Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
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November 2014

ABIDE WITH ME!

Is there anything or anyone we can depend on in this life?

The Temple and its massive structure on the top of Mount Zion was the one thing that that the Jewish people felt they could depend upon as a symbol of permanence in troubled times.

And so when Jesus told them, "Do you see all these great buildings? ... Not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down," (Mark 13:2) it was even more disturbing.

You may not look to a specific building for security the way the Jews looked to the Temple, but what is it in your life that you look to for stability and certainty in your life? What is it that you treasure the most? What gives you your identity? What is it that you look to in order to fulfill your hopes and desires? What is it that you count on in the midst of an ever changing world?

Picture the things that you treasure the most as being massive stones in your life:

With that picture in mind, ponder anew the impact of these words of Jesus when he says, "Not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down."

The more we live in this world, the more we are faced with the reality that everything around us seems to be crumbling. We live in a dying world. The people we care about are in the midst of of dying or already dead. Our own bodies are wearing out and feeling the strains of age. The things that once seemed so reliable in our lives aren't so dependable. Relationships change. People change. Institutions change. Nothing seems to have the permanence we long for.

But, in the midst of this entire discourse found in Mark 13 where Jesus describes the uncertainty of this world, He also emphasizes the permanence of the Gospel message that is to be preached to all nations before His coming again. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the one thing we are to look for in the midst of all the tumult and changes in this fallen world. God's love for us in Christ, who suffered and died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and our salvation, is the one thing we can depend on in uncertain times.

Jesus is the true Temple of God, which the Temple building only served to point others to.

For He is God in flesh. As He reveals in John: 30, "I and the Father are one".

He is the one who in charge of all the political powers. As Jesus told Pilate in John 19: 11, ''You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above."

He is the person who helps us communicate with God. As He says in John 10:27, "My sheep listen to my voice..."

He is the person who gives God's people their identity. As He says in the latter half of verse 27, "I know my sheep and they follow me".

He is the person on whom our hope for the future rests. As He says in the following verse, John 10:28: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand".

Jesus was saying to the Jews, don't think about the Temple as a building anymore; think about it as a person. Don't think about God as limited to one place any more, think about God as being omnipresent, Don't think about yourselves as having to go up to the Temple to affirm your identity, but think of yourselves as ones who hear my voice and follow me.

Even when your life doesn't make any sense at all, even though you must go through many trials and tribulations, and experience much grief and loss in this life, keep in mind above all else, that God's love for you in Jesus Christ will never change.

As Romans 8:38-39 confidently states, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord".

Rev. Henry F. Lyte (born June 1st, 1793 and died, November 20th, 1847) was the pastor of a little seaside congregation for more than 24 years, used to ministering to those who experienced tragedy at sea and tasting the bitter cup of sudden death. Eventually, Lyte grew sick and was advised to retire from the ministry and retire to a warmer climate in Southern Europe. On his last message to his parishioners, when he was so sick he could barely stand. He gathered up all his strength and spoke to the people with all the sincerity of the dying man that he was, saying: "I stand among you today as alive from the dead, that I may hope to impress upon you to prepare for that solemn hour which must come to us all, by a timely acquaintance with, appreciation of and a dependence on the death of Christ".

Many tears were shed as the people gathered around for the farewell communion service, before at last he gave his final blessing to the congregations.

That evening, Lyte penned the words of his now famous hymn, "Abide with me", based upon the words of the two disciples described in Luke 24 who on the Road to Emmaus who urged Jesus to stay with, for it was nearly evening and the day was almost over". Two weeks later he died, with the parting words on his lips, "Peace, Joy".

As the evening of your life draws nearer and nearer, may you find comfort in Jesus abiding presence, as you look to Him as the author and finisher of your faith, knowing that His love for you will never change. As Hebrews 13:8 reminds us, "He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever!"

Like Lyte, may you experience the peace that passes human understanding and the joy unspeakable in knowing Jesus as the Rock of your Salvation!

As you go through all the changes in your life, I invite you to pray the following words from Lyte's hymn, as a reminder of the sure hope that you have in Your Savior:

  1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
     
  2. Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
    Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
    Change and decay in all around I see
    O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
     
  3. I need Thy presence every passing hour;
    What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's pow'r?
    Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
     
  4. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
    Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
     
  5. Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
    Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
    In life, in death, 0 Lord, abide with me.

The Peace of Knowing Jesus as the Rock of your Salvation be with you always!

Pastor Wendt

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