Fwd: The Lutheran Hour: November 15, 2015 "Readied for That Time"

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Date: 11/14/2015 9:15 PM (GMT-06:00)
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Subject: The Lutheran Hour: November 15, 2015 "Readied for That Time"

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"Readied for That Time" #83-11

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on November 15, 2015
By Rev. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
Copyright 2015 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: Mark 13:1-13

5 Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.....13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Hallelujah! Amen.

Have you ever seen the remains of the Roman aqueducts? These marvels of engineering transported water from far away sources to the heart of the cities. They were absolute wonders of the ancient world, feats of ingenuity unparalleled at that time in history. What are these amazing aqueducts now? Tourist attractions. Most of them are unusable and, honestly, not needed. Time and technology have made Roman innovation obsolete. If a resident of ancient Rome was around today, I think he'd be humbled--just like we are every day.

Consider this blast from the past. I have a record collection and a supply of cassette tapes. (No, I don't have the 8 tracks; I never really got into those). If you're listening and you don't know what those are, think of a stone-age version of iTunes. But, let me take you back for a moment. Back in the early 1900s the record player was an astounding invention. The human voice was captured in a recording! Thomas Edison was a genius, a cutting-edge leader in new technology. But now? Vinyl records are making a comeback, but they're in second-hand stores and thrift shops. You can hardly find a record player to purchase. Even CDs are a bit passé. Digital music has made the old recorded wonders obsolete.

And what about television sets? Do you still have one of those giant cathode ray tube versions? A friend of mine tried to give his away recently. It was a 32-inch big screen wonder back in the day--about fifteen years ago. But now nobody would take it-and I mean nobody! The final second-hand store he visited told him to recycle it because it was obsolete.

You see what I'm getting at, don't you? What we think is the latest and the greatest doesn't really last, does it? Our best and most advanced very soon becomes worthless and out of style. Our cutting-edge ways and best-developed ideas soon decline into old and useless methods.

Think about medicine. The pioneers of heart surgery may have never imagined microsurgery that can repair valves and blockages with just a small incision in the leg. The innovators of eye procedures probably never thought that their work would fade away as lasers have eliminated the need for a scalpel in some cases. All we do is temporary. Everything becomes obsolete.

As Jesus walked with His followers outside of the imposing architectural ancient wonder, the Temple in Jerusalem, one of the disciples declared, "Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings" (Mark 13:1). Jesus said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down" (Mark 13:2).

In other words, everything becomes obsolete. Buildings won't last. Your nice house? Your beautiful church building? Your vacation getaway? They're very nice. You can be thankful for them and be good stewards of these blessings. But one day they'll be gone. They're temporary. Did you even think about that? Did you realize that? 

That's the main focus of Jesus' words today. All you have right now in this sinful world is temporary. But in spite of all of that there is something that lasts forever. Do you know what it is? Do you have it in your life?

You may not know what I'm talking about so let's go further into the Scripture. In Revelation, chapter 14, the Apostle John saw a part of a remarkable vision. He witnessed an angel flying in midair with, "an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people"(Revelation 14:6). 

An eternal Gospel. A Word from God that stands forever. Good News that never becomes obsolete. That's one thing that endures. It's the simple Good News summed up in a verse you may know very well: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). 

God's love for you will never end. He will never tire of you or give up on you. No matter how far you've strayed, no matter how much you've ignored Him, no matter how hurt or injured you are, no matter how unworthy you feel, God loves you with an everlasting love. He gave His all to reach you and to rescue you. His Son Jesus paid the price to bring you back. And that payment does not expire this side of heaven. If you're hearing this message, you have time. The eternal love of God in Jesus Christ is for you. Everything else will crumble and fade away. Will you receive the lasting blessing of God's love and restoration today? That's what He is asking you. You need it. You need it because nothing else lasts.

Maybe you're saying to yourself, "Now wait a minute, Pastor. What about the good old-fashioned human spirit? What about honesty and integrity?"

A few of the disciples asked the same thing. Mark 13:3-6 speaks about such a conversation this way: "And as [Jesus] sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 'Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?' And Jesus began to say to them, 'See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and they will lead many astray."

That's a hard pill to swallow though. People in authority, people in trusted positions will mislead and deceive on the deepest spiritual level. You can love people. You can be in wonderful relationships. But the bedrock of your life needs to be something else. It needs to be somewhere else; something that lasts. People fail, they crumble, they disappoint. Don't be surprised when you hear the latest scandal or when you see another prominent figure caught in deception. Don't be shocked that some people in your own life will hurt you. Instead, be ready. Be ready with the gift of the eternal Gospel in Jesus alone. Let God's great and everlasting promise be on your lips; engraved in your heart. Like the Bible said, "It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed"(Deuteronomy 31:8).

