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Sermon for Pentecost 22

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Sermon for the 22 Sunday after Pentecost — Luke 18:9-14

October 24, 2010

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Today we get another parable from our Lord.  We’ve had a lot of them these past few months as we’ve worked our way through the gospel of Luke. Today’s parable will be the last for a while; next week is Reformation Day, and then All Saints, and then the beginning of Advent and then we turn to the gospel of Matthew.

But today we get this one last parable from Luke. It is a familiar one to most of us. Two men, Jesus says, went into the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.  Jesus tell his hearers it was the tax collector who found favor with God that day, not the elder or the member of the church council, er I mean the Pharisee.  It is a straightforward story, or so it seems, so why would I even say something like that?  Well really, because Pharisees weren’t all that bad.  Nice Jewish mothers wanted their sons to grow up to be Pharisees certainly not tax collectors.  He is a respectable, religious man–not too different from you and me. It is easy to caricature him, because he’s in conflict with Jesus because he just doesn’t get it.  Of course the disciples don’t get half the time either.  If we villianize the Pharisee, we make ourselves into the heroes instead of looking to see who he is, and we protect ourselves from seeing just how like him we are. So let’s look for a moment on the more positive side.

Well, both of these men are very serious about God. The Pharisee is not a hypocrite in the usual sense.  He is, after all, in the Temple-he’s not out playing golf on Sunday morning, or arguing that he can worship God just as well out in nature.  He’s in the Temple, praying.  He is a very devout man.  His words suggest that he tries to keep the law of God, indeed, he goes beyond what the law requires. He is a man committed to his religion as he understands it. And of course the tax collector is equally devout. His life is not what it should be, he knows that; and yet he hasn’t used his sinfulness as an excuse to try to hide from God. But this guy does not use his sinfulness as an excuse to hide from God.  You’ve met people like this.  They say, “Oh I could never go to church, it would fall in on me.  He, too, stands in the Temple, even if off to the side.  He’s serious about his faith.

Both these men are serious about their faith.  That illustrates some spiritual maturity. Those who are immature in their faith usually approach God with what they want God to do for them. They’re looking for the vending machine God; “God, fix this.  God heal this.”  And that’s not a wrong way to approach God it’s just an immature way.  Those who have lived longer with the mystery of God find their prayers most often arising out of thanks. And that is true of both these two. The tax collector is, in effect, thanking God for his mercy and forgiveness. He is grateful that he can even come into God’s presence, sinner that he is.

The Pharisee, in his own way is thanking God too. It’s easy to miss the point when we regard his gratitude as prideful hypocrisy. He’s knows his catechism frontwards and backwards.  He knows that God has created him and all that exists, that God has given him and still preserves his body and soul with all their powers. His words don’t have to be understood in the worst way. Who among us has not looked at someone in deep trouble, someone who has been trapped in poverty or crime or addiction or psychological illness, and recognized that if it were not for the grace of God it could be them.  That’s what we say isn’t it, “There but for the grace of God go I.” That’s not so different from our Pharisee. We could, if we were trying to “explain his actions in the kindest way” and say that what he does is to thank God for the grace that has preserved him and kept him in true faith. Couldn’t we read him that way? He’s not saying, “Thanks, God, that I’m so awesome,” but “Thank you, God, for the many gifts of grace you have given me, and for preserving me from thievery and adultery and all the rest.

And in his own way, each man is also giving honor to God by his prayer. The tax collector honors God for accepting him and loving him, as sinful as he is. The Pharisee honors God for his justice and even for God’s righteousness.  The Pharisee takes God’s commandments seriously.  He knows what it means to blaspheme God.  He knows God does not let folks off the hook.  The Pharisee is honoring God by regarding the commandments so highly.  So let’s not shout down the Pharisee too hard.  But here’s a big difference between these two.

