Category Archives: Sermons

Forgiveness is necessary for us to function Genesis 45 Joseph and his brothers February 24, 2019

[click on the icon above for the audio version of this sermon]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit. And all those who have been forgiven said… AMEN!

Red Sox Hall-of-Fame third baseman Wade Boggs hated Yankee Stadium. Not because of the Yankees; they never gave him that much trouble but because of a fan… one fan. The guy had a box seat close to the field, he would torment Boggs shouting obscenities and insults, hard to imagine one fan getting under a player’s skin, but this guy had the recipe. One day as Boggs was warming up, the fan began his routine, yelling, ‘Boggs, you stink’ and variations on that theme. Boggs had enough. He walked directly over to the man, …and said, ‘Hey fella, are you the guy who’s always yelling at me? The man said, ‘Yeah, it’s me. What are you going to do about it?’ Wade took a new baseball out of his pocket, autographed it, tossed it to the man, went back to the field to his pre-game routine. The man never yelled at Boggs again; in fact, he became one of Wade’s biggest fans at Yankee Stadium.

Love your enemies. It might change them, and we know it will change you.[1] There’s, not a lot of forgiveness between the Sox and Yankees, there’s a video of the classic brawls of the past. Forgiveness is in short supply in this day and age. More and more it’s all about me; my opinion is the ultimate consideration, nothing else matters, but that I get my way no matter how misinformed I am or chose to be. “Don’t try to confuse me with the facts” is more often the creed of the day. Reality isn’t the issue, it’s all about my opinion and my dignity.

This attitude is so destructive, so negative, the negative ripples tear things apart. Churches are very susceptible. Instead of progress, easier to get bogged down in opinions, or if there is a decision, there’s no forgiveness or support. Daytona just happened last week, also from sermons.com the following illustration showing how destructive the lack of forgiveness can be:

Some years ago, as a hundred thousand fans watched, Richard Petty ended a 45 race losing streak and picked up stock racing’s biggest purse–$73,500. It happened at the Daytona 500. Petty’s win, was a complete surprise. Going into the last lap, he was running 30 seconds behind the two leaders [30 seconds is forever, people have won the Tour de France by about ten seconds, 1100 miles of racing]. All at once the car in second place tried to pass the No. 1 man on the final stretch. This caused the first car to drift inside and force the challenger onto the infield grass, and slightly out of control. What happened next was incredible. The offended driver pulled his car back onto the track, caught up with the leader, and forced him into the outside wall. Both vehicles came to a screeching halt. The two drivers jumped out and quickly got into an old-fashioned slugging match. In the meantime, third-place Petty cruised by for the win.”[2]Those guys went from 1 and 2 prize money to who knows how far down, it cost them big!

I’m sure you’ve seen those kinds of situations where people shoot themselves in the foot because of their grudges. I had a woman show up at the church in York, going on about how people were hurting her, causing her all kinds of damage. The way she was talking made it seem like it was in process. I asked her when that happened and she said 19__, about fifteen years before. You could say mentally ill, but it’s often a “chicken-egg” thing, did the obsessiveness occur because of mental illness or was it the cause?

Tip O’Neil tells a story in his book about how people would talk about a group of just say those who didn’t like Irish-Catholics who burned down a convent in Boston. O’Neill thought it had just happened in the last few years by the way people talked about it. Come to find out, it happened around 1849.

Unforgiveness, distrust, an obsessive need to have things your way, regardless of how it affects you in the long run, how it affects your family, a group you’re a part of is just so destructive. It has such long lasting effects, and never results in anything helpful or uplifting.

Joseph is in the driver’s seat with his brothers. He could have just messed with them, made their lives miserable, caused all sorts of havoc inflicting payback, but 4,000 years later how would that be seen? God would have worked around Joseph. But clearly God was working His plan back that Jacob/Israel was an integral part of, who should have gotten a little payback from his brother Esau. On the other hand, we have received hundreds of generations later, as Christians is that Joseph knew what God was doing, later on he tells his brothers: “ESV Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Factor how many times God forgives us? The grueling torment Jesus underwent in order for us to be forgiven. Entirely in Jesus’ righteousness through His sacrifice we are saved. We are saved to an eternal resurrection of sheer delight beyond anything imaginable. Not because of how deserving we are, because … we aren’t. But in and through Jesus to eternity. Last week Jesus told us how much we would be hated because of Him. This week He’s saying “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Kind of tough to do. Joseph and his brothers became the patriarchs of Israel, heads of the twelve tribes sons of their father Jacob or as God named him, Israel . Joseph was resented because he was Jacob’s favorite, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat… He went to his brothers in the field and they left him in a ditch to die. Then changed their minds, sold him as a slave and then sold as a slave in Egypt. His master, Potiphar, gives him great freedom and trusts him, his wife, let’s say wanted more than just household help, when Joseph refused to betray his master like that, she threw a fit, falsely accused him of trying to seduce her. That ended him in an Egyptian jail, none of this very nice, but he comes to the attention of Pharaoh, becomes prime minister of Egypt, goes from the outhouse to the penthouse, the catbird seat to mix metaphors. Then his brothers show up looking for food, duh, duh, duh! But Joseph didn’t take the opportunity to hit back, or get into a match that wouldn’t have done anyone any good. He gave them the food they needed, then the whole tribe moves to Egypt. This is the way we’re treated in Jesus. We continually offend God, we continually fuss, quarrel, we say forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, we expect God to hold up His end, but we really don’t hold up ours. Jesus took that grueling torture, gave Himself to pay the price of sin and unforgiveness that we couldn’t pay. We dishonor Him in our lack of forgiveness in our fussing and lack of cooperation. We know that is not what the Christian church is about, the Body of Christ is not the forum to pursue quarrels, instead of working together to advance the Kingdom of Christ. Joseph forgave a lot in order to save his family and for everyone to move on to become Israel. Jesus forgave a lot and didn’t deserve any of what He endured. When do we forgive and look to the best interests of Jesus’ Church?

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin

[1] Phil Thrailkill, Loving Like God Loves   sermons.com

[2] Source unknown  sermons.com

Nehemiah Rebuilder, Restorer of Israel in faith to Yahweh January 27, 2019 Trinity Lutheran Chestertown, Md

[for the audio of this sermon, click on the above link]

Shamah O Israel, Yahweh Aloheny, Yahweh Ahar

I greet you in the name of our king Artaxerxes ruler of all Persia, all the kingdoms of the world. I was the cupbearer of great Artaxerxes, may he live forever. The cupbearer is a very important servant of the king. You might think of it as being sort of the king’s “food-taster”, I had other responsibilities for the kings security and supervised a staff that was responsible for his security. Artaxerxes took me into his confidence and looked to me for advice.

