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Subject: The Lutheran Hour: November 29, 2015 "Are You Ready?"

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"Are You Ready?" #83-13

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Presented on The Lutheran Hour on November 29, 2015
By Rev. Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
Copyright 2015 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: Luke 21:34-36

"But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! The Redeemer's coming some 20 centuries ago has changed both time and eternity for those who are brought to faith. May the Lord grant such faith to many more before the Savior comes again in judgment. Amen. 

Today, at the beginning of the Church year, our Lutheran Hour message asks, "Are you ready for Christmas?" Now, before you turn off your radio or wander over to another station, let me assure you, "Are you ready for Christmas?" is NOT the only thing we're going to talk about today. Truly, if that were the only question addressed in this message, I imagine a lot of people would stop paying attention. 

What kind of people? Oh, I'm pretty sure the Christmasaholics would stop listening. That's because Christmasaholics prepare for December 25th all year long. Christmasaholics include people like Australia's David Richards who strung 29-miles of power cord on his property for the singular purpose of firing up the ½-million Christmas lights which decorate his home. Tim and Grace Gay of LaGrangeville, New York are Christmasaholics. They spent two months setting up over 600,000 lights on their 2-acre homestead. 

Unreached would be the Christmasaholics who have rented a 10 x 20 foot storage locker to house the overflow of Christmas decorations. I probably won't be reaching those who have stockpiled enough religious postage stamps to send off their Christmas cards for the next 40 years. The message wouldn't appeal to the Christmasaholics who have an artificial Christmas tree ONLY because they can leave that tree up all year long. When a Christmasaholic hears the question, "Are you ready for Christmas," his answer is an immediate and enthusiastic: "Of course I'm ready. Getting ready for Christmas is what I do."

Of course there is another group out there who doesn't want to hear a sermon about being ready for Christmas. No, I'm not referring to a group like ISIS, or the Taliban, or any other fanatical religious organization which hates all things Christian. No, I'm thinking more of the world's self-appointed Grinches who don't celebrate Christmas and aren't overly keen on anyone else getting carried away with that Holy-day. These are the Scrooges whose, "Bah, humbug!" sours the festivities of anyone who gets close to them.

They don't want to hear a sermon about being ready for December 25th because these curmudgeons spent a lot of time and use a lot of resources to make sure that they are totally ready. For example, in preparation for the holiday they have written, rewritten, and run off a stockpile of their Christmas form letters. Anytime some poor clerk forgets and wishes them a politically incorrect, "Merry Christmas," one of those scathing form letters of objection will immediately be addressed and fired off to the clerk's company. 

These protectors from all things spiritual and sacred have plotted and replotted their maps which show all federal, state, and municipal properties. They will religiously carry these maps with them at all times so they might be readily referenced in case they stumble upon a situation where the separation of church and state may have been ignored. It is their desire to make sure no nativity, no shepherd, no wise men, no star, no angelic host have wandered onto forbidden government property. Similarly they wish to make sure no public official commits the unforgivable sin of throwing a Christmas party for his staff. 

To this group of Christmas censors we must add that core of selfless volunteers who have stepped forward to monitor all Christmas celebrations, excuse me all winter celebrations, in our nation's public schools. These are those who have spent no little time making sure all classroom festivities have been purged of any religious, and by religious, I mean Christian, overtones. Colors in the classroom can be any color other than red or green. Music must revolve around Frosty, Rudolph, and Elsa singing, "Let It Go". Ornaments must be confined to home-made snowflakes and the children's public presentations must be politically correct and singularly sterile of any type of spirituality. 

As I said, a message which deals with Christmas, December 25th, is probably not for everyone. It should have some value for those numerous folks, who, when they're asked, "Are you ready for Christmas?" have to stop and think about their answer. When and if they do think about the coming of Christmas, they often panic, because their reply always is, "No, I'm not ready; I'm not prepared! I've got to get going!"

Being ready for December 25th means these folks have to shop for the gifts, buy the gifts, wrap the gifts, and sometimes send the gifts. Of course that can only be done after they have ascertained what gifts everybody wants. Being ready for December 25th means we have to go over our Christmas card list. We have to try and remember if any of our really close friends have celebrated any weddings; or changed their addresses, or had any deaths in their family. Then time has to be set aside for writing, stuffing, stamping, and mailing those cards. 

Getting ready includes the decorations which need to be hung by the chimney with care, decorations which need to be hung just about everywhere. There is food to cook, cookies to bake, travel plans to make. There is maintaining the family's master calendar to make sure there are no conflicts. Keeping the family's Christmas calendar includes categorizing December's activities into these subsections: events we should attend; events we must attend; and events we need an excuse not to attend. 

But as I said, on this the first Sunday of the Church Year, we're not gong to spend a lot of time with the question, "Are you ready for Christmas?" That's because December 25th, that day, which may or may not be the actual birthday of the Savior, will come whether you are ready or not. No, this message prefers to have you answer the question, "Are you ready for the second coming of the Christ, God's Son, the world's Savior?" 

And before you offer a quick and hasty answer, please take a few moments and see what happened the first time Jesus entered our world. Take a look and note that most of the principles involved in the Christmas story were quite unprepared for Jesus' coming. They should have been prepared for Christmas and Christ, but they weren't.

Consider Mary and Joseph. Angelic visits and dreams sent by the Lord told them that God's Son was going to be born. Having a pretty good idea of when Jesus' birth would take place, they had time to get ready, but.... You know, the very day Pam and I were told we were going to have our first child, we began to prepare. That meant preparing the baby's nursery. It meant stuff, a lot of stuff, had to be purchased. Pam and I set forth to buy diapers both permanent and environmentally ruinous. We bought special food and special plates to hold the special food and special utensils to deliver the special food from the special plate to baby's special mouth. 

Showers were thrown by both families as well as the sweet ladies of our church. When they were done, our mountain of stuff had become an entire mountain range of stuff. Believe me when I tell you, our baby was given stuff I had never heard of; stuff that, to this very day, I still don't know how to use. Even so, I was assured that all of this stuff was necessary if we were to be good parents, caring parents, prepared parents. All this stuff was necessary if we were ever to be truly ready for our baby's arrival. 

In contrast to that, take a look at Mary and Joseph. They had been warned that the Virgin was to bear a Child and His Name would be 'Jesus.' But when Caesar's census took them to Bethlehem, they seem spectacularly unprepared. They took no camel caravan loaded with disposable diapers; they called up no Bethlehem family members to see if they had extra rooms; they didn't go online to make a reservation at the inn. When the Baby started to be born, Scripture mentions no doctor or midwife to provide wisdom, support, and assistance. Jesus, God's Son, our newborn Savior is wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in an animal's feeding trough.

Were people ready for Jesus' first coming? Not hardly. The educated Magi of the East were smart enough to identify a new star in the sky and they surmised this heavenly object might have some kingly significance. Some of them were even bold enough to follow that star to wherever it might lead. Still, they didn't know the star's final objective was a house in Bethlehem. On the contrary, they guessed that if there really was a newborn king he would be in residence at the palace. Their ill-advised question to Herod, "Where is the new king of the Jews" set into motion a tragedy of terrible consequence. Of course that catastrophe came only after Herod had visited with his priests and Bible scholars who were well acquainted with the many Messianic promises and prophecies of the Old Testament. He had to check with them about Jesus' coming because, he was clueless as to where the Redeemer was to be born. 

Were they ready for Christmas? They weren't. The people of Jerusalem didn't put together a delegation to invite the Holy Family to their fair city. They didn't put together a ticker tape parade for Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus. Jerusalem's mayor didn't present them with a key to the city, nor did they place Jesus' star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. The Enquirer didn't run a front-page story about Him and the paparazzi didn't follow the Holy Family from one spot to another. Nobody was ready for Jesus' coming because, after waiting a few thousand years, nobody had thought such an event might happen during their lifetimes. 

