Archive for the ‘Luke 12:22-34’ Category

Faith To Be a Sheep!

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, August 1, 2010
Rev. Brian Henderson—Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
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“Faith… the final frontier.  These are the voyages of the church of Jesus Christ; people who relate to God by faith.  Their on-going mission—to live a life that is completely dependent upon their Creator and Savior; to believe in the unseen as if it has been seen, simply because the Word of God declares it true; to seek out new ways to praise God and help build His kingdom.  To boldly follow Jesus Christ where ever He leads!”

Ok, maybe that’s a bit too much.  How about this then: Faith… is living life as one of Jesus little lambs.  Do you have faith to be a sheep… to be a sheep in God’s flock… the true church?  Jesus wants you to have this kind of faith so He speaks these Words to you: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.  Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” [Luke 12:32-34]

This morning little flock, your Good Shepherd is expounding on the story He told us last week about the rich fool!  He was rich certainly; he had more wealth than he knew what to do with.  But He was also a fool!  He was a fool because he wasn’t rich towards God.  He was a fool because he failed to understand that His wealth on earth was really God’s wealth; wealth that he was expected to use to build the kingdom of God!

This morning friends, Jesus desires to teach us how to avoid being a fool so that we can be assured that we are a saint.  How?  By being a sheep!  “But sheep are dumb” we argue!  Yes and that’s why they need a shepherd.  Sheep truly are incapable to care for themselves.  They are prone to wander, and when they do, they are prone to be attacked and devoured by wolves.  The smart sheep… or maybe a better way to say this is, the faithful sheep know they need a shepherd.  And when they find their shepherd they know they better learn to know and trust His voice.  But to hear and trust the voice of your Good Shepherd requires faith, and that is precisely what He has been giving to you since your baptism and it is what He is giving to you right now!

What is faith?  Our epistle reading this morning (Hebrews 11:1-16) answers this question for us.  Right away it defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not see.”  Now some may counter, “Hold on now.  I am one that has always believed that faith and logic are equally valid.  In fact I pride myself on the fact that I have learned to rely on both!”  Very well let’s put that to a test.  Remember you are a lamb; you are prone to wander; that’s why you follow your Shepherd.  If all of the sheep followed their Good Shepherd they would always be assured of plenty of food and drink, because that is the job of the Shepherd, to lead them to green pastures and sources of water and safety.  But the sheep that do not have faith alone in their shepherd are lured into wandering off to nearby sources of food and water that the Good Shepherd intentionally bypasses.  The faithless sheep see this contradiction and say to themselves, “This is foolish!  Where is he leading us?  Can’t he see this is good right here?”  So they wander away from the flock only to be attacked and eaten by the wolf.  And that is precisely what will happen to us when we allow logic to interpret the Word of God.

Little lambs, we must remember that we live in a world that is full of dangers and enemies.  As harsh and threatening as this world is, we would be without hope if we did not have a Good Shepherd to guide us.  He sees and knows the dangers that we can’t see and know.  He knows where the traps of the devil are hidden; a devil that is simply waiting for us to leave the safety of the flock and the protection of the Good Shepherd, so he can pounce upon us and devour us!  So the faithful sheep simply follow their Shepherd and place their trust in things hoped for and promises as yet unseen, because they are following their Good Shepherd.

What is it that we are hoping for?  Peace with God and a sense of safety and security in this life certainly, but it is much deeper than that.  We are also placing our faith in the promise of being with our Good Shepherd forever.  We are following the promise of the resurrection of our flesh!  We believe and hope in an eternal life of peace, joy, and happiness.  Why?  Simply because our Shepherd’s Word promises that this will be our reward for trusting in where He is leading us.