In fact, the real question today is "Are you counting on what lasts in life? Are you ready to face the day when everything will be obsolete except the eternal Gospel of God's relationship with you?"

You may be wondering, "But, Pastor, there's got to be something else, right? There are so many good and noble people out there. Surely, making the world a better place is an enduring endeavor."

This time in history is one of the most altruistic, philanthropic eras ever. People old and young want to make a positive difference in the world. Organizations and individuals have dedicated themselves to efforts to end hunger, to stop human trafficking, to eradicate child abuse, and to transform communities and nations. Great things have been happening as people think beyond themselves and show God's love to others. Maybe you've gone on a mission trip. Perhaps you've sponsored a child. You may be very active in your community. Words cannot express the way you bring God's blessings to others.

But there is a deeper level of reality we have to wrestle with: this world will never be free of its problems and pain. While we continue the valiant fight to end injustice and suffering--and we must be part of that battle--we need to realize that peace and stability on our terms will not last. That's why Jesus gave us this sobering word. He said, "And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, because the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; and famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains"(Mark 13:7-8).

Please understand me: we're called to show God's love and do all that we can to bless people in this world, but we need to understand that our ultimate goal in this world is not a temporal one; it is eternal. Our love for people must be shown in tangible ways, but it also must be grounded in an eternal concern: care for the souls and eternal lives of all of God's children--of all people. While everything in this world will crumble or fade, lives last forever. They will last forever either apart from God or with Him. We need to care--just as Jesus did--not only for the well-being of people on earth, but for the eternal well-being of them in heaven. We need to show people that they can count on what really lasts.

You may remember the story Jesus told about a man who had a bumper crop in his business. His efforts were yielding phenomenal results. If he were a businessman, he would have cornered the market. If he were a NASCAR driver, he would have been winning every race. If he were a medical researcher, he would have been curing cancer. If he were a global activist, he would have eradicated hunger. But what happened to his success? God broke the news to him one fateful day. God told him, "This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be" (Luke 12:20).

What did Jesus say in the middle of this list of everything that wouldn't last? In verse ten He declared, "And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations" (Mark 13:10).

You see, God's priority for life is the eternal Gospel; His eternal Gospel. God's main effort for you is to rescue you for eternity. Do you have that gift in your life? Are you ready to meet the eternal One, Jesus, when He comes to call you home for eternity? What if Jesus returned today? What needs to happen in your life to make you ready?

Your first priority, ironically, is not your relationships. It's important to have healthy and balanced relationships in your life, but Jesus' words to His followers make clear that mere relationships on this earth won't last (at least in their present form). Jesus said, "And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, don't be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speaks, but the Holy Spirit. Yes brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death."

What Jesus is saying is while relationships fade, the voice of the Holy Spirit will endure. Are you listening to God's gracious voice? In fact, Jesus says, "And you will even be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."

The word for endure means to "remain under." It paints a picture of withstanding the weight of a challenge and struggle. It could also mean flying under the radar a bit. Let me explain.

These days, you and I are tempted to make temporary things our priorities. We're told that image matters. We're enticed to fame and reputation. We're made to feel bad if we're not amassing lots of money. We hear that health is the most important thing in life. If you're not surrounded by friends as an insider who knows all the latest gossip and goes to all the popular places, you may feel like you're not successful. There's a lot of pressure to prioritize things that don't last.

Jesus calls you, then, to a somewhat counter-cultural way of thinking; a counter-cultural way of life. He calls you to seek first the Kingdom of God. He tells you to practice generosity in secret. He says it's not worthwhile to gain the whole world but to lose your own soul. In order to be engaged in what really matters, what really makes a difference, what really gives a full life, you need to find ways to remain under God's grace and endure the pressures of culture and popularity. You need to resist the mainstream and walk to the beat of a different drummer--one that sees what is truly important. To be ready for Christ's return, you need to see things differently. You need to see your life differently!

Do you remember the name Corrie ten Boom? She and her family helped many Jews escape from the Nazis during World War II. Because of the ten Boom's actions, they were imprisoned during the war. During her time in a concentration camp with her sister, Betsy, Corrie absolutely detested the lice so prevalent in her barracks. After complaining about the pests, her sister Betsy told her, "Corrie, you need to give thanks to God for the lice. We're called to give thanks in all circumstances." Corrie didn't like the lice and she couldn't bring herself to give thanks for the terrible insects that tormented her.

Not long after that conversation, Betsy perished in that concentration camp. Before she died, Betsy said to her sister, "There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still." The truth of these words would soon be seen in Corrie's own life. Corrie ended up being released accidentally in 1944 due to a clerical error. Corrie expressed her faith when she said, "God does not have problems-only plans." After the war came to an end, more of God's plans began to unfold. She began to speak about her work for the oppressed during the war. She gave testimonies about God's grace during times of terrible suffering and hatred. She inspired many to be ready for Christ's coming, putting their faith and trust in Him instead of the crumbling and chaotic world in which we live. 