The difference is this.  The Pharisee, when he comes before God, measures himself by looking downward. He picks the tax collector as his standard of comparison. When he compares himself to the tax collector, he looks at himself and says, “I might be bad off but at least I’m not as bad off as that guy.”  Let’s assume that the Pharisee is like us.  He knows he has his own faults, but he knows, as Helmut Thielicke puts it, “the wolves that howl in the cellar of his soul, the thoughts and desires that frighten him. But he has controlled them.” [Thielicke, p. 131] And so, when he looks downward at the tax collector, he feels relieved, off the hook. No matter what things may lurk in the darkness of his own heart, at least he’s not as bad as that guy.

Now the Pharisee’s problem takes on new meaning. We are sensitive enough to see that the kind of pride that we often understood in the Pharisee’s words is wrong; so we point our finger at the Pharisee so that we don’t have to point the finger at ourselves.  As long as there is someone else to whom we can compare ourselves-doesn’t much matter we can feel okay.

 

It was that time in the Jewish year when the Day of Atonement rolled around and the rabbi stood up and prayed very humbly, “O God, I’m so worthless to even come before you to ask your forgiveness, I’m a nobody, Lord.”  The chairman of the congregation is so moved by the humility of the rabbi, he stands up and prays, “O God, I’m so worthless to even come before you to ask your forgiveness, I’m a nobody, Lord.”  A man in the back of the congregation was so moved by the display of humility of the rabbi and the chairman of the congregation, he stands up and prays, “O God, I’m so worthless to even come before you to ask your forgiveness, I’m a nobody, Lord.”  And the chairman looks at the rabbi and says, “Who does this guy think he is, to think he’s a nobody?”

 

Even in humility we can find a source for pride.  That’s how corrupt we are.  Even humility is not a virtue which is immune to the pride of the human heart.

Why is it that we human beings get such satisfaction out of gossip? And today we don’t have to gossip the old fashioned way now, we can turn on the TV and all the latest gossip comes in from Hollywood and New York.  And we do it because when we talk about what someone else did, or said, or didn’t do, we can feel relieved that we, for all our faults, are at least not quite that bad.  When we compare ourselves to others, pride comes in.

But what about the tax collector? How does he approach God?  He stands before God alone, and makes no comparisons.  He could just as easily compared himself to the Pharisee hypocrite in front of him, “at least I’m not a prideful arrogant hypocrite like that Pharisee.”  But he doesn’t.   He stands before God, with his eyes downcast,  he is looking to God. He stands far off-and I suspect that means not so much that he was ashamed but simply that he was alone before God. He didn’t measure himself against any other person, but he measured himself against God. And when we measure yourself in that way, we find no room for pride. We see only your own lowliness-and therefore we only see God’s great mercy, God’s pure undeserved favor given to us, not because we are just a little bit better than that guy, but because Jesus was so good.  We claim him as ours, our sacrifice, as our righteousness.

You see, the eyes of God look into the heart and see what cannot be seen by human eyes. The Pharisee does not know that. He looks at the tax collector and he feels relieved, comfortable, acceptable. What he has not learned is that the only true relief, the only true comfort, the only true acceptance comes when we look not at other people, to compare ourselves against them, but when we look into the eyes which see us as we are and we look at ourselves with God’s eyes and we see a love that is beyond what we can imagine, because Jesus sees us not just through the eyes of the Law, but through the eyes that were there on the cross.  He speaks to us through the mouth that spoke these words from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

A parable of two men.  The Pharisee excludes himself from God’s gift of righteousness, while the penitent tax collector embraces it.  Today, we should run away from the religion of what is “right” in our own eyes and instead, listen more closely to what God would have from us.  Measure yourself against God’s standards and repent, like the tax collector, and grasp with full confidence the gift of Christ’s righteousness and shun any self-righteousness that we would create of our own.  By the power of the Holy Spirit let us learn to pray ever more sincerely the sinner’s prayer, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

Two men went up to the Temple to pray. The one who looked only to God–he’s the one who went home justified.  May it be so today with all of you in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

 

I am greatly indebted to my colleague in ministry, Rev. Richard O. Johnson, for his sermon on this text posted at the Göttinger Predigten, the sermon archive at Göttingen University.  I have been contributing to this archive since being asked to join late last year.

