Into Your Hands…
† Jesus, Son, Savior †
May you realize the depth of the love of God our Father for you, revealed in Christ’s purchase of your grace. AMEN!
Is this what we perceive?
It has been said that people hear what they want to hear. Matter of fact, I think most of us are pretty good at it.
Like for instance, if I ask my wife if I can go to Sam Ash or Guitar City, her approval also means I can come home with a new guitar or keyboard. After 28 years of marriage, she won’t let me go to Best Buy or Fry’s alone. She did, however, make the mistake of letting me go to the car dealership to get my oil changed two weeks ago…
It can work the other way as well if a professor says something critical, a student’s world collapses, or if a boss says you need to improve, you go home and tell the wife you are in danger of getting fired.
When we hear the words from the cross, we hear things through our frame of reference as well.
It’s true in the last words Jesus says, the words that he pushes out with his last breath…
Into your hands….I commit my spirit.
They are not just the final words of a man who has been betrayed by his friends, tried, beaten, forced to carry a cross out of the city, up a hill and be nailed on it.
They are a lesson in faith, an example of great dependence on God.
It would be what Paul talks about when we are told to imitate him, as He imitates Christ Jesus.
It was a cry of faith, not one of despair.
But that is not how we hear it.
The struggle of faith, and praying
There is rapid decline, or so the experts say, in the prayer life of people in America.
I can believe it because we have forgotten the joy, the comfort, the peace that comes in trusting God. In depending upon Him, in the words of Jesus, in our ability to says these words, “into your hands I commit my Spirit.”
We hear Jesus, broken physical and I think we expect Him to be broken spiritually. We hear the pain in His voice, the anguish, the trauma. There is, in my mind, no doubt of the pain and anguish, that He felt, and I struggle to imagine these cries being anything else but the despair I would feel in such a situation.
The despair and even doubt I feel when I am subjected to suffering, or when those I love and care for are.
I hear these words, when I am in pain, when I hear them said with His dying breath, and they sound like a surrender, an admission that I am defeated, that you can feel the hope draining out from Jesus,
Because that is what I feel, that is the effect of the brokenness of sin on us who are mortal.
There is nothing left, no strength of body, or mind, or will. There is only the inevitable; there is only death.
In times less trying we can’t even think of God because the weight of despair is too much. We just feel numb, lost, empty. hopeless. It is as if, for the moment, sin has won, and life has been taken from us.
We hear these words as the final admission of defeat.
He breathed His last…
But what if these words mean something more? What if they are not the words of despair, but words from the last breath that reveal hope, that reveal faith, that reveal a trust that is deeper than the pain?
What if these words, like Psalm 22’s cry, accept the pain of the moment given victory that is complete and total and joyous?
Into your hands, I commit my Spirit.
A quote from Psalm 31, a quote which continues
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
Hear it one more time…
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. 6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD. 7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, Psalm 31:5-7 (ESV)
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
These last words, are not just those of a man has hit rock bottom. They are a cry of faith, a cry of wisdom that knows that the answer is found in the very steadfast love of God. A cry that celebrates that we aren’t alone in our distress, that we aren’t alone in our grief.
That though we barely have a breath left, it is a breath that is taken with God’s spirit.
It is a lesson for us, a cry for us to utter, not just when we have only one breath left, but when we are brought to life in Christ. When we are crucified with Him in our baptism when we kneel and take and eat the Body and Blood of Christ, when we share in His death… and in the promise of His life.
It is His cry, a lesson to us with our very last breath.
A lesson in trusting God through it all, a lesson that we aren’t alone in our trial, in our fight, even when it gets down to the last breath.
St. Paul said it well,
4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Romans 6:4 (NLT)
So repeat these last words of Jesus with me, knowing that the Holy Spirit with strengthening you, and help you make them your own.
Into your hands, I commit my Spirit…
And in God’s hands, in the Father’s hands, you will know peace that goes beyond your understanding, even as it guards your weary hearts and minds, for as you died with Christ in His death, so you find life in Christ. AMEN!
A Tithe to Remember
May the grace of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ bring such comfort and peace, that you with joy commit your spirit into their hands
As this service draws to close, there is something we need to discuss, something I need to encourage you to do, that you might not want to do.
I am here to convince you to tithe.
Is that okay Pastor Rich? You aren’t going to mind if I talk about tithing a little, right?
By the way, by tithing I am not talking about a measly 10 percent of your net, or better 10% of your complete worth.
I am going to talk about a tithe of 100 percent.
The goal is to give it all to God, for that is what Peter is talking about when he tells believers,
“For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21 (NLT)
To tithe, to give it all, to take up your cross,
It is difficult, but not as difficult as you think. For Jesus shows the way, even as He utters these words,
46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last. Luke 23:46 (NLT)
I entrust my spirit, or as the translation here has, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”
When we hear Paul say, imitate me, as I imitate Christ, this is the kind of tithe we are talking about.
