You Must Keep Watch

First Sunday of Advent | December 1, 2019

Isaiah 2:1-5 • Psalm 122 • Romans 13:11-14 • Matthew 24:36-44

36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.

40 “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.

42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

Matthew 24:36-44 New Living Translation (NLT)

Now that Thanksgiving is over, most people are “ready” for Christmas. I know even in our own family, we try not to play Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Occasionally we break our own rules. There is a temptation now that Thanksgiving is over, almost everyone is in Christmas mode. We even have all the Black Friday sales. It seems everyone is Christmas…Christmas…Christmas…all the time…24 hours a day…seven days a week.

Tomorrow we begin the season of Advent. While most everyone thinks that Advent is the same as Christmas, it’s not. Advent is a season of waiting – Advent is a season of expectation – Advent is a season of preparation – Advent is a season of watching.

The gospel reading for tomorrow comes from the book of Matthew and it’s not the story of the angel coming to Joseph – but Jesus teaching the people about the future – about his second advent. The first time that Jesus came, he came as a baby, born to a carpenter. The next time Jesus comes, he will come as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The first time Jesus came, Pilate stood before Jesus, the next time he comes Pilate will stand before Him.

Jesus is coming again and no one knows that day or the hour. Many like to think they can figure out – like the Bible is some kind of secret code book. But that’s not the way it works. Jesus said that the only one who knows the day or the hour is Father God himself.

As I mentioned in my sermons over the last week, I believe that everything that needs to happen before Jesus returns has already happened. The Second Advent or Second Coming is the next big event on God’s calendar. We need to be ready – we need to keep watch. Why? Because Jesus said the day he returns will be like the days of Noah. In the days of Noah the people were going about their ordinary, everyday lives – not knowing the flood would come. It will be like that when Jesus returns and people will be swept away to judgment.

Jesus says because of this, “You must keep watch!” Jesus said he will return when we least expect it. We need to watch – prepare for Jesus return. Many people in First Century Israel missed his first coming. The same will happen when Jesus returns a second time. Many people will miss it because they didn’t prepare for his return. As we enter this season of waiting and preparation, let us watch for his return – even as we get ready to celebrate his birth.

November Running Update

Thanksgiving has come and gone and so that means so has most of November. Today is the last day of the month, so instead of a weekly running update, which I really haven’t done in November, I’ll give you a monthly summary.

Today I got back on the track. The last time I was there was last Saturday. We had a community thanksgiving service on Sunday and I was in my dress shoes all day and developed some kind of blister on the bottom of my right foot. I wasn’t able to run until Thursday, but the Y was closed. Yesterday Pam and I walked together and today I decided I better do 5 miles.

The early part of the run reminded me of the Christmas cartoon with the song “Put One Foot In Front of the Other.”

As the run progressed, it got much better. That run brought me to 78 miles for November which happens to be the monthly average for the year. With one month left in the year – at my current average, I will end up at 925 miles for the month – anything above that will be gravy. My goal was 1,254 miles or 2,019 KM. I will fall short of those goals. But it was good to be moving again – way too much thanksgiving food. And now – we keep pressing on!

The Bread of Life

Photo by Pixabay on

Thanksgiving Day | November 28, 2019

Deuteronomy 26:1-11 and Psalm 100 • Philippians 4:4-9 • John 6:25-35

25 They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 6:25-35 New Living Translation (NLT)

Here in the United States it is a national holiday. Our family has put together our thanksgiving meal and soon it will be time to put it in the oven. For us, it will just be us and the kids who live at home. One of our Thanksgiving traditions is watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. When we lived in Flint, MI the girls were so disappointed because the local channel broadcast the Santa Claus Parade from Detroit.

One things about thanksgiving dinner is that is is full of carbs and starches – at least ours is this year. It got me to thinking about the today’s scripture from the gospel of John. This story happens the day after Jesus has fed the 5,000 – and the day after Jesus walks on the water. The people are following Jesus because of his miracles – not necessarily for his teachings and not necessarily for the fact that He is the Word of God.

The people were following Jesus and he took time to teach them more about the Kingdom of God. While food is important in our lives – it is not what we should be pursuing. If we want to receive the approval of God, we should seek the Son of God. Most importantly we should believe in Jesus.

What’s crazy is that the people are looking for another miracle. They are looking for bread from heaven – in other words – manna. They want Jesus to do the same thing Moses did in the wilderness and Jesus reminds them that the manna didn’t come from Moses – the manna came from Father God. God is the one who offers true bread and gives life.

Today we need to be thankful for the bread that comes from the work of our hands, but also comes from our Father in heaven. If we receive the bread of life – we will never be spiritually hungry again. Whoever believes in Jesus will never be thirsty again.

Today we give thanks for all of God’s blessings…but we give thanks to God for sending us the Bread of Life – the bread from heaven. Thanks be to God, who gives us salvation through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Picture of the Week

This week’s picture is another of our church. On Sunday afternoon, the weather turned warmer and I took the opportunity to go outside and take a few non-snow pictures – just before thanksgiving. I also added a filter once I moved them to the computer. It gives you a feeling that it’s warm but still chilly.

Prayer for the Week

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Reign of Christ Sunday | November 24

What do you think of when you hear the word Paradise?

Jeremiah 23:1-6 • Luke 1:68-79 • Colossians 1:11-20 • Luke 23:33-43

33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:33-43 New Living Translation (NLT)

What do you think of when you hear the word “paradise.” If you put the word into Google’s search engine, you see beautiful sunsets, beaches, island paradises, and other things that we consider to be earthly paradise.

This Sunday ends the church year. We call it “Reign of Christ Sunday” or “Christ the King Sunday.” I’m reminded of the Gaither song “Get all excited!” This Sunday reminds us that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is the one who has the authority to grant access to paradise.

I love the scripture from Colossians 1:

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Colossians 1:15-20

Jesus is the ultimate ruler – Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord – Jesus is above all and in all. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

To those who surrender their life to Jesus, to those he gives the keys to paradise, or what we call heaven. The Apostle John writes what this paradise will look like: (Revelation 21)

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” 

Revelation 21

In the last chapter we hear these words:

Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22

Paradise is available to all who place their trust in Jesus.

  • Admit that you have sinned
  • Believe Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead
  • Confess your faith in Jesus Christ and make him the Lord of your life

If you do, you can join Jesus in paradise.

Picture of the Week

The reason I picked this picture is because of the pure spontaneity. Yesterday around noon, this flock of turkeys wandered through our back yard. I had a better picture, but it was shot through a screen. This flock has been up and down the Brook over the last week.