Archive for the ‘Mark 13:24-37’ Category

PROCRASTINATION

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

Last Sunday of the Church Year-B
November 25, 2018
Mr. Rick Stark, Vicar of
Trinity Lutheran Church,
7210 Lisbon Street
San Diego, CA 92114

Click here for audio of this message

Hi, my name is Rick and I’m a procrastinator… at least that’s what my wife tells me.

However, it’s not really a problem, I can stop procrastinating any time I want to… Maybe I’ll work on that next week. 

You know, sometimes procrastination actually pays off.  If we ignore a problem long enough, sometimes it really does just go away. But that’s only on very rare situations. 

So, what is procrastination? A simple definition, procrastination is “delaying performing a task, or making a decision, until a future time.” In other words, “putting something off until later.”

In a psychological context, the term “procrastination” refers to the act of replacing high-priority tasks with tasks of lower priority, and thus somehow making them less important.  

Procrastination something we all do, such behavior is a natural mechanism for coping with high stressors, such as anxiety associated with starting or completing a task, or making decisions, (especially difficult decisions or life-changing decisions.

Procrastination can create its own set of problems.  Procrastination affects us individually by adding to our stress, by compounding the stress that we’re already dealing with. Procrastination can create a sense of impending crisis. It can cause feelings of guilt for not getting something done in a reasonable time and manor.  And, procrastination can cause loss of productivity at work or at home, and in some cases both work and home.

Procrastination also affects those around us, especially when they become aware of the procrastination.  Procrastination can cause the disapproval of others when you don’t meet your commitments and your responsibilities. 

But like I said before, procrastination is something that everyone does, some more than others, but we all do it in some aspect of our own lives!

We find reasons to put off what we don’t want to deal with right now, what we need to deal with today.  In our fallen state, we procrastinate even when we know what the consequences of our actions could be.

Sometimes, we hope the problems will just go away on their own.

So, here we are preparing for Christmas already.  Talk about a season for procrastination! How many people do you know that wait until the last minute to buy their Christmas presents?

Today is actually the last Sunday of the church year; next week we begin to celebrate Advent, which is the first season of the church year.

The word Advent comes from the Latin word advenio, which means, “To come.”  Simply put, Advent is the season we celebrate of the coming of the Lord.  Which makes since as we head into Christmas. Advent is celebrated the 4 weeks leading into Christmas.

But Advent is not just about the coming of the Lord with birth of the baby Jesus. Even more important then that is how we prepare for the second coming of Christ.

Our Gospel lesson today is a continuation of last weeks Gospel lesson. If you remember, Jesus was on the Mount of Olives. And, He was talking with Peter, James, John, and Andrew. They had asked Him to tell them about the end times and what will be the signs of these things. 

So, Jesus told them of things that are going to happen before the end times, things they/we need to watch for.  Jesus said, “Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.” And He spoke of wars where “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” And He warned against natural disasters, earthquakes and famines. But He said, “…the end is not yet… these are but the beginning of the [end].  And Jesus warned that “brother will [rise up against] brother, and the father [against] his child, and children will rise against [their] parents and have them put to death.  And He said, “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”  Does this sound familiar? Does it sound like things that are going on in the world around us today?  And, Jesus assured them,  “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:3-13)

Jesus continues in our lesson today, He said,

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not even the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, and, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands – the doorkeeper to stay awake and keep watch. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Stay awake.”

When I was in college, I had to write a paper for an English class.  The focus of the essay was, “What if you know the exact date and time you were going to die?”  I don’t remember, but I probably waited until the night before it was due to write it, after all I am a procrastinator.  

But what if you knew the exact date and time of your death, would you live your life differently from the way you live now?  It was very thought provoking.

Thinking about it now, it makes me think, What if you knew the exact date & time of Christ’s second coming?

What if, say, we knew that 6 months from now, on a Saturday at 8:32 in the evening, Christ will return to judge all men, living & dead?

Would you live your life any differently over the next 6 months? Maybe live a little more like Christ? Live a little more true to His word.

Would you spend a little more time in prayer? 

Maybe make time to finally read His word the way you’ve been meaning to? 

Maybe give a little more to the poor?

Or maybe you’d share with all your family and friends the love of Christ and how He has already paid the price for their sins, share it with people you don’t want to be left out of eternity…

Back at the turn of the century, while everyone was partying “like it was 1999” some people actually believed the world would end with ringing in of the new millennia.

And in 2012, many people believed the world would end as time ran out on the Aztec calendar.

The point is no one knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return. 

Mark 13: 32 tells us, “…no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not even the Son, but only the Father.”

St. Matthew relates the same lesson in chapter 24, 

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Jesus may return at any moment; and it seems certain that He will come soon. 

Be alert, don’t be caught asleep or off-guard

I’m not talking about living for today and not worrying about tomorrow, 

I’m not talking about canceling reservations for next year’s summer vacation.

My dear brothers & sisters, what I am asking you is this, “Are you ready?”

What have you left undone in your spiritual life?  What in your spiritual walk with Jesus needs to be addressed today and not put off until tomorrow? Don’t procrastinate; take care of what needs to be taken care of today. I’m talking about staying alert spiritually, be ready, be on watch for the Master to come and take us home.

The signs of the end times are all around us, constant reminders that “heaven and earth will pass away.” But all of these signs are centered in the cross of Jesus Christ, whereby He has conquered sin and death, that we might be raised with Him in righteousness through His Word of the Gospel, which “will not pass away.” (Mark 13:31)

Paul tells us in Romans, Chapter 6,  “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.”

