Tag Archives: baptized into to death

Sometimes you just want to chuck it Luke 4 First St Johns Feb 14, 2016

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

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 look for peace, rest, renewal and restoration in Jesus said … AMEN!

Yea, there are plenty of times when you just want to chuck it. We are blessed that the people who stuck with First St Johns didn’t feel that way. We are blessed with those who have persevered, carried on and passed on Lutheran worship here. And very blessed that the Holy Spirit has kept us strong and committed. But all of us, no matter how bull-headed have had times when we just want to pull back and rest. A lot of times we feel that being a Christian is a grind, always things to do, always a new season. Usually we are excited, anticipating the new season. Other times we feel we haven’t recovered from the last chain of events, and we’re looking down a whole new line of hoops to jump through. There are certainly times when we just need to pull back and rest. We can, and often are led to by the Holy Spirit to rest and re-energize for a new pursuit, new growth in Christ.

While we can make it that way, being a Christian isn’t about being ground down with constant tasks, constant occasions to have to step up and run into another burning house. Being a Christian is very much about rest, peace, promise, hope. It is about knowing that our heavenly Father isn’t pushing down on us, but we are there for Him to pull us up to him. The Father expects us to rest and wait for Him to move us, He doesn’t expect the effort to be on our part. We’ve all had the experience when you have felt the Holy Spirit grabbing you by the collar and sitting you down. “No more, stop, I’m not about constant frenzy. I am about peace, rest.” Jesus told us; “ESV Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This is meant for the resurrection, but it’s also meant for this life too.

Rest, recovery is important. It is stressed over and over again with athletes. An athlete has to get eight hours of sleep. God designed our bodies to be mended while we sleep. Not just mended, strengthened too. We cannot repair and build muscle without sleep. We can exercise, eat right, do all the active stuff, but if we do not give our body the chance to do what it was designed to do, rest, sleep, so our bodily processes can take over and repair and build, we will not be as strong as we should be. Since God designed our bodies to be like that, it stands to reason that He has made our spirits to be that way too. We can be in perfect physical health, but if our spirit has been pushed to the limit, beaten down, it will affect our health.

I submit that the season of Lent was timed by God in order to help us to do that. Winter puts a lot of stress on the body, certainly this winter has so far. We need to be set up in order to charge out into the season of growth and renewal and it seems God intended Lent for us to do that. We have grown away from an agrarian society, we are out of touch with the seasons that God created. Most of us have to work and produce year round, so we miss the importance of restoration, renewal and growth. Shouldn’t we see the period of Lent as that time?

In our reading today, we see that Jesus has been led out into to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. It seems as though Jesus was given forty days of peace and then submitted to Satan’s temptations. Forty days where He was left to contemplate, to take in, to be built up, strengthened, fortified, and then to, as it were, take Satan’s best shots. Clearly Satan confronted Jesus when Jesus’ hunger was greatest and His resistance was lowest. The Jewish people actually considered the desert to be a place of evil, filled with trials and where evil lurked. God sent Israel into the desert to wander for forty years because they had continually defied God after escaping from Egypt, clearly that was a God ordained time out for people who just would not get with God’s plan. St Ambrose writes: “It is fitting that it be recorded that the first Adam was cast out of Paradise into the desert, that you may observe how the second Adam returned from the desert to Paradise… Adam brought death through the tree. Christ brought life through the cross. Adam, naked of spiritual things, covered himself with the foliage of a tree. Christ, naked of worldly things, did not desire the trappings of the body. Adam lived in the desert. Christ lived in the desert, for he knew where he could find the lost. With their error canceled, he could recall them to Paradise… So Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit is led into the desert for a purpose, in order to challenge the devil. If he had not fought, he would not have conquered him for me.”[1] Jesus took the fight to Satan in an evil environment. All of Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter is not about what we do or have to do. It’s not about us and what we have to do, because we don’t have to do anything. Sure there are things that we should do, we should be in worship. Not about us being there, but about being ministered to and receiving the gifts God gives us in worship. Worship is a time of rest and renewal. Jesus takes the fight to the desert, the desert which is the world, to confront Satan, in order that we can be left behind in our normal environment to live, to rest with a minimum of confrontation and conflict in our lives, we have time to rest and renew because it is about Jesus and what He does. When we are led by the Holy Spirit to take action, which can be to retreat, He steps up so that we are guided to step back. Jesus has been baptized, the Matthean version is more straightforward, Luke starts the chapter saying that Jesus was led from the Jordan, Matthew makes it clear what happened at the Jordon. In Jesus’ baptism, the Father makes it very clear who Jesus is, that was the signal that it was on. Satan knew it was on. The Holy Spirit picks Jesus up and puts Him in the desert, where Adam had been banished to out of Eden and Satan waits 40 days and then confronts Jesus, the battle is now on, who will impact the world. Satan tempts Jesus with worldly power, the easy way, Jesus knows that He will bring His Kingdom into the world, but it is not through a deal with Satan, but by overcoming sin, death and Satan; by being the perfect sacrifice to free us from sin and Satan. Jesus gives us the opportunity to rest in Him. Worldly people fall under Satan’s dominion in sin, to struggle against Satan, we have peace and rest in Jesus. The battle is on and being waged by Jesus, now.

