradamus.
Paul got dragged into this mindset, it appears, by accident, when he tried to comfort the Thessalonians in his first letter. He states clearly, “ For God has not destined us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live for Him. (1 Thess. 5:9-10)
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul resolved the question. He said in Chapter 5 verse 2 the last day will come quickly, as a thief in the night. Jesus says essentially the same thing in Matthew 24:36 “no one knows the day or the hour.” -- scripture interprets scripture - not the Mayans - not Nostradamus.
The Thessalonians became convinced that the end was imminent and why do anything. Why work? They thought that the last day was right around the next corner..
Paul in chapter 3 admonishes them for idleness. (v 6) and by his apostolic authority commands them to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. He calls on his readers to imitate him because he imitates Jesus.
In addition to warning them about idleness he admonishes them about one of the results of idleness- becoming a busybody. Those “experts” who concern themselves with the business of others, gossips, yentas, newsmongers etc. Sadly, guys just like me, some days, at the McDonald’s morning “think tank”
I was fortunate when I turned 16 in that my grandmother retired and wanted to get rid of her car. She graciously gave it to me and I quickly learned that it was easier to have the oil changed than to change the oil so I took it to the neighbor hood service station back when every other corner had a gas station that could actually change oil and do some other work. However, the owner of the station had one rule. He would not work on a car that had a dirty engine. In order to get my oil changed, I had to get the engine cleaned first. Once clean he would keep it clean henceforth.
Fortunately Jesus is not like this. He saved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8 ).
He didn’t ask us to clean up first. He cleansed us with His blood. He keeps us clean with His blood. His entrance requirement is our faith in His sacrifice.
I have never been much of an athlete but I do know that to hit a home run you have to keep your eye on the ball not the ball park fence. To hit a good golf shot you have to keep your eye on the ball and not the green. To split firewood you have to focus on the wedge not the wood pile. To live a sanctified life you have to focus on the Lord Jesus and the Good News of Salvation.
The Thessalonians had salvation. They weren’t all sure what to do next. The transformation that Paul speaks about in Romans 12, and I spoke about here on September 5, was yet to follow. The transformation is our response to the mercies of God. We become followers of Christ -- imperfect imitators of Christ -- still falling short -- but growing. Evermore keeping our eyes on Christ and less and less on the world. This work started with our Baptisms and continues through the power of the Holy Spirit. A response to the Gospel and not the Law.
The prophet Jeremiah says it more eloquently. ““This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.(Jer. 31:33)