S-1337 16SAP/3B 9/16/12 Hymns: (O) #; (S) #451 (Stand Up…)1; (C) #
Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Hebrews 7:18-22; Matthew 21:28-32
Theme: “It’s Time” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
Question: “What changes would you like to see?” Trinity, Bemidji, MN
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Mission Fest is the O.T. lesson: “a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
Oh most precious in the sight of God. You can’t escape it even if you tried. With less than two months to go until the National election, both sides are trying to convince you to change your mind and vote for them. All of the ads, messages on Tweet, internet, newspaper, and magazines are intended to convince you that this candidate is better than the other. And before long, it will be time to choose the next president.
Today, Solomon speaks of the time for us to change what we are doing and take a stronger approach to our lives as Christians. He tells us that there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. And I assure you today IS not the time to be silent, instead, today let your voices be heard. Why? Because we can’t as faithful followers of the Savior, continue to go down this path without being true to the Word of God and its teaching.
The word “time” in the LXX (that is the Greek translation of the O.T.) is Kaipros—a redemptive moment in time. Suggests don’t miss the opportunities God gives you to tell others about Jesus, invite someone to come to church and hear about Jesus, or overlook the importance of witnessing. If you are shy, use timely literature, a note, a smile, as well as a prayer.
In 1967 there was a TV show called “It’s about Time”. It lasted only one year. It failed because it did not offer anything new and refreshing. You and I as the followers of Jesus have a message that will, through Christ enable others and us to be forever young and forever new in the new heaven and the new earth. Many things come and pass only what’s done for Christ (in time) will last!
It is important that we know it’s time to stand up for the truth and let everyone know that Jesus is the TRUTH that leads to eternal life. It is time to speak our mind and tell others only Jesus saves. Only Jesus redeems. Only Jesus heals and restores us back to God the Father. It’s all about time in light of eternity.
Solomon a little later in this book talks about how God plants eternity into our hearts so that we view light through this lens. Just think of being part of a team to lead a person to Christ for all eternity...doing something that will last...having a special friend for all eternity. Perhaps it’s time for Christians to team up and intentionally in the mouth of three witnesses invite someone to church so that the person coming to church has at least three good reasons to come. Wise witnessing: It’s time. PAUSE.
Did you know dear saints in Christ that in our church body there has been very little mission outreach? According to the latest Layman’s Magazine (The Lutheran Layman Vol. 83, No. 5 September-October 2012, p 3), only 5% of the LCMS congregations do 50% of the outreach. In 2010 there were 371 Adult confirmation recorded.
Can you imagine what might go through the minds of many if on the day before the Election, the churches would toll their bells @ noon, according to their time zone. If every single Christian church would do that you might be able to hear the ringing of the bells far and wide. Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit would be changing the thoughts and hearts of many. If Christians would get down on their knees and fervently pray along with the tolling of the church bells. Many might change their minds or some may rebel even worse. PAUSE.
Beloved in Christ, I do know that God is in total control, but He also wants His people to stand firm for what we believe in. He wants us to stand up and change the world one soul at a time, as we witness to His love in our lives. He wants us to share the Gospel with people who have never heard of Him—that He suffered, died and rose again to change their lives forever from being dead to becoming alive, from being hell-bound, to heaven-bound.
The time is now. Not tomorrow or the day after. Solomon says, there is a TIME to speak and a TIME to be silent. And certainly our times has come to speak of the love of Him who is LOVE Jesus Christ. Even our Synodical President Matthew Harrison encourages us in his “From the President” writes: “Indeed, as next year’s Synod convention theme puts it, we are ‘Baptized for This Moment.’ We have a serious vocation. We’ve been placed on this earth—in this orthodox Lutheran Church body at this very time of trial—to carry out our lives fully for the sake of a high, eternal purpose. We are here because of, for the sake of, the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the message of free forgiveness in Jesus’ blood.” (Lutheran Witness 9-12-2012).
Why, then, do we want to do so? Because, our world points others to seek the god of this world, and not the Savior of Mankind. We, on the other hand, want to share the love of Jesus with them before it is too late.
Study the history of the Early Church...it was always about time. Dr. Luke writes these words of the Apostles, “We cannot help but speak of the things we heard and seen” (Acts 4:20). Having been filled with the Holy Spirit through Baptism and the Word...it was always time to be about the Father’s business seeking the lost and strengthening the saved.
We want to do so because Jesus has promised He is returning and when He returns will He find faith in the hearts of people? You and I, by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit will be used for His glory and honor and for the building up of His Kingdom. Seeing the days to come were not going to be all that good for those who followed Him, Jesus sadly said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8 ESV).
Know this, saints in Christ, Jesus’ question is not rhetorical. What is important is that we know His time is drawing near and we want to be prepared. Furthermore, be aware of what Jesus is NOT asking. Jesus wasn’t asking if He would find a church. Jesus will find churches in abundance when He returns. He will find churches like the one which on Ash Wednesday, applied crosses to the heads of the worshippers made from a mixture of human blood, olive oil, and burned tax forms. He will find churches like the one in California which took down its cross less it offend those who drive by. Yes, Jesus will find churches when He comes again, but Jesus wasn’t asking whether He would find churches. Jesus wants to know if He has made a difference in your life.
Nor is Jesus asking if He will find pastors when He returns. Sadly, there are many pastors out there who don’t preach salvation through the cross ALONE. How sad and tragic when Pastors neglect their God given calling. To be sure, Jesus will find pastors when He returns, but He wants to know if He changed your life.
Jesus us is not asking whether He will find church bodies when He returns on Judgment Day. Certainly, Jesus will find church bodies when He returns, but will He find faithful followers who love Him, serve Him and worship Him with heart, soul, mind and body.
Today, on this Mission Fest, in the name of Christ Jesus who died for you, see Him anew with the eyes of faith and see how He has changed you for the better. He has changed you instead of going to jail, not going passed go, but straight to hell—to be in the loving arms of His heavenly Father. Jesus has changed you from being an outcast to be included as His very own blood-bought child. Jesus has changed you from being an enemy of God to becoming His precious friend. Jesus has changed you from being blind, so that you may see clearly that He is holy, merciful and gracious. Jesus has changed you to be the man, woman, boy and girl that He wants you to be.
Therefore, having been freed by His Word and Sacraments, and live in our Baptismal Grace of sweet forgiveness – we pray a prayer of thanks that today is THE TIME He has planted us in. This is THE PLACE where we are planted. We thank Him that He has put before us that part of His beautiful world, so that THIS PEOPLE who are in our lives might see His love in us and hear His grace in forgiveness and love on our lips. He has freed us, He has set us free to be His voice, His hands, His feet – yes, to be, as we Lutherans like to say, “incarnate” with His grace. The Lost and the Erring are His beloved, too! He has placed you before them and them before you for the noble purpose that you might “Declare the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness and into His marvellous light.” (2 Peter. 2:9). Yes, the Time is Now! Now is the time for change – the change from death to life, from darkness to light, from fear to faith. Yes, beloved, now is the time He has prepared for you. It’s time for a change. Even so, Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA.