Advent Preparation! Romans 13:8-14

November 29, 2020
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

"Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!" Jesus our King came in humility to bear our burden of sin to the cross. Still He comes to us through His Word and Sacraments. Soon He will come to judge the world and redeem our bodies from sin and all its effects. The hymnist asks, "O Lord, How shall I meet You?" In Roman 13:8-14 we find the Holy Spirit's answer. Sermon for Ad Te Levavi - the 1st Sunday in Lent, 29-November-20, preached at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tell City, Indiana by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert.

Episode Notes

Ad Te Levavi - The First Sunday In Advent                         29-Nov.-20
Sermon Text: Romans 13:8-14
Sermon Theme: “Advent Preparation!” written by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

I.N.R.I. “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” ‘Pastor,” you think, “you better check the calendar, we just celebrated thanksgiving, Christmas comes first and then a new year.” That is how the world’s viewpoint. A Christian isn’t conformed to this world, but is transformed by the mind renewing promise of God in Christ Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate the beginning of a new church year. A year closer to the end of this present evil age. Closer to the dayof our Savior’s glorious physical return to open all the graves, raise all the dead, and to separate all who believe in Him by grace from those who have chosen to reject Him trusting in their own reason and strength.
      In God’s economy the “new year” came long before that first Christmas when the only begotten Son of God was born from the flesh of the Virgin Mary. When history was the darkest, in the cool of the day, when man was the coldest - dead spiritually and rejoicing to run with Satan - the Lord God came seeking our father Adam and his wife. God hid Himself in His Word preached to call them to repent and believe the Good News of the Promised Savior - the Head Crusher - to be born of a Virgin Mother to take our place in the war with the Serpent Satan and win us the victory by laying down His life for us. Clinging to God’s Promise a new year of faith, hope, grace, and love broke upon this world it came long before the first Christmas, but always anticipated it.
      Deer hunters know that before the day breaks often the world seems its darkest and coldest. Advent marks a new year with Jesus riding to rejection and crucifixion in Jerusalem. Christ’s cradle without His cross doesn’t save sinners. Jeremiah preached of the raising up of David’s righteous Branch. He would be executed that justice and righteousness might flood the land from His cross inflicted wounds. The Lord Is Our Righteousness because He laid down His life for us sheep who love straying following our own feelings, the world’s glitter, and Satan’s lies.
The royal violet of Advent calls to our mind the suffering of our King to save us. It calls us to begin the new year by repenting - turn away from our own wisdom, feelings, and invented spirituality - turn away from the world’s fears, philosophies, and idols - turn away from Satan’s religious lies and accusations that you haven’t done enough to stand before Christ on Judgment Day. Believe - fix your focus - only on the crucified and risen body of the Lamb of God - Jesus - who once and for all has taken away the sins of the world. Repent and believe that in Him you are declare righteous - reconciled and renewed to your loving Heavenly Father.
    Repent and believe the Gospel this is the true: “Advent Preparation!”
    Next to the Gospel of John, St. Paul’s letter to the Romans should be read, re-read, studied, and chewed upon by a Christian. Here God the Holy Spirit prepares us for Jesus’ second Advent with the call in the first three chapters to “Repent” be honest and confess your own sin. Then from the end of the third chapter through the 11th He calls us to believe the “Good News” that we are saved by grace, through faith for Christ’s sake alone. Beginning with chapter 12 the Holy Spirit instructs us how our Gospel given faith shines in the darkness of this sin infected groaning world. In this past Church year we have witnessed the fear of death which drives this present evil age. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of many, others refuse to believe that their government is working for their good and rebel. At the beginning of chapter 13 the Holy Spirit through St. Paul calls us to be subject to the governing authorities. All authority that exists is appointed by God for restraining evil by the punishing sword. This is what we learn under the 4th Commandment.
    The Government is to maintain the rule of law and order in this world, but it has no jurisdiction over the conscience. That is it cannot order you what you must believe - it may restrict outward acts, but cannot rule over conscience. The heart belongs to God alone. Advent preparation begins within our heart. (Vs.8) With all the black Friday and cyber Monday purchase we spend ourselves into debt trying to get the perfect gift to prove our love. Perhaps the greatest gift we can give to our family members is simply our love - spending time listening to them and appreciating the gift the Lord has given us in them. Seeing Jesus in them and the opportunity to serve our Lord as we cheerfully pour out our lives to care for them, to nurture them in God’s Word, and to pray with them.
      The government has no rule over conscience, but God’s Word does. Human conscience not governed by God’s Word will always be captive to Satan. Satan as a white devil fills us with spiritual lies to lead us away from gathering in Christ’s Church and serving our neighbor in our daily callings. St. Paul ties love to God’s clear Word. (Vs.9) Paul includes commandments 5-10. The 4th came at the beginning of this chapter. He places the 6th before the 5th, for human life is to have its origin in the sanctity and gift of marriage. Before our nation began slaughtering the unborn it first desecrated marriage. A family has the right to private property and to be assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Sinful desiring of that which the Lord God hasn’t entrusted to us destroys many families and individuals who bow to the false god of greed. All these commandments are summarized in God’s Word preached by Jesus - “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Our world perverts this back to idolatry of self with the lie that you can’t love others until you love self - it is a lie. Here is the truth of God’s Word in this advent tide - act like you love others - serve them in love according to God’s Commandments and your feelings will fall in line. As much as you prepare with packages, lights, ribbons and bows - daily drown the old selfish sinful self and rise forgiven in Christ Jesus’ love that you shower upon one another. (Vs.10) Christian love seeks to build up, reclaim, and restore the lost hurting neighbor - for that is exactly what God the Father has done for sinners like me in Christ Jesus.
    The alarm is sounding! Stop hitting the snooze button! COVID was another alarm calling you to wake up! (Vs. 11-12) Dear Christian get up! Don’t allow the world to lull you back to slumbering in sin by its flashing screens and empty dramas of Christ-less Christmases. Virtual reality isn’t reality - it is a lie. Open your ears to see through God’s Word. Salvation is nearer - each month we draw nearer the Day of our Redemption. Throw off the grave clothes of the works of darkness - of your former conduct. Be clothed for the battle with the armor of light.
    What is this armor of light? Paul writes, “2 Corinthians 6:7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,” It is the armor clothed upon you in your baptism. Begin each day casting off the works of darkness and begin with who you are a baptized child of God bought and paid for on the cross and marked by Him as His own. Confess the Faith given you in Holy Baptism and sustained in you by the Gospel preached within Christ Church - your local congregation. Pray the very prayer that King Jesus now intercedes with for you before the throne of His Father in heaven and let God the Holy Spirit comfort and strengthen you through His Word.
    Go cheerfully into the battle daily as Luther instructs you: Then go joyfully to your work, singing a hymn, like that of the Ten Commandments, or whatever your devotion may suggest. (Vs.13-14). The battle has been won for you on Calvary. It is clothed upon you in baptismal water, declared to you in freeing words of absolution, fed you in Gospel preaching and in Bread and Wine at the Lord’s Table. No longer stumble in the darkness of this world. The world celebrates the new year with parties, drunkenness, lewdness, lust, fighting, and wanting what others have. Not you dear Christian! Be clothed with the Lord - Yahweh the God of Creation who humbled Himself to save you by His once for all sacrifice on the cross. He is “Jesus” the only “Savior of Sinners.” He is “Christ” “Messiah” the Ruler over all things in heaven and on earth.   Clothed in Him you can confess with St. Paul - Galatians 2:19-21 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. (20) I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (21) I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
Happy New Year! Amen.

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