That is why, for Jesus' first coming the only guests who showed up were the shepherds of Bethlehem. Understand, they didn't show up because they were prepared. They weren't. They went to bed and would have stayed in bed if an angel hadn't shown up and proclaimed the Good News that Jesus had been born. And, if that wasn't enough, a heavenly chorus offered an explanation of the Savior's significance and how He would bring peace to fearful minds, troubled consciences, and frightened, sin-covered souls. Were people ready for Jesus' first coming? They weren't. It was sad, but it wasn't tragic. 

No, not being prepared for Jesus' first coming wasn't a total disaster. That's because the Lord gave those folks some wiggle room. If they lived long enough, and if they paid attention, they would have been privileged to see things which never happened before and will never happen again. Lepers were miraculously cleansed and the dead were brought back from their graves. The blind were given sight and those who were unloved found a Friend. Sins were forgiven and strength came back to withered legs. With a word Jesus stilled a storm and with a few blessed loaves and fish He fed a great and hungry crowd. 

But there was more; so much more these first century folks could have observed. If they had followed Jesus and listened to Him, I mean really listened to Him, they could easily have concluded that Jesus spoke as no man has ever spoken. He called for people to love their enemies and forgive each other an unlimited number of times. He threw out the man-made rules of the proud Pharisees and He redefined the laws of the Lord in terms of love. He called people to repentance and those who came found their consciences healed and their minds and hearts at peace. 

During His ministry Jesus fulfilled all the identifying prophecies which had been made about the world's Redeemer. He was the Son of God, but He picked up little children in His arms and blessed them. And then, after He had done all which His Father had asked of Him in His living, He shouldered our sins and allowed Himself to be arrested. His church which should have been the first to recognize Him, preferred to orchestrate His death. His government turned a deaf ear to the truth and sent a knowingly Innocent Soul to the cross. 

That is how, according to God's prophecy and plan, Jesus ended up hanging on a wooden cross and dying the death which really belonged to humanity. The story of Jesus' end would have been tragic if it were the story of His end; but it wasn't. The sadness of His death was surpassed three days later by the news of His resurrection victory over the grave. On the day the living Lord broke death's shackles and came out of that borrowed tomb, God ushered in a new age of hope, forgiveness, and salvation which are given to all who were brought to faith in the risen Redeemer. 

You see, my friends, those who were not ready for Jesus' first coming were given some time, some wiggle room. They were given the time and opportunity to see God's mercy and grace change the world, and for those who believed, find their eternities had been changed as well. That will not be the case for those who are unprepared for Jesus' second and final coming to this earth. Those who have faith in Jesus will welcome that moment of deliverance from the world of sin; but for those who are unprepared; who have not repented of their sins; that day will be most frightening. The day of Jesus' second coming will have no wiggle room. There will be no second chances, no negotiations, no reprieves, no continuance offered by the Divine court. 

That is the warning of the church during this season of Advent. It is a warning clearly laid out by Jesus Himself. Luke recorded the Savior's words. He said, "watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth." Did you understand that? Let me make it easier. Years ago I came across a Catechism which was used in Norwegian churches. There was a story in that book which went something like this. 

One day, God the Father called all the unborn souls to His side and spoke to them. He said He was going to send us to this "island colony called 'the earth.'" After describing what our life would be like here, our Lord finished by saying: "The greatest danger you face is falling in love with this island. When that happens, you will not want to return to the home-kingdom and be with me." God said, "Love the island earth because it is my possession, but do not love it because it is your home. Your home is in this heaven with Me. Some day the end will come and Jesus will take home to heaven those who have been given faith in Him as Savior. But those who love this island earth more than they love Him, will not be forced to come. For them that day will be most sad, indeed.'"

Well, my friends, here we are on this island colony called the earth. Death can come at any time. Jesus can come back at any time. Are you ready? This is the time to believe. This is the time to be embraced in the love of the Lord. Are you ready? I give thanks if you are. And if you're not... please, let us help you get ready. Call us at The Lutheran Hour. Amen. 

LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for November 29, 2015
Topic: Supposed Biblical Inconsistencies - Part 2

ANNOUNCER: Are we saved by faith, or good works, or both? That'll be our question today for our Speaker Emeritus, Pastor Ken Klaus. I'm Mark Eischer.

KLAUS: Hello, Mark. Good to be here. 

