What God wants to teach us personally at this time
Kirche am Bahnhof, Frankenberg 24.01.2021
This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here
We have two sermons last Sunday and this Sunday that align us with the New Year that lies ahead.
- In which we ask ourselves: what is important now, what is important for this year, what is important for the future.
- And last Sunday we noticed that this Corona period, which we initially thought would be a short sprint, has become a challenging marathon.
- That makes us tired.
- Many would like to go back to the old life before Corona as quickly as possible or live with one eyes closed and through mentality.
- But I am convinced that God wants to teach us something through this crisis and that it is therefore good to ask him: God, what do you want to show us right now.
- Last week it was mainly about us as a congregation and in the end it went to us personally, and I would like to continue today and take up that from last time.
- And I have 5 points that I would like to elaborate on.
What God wants to teach us personally at this time is of course a steep statement.
- And therefore: On the one hand, these points are not complete.
- Perhaps there is something completely different for you personally, and it is good to ask God:
- God, what would you like to show me personally in this situation, this year, what I can learn with you.
- Second, there are points that you have to agree with God.
- God says we should test everything and keep what is good.
- But sometimes it happens that we have a blind spot and think that everything is fine.
- Then it helps to ask a good friend, your spouse or your small group, because sometimes they see things that you don’t see yourself.
- So talk about this sermon together and ask the other one, what do you think, it’s my turn.
- And third, these are all points that affect me in the same way as each of us.
- I am wrestling with God for that as well.
These sermons are based on a statement by Jesus that we read in
Mt. 24: 43-44: Mt. 24: 43-44 Make one thing clear to yourself: if a householder knew in advance what time of night the thief was coming, he would stay up and prevent the break-in. So be ready at all times; for the Son of Man will come at an hour if you do not expect it.
These words of Jesus have a larger context.
- Jesus is with his disciples in the temple in Jerusalem.
- They marvel at the beauty and size of the temple, but Jesus tells them that no stone will be left unturned.
- In other words, the temple is just a building.
- And then later they will sit together on the Mount of Olives, directly opposite the temple.
However, the disciples could not have known that, and they did not let go of two questions:
Mt. 24: 3-14: “Tell us: When will this happen, and what sign will herald your second coming and the end of the world?” “Be careful that nobody misleads you!” Replied Jesus. “For many will appear under my name; they will claim they are the Messiah and will mislead many. You will hear of wars; you will hear that there is a threat of war. Don’t let this scare you. It has to come this way, but it’s not the end yet. One people will rise up against another and one kingdom against another. Famine and earthquakes will soon hit this area and soon that. But all of this is just the beginning, it is ‘like’ the beginning of labor pains. You will be betrayed, persecuted and killed. For my name’s sake you will be hated by all peoples. Many will fall away from the faith; they will betray one another, they will hate one another. False prophets will appear in great numbers and will mislead many. And because lawlessness will prevail, love will grow cold in most. But whoever remains steadfast to the end will be saved. The message of the kingdom of “God” will be preached all over the world so that all peoples may hear it. Then comes the end.
- And then Jesus continues to talk about the day the temple was destroyed, and he finally says that only God knows the exact time.
- When that happens is speculation.
- People tried to figure it out, they were always wrong.
- But there are signs that suggest:
- Wars, famines, persecution of Christians, people who claim to be the Messiah, i.e. the savior, that love will grow cold, that all peoples will hear the good news.
- We experience all of this.
The Bible describes how God actually intended life for us humans.
- He wanted to create a life of peace and abundance, a life with one another and in friendship with him, where Adam and Eve walk with the visible God.
- God is like that, but we humans have renounced him.
- And these are the consequences, both large and small.
- Hatred and wars, a world that is out of joint.
- Even nature, which suffers from it.
- That we are doing so well here is anything but self-evident.
- We have never had such a long period of peace in Europe.
- That we have enough to eat, no natural disasters, that we as Christians have the freedom to live our faith and to talk about it with others, is still the exception in the world today.
- At the same time, this also means that we as western people have not experienced much of a crisis.
- Right now we’re seeing a little more of what it means to be the world upside down.
- God will come and judge us humans and set up a new world in which people will live with him who really want that.
- And Jesus says: be ready.
As I said, it is speculation when the time will come.
- But last time I explained this picture of labor that comes from this text that Jesus used.
- You women can understand this better than we men, especially the pain that it brings with it, but at least from the birth of our children I can say that contractions are characterized by the fact that they come at ever shorter intervals and more and more intense.
- Corona is such a woe, but it can also be that everything calms down again afterwards.
- Only through the technical progress of our time can we see how things suddenly accelerate and how everything is interrelated worldwide.
- Something that just a few years ago was unimaginable.
- And not only negatively, but also positively.
- I said a few years ago that the Wycliff Bible Translators’ goal is to have a translation project in place by 2025 in every people who still need a Bible translation.
- So we live in exciting times.
What God wants to teach us personally at this time, the 1st is:
- 1. Put your life in Jesus’ hands.
We are not in control of our lives.
- Perhaps the foundations of your life got cracked by this Corona time.
- Suddenly everything is no longer as safe as expected.
- Your business is about to go bankrupt, you no longer have a job, and you don’t know how to pay off your debts.
- An invisible virus is buzzing through the world and everything is changing incredibly quickly.
- While driving, we never thought that we would have an accident and be dead.
- Now all of a sudden a virus reminds people of how quickly our lives can be over.
- That we don’t live forever but have to die one day.
- And already the Bible says:
- Lord, teach us to remember that we must die to become wise. Psalm 90:12
- But how do we deal with this statement now?
- Are we pushing them as far from us as possible?
- Incidentally, that is not so wise if our eternity really depends on this life, as Jesus said.
- Do we put all our hopes on our human feasibility, now on the vaccine, and everything will be fine after that?
- Or are we ready to acknowledge that we are not in control of our lives and that there is a God above us?
- Or at least start looking for him, because the Bible doesn’t require you to blindly swallow everything that is presented to you?
Last time I read the following verse from the Bible, it fits so well into our situation:
- See, when I close the sky so that it does not rain, or the locusts devour the land, or let a plague come among my people, and then my people, of whom my name is mentioned, humble themselves, that they pray and seek my face If they turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins and heal their land. 2nd Chr. 7: 13-14
- Are we ready to acknowledge God or do we prefer to rely on our own strength?
- And if we prefer to do that, may I ask you what is preventing you from coming to God?
- What kind of image do you have of God that hinders you?
- God is different, the Bible says he wants your best, he loves you.
- Go find him.
The second thing I believe God wants to teach us:
- 2. Don’t be frightened
As Christians, we are included in everything that Jesus says to his disciples.
- Jesus does not say that we are spared from all this, that he takes us out of the world, On the contrary, as
- Christians we will even be persecuted for our faith.
- So when wars break out, famines, viruses, don’t be alarmed.
- Jesus does not tell us this to scare us but to prepare us.
- That it doesn’t surprise us when it comes.
- That we are vigilant and not blind, but just as little to withdraw in panic.
- But when this begins to happen, look up and hold up your heads because your redemption is near. Luke 21:28
- For God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of strength and love and prudence.2.Tim. 1.7
In a crisis, what is in us comes out.
- And what is the fruit of you that is just coming out of your life?
- Fear, isolation, withdrawal, do you just turn around yourself?
- Are you even turning your back on God?
- Do you only follow Jesus when everything is going well?
- I’ll say something about the retreat afterwards.
A lot of people have told me, I’m not worried, I’m not scared, everything is just protection for one’s neighbor.
- Ok, you can only judge that yourself.
- Anyway, I worry from time to time.
- I am worried about how things will go next.
- Whether everything collapses.
- As my children will have it one day.
- How it would be if all of the prosperity suddenly fell away.
- When wars and persecution come, like Jesus said.
And now Jesus says: get up and look at me.
