Every time He said, A sermon on 2 Corinthians 12
Every time He Said,
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
† In Jesus Name †
My God’s words of love penetrate your heart and enlighten your life, as you live trusting that His grace is indeed sufficient!
How many times!!
I don’t think it matters which relationship we talk about, but it seems that in every kind of relationship known to mankind, there is a serious issue that arises. (SLOW CLICKS)
Simply put, we don’t know how to listen to each other.
For example, is there a parent who never questioned whether their teenage children listened to them all the time? And wives, what about you, has there ever been a husband that paid perfect attention to everything you said?
I am pretty sure that there have been times where I wasn’t listened to, whether when I was in management or as a pastor, and there are times I am sure I didn’t listen as well as I should have.
Anyone here want to say they listen perfectly, all the time? I mean, there was this cartoon on FB this week… Would it be there if a lot of people didn’t find it… true?
We have some good company then in the apostle Paul, in who letter this morning we heard… well, at least I hope we heard…
“Every time he (that is Jesus) said, “
Meaning that it took Paul three times to hear what Jesus said!
We’ll get to what we said earlier, let’s first deal with the topic of listening, and specifically, listening to God.
The Problem of Narcissism
Things have changed a little since the church came to America. Back in the days of John Hancock, the Adams brothers and the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the pastor or priest in most villages was the most educated man in the community. Some would say he was also the smartest, and if he had been around for a while, one of the wisest.
Even today sometimes we play the game that was going on in Corinth, where the people wanted to be led by the smartest pastor or apostle, the best speaking one, the one who looked and lived like he was blessed by the gods. We even get in competition some times when we gather. Hey my church just doubled in size, or my budget is 8 million.
Rarely do we hear the stories I like to hear, and even more witness, about the 2 year olds that are so at peace at the altar that they do not want to leave when their parents get up from communion. Or the children who might not be able to explain it, but know something incredible is happening when someone is baptized, or when the Body and Blood of Christ is given to eat, to drink. Or do you notice your bodies relax when I get the pleasure of saying, “in the stead and by the command of Jesus Christ, I forgive you all of your sins…”
But do we hear that, or do we hear what we want to hear?
Do we try to find the most educated, most successful or at least the most popular person we can find to agree with us? Do we hear ourselves saying, “this is what Bill Gates said, or Ronald Reagan or the Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther wrote; pointing to their words to back up what we want to hear?
The church in Corinth did that all the time. Remember these words from Paul?
12 Let me put it this way: each one of you says something different. One says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; and another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Christ has been divided into groups! Was it Paul who died on the cross for you? Were you baptized as Paul’s disciples? 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 (TEV)
You see, sometimes our ability to hear and understand is limited by our own desire to be right, our own desire to be better than the person next to us. That is why Paul had to go on what he called a foolish mission to convince everyone that he was as good as an apostle as the next guy, He thought it foolish and a waste of time, which is why he said,
6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message,
But sometimes, we need to be humble enough to hear it. We can’t be so full of ourselves that we don’t leave room for the Holy Spirit to teach us.
Which means, sometimes like Paul we need to hear, over and over the message of God’s love, we need to be able to say with Paul,
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.
The Penetration of the gospel
His power works best when we can’t oppose it, when we are so desperate for His action in our lives, that we hear it.
In Greek, the word for hearing, and the word for obeying (to take action on what is heard) are related. One is simply the other with the prefix “hyper” Akouo and Hyper-akouo. Think about it, when you ask someone if they heard you, what you are really asking is, are you acknowledging what I said and doing what I asked. Right?
Yeah, some things never change. To hear is to understand something so well you respond to it. I came across this quote about faith that bears this out this week,
We do not simply choose grace for ourselves, for grace is by nature an answer and is therefore attributable in the first place to what comes to me from another person, penetrates deeply into me, and makes me open to say thou and so to become truly I. It is, in truth, a gift given me by another person, and yet I am more deeply and more completely involved in it than in any work I might have chosen for myself. Faith is likewise a Yes to God in Jesus Christ, who looks upon me, makes me open, and enables me ultimately to entrust myself to him.[i]
I love that picture of grace, as it is described penetrating into us and opens in us the ability to recognize that the Lord is with us. To be able to address God, not in the third person, but in the second. For those who don’t remember English – to address Jesus as you – and not “him”!
Because God’s love penetrates deeply into our souls, getting us to recognize His presence, it involves us at a level deeper than just our intellect, and more completely than just our emotions.
It hits us in our souls, where we need to know we aren’t alone. Where we need to realize His love at its deepest need, and enables us, as the quote mentions, to entrust ourselves to Him.
For we’ve heard the message, this message Paul had to hear 3 times.
His grace is sufficient, it is all we need.
Lord, help us to hear you in this, help us to realize the depth of your love, and may that message sink deeply into our souls. Help us to trust you more, and cling to you in all things, and in all times and places. Help us to rejoice in that which keeps us humble, for then we are able to see you at work. God we thank You for your grace, which works in every person in Christ Jesus. It is in His name we pray!
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
[i] Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 214). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Posted on July 5, 2015, in Sermons and tagged Abiding in Christ, apostolate, brokenness, Cardinal Ratzinger, Concordia Lutheran Church, faith, grace, hearing God, Jesus, listening to od, sermons, Sufficient Grace. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.