"Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide, For round us falls the eventide. O let Your Word, that saving light, Shine forth undimmed into the night.
"In these last days of great distress, Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness That we keep pure till life is spent, Your holy Word and Sacrament."
Throughout the church year, in the Scripture readings and hymns of our worship, we have followed the life of our Lord and the growth of the early church. We have grown in grace as we celebrated all that God has done, and is doing, in our lives. Now we are approaching the end of the church year. As we look to the new church year that will begin in Advent, we turn our attention to the last days and the end of this world's history at Jesus' Second Advent.
We do not know when our Lord will return. We do not waste time trying to guess information that is not revealed in Scripture and that is not for us to know. We do know that we are living in the last days, the time extending from Jesus' earthly ministry and ascension until His return on the Day of Judgment. Our hymn describes them as "days of great distress." The inspired apostles warned that these days will be difficult. Paul writes that "people will be lovers of self ... treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:2a, 4). Peter warns that unbelievers will mock Jesus' own words because they do not believe that He is coming back: "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation" (2 Peter 3:4b).
As the darkness of sin deepens around us, we pray that Jesus would abide with us with the shining light of His Word. That Word is "a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns" (2 Peter 1:19b), the day of Jesus' return. We ask that God would help us by His Spirit to remain steadfast in faith. His gifts of Word and Sacrament fill us with hope and courage as we face these days of great distress. In the Sacrament of the altar, we have the sure and certain promise of Jesus' presence—right now—in His body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of our sins. In His Word we hear Jesus' promise that we will, in time, enjoy the fullness of His glorious presence in a way we have never known before. He said, "Surely I am coming soon." In the darkness of these last days, we reply with joy, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20b).
WE PRAY: Lord Jesus, keep me strong in faith in these last days. I look forward to Your return. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn "Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide" which is number 585 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Why is Christmas a good time to review the year just past and look forward to our lives ahead?
2. How does God's Word and the Sacraments help us stay on track in our spiritual lives?
3. In life's frenetic hustle and bustle, it's hard to imagine the world coming to an end. What do you think about when you think of the end of the world?
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