Monday, September 24, 2007

"A Powerful Promise" Hebrews 13:1-8

S-0999 9/09/07 15SAP/3C Hymns: (O) #376; (S) #370; L.S. #199; #428; #262; (C) # 49
Texts: Proverbs 25:6-7; Hebrews 13:1-8; Luke 14:1, 7-14
Theme: “A Powerful Promise!” (Hebrews 13:5).
Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The text for today’s homily is a portion of the Epistle Lesson: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5).

Saints in Christ, in the advertising business, the people behind the scene desire to sell you their products. They promise that their products are the best on the market. In the cosmetic area we have many items that don’t deliver what the advertisement states. Examples: There is a product called “TimeWise”, it is an Age-fighting moisturizer. Tell me when was the last time you saw a person that didn’t age even with the use of this product? Oil of Olay has an anti wrinkle cream. Again, those who use it in time begin to show their wrinkles. Colgate has a product called Simply White. You are to brush it on your teeth and they will be whiter than snow. But again, stop using it and the white color fades. Botox and plastic surgery keep their promises only briefly. Before long the wrinkles show, hair color changes, our bodies sag and we feel time ebbing away.

Unlike the advertising world the author to the Hebrews tells us of One who keeps all of His promise—not just any promise—but all of them. The Word of the Lord in our text tells us that this promise is not just a pie in the sky. But rather this promise is a tried, tested and true.

From the beginning of the world our loving and faithful God has proven Himself to be trustworthy. When Adam and Eve fell into sin God promised a Savior to redeem man and restore the broken relationship that man had with God in the Garden of Eden. He also went looking for them, assuring them, even though they have broken His commandments, disobeyed His Word, listened to the devil; He will not forsake them nor leave them alone.

The Apostle Paul in Galatians chapter 4 writes: “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). These words from Galatians assure us again and again that our loving and faithful Father didn’t forget the human race nor the promise He made.

Sometimes, we act as if God doesn’t care. Sometimes, we wonder if God really even knows the promises He has made. We doubt His power. We doubt His presence. We doubt His promise. We treat Him as we treat other men who have broken their promises before.

Many a man and a woman have broken the promises they have made. The Native Americans claim that the White Fathers have broken their treaties with them. Doctors take promises to protect life, and yet we have some even here in SD who has forgotten that promise, and instead of protecting life, they destroy it through the abortion mill. Priests and Pastors promise to adhere to a certain confession and doctrine, and soon forget what that promise was. Police officers promise to uphold the Law and keep drugs off the street, but sometimes they close their eyes when money is given under the table. Companies in China promise to make good toys, but now Metal is calling thousands of Chinese-made toys because they have led in them.

But they are not alone. How many of us here have broken our promises? Parents promise at the Baptismal font to bring their children in the ways of the Lord. But soon they forget. Confirmands promise to be in Church, but after confirmation, it becomes graduation from Church. How many have stood before the altar of God and promised, “until death parts us” only to be parted when the flames of passion grow cold.

None of us whether pastors, police officer, or parents are able to keep these promises, because we are selfish and self-centered. We always want what’s in it for me. Though we have the best of intentions, they are not enough. That is why we need always be in the House of the Lord to give us the certainty and assurance that He will care for us and give us what we need.

Saints in Christ, I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit has brought you to His house this morning. Here you will once more learn of the Powerful Promise of God. Paul reminds us of this truth saying: “Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise” (Gal. 4:28). For here the promise becomes evident as we gather around Word and Sacrament for strength and stamina for the journey of faith.

Yet, the devil doesn’t want us to believe these Words of hope. Satan wants us to think that we are all alone. The evil foe always wants us to ponder our sin rather than our Savior and think that He has left us to fend for ourselves. But that is not the case.

A young lady wrote saying, “I am reminded of the verse given to me at my confirmation: ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Heb. 13:5). This promise from God has been a source of comfort and hope to me in my times of tears. As Christians, when frustration, sorrow, or regret overwhelms us, we look to the cross and remember the tears of Good Friday and the joy of Easter.”

That is a wonderful advice to remember daily. Daily look to the cross of Christ, and you will see a marvel above all marvels. There on the cross you will see the Powerful Promise of God still striving, seeking, and searching for lost man as He did in the Garden. On the cross we hear the promise of Jesus to the dying thief, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise!”

I pray that you will not allow the devil and his cohorts to close your ears to the Powerful Promise given by our good and gracious Lord and Savior. Why do I say that? Because God’s precious Word is filled with His promises. Study the Psalms and you will see that the Psalmist knew of God’s presence and promise in the midst of great adversity. Our God doesn’t allow disease, death, destruction and devastation to be the final word. The Lord hears our cries and will not abandon us, even when all seems futile and lost. God makes a dwelling place with us, right in the thick of our problems, even though we might not feel God’s presence. God has promised to be with us, saying, “Lo, I Am with you even to the end of the Age” (Mt. 28:20). We can certainly and confidently trust this promise.

What do we do with the worries that plague us daily? Take your anxieties to the cross—literarily. Next time you’re worried about your health or house or finances or flights, take a trip to the Hill. Next time you doubt God’s presence, power, peace and promise take a mental trip up the HILL. Spend a few moments looking again at the pieces of the Passion.

Run your thumb over the tip of the spear. Balance a spike in the palm of your hand. Read the wooden sign written in your own language. And as you do, kneel down and touch the velvet dirt, moist with the blood of the Lamb of God. Blood He bled for YOU. The spear He took for YOU. The nails He felt for YOU. The sign He left for YOU. He did all of this for YOU. Knowing this, knowing all He did for you there, don’t think He’ll look out for YOU here?

Is there any more powerful promise than what we have in the book of Hebrews? The Lord Promised, “I will NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU”. Now that is a promise you can take to the bank. Amen.

Now the peace…

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