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Luke 24:13-35 – Third Sunday of Easter –

Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church (TAALC) – Galt, CA

God’s Service to Us

Posted: 28 August 2016 in Sermons

The Chaplain delivered a message to the congregation of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Galt, CA.  The message was developed from the Year C Gospel text for August 28, 2016.  Luke 14:1-14 is read within the sermon in context.

May God bless you in the hearing of His Word.

In the Correct Order?
^ Audio/Slideshow Link Above ^

23 Oct 2011
Trinity-Sturgis

Grace, Mercy, Peace – text from Holy Spirit – Apostle Matthew [22:34-46 (37-40 spec.)]

   I.            Intro

In 1537, while preaching on today’s text, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther asked:

What, then, are we to do when the Law constantly demands and drives us on, and, after all, we cannot keep it?  For my conscience is ever judging me (I tell myself):  Because I should love God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself, and, after all, I cannot do so, I must be damned; and God says yes and confirms the judgment.  Who will help me in this predicament?  Says the Law:  I know of no way to help you.  The Law simply desires and requires you to be obedient.  (WLS#2362 preached by ML 30 Sept 1537 against Agricola & antinomians)

Father Luther was preaching against the attitudes of his day that were prevalent among many of the non-Lutheran reformers of his day, those which he called ‘antinomians’.  To that matter, non-Lutheran protestants of today and sadly some who call themselves Lutheran, believe that because of our being saved by faith alone, there is no need to be obedient to any religious code…or law…INCLUDING that which God has given His children in the Old Testament.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had just the opposite problem.  They believed and taught that strict adherence to the Law was all they NEEDED to do to obtain God’s favor. This can be understood from our Gospel lesson today…

II.            The Law

(Matthew 22, ESV) 34 But when the Pharisees heard that [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

As I stated, the Pharisees knew that, because they followed ALL of the Law, they were not really concerned with how Jesus answer would affect them.  No – they were rather prideful of how they followed the Torah and rabbinical law.  They knew in their hearts that anything Jesus could say would not convict them.

The Pharisees were very much like many self-professed Christian believers of today.  They knew in their self-proclaimed intellect that God is the Creator of all things and they loved Him so much they lived according to the Commandments (1st Commandment).  They attended worship each weekend (2nd Commandment).  They had always respected the elders of their family (4th Commandment).  They had never stolen, murdered or committed adultery (5th, 6th & 7th Commandments).  They had never lied about their neighbor nor did they want anything from their neighbors’ possessions (8th, 9th, 10th Commandments). As a matter of fact their neighbors weren’t as well off as they were, so why WOULD they want anything of theirs? (4’)

So they sent one of their best Law interpreters…a lawyer, to trip Jesus up with a very provocative question.  And how did our Lord answer him?  We read in…

(Matthew 22:37-40, ESV)  “And [Jesus] said to [the Lawyer],‘You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Now, at first glance, we may not recognize our Lord’s restatement of Deuteronomy 6:5 nor the implication that I believe God had when these words were recorded, not only by Moses, but by Matthew and Luke.  For God underlines where the primary place is for this love in Deuteronomy 6:6:  “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (emp. added)

The Pharisees of Jesus day….the non-Lutheran church reformers of Brother Martin’s day AND many Christian believers today all suffer from the very same problem.  It is common to attempt to use one’s intellect to determine if we are pleasing God.  To rationalize how well we are following the Law.  Perhaps to justify, to ourselves and others, that even what MIGHT be seen as a sin is really spiritual discernment and love.

The Pharisees thought they would send a scholar, one who ‘thought he knew’ what God’s Law said.  They would do this, in their minds, to protect God’s people from a man with delusions of grandeur.  After all, in their own minds, the Pharisees were intellectually superior to this…this…carpenter’s son from Galilee.  And they had followed ‘to the letter’ the Law as given to Moses.

Today, there are many who think that they know how to please God.  Thus they will come up with new a better ways to prove so.  If they give more time and talent, if they spend more time at church, if they tell the public how good they are, if they vastly expand the roles of their churches, then…THEN God will truly be pleased with them.  AND if God is pleased with them…their devotion to Christ will be recognized by not only those around them, but by GOD Himself.  Yet, [NOTABLE PAUSE] God tells us through Moses, through Luke and through Matthew here that, our minds are the last place we should be concerned with loving Him.

First, we should love our God “with all our hearts”…..”and with all our souls.”  But, WAIT!  If we love Him first THERE, how will anyone ELSE know of our devotion!?

