Saturday, February 16, 2019

February 17th Luke 6:17-26 Pastor Waldschmidt


Luke 6:17-26 (EHV)  He went down with them and stood on a level place with a large crowd of his disciples, and a large number of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, as well as from the coastal area of Tyre and Sidon. These people came to listen to him and to be healed of their diseases. 18Those who were troubled by unclean spirits were also cured. 19The whole crowd kept trying to touch him, because power was going out from him and healing them all. 20He lifted up his eyes to his disciples and said: Blessed are you who are poor, because yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, because you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh. 22Blessed are you whenever people hate you, and whenever they exclude and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. 23“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy because of this: Your reward is great in heaven! The fact is, their fathers constantly did the same things to the prophets. 24But woe to you who are rich, because you are receiving your comfort now. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, because you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, because you will be mourning and weeping. 26Woe to you when all people speak well of you, because that is how their fathers constantly treated the false prophets.
JESUS GIVES US A LEVEL PLACE
I. With Blessings
II. With Warnings
In the name of Jesus who gives us a level place to stand in this topsy turvy world,
      These last few weeks here in Wisconsin we have had a crash course so to speak about how to get around on ice.   Day after day it seems stores have sold out of the ice melt for putting on the sidewalk and driveway.  I can get around pretty well on the level spots with more of a slip slide sort of a motion.  But there is a spot on our walk way where things head down hill and the other morning as I was shoveling I could just feel that if I walked on that I was going to go down. 
      It isn’t just icy sidewalks that give us that feeling in the pit of our stomachs.  Life in this world can give us that feeling that our feet are about to going flying out from underneath us and we are going down.  In this topsey turvey world Jesus gives us a level place to stand.  With blessings!  With warnings!
     My wife, my children, my congregation, might get sick of hearing me say, “You know my grandpa always said” or “My mom always used to say,” or my pastor always used to say.”   Those things that stick in our minds that those close to us have said are things that were probably said more than once-probably said on more than one occasion.  Some of the things said on the level place here sound a great deal like Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7.  These are important teachings that I’m sure Jesus repeated over and over for his disciples so that they would stick in their minds.
     Right before these words in Luke, there is sort of a starting lineup introduction for Jesus’ disciples. After the 12 disciples are named for us.  It’s almost like they are standing out there at center court and Jesus turns their eyes toward the crowd around them.   “He went down with them and stood on a level place with a large crowd of his disciples, and a large number of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, as well as from the coastal area of Tyre and Sidon. These people came to listen to him and to be healed of their diseases. 18Those who were troubled by unclean spirits were also cured. 19The whole crowd kept trying to touch him, because power was going out from him and healing them all.”  As they began their ministry Jesus showed his disciples all the people they would serve.  They could look into the eyes of all the all the people coming to him from Jerusalem and Judea, many troubled by evil spirits.  Other sick people just wanting to touch Jesus and be healed.  Crowds of people coming from Tyre and Sidon which were successful cities of commerce in Jesus’ day but they were looking for something missing in their lives. 
     Maybe good for us as Jesus’ followers here this morning to stop and look around at all the people in our lives Jesus has put into our lives for us to serve.  People who need Jesus.  People who need help.  People troubled by all kinds of things.  Let’s see the people around us whose lives have been wrecked by sin.  Look around the world and see the people in Tyre and Sidon and Asia and Africa and South America and Europe who are looking for something that is missing in their lives.  They need Jesus.  Turning our eyes toward others and their needs helps to keep standing on level ground looking toward others and listening to Jesus. 
