Tuesday, July 26, 2016

[Reason #7 of “10 Reasons Why I Need Jesus” Pastor Bivens

[Reason #7 of “10 Reasons Why I Need Jesus” 

Exodus 20:15 You shall not steal.

Intro: [Ever leave a restaurant and notice people smiling at you? At first you may think you are looking good and people are pleased to see you. Then you look at a mirror. You didn't just eat your lunch. You're wearing part of it. It's embarrassing. The mirror tells the truth about the spaghetti sauce, mustard, or catsup now a part of your wardrobe.] A major purpose of God’s Law is to serve as a moral or ethical mirror. We look at the demands of divine law and see how our ethical behavior has been compared to what God requires. It isn’t pretty, is it? God demands perfection; we offer imperfection. God requires love for him and our neighbor—always. We offer a lot less in attitude and behavior. We focus on the 7th Commandment today and see another reason why we need Jesus, why I need Jesus. And I’ll phrase it this way:
Another Reason Why I Need Jesus:
I See Jack Roland Murphy in my Mirror
1.      I see loveless dishonesty in my life.
2.      I want love and integrity in my life.

Part 1: I see loveless dishonesty in my life (like Jack Murphy)
1.      Jack Murphy, born in CA (1938) and grew up in PA, was a top student with an aptitude for music and sports. He had a passion for surfing, and won a National Championship (nickname: “Murph the Surf”). By the age of 17, he had been invited to play violin with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In addition to being a surfer and concert violinist, Murphy was a tennis pro, movie stunt man and high-tower circus diver. But Murphy also had a dark side: he eventually become known as a jewel thief and convicted murderer. In 1964, thieves stole more than 20 gems, including the Star of India, a 563-carat star sapphire, from the Museum of Natural History in NYC. “Murphy loved the getaway scenarios that felt like something straight out of an action film. There was the thrill of escaping the law by boat or car, and this was part of a glamorous package that included an affluent lifestyle made up of swanky parties, fancy apartments and yachts around the Caribbean.”
2.      By 1970 (age 32) he had been convicted of theft and murder and sentenced to two life sentences in prison, plus 20 years. His God-given gifts and skills were misused and earned him punishment.
3.      What hits me the hardest about Jack Murphy are these 2 main truths: (1) He was greatly blessed with talent, intellect, social and educational opportunities, athletic and musical abilities – how fully the Creator blessed him! (2) He used what he had lovelessly, dishonestly, putting sinful desires and selfish ambition first, way ahead of wants and needs of others around him. He stole much from others, sometimes silently and cleverly and sometimes violently. If you think I am now going to draw parallels between him and me – and you – you are correct. Are we not richly blessed with abilities and opportunities that the majority in the world can only dream about? But don’t we abuse, or fail to use, so much? It’s not for lack of gifts and possessions; it’s the evil nature that is never satisfied and never thankful for what’s received.
4.      And the complexity of ways to steal! It’s not just stealing a farm animal or moving a boundary stone anymore. One of the employees at a bank in Kansas was putting money in the ATM machine and accidently put $20 bills in the $10 slot, and $10 bills in the $20 slot.  So when people pushed $10, they got $20, and when people pushed $20, they only got $10. You can finish this story yourself. All the people who were short-changed $10 came complaining and demanding that the bank pay them back.  But guess what?  Not one customer who got too much money back came into the bank to return the money.  They just drove away. That’s called “stealing.” 
5.      And our difficulty to confess it. Norman Rockwell painting (Oct 1936): In the picture, both the woman and the butcher have pleased looks on their faces…as if each knew a secret joke. Look closely at their hands. The butcher is pushing DOWN on the scales with his thumb and the woman is pushing UP on the other side with a dainty forefinger. They think they are taking advantage of the other…. STEALING without the other knowing. It serves to illustrate our attitude toward the 7th commandment.  Both the butcher and the lady would resent being called thieves. Stealing often masquerades as “smart business, clever advertising, just looking out for oneself, a victimless crime (when insurance companies and government are involved), or necessary because “everyone else is doing it.” It’s still stealing. Movies & TV often romanticize dishonesty and make it legitimate if “good or clever” people rob “bad guys.” But it’s still stealing and sinful.
6.      That’s why I – we – need Jesus! It’s more than a lack of love for my neighbor or too much love for myself. It’s a lack of trust and love for God and sometimes more than that. I disagree with how much he chose to give me; I am not content with the kind of gifts he sent me and I am not content to let him distribute or redistribute things as he wills. If we trust God to provide everything we need and the things we should have, we’re not going to steal. I need that kind of trust and love to stand before God on Judgment Day – and can get this only from Jesus, who has it and shares it freely.