After one of her talks, a man approached her. He had been one of the concentration camp guards. He thanked her for her message and expressed deep sorrow over his role in her plight. He also commented, as an aside, that the guards who regularly tormented and beat the prisoners always stayed away from her barracks. Corrie asked why. The former guard said, "Because of all the lice. Your barracks had the worst lice. Everyone stayed away." Betsy's words came back to Corrie. That's why she could give thanks for the lice. Now she saw things differently.

Think about it this way. God sees you differently; and that can make all the difference in your life. Peering through the darkness of your broken and chaotic life, looking past your rebellion and sin, seeing beyond your imperfection and fallenness, God looked at you and saw His beloved Son in your stead. Ignoring the devil's accusations and shutting out all the reasons there are to cast you and me aside, God sent His only Son to cleanse you from your sin and draw you close to Him for eternal life. God sees you differently. He loves you with an everlasting love.

I want you to see your life today through His loving, caring eyes and get ready to meet Him. Don't get caught up in the things that don't last! There are more important things. Don't be driven by the world's pace, the world's values! You've got a different path. It's a path of life that is meaningful and lasting. 

God has a life for you in Jesus that is amazing, that is eternal. It has hope when all seems lost. It has peace, right in the midst of real trouble. It has joy when sadness seems ready to overwhelm. Why, because Christ is at work for you and me even then. And, nothing will ever separate you from God's love in Jesus Christ our Lord. You have an eternal vantage point, by grace through faith in Him.

Is there anything crumbling in your life right now? What about your outlook or your confidence level? What about your employment or finances? How about your relationships or even your faith? Today God gives you what endures. Get ready for Him in all things. He prepares you. He makes you ready for today and for that day when He will return to call you home forever.


LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for November 15, 2015 
Topic: What Does the Bible Say About Predestination?

ANNOUNCER: What does the Bible say about predestination? That will be our question today for our Speaker, Pastor Gregory Seltz. I'm Mark Eischer. 

SELTZ: Wow, that's a fitting question during this time of year again, Mark. We're focusing on the end times and the coming of Jesus and one question that comes up a lot is predestination. 

ANNOUNCER: In case our listeners aren't familiar with that term, it is a word that refers to God choosing our eternal destiny before we were even born. Right?

SELTZ: Pretty much. The Bible teaches that God has chosen believers in Him to receive the gift of eternal life. You're right. He did this even before the world was created. Ephesians 1:3-5 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus..... he chose us in him (that's Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and His will" (NIV).

ANNOUNCER: This is meant to be an encouraging teaching in the Bible, not a fatalistic one. God chose us to be His own. Our salvation is no accident. 

SELTZ: Right, and that's precisely the focus of the Bible's teaching on predestination. Because of God's grace, His pleasure, His good will, He chose His people. He called them by name before the world began. If you know Jesus Christ and trust in Him, you were predestined to be adopted as one of God's children through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. So what God is saying is, "You're mine!" and this is no accident or whimsical momentary thought. 

ANNOUNCER: However, there's a little wrinkle in what some Christians believe about that teaching. Could you tell us a little more?

SELTZ: There is in some Christian churches what's taught is called "double predestination." It means that God chose some people to be saved and some people to be condemned. It's based on the assumption that if God predestines some to eternal life, but not all people receive this gift, then God must have predestined some people to hell. After all, God is Lord of all. But the Bible, think about it, Mark, it just doesn't teach it this way. 

ANNOUNCER: The Bible clearly says that Jesus died for all (2 Cor. 5:15). 

SELTZ: Absolutely.

ANNOUNCER: Maybe we could compare this to the way parents deal with their children. 

SELTZ: Okay.

ANNOUNCER: When you affirm one child, that doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to put other children down. 

SELTZ: Right.

ANNOUNCER: If you give a compliment to one child, it doesn't mean that you're going to condemn one of the others.

SELTZ: Right. 

ANNOUNCER: So in that sense, God can predestine His children to eternal life without necessarily consigning others to eternal condemnation.

SELTZ: Yeah. I love that analogy. If one of your children has a great soccer game and you say to her, "You are an awesome goalie!" it doesn't mean you're calling another child of yours a terrible goalie. If you meet a coworker and they have a nice shirt on, you could say, "You really look great." That doesn't mean that you are telling everyone else they look awful! You can give a compliment without condemnation. Your affirmation of someone does not mean that you are slighting everyone else. 

ANNOUNCER: Children in families need to learn that. Children in God's family also need to understand that. 

SELTZ: You're right. When God says to His redeemed children, "You are mine!" it doesn't mean He's saying to others, "You're not!" His affirming and gracious love for us doesn't mean that He is leaving other people out. As you said, Mark, Christ died for all. The Father wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. 

