Midweek – 5 LSB 430:1-4, 430:7, 750:1-3, 5, 7
Text – Job 23:10b
When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
UNDERSTANDING HOW IT ALL WORKS TOGETHER
I hate to admit it. In fact, I’m not totally comfortable telling you about it, but once my mother tried to kill me. She really did! No, I’m not talking about the times when I was in high school & made, let’s just say, some less-than-stellar decisions. In those situations she only threatened to ring my neck. But when I was five years old she actually tried to kill me.
Let me explain. As a young child I often marveled over the great biscuits my mom would bake. Why, those were biscuits even Colonel Sanders would envy. One day, when she was about to mix up a new batch, our dog Spotty got loose. Here was my chance! As she searched for Spotty I would search for the secret! The 1st item I saw was a container of flour.
Since this was by far the largest item around, I put a spoonful into my mouth, “Yuck! It must be the shortening,” I reasoned. That tasted awful! The only item left was a container marked “baking powder.” This had to be the secret to the biscuits. So I put an extra-large spoonful of baking powder into my mouth. Talk about “gag me with a spoon” – literally!
Then it dawned on me. My mother was trying to kill me! Right? Wrong! My mom was taking strange & distasteful ingredients, working them together & creating biscuits of beauty. The secret is in understanding how it all works together. Don’t believe me? Then let’s look at Job.
Throughout most of his book, Job thinks that God is trying to kill him – literally. But today’s 1st reading includes these words in Job 23:10, “When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” God is after a golden character, a mature Christian faith, a life marked by depth & compassion. So God takes strange & distasteful events, works them together, & creates lives of
beauty. The secret is in understanding how it all works together. There are five ingredients.
When those things happen, it’s like jumping into a bitterly cold lake. You can prepare yourself all you want for what it’s going to feel like, but when you jump in, immediately the shock to your system takes your breath away.
After Job lost everything, chapter two says that for 7 days he just sat among the ashes with a shard of broken pottery & scraped himself. Job could not say a word. He was in shock.
If Job is a true & worthy servant of his Creator, why then is Yahweh evading & ignoring him? Why is God hiding from him? Job wonders, “Who started this game of hide & seek, & why am I ‘it’?” By the end of chapter 23, it’s clear that, if Job allows it, this darkness will swallow him whole & he will drown in the ocean of his Heavenly Father’s silence.
We can sympathize with Job about God’s silence. When I pray, I expect He will answer. Isn’t that what the Bible promises? “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you…” When something goes wrong or I need help, I do what I think I’m supposed to do – take it to the Lord in prayer. I claim my right as God’s child to voice my complaint, to make my request, to tell my side of the story, but instead of an answer or a divine sympathetic nod of understanding, I get nothing. God doesn’t hit reply to my email. There’s no call back message on my voicemail. God is silent despite my best efforts to provoke some kind of response.
Bad people prosper. Good people suffer. And the children of God struggle with their Father in heaven. Why? There are two reasons: one, we doubt His wisdom. And therefore, two, we want to be in control. Job says at the end of chapter 23; “I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.” (23:17)
Life is tough. You can let it beat you down & you can get down & stay down the rest of your life. But if you keep struggling, keep holding on like Job, stay resilient, you learn from your losses, you profit from your pain, & you advance from your adversity. Don’t give up the struggle! Refuse to let the darkness silence your prayers!
Every problem & frustration has a purpose. We are transformed by our troubles. Other people might mean it for bad, but God will use it for good. Anybody can bring good out of good. Our Messiah specializes in bringing good out of bad. God loves to turn crucifixions into resurrections: “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” (Job 42:12) This is the gospel news that turns crucifixions into resurrections! What looked like a dead end on Good Friday, as Christ died for your sins & mine, opened up to an everlasting day on Easter morning. “I know that my Redeemer lives!”
Our nightmares are not random events serving no purpose. Rather, they are results from the wounds suffered in a cosmic war between good & evil. The Holy Spirit is weaving those wounds into a beautiful tapestry & plan for ultimate victory. That’s what St. Paul teaches in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”
That verse is one of the most misunderstood, misinterpreted & misused in the Bible. Notice what Paul does not say. He doesn’t say, “All things are good” because not all things are. They haunt, they confuse & they mess with our mind. Second Paul doesn’t say, “We’re pretty sure that...” or “Wouldn’t it be nice if...” No! Paul is convinced – “We know.”
