Archive for the ‘Pentecost 6B’ Category

God Never Fails!

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

6th Sunday of Pentecost, July 12, 2009

Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
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NOTE: This message was delivered in a community park at an outdoor gospel sevice and picinic.

INTRODUCTION:  Here is an eternal truth: God’s love for sinful man will never fail.  God never fails to love.  There was once a claim made by a company that made ice boxes for the home that “Ice will never fail.”  These simple words became the preferred advertising slogan throughout the 40’s and 50’s.  With great confidence they proclaimed that “You will always be able to count on ice.  Ice will never fail to be the preferred method to preserve your food, or to cool your drinks.”

So how did they do?  Well many still call that big metal box in their kitchen the ice box, but the truth is, ice hasn’t been used to preserve food since the late 1950’s when a simple gas called Freon was discovered to be a cheap and practical means of cooling and keeping cooled any thing that came in contact with it.  Today, we are still being continuously bombarded with adds like that; adds, which tell us that if we use a specific product, it is sure to meet our needs.  It will make us more fragrant, more confident, or more acceptable.  

 

I remember watching a martial arts competition one night with great expectations of a great match.  The media hype promised that it would be the fight of the century.  The challenger was expected to give the champion the fight of his career.  The fight ended about 30 seconds after it started with the champion still the champion.  When I looked at the challenger knocked out cold on the floor I began to laugh.  I wasn’t laughing at his injured condition, but what his boxing trunks said, “Everlast!”

 

In this journey we call life, we discover again, and again, despite all of the advertising hype that ice does fail.  The things that we call everlasting seem to be continually knocked out by things that are temporary.   Even old time tested friends and close family can and do fail us.  Eventually everything will fail us except God, who isn’t a thing at all, but rather He is the eternal source of love who chose us in Jesus Christ even before the world and all creation came to be.  He is everlasting!  You can always be sure of Him.  God never fails!   All around us, God has ensured that we continually receive His message to repent, turn away from our sins and trust in His means of restoring our broken lives; lives that have been ravage by sin. 

 

Maybe some here this morning find something familiar with King Herod, in our gospel reading.  Maybe you too have always found the Word of God fascinating but not captivating.  All of your life you’ve heard the truth of Jesus Christ proclaimed in the words of Christians, powerful truth, but not your truth.  Maybe you’ve gone to church, even tried to read the Bible on numerous occasions only to lock it away in a drawer, much like Herod locked away the prophet of God, John the Baptist.  Listen friend, you are not hearing my words by accident.  God, your creator has a purpose for your life and He wants to change you forever, but before He will work within you, you must pause long enough to hear His Word, and then let that Word change you.  Friends, please don’t turn away from this request; this might be your last opportunity to hear Him speak and receive His gift of new life and forgiveness.  You see, God doesn’t want you to be like King Herod, pronouncing a death sentence upon His Word, because you see that sentence would not be on God’s Word but upon your very salvation.  Friends, it is God’s desire to work right now within all of us.  Whether you are hearing and responding to His Word for the very first time or you have been walking with Him your whole life, He wants you to receive His Work of forgiveness and love within your heart.

 

I. God the Father.  Dear friends, God the Father has chosen you before the beginning of time not because He found anything good in you but because in His very nature He is love—He doesn’t want anyone to die outside of His love, but instead He wants everyone to turn away from their sins and receive His forgiveness, love, and eternal life.  He wants you to walk with Him in peace and love forever.  You see friends, your very salvation is founded upon the Love of God the Father; a love so strong that even “the gates of hell” have no power to defeat it and separate you from His love and His gift of salvation.

 

Within this truth there is wonderful comfort.  You see it is God who is right now working in your heart and life; He is the one who changes your heart.  Right now he is moving your heart to desire His righteous and holy presence in your life.  He wants you to consider your own salvation as the most important possession that you could ever have.  In or Epistle reading we’ve learned that God preordained your salvation before time began so that you will continue to respond to His offer of forgiveness and eternal life.  You see, He has already decided how He would bring you to salvation and He has worked to ensure that you don’t lose it.  In essence, He has secured your very salvation so completely, that not even your own weakness or sinfulness could cause it to slip through your fingers; in fact, not even the devil himself can snatch this gift away from you.  His gift of salvation can’t fail or be overthrown.  So that you can have complete confidence in this truth, He has placed it into the almighty hands of our Savior Jesus Christ for safe keeping!

