?November 29, 2009
First Sunday of Advent
What an exciting time is the Advent season! It’s the beginning of another year of walking through Scripture to experience the life of Christ together. And of course, it signals the beginning of the Christmas season.
Advent is an annual reminder to be always ready for the coming of Jesus. It is a season of preparation to celebrate the first advent-or birth-of Jesus, to receive the risen Christ into our hearts as Savior and Lord and to be ready for Christ’s second advent-or coming-in final victory.
So how do we live ever ready for the advent of Jesus in the busy 21st century? Our text guides us in recalibrating our lives in light of Jesus’ priorities.
I. Face the Fear (vv. 25-26)
These verses sound like they came right out of today’s headlines. People are afraid. We fear the economic recession as so much of our nest egg has evaporated like the morning dew when the sun rises. We fear the international climate as nations with a far different worldview rattle their swords. We fear for our security as there seems to be no limit to who will do what to take revenge or to prove a point. But Jesus tells us these things will happen to reassure our hearts and strengthen our resolve. Fear is not going away any time soon, but we don’t have to be held captive by it. We cannot only face it by standing firm in Christ, but we can flatten it by moving forward in faith!
God will see us through the difficulty of these days.
II. See It for What It Is (vv. 27-28)
When Jesus returns, it will be a terrifying event for those who scoffed, chose to live as if it would never happen, or put off the preparations. But for followers of Christ, it is a sign that our ultimate redemption is finally dawning. In one sense, everything that people thought to be secure is being shaken apart. But in another sense, everything that saints have been eagerly anticipating for centuries is happening before our very eyes. Be encouraged-it is good news!
III. Don’t Miss the Obvious (vv. 29-31)
In referring to the trees, Jesus makes the point that the signs of His coming are all around us. While the reality is that most people are not paying attention, the calamitous signs He foretold are indications that His return is drawing closer.
IV. Every Generation Has Seen the Evidence (vv. 32-33)
While the pace of the events seems to pick up in latter days, the fact is that these things have been happening and steadily pointing to His return all along. I think these words point to three important truths:
a. Every person from the time of Christ has been able to see some of the evidence that points to His return.
b. The final, ultimate victory of the Kingdom of God began with the first advent of Jesus.
c. Don’t give up just because it hasn’t happened for two thousand years. God’s Word is sure. It is going to happen.
V. Be Ever Ready (vv. 34-36)
The point of these verses is to be ready always for Jesus’ return. There are many similarities between the first and second advents of Jesus, but there is one significant difference: Even though few noticed His first coming as a vulnerable baby in a manger, He tells us that no one will miss His second coming as the conquering King on the clouds. So how can we live ever ready for His return?
a. Focus on today. Just live each day faithfully serving Christ and doing what He desires for that day, and then we will be ready every day.
b. Be on guard. “Watch” means to be vigilant and ever on the lookout for sin that sometimes creeps into our lives un-noticed until its claws are embedded in bad habits. “Watch” also has a positive meaning, referring to a spirit of expectancy as we believe that today could be the day.
c. Pray. This means much more than saying a few words to God with our eyes closed. It is living close to God, staying in touch with God and bringing our desires in line with God.
Ever ready! The Energizer Battery Company began several decades ago as the Eveready Company. They promoted the image that their products would help us always be prepared for emergencies-things that happen suddenly and can catch us off guard. That’s the idea that Jesus is teaching in our text-be prepared for His sudden victorious return to happen.
There is a wise old saying about prudent living in preparation for lean times: “Stay ready so you won’t have to get ready.” That is great advice that we can glean from the Advent season, too.