ANNOUNCER: Again, we want to say that predestination is meant to be a message of comfort and assurance for God's people. It's not supposed to be about fear and doubt. 

SELTZ: Not at all. In fact, the teaching of predestination in the Bible gives us a glimpse into the amazing love of God. The purpose is not to confuse you. It's not to make you terrified or even help you see God's inner workings. Predestination is a teaching of comfort and delight for the followers of Christ. If you believe in Jesus, God says to every listener today: "I want to be with you! I chose you!" 

ANNOUNCER: But not because we're so good; it's not because our righteousness leads to eternal life. 

SELTZ: No, it is an act of undeserved love. Predestination should always be discussed or taught in reference to the self-sacrificial love of God in His Son, Jesus Alone. That's how the Bible teaches it. Romans 8 declares, "For those God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he called; those he called, he justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

ANNOUNCER: Words of comfort. Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Action in Ministry for November 15, 2015 
Guest: Rev. Wayne Palmer

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action in Ministry. Lutheran Hour Ministries is once again offering a series of Advent devotions. This year's series is titled, Fear Not, and joining us is the author, Pastor Wayne Palmer. 

PALMER: Thanks for having me. 

SELTZ: Wayne, first of all, Fear Not, what an incredibly powerful thing to say at Christmas. You offer a different kind of gift and for those who may not understand what Advent is; what is it and why include Advent in our devotional preparation for Christmas?

PALMER: Well, the word Advent means coming. So during these nearly four weeks that go between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we take a little time away from the hype and the trappings, all the busy preparations for Christmas, to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls to celebrate the real heart of Christmas which is the coming of God's Son, Jesus Christ, as that little Baby born to Mary in Bethlehem so long ago.

ANNOUNCER: And are these devotions geared more toward the individual or could the whole family share these? 

PALMER: Actually they serve both individuals and families quite well. We work through the story of Jesus' coming in the first two chapters of Luke this Advent; so each day we put ourselves into that story, or maybe I should say our Savior brings His story into our lives. So it would be perfect for a couple or family to share each day's devotion together and talk about how the events of that first Christmas fit into our lives today. 

SELTZ: Wayne, you're such a powerful writer. Can you give us a quick peek at the content? Maybe even read a section for us.

PALMER: The first devotion is the first Sunday in Thanksgiving and that is a day where we're talking about Zachariah and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist. Their problem is they don't have a child and so they have no future on earth and no heritage, no way to pass on their holiday traditions. I wrote about that and then I said, "What do you do when you've lived your life as well as you can, sought to honor God, and yet find He's withheld something good and beneficial from you: a spouse, a child, a job, a house, etc.?" In that way you can talk about those kinds of questions that come in each devotion and fit it to your life and see how God answers that through His Word.

ANNOUNCER: And Wayne, I love how you take the Biblical text and then draw from that that application that speaks to the reader and have them look at their own life and their own situation.


ANNOUNCER: Now suppose we haven't done family devotions, this is something new for us. How do you get your kids and maybe even your spouse on board with you?

PALMER: First of all, I think you need to be familiar with the devotions; so either read them yourselves or maybe go online and listen to Pastor Seltz read them. Keep it fun, involve the whole family, even talk about past Christmases whether it's Christmas for your family there or even your own childhood Christmases; because that's always ties you in. We do that with our son who is off to college now and he still gets excited to talk about his past Christmases. 


SELTZ: It sounds like doing these devotions in your home can be a special time of family bonding, Wayne. What other benefit can these devotions have in your understanding about what Christmas is all about?

PALMER: To me, devotions are devoting time or setting aside time to be with God, to be with each other too if you do it as a family. So I think it's that opportunity to share those things of our heart and bring them to God and to each other-to God in prayer and to each other in discussing them.

ANNOUNCER: Again we're talking about Advent devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries. This year's series title is Fear Not and these Advent devotions are now available to download right from our website. In just a moment we'll tell you where to find that. 

SELTZ: Wayne, thanks so much for being with us today. We really look forward to these devotions. 

PALMER: Well, thank you. 

ANNOUNCER: The name of this Advent resource is Fear Not. To view or download this material for free, go to lutheranhour.org and look for the tab that says, Action in Ministry. Our email address is: info@lhm.org.

Music Selections for this program:

"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"The Day Is Surely Drawing Near" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"Lord, 'Tis Not That I Did Choose Thee" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)




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3 prayer requests

1. For DAVE CALLIES as he is hospitalized with severe abdominal pain, and went through several procedures to remove blockage yesterday. He's having tests today.

2. For CAL TAMELER as he is still in danger of losing sight in one eye due to infection. 

3. For KARIN KLAUSTERMEIER as she is going to have a hysterectomy on Tuesday. 

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