We know that the God of Job, the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, takes our strange & distasteful experiences, works them together, & creates a life of beauty.
Who better can help parents of a Down syndrome child than parents who’ve had a Down syndrome child? Who could better help somebody struggling with an addiction than someone who struggled with an addiction? The very thing you least want to talk about is the very thing God wants to use most to help other people. There is a plan, a divine plan, a plan where all things are being worked out for our good & the Father’s glory. The secret is in understanding how it all works together. As Job explains for us, “When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (23:10) Amen.
If thou but trust in God to guide thee & hope in Him through all thy ways, He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee, & bear thee through the evil days. Who trusts in God’s unchanging love builds on the rock that naught can move. Sing, pray & keep His ways unswerving, perform thy duties faithfully, & trust His Word; though undeserving, thou yet shalt find it true for thee. God never yet forsook in need the soul that trusted Him indeed. Amen. LSB 750:1, 7.
4th Sunday in Lent – A LSB #697 to tune #673
Text – Ephesians 5:14b
“Awake, O sleeper, & arise from the dead, & Christ will shine on you.”
The title may seem to be getting ahead of things. Easter doesn’t arrive for another three weeks, but the season of Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, so I thought it might be wise to actually think ahead & prepare. I’ve got a question for you. What does it mean to arise from the dead? It seems like a straightforward question.
We know that Jesus rose from the dead after being crucified. We know that on the Last Day everyone who has died will be raised from the dead. Yet, in the 5th chapter of Ephesians St. Paul is writing to people who were alive almost 2000 years ago. He’s not talking about Jesus’ resurrection & the people he wrote the letter to are long since dead & still buried.
What kind of resurrection was the Apostle writing about? “Awake, O sleeper, & arise from the dead, & Christ will shine on you.” How does that apply to you, & to me, & to the people we interact with in the course of living in a sin-filled world? Does the call of Christ to arise make any difference that you can see? Should you expect to see a difference?
When a man ends up beaten, robbed & left for dead along the road, the Good Samaritan stops to care for him. He doesn’t rely on health insurance to pay for the man’s care. The Samaritan pays for it himself. Jesus teaches His listeners that it is the Samaritan who loves his neighbor, & the man left for dead, the one in desperate need, is the neighbor.
As He tells the parable, Jesus teaches us that the call to arise should make a difference in the life of a child of God: “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8 ESV) When we hear the Law of God calling us to do something, in effect, it is as if Jesus were calling us to arise from the dead! Without God, we have no power to rise. Yet, our heavenly Father doesn’t call us to life simply to believe in Him, but to live in Him. Unbelievers find life in luxury, or in sports, or in self-fulfillment – the things that moth & rust destroy. People who believe in Jesus are called by the Holy Spirit to find our life in Christ: “…now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan shows us what the Holy Spirit calls us to life for, to be a godly neighbor which is a costly venture. The Good News is that Jesus is the epitome of the Good Samaritan. He has rescued us from the darkness. The challenge is this, “Are you too busy with the things of this broken world to walk as children of light?”
In 2 Corinthians 4:18, St. Paul wrote this of children of the light: “…we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Our heavenly Creator has called us to care for all the things of His creation, but not to worship them. All of this building, every single possession you have, even the greatest cities on earth, they are all transient. Throughout history, congregations & entire nations have come & gone. The physical body that you & I live in today, can easily be gone tomorrow.
As the author of Ecclesiastes wrote, “I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, & who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled & used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity.” (2:18-19 ESV) St. Paul counsels us to, “…walk as children of light.”
So God the Father gave us this commandment: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8 ESV) “For six days work may be done, but on the 7th day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.” (Exodus 35:2 ESV) Does that penalty seem rather harsh? Not if you’re already dead! Remember this thought from earlier, “When we hear the Law of God calling us to do something, in effect, it is as if Jesus were calling us to arise from the dead!” Yahweh’s command to remember the sabbath day is simply another word from your Lord calling you to rise to life from death. As Jesus said, “…apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 ESV)
For another example of dead behavior, listen to these words from the Gospel reading: “So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes, & I washed, & I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’”
Those leaders in the church were doing anything but calling people from death to life, as they should have been. In fact, they were denying the very Son of God, apart from whom they could do nothing. In spite of their claim to see, they proved themselves to be blind. So be very careful when the devil begins tempting you to find any other thing to do on Sunday morning.
