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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sermon 01272013 Septuagesima

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Heavenly Father, we confess that we are sinful creatures in need of Your redeeming us from our sins.  We doubt not only You as our Lord, but even Your presence among us.  May we though tempted by Satan to turn from You return and answer clearly the question, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” with a resounding Yes.  For we can make this answer only because of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind, including all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Having children is clearly God’s gift for all of mankind.  When our children are sick the parental instinct takes over and our nurturing, caring and compassionate side comes to the forefront.  With the slightest cough, congestion or difficulty of breathing we as parents immediately jump into action and try and ‘fix’ or correct the situation, because we cannot stand to see our children in any peril.  We want to make our children feel better no matter the cost.

Enter the children of Israel who are journeying in the wilderness of Sin.  Now ‘Sin’ is not a description of what they have done, but the name of an actual place.  It is a barren region somewhere west of the Sinai plateau on the Sinai Peninsula.  Remember that the people have left the bondage and slavery of Egypt and now are travelling in the wilderness.  Remember there are approximately 600,000 men alone, not including children.  If one were to do the math, every man has one wife and a minimum of 2 children, you are talking of nearly 2 million people travelling in the Wilderness of Sin, not including all the animals and livestock each family has taken with them.

What is the first thing they need besides food, which God had already given them in Exodus 16 of Manna and Quail, they needed water.  They didn’t have any so the “people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink””.  Moses who is their leader feels he is in the middle between a mob of unhappy people and God Who called him in a burning bush to lead the people from Egypt.  God had divinely provided for their escape from Pharaoh and now in the middle of the desert without water, Moses was near to becoming the ‘sacrificial scape goat’ by the people.

Moses said, “Why do you quarrel with me?  Why do you test the Lord?”  The people had easily forgotten how God less than two months earlier had parted the waters to allow them to walk across on dry land to escape Pharaoh.  The people had forgotten how they when starving had been given Manna and Quail from heaven.  The people doubted that God could actually provide simple water in saying, “But the people thirsted there for water, and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?””  The people in a clear sense were delirious and did not remember God’s clear and divine providence for them that had just occurred.  They did not and were not looking with eyes of faith.  They were looking to blame Moses since he was right there in their midst.

So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying “What shall I do to this people?  A little more and they will stone me.””  Moses was fearful for his life.  Moses felt he couldn’t trust the people that they would have his back or protect him, but sacrifice him because of their lack of water, but more importantly their lack of faith in the divine providence of God.

But God clearly is using this experience to test the Israelite people if they trust Him, through His servant Moses.  Our text continues, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.  Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strick the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.””  God is not only promising Moses His divine presence, but again God is clearly revealing Himself as the true provider for the people of Israel that are in the Wilderness of Sin.

This test and quarrel with God is not unlike what we do today.  We daily put God to the test and doubt not only God’s presence, but His divine favor with His people gathered here at Emmanuel.  As a Pastor, I feel for Moses, because Moses is standing in the gap between God and the people, just as I do here at Emmanuel.  There are times where I sin and fall short of the glory of God, just like Moses.  Just this last week I did not give clear credit for Tayler Thorson’s awesome and beautiful service project of the hymn board for our congregation.  To say the least I sinned and fell short of the glory of God and like Moses have felt the displeasure of you the people I love and serve as Pastor.  So just as all of us did earlier, I confess my sin and ask for forgiveness of all of you the congregation, which is what God calls us to do.

Yet, this still does not answer the question Moses posed, “Is the Lord among us, or not?”  If God is here among us, we clearly have an opportunity.  Our opportunity is three fold.  We can trust God to provide.  Last week we stepped out on faith and elected new council members and ratified the budget for this year in faith that God would work through us and increase His presence in Goodland through each of us.

Second, we can follow God.  Like the people of Israel following God through the Wilderness of Sin, we too today can follow God in the direction He is leading us.  This began with the establishment of a church here in Goodland, building of a church and educational wing and now with our joining LCMC and calling a pastor and lastly celebrating 90 years of ministry and following God.  We are following God and have the opportunity to continue to be faithful in His plan for all of us saints here in Goodland.

Finally, we have the opportunity to forgive like God forgives.  Every Sunday we have the opportunity to confess our sins and receive the forgiveness of sins that God offers us.  When we confess like I have tried to do this morning, God wipes away all of our sins and does not keep track of them.  We as brothers and sisters in Christ are called to forgive just as God does, for if we hold onto grudges, keep track of wrongs or remember everything that someone has done to us or against us, we are not following God’s perfect example.  We mock God and dishonor God’s gift and example of His Son Jesus Christ on the Cross for all of mankind.

For God’s example is clear for us today that we should not test God like the people of Israel did in the Wilderness of Sin.  We are called as God’s children to trust Him, follow Him and forgive just as God offers us the forgiveness of sins.  God’s forgiveness frees us from the slavery and bondage of sin and allows us through our baptism to be the new creation that does not have to test God like the people of Israel.  For God’s gift of His Son Who forgives each of us without reservation gave Himself on Calvary for all of mankind, including all of us forgiven saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
//trial script