Sermon from February 5th, 2017

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“Growing Faith #4 - What the Lord Wants Every American to Know”

Jeremiah 29:4-14; 1 Peter 2:9-12


By Pastor John Bent



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Sermon Text
Good morning and welcome to worship!  Amid all the craziness swirling around us in our nation right now, aren’t you glad the Lord is in control!  That’s what we are here to celebrate! The apostle Paul wrote from his prison cell in Rome…

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:4-7

Over the last few weeks we’ve looked at what God wants kids to know, what God wants women to know, and what God wants men to know. Today we look at what God wants every American to know.
 
In 1 Corinthians 14  the apostle Paul tells us that God is not the author of disorder and confusion but of peace. Confusion results in fear. Satan delights in fear and confusion. It’s not surprising that when people abandon God’s way they always end up lost, afraid, angry, confused and on the fight. We see this every night on the evening news.
 
But the Bible tells us it doesn’t have to be this way. God can replace our anxiety with a peace that doesn’t make any earthly sense. This morning we are going to look at four truths the Lord wants every American to know.

The first truth is found in Psalm 24:1“The earth is the LORD’S and everything in it.” Ps 24:1 Nothing in this world is really MINE, it’s all THINE.  The Lord delights in giving us wonderful gifts to enjoy, to care for and to share. But nothing including myself is really mine, it’s all his!

Let me give you an example. One day when I was in college, I saw this beautiful12 string guitar in a music store. I remember praying, “Lord, if you help me buy this guitar I’ll only play it for you. It will be my God guitar.”  Meaning of course that I could play my other guitars wherever and however I wanted. “One for you, one for me, one for you, two for me.”  Remember that game?

This last week I watched my grandsons go at it hammer and tongs over a toy truck when there were a dozen others trucks on the floor. What language did they use? “It’s mine!” “Is not!” “Is too!” “Is not” “Is too!”  I pulled them aside and informed them both that the trucks were really mine! But that I would let them play with them if they were willing to share. The first truth to restoring peace is this - “The earth is the LORD’S and everything in it.” “Not mine but Thine!”

This brings us to the second truth God wants every American to know. It’s called sin. There is a reason for the anxiety, discord, confusion within us and around us. Every human heart has been infected with a disease that we can’t fix. At its root sin is rebellion against God. It’s a refusal to obey him or accept his sovereignty over us. Sin poisons our relationship with God and with each other and throws sand in the gears of everything we try to do. The prophet Jeremiah diagnoses the problem this way. “The (human) heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jer 17:9

Again and again people have overthrown wicked unjust rulers only to find the ones who replace the tyrants end up just as bad as the ones that were thrown out. The Bible says there is no one who is righteous not even one!

David was considered to be a man after God’s own heart, yet after an adulterous affair and the murder of the woman’s husband he wrote, “Surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Ps 51:5

John wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But we if confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all our unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Imagine a husband and wife, a Republican and Democrat, a liberal and conservative, two opposing world leaders, my grandsons getting on their knees side by side confessing their sin and asking God to forgive their pride, stubbornness, selfishness. What would happen?

We will never be able to submit to one another until we first submit to God and his sovereignty over our lives. That begins with confessing our bondage to sin and asking God to forgive us and change our hearts.

Which brings us to the third truth God wants us to know
– He has provided a solution for the problem of sin. Jesus told us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his One and Only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
 
Sin is a progressive and fatal disease.  Not only does sin put us under the judgement of God, but sin creates chaos, confusion, and fear. Sin causes us to steal, oppress, kill, vandalize, and self-destruct. Jesus came to rescue us. The apostle Paul was speaking of himself when he wrote. “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our sins.” Ephesians 2:5

This miracle of grace happened on the cross. That’s why the cross is so important. It is the central event of all human history. Everything that happened before it looked forward to it; everything that happened after it looked back to it. The cross is the point in history where the debt of every sin under the sun from the beginning of time to the end of time was paid in full, not by us, but by God himself.

