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Sunday, June 21, 2015

06212015 3rd Sunday After Trinity - Hold Firm in Your Faith

Gospel Audio (Will be posted soon)
Sermon Audio

June 21, 2015
Hold firm in your faith!
Have you ever seen a ships captain looking out from the bridge of a large ship.  The best tool the captain has are his eyes, but like most of us, our eyes can only see a short distance unaided.  This is why most ships carry a pair of binoculars.  The binoculars help the captain as well as the officers on the bridge to scan with their eyes both close to the ship and all the way to the horizon.  This increased vision allows decisions to be made by the captain and crew to insure not only the cargo he is carrying on the ship will be safe, but to insure that others will not come to any harm by getting in the way of the large ship. 

So to on the farm, farmers always when on the tractor or going to check wells always keep an eye on the horizon in all directions to see if there is rain coming or if a thunderstorm with hail and high winds is bearing down on our winter wheat crop or stand of corn that could easily be blown over.  Everyone always is looking to make sure what we have will not be damaged or destroyed.
Since Trinity Sunday we have heard the clear message from God that “God is love” and our opportunity and calling is to love as God first loved us.  The vision that God has of all events far exceeds our own and He doesn’t need binoculars, but the sentiment and lesson we can take away from our lesson this morning is that we need to be like the ships captain and you the farmer here in Northwest Kansas.  It doesn’t mean we need to get a pair of binoculars, but it does mean we need to “be on alert”.

Peter one of the authors of the New Testament lived his life in love for his brother’s and sister’s in Christ.  He preached and proclaimed, “God is love” and taught constantly as he travelled and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And His message was clear, “Be of sober spirit, be on alert”.  The reason for being on alert was that he knew the devil was seeking to ‘wreck’ and ‘destroy’ the life of anyone that would fall victim to his leading them astray.  The devil is closer to leading us astray than we might like to think.

Peter wrote, “Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”.  The devil is trying to get all of us to question God, question God’s love of us and even question that God is love.  The devil is filling our heads with lies, deceit, questions and desiring us to lose interest in God.  For some he is clearly succeeding like the young man who took nine lives in Charleston, South Carolina this week.  Closer to home, in recent visits members of the congregation have even noticed how our worship attendance here at Emmanuel is being affected.

You might say, how can the devil do this?  Easily, when we place our own wants and desires above God’s glory, we fall victim.  When we chose activities that bring us satisfaction to our human longing, or our own glory instead of God, we fall victim.  When we spread rumors about friends, neighbors or even about our church family, we fall victim.  All of us daily fall victim, because we are in a constant battle to do what is right.  Hence why Peter said, “Be on alert” and why I began with the image of binoculars.

Peter continues with what we need to hear and do, “But resist him [that is the devil], firm in your faith”.  We need to resist the draw that the devil has on our time, our talents and even our treasure.  We can resist, but we cannot do it in and of ourselves.  We are incapable of resisting the arrows of deceit, the arrow of want, the arrow of being known and seen as an expert.  In and of ourselves we are incapable of overcoming evil.  But God has the cure.

The cure Peter states clearly for us to hear, mark and inwardly digest and lay claim to because of our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  God in His great love for us through Peter consoles us with this truth, “the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”  That statement, though a mouthful contains the greatest measure of grace we need to hear and remind each other of each and every day.
God is a God of grace.  God has called each of us in and through our Holy Baptism into Jesus Christ.  We are connected to Jesus Christ for all eternity and He will not let go of us.  And God makes us the promise to “perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish” each and every one of us.

We are perfected in Christ, we are confirmed in the faith given to us from generation to generation, we are strengthened for the daily battle with the devil and established as God’s children.  When we lay claim to these four truths we then can follow God’s call on our lives.  We can hear clearly Peter’s desire for us, we can stand “firm in your faith”.  God then can work through us and we then can cast “all our anxiety on” God and as His children trust Him in all aspects of our lives.

But our society daily questions, how can we trust God?  How can we see God at work?  Our society even asks if God is real or exists?  And this is what the devil wants to get us to do, to question God.  So I stand here today to remind all of us gathered here this morning of the truth.  God is love, He loves us unconditionally.  God wants us to ‘hold firm in our faith.’  And God gives us the strength to do this.  The proof we need we have from two very distinct places.

First, it comes from God’s Word that we have heard read today in the lessons.  And second it comes from the meal we are about to partake of from the altar.  When we receive Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood, we receive the food we need to ‘stand firm in our faith’.  And God’s gift of His Son, Jesus Christ promises to each of us to enable us to stand firm in the faith that has been passed down from generation to generation.

And today we Emmanuel Lutheran embark again upon our passing down this same faith.  You see, Emmanuel Lutheran Church was one of the founding churches for Sky Ranch just over 50 years ago.  Two years ago three members of our congregation celebrated up at Sky Ranch the Year of Jubilee.  Peyton and Powell Sieck and Autumn Mays joined with youth from across the United States to celebrate the legacy that Sky Ranch has been fulfilling in spreading the Gospel message.  The following week, we as a congregation joined together with staff from Sky Ranch and our own children here at Emmanuel to celebrate the year of Jubilee.  And today we embark again on another week of Vacation Bible School here at Emmanuel with the Sky Ranch counselors.


Today we as a congregation ‘stand firm in our faith’, proclaiming the love of God for all of mankind, and inviting all to join us in spreading the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is the legacy that our congregation continues to proclaim, because of God’s grace and love offered by His Son Jesus Christ.  May we continue this legacy and be the church that God can use to reach Goodland proclaiming God’s love for all of mankind, including God’s love for all of us gathered here today.  AMEN.

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