Archive for the ‘Easter 7C’ Category

Shout Glory in the Night!

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Seventh Sunday after Easter, May 16, 2010
Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church
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Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me  because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” [Jn. 17:24]

 Do you want to see Christ’s glory with your physical eyes and not just your eyes of faith?  Are you sure?  Then pray… beg Him to come quickly, even right this second!  Are you praying for Jesus to come soon?  Then you are praying for Him to end your existence in this world so that you can meet Him in His glory in paradise.  Are you ready for that… I mean are you really ready for that?  Are you sure that you will be meet with a Holy kiss and welcomed into paradise or are you afraid that you will be meet with admonishment and cast outside of the City with the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood? [Rev. 22:15]  You know, what determines your eternal destination is what or Whom you place your trust in!

Harry Connick Jr. tells the story about his first real break in show biz that came in front of Frank Sinatra, the man he made a living out of impersonating. The young singer was nervous; what would his idol think of his performance? When Connick began his performance, he immediately forgot the opening words of the first verse, and that mistake was followed by numerous others.  As he ended the song, he knew it was a disaster, but at the final note, the enthusiastic yet ignorant audience rose to its feet and cheered the singer. The cheers echoed down the halls of the casino. Connick looked to the box where Sinatra was seated; he was looking for the approval of only one man, but Sinatra seemed unimpressed. All the excitement of the crowd could not compensate for the lack of Sinatra’s approval.  (As told by Connick in an interview on American Idol Season 2010)

Much is wrong with our society and even in our own lives. We can all make a list; broken homes, the increase in violence and dishonesty, the lack of integrity in public life, the slow slide of the church into adopting the ways of the world, the decay of sexual morality. It is the duty of the church and every saint within the church to be the watchman who sounds the alarm!  And our only tool that God has given us for this task is His Word… the inerrant Words of the Bible.  This is the most important source of approval that we have; at times it will be our only source.

Our gospel reading for this morning is a prayer, Jesus prayer to be exact.  His time to leave this world had come and He desired that His apostles would be encouraged to know that their master was praying for them and would continue to pray for them.  But we also discover that He is praying for us.  Listen: “I do not (pray) for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” [Jn. 17:20, 21]

 Who is Jesus praying for?  Well He is praying for you!  What is He praying for?  That you might have faith; that you might believe in Him unto salvation!  How does He say this faith, this ability to believe will come to us?  He says that it will be through God’s Word, which comes to us through the Words He has given the apostles. What will be the result of this faith that Jesus asks the Father for?  None other than unity and the spread of the gospel!  Just as the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit exist in unity, our Savior desires that we also be one with Him and with each other!  But He also asks that this unity be used for a purpose, and that is so that the sinful dying world might know Him through God’s Word unto salvation as well.

 Now there may be some here this morning that are right now at this very moment wondering, “But what about my salvation?  How can I know for sure that I will be welcomed into paradise and not admonished and thrown into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth?”  Friend, the only way you can be certain is as I stated, through His Word.

God is so serious about His Word that He gives us grave warnings to protect it from anyone who would add to it or take away from it.  Each Word is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit; the power to bring faith to sinners who without it are eternally damned to live in darkness.  Listen to the warning He gives us in our epistle lesson: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” [Rev. 22:18-19]  Now some may say, “But that refers to the prophecy found in the book of Revelations!”  And I must warn you that scripture must be taken as a whole.  You can’t cherry pick some as true and reject other portions as false or culturally irrelevant. 

 You see, every word of Scripture must be seen as a sanctuary; a sanctuary which is just as infallible and unchangeable as God Himself. [Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Prov. 30:5–6; Rev. 22:18–19]. Every addition is a sacrilege, since it dilutes God’s Word with the word of men. In the book of Proverbs, God provides this warning to those of us who want to tamper with His Word: ‘Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. [Prov. 30:6]  Jesus Himself defends the completed Word of God this way: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” [Matt. 5:17–19].

Dear friends, God does not want you to leave here afraid and worried.  He wants you to leave here assured that He has made a way for you to join Him in paradise, a way back to the tree of eternal life, and He did it through the fruit of another tree, the tree of woe… the blessed cross.  You see, to hang upon that tree is to be accursed, so Jesus hung on that tree for you!  He bore our curse and removed it from us.  That then is the fruit of eternal life that He gives to you, the fruit of His righteousness… righteousness unto eternal life! [Rev. 22:2, 3]  Friends, He’s given you this fruit within the waters of your baptism, where you have been washed by the water and the Word… you have been washed clean in the blood of the lamb!  He promises you that although you may experience periods of night, it is not the darkness that awaits those who die in their sins because of their rejection of both God’s love and His Word that speaks of Christ’s passion.

You dear saints are now the servants of Jesus Christ; you are allowed by faith to see Him in His Word, seated upon the throne.  You bear His name upon your foreheads because in your baptism you were sealed by the Holy Spirit and moved by that same Spirit through the Word to believe in God’s real presence and His love for you!  You know by faith, that God has a plan for you and you trust in that plan.  And the day will come when night for you will be no more; you will enter the Eternal City as a servant of the Most High God Jesus Christ, and you will be infinitely blessed in that service, because you see, as a servant of the Lamb of God you will no longer have to learn the will of God, because it will be part of your very nature.  And the Lord God will be your light, and you will reign with Him forever and ever! [Rev. 22:3-5]

You see, unlike the sinful world that fears their own death, you are assured that the end of this world, is not something to be feared but anxiously awaited and celebrated when that day comes. Sure, Jesus may come at any moment to repay the entire world for what each individual has done, or he may also come at any time when you close your eyes for that last time in a natural death.  In either case, you dear saints have nothing to fear if you are trusting and resting in God’s Word.  Because in that Word you have been shown that through Jesus Christ you do not have an angry God but a God who loves you.  You have a God who has done all of the work Himself to ensure that you will be with Him, even today… this very moment in paradise! 

Is this your desire friends, to be with Jesus in paradise?  Then always remember this: We have no Christ, no God, and no salvation without His perfect and Holy Word.  And we have no unity with God and ourselves without that same Word.  But the more we have His Word ruling in our hearts and lives by faith, the more perfect our unity with Him and each other becomes.  And the deeper we are drawn into that unity the more we’re assured by God that we have nothing to fear!  The truth is friends, we are as close to Christ and each other as we believe, teach, live, and confess all that is contained in God’s Word. Let’s always remember that every deviation in doctrine, life, and practice from God’s Word distorts our unity and hinders the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for unity and assurance. Let’s also remember that people who are bent on changing any part of the Word, also those who demand things that aren’t in that Word must be warned that it is their very salvation and the power of the gospel for the entire world that is at stake!

So friends, spend time in that Word.  Let it become for you the living presence of almighty God.  Let it change you and rearrange you.  Let it alone become your moral compass.  Pray over His Word and meditate on God’s will, and then listen to Him speak!  Can you hear Him whispering to you now in the night of this sinful world?  He is saying, “I am coming soon.”  And what does He want our response to be?  You must shout in the night of this sinful world, “Glory!  Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus, come!”  AMEN!