[PAUSE] That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is EXACTLY the point!  It does not matter what others know or see.  It most assuredly matters what our Father in Heaven sees when He looks upon us.  Unfortunately, we know from Scripture that, if left to our OWN intellect and our OWN methods, when God looks upon us He sees our poor, miserable, sinful selves.  He sees the heart that would spend time at the lake rather than attend worship.   He sees the heart that is angry and spiteful when someone cuts it off in traffic.  He sees the anger and verbal abuse which is cast at our government leaders.  He sees the financial, property and other lusts which are felt when watching the successes of neighbors. Yes, although our neighbors may not ‘know’ of our inabilities to follow God’s Law…our Father in Heaven most assuredly knows.  And He knows our inability to intellectually explain why we don’t follow His Law for He tells us through St Paul in Romans 7:(:15-21 ESV)

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.[ 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.] 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. [For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.] 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.[ 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

III.            The Gospel

Yes, our Heavenly Father knows all too well of our physical and mental failings.  He is fully aware of our inability to keep His Law in our own actions, on our own accord.  Thus, He sent His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus was born, by the power of the Holy Spirit, of the Virgin Mary.  He was made Man.  Jesus was wholly Man and wholly God.  He came to teach us of the Father’s love for us.  Yet, unlike you and me, Jesus could physically demonstrate His Love.  Not only His Love for His Father in Heaven, but His Love for you and me.  Jesus did this with clear demonstration through His betrayal, through the punishment which Man placed upon Him during His trial before Pilot and…Jesus demonstrated His love for you and me by giving up His very Body and Blood on the Cross of Calvary.  He was nailed to that cross because of your sins and mine, because we CAN NOT, on our accord, do anything which is pleasing to God.  ONLY due to the power of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts, are we found pleasing to God.  ONLY due to the power of the Holy Spirit calling out to Him is the Father able to hear and heed our prayers.  ONLY due to the faith granted us by the Holy Spirit can you and I be called “the children of God”.  And that we are….Children of the Most High God.

IV.            Conclusion

So…when the time is right, when all is accomplished in God’s eyes, Jesus will come again.  Jesus will come and all will look to Him and know in their hearts, their souls and their minds that Jesus is Lord.  Those who have attempted to intellectually explain their faith may look upon Him in absolute fear and horror, for it will be clear to THEM at that moment that their hearts had not been first in loving God.  However, for you and me, as well as for all the saints gone before, WE will look upon our descending Lord with thankfulness and faith.  You and I will, in our hearts, in our souls and in our minds know that we will join with all the saints, with all the angels and archangels of Heaven giving all the glory to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Giving all praise and honor to our Triune God while living in His peace and confidence for ever.

+ in nomino jesu +
Amen.

May the Peace which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen

[Audio to Come]

Funeral – 20 June 2011
For Luella of Emmaus, FTW

GMP from God our Father and our Savior Jesus Christ – to the family and friends of Luella.

And there shall be a unique [Hebrew=“one”] day, which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. (Zechariah 4:7)

Notable milestones in life in this world always seems to be defined as experienced of darkness.

David – Valley of the Shadow of Death
Daniel – darkness of the lions’ den
Even our Lord Jesus Christ, as He gave His very body and blood as payment for our sins, as he hung on the Cross – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

For those of us drawn by the Holy Spirit into faith, there are cloudy days,
Those times when we anger our parents as children, or our spouse as adults
Those times when we struggle with job loss, failing health, loss of a friend or family member,

we struggle as we become afraid of what might happen if the darkness and gloom never leave
what will we do with what we see as a hole in our lives?
we think we will never see them again.

Then the Holy Spirit draws us into the Light.  Perhaps through the words of a caring friend or a mediation offered in a book we read or when we remember how our departed friend once spoke of a particular passage. Regardless of how the Spirit draws us, we find ourselves in The Light perpetual which is in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and we find peace.

The difficulties are still there – they are not gone.  Yet as we walk in the Light of Christ we are given God’s Peace which allows us to deal with the challenges the evil one or our sinful world may throw at us.  Our doubts vanish as we hear the promises of our God.

Was true darkness ever upon Luella?
I am confident she had her difficulties. We all have them.

Perhaps during the time surrounding the passing of family members
Perhaps as her earthly vocation came to a close
Or when her waning abilities required that she leave her home
We can be sure that Luella had shadowed valleys in her life

Yet, we can be equally assured that in her earthly walk, Luella was ever in the Light.  And where does this assurance comes from? How do we know Luella had light around her?  The fact that she was a baptized child of God – that is how. In that baptism she heard the words,

You have received Christ who is the Light of the world. Live always in the light of Christ and be ever watchful for His coming that you may meet Him with joy and enter into the Marriage Fest in His Kingdom.”

During those times of gloom in her life, we can be confident that she heard the words of our Lord “I am with you to the very end of the age”.  We can now understand as she does the words of the prophet Zechariah, “There shall be one day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.”  She has passed from the evening time of life into a new life – an eternal life with Christ.  An eternal life in eternal Light.  Not the blinding brilliance of the sun, not the dull shadowed light of the moon, but the Blessed Light of God’s Glory, His Joy, … His Peace.

We may sense a gloominess, a darkness, right now – as we mourn Luella’s passing from our midst.  Yet we can be confident that Luella is in the presence of God. And we can be equally confident that God is with us – He knows our sadness,  He speaks to us in the words of:

the Angel to the shepherds “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)
Lord to those on the mount – “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt 10:31)
Lord to those who have little – “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
Lord as he Ascended to the Father – “I am with you until the very end of the age.

God our Father is with you – as He has been since the moment of your conception, God the Holy Spirit is with you – since the moment of your baptism and God the Son is with you until the very end of the age.

As we depart the services today, remember that Luella is resting in the blessed light of our God, remember that Jesus is a lamp unto your feet and a Light unto your path, remember that we will all, one day, join Luella in the New Creation where there will always be light.

In the Name of Jesus.  + Amen +

C Pent19   03 Oct 2010
Prince of Peace – HC

GMP – Text from the Holy Spirit through the Prophet Habakkuk in Chapters 1 and 2 of his writing.

Intro

As you all know, the Lord has led me to proclaim His Gospel within the internet gaming community.  Through this ministry I have the pleasure of telling folks of the Good News of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the sins of the world.  Of course, it also offers opportunity to hear people complain of how God seems to have forsaken His flock, how God seemingly punishes His children for their wrong doings and is unfair to those who strive to do His will while rewarding those who obviously strive to violate almost every one of His commandments.  Yes, some spend an incredible amount of time and energy moaning ABOUT God, without actually going to the source of their angst.  Yet, Habakkuk, a man of God, a prophet, seems to have the correct idea.  His example would be helpful for us to follow, for

GOD HAS MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR US TO APPROACH HIM PERSONALLY:

[I. God wants to hear directly from each of us]

Habakkuk 1:1The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.
2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

Where many, perhaps each one of us, tend to talk of the evil around us, the sin others do, and then complain to our neighbor of how God does not punish them, the prophet Habakkuk goes directly to God with His heart-wrenching questions.  We can look upon ourselves as being more righteous than THOSE folks who don’t strive to live as God has commanded.  We ask others why God would allow such practice.  If God would give us just some of His strength, we could bring the world into a better understanding of His blessed promises.  Why, even without our involvement…He could bring about great change in the world, if He would just SMITE a few dens of inequity!

Yet, as we moan and complain amongst ourselves (and inflict our friends with our lament), we are in fact ignoring the one who could answer our questions.  We seemingly ignore the ONLY one who can do anything about them.  We are ignoring the important fact that Jesus died so that we could approach the Heavenly Throne and ask our questions of the ONLY righteous one.  God.

For you see, when God caused Habakkuk to have this oracle, the people of Israel had wandered far from the path which God had laid before them.  They had wandered far from their Holy purpose given them by God.  The people of Israel had been scattered by internal strife and by external forces as well.  Since the people Israel had decided that a Heavenly King was not good enough and demanded a earthly king (Saul, David & Solomon), God had allowed them to demonstrate their inability to follow.  As time progressed, they came to the time of Habakkuk, when God had used Assyria to punish Israel – to conquer them with an evil, ruthless, multi-god people who enslaved them and denied them their purity.  Thus, the people of Israel were in anguish, they moaned amongst themselves of how God was using these evil ‘unchosen’ people to punish His Chosen Israel.  They felt that, due to their lack of success and lack of wealth, their decline from being a conquering nation, God had forsaken His promise to them to “always be their God”.  In other words, they believed that they were already lost in the eyes of God.  This feeling of being forsaken caused them to again, to doubt the promise of God, to heed those words of the serpent spoken in Genesis 3, “God did not surely say….”  God did not surely promise to be with them always??  Yet, they mumbled amongst themselves ABOUT God about how terrible He was making their lives.

And as the prophet heard this, he was drawn to speak directly to Yahweh, the God of Israel, the One True God.  Rather than lamenting of how God no longer cared for him, Habakkuk and for His people Israel, he directly confronted God with the same questions people were asking each other.  Habakkuk offers the example of trusting in the promises of God.  The promise of always being the God of His Chosen People.  The promise of always hearing their petitions offered to Him as the One God who will hear them, just as He heard them in Egypt.  Habakkuk knew that He was still their God – as He had promised.  And just as a child knows he can approach his earthly father with a problem, Habakkuk knew that he could approach the God of his fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  [PAUSE]

What of us?  Are we like Habakkuk?  Or are we like Israel.  Do we know that we can approach God with all our problems?  Or do we mumble about our ‘lot in life’ ?   Do we give thanks to God for the blessings of life, sustenance, shelter, worldly freedoms and relative health?  Or do we moan about how He allows us to be sick, poor, have a leaky roof or overly controlled by our secular government?  Do we see that He loves us and demonstrates this through the good things?  Or do we assume that all the bad things happen because we have sinned?

Is THAT it?  We have sinned, so just as He used Assyria to punish Israel in the seventh century BC, He uses the forces of the world to punish us until we are sinless.  Until we, under our own will and strength, stop our sin and become more like Him?

We talk of others as if we could do better.  We expend our finances on things which will be gone in no time.  We over indulge on food and leisure.  We avoid thinking of Him when we KNOW we’re involved in things He does not approve of – in business and in personal lives.  We forget to place Him above all things.  We raise other gods before Him in such a way to obscure His promises.  Yes, we are very capable of displeasing Him.  Is THAT why our bodies fail?  Is THAT why our finances seem to dwindle?  Is THAT why we are not gifted with apparent gifts like those who make no attempt to live as God has commanded? [PAUSE]

Let us not get too wrapped up in our self-pity.  Let us not sit here and think that, since we sin God has forsaken us.  Let us not mumble amongst ourselves of how BAD and EVIL we are that we forget that God does understand.  He knows of our inability to meet His expectations.  For after all, just as God spoke to Israel through His servant David (Psalm 14, 53), God has spoken again to us through the Apostle Paul in Romans 3[:10-12]:

“None is righteous, no, not one;  no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

[II. God has & will respond to our requests.]

Habakkuk 2:1I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.
2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk proclaims that he is standing guard.  He’s on the lookout for God’s answer to his laments, his complaints.

The Prophet knows that if he directly asks God for answers the He must patiently and diligently await the response.  He knows, as we should, that God always answers prayer which are offered.  The ONLY difference between Habakkuk’s time and now is….(in the words of the Order of Evening Prayer) “In many and various ways, God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.

And Yahweh answers Habakkuk. Even without the details of the remainder of Chapter Two, God warns the evil one and encourages Habakkuk in these four verses!  God states that if His words are written down, the evil one may run away when he reads it….God then states that the evil one has a soul which is ‘puffed up and not upright”.  The evil one knows he is done for, that he has lost.  God also tells Habakkuk and Israel that the vision awaits it’s appointed time, the promise is hastening and shall not lie.  But wait!  How does a promise “not lie”.  Well….simple!  The Promise is…the Holy One of God, the Anointed, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace….Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World is that Promise!

Times were hard in Habakkuk’s time.  Times are hard now! In other words…..Times haven’t changed!!  If you and I think the promise of God is slow….”wait for it, It will surely come”  The one whose soul is puffed up – self-righteous, will not be able to strengthen himself, he will fail.  Yet, the righteous shall live by faith.  Faith in the promise.  Faith that God has fulfilled His promise and opened the door so that ALL may come into His Glory.  The Promise was that God would save the world from the necessary payment for our sin.  Just as He provided a ram rather than have Abraham sacrifice Isaac, God has provided His Son, Jesus the Christ, such that the righteous may live by faith.

When we speak directly to our Father in Heaven, He answers us directly.  Each and every one of us is able to respectfully approach and speak with God, thanks  be to the gift HE has given us in the death and resurrection of Jesus .  Jesus paid the price for your sin with His very body and blood.  Since our Baptism, you and I are clothed in the righteousness of Christ such that you and I may approach the Holy Throne of God seeking His council and, yes, even demanding answers.  When God looks upon you, He seea the One whom He loved before the beginning of time.  When you call out to Him for explanation, it is the Holy Spirit living within you who speaks with God.

So what of the answers?  Why don’t we lie awake at night and hear God whispering to us?  I would never suggest that God does NOT speak in words, although I DO know that He “speaks to us by His Son”.  And that message, those answers are recorded in Scripture.

When we ask “How can I deal with this illness?” – He answers in Isaiah 41:10b

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

When we ask “Why must our loved one(s) die?” – He answers in John 11:4

“This illness does not lead to death, It is for the glory of God,
so that the son of God may be glorified through it.

When we ask “How can we meet our financial needs?” – He answers in Philippians 4:12b-13

“I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

You see?  God hears.  He understands.  Let us not moan about how God has laid trials out in our lives.  The evil one, the Liar is doing everything he can to weaken our faith, to strike and claw out our trust that God has and will provide for our needs.  Let us have faith that we can approach God personally. Go to Him in confidence that He loves you and cares for you and wants only what is best for you.  Have faith.  Your sins are forgiven.  And the Promise will return to bring you to your heavenly home.  To live with God the Father, God the Promise and God the Holy Spirit – for all eternity.  – Amen

[STAND]
At any time you and I cry out in anxiousness or fear – He hears and responds in  Philippians 4:6-7

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Amen.