 

II. God the Son.  While salvation comes from the very heart and love of God the Father, the truth that it is YOUR salvation is provided through the life, death, and resurrection of God the Son, Jesus Christ!  Through the entire work of Jesus Christ, God’s wonderful gift of grace, that is His unearned love, pardon, and forgiveness has become entirely yours.  This means that you actually possess every spiritual gift that God has provided for you through the work of Jesus Christ.  Where you were once held hostage by sin, that is because of your sins you were destined to spend the rest of eternity separated from God in hell, Jesus has in a very real sense paid the ransom price for you!  Through His life giving blood, shed for you upon the cross you have been freed.  Through this truth we can all be assured that Jesus suffered and died for the entire world.  Everyone has been redeemed through Jesus Christ, who through His innocent obedience, suffering, and death has given us everything we need to stand before God and be assured of His gift of eternal life.  This gift of salvation is offered to you friends freely through God’s Word and sacraments.  It is no longer hidden away like some great mystery, but instead it is now readily revealed to us through these means. 

 

Dear friends, it is God’s desire that His Word and sacraments will truly save us, so He asks us to gladly hear His Word when it is preached, read, and meditated on.  In this way He works to change our hearts so that we will turn away from our many sins and turn to His work through Jesus Christ alone.  And so that you can be confident that this promise is for you, God sends to you the person and the work of His Holy Spirit. 

 

III. God the Holy Spirit.  Through the Holy Spirit, we are given another wonderful gift… the gift of faith.  Through faith, we believe and find hope alone in what Jesus Christ has done for us upon the cross.  Through faith our hearts are moved to turn away from our many sins and accept Jesus as our Savior, friend, and Lord.  Through faith, we believe and receive the work of the Holy Spirit who is working in our lives to do good; that is He moves our hearts to willingly offer to God our lives as living sacrifices to Him so that His will and work in our lives will be done.  Through our time, talent, treasures, and finances God continues to work in us and through us.  He is working His life changing love in our lives so that others will see His work within us and give glory to God!  In other words, God wants others to be amazed at the change He has worked and is working through our simple lives. 

 

Through the work of the Holy Spirit we know by faith that God is working daily to protect us from our great weaknesses against the devil, the sinful world, and even against our own sinful flesh, so that He can guide and lead us in His ways.  Through the Holy Spirit’s work within us we know by faith, that even when we fall, that is when we sin, He will be right there to lift us up again to comfort, encourage, and keep us safe.   Through trials and temptations, in sickness and hard times, we know by faith that God shall never leave us or forsake us!  We know that He is always working within us to strengthen and increase in us good works that please Him.  How can we know this?  Because God has told us that it is He who began this good work in us who will complete it through Jesus Christ.

 

CONCLUSION: I remember years ago, my son Tommy and I were looking up in the night sky for one of the many space shuttles that had just been launched and was now in orbit.  As my son was scanning the darkness he pointed his little finger at what he thought was the shuttle.  “No, son that one has been up there all along.” I said.  Looking back on that night, what I was really telling my son was that in a time when the sky seems filled with satellites and space shuttles; a time when many things go up and come back down, there are still stars in the sky that have been up there all along.

 

Dear friends, our Christian faith gives us assurance like that.  God’s love is like a star.  We reach out toward it many times even though we can’t touch it, with the knowledge that God’s love has been there all along.  Isn’t it comforting to know that no matter how much things change God and His love for us never will!  

 

Explanation of Reconciliation: Dear friends, perhaps this message has reached you in a way that causes your heart to hope that this good news is true, and that it is for you.  If so friends, don’t let your hearts be troubled, trust in God’s Word.  God in His mercy and love wants you to receive His wonderful gift of salvation right now.  And to do this, you simply tell Him that you need it.  Together we will all confess our sinfulness to God and ask for His forgiveness. 

 

The Prayer of a Sinner: Merciful God, I confess to you that I am by my very nature sinful and unclean.  I have sinned against You in my thoughts and in my actions.  I have also sinned against You by the things I have done and the things I have failed to do.  I have not loved You with my whole heart and that I have not loved my neighbor as myself.  I confess that I justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment for my sins.  For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.  Forgive me, renew me, and lead me, so that I may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways so that through my life I may glorify Your name.  AMEN!

 

Absolution: In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given by the Father to die for you, and for His sake God forgives you all of your sins.  To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and He gives to them the Holy Spirit.  Salvation is yours!  May the Lord who has begun this good work within you, bring it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ our Lord…AMEN!