Do you recall what Jesus said in the closing verse of the Gospel lesson? “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, & those who see may become blind.” (9:39 ESV) It’s quite easy, hearing of the hatred & intolerance on display across our country, to fall into Satan’s trap of heartless fault finding.
When tempted in that way we should remember the 1st words of Jesus once He began His ministry after His baptism: “‘The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, & those who were sitting in the land & shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned.’ From that time Jesus began to preach & say, ‘Repent, for the reign of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 4:16-17 ESV)
When our Savior calls us to repent, He is calling us to arise from the dead so that He might shine upon us. We live in a world that truly is lost in darkness. Even if you don’t see it, or agree with it, that is taught by Holy Scripture as fact. For Christians, the temptation is always to revert to darkness & death. We live in the midst of those who cut themselves off from the light, who wantonly live in the depravity of sin. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “…it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” Seven out of ten Americans claim to be Christians, yet only one in ten make decisions based on the worldview the Bible teaches.
It’s clearer than ever that each member of our church needs to be in regular Bible study. That’s why St. Paul is reminding us in the reading from Ephesians, “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” You can’t walk that way unless you’re connected to the Vine, which is Christ, & Scripture says that Jesus is the Word.
Christ is the Word of life, & at your baptism He called you out of darkness that you might, “Awake, O sleeper, & arise from the dead…” Jesus called faith into being so that you have & live a new life. Staying connected to the Vine allows that life to continue. Cutting ourselves off from the Vine will eventually bring death.
Association with darkness is clearly harmful to the child of God. Christ is able to renew us, even raise us from the dead if necessary. Therein lays our hope, in the power of God to create life both physical & spiritual.
Rather than the darkness of sin, our Lord calls us to the darkness of Good Friday, through which we receive the light of His forgiveness won on the cross. Through baptism we are made children of the light, bearing the fruit of righteousness, goodness & truth, exposing the deeds of darkness in our own lives, in the lives of fellow believers, & in the lives of the lost.
We expose the darkness, not out of spite or superiority or anger, but out of love, just as Christ loved us, exposed our sin, took it upon Himself & then crucified it on Golgotha. Each day we awake in the grace of our baptism. Each day is a resurrection from death, a rescue from the deeds of darkness, a deliverance from the clutches of the evil one. This is also our prayer for unbelievers, that the light of Christ would awaken them, expose their deeds of darkness, & make them fellow children of light. Just as it is the light that produces fruit in our lives, so it is the light of Christ, the gospel, that enlightens the unbeliever & calls him to faith & a life of good works. “Awake, O sleeper, & arise from the dead, & Christ will shine on you.”
Whether or not you see a difference in this life, from the call of Christ to arise, is difficult to evaluate or measure. Every one of us is unique & God has created all of us with our own plan & purpose. However, there’s no doubt at all that there will be a vast difference in the next life, & there’s no way you’ll fail to notice. Jesus is calling you with open arms. Amen.
Awake, O sleeper, rise from death, & Christ shall give you light; so learn His love, its length & breadth, its fullness, depth & height. For us Christ lived, for us He died, & conquered in the strife; awake, arise, go forth in faith, & Christ shall give you life. Amen. LSB 697:1, 4.
Midweek – 4 LSB #’s 715:1-2, 715:3, 729
Text – Job 14:7
There is hope for a tree! If it is cut down, it will sprout again, & its new shoots will not fail.
IT IS ENOUGH
[Sections of this sermon derive from a homily preached at Concordia Seminary by Dr. David Schmitt on October 8, 2010]
Billy Collins is a poet laureate. In his poem “(detail)” Collins invites us to sit in a room with a woman who is looking at a coffee-table book. She’s passing over landscapes & portraits of people she should know but doesn’t, until she comes upon a page of clouds in the sky.
Her eyes rest on the page. Then she looks up & says, “This one is my favorite.” She doesn’t know that it’s only a detail from a much larger painting. It’s one small corner of the sky from a much larger painting about heroes in epic combat. She doesn’t know that, but she does know that this one detail is beautiful. For her, on this day, it is enough.
I thought about this as I was preparing my sermon on Job 14. The chapter is filled with intense darkness & death. Yet there is one small part – one detail – that is amazingly beautiful. For us, on this day, it is enough.
Over the past month, we’ve been studying the book of Job. Most of you know the plot. Job is a prosperous & happy man, but Satan alleges that Job worships God for only one reason. Job has been bribed by God with so many blessings. Satan bets that if Job loses his blessings then he will curse God.
God gives the devil permission to do anything to Job he wants – except take his life. Job then loses his wealth, estimated to be about $45 million in today’s currency. Worse than that, his ten children are each killed in a storm. Job 14 begins with a sober description of life:
“Man born of woman is of few days & full of trouble. He springs up like a flower & withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.” (Job 14:1–2) He then laments, “Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months & have set limits he cannot exceed.” (14:5) Job is at the end of his rope. He had it all & now has lost it all. He is over-whelmed by darkness & death. But then, in the midst of the storm Job says, “There is hope for a tree.” (Job 14:7) Really? Did you catch that detail? “There is hope for a tree!”
This one small sprout – this little detail – is amazingly beautiful. And, for us, on this day, this one detail is enough. “Why?” you ask. A tree can overcome being cut down: “If it is cut down, it will sprout again, & its new shoots will not fail.” (Job 14:7)
Job was not only cut down by consecutive massive disasters, he was cut down deliberately, by other people. Sometimes they take an axe & begin cutting us down. Chop. Chop. Chop. Children can be bullies. Teenagers can be cyber-bullies. For adults, ex-spouses, ex-bosses & ex-friends can be bullies, all working away at chopping us down.
The people in Job’s life – Bildad, Zophar & Eliphaz – cut him down. They were a lot like Deborah Ricketts. She’s an independent researcher for the film industry. Deborah makes her living by pointing out mistakes. A film set in the 1930s can’t have a person reading a newspaper that didn’t exist then, or a band playing a song that had not yet been written.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark the map that charted Indiana Jones’s flight routed him over Thailand. Problem: The movie was set in 1936 & Thailand was “Siam” until 1939. In Die Hard II Bruce Willis makes a call from what is supposed to be a pay phone in Washington, DC. No one noticed that the phone booth read “Pacific Bell.” Deborah Ricketts lives to find mistakes.
So did Bildad, Zophar & Eliphaz. They had the bedside manner of drill sergeants & the compassion of chainsaw killers. A revised version of their theology might read like this: “Boy, Job, you must have done something really bad! We know God is good, so if bad things are happening to you, then you’ve been really, really bad!” No wonder, in chapter 16:2, Job calls them “miserable comforters.” His head hurts. His eyes burn. His legs ache & he can’t stomach any more hollow homilies. But there is hope for a tree! A tree can overcome being left for dead. “Its roots may grow old in the ground & its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud & put forth shoots like a plant.” (Job 14:8–9)
Job was left for dead: 1st by the accuser – Satan – who thinks Job’s faith is but a farce; 2nd by his wife “Curse God & die,” & 3rd, by Bildad, Zophar & Eliphaz. We know the feeling of being left for dead. Life does that at times, doesn’t it? After months at sea, life on a submarine felt like being left for dead. You do what you have to, but you feel like a zombie.
We say what needs to be said, but feel alone, abandoned, hopeless, dead; like a stump, waiting to die in the soil. That was Job. But even though a stump may be dormant for a long time, a good soaking rain often spurs new growth. A tree can overcome being left for dead! “There is hope for a tree” means there is hope for me.
Job 14:14, “I will wait for my renewal to come.” The noun renewal derives from the verb Job uses in 14:7 to describe a tree sprouting, leaving little doubt that with the term renewal he has hope. Job claims renewal in the midst of his darkness & death. It all comes from a single, solitary, seemingly insignificant sprout on the stump of a tree.
This one small part – this detail – is beautiful, & for us, on this night, it is enough. Otto Dix, a German artist, knew the power of a tiny detail in the midst of darkness & death. Dix served in the German army in WW I. He was wounded in battle &, after the war was over, he received the Iron Cross.
Yet, no medal or honor or talk of glory in battle could erase the horrific things he had seen. So he painted. Otto Dix composed what is known as the War Triptych. He styled it just like you would a painting that would grace an altar, with a center piece of the crucifixion & then two side wings filled with angels & saints. Only instead of the story of God & images of salvation, he filled it with the story of humanity & images of war. There in the center where the crucifixion would appear, he painted what was left after the war to end all wars. You can see remnants of civilization, sticking out of the ground.