Transition: Let’s return to the saga of Jack Roland Murphy, “Murph the Surf.” He was sentenced to a double life sentence plus 20 years. But the rest of his story needs to be told.

Part 2: I want love and integrity in my life (like Jack Murphy)
1.      After some famous Christian athletes visited his prison and shared the good news of Jesus, Murphy was on the receiving end of a miracle of God. He was given new life in Christ. He began participating in the prison chaplaincy program, leading Bible studies, and mentoring other men in prison. His parole date was moved up progressively because of good behavior. After 19 years in prison he was released with a lifetime parole. Once free from prison, Murphy began visiting prisons and jails all over the U.S. as a part of prison ministry. The Parole Board terminated his "lifetime parole" in 2000. To this day he continues to serve Jesus and souls.
2.      I can understand it if people see “injustice” in this. Many would say he should have to pay for his crimes in full and it isn’t fair for his sentences to be reduced and his parole lifted. I get that. But I chose to talk about Jack Murphy today because of the parallel between him and us because of Jesus Christ. Murphy received two blessings: (1) the opportunity to begin a new life with new goals, new patterns of giving rather than taking, new level of integrity and honesty. (2) a new heart, new way of thinking, new set of desires and intentions in his heart, mind, and will. This allowed him to take advantage of the new opportunities and freedoms by cultivating a different lifestyle. It’s not just a matter of “education” or getting new information – a new heart is needed. (Teddy Roosevelt: man without education may steal from a freight car; a university graduate may steal the whole railroad.)
3.      That’s why I – we – need Jesus! Jesus gives more than pardon or forgiveness. His love gives birth to love in us. “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation!” (2 Cor 5:17). I am not saying that is more important than the forgiveness of sins and I am not saying that living a new life results in forgiveness of sins. No, that is all 100% by grace, freely given and fully paid for by Jesus Christ. But I am saying that it’s a wonderful package deal: new life and a growing faith-life accompanies heavenly citizenship. And new promises! Recall today’s Readings: 2 Co 9:6-11 [call to generosity on the foundation of gracious giving of God guaranteed!] and Mt 6:19-24 [encouragement to seek heavenly treasures rather than lesser and less secure earthly ones]. God’s love and faithfulness are the key. As in Philippians 4:19—And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” With that confidence, and with thankful love for what he did for us, we express new attitudes about money and possessions – our own and our neighbor’s.

Conclusion:  Dr. Madison Sarratt taught mathematics at Vanderbilt University (in Nashville). Before giving a test, the professor would admonish his class something like this: "Today I am giving two examinations--one in trigonometry and the other in honesty. I hope you will pass them both. If you must fail one, fail trigonometry. There are many good people in the world who can't pass trig, but there are no good people in the world who cannot pass the exam of honesty." Well expressed. If we are identifying priorities, character is higher than math skills – or literature knowledge, spelling skill, or penmanship. That’s why we all need Jesus – to remove our guilt for loveless dishonesty and to supply a new heart that can express love and integrity here on earth and forever in heaven! Amen.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 17th, 2016
Pastor Waldschmidt
The 6th Commandment

Grace, mercy, and peace are yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.                                                                         Genesis 2:18-24
The 6th Commandment
MARRIAGE- God’s Protective Shell
In the name of Jesus, the Foundation of all of families, dear fellow redeemed;
     A couple of weeks ago I bought some charcoal at Menard’s.  The clerk forgot to stop the automatic roller at the checkout counter and so the bag got to the end of the counter and the roller kept on pushing.  The bag ended up catching on the edge of the roller and tore the bag.  It wasn’t a big hole in the bag but one of those pesky ones that left a trail of charcoal dust on the counter and out of the store to the car and into the trunk. 
     God’s gift of marriage is the protective bag for the family.  As we look around our world, this gift of marriage is being twisted, torn and pierced on every side from inside and out-sometimes we see rips in marriage, other times little tiny holes that cause problems.  Trails of hurt and destruction can be seen in almost every family I can think we can think of.  We could talk all day about the way that the 6th commandment is being broken in our world and in our lives but maybe it would be good for us to step back today and look at God’s gift of marriage and the blessings he has in mind- what God wants the family to be.   God’s gift of marriage and family provides a protective shell in this world. 
     As pastors we sometimes debate about preaching a sermon on a specific topic like marriage, since I would imagine that perhaps only as many of 50-60% of the people here today are married.  But I think marriages are somethings like farmers.  Everyone sort of takes farmers for granted.  Though all of  us may not be farmers, we had better be concerned about how the farmers are doing because that is where our food comes from.  So it is that though all of us may not be married, it certainly is important to know how marriages today are doing and what God says about marriage, since marriages are a big part of the fabric of our lives.
     In Genesis 1’s account of the creation we hear, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” I’m somewhat of a plain person.  My wife laughs at me because I order chocolate or vanilla ice cream at Baskin Robbins 31 flavors and I scrape the catsup, mustard and onions off of my hamburgers at McDonald’s.  But our God is a God of exciting variety.  Instead of making a string of robot clones, God created them male and female.  That variety would not stop with Adam and Eve.   We’re told “God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”  In the midst of all the variety, God in his wisdom chose that a marriage consist of one man and one woman.  In chapter 2, God says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife.”    So there would be a commitment to a lifelong union.  In other words, a promise to stay together for life.  “They will be one flesh,” the Bible says.  Jesus explained in the Scripture, that this union is a lifelong union when he said in our Scripture lesson, “What God has joined together, let man not separate.” Marriage would be a protective shell were husbands and wives could come and find comfort and peace and joy.  Into some of those marriages God places children dear to him.  Jesus showed how he wanted a stable safe place for children when after Jesus said this, he went on to take the children in his arms and blessed them.    
        One man, one woman and a promise to stay together for life with God’s help.  These are the basic pieces of a marriage.  Did you notice that love isn’t mentioned here as God institutes marriage?  Oh love certainly is understood in two people who promise to stay together for life.  But certainly in every marriage there are times when the love “feeling” that husband and wife have for each other reaches new heights and other times when it sinks to new lows.  There might a few times when my wife loves me  more the day that we were married and I know for sure there are days that she loves me less.  I’m sure that there are days when my wife doesn’t love me very much, like when I snap at her, or leave my socks on the floor or butter my toast over the counter and the crumbs go flying everywhere.  “Love” comes and goes but the promise, the commitment remains the same.  That’s commitment by two sinful human beings would seem to make the protective shell weak and vulnerable, but with God’s help that commitment gives marriage
     Are you finding yourself in a marriage where it seems the love is at a low point?  That doesn’t mean the marriage is over.  The promise is still there.  The Savior upon whom you built your marriage is still there.  He promises his help.  Husbands, we need to take the lead, as Paul says, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.”  As husbands and fathers we need to stop thinking of ourselves and put the interests and welfare of our wives ahead of our own, like Jesus put our interests ahead of his own.
      I know that many of you have green thumbs.  You know just how to take care of plants.  You know if this one needs a little sun or if that one needs a little water.  So it is with God.  He knows just what his creatures need.  “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.  Now the Lord God has formed out of the ground all the beasts if the field and all the birds of the air.  He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.  So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.”  God gave Adam the privilege of naming all the animals, but the Lord also had another blessing in mind for Adam as all the animals were brought before him.  “But for Adam, no suitable helper was found.”  God wanted Adam to see that all of the other animals had their mates, yet there was no one like Adam, no one for Adam  to share his life with.  God brings out in Adam a longing for a blessing of marriage, the blessing of companionship.  The loving Creator in a unique and special way made a companion for Adam.  “The Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.  Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man.”  With the same love and care God used in fashioning the man, the creator now carefully makes a woman.   Then the heavenly match maker, “brought her to the man.  Then the man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;  she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man.”    In a spouse, God blessed Adam with a companion-  someone to laugh with or to laugh at dumb jokes, someone to cry with, someone to listen to dreams and fears, someone who can most of the time tell what he was thinking and maybe even finish his sentences.   In a very real way, God unites Adam and Eve in one flesh.  
      “For this reason a man shall leave his Father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.”  Another blessing God gives us in marriage is the “becoming one flesh” in the sexual union.  Sometimes, people think that God is somehow against sex.  No, God is the one who invented and created sex.  But God created sex to be used with in a framework.  The framework of marriage.  I received a new weed eater for Father’s Day.  That thing works great for trimming the lawn, but not so good for trimming my hair.  If I use it for that I’m not using it according to the manufacturer’s directions.  That’s true for God’s gift of sex too.  If we use that gift outside of marriage then we get hurt and hurt others.  That’s why God says  “Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure.”
    Did you hear the excitement in Adam’s voice?  This was something special!  Yet how people poke holes in God’s special gift of marriage- how we poke holes in God’s gift of marriage.  Maybe it is with how we talk about our spouse-“the ole ball and chain.”  Maybe it is by the things watched on computer screens -images of things that God meant to be protected, images of bodies created to be God’s temple- plastered across the internet.  When it comes right down to it sins against the sixth commandment are very much sins of selfishness.  I want this and I want that.  I want to be happy now and I don’t even want to think about the cost- the hurt to others, the hurt to my God.   You and I sinners one and all have not done what God demands in connection with the sixth commandment or any other commandment.  We deserve only God’s wrath and punishment.  We come to God with the prayer, ”nothing in my hand I bring simply to thy cross I cling.”  And God for Jesus sake receives us.  Like prodigal sons and daughters, He receives us in.  He throws his arms around us and speaks words of forgiveness in the ears of our hurting souls through his word and in his Holy Supper.
     God could have sent Jesus into this world in an armored bubble or a stone fortress.  Instead of that, God placed His Son into a family.  God used a family to protect him- to keep him safe as he went about his work of being the Savior.  Jesus never got married or had children, God had something else in mind for him.  Jesus would kept that perfect respect for God’’s gift of marriage for us.  His thoughts were always clean and pure thoughts for us.  His death paid for all of our sins against the 6th commandment in what we have said and done and thought.  His love moves us to love others- to not be selfish,  to put others ahead of ourselves.  It moves us to work at having our homes be a homes of comfort and protection.
      Marriage is a neat gift from God.  More than that it symbolizes our relationship with our God.  Paul talked about that in our Scripture lesson today when he talks about marriage,  “This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.”  Marriage is a picture of the protecting shell God puts around us.  He loves us and takes care of us. 
           If you are married here today,  make a promise in your heart today that  with God’s help,  your marriage will  be a marriage that God ends by closing your or your spouses eyes in death.  Young people when you stand before God’s altar make your marriages the kind of marriages  that bring back again the 50 and 60th wedding celebrations.  Let’s all of us work at standing out from the world in love and purity in this world that needs Jesus.  