My name is Nehemiah, I am the son of Hack a liah. My family was brought here from Israel after they were conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonians were then conquered by the Persians, King Cyrus, and we have been in captivity by the Persians since then. When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel he decided to move many of the prominent people and families to Babylon and that is why we have been in captivity here for seventy years. But as Yahweh promised we are now being given the opportunity to move back to Israel and reestablish the land that Yahweh promised to Abraham almost two thousand years ago. Israel had become very evil and had drifted away from Yahweh and because of that Yahweh enabled Nebuchadnezzar to conquer Israel and exile most of the Israelites. It was through Yahweh’s power that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel, the Babylonians were used by Yahweh as a stick to beat us and turn us back to Yahweh and away from our evil practices and evil “gods”.

While we have been captives we have been treated with respect and given much freedom. We have come back to Yahweh as a result of the captivity, and as I said, we are now going back to Israel as He promised. Yahweh has brought us back to Him and we return to Israel as His people, dedicated to Him and to His Word.

When I was in Shushan one of my brethren Ha nan i came to see me. He had just returned from Jerusalem as part of the process of Hebrews returning to Israel. Not all of us intend to return. Like me, many of us have been born here, we have never even seen Jerusalem and have been allowed by the Persians to make good lives here. Many of us have become successful in business, and have become prosperous, started families, our roots are now here. Many like myself, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have been raised to positions of great authority and power, so for many of us it does not make sense to leave what we have gained and established here to return to Israel and to start over again.

As I was saying Hanani came to me after he returned from Jerusalem and what he told me was very troubling. He said: “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down and its gates are burned with fire.” (Neh 1: 3)

Please understand what this means, you simply cannot have a city that has no walls and gates. There are many threats, armies can simply march in and take whatever they want, our food, clothing, animals, all the things we depend on to live. There are many groups of bandits and marauders who will do the same thing. These walls protect us and our families. Our wives and children can be easily kidnapped and sold into slavery. If we expected to return to Jerusalem and successfully reestablish our lives, reestablish the society that Yahweh intends for us, we needed to have protection.

I did not know things were in such terrible condition. “…when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” I will tell you some of my prayer: “…Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love you and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that you may hear the prayer of your servant which I pray before you now, day and night, for the children of Israel your servants and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You… We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name. Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom you have redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand.  O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name: and let Your servant prosper this day; I pray and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” (Neh 1: 5-11)

Since I was the King’s cup-bearer and had great influence with the king, I felt that Yahweh was guiding me to go to the king and ask him for his help. I took wine to the king, let’s face it, it’s not a bad thing to do something to loosen the king up before you ask him for his help. I had a very sad expression on my face and the king asked me why, this wasn’t what I was usually like. “I became dreadfully afraid and said to the king, ‘May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?’

The King understood completely why I was so upset and concerned. I asked him if he would give me letters so that I could travel to Israel and that the governors of the provinces, on the way, would provide for us and give us protection. The king also gave me “a letter for Asaph the keeper of the king’s forests, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, [and] for the city wall…”(Neh 2: 8) Artaxerxes also assigned some of his army officers and horsemen to go with us to Israel for protection and guidance.

When we got there it was as bad as I had been told. To make matters worse there were men in Israel, Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite  and Geshem the Arab who found out that we were coming and weren’t  happy about our plans to rebuild the defenses of the city. These men were governors of the regions around Jerusalem and were perfectly happy with the way things were, they saw me as a threat to their rule and they did everything they could to keep us from restoring the walls and gates of Jerusalem.

After they saw that we were serious and making progress on our work they decided that they were going to do more than laugh at us, that they were going to attack us and drive us back to Persia so things could be the way they were. They saw us as a threat and decided they were going to remove the threat, us, before it became serious.

The workers were becoming tired and there was still much work to do, so much debris had to be removed so that we could start rebuilding the walls. We had to continue to work on the walls, that would be the only way we could assure that we would be safe. But in the meantime, we had to station men armed with swords, spears and armor behind the men who were doing the work. The men doing the work also had weapons near to them so that if there was an attack they would stop working and fight to defend the city. Well Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem didn’t attack us, but they tried another way. They tried to get me to come down to meet with them, they were accusing me of rebellion against Artaxerxes and were going to report to the king that I was trying to start a rebellion against him. They even paid Shemaiah to try to convince me that he had a prophecy from Yahweh that I was in danger and that he was going to protect me. He actually intended to kill me if I went with him.

Finally after 52 days and all sorts of conspiracies the wall was finished. It was time to give glory to Yahweh, to give thanksgiving and to celebrate. I as governor of Jerusalem had done my job to rebuild the walls and give the people returning to Jerusalem protection and a chance to rebuild our society and prosper in the land that Yahweh had promised to our father Abraham. Now our priest and scribe Ezra was called before the people to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So he did, standing on a platform above all the people of Jerusalem and from the first hour until the sixth hour of the day, every day for seven days he read to the people. They were all attentive and remained six hours to hear God’s Laws. When Ezra began reading the people would lift up their hands and shout Amin, Amin. At the same time we celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles and we feasted for seven days. On the 24th day of that month everyone gathered together and made a public confession of sins. We all joined together and confessed our sins and asked for forgiveness and the Levites ended by standing up and said: “Stand up and bless the Lord your God Forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything  on it, the seas and all that is in them, and you preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You… (Neh 9: 6)

Finally on the last day, led by all of the priesthood, we renewed the covenant made with God and took an oath that we would observe all the commandments of the Lord, our Lord and His ordinances and statutes. We would not marry with those who are not of Israel, we would not work on the Sabbath, that we would give our money and food to support the work of the house of our God.

Now God has sent His Son as He had promised from the beginning. We are not saved under the Law, but in the grace of Jesus. God delivered us and helped us to rebuild Jerusalem, now He has delivered all mankind through His Son Jesus. We now trust Him who died for our sins and gives us eternal life. Just as Yahweh did for us when He returned us to Jerusalem, so all of us who are in Jesus will be returned to the resurrection in the New Jerusalem.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin

Repent and be saved 1 John

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are not just about confessing and receiving forgiveness, but also about true repentance on their part said … AMEN!

Every Sunday we start worship with “Confession and Absolution”. We start with confession, we want to start our worship in a way that we’ve dealt with the sins of the past week, that we recognize that we need to start this time of worship truly opening up to God, knowing that we have failed, that we have offended Him through the week, and we want to deal with that before we start, we want to know we are worthy to be in God’s presence. We are sinners, but we are affirmed and forgiven in Christ, that we can come into the Father’s presence knowing that we are worthy, in Christ, to be in His presence. All that we’ve done in the past week to separate us from the Father, we come before Him now completely forgiven in Jesus. But there seems to be an element that is missing. You are completely forgiven in Jesus. I’ve had this discussion with the local parish priest. One of the issues Luther had was the idea that we are not completely forgiven in Jesus, that there still is this one extra element on our part in order to seal the deal and that is penance. As usual, when something is at issue, we lurch from one silly extreme to another, and we simply ignore that element which is in dispute. “If Jesus died for my sin and I confessed my sin, as we are told to do in James: “ESV 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” We are told to confess to one another, but there is still a little something missing. You’re not any less forgiven, you are completely forgiven, but… there’s a lack of intent on our part, when we omit our repentance. That we are truly sorry for our sin, that we want to do better. In our liturgy for individual confession, there is a place made for that. On page 292 in your hymnal, you will find “Individual Confession and Absolution”… wonder how many of you knew that was in there? The penitent can, if they wish, list out the sins that they are confessing, that are most weighing on their heart. Then: “They conclude by saying, I am sorry for all of this and ask for grace. I want to do better.” Generally that part gets omitted from our “corporate” confession, because we want to be good Lutherans and emphasize that we are forgiven and absolved in Jesus and we are! But that one little aspect of genuine repentance on our part, true regret for the things that we have done that are an offense against God, that do separate us from a truly, completely, holy God, we sort of omit them and decide that we’ve been forgiven, we can just move along until the next time. Gosh, I’ve done what I could, so let’s not dwell on it. What’s missing? Any thought of genuine sorrow and … how am I going to live my life in terms of not committing that sin, or any others in the future? The old man is always in us, our old human nature is always going to lead us to sin. We all know; “none are righteous no not one…” by the same token treating it as “drive by” absolution; I’m covered until the next time and I will just get forgiven then, that’s not being faithful in Christ, that’s not showing any desire to grow as a true disciple of Christ. What the rest of the world is about, “go along to get along”, then we wonder why nothing ever really changes in our life, why we always seem to be stuck in this spiritual adolescence. We’re all guilty of it, but it is how we deal with it. Judas and Peter, both deeply sinned against the Lord. Judas’ was straight out betrayal. But… Was it the unforgivable sin? No, not really. Peter also betrayed the Lord. A little girl confronts him and he almost hurts himself saying he has no idea what she is talking about, or who this Jesus guy is. One was forgiven… Peter! Peter is on notice, the angel tells the women go to the disciples and Peter, why is Peter singled out? Ya, Peter you messed up, your sin was very grievous, you denied me. My disciples are called to proclaim me and you ran away, the big tough fisherman, ran away like a frightened little rabbit. But who does Jesus take aside on that day on the beach and says “Feed my sheep”. Jesus is making sure that Peter knows he is being given an enormous responsibility. And Peter is obviously repentant. Judas? What did he do? Did he stay faithful in that room, in that period after the resurrection, waiting for the Lord to come back, trusting Jesus’ words in His resurrection? No! Judas didn’t even see the resurrection, he ran away too, but in a weaker way. He didn’t try to go back to Jesus and ask for forgiveness, to show repentance, genuine or not so genuine. He takes the issue into his own hands, he decides for himself that there is nothing left and he goes and hangs himself. Peter goes to Jesus in repentance, hangs his big head in front of Jesus and gets whacked right in the head… right? No, Jesus gives Peter a little poke, but much more importantly Jesus reorients Peter right away, gets him back on track; “Peter feed my sheep, get out there, do what you’re called to do, what you’ve been prepared to do for the last three years and bring My Word, My guidance, My Lordship and salvation, My resurrection to everyone the Holy Spirit guides you to, so that they will know “life and life more abundant”, go and build My church, with the other disciples, those who are here and those who to come, that all may be saved in true baptism, with My Body and Blood in My Church, My Body on earth, composed of all those who are saved in Me and who come together in My Church to reach out into the dark, sinfilled, death filled world. Bring the hope and promise of My Lordship and salvation to a hopeless world, with no promise other than death.

How did all that come about? Peter was repentant, he came back to lead, to wait on Jesus’ resurrection, trusting in Him, and not in his own opinion. Judas decided, by himself, he was beyond forgiveness, maybe too proud to go to Jesus in repentance, to truly trust that Jesus would forgive him and restore him. Judas, not Jesus, decided that Judas was irredeemable and the only result could be his death. That Jesus’ forgiveness did not have the power to forgive, at least not this sin. This was a really bad sin, so Judas decides on his own, that Jesus can’t help him and that he will now take matters into his own hands and decide the issue, once for all, to all eternity. Judas was guilty of the horrible sin of betraying the Lord, he was truly despicable. He was furthermore guilty of his lack of faith, that Jesus couldn’t redeem even this horrible treachery. Peter, in faith, humility and repentance returned to Jesus and was restored by Jesus. How many of us take the Peter way out, truly repent and look for restoration in Jesus? How many of us take the Judas way out, decide they aren’t going to repent, maybe they think repentance or anything else they do won’t be sufficient in order to restore us in Jesus? I’d say the majority of, even Christians, just decide to resolve the matter their way and not to trust in Jesus’ forgiveness. What way do you think truly works out?

Repentance is from the Greek word meta,noia the Greek word means: “a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done” you also see it translated a “change of direction”, I’m not following this route anymore, this constant sinful practice that I pursue as much as daily. That I am going to change that practice. Now, how do we really change? In our own strength? No… Jesus is faithful to us, the Holy Spirit does dwell in us and has been pushing us to realize our sin, to bring us not just to confess the sin, to acknowledge it, to put it out there to be forgiven. The Holy Spirit is also moving us to change our direction, another definition of meta,noia to go in a different way, a way that is 180 degrees the opposite of where we’ve been going. In a way that changes from offending God, to pleasing God. We can only do this through “repentance”. This is a concept that we as the church don’t emphasize, that doesn’t mean the church doesn’t condone repentance, it just doesn’t emphasize it, that we should be doing what we can and trusting in the Holy Spirit that He will lead us to true change and away from those things that do cause us to sin.