The only living figure wears a gas mask since the air is poisoned by gas & by the smell of death, for he is surrounded by corpses. Into this picture of human destruction, Dix has placed one small detail. At the top of the painting is part of a bridge. Stretched out on that bridge is a corpse. Stretched out from the corpse is an arm. Stretched out from that arm is one bony finger.
If you follow that pointer, you find Him, buried upside down within the pile of corpses – Jesus. Betrayed. Beaten. Discarded. Dead & buried. Jesus had been cut down & left for dead. Yet, in the midst of history’s darkest & most deadly moment there was hope. The Son of God, on the tree of the cross, taking away our sin & wretchedness, is the ultimate sign of love!
On the cross Jesus identifies with our loneliness, rejection & pain. And then renewal came. Three days later the crucified One was risen! In the end, that’s why Job can say, “There is hope for a tree.” And that’s why, no matter how tormented we are, no matter how broken we have become, no matter if death hovers on our doorstep – we can say, “There is hope for me!”
That detail, a sprout on the stump of a tree, is beautiful, & it is enough. It is always & forevermore – enough. Amen.
I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, trusting only Thee; trusting thee for full salvation, great & free. I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus; never let me fall. I am trusting Thee forever & for all. Amen. LSB 729:1, 6.
Third Sunday in Lent – A LSB #’s 770, 820, 497
Text – Romans 5:6
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
WEAKNESS IS BAD
It was the fall pastor’s conference & the speaker was talking about the Millennial Generation. His point was that research has generated the chart on the wall. The list in the right hand column describes attitudes which characterize how Millennials think. They believe that slow is bad. Hard is bad. Boring is bad. Risk is bad. Labor is bad.
The column on the left side is the speaker’s opinion of the driving forces which taught the Millennials the attitudes in the right hand column. Our world is full of speed, convenience, entertainment, nurture & entitlement.
So the demand for speed tells people that slow is bad. The demand for convenience teaches that if something is hard it’s bad. Our world values entertainment very highly so boring must be bad. If parents nurture their children excessively the child easily concludes that risk is bad. If we’re entitled to anything we want then working for it, or labor, is bad.
This sermon is titled, “Weakness Is Bad” & I’m wondering if any of you would care to argue against that statement? As people grow older one of the chief symptoms is the general weakness that begins to prevail. The strength you used to have begins to fade away.
When I was in my 20’s, & doing electrical work, I’d be on my feet 8 to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. If I tried that now it’d kill me. It’s easy to look at weakness as bad. When the day comes, for the death of someone we love, weakness descends upon us. Is there anyone here who would argue that such weakness is a good thing? We’ll come back to that later.
Returning to the Millennial Generation, the speaker gave his ideas on what he thought had pushed their generation in the direction they’ve gone. Our culture is one that strives for speed, convenience, entertainment, nurture & entitlement. So which generation do you think elevated those goals to such a high level? It’s the Baby Boomer Generation. Looking at the truth of it, Millennials are the natural outgrowth of such a concentrated focus on taking the struggles & trials out of life.
If we can make things fast, we don’t need to be patient. If we can make things convenient, life is much easier. If everything is entertaining, our lives will be more fun. If we can nurture everyone completely no one will fail. If all of us are entitled to happiness, there’s no reason to spend so much time in the difficult business of working for a living.
Those were the Baby Boomer dreams for their children. They run quite contrary to what St. Paul encourages in the reading from Romans 5: “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, & endurance produces character, & character produces hope.” (v. 3-4 ESV) To people who don’t know Jesus St. Paul sounds downright cruel.
To guarantee that he’s crazy, all we have to do is quote 2 Corinthians 12:10, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions & calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (ESV)
Generations that came prior to the Boomers recognized that the world is a hard place. They understood that if children were coddled they would not survive adulthood. They realized it was impossible to make life convenient or easy for everyone & verses such as Genesis 3:19 guided their thinking:
“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, & to dust you shall return.” (ESV) Isn’t it amazing that our heavenly Father ties in the idea of hard work with one of the verses commonly used in the application of ashes at the beginning of Lent? Then, there was that crazy Apostle Paul again teaching us in 2 Thessalonians 3:10b, “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” (NLT) When the Boomers came along, they rebelled against all that common sense. They vowed to chart a new course, & so they did.
