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It is not preaching unless…It is not worship unless…

Come and see the wonders of God; his acts for humanity are awe-inspiring. Psalm 66:5 (CSBBible)

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:26 (CSBBible)

When we journey without the cross, when we build without the cross, when we profess Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly; we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

When somebody inquired whether a person [under the papacy] would be saved if he had not embraced this teaching of ours, he [Martin Luther] replied, “I really don’t know. God might have had regard for his baptism. This could do it. Even so, I have seen many [monks] die with a crucifix held before their eyes [as was then customary]. In spite of everything else, the name [of Christ] proved to be effective on their deathbed.”

When Jesus comes to the soul in Holy Communion, he brings to it every grace, and specially the grace of holy perseverance. This is the principal effect of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, to nourish the soul that receives it with this food of life, and to give it great strength to advance unto perfection, and to resist those enemies who desire our death.

Most of my college professors were focused on reading, studying, and preaching the Bible verse by verse. That is called exegetical preaching. Exegesis is the art of drawing the message from the text. All the professors taught this way,  except one, my preaching professor. He would criticize me to no end, saying that “unless you preach the gospel, you may have given a good message, but you haven’t preached. And that gospel requires you to bring them to the cross. (Doug Dickey, multiple times in 1984-1986. He wanted you to include God’s grace, God’s love, God’s mercy, and if you didn’t – back to the library you went until you did!

I think that needs to be a rule, not only for preaching but for worship. We need to bring the people of God to the cross – We need to be there as well! Oh, do those who preach and lead worship need to come to the cross! We need to see with the Psalmist – the wonders of God as He acts on our behalf!  We need to see Him take on death and destroy it!  We need to see Him triumphant over our sin! That is why the Lord’s Supper explains the giving of Christ’s Body and His Blood shed for us! The entire service needs to focus there to journey with the cross throughout the week! 

The cross needs to be there; the sermon and the sacrament need to draw us to Jesus! Look at the monks Luther describes, as they die, they just wanted to focus on the crucifix, to be in awe of God’s love for His people.

Can you preach verse by verse and still proclaim the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus? I believe so, but will the cross and the resurrection be your primary focus? The same question may be asked to those who preach topically,
who do a series on marriage or faith. Or those who preach from the pericope, the rotation of verses over 1 or 3 years. You must go to the scriptures, see how they point to Jesus, and work on that passage until you figure out how!  The same as the worship service is formed, how does each song, each reading, each prayer draw people into Christ and make them more aware of His love! Of course, the decision on whether to offer commune fits there as well! Where else is the work of God as manifest at that moment, as people commune with the Body and Blood of Christ? (1 Cor. 10:16)

It is not preaching unless Christ crucified is revealed, nor is it worship if we are not brought to that cross in awe and celebrate that death was for us. This is why we gather… this is the refreshment given. It is time to celebrate!

Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 125.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 87–88.

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 224.

We Could Not Die Eternally… So He Died: A Good Friday Sermon Worth Reading on Saturday!

We Could Not Die Eternally
So He died…
John 19:28-30

In Jesus Name

May the Death of Jesus prove to you the love of God!

  • Do we “get it.”

You have come here or are watching online because it is Good Friday. Hopefully, that means you know a little about Jesus and why we have a wooden thing hanging over a thing that looks like a table.

Your knowledge has to go deeper than that… and it has to go deeper than he died to pay for your sins.

That is important, but it is the first step on a journey. Perhaps it is better to picture it as having the door opened and being invited into a home built just for you.

What the cross opens up for you is amazing.

A.W. Tozer explained it well,

That life in the Spirit that is denoted by the term “deeper life” is far wider and richer than mere victory over sin, however vital that victory may be. It also includes the thought of the indwelling of Christ, acute God-consciousness, rapturous worship, separation from the world, the joyous surrender of everything to God, internal union with the Trinity, the practice of the presence of God, the communion of saints and prayer without ceasing.[1]

This is what the cross opens up to us, a life that is acutely aware of the presence of God, and that awareness leaves us in awe, but not in terror.

We know we are welcome.

  • Sin Exists

This is not to say our sin is meaningless. It would take the death of Jesus to atone for it.