Here are some examples of, let’s say non-genuine repentance, in the sense I’m saying sorry, but I’m not really saying I’m sorry, no less making any meaningful personal change. The first one is not attributed, but is certainly illustrative: “I am very sorry if I called you bloatie, and booger faced, buttface, jerk, stupid, numskulls, what were you thinking if you had a brain, fur face, Lord bless me you stink so bad you make me faint, I’m sorry.”[1] Not genuine repentance, it is taking a further shot. Just wanted to make sure that was clear for everyone. In case we are not clear on this concept, allow me to give another example of what repentance is not, this is from Ty: “I’m sorry for kicking you with a feather. Kicking is not okay, because it hurts people. Also don’t forget about the time when you were a baby-crying little devil, but I liked you and now you still are a crying little devil who gets away with everything…”[2] Again, not genuine repentance. One more from Liam: “Miss P made me write you this note, all I want to say sorry for is not being sorry cause I tried to feel sorry but I don’t.”[3] I can see a great career in law, international diplomacy or corporate finance for Liam here. We don’t really come in true repentance, to church, to those around us, to ourselves in terms of doing anything for any meaningful change in our lives. We engage in drive through confession, expect to be given a clean slate when we pull up to the window and then decide to worry about it the next time, next week, next month, next Christmas, that we’re in church and have to deal with the pastor standing up in front of you and saying, “we rise for Confession and Absolution”. In your prayers let’s not make it just about confession, but Lord please change my heart, move me to change to be more pleasing to you and to those around me.” For Him who chose death on a cross, all of what He endured for us so that we would be forgiven and in relationship to God the Father. From now on, what did the Holy Spirit put in your mind to see forgiveness for and what did He put in your mind to lead you from your sins, to repent after He has forgiven you?

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom        He has risen! He has risen indeed! Hallelujah!

 

[1] https://www.ranker.com/list/funny-apology-notes-from-kids/ashley-reign

[2] Ibid

[3][3] Ibid

The Harassed and helpless of the world Matthew 9 First Saint Johns June 18, 2017

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who want to reach out to the suffering of the evil of the world said … AMEN!

Last week the Gospel lesson was the Great Commission … Matthew 28: … “ESV Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…” It was Trinity Sunday, Jesus is making us aware that what we do, and certainly baptizing and making disciples are two of the most important things we do, that it and all the other things that are done best when we keep in mind that we are doing it in the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ command in the Great Commission can certainly be understood in an additional way. What we see in today’s Gospel reading follows what Jesus is telling His disciples, including us, what He told them in Matthew 28. Our Gospel reading is Matthew 9, this is much earlier in Jesus’ ministry and before all of the momentous, triumphant events that have preceded the Great Commission and then His immediate ascension into heaven. Things are still pretty much the regular routine when Jesus sent His disciples out for their first tour as Jesus’ disciples, and certainly evangelists. He sees the people that have been following Him and these are people who really are without a shepherd. You may not feel an immediate need for a shepherd, someone to guide you, to give you protection and certainly when we talk about Jesus in this sense we are talking about someone, like a father, who is there to protect. Sure dads today protect. I think every father feels a duty to stand up for his family when his wife, children are being attacked, taken advantage of, suffering, floundering in the world. Paul writes: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”(Eph 2: 1-3) Jesus, the Son of God, certainly He sees this, He knows what these people are going through, He is that Shepherd. Yet He knows His sheep are living such aimless lives and are under constant attack from the evil all around us. Certainly Jesus feels a need to protect these people, and us, from the “attacks” Satan launches against us on a regular basis. Often those “attacks” don’t feel violent or hostile. Often those attacks consist of luring us away to the things of the world that we think give us pleasure, but always result in taking our focus off of Jesus, and making an idol out of the things we think are pleasing. Certainly fathers feel the need to do what they can to try and keep a straying child from falling into bad habits, destructive lifestyles. It’s not easy being a father in today’s world. The evil of today tells us that we’re entitled to these destructive lives. Sure the world doesn’t say it that way, yet we know how it ends up. So many people today, yes someone’s son or daughter, but not always young and immature, feel perfectly entitled to indulge in what they think they should have. The world doesn’t care about what your child does or messes their life up with. The world’s idol is almost always and ultimately, how can I make money off of this person. They won’t let their own children go down their evil path, but they’re perfectly happy to take the money from someone else’s child. The tragedy is ultimately there is a crash and burn and although the father tried to keep the child from crashing, now the child or other people expect the parents, often even the church to be there and help them pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives after their collapse. It’s often the father that has to step up, making life so much more difficult for fathers.

Can’t you imagine Jesus seeing this right before His eyes? All of these people followed Him around, day to day. His heart is breaking, like any father’s would, to see His children being harassed by the evil all around them. Unable to rebuild shattered lives, needing someone else to pick up what they caused in their rush to destruction, believing all the nonsense around them. Jesus is God the Son, but all creation came into existence through Him. No doubt He had a hand in the creation of all us, He is God. It bugs me when someone makes a reference to “Jesus our brother”. Since we’re God’s children and Jesus is God’s Son, well He must be our brother. Yeah, kinda, but really no. He is still all powerful God. He is man, but He is entirely God as we saw in the Athanasian Creed from last week. And no not even really our big brother, but certainly our God.

He knows every one of those people who are hungry, are oppressed, suffering, often as the result of their sins, their envy, greed, their search for pleasure instead of trying to grow in the relationship that Jesus offers them every moment of every day. Dr Jeff Gibbs writes: “the passive forms of sku,llw [harassed] “to flay,, skin and r`i,ptw “to throw” emphasize that the people are victims of evil spiritual forces around them that are beyond their control.” Dr Gibbs goes on to stipulate that the failure is not limited to those people who, because they are without a shepherd, or the shepherd is not faithful to them: “…their deplorable spiritual condition is caused in part by the failure of their spiritual leaders.”[1] That is also a two-way street in Christianity. In a world, today, where we see pastors who are trying to be faithful, pretty much ignored because they are seen as narrow-minded or naïve, and that the world is oh so much more accepting and “tolerant”. Sure, the world can afford to be tolerant, it doesn’t care how someone ends up and even has the chutzpah to criticize the church and the parents because they don’t do enough to help the people the world destroyed to function as adults again. It’s a bizarre world being a pastor in this day and age, and certainly the church has to bear responsibility in a lot of ways that it has not been faithful to the parishioner and the church has done itself harm by its passivity and failure to truly represent Christ and what He truly stands for and how He defends us against the evil of the world, the spiritual, demonic attacks that go on around us every day. But those in the church expect the church to fix those problems by providing material comfort, which in this day and age, serious churches no longer have the resources. But much more important than the material comfort, is the spiritual strength that the church should provide every Sunday morning, as a father provides strength and encouragement to his children. Not to be a faint echo of the world. What’s the point of having a church if it only weakly prattles about the world around us?

I would seriously hope people take Jesus’ words very much to heart in this passage. He knows full well the world that He is sending His men into, like a military commander, He knows He can’t protect His people from all the harm they could incur. But, He can and must prepare them in a way that they at least have every chance, not just to survive, but in order to achieve the objective. Jesus’ objective is clear, He wants His men to grow and have on the job training, bringing His hope and promise into the world. He wants the world to know that there is strength and protection and love and caring from Him in His church. No one is going to find it in a greedy, grasping, lying world that is only about telling anyone what they want to hear. That is not living, that only results in harassment, often physical sickness, disability, which we see all around us, all of the time. It’s time that we went out into the world to serve the Lord of the Harvest, in His harvest of the world. To see all of the harassed, helpless, sick, twisted, results of the world, to get serious about the church that Jesus has given us in order to stand strong against the lying, death dealing ways of the world. We see this smarmy, snarky, weasely attitude towards the church, inside and outside of the church. Our only hope is in Christ, He died in order to fully pay for our sins, He rose again to give us the promise of eternal life, fulfilling and life the way God had always wanted for us, not life the way the world uses to tear us down and destroy us. The church of Jesus Christ is important because it is what we have, as the Body of Christ, to stand up to all the evil around us. The church will always be, but if it continues to limp along, more and more of our families and those around us will be lost to eternal damnation because while we are the church, we chose not to act like the church.

Dads, you are expected to be those laborers, those who go out and protect and build and strengthen. It might even be casting out demons, we see the demonic all around us and quite often, only in the strength of the Holy Spirit, you need to stand up to those demonic forces, those snarky, smarmy forces that threaten our families. We should expect to suffer the slings and arrows of a nasty, evil, threatening world and do what you can to stand up for Christ and true life and ignore the taunts and nonsense of the world in doing it. No matter what our children say and do, they are looking for us to protect them. It’s often messy and unpleasant, but you, me, all men in Christ have to emulate the things that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have shown us to do to be true men of God and to reject the evil of the world.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

He has risen! He has risen indeed! Hallelujah!

 

[1] Rev Dr Jeffrey Gibbs  “Concordia Commentary  Matthew” p 495

A Spirit Not of Fear but of Power Matthew June 25, 2017 First St Johns

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who trust Jesus and are overcomers said … AMEN!

I’m sure many of you have had this discussion with your parent, to the effect, “But dad I don’t want to because I’m afraid of this person”. The response was to the effect “you have more to be afraid of me, then of aforementioned person.” I’m sure you’ve had the same thoughts in terms of “I don’t want to do this because I’m afraid of the reaction I’m going to get from someone else” and then come to the realization, I’d better be a lot more afraid of what God is going to think or do then the big monster I’m afraid of will do. I was afraid, [Rodney voice] I grew up in a tough neighborhood, the local restaurant only had broken leg of lamb on the menu.[1] On my street, the kids take hubcaps – from moving cars.”

Jesus makes it pretty plain, sure bad things can happen if you get someone in the world angry, but that’s not going to be anything compared to making God angry from failing to be faithful to His will. In fact whenever I’m in that quandary, after all is said and done, when I look back, I realize that the person/ thing/situation that I was afraid of, was nowhere near as big, bad or ugly as I thought. Furthermore, trusting in God usually results in an outcome I never expected, would never planned. I’m not giving you a Harry Potter incantation or Joel Osteen everything’s going to work out because God has a great plan for your life. He does, but not some Osteen formula. It’s according to the only words that matter, Holy Scripture.

Jesus talks about the one who has “endured to the end who will be saved.” While too many “Christians” have a rainbow and unicorn perception of Jesus, as we see in this passage, through the Gospels and particularly the Book of Revelation, to quote another writer: “The Bible teaches Christians to recognize that the world is a battleground, not a playground.”[2] To take Mr Dangerfield’s quotes, we all grow up in a tough neighborhood. We certainly have the assurance that Jesus will be faithful, that when we trust in Him we will be delivered. It might not seem like it, people do die, people do suffer tragedy, or, at least what we perceive as death or tragedy. We know many cases where we might think that someone has been treated unfairly, but what God has lead that person to do in that trial, that tragedy has, in fact, resulted in genuine blessing for that person, for others that they have served, have inspired, have reached. As Christians we know the ultimate tragedy is to be lost for eternity. While we may suffer in this life, and the reality is that we all suffer in one form or another. That we all have a cross to bear, ESV Luke 14:27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Arthur Just explains: “These are catechumens who have heard the Word, have left family and understand the costs of discipleship. But as they travel with Jesus to Jerusalem, they begin to encounter rejection and persecution…[this] corresponds to the seed that fell on the rock and withered because of lack of moisture, like those who receive the Word with joy but have no roots and fall away in times of temptation, which can include persecution.”[3]

It’s never my intention to, create fear in people. The words we see in the Bible emphasize being aware and faithful. Jesus told His disciples in this passage; “ESV Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” We are saved, we are protected, we are baptized, we eat the Body of Christ and drink the Blood of Christ, we are very much a part of Him, in the sacraments, in the Keys of the Church, His Body that we are very much a part of. We don’t, ultimately, have anything to fear. The same writer: “The Greek word most often translated “overcomer” stems from the word nike which, according to Strong’s Concordance, means “to carry off the victory. The verb implies a battle.” You probably remember the Nike missile, Nike sports gear. Needless to say in war and in sports, the point is victory. To take the simile a little further, the Nike slogan is “just do it”. I wish we, as Christians, understood that motto in terms of our witness to Christ instead of being fearful of rejection and embarrassment. Embarrassed for Jesus? hmmm, sort of where He says: “ESV Matthew 10:32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” When we are unfaithful, and put our trust in the world, and the things around us, just chose to punt, to give in to the world, Jesus is under no obligation to be faithful to us. If by our lives and our witness we demonstrate that Jesus is not important in our lives, why would we have the idea that we should be important to Jesus? Why should He stand up for us for eternity, when we won’t stand up for Him for just a moment in a world that is so temporary, so fleeting, so transitory? I have seen it so often, I chose not to stand up, I chose not to bravely confront and deal with a fraudulent world, but then expect someone to stand up for me and they are outraged that they’ve been left completely exposed. The world loves to set people up, as false witnesses, as Paul writes “to be slaves to sin … for the end of those things is death” (Rom 6: 20..21)

The real emphasis in the real language Jesus uses over and over again, is very much in terms of one who stays faithful, the one who endures, the one who while they are afraid, still endures. Many have the idea that the “brave man” has no fear going into danger. That would infer a really high level of stupid. I’ve seen plenty of brave men and women, people who’ve had to face actual, physical danger. They are acutely aware of the danger, and they are by no means stupid people. By the same token, they realize that they have to overcome and trust their fear because others are relying on them, trusting them to do what is necessary. As Christians we should always trust Christ in the face of danger. We have the guarantees, we have the lock, we know how the story ends, we are going to feel fear, BUT, we are certainly called to overcome. How do we overcome, do we overcome in our own strength? NO! We know the Holy Spirit is with us to strengthen us in those times when we face any challenge and certainly that includes up to and including death. Our trust is this, that what we do for Christ will never be wasted. Too often people talk about someone they perceive dying prematurely or being seriously injured as waste. They only see the here and now and don’t wait in faith for how Christ will use this. If that person has rejected Christ, has actually wasted their life, then we can see the reason why they might have died. I’m sure you can imagine many who simply wasted what they were given. By the same token those who have endured, stayed strong, overcome the trials that were given and still pointed to Christ as the reason, we certainly know and will witness to others and we know the Holy Spirit will use that to glorify Jesus and bring others to Jesus. The Christian church in China will be the largest church in the entire world in about 15 years. This in spite of horrendous persecution and suffering. Those who suffer are very real witnesses to others of the truth of Jesus’ church, of the Christian church and that it does save and they become Christians because they know that they have the promises of Christ of their resurrection to eternal, real life, life and life more abundant! The world cannot come close to such a promise, but takes those who fail to persevere, who will not stand in the strength of Jesus and the world toys with those people, gives them empty promises, kicks them to the curb and walks away laughing. “Overcomers are promised that they will eat from the Tree of Life (2:7), be unharmed by the second death (2:11), eat from hidden manna and be given a new name (2:17), have authority over the nations (2:26), be clothed in white garments (3:5), be made a permanent pillar in the house of God (3:12), and sit with Jesus on His throne (3:21). Jesus warned that holding fast to Him would not be easy, but it would be well worth it.”[4]

Jeremiah’s words have to lift you and inspire you, the promise of who God is and what He will most certainly do: “ESV Jeremiah 20:11 But the LORD is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.”

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

He has risen! He has risen indeed! Hallelujah!

[1] source: http://www.jokes4us.com/peoplejokes/comedianjokes/rodneydangerfieldjokes.html

[2]

[3] Arthur Just Concordia Commentary Luke 9-24 p 581

[4] https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-overcomer.html0

If it is of God… Acts 5:29, John 20:19

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who join Thomas saying to Jesus “My Lord and My God!” said … Amen!

We now have this pretty interesting conflation, two different perspectives have started to see Jesus as something much more than what was imagined. The leaders of Israel seem to be rethinking what they did to Jesus. Thomas straight out asserts Who Jesus is “My Lord and My God!” Gamaliel was a very important man at the time. Luke, the writer of Acts, singles Gamaliel out by calling him “a teacher of the Law held in honor by all the people. The Jewish Encyclopedia says: Gamaliel was the son of Hillel who is still one of the leading authorities on Jewish law and is quoted by many people today. He was the head of the school Hillel in his time succeeding his father. “Gamaliel, as it appears, did most toward establishing the honor in which the house of Hillel was held, and which secured to it a preeminent position within Palestinian Judaism soon after the destruction of the- Temple. The title “Rabban,” which, in the learned hierarchy until post-Hadrianic times, was borne only by presidents of the highest religious council, was first prefixed to the name of Gamaliel.”[1] Much later on in Acts, Paul seems to take special pride in being a student of Gamaliel’s. (Acts 22:3) He gets a lot of notice in Acts, during the early church. If he is proceeding with caution against the embryonic Christian church, then he must have some idea that Jesus is who He says He is.

The amazing things that have happened, certainly culminated in the Resurrection of Jesus, leaves little doubt as to Jesus’ claim to be God. Gamaliel had to have been part of the court that condemned Jesus. I would guess that Gamaliel fell right in line with the majority consensus. Caiaphas proclaims to the leadership that this man, Jesus, must die to save the nation. No thought is given that there might be something a lot more compelling with Jesus, that He might be who He said He was. The concern was with the preservation of the status quo; Israel, it’s leadership and maintaining their way of life. As highly regarded as Gamaliel was, he certainly followed the party line. While we know that there were members of the Sanhedrin who objected to the illegality of the proceedings to try Jesus, Gamaliel wouldn’t have been one of those objectors. If he had objected the Sanhedrin might have at least backed off from condemning Jesus to die and might have even decided to do something else regarding Jesus.

The paradigm has clearly changed for the leadership in Israel. They thought that they were dealing with a nuisance that would burn itself out. They tried, and for the first time in history, killing a man didn’t make Him go away. It seems Gamaliel is hedging his bets a little, but it’s pretty clear that he sees Jesus as a lot more than being an ordinary man. Gamaliel compares Jesus to Theudas and Judas the Galilean. It seems though that Gamaliel is taking Jesus a lot more seriously than Theudas or Judas, neither one of them rose from the dead. It seems that the leadership is trying to prevent a panic. They’re trying not to acknowledge it, but clearly there is a new archetype and they know that they can’t just make the problem, Jesus, go away. They hope that they can, but now they have something much bigger than they expected while trying to avoid setting the rest of Israel off, that Jesus is who He says that He is.

The difference is that while Gamaliel is trying to hedge, not set off a rush to Jesus and still not taking Him seriously. He seems to know the truth, but as so many people do for so many bad reasons, Gamaliel is trying to save his position in Israel. The disciples, as Luke writes, know the truth, they know that there is no other option, they are beaten and we know how brutally Jesus was beaten. Maybe the disciples weren’t beaten as badly, but you know that they suffered more than enough that they shouldn’t be back out on the street rejoicing and teaching and preaching about Jesus. They knew the truth and saw there was no alternative to Jesus, the Sanhedrin was still trying to play its political game with its own people, the Romans and irrational as it sounds God, even though Gamaliel certainly had some perception that Jesus and his disciples were more than the garden variety revolutionaries of previous years.

Clearly John is continuing to emphasize that Jesus is much more than what most people seem to want to believe. Thomas declares it: “My Lord and my God!” Jamieson writes: “He is overpowered, and the glory of Christ now breaks upon him in a flood. His exclamation surpasses all that had been yet uttered, nor can it be surpassed by anything that ever will be uttered in earth or heaven.”[2] This is not some gratuitous acknowledgement, Thomas was completely overwhelmed and was utterly sure who Jesus was. Meyer writes : “ It is a confessionary invocation of Christ in the highest joyful surprise, in which Thomas gives the fullest expression of profound emotion to his faith, which had been mightily elevated by the conviction of the reality of the resurrection, in the divine nature of his Lord. The ὁ κύριός μκὁ θεός μου was the complete and highest confession of Messianic faith,” This is the first time when someone really addresses Jesus as God. For those who like to question who Jesus was and whether He claimed to be God, here is where someone is declaring who Jesus is. It may not be bragging if it’s true, but it’s more credible when someone else is declaring the fact. And again, there are plenty of places where Jesus is readily understood by those He is talking to as to who He is. If it wasn’t true, wouldn’t Jesus lift Thomas off his knees and set him straight? If it wasn’t true Jesus wouldn’t have just let Thomas’ comment ride.

We are His disciples. We see Jesus is making it very clear that Jesus has the authority to and intends for us to take what the disciples then and we who are His disciples now, that we aren’t to just go back home as if it’s all ending. He makes it clear to His disciples then it’s only beginning. He tells them, and us, that the Father sent Him. He has been sent to us to take His word, His life, what He has done for us dying for our sins and then resurrected to give us eternal life, that it isn’t for us to keep to ourselves. Matthew 28:18, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15, Matthew, John, Luke and Mark all report that Jesus came to send us to tell the entire world about the salvation that Jesus gives us. In John He reinforces this message by giving them a preview of Pentecost. “He breathed on them.” The Greek word the hagios pneuma, the Holy Spirit, pneuma meaning the movement of air, the breath of His Body. He is giving them the Holy Spirit to strengthen them and for them to understand that they constitute His church. As He does by giving them the keys of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 16:9, He is empowering His church to not just bring the Good News to the world, but that Jesus is empowering His church to save people to the Kingdom, but to also make it clear to those who aren’t saved and that His work is done through His disciples in His church.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

[1] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6494-gamaliel-i

[2] Jamieson-Fausett-Brown Bible Commentary on website  http://biblehub.com/commentaries/jfb/john/20.htm

Renueva y energiza a tus discípulos Señor Mateo 28, Primera Iglesia Luterana de San Juan 16 de abril de 2017

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Hacemos nuestro comienzo en el Nombre de Dios el Padre y en el Nombre de Dios el Hijo y en el Nombre de Dios el Espíritu Santo y todos aquellos que conocen la esperanza y el gozo de la resurrección de nuestro Señor Jesucristo dijo … AMEN!

Para nosotros en una iglesia litúrgica, esta temporada, a partir del Miércoles de Ceniza, para muchas personas parece ser un día tan triste, puse cenizas en su frente, que en sí mismo es ciertamente contra-cultural lo que el mundo vería como “extraño” Y entonces te digo en voz baja que de polvo has venido y polvo volverás. No es exactamente un “whoopee hacer” momento. Luego pasamos los siguientes 40 días más sacrificando algo, esperanzadamente, y recordando nuestros pecados. En un mundo que está a punto de vacilar desde el próximo evento emocionante / impresionante, de nuevo parece raro que debemos invitar a tal reflexión cuando el mundo que nos rodea es todo acerca de la negación y minimizar su pecado. Pero lo conseguimos, conseguimos toda la condición humana, cuando somos serios acerca de nuestra fe, estamos equipados con nuestro calendario litúrgico anual para tratar con todas las condiciones de vida. No vivimos en un mundo zippity-do-da, que cuando los juicios de huelga, no sólo acurrucarse en un capullo y convertirse en un zombi. Eso es parte de lo que es estar en la iglesia, en el Cuerpo de Cristo. Sabemos que tenemos un pastor y hermanos y hermanas en Jesús que están ahí para fortalecernos y recordarnos las gloriosas promesas que tenemos en Cristo. Mientras que las palabras y las promesas de Jesús nos dan inspiración y fuerza, la resurrección de Jesús es lo que nos da la esperanza final, slam dunk que realmente no es sobre este mundo y las pruebas. Se trata del Nuevo Mundo de la resurrección que nos da la profunda paz y alegría de que viviremos una vida eterna y perfecta de vida verdadera y plenitud.

Domingo de Ramos es bueno, pero sabemos lo que está llevando a, es una especie de intervalo, pero ciertamente no es el final. El Jueves Santo no recibe realmente el aviso que debe. “Jesús dice a sus discípulos” ESV Juan 15:12 “Este es mi mandamiento, que os améis los unos a los otros como yo os he amado.13 El mayor amor no tiene nadie más que este que alguien da su vida Para sus amigos 14 Ustedes son mis amigos si hacen lo que yo les mando “.Cómo lo minimizamos en nuestro calendario eclesiástico me desconcierta, que Jesús nos da esta increíble dirección, que no encontrará en ningún otro sistema de creencias, el amor a uno Otro, que Él les está diciendo, otra vez, que así es, yo estoy dando mi vida por los que amo, por mis amigos, que Él también les está diciendo, ya nosotros, Sus discípulos, que somos Sus amigos. Tienes un amigo en Jesús, pero es la amistad más unilateral que puedes imaginar, Él me da todo, hasta e incluyendo Su vida para que yo viva verdaderamente ahora y la vida eterna de la resurrección Pero hay más, Él pone un punto de exclamación en esto dando a sus discípulos su cuerpo y sangre, nosotros que somos su disco Ahora los iples son alimentados con el Cuerpo y la Sangre de Jesús para fortalecer nuestro cuerpo y alma. Recibimos este alimento real de Su Cuerpo para edificarnos y hacer nuestra relación con Él tan fuerte como es concebible.

Viernes Santo, ese es un día difícil. Para ver Aquel que nos llamó amigo, que está allí para nosotros todo el tiempo, y observamos impotentemente mientras es golpeado sin piedad, abusado y luego brutalmente asesinado. Completamente inocente, completamente santo y abusado tan despiadadamente, mostrando cómo podemos ser tan degradados y tan crueles como un pueblo.

Parece innecesario tener un escenario tan brutal. Pero sabemos que nuestro mayor temor es la muerte, parpadear en la inexistencia, dejar atrás todo lo que hemos conocido y dejar de vivir. Para que nuestro mayor temor, terror, nuestra mayor ansiedad de ser derrotado, tuviera que ser enfrentado de frente, ¿cómo otra cosa podría ser la muerte derrotada sino para que alguien muera y luego sea restaurado a la vida? Todos estamos condenados a morir, sin Jesús no hay nada más que la muerte. Ningún ser humano podría vencer la muerte, porque por nuestras vidas, ya estamos muertos en nuestros pecados y ofensas, merecemos la muerte. Pero no a Jesús. Jesús, El que es completamente santo, completamente sin culpa, sin pecado. Él no está destinado a morir, Él tiene vida eterna porque Él es eterno, Dios el Hijo. Podía pagar la pena, vencer la muerte, que ninguno de nosotros podría hacer. En la economía de Dios, para tener misericordia de nosotros, para evitar que paguemos eternamente el castigo por nosotros, Dios permitió que Su Hijo fuese la víctima pascual. Él hizo todo lo que era necesario sobre todo durante esta estación para darnos la promesa de la vida y de la vida eternas en este mundo de la alegría y de la promesa.

En todo esto es muy poco acerca de los sentimientos. Sí tenemos sentimientos, pero el punto no es acerca de cómo te sientes, por qué, etc, lo que “sientes”, simplemente no cambia nada. Sam Storms escribe: “Lo que tú y yo” como “es completamente y absolutamente irrelevante. Dios no establece su agenda eterna basada en lo que “preferimos”. Lo que podríamos “esperar” que sea verdad simplemente no importa. Lo que nos hace o no “sentirnos cómodos” no tiene nada que ver con la verdad o la falsedad de esta cuestión. El hecho de que tengamos un sentido intuitivo de lo que nos parece “justo” o “justo” realmente no importa, lo que realmente es, es lo que le importa a Dios. “Para nuestro daño dejamos que nuestros” sentimientos “nuestras opiniones, la Manera que pensamos que las cosas deben dictar demasiado de lo que pensamos. En la providencia de Dios, en Su Señoría, Su creación es acerca de lo que Él piensa. Va a ser Su manera, si pensamos que es justo o no. Sin embargo, Él hace mucho por nosotros. Vivimos las vidas pecaminosas, no lo hace, Jesús no lo hizo y no lo hace, pero ¿quién fue hecho el camino a Dios ya la vida eterna? Jesús. No sobre nuestra opinión o nuestros sentimientos, enteramente sobre lo que Jesús hizo por nosotros. Lo que nos gusta y no nos gusta es sin duda sobre nuestros “sentimientos”. Podríamos marcharnos el Viernes Santo, decidir “cuál es el punto”, renunciar, ceder a nuestros sentimientos de pérdida y depresión y no esperar la verdadera alegría. La resurrección de Jesús no es un salto arriba y abajo los Patriotas ganaron el Super Bowl feliz. Eso es superficial, está ahí por un momento y luego vuelve a la realidad. Es el momento en que te paras en tu vida, una sonrisa se extiende sobre tu cara. No es una sonrisa torpe y vertiginosa, sino una sonrisa de saber, de contentamiento, una sonrisa madura y reflexiva sabiendo que la superficialidad que nos rodea está pasando. Que hay alegría verdadera, satisfacción. ¿Alguna vez te has dado cuenta de que cuando estás alegre, feliz, es seguido rápidamente por una especie de accidente? Eran todos yippy, entonces sólo una especie de establecidos en un descontento de “¿por qué hice eso”? El giddy-up temporal está bien, siempre y cuando no nos enganchamos y necesitamos disparos continuos de “feliz”. No dura. Ha sido un duro los últimos meses para mí. El viernes tuve que estar con una madre cuyo hijo de 22 años fue asesinado. Hace unas semanas hice un funeral para un niño de diez años, la semana anterior a la muerte de mi padre, unas pocas semanas antes tuve que estar con una madre y un padre cuyo hijo de 22 años se suicidó. Tiro en los problemas del coche, otros temas variados, la tensión ha sido enorme. Si dependía de mi felicidad, ¿cómo crees que seguiría funcionando? Ser cristiano significa que tienes el apoyo de hermanos y hermanas en Jesús y pastores que están allí para ti durante las pruebas y animarte. Realmente aprecio cómo algunas personas aquí intensificaron para alentar y apoyar. Ken intensificó y realmente ayudó con muchas de las adoraciones de las últimas semanas. ¿Cómo puedo estar ante las personas que han perdido a un niño y hacerlas felices como el mundo piensa que deberían ser? ¿Divertirse con ellos, hacer comedia, platitudes? ¿Acabo de dejarlos allí para tratar con él, superarlo? Por difícil que creas que sean tus pruebas, imagina que los padres están pasando por tales pruebas. No hay nada que los haga “felices”. Pero como pastor, voy a hacer todo lo que pueda para darles verdadera alegría. Ese es el propósito de la resurrección. Tertuliano escribió sobre la resurrección: “Es por todos los medios ser creído porque es absurdo”. Habrá tragedias en nuestras vidas de distinto grado, cuanto más larga sea la vida, mayor será la oportunidad y más tragedias. Podríamos pensar que Jesús fue horriblemente asesinado el Viernes Santo como tragedia, sin embargo, de Su sufrimiento en ese día, llegó la promesa más grande que podemos imaginar y como pastor que es lo que puedo compartir con personas que han sufrido tragedia horrible . Al hacer esto voy a ayudarles a conocer la alegría. Que nuestro Dios es muy consciente de lo que están pasando. Vio a Su propio hijo brutalmente brutalizado, golpeado, clavado en madera y abandonado para sufrir. Dios entiende nuestro horror cuando tenemos que soportar la tragedia, Él está ahí con usted alcanzando a través de las capas que usted experimenta para ayudarle a entender que hay una promesa mucho más grande que vence el horror. El horror es por un tiempo, la promesa de nuestra vida eterna, la alegría que tenemos en Jesús aquí y ahora nos da la alegría, la esperanza, la promesa que nos restaura, nos renueva y nos energiza ahora. El mundo nos dice que sólo para aceptar la tragedia y seguir adelante, para encontrar la felicidad o recurrir a las drogas, el alcohol, el juego, el sexo para superar la tragedia, porque no importa de todos modos. Esa es una mentira desesperada y espantosa que viene directamente del Infierno. Fuimos creados por nuestro todopoderoso, todo amante de Dios. Él conoce los horrores, pero también sabe que no es el fin y nos da esa promesa, que hay más y más grandes alegrías eternas que Él tiene para nosotros en nuestra vida eterna y que nos restaura y nos renueva en nuestra vida ahora. Esa es la promesa de la tumba vacía de Jesús, que al final de los tiempos todas nuestras tumbas estarán vacías. Nuestros cuerpos serán resucitados, restaurados a una vida perfecta que siempre fuimos destinados a tener. Martín Lutero escribió: “La resurrección No consiste en palabras, sino en vida y poder. El gozo, la paz y la promesa de Dios el Padre en la resurrección de Jesús, Dios el Hijo, nos da gozo ahora, que cuando Tenemos la tragedia de la muerte de alguien que amamos, sabemos que cuando estamos todos en Jesús, esta vida y todas sus tragedias serán un recuerdo débil mientras vivimos juntos en la vida eterna, perfecta y perfecta de la resurrección.

La paz de Dios que sobrepasa todo entendimiento guarda sus corazones y mentes en Cristo Jesús. Amin y Shalom

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