Faith, confidence, and conviction are all different ways of describing the same thing.  In these words we are saying that we trust God, and our Good Shepherd Jesus Christ above any and all contradictions!  These words at first seem very subjective and personal, and that is because outside of the Word of God, they are!  You must test and live out faith in order to believe it as fact.  You must trust daily in something in order to be confident in it.  And you must hold onto and practice your convictions in order to keep them strong!  But when the Word of the Good Shepherd is inserted into the equation, all of these words also have something very objective behind them.  Isn’t it true that faith is a hard thing to hold onto, especially in this society that we live in?  Think of all of the people and promises that have disappointed us!  Isn’t it true that confidence is something that is inspired within us?  Yes to all of these.  We need to be assured that we have a true faith and not a false faith.  Eve had great faith in what Satan promised her, even though it was simply a lie dressed up like truth.  The cults and false religions do the very same thing as they twist lies so that they will appear to be the way of God!  No, I am afraid little sheep that there will always be someone or something evil lurking around us, pretending to be genuine, true, reliable and trustworthy; something that wants you to have false hope instead of true faith.

What then?  What are we to do in order to ensure that we are safe and resting in the true faith?  When there is a contradiction between the Word of God and the way of men, we must stay with our Good Shepherd and listen to His voice only.  We must remember that true faith is produce only through the Living Word of God and His Holy Spirit who come to us through His Word and Sacraments.  If we will not trust God’s Word and the promises of His Sacraments then we will inevitably wander from His care and certainly be attacked and devoured by the devil. 

Faith dear sheep is a sure and certain confidence in all of the glorious things promised and hoped for, which are given to us within God’s own Word.  Everything given to us within the Bible is God’s own truth.  All of the past events that are recorded for us are true and all of the future events that are promised will come! 

God’s Word begins with the creation of the world and it ends with the promise that our resurrected and redeemed bodies will live with our Good Shepherd in a new heaven and a new earth.  Every one of these promises is as of yet “unseen,” yet we are to regard them to be as certain and serious as gravity. 

By means of faith we understand that the universe was created solely by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible… instead it was made out of nothing but the Living Word of God! [Heb. 11:3]  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… Then God said “Let there be light”; and there was light.” [Gen. 1:1-3]  In the very first paragraph of the Bible we read and we believe it; we believe because the Good Shepherd calls to us and tells us to believe.  Because of faith we need nothing else to go by.  Because of faith we hear these words and believe, that “without faith it is impossible to please (God), for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” [Heb. 11:6]

By means of faith, Abraham obeyed God when he was called to go out to a place that he had never seen in order to receive an inheritance.  By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  Why?  Because he was looking forward to a place that has its foundations in heaven, whose designer and builder is God Himself! [Heb. 11:8-10]  What was the true evidence of Abraham’s faith in God?  He heard the voice of His Good Shepherd and he responded.  He went out into a place that was a complete mystery to receive an inheritance.  He didn’t know where he was going; he only knew he must follow the Word of His God.  Abraham believed God and His promise concerning his Fatherland and future heritage; he had faith to believe in things hoped for and as of yet unseen.  Abraham was walking completely by faith; trust in God.  How could he do this?  Because he was not looking only to an earthly city, but instead he was also looking forward to a city that has its foundations in heaven, one designed for him and his spiritual children who would relate to God by faith.  A city that has been created for you… Jesus little lambs!

Faith dear lambs is what God gives to us through His Word and Sacraments so that we will hear Him and trust in Him; so that we will not wander away following after the things of this world; things which lure us out of the fold… the church of Jesus Christ.  Abraham understood that God’s promise of a Fatherland wasn’t just referring simply to some piece of country in Palestine.  No, Abraham understood that one day his spiritual descendants, you and me would possess as our inheritance a place for eternity where there will be no more suffering, shame, or tears; a place where there will be only the joy of being safe and secure and at peace with our Good Shepherd.

Do you want to have and keep the gift of faith that turns you from a wandering sheep into a little lamb that rests in the flock of the Good Shepherd?  Then rest in the voice of God, the voice of your Good Shepherd found in Holy Scripture, and let it be your greatest source of wisdom and hope.  When you rest in this wisdom you will discover that everything in your life, including your money and possessions are completely safe in the hands of your Creator and Shepherd.  Abraham did this and I pray that you will continue to do this too.  I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!