Our sin is severe; it is not just waived away as if it was meaningless. The hurt and pain it causes are real. Very real. We can’t just dismiss it, saying that it is dealt with.

We must realize what it could have cost us.

Everything.

We could be heading to hell, the place we deserve, because we chose to separate ourselves from God. We may think it a little sin, or we may know it is a humongous sin.

It’s real, it is no joke, and it is what the death on the cross saves us from, as Jesus took on the burden of all our sin….

Jesus once told the apostles and Peter that the gates of hell could not prevail against the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. In saying that He was saying what comes at the cross, nothing can keep the sinner from being saved, from being rescued, for Christ has broken the power of sin and death.

But what happens next… what does this mean…

How do you make sense of His brutal death?

Especially when he could have stopped it, with the snap of a finger?

  • This is love – we couldn’t

This is what it is all about! This ministry that we have here focuses on the cross, not as the most important thing, but as the entrance into that.

Just as baptism, absolution, and the Lord’s Supper are pipelines of grace, so is the cross a point of grace, the light that shines in the darkness – drawing us to Jesus.

This is the point of God’s love.

He couldn’t let us die eternally; that was not His plan.

We couldn’t die eternally…. So He died…

This is what grace is… this is what love is…

This is God’s desire to spend eternity with you.

Trust Him; he laid it all on the line… so you would know you are loved.

AMEN!


[1] A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

The Early Morning of the Cross: A sermon on Mathew 26:36-47

Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

We could not.. so He did!
So Go Ahead and Rest?
Matthew 26:36-47

Jesus! Son! Savior!

May you find in the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ God’s grace and experience true peaceful rest!

  • What was Jesus’ Body Language

I wish I was there in the garden.

I wish I could see and hear Jesus as he came back for the third time, and found the disciples asleep, and said,

“Go ahead and sleep! Have your rest! But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

Was Jesus angry, resigned, disappointed?

Did his voice betray His emotions? Was He so tired and anxious he couldn’t control his feelings?

As importantly, how did the apostles hear this?

How much did they realize that a few days later, they would be guaranteed a rest…

  • They Could Not, Neither Can We!

If there ever was a night for Jesus to be frustrated with the apostles, it was this night.

It starts off with two apostles fighting like 4-year-olds about who gets the best seat, the one next to Jesus. DaVinci thought John won the argument – for he is pictured next to Jesus in his painting of the Last Supper. They argue, and Jesus teaches them a lesson by bending down and washing their feet.

The evening gets worse as Peter once again says that his will and intellect are better than Jesus’. Nope, I am not going to let you care for me, Jesus. Nope, no way in…what was that?  Err… Uhm.. let me re-think that….will you, please, and wash not my feet but everything while you are at!

Then that thing with Jesus, but if you heard the first gospel tonight, which apostle thought he was capable of betraying Jesus? That hit me this week in preparing; each of the disciples thought they could possibly be the one who would betray Jesus…

Sounds like guilty consciousness!

Hmm… I wonder how many of us would have asked?  If you think you would not have, a straightforward question.

Have you betrayed him today? Have you chosen to sin or simply overlooked that what you are doing is sin?

Then you should have said, “is it me, Lord?”

As if that wasn’t enough, they kept falling asleep when the Lord Jesus needed their encouragement.

Finally, after He tells them it is okay to rest… they will run away, deny him and stay their distance.

I am not trying to make you feel guilty, but I want you to understand this… you are not any better than James or John, Peter or Matthew.

We could not avoid sin… and knowing that means we need to rely on the message that has been shared all Lent long.

We could not…so He did…

  • Go Ahead and Rest

With all that, hear Jesus’s words again,

“Go ahead and sleep! Have your rest! But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

I choose to hear this given the theme. Jesus looks on us weary, broken, crushed by sin, and unable to save ourselves and says that we can rest because He was treated as a sinner by sinners.

What we cannot do, He did, staying awake through the anxiety, through the pain, enduring the wrath of God, and enabling us to dwell in peace.

How stunning it is to hear Him tell us to rest in that case! How grateful we can be for what He has done!  How grateful for what He was doing this night and into the darkness of the morning!