This gift of mercy and grace is for everyone who will receive it by faith. We can’t earn it or merit it. In fact, we deserve just the opposite. But God placed our sin on his Son who paid in full our debt before God and gives his righteousness as a gift to everyone who will receive it by faith. But in order to receive this gift, we must submit to the reality that this is God’s world, not ours. And the harder we try to save ourselves, the more we mess it up.
 
Every human attempt to solve the problem of evil and build a better world without the cross of Jesus, no matter how sincere our attempts maybe, is doomed to end in emptiness, tyranny, death.  John, that’s awfully negative.  Not, it’s not negative, it’s reality.  Let me give you two reasons…

First, we have an enemy of our souls who is constantly whispering lies in our ears, that we don’t need God, we can do it ourselves, we can be our own god. On our own we have no ability to discern or resist his lies. Second, until we submit to the Lord, we will never be able to submit to each other.  When we play king of the hill only the most evil and brutal will rule.

The good news is the earth is the Lord’s and he loves us too much to abandon us. Satan’s lies have no power over God’s truth. The blood of Jesus shed on the cross for us is the power of God to set us free from the deceptions of the Evil One, forgive our sin, purify us from all unrighteousness, restore our hope, cast out fear, heal our anxiety, fill us with peace.

There is a final truth God wants us to know.  He has a job for you to do - something far greater than just living for yourself. In Jeremiah 29:11 the Lord says, “I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”Jeremiah 29:11

Looking for purpose and meaning? The Lord has a role for you in the redemption of the world!  Peter wrote “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

So what does God want us as Christians in America to know and do?  First of all the healing of America begins in our own hearts. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Second, the Lord has not called us to whine and complain and condemn, but to pray for our nation and our leaders. “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7

Peter who would later be crucified by Nero wrote to the church that we are to “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:17

The apostle Paul was later beheaded by the same guy wrote, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2

He also wrote, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1

Is there hope for America? Absolutely, but not in ourselves no matter how sincere or good we try to be. Our hope is in the cross of Christ, where God paid the penalty for our sins. Where he conquered sin, death, and the devil in order to restore us to himself.

Now he’s commissioned us to the joyful task of proclaim Jesus to the world. He’s called us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, pray for our leaders and all who are in authority and never forget, the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.

Amen


Prayers

Creator God, Heavenly Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth – we pray for our President, his cabinet, the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives, our judges, our state and local leaders.

Give them wisdom, courage, and understanding for the times in which we live. Our world is increasingly complex and dangerous. We need your protection and guidance.
 
Grant our leaders the humility to ask for your help in the incredible tasks that confront them. Protect them from the deceptions and lies of the Evil One and from the sin that dwells within us all.

You have promised to be near the powerless, the orphan, the widow, the grieving, the oppressed, the abandoned, the forgotten. Without you we have no hope, yet with you, there is no wall too high, no enemy too great, no hardship too difficult for us to overcome in you.

Turn the eyes, the hearts, the hope of America back to you for this is not our nation, not our world, but yours, and you supply all we need from day to day whether we recognize it or not.

We pray for those who grieve this morning, comfort them as only you can do. We pray for the sick that you would bring them your shalom both physically and spiritually. We pray for all who travel and ask you to bring them safely to their destination and home again.

Guide us as your church, your people in the world, that wherever we go, we would bring the aroma of Christ into places overcome by the stench of death, despair and hopelessness. Keep us close to Jesus, under his cross and submissive to his Word so that the anxiety of the world around us will give way to his light, love, peace, and joy.

Help us remember in times of conflict, to get on our knees, humble ourselves and submit to you and to one another so that you might unite us and raise us up. Help us remember in the daily living out of our lives that all we are and all we have is THINE, not MINE. Heavenly Father, all these things and whatever else you see we need, we ask in Jesus name.

Amen


Christ Lutheran Church • 5150 River Lakes Parkway, Whitefish, MT 59937 • 406-862-2615

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