When we hear Jesus say, take up your cross that too is part of this tithe which we speak
So are you ready to tithe?
II. Christ’s tithe.
To tithe, means to commit, to entrust, to give over.
It is what Jesus does, as He entrusts everything to the Father as he is dying. Not 10 percent, not holding back anything. Theologians will talk discuss whether this is an act of the human part of Jesus, or the divine part, missing the point.
Jesus trusts the Father. They committed themselves to our salvation, before the world was began. You see it during all the work God did with Israel, assuring us of Christ’s presence, His love. And here, in the depth of His pain, as he bears the weight of the sin of the world, as He bears the weight of our sin.
Jesus entrusts Himself to the Father. He tithes.
He endures to the end, trusting in the Father, and the promises the Father made to us.
He entrusts Himself to God the Father, even as we should.
That is tithing,
Trusting, having faith, believing that the Father will keep to His promises.
III Our tithe.
So now, let’s talk about you and I, and how we take up our cross, how we walk in Jesus steps, how we are to tithe, commit, and entrust our Spirit to Christ.
The simple answer is, you already did. Well you didn’t…God took care of that for you. Nevertheless you are committed into His hands. You just need to realize it.
When a pastor poured water over you, or dropped you into a baptism tank, it wasn’t the pastor at work. It was God, taking you into His hands, promising to care for you, body, soul, spirit and mind. He united you to the cross with Christ, nailing your sins there, but promising that by the power that raised Christ from the dead, you would know that resurrection as well.
He committed Himself to holding you in His hands. He tithed you, completely into His hands.
When you hear a pastor forgive your sins, you are reminded, you are not your own, you’ve been bought with a price, the price pain on that cross.
When you are given His Body, when you drink His blood, the promise remains.
He died for you, and you shared in that death.
Even as you hold His body and blood in your hands, He has placed you into His own. He tithed you there.
When He says, Father, into Your hands I commit my Spirit… we are there, the children of God, the sisters and brothers of Christ, united to God through the death of Christ.
Here His words from the apostle John:
19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. John 17:19 (NLT)
All this, the sermons, the music, the service, is here to convince you to persuade you of this, that as Christ tithes, as He commits His Spirit to the hands of the Father, so all in Christ are placed there too.
Secure, saved, redeemed, in Christ. Dead to sin, and alive to Him.
(for the Greek and Hebrew Scholars out there, yes, I know that there is a word in Hebrew that means 10th, and iithemi – or paraTITHEmi is the word in Greek. Yet a tithe in Hebrew is a iving that represents ownership of the whole, by the one the 10th is given to.)
Treasuring God’s Gifts!
He has Given Us the Right to Use His Name!
Exodus 20:7, Romans 10:11-17
In Jesus Name!
May the glory of the cross, the love of God revealed, remind you that you are children of God, and can therefore cry out to the Father!
We have almost completed our journey through the Decalogue, through the masterpiece God makes of our life, so beautifully described in words we normally call the Ten Commandments. The journey where we have not heard them as hastily written words, given to cramp our style, to forbid fun.
Instead we remember to hear them as the words of God, which describe for us a way of life He considers His masterpiece.
On this day, when we hear Jesus cry out, “it is finished”, when we know of His cry, “Father, Into Your Hands I commit my spirit,” may we realize we can cry out to the Father, for that is why He has given us His name… to use.
The Third (4th) Word
The Third “word”, the “third commandment” is simple, “Do not use God’s name vainly” or to no good purpose. If we think it through, that command is simply a correction, a clarification to the idea that we are called to use God’s name.
For as we heard, all who call on the name of the Lord will be delivered, we will be saved.
There are people who misuse God’s name, using it basically in frustration, in anger, to condemn, to mock God, and often His people. That is sin.
There are also those who do not use His name at all, to lift others in prayer, to offer comfort, even the comfort of a glass of water, who do not care enough about others eternity to share God’s love with them, so they will know heaven and not hell. Those who do not use His name to reconcile, those who refuse to forgive – for that too is the proper use of His name, and to not do so, is sin.
Seeing the Gospel
When William was born, we were shocked by his pediatrician giving us her cell-phone number. She has a large office, and an incredible caseload. Over the years we’ve called it, and been surprised when we didn’t get a answering service, but that she answered it herself.
How many places can you call, where the boss picks up the phone? Never mind that, where a real person does.
Yet, God, Creator of the Universe, expects us to call out to Him, to give Him our burdens, to ask Him for forgiveness.
That is what the cross is all about, that is what this time and this place is all about.
God gathering His people here,
Gathering His people, marked by His name.
For Christ has been lifted up…..
We have been lifted up with Him.
Lifted up into His presence, into His place of peace, The peace that goes beyond all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN.