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Summary: We don’t know when Jesus will return, so how can we be ready? How does the Holy Spirit keep our eyes on Jesus? A. Beware of the distractions of everyday life B. Keep focusing on Jesus, no matter how well you know him C. Guard against spiritual sleep

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Text: Matthew 24:37-44

Theme: Watch Continuously, Ready for Jesus

A. Beware of the distractions of everyday life

B. Keep focusing on Jesus, no matter how well you know him

C. Guard against spiritually falling asleep

Season: Advent 1a

Date: November 28, 2010

Web page: http://hancocklutheran.org/sermons/Watch-Continuously,-Ready-for-Jesus-Matthew24_37-44.html

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts to watch for Jesus is Matthew 24.

"Just as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as there was in those days before the flood eating and drinking, marrying and giving away in marriage, up to that day when Noah entered the ark and no one recognized it until the flood came and took them all away -- so also will be the coming of the Son of Man. At that time two will be in the field. One is taken and one is left. Two will be grinding in the mill. One is taken and one is left. Therefore, keep watching, because you do not know at what hour your Lord is coming. But you do recognize this: If the homeowner had known at what time the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not suppose." (Matthew 24:37-44)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

"Keep your eye on the ball. Look it into your hands." That’s the advice coaches give receivers in football. How many would-be touchdowns end up as dropped passes because he takes his eye off the ball?

Through God’s Word today the Holy Spirit works to keep our eyes on Jesus. And I’m not talking about these eyes, but the eyes of our heart. Where is your heart focused? What effort are you making to keep your eyes on Jesus? Yes, dear friend, this calls for your own self-examination. Watch continuously, ready for Jesus.

A. Beware of the distractions of everyday life

1. What’s so dangerous about being distracted by the good things in this life?

"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:37 NIV), Jesus says. Notice how he describes those days before the flood. He doesn’t emphasize their wicked behavior. He doesn’t say they were gorging themselves and getting drunk, giving themselves into orgies and wild partying. Rather Jesus describes the normal behaviors of life: "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage" (Matthew 24:38 NIV). What’s so bad about that?

They did those things without recognizing the Lord and listening to him. It’s not that God kept his plans a secret from them. For 120 years they could see Noah building that big boat on dry land. They could hear Noah telling them again and again of God’s impending judgment He was going to destroy the world with a flood because "every inclination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil all the time" (Genesis 6:5 NIV).

But did pay attention? Did they take these words to heart and diligently esteem them? Did they turn to the Lord who had graciously promised a Savior to be born of woman to crush Satan’s head for them? No, they chose to be ignorant. They choose to live their life as they always did -- eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage -- until it was too late.

What a warning for you and me, dear friends! Don’t think that you’re safe because you stay away from those bad things of this world: drunkenness, addictions, pornography, criminal activity, and the like. Don’t think your safe because you focus on the wholesome things of life: family, community, friendship, a good day’s work, the beauty of nature and art. How many weren’t doing those same things, eating and drinking, marrying and giving marriage, gathering with family and friends, but were all swept away by the waters of the flood? They were not watching. Are you watching continuously, ready for Jesus?

Outwardly there may be little difference between those who are ready and watching and those who are not. Notice how Jesus describes people going about their every-day work: two men out in the fields, two women grinding grain. We could even add: two people sitting in church. One will be taken; the other left. Which will you be? When Jesus visibly returns in his glory on the Last Day, will you be watching and ready, so that you are taken to your inheritance in heaven, the kingdom prepared for you from since the creation of the world? Or will you be caught unawares, spiritually sleeping, so that you’re left as fire destroys this world, left to the unending torture of hell like those swept away in the flood? Are you watching continuously, ready for Jesus?

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