ANNOUNCER: Today we have another question concerning apparent contradictions in the Bible. 

KLAUS: That's right-apparent contradictions. It's not that Scripture is wrong, but that we might not fullyunderstand what it's telling us. 

ANNOUNCER: A listener writes, "...as I read Scripture, I have often encountered passages that give me trouble. One text says one thing and another passage seems to say something quite different, perhaps even contradictory."

KLAUS: I've also encountered passages like that. 

ANNOUNCER: Our listener would like some help in reconciling two passages. The first of them comes from the second chapter of Ephesians where we read: "For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast"(Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV). 

KLAUS: That's pretty straightforward and easy to understand. We are saved, not by our own good works, the things we do, but by God's grace, received by faith.

ANNOUNCER: But then there's this, from Romans, chapter 2. There, speaking about Judgment Day, St. Paul says the Lord... "Will render to each one according to his works..." (Romans 2:6). And in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus talks about separating those who are saved from those who are condemned on the basis of whether or not they visited people in prison, or helped the poor, or fed the hungry. So, which is it? Are we saved by faith or by our good deeds?

KLAUS: It's an important question, but it boils down to that last statement: are we saved by faith, or works, or both? It's a question the Church has discussed for a very long time. 

ANNOUNCER: What's the bottom line? 

KLAUS: Let's make it simple: we are saved through God-given faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Period. A minute ago, we read that passage from Romans where it says the Lord will reward each person according to his actions. But that same book also says, "And to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, (that is, Jesus) that person's faith is counted as righteousness" (Romans 4:5 ESV). It's simple. To the one who doesn't work, he is still saved. That point is also clarified in Romans 11:6 where it says, "But if (salvation) is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace."

ANNOUNCER: In other words, if we have to work our way into heaven, then we are saved, not by Jesus, but through our own efforts. 

KLAUS: Exactly.

ANNOUNCER: But why does the Lord say He's going to reward us according to what we do? Why does Jesus talk about judging us on the basis of how we treated those who are less fortunate?

KLAUS: And that's still the rub, isn't it?


KLAUS: There is an answer... actually a very simple answer. That answer is found in the book of James, where it says, "Faith without works is dead." In other words, if you have faith in your heart, it is going to bubble up somewhere and express itself in good deeds in service to God and others. You simply can't stop it. And you may even be unaware of it happening. 

ANNOUNCER: Could you cite an example of that?

KLAUS: You bet. Let's take a look at the thief on the cross who was there hanging next to Jesus. 

ANNOUNCER: That's the one who said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

KLAUS: That one, Mark. If ever there was a man who could be excused for not having his faith produce good works, it's this poor guy. What can he do? He's running out of time and breath. He's pinned to a cross. He's totally helpless! But take a look; the man utters three lines and in those three sentences--he proclaims Jesus to be innocent of any wrongdoing--he confesses his own sins--and he asks the King of Kings to remember him in the heavenly kingdom which is to come. That man's faith did produce good works! And so it is for us. Our good deeds do not earn us heaven, but they express our gratitude to the Savor Who got us there.

ANNOUNCER: And here we stand 2,000 years later and the words of that thief and Jesus' response to him, "This day you will be with me in paradise ," have given hope and comfort to millions. Thank you, Pastor Klaus. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Action in Ministry for November 29, 2015
Guest: Rev. Ken Klaus

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action in Ministry. The subject of Christ's return raises many questions. When people open up the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, they're going to find images of falling stars, golden lampstands, strange flying creatures covered with eyes, mysterious scrolls, a dragon; it's confusing, often misunderstood, and perhaps even downright scary. Our Speaker Emeritus, Pastor Ken Klaus, has written about this is a resource titled Explaining All the Scary Stuff in Revelation

KLAUS: Thanks for having me, Mark.

ANNOUNCER: Pastor Klaus, why is the book of Revelation so different from the rest of Scripture?

