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New Year's Eve 2016 - St. Luke 12:35-40

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Posted: Sunday, January 1st, 2017 by Pastor Westgate

The clock is ticking down now. Only about 4 hours until a new year starts. Are you ready? Have you made your resolutions? Have you resolved to keep them a little longer than you kept them last year? Have you resolved not to be upset when you do break them? Are you going to stay up to watch the ball drop and the party roll? Don’t forget tomorrow’s a high feast of The Church!

As we come to the end of a year, we naturally think about the end of all things. After all, when the weather outside is frightful and the landscape is too, that’s what you’re going to think about. So tonight we break from our Christmas theme. Even though we’re going to celebrate Our Lord’s Circumcision in the morning, tonight we fast forward to His return on the last day. In tonight’s Gospel we hear Him say things we heard Him say at the end of The Church Year: let your loins be girded and your lamps burning. Watch for your Lord to return from the marriage, that when He does, He will serve you at the feast.

He is coming. He Who was born of Mary will come again. The Prophets of old did not know when He would come. Some really smart rabbis could have figured it out generally once Herod ruled their land, but nobody could have known the exact time before Gabriel came to Zechariah and Mary. In the same way, we don’t know when He will come again. People like to say it must be really soon, but then we must say that all the signs of the end have been in play since Jesus died, and Christians have never not been persecuted. He could come at any time. He could come at midnight or before. He could come long after we’re dead. Be prepared.

Be prepared. Don’t let your house be broken into. We lock our doors at night. Do you use a deadbolt? You put things in safes and your money in the bank. Do you have a home security system? You’re making sure that no thief will ever get your valuables. He can try, but he’ll fail.

Your Lord wants your soul to be the same way. Protect it. Prepare it. Prepare it for what? For battle. Protect it from what? From sin and Satan. For they want to do battle with the Christian. They want to rob you of your faith and thus eternal life. They want you to lose your forgiveness, to not look forward to your Lord’s Service, to serve Satan – even if you don’t realize it – by not caring about Christ or by loving to please your flesh.

Don’t think these are easy fights. The Apostle says our battle is not with flesh and blood. If it was, then no problem – you could win easily enough. But since the battle is not with flesh and blood, it’s with a higher power, and you can’t beat a higher power. You need a higher power yet to be able to beat them.

Why is this? Why are you fighting against higher powers? Why do you need The Lord to protect you from them? Because your sinful nature is no match for them. It can’t help but succumb to them. It’s too easy to fall for their seduction. It’s too hard not to. Sin likes things easy, so sinners like the easy way. They need protection, but they can’t protect themselves. They’d only protect themselves with more sin, and that doesn’t sound like protection worth your hard-earned cash, does it? That’s like letting the crook in by the front door to happily let him take all your stuff!

So Jesus says protect yourself. Gird yourself. Light your lamps. Be prepared. How? With Jesus. The One Who tells you to be prepared is The One Who protects you, Who girds you, Who lights your lamp, Who protects you. It’s Him! He’s your Savior from sin, your Defender from Satan, your Light that shows the way to heaven. He’s your Life, your paradise, your eternal new year!

Your eternal new year? You mean, every day’s a new year’s day? A new year leaves behind all the baggage of a previous year. It’s something new, something to rejoice in, something to enjoy and look forward to. That’s what Jesus gives. He’s something to rejoice in, something new, something to enjoy and look forward to. What’s new? Freedom from sin! What should we rejoice in? Our forgiveness! What should we enjoy and look forward to? Eternal life! And once we obtain it in everlasting life, we’ll still have plenty more to look forward to and enjoy!

So come to Jesus! Let Him light your lamp and protect you. How does He do that? His Word, The Scriptures, are the light that guides you. They show you what He did for you. They tell you why He did it. They tell you what He desires. They lead you to trust Him and to live according to His will. They protect you.

How do they do that? They give you the words of Joseph when he was faced with temptation: “How can I do such a thing and sin against my God?” They teach you He is your dear Father and you are His own dear child, which leads you to realize you don’t want to let Him down; you want Him to always be pleased with you. They teach you He wants us to be perfect as He is perfect. Scripture leads us to desire to be the way He wants us to be. Why? Because He died to free us from sin, to pardon us, and to give us eternal life. Living for Him in this life is good preparation for the life to come.

So if you resolve anything this coming year, let it be this: Hear His Word. Receive His Sacrament. Desire to please Him. Desire Him to deliver you from every evil, past, present, and to come, and to graciously grant help in your days, that by His compassionate aid you may ever be free from all sin and sheltered from all turmoil. He will surely hear your prayer. He will aid you. His Spirit will work in you. When you fall, confess your sin to Him and He will forgive you. Hear and believe His Word, and He will bring you onto everlasting life.

New Year 2017 is almost here. Make resolutions or don’t. But don’t forget to always be prepared for the coming of your Lord, for He is coming soon, whether He comes to us through death or the last judgment. Live every day like He’s just around the corner. Live every day like He is your heart’s joy and desire. Live, preparing to feast with Him, fed by Him, forever in paradise. (TLH 120:5 follows):

Jesus, be with me and direct me; Jesus, my plans and hopes inspire; Jesus, from tempting thoughts protect me; Jesus, be all my heart’s Desire; Jesus, be in my thoughts all day Nor suffer me to fall away.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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