This is the love that makes a difference in our lives! The love that would intentionally do what we cannot because of our sin.

But because He did, we can experience peace, the purest peace, and the love that goes past all understanding.

We need to know this… especially when we are weak, when we are so weary, we can barely focus.

He has not abandoned you or me.

He chose to love us… and do what we could not.

….

SO let’s find that rest, as we let Him once again cleanse us from sin and all unrighteousness, and celebrate as He gives His Body and Blood to sustain us.

Thoughts on the day before the cross: You don’t have to settle for a “victorious Christian Life!” There is something far better!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

7  I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8  I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. 9  No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. 10  For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. 11  You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 16:7-11 (NLT2)

The deeper life has … been called the “victorious life,” but I do not like that term. It appears to me that it focuses attention exclusively upon one feature of the Christian life, that of personal victory over sin, when actually this is just one aspect of the deeper life—an important one, to be sure, but only one.
That life in the Spirit that is denoted by the term “deeper life” is far wider and richer than mere victory over sin, however vital that victory may be. It also includes the thought of the indwelling of Christ, acute God-consciousness, rapturous worship, separation from the world, the joyous surrender of everything to God, internal union with the Trinity, the practice of the presence of God, the communion of saints and prayer without ceasing.

I have known a few dark times in my life… to be honest, more than a few. I’ve done enough battling wondering why crap happens to me and those I care about. The Psalms explain many of those dark days. matter of fact your can’t praise God, if He wasn’t the one who delivered you from dark days. Such is Psalm 16, as you can’t help noticing the depth of the writer’s pain.

So when I see posts about being victorious, or claiming that life is “better’ with Christ, that everyone in Christ is an overcomer, I take a step back, and want to hear how they are saying this, and how they define victorious, or what it means to overcome.

I resonate deeply then with Tozer’s words, there is something far deeper in life than simply winning a victory or a battle. There is something far deeper, and far more meaningful.

Realizing the presence of God, whether life is victorious or not! Knowing His promise that even if we die, we shall live..

That is more than enough…

Whether life is great or life sucks, the presence of God is going to be there for you. Not to change the situations, but to change us… much as the psalmist described… chaging our focus, remidning us of the promises.

That presence means everything… and I have known it, even the midst of suffering.. (though somedays – need reminding)

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

Thoughts 4 Days prior to the Cross…

Thoughts for Monday on Holy Week:

7  No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 8  But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 (NLT2)

To know God, this is eternal life; this is the purpose for which we are and were created. The destruction of our God-awareness was the master blow struck by Satan in the dark day of our transgression.
To give God back to us was the chief work of Christ in redemption. To impart Himself to us in personal experience is the first purpose of God in salvation. To bring acute God-awareness is the best help the Spirit brings in sanctification. All other steps in grace lead up to this.

When the loving Shepherd,Ere he left the earth,
Shed, to pay our ransom,
Blood of priceless worth,—
These his lambs so cherish’d,
Purchased for his own,
He would not abandon
In the world alone.

Ere he makes us partners
Of his realm on high,
Happy and immortal
With him in the sky,—
Love immense, stupendous,
Makes him here below
Partner of our exile
In this world of woe.[1
]

St Paul wrote that the leaders of the world would not have allowed Jesus to
be crucified if they knew the plan of God. The irony is that He had to face
death in order for that plan to be effective. His crucifixion was not just to
pay for our sin.

Tozer explains it well; it is not just to pay for our sins that Jesus died.
It was to impart Himself to us, and the Spirit’s best work is to help us be
acutely aware of the presence of God.
This is what the church has to get
back to, to help people be aware of how God wants to be involved in our life,
to be intimately involved in every part of it. To be able to bring healing,
peace, comfort, and meaning to life as we work, empowered and guided by Him,
together in ministry.

This is where Holy Week is such a blessing, to spend more time at the place
where God grabs our attention. He draws us back to the cross, to the altar, to
the place where we let Him wash our feet and feed us the Lord’s Supper. It is
there we find the blessing that de Ligouri talks about, the fact that Jesus
never leaves us, that He is a partner in our exile.

Realizing this desire for not just a relationship with Jesus, but a deep
intimate one causes devotion to Him and dependence on Him. This isn’t about
being weak and broken and needing the healing that does come in Christ. It is
about what that leads to… what God has planned for us,

to know Him.

Lord, may this Holy Week give us the opportunity to gather around your
altar, to contemplate you sacrifice, and to know Your desire for us to be yours
.


A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

[1] Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 210.

How is this Overlooked? How many need this connection?

Devotional Thought for our Day:

Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry for help find no resting place. 19  Even now my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is in the heights! 20  My friends scoff at me as I weep before God. 21  I wish that someone might argue for a man with God just as anyone would for a friend. Job 16:18-21 (CSBBible)

15  I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. John 15:15 (CSBBible)

I have an extensive digital library. Thousands of books that I can search with on two different platforms. Devotionals, Theological Volumes, Sermons Collections. Only some of the commentaries referenced Job 16:21, an incredible plea for help. The rest were silent on this incredible passage.

In those programs, I can search scripture cross-reference indexes. These indexes exist to link one scripture to another based on common thought or topic.  They have developed over decades and usually provide significant links. I would have thought one of these indexes would link Job’s plea to Jesus’ statement… “I have called your friends.”

I am not sure why this oversight; I don’t know why Job’s cry for help is overlooked, but it is.

I’ve been in both places. I have cried for help in despair as deep as Job’s. I have tried to be there, pointing people to God during such troubled times. I have often wondered whether God listens and wondered what I’ve got to do to get His attention. That’s why I don’t like reading Job. His words resonate too well, although I know I cannot be considered as holy. Still, I want to know someone who is praying for me. I despaerately need to know someone is arguing on my behalf with God – even fighting on my behalf.

That is what the cross is, the ultimate argument that a sinner like me, a broken, oppressed person, can be made holy. Holding on to that thought sees me through times of despair and the times when our world’s brokenness is beyond the ability to cope.

Jesus is our friend. The friend who will plead with the Father.

He is Job’s answer, and mine, and yours…

Make the connection, don’t overlook this…

Rejoice in it instead!

 

 

Why Do YOU Need Jesus?

The good news of
GOD with us!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

53  Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in yourselves. 54  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them to life on the last day. 55  For my flesh is the real food; my blood is the real drink. 56  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them. 57  The living Father sent me, and because of him I live also. In the same way whoever eats me will live because of me. John 6:53-57 (TEV)

Too many want the Holy Spirit in order that they may have the gift of healing. Others want Him for the gift of tongues. Still others seek Him so that their testimony may become effective. All of these things, I will grant, are a part of the total pattern of the New Testament. But it is impossible for us to make God our servant. Let us never pray that we may be filled with the Spirit of God for secondary purposes.
God wants to fill us with His Spirit in order that we should know Him first of all and be absorbed in Him.

Had men but always recourse to the Most Blessed Sacrament to seek from it the remedy for their ills, they certainly would not be so miserable as they are.

If you talk to some, being a Christian is about making it to heaven. Talk to
another, and it is about Jesus’ social teaching. Talk to another, and it is
about being considered righteous by God. Some confuse that with thinking
Christians are always right! There is a myriad of reasons that people become Christians in their own minds.

There are many more why Christians call out Jesus, and as Tozer points out,
reasons people want the Holy Spirit to be manifest in our lives.

None of them are “the” reason.

I find that reason in John’s gospel, where Jesus gives his insight about His Body and His Blood. The fellowship, the Life together, the intimacy with God causes us to experience love and peace beyond all understanding. (see Eph. 3:18ff and Philippians 4:7) This is what all of Christianity, all of the scriptures, all the conversations at coffee shops with those struggling to have faith, has as its goal.

This intimate relationship, where God cares for His people, is why we need
Jesus. Anything else is not Life. de Liguori notes that those who seek the remedy to their ills (physical, social, psychological, all of the above) says that the misery leaves in the presence of Christ, especially as He is present in the Sacrament.This again is that peace that comes from dwelling in Christ, and His dwelling in you!

This fellowship, intimate this communion, is beyond the suffering we endure in this life. It is everything, for it will endure far beyond our time on this planet for we rise to live with Christ.  Going to the altar is the greatest of ways to look beyond this life to see that eternal connection. When we take, eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus, in and under the bread and wine. When we pause and recognize Him in this meal. This intimate relationship, which endures eternally… this is why we are drawn to Jesus, why He carries us to the Father…

This is why we need Him…

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 163.

Miserable Job? Try Worship while you work!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

13  Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Romans 6:13 (NLT2)

60 Forgive this digression, and, though we haven’t really gone off the track, let us return to the central idea. Be convinced that our professional vocation is an essential and inseparable part of our condition as Christians. Our Lord wants you to be holy in the place where you are, in the job you have chosen for whatever reason. To me, every job that is not opposed to the divine law is good and noble, and capable of being raised to the supernatural plane, that is, inserted into the constant flow of Love which defines the life of a child of God.

As I came up to with the title of this post, I thought of the 7 dwarves in Snow White’s famous cartoon, marching off to the mines singing “Whistle While You Work.” It is cute song at first, but try singing it at work when everyone is stressed out, or just about any Monday in a year!

Seriously, try researching how many people are not happy at work. First up in my search was Forbes, – 53% unhappy with their work! It gets worse, CNBC said 85% of the employees they surveyed are unhappy doing what they spend 40-50 hours or more a week doing!

Switching jobs won’t help, for all you would be doing is taking the job another person’s place, where they were unhappy. Trading misery isn’t a great option, for often the misery is found inside you, rather than just inside the building.

Maybe the answer then is something other that what you do?

One of my early mentors talked about who your real employer is, who you work to please. It isn’t your boss, or the head of your department, or even the owner of the company. You work for God, and the you work pays you to do that!

I am not saying spend all your time preaching in a break room, or being annoying with your faith in God. I am not advising you to become the apostle, prophet or evangelist that argues osmeone into the faith. Nor should you act like you are holier than the rest of the people at your workplace.

Instead, look at yuor co-workers are people who Jesus died for, because He loves them, just like He loves you! Look at your tasks as things God is using to draw you closer to Him. See every moment as one where you encounter God! As you do, you will realize the promises of God are for your work life as well as your lives at church and at home. If you are McDonald’s, or a Real Estate office, running a tractor or driving across country in a big rig, there you are with God. Even those in front-line, high stress jobs go about their lives in the presnce of Jesus, as the Holy Spirit is transforming them into His image.

This isn’t God’s law, you won’t go to Hell if you don’t do it. But it is living life the way He desires, casting cares, problems, sins into His arms, and dwelling in His peace and love. Find people that will remind you that the Lord is with you! Find little things that remind you of this.

And then be there, in the moment, with Jesus.

Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Dare I Demand What Is Mine by Right?

Photo by Wouter de Jong on Pexels.com

Devtional Thought of the Day:

17 If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. 18 What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News. 1 Corinthians 9:17-18

Grant, my Lord, that before I die I may do something for Thee!

The apostle does not belong to himself/herself, but is buried with Christ
(Col 2:12).
Any other way is to be ashamed of Christ and, therefore, to face
the eschatological consequences: “If anyone is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, also the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with his holy angels” (Mk 8:38).

The Apostle Paul writes something to contrary to our culture today.

He preached Christ crucified, and if that meant surrendering his rights, he did.

Even to the point where he would welcome chains, for then he could share the love of God with those guards to whom he was chained.

I wonder how many of us would be willing to do that today?

How many of us pray with de Ligouri that we could do something for God before we die? What suffering or sacrifice would we accept and embrace if that desire could be come true?

If you think I am trying to pour on the guilt to try and motivate you to serve God, to love your neighbor and your enemy, I am not. If you are feeling guilt over this, go back to the cross, go back and look at the love that Jesus has for you there, as He embraced the guilt as He removed your shame, as He embraced that cross for the joy that He would come to know, as you walk with Him in your life.

That is what it means that you aren’t your own, that you belong to Jesus. That you were untied to Him in His death, burial and resurrection, THat guarantees God is at work in and through you, the queston is do you see it?

THat is the job of pastors and priests, daecons and elders, Bible teachers, and 4 and 7 year olds who remind you that Jesus is with you…

at which point, thoughts about our “rightes” mean nothing, not compated to the love God has for us, as He trusts us to invite others into this divine fellowship.

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 140.

Pope Francis, A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings, ed. Alberto Rossa (New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013), 57.

Walking in Christ’s Light: We are concerned about others walk with Him

Walking in Christ’s Light:
We are concerned about others walk
1 Cor. 8:1-13

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ sustain you and those you encounter in life.

Anyone offer any food to idols recently?

I would like to start today’s message by asking an odd question.

When was the last time you ate a mean that was spiritually unclean because it was offered to an idol?

How many even know what that means?

So most of you couldn’t see arguing about that in a congregational meeting? You can’t see Tom and Dane or Jim and Manny, or Bob and Bob yelling and screaming at each other and threatening each other with physical harm over some bacon-wrapped shrimp?

However, other things that people contend are a big enough issue to divide a church or the Church.

Sometimes, the issue is big enough, like whether we are justified by grace alone. Or that Jesus was fully man and fully God. Another issue would be that the elements there on the altar are the body and blood of Christ un and under the bread and wine.

But with most things, even things we think are “religious”, we need to listen to that famous theologian, Captain Jack Sparrow:

“The problem is not the problem. Your attitude about the problem is the problem!”Law – Depending on what we know, rather than seeing people as people

We see this is in the words of St. Paul,

“Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.

Here is the problem – we all think we have all the knowledge on a subject. Whether it is about eating meat offered to idols, or how to properly be Lutheran, or about Politics, or Football or COVID. Our knowledge knows what is right, and that’s the end of the story, right?

No, if you think you know everything about a subject, then you know nothing. The knowledge you have, scripture says, makes you feel important, but it isn’t all there is on the subject.

And while that knowledge makes you feel important, there is a problem. Yo

Important compared to whom?

Who do you think you are better than?  Who has to be brought down low so that you can be more important?

There is the first sin, the sin against your brother or sister who you demand bow to your superior knowledge…

The second reason such an idea is sin is that if we claim to know it, all and scripture doesn’t mention it directly, we merely are playing God.

And while the Corinthians were arguing about food offered to idols, they were making themselves the idol, the final judge who condemn people based on their own knowledge.

You and I do the same thing. Our pride in our knowledge judges and condemns people for things that our preferences, rather than what God clearly reveals.

Or just the opposite… we don’t address the sin we know needs to be addressed because we know better than those judging us…

And the way we act, our attitude about our knowledge shows how we use it, that our idol is more important than the people of God.

Paul begs us to not worship idols, these things that we make to be the gods we rely upon, whether in heaven or on earth. Because we have something more.

Gospel – seeing for whom we live in through whom we have a life!

Hear Paul again,

But for us, There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live! (exclamation point mine)

Instead of relying on our own knowledge, instead of turning the knowledge we have collected from man and making that data the basis for our lives, this matters

There is God the Father, who created you.

And there is God, our Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Father, through whom we have been recreated, and through whom we live.

In other words, everything we are, everything that defines us, everything that makes a difference in our lives is found in our relationship with Jesus…

The relationship defines everything about us, for God is our God.

I need to repeat that,

The relationship defines everything about us, for God is our God.
Through the scriptures, the knowledge He gives us – even that needs to be used in a way that draws people to Jesus.

For He died to do that!  That is why our sins are forgiven so that we realize we live for God and that we live through God!
 
Looking at Him – people matter

The last point in this sermon comes from the first verse.

But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

If knowledge causes us to feel important, love helps us realize that others are important.

That our freedom isn’t worth driving a wedge between them and God because they feel guilty for doing things they feel are wrong, but that we know is okay.

That is why Paul says he will go without meat or bacon. Too many didn’t know their freedom there, and rather than force them to approve of what they consider sin, he would go without…

For man doesn’t live by Woodranch alone. But man because of the very word of God… the word of God which declares our sin forgiven, that declares this bread and wine to be the Body and Blood of Christ, that declares us to be the family of God, and invites us to this feast…

Where we can pause, and find rest and peace in the presence of God…. AMEN!

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