November 2, 2011
(Jesus said) "Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." Luke 15:7
It's only been a few days since the president announced that before the end of the year our soldiers will be returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Actually, he said, they "will definitely be home for the holidays."
Our soldiers will be home for Christmas.
No matter what a person's politics might be, the idea that "mother" or "father," "son" or "daughter" will be reunited with family and friends to celebrate the Savior's birth had to be welcomed with the greatest of enthusiasm.
It's the kind of wonderful event for which both adults and children have hoped, dreamt and prayed about.
Jesus says that kind of joy is a pale comparison to the elation which is felt in heaven when a sinner is brought to faith in the crucified and ever-living Savior. By the Holy Spirit's power when faith is instilled and sins are forgiven, a soul is moved from hell's horrors to heaven's happiness.
Of course, there is a difference between a soldier coming home and a soul being saved by the blood of Jesus.
When the holidays are over, maybe even before, the soldier will find he has returned to a non-perfect world. He will still be experiencing pains and problems, sadnesses and sorrows.
In contrast, the Christian who dies having been given faith in Jesus enters into an everlasting home of happiness.
That means no longer can that individual's period of joy be measured by any clock or calendar; he has become part of a family reunion where tears and sorrow, sadness and sickness are banished and joy is forever.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I pray that between now and when our soldiers return home they may be kept safe in body and soul. In these last days of the war may the forces of evil be kept far from their persons. Even as I pray for physical safety, I also pray for spiritual security. May every heart acknowledge Jesus as Savior so forgiveness may abound and everyone may become part of the great reunion in heaven, which is given to all who are part of the family of faith. In Jesus' Name I pray it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries