The Thing that Matters….

The Thing that Matters

Luke 10:17-20

† In Jesus Name †

 

May you rejoice in the grace, that incredible love and mercy that God our Father pours out on your, whose names are engraved in heaven.

The Meaningless Touchdown

 

It was late in the fourth quarter, when the young running back finally got his opportunity to get in the game.  He listened to the  quarterback call the play, and with great excitement, he took his place in the backfield, looking down the long field to the goalposts in the distance.
The quarterback took the snap, turned and slammed home the ball into his stomach.  He ran ahead, and noticed a hole, ducked through it and took off, eyes still on the goal posts as they seemed to rush toward him, more than he was running toward them.   His dad he thought, would be so proud!  Maybe now that girl he had a crush on would notice him, and weren’t there scouts at the game tonight!  He would score his first touchdown in front of them all.

Which he did, just as he heard the final gun sound…

He fell to his knees, the tears of joy, the emotions overwhelming him.

After a moment he wondered where the cheers were, where his teammates were, why weren’t they pounding him on the back?  Why was the team heading off the field, and the few people left in the stands leaving?

He looked at the scoreboard, 63-3, and then he realized, the quarterback had told him to simply take the ball and fall safely to the ground…the game had long been decided.

 

I think the way he felt, is the way the 72 disciples may have felt, having come back from their mission trip, as they needed to be refocused on “the thing that matters.”
As we look at this day, as a man is put into office to serve God and the church, as we look at the battles we have faced over the years, both the incredible victories, and what we thought were defeats, yet were revealed to be victories, we need to grasp this very thing…

our names are written in heaven!

and that is what matters!  That’s what we can really rejoice about!  Our names – engraved in heaven!

Why we are excited… God working, through us?

There are days when I think about what goes on in this place, that I can understand the joy that the disciples felt that day when they returned.

To think that babies and adults have come to this spot, and their eternities changed as God cleanses them from every sin they have or ever will commit.  Literally millions, if not tens and hundreds of million sins washed away in this very spot. And here, at this rail, the comfort and peace of Christ’s body and blood given for us to eat – the greatest of celebrations, and the lives touched as God’s love for us sinners has been revealed to people from here…all of the prayers answered here as God heals our hearts and minds, and sometimes our bodies, this is incredible!  Imagine if these walls continued to echo the praises that were sounded here over the years!

No wonder we come to treasure our church buildings, they are places that over and over we have seen miracles that go beyond our comprehension.  It’s not that the building is special, but it is the place where God has put His name, and given us hope and forgiveness.

God works through us all, and it is amazing when we see that work happen.  It is mind-blowing that He would take us, and change people’s lives here.


What’s been invested in us – isn’t minor stuff

         

This is not to say the work that God accomplishes through us isn’t incredible, nor that how we see people freed from that which oppresses them isn’t worthy of praise.  The list in these three verses is incredible. Consider these things.

First, we have the ability to free people from what oppresses them – to pronounce them forgiven and cleansed  – even from demonic forces that would oppose them.

In a similar way, we have the power to tread over serpents and scorpions – although in the context the term snake could refer to those men who are evil and whose work is that of the snake in the garden, to cheat people out of their relationship with God by deceit.  I thought that made sense – but scorpions?  In the Revelation, those who would spiritually oppose and torment humanity are described as locusts and scorpions,  Even so, such powers and opposition cannot stop the people of God, as they are appointed and set out to bring God’s message of love and mercy,
Not only are the minions, the low level plans of Satan frustrated but look at verse 19, “all the power of the enemy!”   Our enemy being all of the powers and principalities of darkness, the very power of satan had to yield to these 72 disciples, and there was nothing that could be done about it.

What they learned, Paul described so clearly in Romans 8

 

8:37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)


Which is what Paul ends verse 19 with, our translation says “nothing shall hurt you,” but the Greek goes even further in demonstrating God’s provision – “nothing against you unrighteous (or unjust). Satan cannot come against us and persecute us, or accuse us of being unrighteous, nothing can take us our of the hands of God.  Our defense is sure, Christ will keep our hearts and minds in peace, for that is why He died.

But it is incomparable.

 

Even as that seems so incredible, that even the demons and Satan are subject to us because we are in Christ, that isn’t the thing we should rejoice in the most.  It doesn’t matter how powerful our ministry, is, whether it reaches here or around the world, whether we have a nice building or the cathedral on the corner. Whether we baptize 50 or 10,000 – though these things would be mind blowing and incredible.

These things – this power invested in us, that is demonstrated as people are freed from bondage, freed from the guilt and shame of sin, are the like the touchdown at the end of a blowout.  Nice, and kinda cool – but nothing in view of the main victory, the incredible truth that we are God’s people, that we are in fellowship with Him.

I love how 1 Corinthians 2 describes what we should rejoice in,

What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, what the mind of man cannot visualise; all that God has prepared for those who love him;
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NJB)


What does it mean that our names are engraved in heaven?  Think about it as on your home, on the mailbox there is a sign with your name on it.  It’s where you belong, it is where the God who loves you has made your home, with Him.  It is the life, promised long ago, that His people would never be forgotten, that the people of God would never be without hope – for their names are engraved and kept in a very special place.

49:15 Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, feel no pity for the child she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you. 16 Look, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your ramparts are ever before me.
Isaiah 49:15-16 (NJB)

On the hands that bore the marks as they were pierced, as the body of Christ was pinned to a cross, our lives were carried with Him, forever united there as He cleansed us, as He bore our sin, and our shame and everything that oppressed us, that we might be home with the Father, forever.

That is what we rejoice in, that is why we share this message with the entire world! The message that is proclaimed in the Bellflower, and Cerritos, and even in Norman and Lincoln – for it is in what the message contains that is what we rejoice in!

It is why Chuck and Jim were installed as elders today in Cerritos, and Mark is installed as the Vicar of Our Savior.

The work he will do at your side, the work we all do together as the people of God is incredible, for it is God working in and through us…proving to us what matters, a place to call home

In Christ, we belong with the Father, living in His love and that is why we rejoice!  AMEN?

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God’s saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on September 30, 2012, in Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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