Rev Dr Charles Stanley says this: “Although we can’t see all the specifics of God’s plan, we know that His goal is to use adversity to supply something we lack so we can be mature and complete. Even though the experience is painful, rest in the Father’s comforting arms, and let Him do His perfect work in you.”[2] We cannot fight the battle, only in Jesus is the battle fought and is won. Yes, there will be times when we need to be active and work according to the Holy Spirit’s leading. But the victory is His and instead of us being smashed on the rock, we are at rest in Him who saves us. Use this time of Lent to rest in Him, be restored remember it is His strength not ours.

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

[1] Ambrose in “Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Luke” p 73

[2] Dr Charles Stanley August 10, 2015  http://www.intouch.org/read/magazine/daily-devotions/don’t-waste-your-adversities

Baptism, Death, Eternal life all in Jesus First Saint Johns, January 11, 2015 Luke 2:21

Please click on the above link to hear the audio 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 died to the world in baptism and have been reborn in Jesus Christ said … AMEN

I want to start by remembering our brother Sam Null who went to be in the presence of the Lord. Sam’s funeral will be this Friday here at First St Johns. We pray for Norma and their son Sam and we praise God that Sam is free from suffering and in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As you see in today’s introduction to worship, I will be saying the words that I say in a funeral. We Christians do not live In fear of death. We died that day we were baptized. We are still in the world when we are baptized, but now we are no longer of the world we are reborn in Christ. This is another area where we are at odds with other Christian belief systems. Other Christians see baptism as sort of an initiation into the faith, a public act, on their part, in accepting Christ. For Lutherans, we see baptism as our new birth, where, when I baptize someone the Holy Spirit is using the words I say and the act of pouring the water as a way to, as Dr Luther would say, to drown the old person and from that the new person in Christ is reborn.

It’s been a really rough week, heck for me as a pastor, throw a bout of flu into the mix of Advent, two Christmas Eve worships, Holly Tea, German Christmas worship, a wedding, a few deaths, it’s been a tough last few weeks. Death has been a very real presence just in the past few days. My Aunt died up in Maine, the Rev Dr Mike Ramey’s mother died in Texas, a fellow pastor and classmate’s mother died, we said farewell to our bother Rev Don Biggs a few weeks ago, we had other funerals this past year of brothers and sisters in Jesus. But here is the upshot, here is the Gospel, the Good News. All of them “died” in Jesus. Yes, they aren’t here with us in the body, but we know for sure, because we have the promise of Jesus Christ, that all of these brothers and sisters are now in the perfect bliss and comfort of heaven, the very real presence of our Lord.

How can we be so sure of this? Was it because of something they said or did? No! We have many Christians who believe that it’s all about them, it’s all about what they do or don’t do. One of the main reasons we baptize babies is to emphasize our understanding of what baptism is. Baptism is when we are called by the Holy Spirit to come into the new life of Christ. It is not a decision we make to “accept Jesus”. Doesn’t it really seem presumptuous to think that it’s our decision to be saved? “Oh, okay, I’ll accept Jesus as Lord, well because I can and I’m going to. I will walk down the aisle and make a declaration for God.” I’ve had more than one person tell me that after making some sort of public declaration of accepting Jesus, they did not feel as if they really knew salvation. I often hear that there is this doubt, that they might have done something wrong, that somehow it wasn’t enough, wrong time, wrong way, etc. In our baptism into Jesus it is not about what we do, it’s not about how we do it, when we do it, why we do it, yada, yada, yada. It’s about the fact that we have the knowledge and assurance that we were called to be baptized, we were called to be saved, we were baptized in the Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and by that, the Holy Spirit brought you to salvation in Jesus. The Holy Spirit took you up out of the depths of your baptism and gave you the new life, made you the new person in Jesus. It’s not up to you, it’s not your call and that is why, for Lutherans, it is about baptizing babies. I am certainly not saying you have to be baptized as a baby. Certainly God decides when we come to know Christ and that is not always as an infant. I wasn’t baptized until I was in my mid-twenties, I’m sure there are others here who weren’t baptized as babies and others who haven’t been baptized at all. I pray that those who are adults and haven’t been baptized, that God is leading them through the words that He has given me for you to come to new life in Jesus. But I want to make this very clear, it’s not about your decision, it’s not about you making the call. You may have some idea that you don’t need to be baptized, or that you are somehow unworthy. Heck I’d like to know who here, me included, could ever be worthy enough for new life in Jesus. I’ll tell you who, no one, not you, not me, not anyone who hears this is worthy. We are not saved on the basis of whether we are worthy. Sola gratia by grace alone are we baptized. The grace of God, His forgiveness of us, His desire, not yours, not mine, to save you in Jesus. There are no mistakes in God, if you have not been saved in the waters of baptism whether you are 8 months or 80 years you are saved only by God’s grace and united with Jesus in His death through baptism. His death, His sacrifice, His atonement on the Cross that saved us. So no, you are not worthy enough for baptism and neither am I, no one is.

Jesus was baptized and He was baptized as an adult. Why? He was baptized by John the Baptist, John was designated by God to baptize Jesus in the way and at the time that He was baptized. No, Jesus didn’t need to be baptized, but as Jesus lived the life that we live, that He came down from heaven, born as a baby, He identified with us in every way and part of that is to be baptized. We are baptized because He was baptized, we are saved because He sacrificed His perfect life, the life that He lived as a man in complete perfection, a life that we could not live, He lived in order to be that perfect sacrifice, that perfect price to be paid for the payment of all our sins. More and more in the world, you will meet people who feel that baptism is unnecessary or that they are not worthy. You have to know that God is going to speak through you to them for them to hear that they need to be baptized, they need to be saved in the baptism that Jesus had in order to be saved. Paul tells us in today’s reading: “For one who has died has been set free from sin.” OK, sure, after you die you can’t sin anymore. How does that help us during our earthly life? Because Paul gives us God’s promise: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death?” We are free from sin because we have been baptized, we have been brought into new life by the Holy Spirit by the act of baptism. Do we still sin in our life? Yes! But those sins are forgiven, we are freed from those sins. Paul says: “We were buried therefore with Him [baptism as being buried in the waters of baptism] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6: 4) We have newness of life in Jesus through our baptism in Him. It’s not about us, we will continue to live and sin, but we turn it over to God, we repent and ask for His forgiveness. We should also ask for His power to overcome our sin, but we are saved in what He has done for us. We may have been a baby when we were baptized, but as that baby, we are brought by faithful parents, who have heard God’s Word, have known the urging of the Holy Spirit and faithfully bring their child to the saving waters of faith and new life in Jesus. Paul gives us these great promises: “Now if we have died with Christ [that is the death and rebirth of baptism] we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” What an incredible promise, what an incredible assurance. All those that we have lost, we know that they are very much alive, saved completely by what Jesus did for them in His life, death and resurrection and our baptism in Him. We too have that promise and that is a promise that we need to share with anyone we know who still does not know Jesus as Lord. It’s not what they’ve done, do or will do, it’s entirely what Jesus has done for us. He was baptized to identify with us and He gives us the promise of forgiveness and eternal life in Him in the baptism in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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