Sunday, December 08, 2019

Sermon for 12/8/19: Second Sunday in Advent

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“Stir Up Our Hearts”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

We pray: “Stir up our hearts, O Lord.” But that is a dangerous prayer, for hearts are not stirred up with comfort foods and soft music. We do not pray: “Lord, give us a warm, fuzzy feeling in our bellies; make our lives comfortable and leisurely; make us popular with the boys.” We pray that God would stir up our hearts, that He would disturb us, that He would prod us into action. Hearts are stirred up by an earnest call to repentance, with a hearty dose of reality. “Stir up our hearts” is a plea for God to end our complacency, to defeat our laziness, to overcome our apathy. We ask Him to intervene for us against our own sinful flesh.
While we wait for our Lord’s return, our danger increases. We must continue to endure temptation. Salvation is closer now then when we first believed. But do we have the same zeal we had then? It is easy to grow weary, to allow ourselves to be seduced by the devil. He’s so persuasive. “Why fight me? Why work so hard? Why care about what God? Does He really care for you? Take care of yourself. Live for today.”
But that is most certainly the way of death. Stir up our hearts, O Lord, against our own flesh! Man does not live by statistics and financial reports. He does not find favor in the eyes of God by finding favor in the eyes of men. The baptized children of God live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. My brothers and sisters in Christ, there is your safe harbor. All other things will wash away. Nothing else will endure. But the Word of God will. It never lies, never changes, never stops, never fails.
And so we pray: “Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son.” On the great and dreadful day of the Lord, the Son of Man will indeed come in a cloud with power and great glory. The Muslims, the Buddhists, those Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and all those who thought they could come to God apart from the Son, will no longer be able to deny His power and authority. Satan’s many masks and false names will finally be stripped away. Then the pagans and heathen—they will know whom they’ve been worshiping all these years, but it won’t do them any good; they shall be burned up. But to you who fear the name of the Lord, who trust in the mercy of the God born of Mary, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings. Look up. Lift up your heads. Your redemption draws near. Your suffering, your trials, your troubles, your grief—all of that will end.
The decisive battle for your soul has already been won. The Father has pardoned you for the sake of the suffering and death of His innocent Son. The Spirit of God abides in you. Still, the devil fights on. It is a dangerous, deadly battle. But the end is certain. Fear not. Christ has not died in vain. The devil, that liar and the father of lies, is already defeated. Jesus died and rose again for us and for our salvation. He reconciled all mankind to His Father. The kingdom of heaven is open to all believers. Blessed are all those who trust in Him, who find their rest in Him, who confess His holy name. They shall not be disappointed.
And so we pray: “Stir up our hearts, O Lord!” Prepare us by Your grace. Receive us now and when we die through forgiveness and mercy. Secure us in this free salvation unto the end. Feed us with your body and blood. Make us your own! Come, Lord Jesus! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.  

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