- Do you trust him?
- So if we feel worry and fear, and Jesus even says that we are afraid in the world, then what should we do?
- Don’t just let go and withdraw.
- But fix our eyes on him and get up.
- To become active.
- God wants to give us peace, gratitude, courage and patience.
- And I think he wants to teach us that we are struggling to really get it.
- Phil 4,4-7 Rejoice day after day that you belong to the Lord. And I want to say it again: Rejoice! All people should experience your kindness and kindness. The Lord is coming soon! Do not worry! You can ask God for anything. Tell him what is wrong with you and thank him!
And God’s peace, which is beyond our understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in faith in Jesus Christ.
- God’s peace comes when we look to him.
- I want to learn to enjoy it, no matter what is around. I want to learn not only to ask but also to thank him.
- There are so many reasons for this.
- And as I do that, my line of sight changes.
- Away from all the worries, toward gratitude, toward what he has all done for me, and then toward him.
- And his peace fills me and then I can pass on hope to other people.
- I invite you to practice this look with me this year.
The 3rd sounded just now:
3. Live your relationship with Jesus
All of these witnesses who surround us like a cloud inspire us. That is why we – like runners in a competition – want to run towards the goal with all our endurance. We want to put aside everything that prevents us from walking, part from the sin that so easily captivates us, and turn our gaze to Jesus, the pioneer of faith who has preceded us. Knowing the joy that awaited him, Jesus undertook death on the cross, and the shame it entailed could not deter him. That is why he is now sitting on the throne in heaven on God’s right side. So if you are in danger of getting tired, think of Jesus! How much he was hostile to sinful people, and how patiently he endured everything! If you keep this in mind, you will not lose heart. Hebrew 12.2-3
Perhaps you too have grown tired of believing.
- The good thing is that the Bible knows and describes exactly these experiences.
- Paul writes these lines to the Hebrews.
- Some only come irregularly, others not at all.
- Some struggle with doubts as to whether they have bet on the right card, others let go and take what promises to be fun.
- The Sunday gathering crumbles, faith fades.
- Some people toy with the idea of throwing away their trust in Jesus.
- Paul encourages them: look to Jesus, what he endured for you.
- Look at the examples in the faith, Heb. 11, right before this chapter.
- Take a fresh look at the goal.
- Take off anything that prevents you from running.
- Most of all, sin.
- There, where you started not to take Jesus so seriously anymore.
- We talked to the teens about Joseph in Biblical class last week.
- And what fascinates me again and again about him is that even when he is bad and he does not understand God’s actions, he adheres to God’s commands and at the very end says that God used all the circumstances of his life to get him exactly there lead where he wanted him and through him all his family and the whole land of Egypt were saved from famine.
- We don’t understand everything that God does, but God wants to encourage us to continue to trust and hold onto him and to seek his closeness all the more in times of crisis.
- Man does not live from bread alone, but from every word of God, says Jesus. Matthew 4,4
- And that’s why we want to celebrate the Lord’s Supper right away, to be encouraged to keep in mind that God loves us and is there now, and that He is worthy of worship.
The 4th point gives me a real headache:
- Jesus says that at the end of time love will grow cold.
- And my impression is that when I look into our society, it is more and more the case.
- But unfortunately also with us Christians.
- That’s why I named my 4th point that I believe God wants to teach us:
4. Love and encourage your neighbor
When I look into our society, I notice that we think very strongly in black and white, but there is almost nothing in between.
- Trump is only bad,
- Biden is only good.
- Anyone who has concerns is instantly conspiracy theorists.
- The politicians just make nonsense.
- Everyone who goes to demonstrations against Corona are Nazis.
- And those who see politics as right at the moment are ridiculed as sleeping sheep.
- And when I look on the Internet, where everyone can say what they want, I feel sick.
- All knowledge is piecemeal, but I’ve figured it out.
- We confuse circumstantial evidence with evidence.
- We set up camps, and of course we also have different views on different topics in our community.
