2nd Sunday in Advent LSB #’s 349, 352, 375
Text – Ephesians 6:10-11
Finally, be strong in the Lord & in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Praying, COME, LORD JESUS, to Him Who Has Come to Defeat the Devil
“Come, Lord Jesus be our guest & let Thy gifts to us be blessed. Amen.” So goes the common table prayer sometimes referred to as the “Come Lord Jesus” prayer. Perhaps you’ve been in a group at church getting ready to eat when someone says, “Ok, let’s pray ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’” The intent is for Jesus to come & bless our food in service to Him.
But this Advent we will pray “Come, Lord Jesus” in another way. Advent literally means “coming,” &, of course, refers to the Lord Jesus. It is important that we focus on these words because “Come, Lord Jesus” is the final message of Holy Scripture. This revelation reminds us that the Advent prayer for Jesus’ coming should always be on our lips.
Revelation 22:20 records Jesus’ parting words, “Yes, I am coming soon!” & then St. John provides our response, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” During this season of Advent, we will pray “Come, Lord Jesus” in relation to the 3 different “comings” of Christ – His past, present & future comings.
Today, we focus on what Jesus accomplished in His 1st coming. On Wednesday, our attention will be aimed at His present coming in Word & Sacrament. After that, we will look toward His future coming when He returns on the Final Day.
Prayer for Jesus’ presence is not only for church services but is something needed every day, not only as a brief meal prayer but as a time of daily devotion. Advent devotions are quite popular. You can find them in many places. There are Advent devotion booklets, or you can set up your email to receive an Advent devotion every day. “Come, Lord Jesus” on the internet! This is such an important practice. Especially in today’s world where we & members of our families are bombarded by so many non-Christian messages, hearing God’s word every day is critical. Therefore, in each of our Advent sermons I will be encouraging daily devotions. People who do them tell me what a blessing they are! Consider this scenario:
Members of a family, be it a household of one, two, three or more, sit down every day to hear a devotion on the word of God & to enter into a time of prayer. The word they read helps shape their lives in the strength & hope of the Lord, instead of the bitterness & dissatisfaction of the world!
Daily devotions also lead to engaging God in personal conversation, thanking Him for blessings while seeking His help & guidance for the day’s work. It is only for a brief time of perhaps no more than 15 minutes, but it is a daily practice. They don’t want to live without it!
“Ok, pastor, I hear you, but have you tried to do daily devotions?” someone might say. Some people have this down pat, but for a lot of folks, it is a real struggle. Let’s be honest. It is not as easy as it sounds to dedicate time to daily devotions, even if it’s only during Advent.
Logically, you might think, “It sounds like no problem. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. I don’t see anything hard about taking 15 of those minutes, about 1 percent of my day, to do a reading & say a prayer.” But more than logical calculations are required. This is a spiritual activity. When we have devotions we are praying, “Come, Lord Jesus” into our day.
There are spiritual forces that do not want Jesus to come to us. That spiritual opposition is why daily devotions, & also weekly church attendance, can be difficult. Worshipping one or two hours a week, taking 15 minutes daily for a devotion, would not be so hard if not for the spiritual battle. What is sometimes called the “unholy trinity” is working against us.
The devil, our sinful flesh, & the world are all bitterly opposed to our receiving the Word
of God & praying, “Come, Lord Jesus” into our daily lives. Consider this: “Hey, it’s time for devotions.” “Oh, I can’t today. I have homework to finish before school.” Or, “I’m so tired. I just can’t pay attention. Let’s not do devotions today.” Comments like those sound innocent, but they fulfill the devil’s schemes & they reveal our natural resistance to the Word of God.
If we do manage to sit down & have a devotion, the evil one will scheme even more to prevent the planting of God’s Word in our heart. “Hey honey, I’ve got a big project due at work & need to get going. Can we skip the Bible reading & just say a really short prayer?” Or, after the devotion you realize, “Wow, I have no idea what I just read! My mind was elsewhere.”
Or, consider this common family devotional distraction, “Can you kids please sit still while we read the Bible story!” So says the exasperated parent as a toddler runs to grab a toy.
One place in Scripture where opposition to God’s Word by evil forces is revealed is in the parable of the Sower. As Matthew records it, Jesus has been experiencing growing opposition to His preaching & teaching. The religious sect of the Pharisees was actively resisting Jesus’ words & the crowds were showing they did not comprehend.
Jesus uses the parable of the Sower to explain the opposition, describing the unholy trinity as the sources of resistance to God’s word. “A farmer went out to sow seeds for his crop. Some fell along the path & birds ate them. Other seed fell on rocky ground but the plants had no roots & withered in the hot sun. Some fell amidst thorns that grew & choked the young plants.”
Jesus explains that the seed represents His message. The images of birds, rocky ground & choking thorns represent the devil, our sinful hearts & the fallen world. These evil forces are opposed to God’s message for us. Jesus teaches that the birds who ate up the seed represent the evil one who desires to snatch the word of God away from us.
The devil knows that the truth of God’s word is his undoing. The last thing that the
“father of lies,” as Jesus calls him elsewhere, wants you to know is the truth that God has saved you & defeated him. Satan will use every scheme possible to prevent our hearing of God’s Word. For emphasis – he will use every scheme possible to prevent us from hearing God’s word!
That’s why daily devotions can be such a struggle; indeed, a spiritual battle. It is nothing less than spiritual warfare for us to daily pray “Come, Lord Jesus” in regular devotion.
It was in order to defeat the evil one that Jesus first came. Our focus today is: “COME, LORD JESUS,” who has overcome our arch enemy – Satan. We say this confidently because our Lord has already come & defeated him through His completed work of redemption. That was His 1st coming, & it was quite a battle!
From the moment of Jesus’ birth, the devil was on the attack. As the so-called god of this world he was inspiring Herod to kill baby Jesus. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry Satan met Him directly in the wilderness to tempt Him away from His mission. Our Lord defeated him with the word of God.
During his ministry, Jesus would silence & cast out evil spirits that knew who He was. When the devil tempted His disciples, especially Judas & Peter, Jesus overcame the power of the evil one. While Jesus Himself was attacked & tempted by the devil in every way, He did not sin. He did not sin & thus absorbed God’s judgment on our sin.
In dying for our sins, Jesus erased the hold that Satan had on us. The accuser can no longer make a claim on us. After he died, before rising from the dead, Jesus “descended into hell,” as we say in the Apostles’ Creed, to announce victory over the forces of the evil one. Therefore, we confidently pray: “COME, LORD JESUS” who has come & defeated the devil.
With the parable of the Sower, our Lord unmasks & exposes the devil. He defeated him
at His crucifixion & resurrection. And, he has defeated Satan for us! That is why we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” & desire to do so daily.
In a great passage about Jesus protecting us from evil forces, St. Paul says that Christians are to put on the “armor of God.” In Ephesians, he writes that we do not wrestle with mere flesh & blood but against “the spiritual forces of evil.” Then the Son of God says to “take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand the evil day.”
This divine protection is described as a gift of Jesus’ righteousness that protects our hearts. It is our shield of faith – trusting in His blood-bought forgiveness – that extinguishes Satan’s flaming arrows of accusation. It is Jesus’ resurrection that gives hope instead of despair as we wear a helmet of salvation.
These gifts are promised by God’s word & declared to us personally in our baptisms in the name of the Triune God. Yes, because Jesus has defeated the devil, we daily desire to pray, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”
Along with the spiritual armor of Christ that we wear, St. Paul also describes a specific weapon that is used against the spiritual forces of evil. It is, & I quote, “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Jesus used it to defeat the devil in the wilderness temptations. We too are invited to use His word to frustrate & defeat the devil in our lives.
This is why we encourage one another to practice daily devotions. As I said before, this is not easy because it is a spiritual battle. So we need to encourage one another! Some of us may already be doing devotions. Others of us may never have done them. Still others tried but have not continued. We fell out of the habit, gave up in frustration, or simply felt too busy.
I’m simply asking you to consider doing a very SHORT daily devotion. We provide the Portals of Prayer & some copies of Daily Bread. Many others are available, such as a daily devotion emailed by the Lutheran Hour Ministries. One thought is simply to start reading the Bible & having a prayer. In the future we can discuss more about what you can choose to do. For now let’s focus on praying to Jesus to come & help us in this task. None of us can defeat the devil. Jesus already has.
So with His help this Advent season, we join in praying “Come, Lord Jesus,” not just to bless our food but all of life each & every day. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
Let the earth now praise the Lord, Who has truly kept His word & at last to us did send Christ, the sinner’s help & friend. As Your coming was in peace, quiet, full of gentleness, let the same mind dwell in me which is Yours eternally. Then when You will come again as the glorious king to reign, I with joy will see Your face, freely ransomed by Your grace. Amen. LSB 352:1, 3, 6.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet