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Through You I Will Shine!

Through You I Will Shine

Isaiah 49:1-7

† In Jesus Name

 As you dwell in the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, may you realize that His glory shines through you, doing far more for His Kingdom than you could ever imagine!

Who is this servant who brings God glory?

As we hear this call from Isaiah to pay attention, to hear his words, written to us from distant lands and who are far far away, we need to ask the question.

Hear part of it again, starting in verse 3,

“He said to me, “You are my servant Israel, and you will bring Me glory”

So here is the question – who is it that is saying this?

Who is God’s servant, who will bring God the Father glory?  Who is it that God says to, “through you I will shine?”
The Sunday School answer is Jesus, some scholars would says the nation of Israel, others might indicate it is Paul, and missionaries and people who want to see the church grow may say it is…us.

Yet, who is this servant whom through God says “you will bring me glory”, or as I titled the sermon – “through you I will shine?”

I think we need to dig through more of the passage in order to find out.

What about this feeling of uselessness?  Is that Jesus or Us?

If we are going to find this person or persons out, let’s look at the next sentence:

4  I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.

That’s a proper response to realizing that God chose us from before our mother’s gave birth to us?  That is the response to realizing God knew our name – even then?

4  I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.

I think this would put many of us in contention for who this passage is about.  We know God’s called us, we know He knows our name.  Yet there are days where we wonder if our efforts to be faithful are working.  When our prayers don’t seem to be answered, where we have spent ourselves, exhausted ourselves in our efforts to build His kingdom, or some days, our efforts just to endure.

So is this passage about us then?

If it is, then can we finish the verse?

Yet I leave it all in the LORD’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”

The real struggle in life isn’t enduring those times, but in leaving things in God’s hands, in trusting Him to make the situation be what He promised, when He promised that all things work for good for those who love Him, whom He called according to His will. When we look around us and wonder, why aren’t things reflecting the love of God, why does not it look like we are blessed by God?

Here is the catch, while we may know these feelings at times, they are also true for Jesus.  Think of the words he uttered in tears looking over Jerusalem,

 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. Luke 13:34 (NLT)

Later He would say,

Luke 19:41-44 (NLT) 41  But as they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42  “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.

Just in case we in our pride think Jesus only felt this way about Old Testament Israel, read the letters to the church in Revelation, for there we see God’s call to Christians like us, who struggle to realize they are His.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus knew these questions as well, for He was tempted in every point, just as we are. Yet He was able to commit Himself into the Father’s hands

So is He the servant through whom God will shine?  Or are we?

The final “qualification”

If we go down to verse 6, there is another point to consider; that will help us determine whether this servant is us, or Jesus, or someone else.

6  He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Surely this points to our Lord, it is the very concept we sing of in the Nunc Dimitis, those words of Simeon when he saw the infant Jesus. For his ministry was seen to be just to the Jews, to restore them, that they would be readily identified as the people of God.  His ministry went beyond that, reaching out even to us, 2000 years later, in a far distant land, the land that Isaiah calls to listen, and pay attention!

I do not think it is only about Jesus though.  In our Bible Study, we’ll see Paul used the same language about Paul’s call into ministry, and about others. I would include, ABOUT US!  The people of Concordia, the people that God gathers here in the this place.

Even with this last qualification, there is a strong point to be made – that we are part of this….

The realization of the Gospel

To make my point, I will refer back to last Sunday’s sermon on Romans 6.  In the call and response we re-learned I said something – based on Paul’s understanding of our being united to Christ in Baptism….let’s see how good your memory is….

The call was, Alleluia!  His is Risen!  To my saying that, the new response is…

( “therefore WE are risen indeed!  Alleluia )

It is critical to understand the gospel, to learn to place it all in the Lord’s hands, to trust in God for the reward, that we are that united to Christ’s death and resurrection.  We need to realize that we find life in Him, and that the Holy Spirit dwells in each one of us that God has called by name, those whom He recognizes as His people.  (even if we do not yet)

So this passage is about Jesus – but because it is about Jesus, it is about us as well!  We can learn to leave everything in His hands, and trust in Him that it will be made right.  We can see that He has called us, knowing us and forming us in our mother’s wombs, and that our words can bring people to know that they are righteous in the sight of God, for that is His judgment for those who know Him.

Our strength isn’t spent for nothing and no purpose, our work isn’t useless.

The answer to that attitude is found not in trying different things, or working the old things harder.  Instead, its found in realizing that we are in Christ.

Even to the phrase that our ministry is not just found here, among the people we love.  Rather God uses us, our words, our work, to reach people throughout the world, and will continue to do so.  For what Paul said in our epistle reading this morning, to the church in Corinth.  Look there in your bulletin, for the verses are highlighted,

I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.

And let’s start at verse 7 for the second one..

Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

For there, in partnership, in communion with Christ, we find who we’ve been called to be, the children of God. For there in Christ we know that God will shine through us!  That we will reflect His glory, and dwell in Him.

Knowing that, we find a peace that passes all understanding, which guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!  AMEN?

Alleluia He is Risen….therefore We are Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Alleluia, He is Risen! Therefore

We are Risen Indeed!

† IHS 

May you rejoice as you realize the gifts of God our Father, poured out on you in Baptism, as we are united with Christ’s death and Resurrection!

 

It’s not just for Easter Season!

For someone whose been to church for a while, some phrases we say are as automatic as responding to someone who sneezes.

They sneeze, we say, “God bless you”

For those who’ve been around this church and many others, if I were to say, “The Lord is with you”…. Hahaha… I knew some of you would not wait to hear me respond…so please – don’t respond to this next one…

“Alleluia! He is Risen@” you would normally answer, “He is Risen Indeed!”

Not today, today I want you to respond, “Therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

Let us try it – “Alleluia – He is Risen!”

therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

One more time?

“Alleluia – He is Risen!”

therefore we are risen indeed!  Alleluia!”

We desperately need to understand this – that because He died, and He rose, we too with the church in Rome, can consider ourselves to be dead to the power of sin, and alive to God, through Christ Jesus.

That has to become part of our daily thought, to realize we are dead to sin, and alive to God through Christ.  As it does, we become more and more aware of His love for us, and His walking with us through life.

How we would want to live

With 15 years of being a fulltime pastor now, I think one of the greatest challenges that exist for people is to understand the Doctrine of Justification personally, in their daily lives.  Or to put it clearly – to get the connection between the phrase Alleluia! He is Risen, and “therefore we are Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!

We know how God expects us to live, loving Him, loving those around us.  We understand that is God’s salvation is His gift to us, and it is found in trusting Christ, not in our works. Many of us have known these truths as long as we can remember. 

Yet when we look at our lives, we struggle, because there great truths aren’t always seen in our daily actions, We know what’s good, but can we live that way throughout our lives? It’s a paradox, one that can make us question whether God really is active in our lives. Or take the opposite tack, and try to excuse and defend our sin, rather than seeking the comfort

Though we think more of Romans 7 and 8 when we talk about our struggle with sin,  it really begins here, in the first verses of chapter 6.  Here Paul begins to address sin, and our being declared without sin, because of Jesus.  We lose our ability to just dismiss it, or justify it’s constant presence in our lives.  First, he deals with the dismissal, that sin isn’t that big of a deal, because God is glorified as He forgives and cleanses us of sin.  Therefore, more sin equals more glory, so no big deal?

He says we can’t let that attitude even be born in our lives, because, we’ve died with Christ.  Having died with Christ, why should we go back to it?

Paul strips away our excuses for our sin, by reminding us of what happened.  Being in bondage to sin isn’t our normal way of life anymore.

Hear the Message! 

That’s the key to this passage, sin and its power over us is history, sin doesn’t have the power we once knew it to have.  It cannot, for we have been baptized into Christ, joined with Him

And as we have been united with Christ – the words are incredible there – we are nailed to the cross with Christ, they are compound words – syn-staurothe – crucified together with Christ, Synthapto, buried together with Him.  The prefix syn indicating a communal aspect – all together in this, sharing in it, one with Him in His death.

These picture us so untied to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that we can’t be separated from it,   Paul then goes on to say, if this is true regarding being one with His death, we will be one with His resurrection, in His tossing aside death, in His leaving sin so powerless – that we are considered dead to each other.

For Alleluia!  Christ is Risen! Therefore?

Consider yourself…

So what do we do?  We realize what Paul is saying to the church in Galatia as well,

24  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.   Galatians 5:24 (NLT)

That is what living in Christ is all about – about leaving our sin, our passions and desires, nailed to the cross – and when we struggle with sin, to bring it back there and leave it where it belongs.

You’re dead to its power – and alive to Christ.  Because God claimed you in baptism.

When we said earlier that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, that’s what we know, yet it is something for which we need daily reminder. It’s why we pray that God would lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil, so that we will know He does. It is why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and hear St Paul say that every time we do this, knowing Christ, we proclaim His death until He comes again.

Because in proclaiming His death, we are proclaiming the victory, the liberation of us from the power of sin.  Delivering us into a life filled with the Father’s love and mercy and comfort and peace.

So you sinned this week, God’s dealt with it, and when you face temptation, your struggle is not to overcome it by your own strength, but to look to Christ, know you are in His presence, flee to His side, to the cross, and know that sin cannot defeat you there. Remember you are baptized into Christ’s death, and raised with Him, think of the body and blood given to you in this place, and know God has separated you from your enemy sin.

That’s what this service, and Sunday School, and our Bible study are all about.

To help us know this.

That we are dead to the power of sin, and alive to God through Christ.

For Praise God, He is Risen, and therefore we are risen indeed, Alleluia?

 

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