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Sermon for the 105th Anniversary of Augustana Lutheran Church

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Sermon for the 105th Anniversary of Augustana Lutheran Church

October 10th, 2010

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A very warm welcome to all of our special guests and visitors this morning and especially any of you who were former members of Augustana.

Grace and peace to all of you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The text for the sermon this morning is the Gospel from Luke 19, the story of Zacchaeus.

Jesus was entering Jericho, a town where Zacchaeus lived.  Now Zacchaeus was not just a tax collector, Luke describes him as “a chief tax collector and was rich.”  But Zacchaeus had become aware of a hole in him that could not be filled with wealth and worldly treasure.  It was a God-shaped hole.  He thought Jesus might help him fill that hole in his soul and so he went out to see Jesus.  When we read the stories in the Gospel its only natural to identify with the people in these stories.  As Jesus interacts with those people in these stories He interacts with us.  The Sunday school part of this lesson is that Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus.  When we hear the stories in the Gospels, sometimes we see ourselves in them.  The Sunday school question is something along the lines of: “Would we climb a tree to see Jesus?”  The part of the story for grownups comes a little later.  The reading says, “And when they saw it,” they who?  All of them, the whole crowd began to grumble, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”  The question for you is: “Where do you see yourself in this story?  As a tax collector?  A man like Zacchaeus?  Do you see yourself as one who was lost and is now found?  Or more likely as one who would grumble that Jesus went to eat at the house of a sinner.”

Members of Augustana, why are you here?  It’s a question I’ve been asking since I arrived here and I think I’ve asked most everyone that question.  It’s a question I definitely ask newcomers, those who have expressed interest in joining the congregation here.  And I’ve heard all kinds of answers too.  This is an interesting question because the answer to this question reveals a great deal of a person’s expectations about what a church is and why people choose to belong to a congregation especially in today’s day and age.  The broader Christian church in general and even our beloved Missouri Synod is changing and has changed quite a bit because people and communities are changing and their expectations of what a church should be are changing.

Hickory has experienced a tremendous amount of change in the past 105 years.  Many of you have been eye-witnesses to over half of that change.  You remember when all that down there was fields.  You remember when they build the first shopping areas here.  You remember when the interstate came through.  You’ve been eye-witnesses as culture of America, even small town America has changed.  You’ve had a front row seat to the emergence of the narcissistic culture of comfort, convenience and commercialism that has completely redefined this entire area.  These attitudes have crept into the church.

When Augustana was founded, the first families built one building, the old church that is on the front of the bulletin this morning.  For years that one building served the needs of the people of Augustana because their needs were focused on the one thing needful, the Word of God and the administration of the sacraments.  Years later, the first fellowship hall was built off to the side here on that flat spot between the parking lot and the education building.  When the old church burned in 1992, the congregation did not cancel services but continued to meet in the old fellowship hall.  After this building was built, the congregation saw the need to build a new and bigger parish hall for fellowship and larger events.  But the focus, by and large, was on the services in this building, God’s house.  I recount that little bit of history here not just because it’s the 105th anniversary of this congregation but as a set up to this question:  if Augustana were to be founded today, which building would be built first?  Don’t think you know the answer to that question.  Before you act like that’s a no-brainer, let me tell you one more story.  New congregations all over the US are being told by district and mission executives that the first building that should be built is a multi-purpose building, a hall-like building, or even better a gym.  And this is the reason why.

Because, with relatively few exceptions, congregations have become captives of the expectations of the people in their communities.  Expectations not shaped by the Word of God but rather the expectations of the people all around them.  Scott Donaldson in his book, The Suburban Myth, notes that when people build churches today, they build places to square dance or play bingo, places to receive amateur psychiatric care or a comforting sense of security.  He says, “But they do not, repeat not, renew and revive the dormant faith of the community in general or even their members in particular.”  He calls them nothing more than spiritual comfort stations.  They are blinded by their focus on a myriad of secular activities and thus have lost sight of their reason for existence.  He goes on to describe the kind of people who join churches like this.  “People join [them] like they join the country club, for social status.  On the golf course, they keep in fair physical trim; at church they try to maintain a passable spiritual condition.  Both places are useful in providing a psychological adjustment and a sense of belonging.”  (137)

He goes on to say that these churches have become so captive to the culture around them they don’t look like churches, they don’t sound like churches when you go in them.  And now contrast all that with the question I asked at the beginning of the sermon today.  Do you see yourself as someone who once was lost or as someone who would grumble because Jesus went to eat in the house of a sinner.

Jesus came to Jericho looking for people with holes in their lives, in their very souls, God-shaped holes, that only God can fill.  The church father Augustine said it this way, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until we find our rest in You.”  Jesus found Zacchaeus, a poor miserable sinner who we can only guess longed to meet Jesus.  And in the eyes of that crowd, Zacchaeus was the wickedest of the wicked and the most despised of the despised and yet there were many in that crowd who were worse off than Zacchaeus.  They’re so bad off they don’t even realize how much worse off than Zacchaeus they are.  Jesus came to save them too.  How he longed that the Pharisees, the “church people” of his day, would turn from their joyless, self-righteous insistence on following every jot and tittle of the law and know and serve in the mercy and love of God.  They were so sure of themselves.  They were born there.  Their fathers were leaders of the synagogue and their mothers were organizers of the ladies’ aid.  They knew their doctrine so well, as well as some of the rabbis.  They followed the law to the tee.  They kept the Sabbath.  They not only tithed they made sure others knew it.  They not only fasted, they made sure others knew it.  And Jesus comes to town and found Zacchaeus a chief tax collector in a tree and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down, for I must stay at your house today.”  And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”  We have folks like this in the broader church today.  There’s no one I know of in the congregation who works for the IRS but there’s plenty of Pharisees in he church today.

Because the tendency in the church is that we do the wrong things or we do the right things but not necessarily for the right reasons.  And at the same time, so what we if we use page 15 if we sing it joylessly?  So what if we have the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day if we eat joylessly and refuse to let the Lord use it to change us?  So what if we keep the pure doctrine about Word but never read, mark, learn or inwardly digest it?  If we refuse to be made rock steady by these things the Lord uses to do make us rock steady, what difference does it make to not use them in an attempt to reach out to the other people in our community who I can guarantee you have God-shaped holes in their lives.

Of all the change that has crept into the church in the past few years, one change that I am particularly grateful for is that a certain respectability about joining a church is going away.  I know that sounds crazy but hear me out.  Fewer and fewer people are joining a congregation because it’s the socially respectable thing to do. its something that the good people do.  It means that all those people who used to come to church and put up with coming to church for a certain amount of time on a Sunday are not here anymore because they were never here for the right reasons to begin with.  It now perfectly permissible to lead a respectable life without attending church.  Believe it or not, I say this is a good thing because with all people with their minimalistic expectations, minimalistic expectations of discipleship, of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, with them gone, there is now more room for those who wish to have a deeper and more complete life in Christ.  More room to rejoice in what Christ is doing in our lives.  There is more room for the Zacchaeuses in churches today.

Zacchaeus knew what they were saying about him.  “And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” How many of us have been so moved but the generosity of our God’s pure favor, the sheer abundance of His grace in Christ, the pure heart of His Son’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins, that we have stood and said, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.  And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

Zacchaeus does not earn his salvation by saying these things.  This is  a natural outgrowth of what he has experienced in Christ.  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

For 105 years, Augustana has stood on this little hill outside Hickory, a town that seen tremendous change, a town that seen a shift from agriculture to industry, to textiles and furniture, and now with those in decline we wait for what the next major shift will be.  This little church on this little hill points back across all of that, across thousand years in the past and across 6.000 miles to another little hill outside Jerusalem where Jesus suffered crucifixion at the hands of the good people, to save the Zacchaeuses of his day and today.  We stand at the corner of the busiest intersection in Catawba county not just as a testament to confessional Lutheran Christianity but to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who came to seek and save the lost.  We give thanks that over the years we have seen Jesus here and that so often our Lord has joined us in this house and that he has so often moved us to give and to serve not only him but the people around us and the people in this congregation.  Our prayer is our Lord would continue to bless this congregation of believers and that by his holy Spirit, he would always focus us on our need and his desire that we should serve others in his name.  Our need is that we know our sins are forgiven and his desire is that we would serve others in his name.  That he would always focus us on these two things is our prayer for the next 105 years.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

 

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Sermon for LMWL Sunday 2010

October 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Psalm 119:105

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The text for the sermon today is from the OT reading, Psalm 119, verse 105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

When was the last time you went for a walk?  Walking is something we do for a variety of reasons.  Some folks walk because it’s good for our health.  Others spend much of their day walking because that’s what their job entails.  Others may just like to get outdoors and get some fresh air.  There are others who don’t walk at all if they can help it whether for medical reasons or just pure laziness.  Regardless of the reasons we walk or don’t, most health experts tell us we need to do more walking to stay healthy.  Walking provides us tremendous health benefits when we do it consistently.  It helps keep weight off, helps keep blood pressures down and helps regulate blood sugar and helps keeps us regular.

But how many of us walk consistently?  And so even with great information about the benefits of walking we don’t do it.  Many folks think to themselves, “I should get a little exercise and go for a walk,” and before long, something else needs doing or tending to.  Exercise is a personal choice and it’s not enough to desire to go for a walk.  The shoe company, Nike, has tapped into this idea with their slogan, “Just do it.”  We actually have to do it.

Many people buy exercise equipment with the great intention of working out and getting fit, but most of that equipment sits unused and ready for the next garage sale.  It’s a great investment made with good intentions, but not really beneficial to a person’s health if it goes unused.

You are free to walk or sit still, but the decision you make will affect your health.

 

1.      The need to walk in God’s Word for our spiritual health

If you haven’t been living in a cave the past several years you know all this.  I doubt whether any of you came to service today for physical fitness advice.  I do speak of what I know, however.  And walking and physical fitness makes a great parallel to being in God’s Word and spiritual fitness.  In our reading today from Psalm 119 we are told, “Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.”  God invites us today and every day to be in His Word, to be assured that He leads us and guides us along the path.  We need not speculate about the will of God or the mind of God when it comes to what He wants for us and for our lives in this world.  We can hear our God speaking straight from his heart in the gift of Holy Scripture and in that Word preached into our ears.

Most folks today know Dr. Oz.  He’s a daytime emmy winning physician with his own television show.  He got his start on Oprah several years ago and he’s written several books too.  Dr. Oz maintains that 30 minutes of walking, just 30 minutes, is enough to make a huge difference in the overall health of anyone.  Now that the weather is a little cooler, I’m trying to walk more often and I have noticed the difference in how I feel.  Dr. Oz asserts that 30 minutes of walking a day is just basic maintenance for the body.  If you put off basic maintenance, you know what happens; you get hit with a big maintenance bill later.  But like I said, the parallel is clear.  While spending 30 minutes a day walking helps our physical health, what is the equivalent for our spiritual health?  What do you think would happen in your life, in the life of the congregation here, in the life of the broader church if those who called themselves disciples of Jesus, spent just 30 minutes a day walking in the Word?  As disciples, we know that God has revealed Himself in His Word.  We need to have that regular time in the Word because that is regular time with God.  It isn’t hard to do.  We have several Bible studies here at church, Sunday morning, Wednesday morning and Wednesday evening.  We just put out the new Portals of Prayer for the quarter.  The adult Bible class on Sunday gets the “Augustana at Prayer” handout every week which facilitates morning and evening devotions with a schedule of readings from the new one-year lectionary in our hymnal.  And unlike the food we eat and must be careful to watch watch so that we don’t eat too much, we never need worry about overeating when it comes to inwardly digesting God’s Word.  If you’re not spending regular time in the Word and prayer, as the physician for your soul, I’m telling you it’s time to make that appointment with the Lord in His Word.