       In some ways that thought (not being so self absorbed, looking toward others and listening to Jesus) sort of runs through the blessings and the warnings Jesus talks about here on this level spot.  “He lifted up his eyes to his disciples and said: Blessed are you who are poor, because yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, because you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh. 22Blessed are you whenever people hate you, and whenever they exclude and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. 23“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy because of this: Your reward is great in heaven! The fact is, their fathers constantly did the same things to the prophets.”    At first glance, what Jesus is describing as blessed doesn’t sound so blessed.  When I say that I have been blessed, I’m usually not thinking of being poor, hungry, people hating me, excluding me, insulting me and rejecting the Waldschmidt name as evil.  But think things through.  Blessed are you when  you are not thinking that this world is all there is and so the all important thing is gathering and storing up stuff and enjoying this life.  Because this life is just temporary and the real life is coming after this life is over.  This world has been wrecked by sin and God has in mind a life of pure joy and happiness in mind for us in heaven.  Blessed are you when you are not caring so much about eating a great meal with and finer things of life and forgetting about feeding our souls with God’s Word.   Blessed are you when you caring so much about what people are saying about you and caring more about what they are saying about our Savior. 
     I’m old enough to remember playing on playgrounds the really high slides and the teeter totters where a person stand on the board in the middle and try to balance standing up.  Jesus has a level place for us in his word for us today with a balancing of blessings and warnings.  “But woe to you who are rich, because you are receiving your comfort now. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, because you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, because you will be mourning and weeping. 26Woe to you when all people speak well of you, because that is how their fathers constantly treated the false prophets.”  When we first hear Jesus words about being rich we might think we better get rid of all of our stuff right now.  And if our lives are only about being comfortable and all wrapped up in getting stuff, then it really would be good for us to get rid of our stuff.  But the problem is not how much money or stuff we have.  It is our attitude toward that stuff.  In the Bible we hear of plenty of believers who had great wealth. Think of Abraham.  He had his own army of 318 servants.  Think of Job who was one of the wealthiest men in the world of his day, who lost it all then got it all back again.  Remember his attitude, the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  May the name of the Lord be praised!”  In our country where we have been so blessed it is so easy to let those possessions grab hold of us.  How sad if we let our possessions or the lack thereof become the most important thing in our lives.  Because the comfort of this life doesn’t last.  Cars rust, bank accounts run away, big screen tv’s break. 
        Right now we have another “Biggest Loser Weight Lose Competition” going on in our family.  Its subtitle is “This Time We Are Serious.”  It is the successor to “for real this time” and “this time there are consequences.”  Who of us doesn’t like to be well fed.  But let’s not make being well fed the goal of our lives.  Remember what Jesus said to Martha when she was scurrying around getting dinner ready while Mary listened to Jesus.  “You are worried and concerned about many things but only one thing is needed.” 
       Jesus closes with a warning not to be so concerned about what people say about you because you follow him.  Don’t let the names people say about you drive you away from Jesus.  Don’t let the insults of the unbelieving world keep you from talking about Jesus.
       I hear Jesus words of blessing and they drive home for me how far I am from standing on that level ground- how lopsided and self centered my life is.  How blind I am to what is really important.  What a poor example of a follower of Jesus I am.  There is a part of me that clings to this world.  There is a part of me that doesn’t really leap for joy when the world calls me names for following Jesus.  There is a part of me that wants to just sort of fly under the radar and not say anything Jesus said that will make me a target.  Maybe you feel that same way when you hear Jesus say these words.  But then fast forward to more words Jesus said.  From the cross Jesus triumphantly called out through the ages to you and me, “It is finished!”  All our sins were paid for.  All our shortcomings were taken care of in the Savior’s perfect life for us.  “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God.”  Through faith in Jesus God gives us forgiveness of sins and life eternal in heaven.  That changes us and our way of thinking!  It brings us to level ground.  Jesus’s life for us brings us more and more to concentrate on the things Jesus says are important- the life after this life is over.  Jesus putting your needs and my needs ahead of himself leads us to more and more see the people around us everyday.  Jesus brings us to see that what we have and what we eat and what people say about us is not the all important things.  Jesus leads us more and more to see the hurt and sadness in the eyes and hearts of those who don’t know him and to reach out however we can so that others come too and stand on this level ground.
     My neighbor gave me a stair stepper exercise machine.  A person is always going uphill on those things!  When a person sees this life as the only thing that matters.  It is very much an uphill climb- never any rest.  But in Jesus we have a level place to see the world for what is- a world we are just passing through.  Our real home, our real treasure is in heaven. Amen.