Maybe you’ve heard of George Barna. He started a polling company whose business is all about surveying people on any manner of topics that someone would like to research. Mr. Barna’s company started out specializing in researching information on Christians. Last month, in a periodical titled The Christian Post it reported results from one of Barna’s recent surveys.
The research showed that only 10 percent of Americans, & only four percent of millennials, espouse & live out a biblical worldview by any measurable standard. That’s in spite of the result that 70% of Americans claim to be Christian.
When researchers asked deeper questions to find the real cause of why millennials left their faith, a lot of times they’d hear of troubled upbringings. Despite growing up in Christian homes, millennials would say that their parents never lived out their faith. Those parents are the Boomer Generation – speed, convenience, entertainment, nurture & entitlement.
Jesus doesn’t even make the top five! One millennial the researchers spoke with shared that, though he grew up going to church, he never saw his parents reading the Bible or praying together. His girlfriend’s father, meanwhile, often lectured her family about the Bible but he left her mother for another woman. Boomers are considered to be those born from 1946 to 1964.
The reading, this morning, from Romans 5, describes perfectly the predicament that Christian churches find themselves in here in the United States: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (5:6 ESV) It’s natural to think of weakness as bad. It’s more difficult for us to be in control of our lives when we are weak.
Of course, that’s how our sinful nature views things. You heard St. Paul’s conclusion
earlier, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions & calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” In Romans 5 St. Paul is moving from his presentation of the sinful state of all, God’s gift of righteousness & the new identity we have in Christ, into his discussion of the life of the justified sinner.
Paul looks at this from God’s perspective & from that of sinners in the midst of their struggle with sin. Our Creator has declared us righteous in His sight, yet we see the sin of our idolatry, how we crush the 1st commandment with our demands. God had better be speedy, convenient, entertaining, nurturing & all the while giving us everything we expect.
If He can accomplish all those things then we’ll find time at least once in a while to be in God’s house on a Sunday morning. We’ll make some effort to put our Christian faith into practice as long as it suits our needs. Maybe we’ll even venture to say a prayer in public at some major event like a wedding where we just can’t get out of doing it.
We truly do have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, yet we still endure in our physical being the negative effects of temptation, suffering & death. In the face of our trials, St. Paul states that the God who already intervened at the cost of His Son will not fail to bring us to the fullness of eternal life in paradise. There, our weakness & our failures will be gone.
The tremendously good news Paul shares with you & me is that our Savior does not wait until we get our act together before He rescues us. Jesus didn’t hold off until we got our life under control so He could die in our place. Rather, while we were still weak, Christ died for the ungodly. That is us! Jesus does not consider our weakness to be a bad thing.
It is our strength that gets us into trouble. When we do have things under control is when we are disregarding the 1st commandment & serving our own convenient needs instead of the slow, hard & boring needs of others. It is our hope in the future glory to come which enables us to persevere & to be patient. Enemies of the cross of Jesus try to avoid suffering now because they have no hope for the future glory to come. Since all Christians are 100% sinner & saint, we cannot exclude ourselves as people who are enemies of the cross. That nature in us even considers being in God’s house every single Sunday to be a form of suffering & trial.
If that is your view, allow your heavenly Father to use that suffering to shape & mold you into the image of His holy Son. Accept discipline from your Master as a tool to counter the sinful nature living within you.
When you find yourself striving for speed, convenience & entertainment, at the expense of your relationship with your Lord & Master, turn to the promise of eternal glory that awaits us in heaven. Don’t sell out your soul for the things of this world that moth & rust & old age will destroy. Even the weakness of our body that comes with old age can cause us to lean on God
As such, even weakness is not always bad. Neither is boring, or slow. In our afflictions, the Holy Spirit causes us to learn what it means to be steadfast in trust of our Lord’s promises. That experience of enduring is possible only through faith, & at the same time it strengthens our ability to live by faith, even while God seems to have forgotten us.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6 ESV) That is reality because God declares it to be, & it is a good reality. Amen.
My soul, now praise your Maker! Let all within me bless His name Who makes you full partaker of mercies more than you dare claim. Forget Him not whose meekness still bears with all your sin, Who heals your every weakness, renews your life within; Whose grace & care are endless & saved you through the past; Who leaves no sufferer friendless but rights the wronged at last. Amen. LSB 820:1.
 2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV
Pastor Dean R. Poellet