- That’s ok, but we hardly listen to each other and immediately push the other into a corner
- And these camps, where people no longer talk to each other but only about each other, divide our country.
- And no wonder, when someone is pushed into a corner like a dog, that he then becomes more radical.
What does Jesus say about how we should treat one another?
- We should pray for our politicians!
- We should respect the other more highly.
- We should be considerate of each other.
- We shouldn’t judge the other.
- We should treat the other as we would like them to do with us.
- We are supposed to love our enemies.
- Whereby Paul writes that we do not fight against people of flesh and blood but against forces of darkness.
- So we want to do everything we can to live in peace with one another and promote one another in our faith. Romans 14:19
That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to discuss different points of view.
- But maybe we can use this as a standard for our dealings with one another and do everything in our power to preserve the unity that God has given us, even if we do not have the same point of view in everything.
- What unites us is Jesus himself and the commission he has given us.
- In general, nowhere in the Bible do I see that we should go about as corona missionaries and that brings me to my last point:
5. Live your mission “
Now who of you is the faithful and wise servant whom his master has given the task of overseeing the rest of the servants and distributing his daily ration punctually to each one? Such a servant can rejoice when the master returns and finds him at work.
- So Jesus continues the words from the very beginning in Matthew 24: 45-46.
Last summer a lot of people sent me a quote from Martin Luther:
- “When God sends deadly plagues, I want to ask God to have mercy and to ward off the plague. Then I want to smoke and ventilate the house, give and take medicine, avoid places where I am not needed so that I don’t poison and infect others and become a cause of death for them through my negligence. But when my neighbor needs me, I don’t want to avoid place or person, but go freely to him and help. See, that is a godly faith that is not foolhardy and stupid and bold and does not tempt God. ” (Luther’s Works, Volume 5, Page 334f)
You see, everyone told me, even Luther said we should be careful, we should ventilate and avoid people.
- I found it exciting that nobody, nobody! Has made reference to the back of his statement:
- But when my neighbor needs me, I don’t want to avoid place or person, but go freely to him and help.
And here too: everyone checks for themselves whether this is true:
- Could it be that we have an imbalance?
- Or maybe we don’t even know where my neighbor needs me because we’ve locked ourselves up like that.
- That we no longer hear God’s words about selfless neighborly love or talk ourselves out of it because we really only want to protect ourselves?
- Jesus showed us what it means to love our neighbor.
- He even gave his own life for it.
- The apostles lived like that, risking their own lives for people.
- The first Christians in Rome were known for this, and that was key to spreading the good news, that they selflessly helped other people, and many died taking in sick people during a plague.
Yes, we should be prudent during this time.
- But do we believe that Corona is not the real threat in our lives, but the question of whether people have peace with God?
- And are we ready to stand up for it because we love people?
- Does God’s heart shape us here too?
I want to encourage us this year
- To put our lives in God’s hands
- Not to be frightened, but to look to Jesus and let his peace permeate our hearts
- To live our relationship with Jesus
- To love and encourage our neighbors
- And to live our mission.
Finally, a quote from C.S. Lewis.
- It dates from the Cold War era between America and Russia.
- Lewis lived in England and the danger of the atomic bomb was pervasive:
- In a way, we take the atom bomb far too seriously.
If this atom bomb destroys us, let it catch us doing meaningful and benevolent things.
- We can also use coronavirus instead of the atomic bomb.
- And I wish that when Jeses comes again he will find me living with him and for him
I would like to pray
- Jesus open ears and hearts.
- Show us what you would like to tell us personally this morning.
- Thank you encouragement you are holding in your hand, nothing slips away from you.
- We want to learn to trust you, to look at you.
- To be grateful.
- Give us your peace Help us to live your supernatural love in dealing with other people, especially those who disagree with us.
- Help us to live our mission.
- Give us wisdom on how to do this.
- We are convinced that you are the best that can happen to people.
- But also give us open eyes for the opportunities that arise and help us not to let fear or comfort hold us bac