Monday, February 4, 2019

February 2-4, 2019 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Romans 10:18-11:6 “THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD”


EPIPHANY 4

February 2-4, 2019

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Romans 10:18-11:6



“THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD”

1.     Extended.

2.     Rejected.

3.     Appreciated!



Romans 10:18-11:6  (NIV 1984)  But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”  19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;     I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”  20 And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” 21 But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”  11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”  So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”



          In the word of God before us today there exists a stunning word picture to help us try to grasp how great the love of God in Christ Jesus is. We are in the section of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome that deals with a question that has caused believers in Jesus to struggle and will continue to. Why? Why do some of those who have had the spiritual deck stacked in their favor leave, forsake, reject Christ? Here Paul is talking about his own Jewish people. They had Moses and the Prophets and the Old Testament and the miracles. They had Jesus born from them, living with them and the miracles. We might think of someone who had the blessing of strong Christian family and solid Christian education. Why do they not value the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord? And remember what the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord is. It is His everlasting commitment to forgive sins, to forgive them even though to do so He has to horribly punish Jesus instead of us. It is His desire to have people with Him forever not because He needs them but because He wants them. It is a type of patient love that always hopes, always perseveres, always wants even the worst sinner forgiven.

Back to our stunning word picture of the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. It can actually be a living picture. You have all seen the challenges that go on through the internet, some with good purposes like the ice bucket challenge. Some dangerous and foolish like cinnamon or tide pods. Today I offer you a church challenge. Don’t participate if you have injured or recovering shoulders in any way. Do participate, only if you want to. Here we go, kids first. Hold your arms out in front of you like you are waiting to hug someone. Now adults. Hold ‘em straight out. “All day long,” God said. “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” That’s the word picture. My challenge is simpler. See if you can hold them out all sermon long. And as you do so I want you to I want you to picture and feel the extent of God’s love. All day long.

All day long the love of God is extended. To everyone! Remember His testimony. For God so loved the world. This is good and pleases God who wants all to be saved. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world! What sins or yours are bothering you today? Where did you screw up again? What’s making you feel like you aren’t good enough for God, or making you feel like God is punishing you? He’s not. Don’t run away, run to. He forgives you and just wants you close to Him. Pour out your heart, he’s waiting for you all day long.

          If you don’t have any sins that bother you, watch out. You are heading down the wrong road, the road that too many of  Paul’s people, the Israelites did.  But I ask: Did they not hear? 19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? 11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.” All day long, every day for 1500 plus years God extended His love in Christ Jesus. I’m not sure when you read your Old Testament last. It’s big. There is a lot of books. But if you kind of think of an overview of the history of the people of Israel, it never gets good. There is this constant repeated cycle of the people forsaking God and God continuing to hold on to them. Always taking them back. All day long, every day the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord was extended to them.

          The result? Rejected! Every parent here can relate to that picture. When your kids are mad or hurt and you want to help them but what can happen? The lip goes out, the back gets turned. Sadly many of God’s Old Testament people did that to Him. You heard the testimony from Moses and Isaiah. You remember what things were like at the time of the prophet Elijah where he felt like he was the only one left, when he was helped not by one of his own people but a widow woman from Sidon, a foreigner. You heard the testimony from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. God’s love for them in Christ Jesus was rejected all day long because they were an obstinate and disobedient people who exchanged God’s laws and way of salvation for their own.

          There is a warning for us, brothers and sisters. Don’t take God’s grace for granted. Understand that the sinful nature in us is capable of rejecting the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord even though he extends it all day long. There is a reason God set up a pattern of weekly worship for all his people and that that weekly worship should continually remind people of their need for Jesus and anchor hearts to what Jesus has done. To exchange the weekly pattern of worship God set up for one or our own choosing is not just an insult to God but a dangerous rejection of a God who loves so much He extends that love all day long.

          And there is of course a better way. The way I believe you are exhibiting. Appreciate it.  So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” By now you may have figured out the shorter way to talk about the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. It’s grace. Often defined as God’s undeserved love. Maybe better defined as God’s underserved love made possible by the perfect life and sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Not all of Paul’s people, not all of Elijah’s people, not all of Moses’ people rejected. By grace some believed and appreciated and it showed. Some carefully worshipped every Sabbath because they wanted to. Some refused to bow the knee to Baal. The earliest Christian church was all Jewish people who showed their appreciation by sticking to Jesus, enduring persecution, spreading the message, caring for each other.

          I see you doing those things. I see you appreciating grace. Whether you realize it or not you are today’s remnant chosen by grace. While most of our American people are those who have rejected, by God’s grace you are not. You appreciate the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord and it shows. It shows  as you come to worship because you want to, not because you have to. It shows as you eagerly desire to participate in Jesus’ forgiveness meal. It shows as you make sacrifices of time and money for your family and your church family so we can do our best for Jesus. It shows in the way that you take care of each other and want to do even more. It shows where it can’t be seen, in your hearts where you desperately want Jesus to be proud of you all day long.

          I’ve got more good news. Jesus is proud of you. He can’t be any more proud of you than He already is because His feelings for you aren’t based on what you do but what He has done. Those arms of God that are extended all day long at a certain point in history went from being extend this way to be extended this way as Jesus demonstrated His love for you on the cross. And at another point in your history they will come back around you like this in the all day long of heaven! Until then make it your daily business to run to the God who extends His arms to  you all day long. Amen.