         Marriage and family stand as God’s protective shells when we can get come out of the wicked winds of the world and take a break.  Marriage and family need to be protecting in this world where the devil has his pitchfork out.  Seems impossible.  But we have a God with us who loves us and is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.  He protects us.   Amen.

Monday, July 11, 2016

uly 9-11, 2016 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 10:30-37 “ANOTHER REASON I NEED JESUS: TOO OFTEN I AM NOT THE GOOD SAMARITAN!”

July 9-11, 2016
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Luke 10:30-37


Luke 10:30-37 (NIV 1984) In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

          The 5th Commandment protects God’s blessing of life. It’s very basic wording, “You shall not murder,” exposes many blatant sins going on in our country. Police officers are murdered while protecting people. Babies are murdered in the womb when a mother chooses to believe unborn lives don’t matter. Milwaukee is a hub for devaluing human life in the sex trafficking of young women. Young people are harming their own lives with heroin epidemic. But those are the low hanging fruit, the easy to see sins against the 5th Commandment. Remember, God gave that commandment to help you and me see why we need Jesus too. And it most certainly does that when you grasp what Jesus taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
          The parable of the Good Samaritan is still one of the better known parables in the Bible. Think of the “Good Samaritan” laws many states have to protect those who stop to help others. The term “Good Samaritan” is used to describe a do gooder, someone who helps others.  Most people don’t know the context of the parable of the Good Samaritan, the reason Jesus told that parable. But you do. You heard it as the first part of the Gospel lesson. An expert in the law was feeling pretty good about himself, good enough to take Jesus on. He had a smug question. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus reminded the man he already knew the answer. He gave the simple summary of all of God’s commands. Love God first with all you have and love other people, treat them just the same way you do yourself. Be as concerned about their physical well being as you are your own. Do that perfectly all the time and you’ve earned eternal life. The expert realized the impossibility of what Jesus had said. He knew he could not do that so he asked the “Give me a break” question. Just who is my neighbor? Seriously. God can’t expect us to treat everyone with love. My neighbor must be the people it’s easy to be nice to.
          That’s why Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. It was to help this expert see he needed a Savior from sin. That’s how the parable helps us too. A man got beaten up and robbed. He is stripped naked and half dead. He cannot help himself. Good thing for him a priest walks by. I guess if we wanted to modernize the parable to St. Jacobi we would say a pastor or teacher from our school walks by. Someone so close to the word of God would certainly help. But instead of helping the priest crosses to the other side and hurries on his way. Next, a Levite does the same thing. He would be like someone who helped with the work at the church, say one of the Councilmen, Elders or Sunday School teachers, again one you would expect to be the first to help. He too deliberately crosses to the other side and hurries off. Now before we get too incensed at their behavior can you maybe relate? We’re not told why they did what they did. Maybe they were afraid that the robbers were still around. Maybe they thought the man was faking and it was a trap. Maybe church was starting soon and other people were waiting for them. Maybe.
          Then a Samaritan came by. The Jews of Jesus day did not like Samaritans.  They were not purely Jewish people. They didn’t belong in the country. They had some Bible beliefs mixed with some idol worship. They had the audacity to think that the Messiah would come for them too. Jews did not like Samaritans and Samaritans did not like Jews. If you want to relate, is there an ethnic group you’d like to think of? Yet this Samaritan sees the beaten robbed helpless man and has pity on him. His compassion moves him to action. He takes care of the immediate need, took him to an inn for ongoing care and promised to pay for any additional expenses in the future. A good Samaritan indeed! How it must have hurt  the expert in the law to admit that the only one who had truly loved his neighbor  was the Samaritan. He couldn’t even identify him that way. “The one who had mercy,” he said. “Go and do likewise,” Jesus said. And if the man was listening he went away realizing he needed Jesus.
          So do I. So do you. Brothers and sisters how hard it is to truly love all others. We can be pretty good at loving some others. Parents will sacrifice for their children. If you have a really good friend you are probably pretty good at loving them. It’s easy to be neighborly when you have good neighbors. But all others, even if they don’t deserve it? A few weeks ago I took a summer school class at the Seminary entitled “Medical Decisions and Dilemmas in End-of-Life Care.” Here is one of the scenarios we discussed. A 39 year old woman, the mother of three, was asked by her brother to donate a kidney to him. He had diabetes and his kidneys were failing. The woman was scared, nervous and did not really want to donate a kidney but thought it was the Christian thing to do. I should tell you that this brother had never really taken care of himself, never followed the doctors ‘recommendations on controlling his diabetes. He lived with his dad and let his dad take care of him. What do you think she should do? What would you do? Then he asked us, “Would your advice change if the brother had taken care of himself? If he had done all the right things? He caught me. You know at first you are thinking, “Why should this bum get another kidney if he already wasted two?” Then if you thought he was worth it your thinking might change. Now there isn’t a right or wrong answer about the kidney, when we found out that the mother of the this brother and sister had also died from diabetes we figured she had better think long and hard about her own future as well as those three children but how easy it was to love the brother who took care of himself and not the one who didn’t! We need Jesus because too often we are not the Good Samaritan, people who truly love all others.
          Now the good news is we don’t just need Jesus as a Savior. We have Him! Someone once said that if you are reading one of the parables and there is someone in one that doesn’t make sense, that acts in a way a normal person would not you are likely to find a picture of God. Take another look at the Good Samaritan. Who does that? Who helps a complete stranger who is his enemy at considerable cost to himself, takes care of immediate and future needs and asks for nothing in return? Nobody does that. Nobody, that is but Jesus! We were beaten down by the wages of sin, helpless to help ourselves. Not just us but all people. Without being asked or begged by us Jesus went to the cross. There He gave Himself to provide immediate blessing in the knowledge of our sins forgiven and our future needs by giving us heaven. Jesus is the only one who perfectly loved all others. And yes, He did that for those who never say thank you, who continue to live selfishly, who reject Him and mock the sacrifice He made. Only Jesus loves others perfectly. Jesus is the Good Samaritan for us.
          Sometimes you wish Jesus’ parables would go on. What happened to the beaten man? Did he ever get a chance to thank the Good Samaritan? Did his life change? Actually the parable does go on, doesn’t it? Only we each get to write our own ending. Will we thank our Good Samaritan Jesus? Will we think of what He did for us when we get a chance to help someone else? When a kid at school needs a friend or a defender? When a neighbor needs a helping hand? When a plan is proposed or laws passed will we think of how it affects others as much as how it affects us? We can. We can because we need Jesus as Savior and we have Him.  He said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) Go and do likewise! Amen.