Think of a daily appointment in God’s Word as being a wonderful time of nourishment and strengthening for your soul.  One of the terrible things that happens to folks after being ill and hospitalized for even a short time is that the muscles weaken from not being used.  Without regular use, legs that were once strong now just hang there uselessly.  Most of the time, with therapy and determination, the muscles regains their strength and folks regain the ability to walk again.

Many Christians have been laying down for far too long without being active in the Word of God and so they are stuck in the spiritual growth and, in many cases, have become weaker.  Being weaker spiritually spills over into other aspects of our lives.  It leads to wandering from the faith.  It leads to treating the Divine Service as a social event, rather than the Service of a Living God for us.  It leads from failure of knowing God’s Word to failure in applying God’s Word in everyday life.  When we do this we become spiritually flabby.  One of the Holy Spirit’s chief tasks is to build up God’s Church so that we might be better equipped to face the challenges before us.  We cannot do that if we try to separate the Holy Spirit from the way He builds up the Church, God’s Word.  Our community needs men, women, and children made spiritually strong and healthy by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.

 

2.      The need to walk in the right direction.

Walking daily in the Word of God gives us the strength we need to serve those in need around us with the love of God.  That same word, though, also calls us to remember who we are and show us the error of our ways.  For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb. 4:12).

God’s Word is what we need to walk in the right direction in our lives.  It’s sharper than a double-edged sword.  I’m convinced that some people are not in God’s Word because they don’t want to hear what the Lord would say to them.  Many people avoid going to the doctor for the same reasons.  The Word of God judges the thoughts and attitudes of heart.  It cuts through all the baloney of life and calls it what it really is.  That’s how God’s Law does its work.  It cuts to expose the disease so that the healing salve of the Gospel can do its work.

In the Psalm today, God speaks His truth though his servant David.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  We need the lamp of God’s word in our lives to keep the path before us well-lit.  Sometimes that light shines in a dark place and exposes sin for what it is.  This keeps us from stumbling off the path.  Other times, the truth shines brightly on a place along our path that we would prefer remain dark, a place where we cannot forgive ourselves or allow God to even speak His comforting Word.  God’s Word shines brightly along the path that would otherwise be too dark to follow in our sin-darkened world.

This is, of course, LWML Sunday and it is a great time to give thanks to God what He has worked among a group of women who. For decades, have taken God at His Word and allowed that light to shine brightly.  The women of the LWML know that the light of God’s Word is for all people who sit in darkness.  LWML mites help to support a female missionary who works exclusively with Muslim women.  As many of you know, women in most predominantly Muslim countries cannot even have conversations with men who are not relatives.  This missionary’s name cannot be mentioned or even the country in which she is serving, for the sake of her physical safety but she is serving for the sake of these Muslim women who do not know the truth of God’s Gospel in Jesus Christ.  It all happens with mites and the power of God’s Word.

 

3.      The need to change our habits.

In order to take God’s Word seriously, we have to change our habits.  Change is not easy.  When a child learns to walk, they fall down many times.  Maybe you have tried before to be in the Word.  Maybe you expected to have faith like an apostle after your first week in the Word.  That would be like a toddler expecting to run a marathon.  No, being the Word of God is a daily and lifelong discipline.  So start with just 30 minutes a day this week, with whatever you wish: Portals of Prayer, Augustana at Prayer, Bible class.  Start with small steps knowing that God would have you be in and hear from Him in His Word.

 

4.      Walking in the Word changes lives.

What comfort, strength, guidance and love from God we find in His Word.  Jesus prayed for His disciples in the garden just before He was betrayed.  John recorded that prayer in chapter 17 of His Gospel.  There we overhear Jesus saying, “Father, sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the word.”  God’s desire is that you be sanctified by the truth, by the truth of His Word.  This will equip you to be sent into the world to do all those things God has laid out for you to do.  What are those things?  I don’t know and I would counsel you not to worry about it but rather, get equipped for them by being in God’s Word on a regular basis.

Sisters and brothers in Christ, God makes Himself available to us in His Word.  Where His Word is there He is for us to strengthen us and equip us for every good work in Christ.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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