Isaiah 64:1-9 Psalm 80 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 Mark 13:24-37
Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. So, God is faithful to us as we our making disciples. The question for us is this: as we have been called to follow Jesus, are we being faithful to what we have been called?
What, you thought that since this is the First Sunday of Advent that we would hear about Santa, wise men, and donkeys? Or maybe you thought today would be a day when we heard about how beautifully decorated the church is (it is beautiful, by the way)? Or maybe you thought I would be railing against having Christmas songs and Christmas decorations in the stores since just after Halloween? Aren’t you in for a big surprise!
We are to use this time of Advent to prepare for the coming of Jesus. Since he left this planet, we have had one main task. That task is to declare the good news from God about his Son, Jesus. There are times that we have allowed other tasks to get in the way of this activity. Yes, even arguing over how many wise men there were keeps us from our task. Yes, the decorations are beautiful, but may they not distract us from our main task. If the general public is playing Christmas hymns over public loudspeakers in the stores and we see Christmas decorations, then at least the general public is hearing about Christ’s name. This is especially true as we are not speaking about Jesus. We may have even forgotten about making disciples with all the rush that is going on around us!
How can we stay focused on the task that Jesus has given us? That is, we need to identify the ways we are kept from making disciples of Jesus Christ. This reminds us that we are to keep awake. No, it does not mean that we get to rail against those who refused to hear God’s word about Jesus, nor does it mean that condemn people who don’t believe in Jesus Christ. But we can find strength to make disciples.
A. What are the ways we keep God away from us? (Isaiah 64)
1. Sin – the neglect of doing God’s will, deliberate or accidental.
2. God does not want to be around us, so he judges us for our sins
3. We can remind God that we are his people
4. When we sin, God withdraws. Yet, we read that we can call upon God, for he is our father. God does not want us to sin. But when we do, we are to turn back to him for forgiveness. Turning back to God, we once again realize that we are not to be found sleeping or lacking faith when Jesus returns.
B. We are to keep awake (Mark)
1. The days ahead of us will be filled with persecution
2. We will know those days are coming when we recognize the trouble that is brewing around us
3. Jesus will return, and we are to be ready
4. Even though we get persecuted, we do not give up the tasks of making disciples
5. Some days it is hard to remain faithful to the task set before us. Yet it is quite true that we who believe in Jesus Christ are called upon to speak of God’s willingness to have us in his presence. We speak about how God’s grace overcame our sin, whether that sin in our minds or what we have said or done to willingly hurt another. We can keep awake. Maybe we need to hold each other accountable for not only speaking about Jesus Christ, but remaining faithful until Jesus returns. This is based on the fact of yours calling upon Jesus to deliver you from your sins. When we let Jesus know that we are wanting to follow his ways and not the ways of the world, then we are saying that we believe Jesus wants us. As we follow Jesus, he encourages us through his Spirit to rely on him as we speak the truth about God and our need for him.
C. Jesus gives us strength to remain faithful to his grace (1 Corinthians)
1. God has called us – will you believe God wants you to follow Jesus?
2. It is by the strength of Jesus that we serve him – we are not doing it alone
3. There is a phenomena in this world called “Dones.” That is people who have given up church abruptly. They have heard all the sermons they want to hear. They have given enough money to the church. They have been part of enough church activities. Are these the people mentioned in his parable of the seeds? Some seed fell on rocky ground and did not last long. Some seed fell on the path, where it did nothing. Some fell on good soil and produced 30, 60-fold of what was planted. Are the “Dones” those who heard God calling them to follow Jesus, the cares of the world sprung up and their faith died? Maybe, but some of the “Dones” are just getting away from churchy things. It is not a churchy thing to make disciples. It is a matter of us being faithful to Jesus. It is Jesus’ strength that helps us to remain faithful and to make disciples.
Jesus has called you from a world of cares. Jesus has provided his body for you to be part of. So, don’t be done with the church. Remain faithful to Jesus, for after all, he is faithful to you.
What does this mean for you? If you have not made a disciple of Jesus Christ, then let us pray that two actions occur. First, we will pray that we can discover how to make disciples. We want to remember the task of the church, to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Second, we will pray that God will have people in your life ask you about your faith in Jesus Christ. As you speak about Jesus and the grace that is evident in your life, may you then be found to be making disciples for Jesus.