Monday, July 4, 2016

St. Jacobi Worship Service July 3rd Weekend

Pastor Richard Waldschmidt
The Fourth Commandment
July 3rd, 2016 Weekend
II Samuel 18:1-12
15 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. 2 He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” 3 Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” 4 And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”5 Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. 6 Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel. 7 At the end of four[a] years, Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the Lord. 8 While your servant was living at Geshur in Aram, I made this vow: ‘If the Lord takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the Lord in Hebron.[b]’” 9 The king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he went to Hebron.  10 Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, ‘Absalom is king in Hebron.’” 11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter. 12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.
"Peace Comers From the Father"
I. When the family is a mess.  II. When the nation is a mess.
Grace, mercy and peace are yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land your God is giving you."
In the name of Jesus who perfectly obeyed the 4th commandment and all of the commandments for us dear fellow redeemed children of God;
I used to have lots of hair on my head.  Not so much anymore.  I find myself at times a little envious of someone like Absalom.  The Bible tells us that “whenever he cut the hair of his head--he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him--he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels by the royal standard.”  That’s about 5 pounds of hair.  Absalom had a lot of hair.  He didn’t have much peace in his life.  That’s sort of ironic because his name means, “Peace of the father.”  Throughout his lifetime he gave his father all kinds of grief.  Many of Absalom’s problems came because he had trouble with the fourth commandment.  He didn’t let God’s representatives (i.e. his father, the king) take care of things when wrongs were done to his sister, he made himself turned vigilante and killed his brother.  That put him into exile but finally he forced himself back into the king’s presence.  He was sort of a jerk and made no mention of regret or repentance for the trouble he had caused.  When it came right down to it, Absalom had a big head and I’m not just talking about his hair.  He thought that he could do things better than his dad and king.  He rebelled against both. In doing so he rebelled against God who wanted to bless Absalom through His representatives in Absalom’s life.  God wants to bring blessings through his representatives in in our lives. The Bible says, "The authorities that exist have been established by God." Our parents, our president, our pastors, our teachers and our policemen are all God’s representatives in your lives and are really just extensions of God’s governing our lives.  That’s why he said, “Honor your father and mother.”  As we compare that commandment to our track record all of us again have to cry out, “I need Jesus!”  As in everything peace comes from the Father.  I. Peace when the family is a mess.  II. Peace when the country is a mess.
With the 4th commandment, the focus of the commandments shifts. In the first three commandments we hear how God expects us to treat Him and His word. We call commandments 1-3 the first table of the law. In commandments 4-10 we hear how God expects us to treat others and ourselves.  Remember that in the 10 commandments God is summarizing His Holy Law for us and not making a law code, which sets forth every conceivable situation where that commandment is broken or kept. God often chooses the most widely known ways commandments are kept or broken as He summarizes His law for us. He does that in the 4th commandment as He speaks of how he wants us to treat his representatives in the family. He uses a situation we are all intimately acquainted with since at one time or another in one way or another all of us are members of a family. We have all been under the rule of God’’s representatives in the family. 
Absalom pretty well made a mess of his family relationship.  He shredded his relationship with his Father.  Imagine this. “In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. 2 He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate.”  So he bought himself a new chariot with plenty of horsepower.  Then he got fifty men to run alongside his new ride.  Seems to me as though the time when you saw people running alongside a chariot was when a victorious king was entering a city. But Jerusalem already had a king.  It was Absalom’s father.
      Things were a mess.  Absalom undermined his own father. “Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” 3 Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” 4 And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.”    