KLAUS: Mark, the Bible has any number of different kinds of writing. There's historical writing such as you're going to find in the book of Judges. There's wisdom literature which deals with the great questions of life. Proverbs would fit into that category. There's poetry such as found in the book of Psalms. There are the gospels; the life story of Jesus. You've got the epistles; 21 letters to individuals and churches throughout the ancient world which tells how that gospel found direct application in the lives of people. There are prophetic books which foretell and forth tell the future in God's plans. And then there's apocalyptic writing, such as the book of Revelation. Revelation was written somewhere towards the end of the first century and that's the point in time when Christians are really starting to be singled out and being persecuted by the Roman government. And that persecution really centers big time, heavy duty persecution taking place in Asia Minor which is our present-day Turkey. 

ANNOUNCER: All right. 

KLAUS: Revelation deals with questions that people start to ask under persecution. Has God lost control? Is this the way it's supposed to be? What's going to happen? What's tomorrow going to bring? In order to answer those questions that His people are asking, God speaks to a man named John, most people say that he was the Apostle John, and speaks to John in symbols to write to His people. Some of the meaning to those symbols have been forgotten now, at least among most people, and that's why most people when they read Revelation, get confused. 

ANNOUNCER: The title of this resource is Explaining the Scary Stuff in Revelation. Some would say that this book is so fantastical; so filled with cryptic and misunderstood imagery that it doesn't even seem real, so how do we make sense of it? 

KLAUS: I said a moment ago Revelation uses symbols. Now we have symbols in our own culture that as long as you understand those symbols, it makes sense. For example, if I asked you what's a lucky number?


KLAUS: I think most people would agree with that. If I said what's an unlucky number...

ANNOUNCER: Oh definitely 13.

KLAUS: You need to learn the symbols. 

ANNOUNCER: All right, but now you're a trained theologian; you've had many years of pastoral experience; how about us? How would the average person be able to approach this for personal study?

KLAUS: The easiest way...I would love to say, is download....take a look at our video because in that we are going to give you the answers to all of those symbols. And believe it or not, it makes Revelation very easy to understand. I mean really.

ANNOUNCER: And how did the events described in Revelation mean, perhaps, different things to the believer versus the non-believer?

KLAUS: The believer is going to find out once again that God is in control here. The book of Revelation is cyclical. It moves forward but it keeps repeating itself, which means that the people who first read it were very affected by it. The people in the last times, when Jesus comes again, are going to be affected. But in between the beginning and the end, the book of Revelation speaks to all of us. It's applicable for everyone. Unbeliever, well, if he has any respect for Scripture, he's going to get very confused by it, and in all probability, very afraid.

ANNOUNCER: Now, as a believer in Christ, we know everything's going to be okay. This is a message of comfort for us; but how do we wrestle with all this scary stuff when we, perhaps, have friends or family who do not believe?

KLAUS: I think it changes our perspective on things, Mark. We take a look at the book of Revelation and it says that Jesus' people are going to be winners. In the early church when Christians came to town, said "Those who have turned the world upside down have come here." The Christians are repeatedly talked about as being filled with joy even under difficult times. We need to invite unbelievers back to a Christianity of power, of joy, of peace, and forgiveness in Jesus Christ, our Savior.

ANNOUNCER: Pastor Ken Klaus helping us to understand the message of encouragement that is contained within the book of Revelation. Pastor, thanks for being with us. 

KLAUS: And thanks for having me, Mark.

ANNOUNCER: The name of this resource is Explaining All the Scary Stuff in Revelation. To view or download this material for free, go to www.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.

"Savior of the Nations, Come" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"Once He Came in Blessing" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)




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Funeral Luncheon Help For this Thursday!


Ladies Aid will serve a luncheon following Dianne Hance's  funeral at St. John's on Thursday, December 3rd.  Funeral,11 am, luncheon following


We need donations of salads, vegetables and desserts only.   No hot dishes.


If you would like to donate a dish please call Lil Winter @ 636-585-2525; Joan Sexton, 636-456-5437 or Nancy Peterson, 660-619-8474.  


We could use some help with clean up after the luncheon since some of our ladies are unavailable to serve.  Perhaps 2 of our PALS would be able to volunteer.  Please let me know by e-mail,  lindacallies@centurylink.net  or call me at 636-456-4228.


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