Jesus is “the firstborn of the dead,” who in His great love “has freed us from our sin by His blood.” (Revelation 1:5)  His salvation, that is salvation through Him, is certain because “His dominion is an everlasting dominion [and His Kingdom] shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:14)

For this very reason Jesus came into the world, to reign in love through His voice of the Gospel, which is the truth. (John 18:37) So this is the righteousness of Christ, “a light to the peoples {which] will never be dismayed” because it is the justice of His cross and His resurrection which saves us. (Isaiah 51:4-6)

Only Jesus “is able to keep you from stumbling and [is able] to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy.”  (Jude 24)

Jesus is coming, we don’t know when, but we know it could be soon!

The last 2 verses in the Bible, in the last chapter of the Revelations, the last thing God’s word leaves us with:

And He who testifies to these things says, “Surely, I am coming soon.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

[May] the grace of the Lord Jesus be with [you] all. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21)

Wait!

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

1st Sunday in Advent B, November 27th, 2011
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
Click here for audio of this message

We spend our whole lives waiting.  We learn to wait for Mom or Dad to hold us when we cry.  We waited for Christmas and Easter with great anticipation.  We waited to be old enough to go to school.  We waited anxiously to start high school and then we waited to graduate.  We wait for our first kiss and then we wait for our first love.  We wait to find our spouse and then we wait for our first child.  We wait for the perfect calling or occupation and then we wait for retirement.  We wait for grandchildren, and then we wait and wonder whether it will be our spouse or ourselves who will die first.  How sad it is for those who wait without hope!

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!  These are more than just words of greeting and introduction from our epistle lesson, (1 Corinthians 1:3-9) they are the gospel itself. Within these words are the very truth that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16]  This is a statement of fact.  God loves the entire world; He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for everyone including you!  There is no room for discussion within these words, because it is a certainty.  If you will receive this truth you will have peace; not a feeling of peace that the world tries to sell as peace, but real God given peace; assurance that even if everything is going to hell around you, for you it is well with your soul because God loves you and Jesus died for you.

How do you know that this peace is real?  You just do; you see, it’s more than just a feeling it is a certainty, and this certainty is the result of God’s gift of faith; faith to believe that in spite of everything that is going on around you, God is still with you and will never leave you.  By faith His Word promises that one day soon, He will come among us again and He will take you home to be with Him.  You know this is true because His Word, like the Word in our gospel lesson this morning (Mark 13:24-37) promises you this very thing.  And so you wait.

But there are some who hear this truth and they are not moved in the least.  Even though they have waited their entire lives for everything else, for this one thing that is the greatest of all other things, they refuse to believe and wait for it!  They refuse to put their name in the statement of fact that God so loved them, that He gave His only Son Jesus, so that they can receive Him, love Him, and believe in Him as their savior and God!

Then there are those who believe that God’s grace through Jesus Christ is theirs; they believe that Jesus died for them but their lives don’t demonstrate the love and loyalty of someone who is waiting for Jesus to return.  They have in fact received God’s gift of grace that was given to them in Jesus Christ, and in every way they have been enriched by God’s Word, which has come to them in all manner of speech and knowledge, yet they are living a life that in no way demonstrates that they are waiting for Jesus to come again.  Why?  I mean, they’ve had His message of grace confirmed among them in all manner of ways; they lack nothing in terms of God’s mighty gifts that reveal Jesus presence among them, and it does not seem to make the least bit of difference in their lives.

Theirs is the washing and regeneration of the water and the Word in their baptism!  Theirs is the sweet Word of forgiveness and the leading of the Holy Spirit into repentance!  Theirs is God’s own meal of forgiveness through the body and blood of Jesus!  All of these things continually provide grace and peace, yet they still live a life that reflects nothing of that grace and peace given by God Himself.  They live like someone who has nothing to wait for!  Why?

With both of these different yet similar groups of people, God’s Word still calls out to them to repent; turn to His forgiving heart that comes only through the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of Jesus!

I am praying for these people with anguish in my heart that they would see the season of Advent as more than just a time of waiting for Christmas and baby Jesus.  Oh how I have cried my heart out to God for so many of them; so many who seemed to have deliberately chosen His coming judgment over salvation.  I have tried to convince, implore, and even to my shame out of desperation, I have tried to manipulate these people into God’s Kingdom of grace, but still they will not turn in repentance to God’s grace and peace.

But you dear Christians have.  You have heard the advent Word of repentance and you have taken your sins to the cross of your Savior.  Through God’s gift of faith, you have not rejected Jesus, and because of that faith, you know that you are not lacking in any gift of God.  By faith you rest in God’s grace, peacefully waiting until Jesus returns.

In grace, you wait peacefully and you watch for the revealing of your Lord Jesus Christ.  It is God’s gift of grace and peace that sustains you to the very end, and as you wait you continue to feed your soul with the gospel Word that assures you that when Jesus returns, He will present you as His gift to the Heavenly father; a gift that is guiltless.  You know this because your God is faithful.  By faith, you know that it was He who called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord and it is He alone who will sustain that same faith through His

In our gospel reading this morning, Jesus gives us some interesting words to close with.  He says that “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

What is the generation that Jesus speaks about?  It is the generation of those who wait, and those who refuse to wait!  They were there when He was born in a manger, they were there when He was crucified upon the cross, and they are still here today.  Some will wait expecting to be greeted by God’s loving heart and they will not be disappointed.  Others refuse to wait and will dismiss our Lord’s coming as  pure rubbish.  Will they one day repent before it is too late?  I hope so; I pray so.  But as we pray and wait to see the outcome, for us, the church of Jesus Christ, our waiting is really a time of peace, because it is well with our souls.  So we wait and during this season of advent we sing: “Savior of the nations, come, Virgin’s Son, make here Your home!  Marvel now, O heav’n and earth, that the Lord chose such a birth.” [LSB 332 vs. 1]