The Prophet Isaiah spoke of some of the ills of society that were going to bring God’’s judgment on His Old Testament people. 1. The men were not doing their job of being loving leaders. 2. The women were haughty. 3. The children were in charge. Many of the problems in our society today can be traced back some of those same problems as we have seen a breakdown in the basic building block of the family. Not the least of which being that in many cases, children are in charge in families. In the midst of the stories about having to walk 3 miles in the snow to school uphill both ways, my dad often tells of having to sit on catalogs to see over the dashboard when he was driving the truck on the farm. I’’m not sure how much driving of the trucks my dad did when he was younger but I do know that trucks where not meant to be driven by children. In the same way, families are not meant to be driven or controlled by children. God who created the family unit knows that families run best when God is the one in charge there ruling through His representatives, parents. It is a time-tested formula! That’’s why He said it to His Old Testament people about to enter the promised land 3,500 years ago and to us today, "Honor ‘‘your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land your God is giving you." Absalom was no little child when these things were going on.  Even though David calls him a lad he is old enough to know better but he was casting aside the family structure and taking on himself the role of leader in the family when God had still clearly given that role to someone else.  Rather than honor his father, Absalom made his father’s life miserable.  He thought his dad was a numbskull and he wasn’t shy about saying it to others. 
       Have you ever thought in your mind that your parents are so dumb that you would be better off being raised by a pack of wolves or at least by the family down the street? Careful Absalom!  Have we as parents ever done such dumb things that maybe it would have been better if a pack of wolves raised our children?  How much respect have we shown God’s representatives?  Aren’t we being Absaloms if we drive by the policemen tucked in a driveway under the crest of a hill and think to ourselves, "well that sneak! Trying to catch me speeding!!"?  Do we obey the laws of our land when we agree with them and when they go against our grain do we go against them or evade them because "well we just don’’t agree with them? Or at work what kind of a view do we have about those placed over us as supervisors? Do we honor and respect them or do we think that they are really just a bunch of lazy knuckleheads? Do we let our children see that?  Who of us can hold up the record in our families and say it is spotless.  Our families may be a little different than David’s family with 7 wives and 19 sons and a daughter who are mentioned in the Bible, is there any one of us who would be able to say that our families aren’t messy at all?  Aren’t there many times when we might have to admit that our family is a mess.  But when our families are a mess peace comes from the Father, our heavenly Father and the one he sent, our Savior Jesus.  He stepped into our shoes and took our punishment on the cross. He poured out His blood to square our account with God for all the times we rebelled against God. Your God loves you. He died for you. He sends His representatives into our lives because he loves you and wants to bless us.
     Now I know that there might be some here this morning that have been burned in your life by parents who have not acted very much like Jesus as they represented Him in your life. Maybe they drank too much or abused you in some way so that the words father and mother do not have the resounding ring of God’’s love in your ears. Know that you have a Father in heaven with whom you will spend eternity. You have a brother in Jesus Christ who gave His life so that you could be with Him in heaven. Somehow, someway your God will work everything for a blessing in your life. Peace comes from the Father even when the family is a mess.  It is your heavenly Father’’s love that enables all of us to do honor our earthly parents because when we honor them we are not so much honoring them as we are honoring the rule of Jesus in our lives.
      Absalom’s mess went even farther because his father was the king. The Bible says, that “he stole the hearts of the people of Israel.”  Over the next months he came up with an evil plan that would leave his county a mess.  He lied to the king and said that he was so happy to be back from exile that he wanted to go to church back in Hebron and offer a sacrifice there. He invited 200 guests to meet him there.  Meanwhile he had secret messengers sent who would tell everyone that when they heard the sound of the trumpet they should shout that Absalom was the new king.  He also had a Benedict Arnold in the camp of David, his name was Ahithophel.  “While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.”  War broke out between Absalom’s soldiers and David’s followers. Absalem’s forces took the capital city and David and his followers had to flee. Things were a mess.  But when things in the country are a mess, peace comes from the Father.  David reflected that when he was leaving Jerusalem.  There was a man who followed them shouting curses at David and pelted him with dirt and rocks.  One of David’s men came up and asked the King if he wanted him to go other and denogginize the man who was giving him grief.  David said “No”- leave him alone.  “This is from God.”  David knew God would work everything out. 
Are you wondering about how things in our country right now?  When the country is a mess, peace comes from the Father.  Even when your parents make mistakes and even when your government makes foolish laws, God is strong enough to make everything a blessing for you when you obey His representatives in your life. If those leaders command us to do something God tells us not to do we know then we know what to do, “We must obey God rather than man.”  But otherwise let’s, “Obey and honor” even if we have to hold our noses. Let’s remember to pray for our country and it’s leaders. Let’s thank God for the peace we that do get to enjoy in our great country. After all peace comes from the Father.
The story of Absalom did not end well for him.  His long hair got caught in a tree and the donkey he was riding kept going.  But God did work everything out. David and his family came back to Jerusalem.  Years later a baby would be born from David’s family who would bring peace-peace that came from the Father.