It is the first weekend in Advent. Announcements included the following:
1) The Christmas Program will be December 12 at 4:00 p.m. here at the church.
2) Don't forget to bring your soup cans next week.
3) A request was made for anyone interested in baking cookies for people in prison should bring them by December 14th. See Ruth Anne Schelinder to make arrangements.
Today's Scripture reading was from Matthew 24:36-44.
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
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."
After a time of prayer Pastor Shannon gave the message.
When He Comes Again
The text for today's sermon was taken from Revelations 21:1-3.
1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God."
The Book of Revelations is not a typical book of the Bible. It is filled with images, pictures and symbols that speak to us. In this passage, we see Heaven crashing into earth.
Brad attempted to convey to us that the Second Advent or return of Jesus might not be as sensationally wonderful as we imagine. If Heaven can be described as a place where things are as God wants them to be, are we ourselves truly ready for Heaven? If Jesus were to return tomorrow, would you be comfortable? It might actually make us un-comfortable. Are we ready?
Having noted that this is a book of "pictures" Brad's sermon highlighted a few of this for us.
1) God is light.
In Revelations 22:5 John writes that there will be no more night. The reason is apparent to anyone familiar with Scripture, for God is light.
In I Corinthians 4:5 Paul writes that God will bring to light that which is hidden. This includes our motives. And in the Gospel of Luke, it is written that there is nothing concealed that will not be made known.
Everything you do matters, Brad asserted. "We're called to live in the light."
Many people think God is like the Santa song where "he's making a list and checking it twice to find out who's been naughty or nice." But God is not making a list. When God shows up, He will by the light of His presence make us aware of our shortcomings.
Brad gave the example of people whose good deeds or good behavior convicts us, even though they have no such intentions. People who exercise make those of us who don't aware that we ought to, and people who are generous can unintentionally make us feel ashamed of our stinginess. In the same way God's purity and goodness will make us aware of our shortcomings there. God loves us, and knowing this will make us want to live in His way.
2) Our talents and gifts
Brad next read to us from Matthew 25, the parable of the talents. In the story, the one man was given ten, the second five and the third one. The first two used their talents, but the third buried his. The Master was not pleased.
We've each been given gifts. These are not to be buried. We're to do something with our gifts and talents, to use them, not deny them.
When Heaven crashes into earth, how we used our talents will also be revealed by the light. What have you been given? What did you do with it?
3) God is a consuming fire.
Many people think of hell as a place where people get burned up, and they associate this image with that kind of scenario. But the reality is different.
Yes, God is a fire, but the fire serves a useful purpose. In I Corinthians 3:10-12 Paul writes:
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw...
Fire reveals what the lives we've built are made of. The fire will purify gold, silver and precious stones, but will burn the wood, hay and stubble. When the Lord returns, His light will reveal what is hidden, and His fire will refine us.
The question, then, is what did you do with your life? And more importantly, what do you want to do with the life you have ahead of you as an act of gratitude to Him?
In closing Brad re-visited the passage once more from Matthew 24. No man knows the hour or the time. The Son of Man will return at an hour when you do not expect it.
Much to think about here. We were all challenged.