Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father, and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Let us prepare to hear God's message for us today in prayer.
Almighty and everlasting God, give us an increase of faith, hope and love; and that we may obtain what you have promised, make us love what you have commanded; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Kids on the playground often challenge each other - "Make me! or "You can't make!" They are fighting words really. And they stay with us throughout our selfish, sin filled lives. We want to do what we want to do when we want to do it. It is our right, and we should never let anyone take away our rights, right? It is what our nation is founded upon.
But our Lord has something different to say to us today through the pen of His Apostle (sent one) Paul:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
If love is anything, it is giving up, setting aside our rights for the sake of the welfare of others.
Again, this is contrary to our way of life in this country in at least two ways - it always has been from the time of Adam's encounter with the knowledge of good and evil..
#1 - Rather than living for others and giving up our interests in the interest of our neighbors, we live to realize our potential, fulfill our purpose, and wring every last bit of pleasure and profit out of this world that we are entitled to - it is not only our right, it is our obligation. It really becomes our spiritual quest for fulfilment. After all, God wishes to grant His people success and make them happy.
Along these lines, one scientist [Dr. Andrew Newberg] studying the neurological basis and implications of religion proposes that, "Spirituality and belief don't have to equate to religious faith. The feelings of enlightenment and well-being some derive from religion can come to others through artistic expression, nonreligious meditation, watching a beautiful sunset or listening to stirring music. Atheists have belief systems too."
Truer words were never spoken apart from the Word of God. If what it all is about is success and being happy, there are many, many avenues to get us there.
# 2 - Rather than living for others and looking out for the welfare of our neighbors, we lay the responsibility for the welfare of our neighbor at the feet of government. And then blame them for the poverty, disease, famine, and social unrest that inevitably proceed from the selfish desires of individuals.
Paul puts it this way: For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. (Rom 7:18-19 NKJ)
Quite contrary to our Epistle lesson, the facts of the matter (of our lives) are these:
• We are not inclined to suffer at all, let alone long.
• We are envious, loving and striving for all sorts of things that we think we deserve more than our neighbor.
• We love to puff ourselves up and parade our accomplishments, in fact it is almost a necessity to do so to get ahead in this world.
• Rudeness rules among us as we seek our own fortune and welfare and leave the welfare of others up to govt. and even church agencies, rather than to look after those in our own little corners of the world.
• We are constantly behaving like victims with righteous anger, easily provoked into thinking the worst evils about our neighbor and his behavior, who must be trying to take advantage of me. Somehow that makes us feel better.
• We find much joy in watching others fail and be ridiculed - all you have to do is take a peek at your TV guides on this one.
• We prefer the lies of those who flatter and cajole us into voting for them or buying their product or service to the truth we need to hear.
• We have no desire to bear anything burdensome, to believe anything we cannot see, touch, feel or measure for our benefit, we throw away future hope for present ease contentment and comfort, we should not have to endure anything.
Quite frankly, the love that St. Paul commends to us and exhorts us to is out of our reach and beyond our comprehension, let alone ability to fulfill.
And that is precisely where Christ, the Son of God comes in. And thanks be to God, He does. In our Gospel lesson, He comes casting out demons and rebuking illness. But most of all, He brings the kingdom of heaven.
Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent." Luke 4:42-44
Do you want to understand our lessons for today? Do you want to know the "what does this mean" of it all? Do you want to get what the scientists miss? Do you want to live forever in heaven?
Then hear and receive the Word of our Lord.
"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40 NKJ)
And only in Him can we comprehend and believe. The Epistle of Love speaks of Christ!
Hear our text from today's epistle again, only this time with Jesus name, the name that means salvation and brings forgiveness, where love is written in the Scripture:
Jesus suffers long and is kind; Jesus does not envy; Jesus does not parade itself, Jesus is not puffed up; Jesus does not behave rudely, Jesus does not seek His own, Jesus is not provoked, Jesus thinks no evil; Jesus does not rejoice in iniquity, but Jesus rejoices in the truth; Jesus bears all things, Jesus believes all things, Jesus hopes all things, Jesus endures all things.
And all this Jesus does first for you, then through you, dear Christian.
Yes, In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. (I Jn 4:10-12 NKJ)
And that is why we pray the Almighty and everlasting God to give us an increase of faith, hope and Jesus; and that we may obtain what you have promised, make us, Jesus, what you have commanded - because He is the embodiment of all those things which are beyond us to be or do.
So we pray and sing for God to provide for us and live among, in and through us.
Oh grant that nothing in my soul
may dwell but Your pure [Jesus] alone;
Oh, may your [Jesus] possess me whole,
My joy, my treasure, and my crown!
All coldness from my heart remove;
My ev'ry act, word, thought be [Jesus].
That is, may every act, word, and thought of the Christian be Christ. Because through you and your acts and words, dear Christian, Christ preaches the kingdom of God to other cities also. This is the purpose for which you remain in this world of toil, tears and trouble - that you may love as you have been loved and continue to be loved by God, forgiven all of your sins -- the Name of the Father and of the (+) Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.
Send Rev. Kurt Hering an email.