Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Children in a Loving Relationship Romans 8:14-15

S-1063 7/13/08 8SAP/3A (O) #242; (S) # 43 SOD; L.S. #574; #338; #276; (C) #45

Texts: Isaiah 55:10-13; Romans 8:12-17; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Theme: “Children in a Loving Relationship” Romans 8:14-15


Question: “Are you in a relationship??

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the book of Romans. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father” (Rom. 7:14-15).


Saints in Christ, relationships are very important. Relationships identify us. Relationships make us who we are. These relationships begin early in our lives. It starts with the first “ma-ma, da-da.” It grows into messages like “Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!” This shows the relationship between parents and children—a relationship built on love, trust and security. A relationship of belonging to a family where you know that you are cared for and loved. These simple words—“ma-ma, da-da.” “Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!” bring a feeling of joy and warmth to the hearts of mothers and fathers everywhere. By voicing them, the children are stating and declaring that they are friends of their parents and not their foes; that they live in harmony with them and not as their adversaries.

This is the message of the text that is before us today. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles as he writes to the Roman Christians wants to assure them that they too, as Gentiles belong to the family of faith. They, too, are led by the Spirit’s power to be identified with the relationship as sons of God made possible through Jesus Christ. And they too, can call Him “Abba” Father.

In the words of Paul we, modern day disciples know that we, too, belong to God as His beloved children—His treasured possessions. We are part of the family of God here on earth. Paul wants us to know as members of this family, we are loved, cared for and desired by our heavenly Father.

We must acknowledge that it takes a lot of hard work to build up a human family. There must be a spirit of love and trust, forgiveness and acceptance between its members and exchanged to make this family to grow. Where this spirit dwells, there is concrete evidence that love is also present. Sometimes this love comes in a disciplining way, and at other times love is dished out when you least expect. This is the relationship between the parents and the children.

And so it is also in the family of God. God has a relationship with us. He at times disciplines us when we sin against Him and His holy Word, and at other times blesses us in ways beyond our understanding. We, His beloved Children declare that He is God and we are His created beings. That He is in total control and He deserves all our honor and respect to the utmost degree.

By the leading of the Holy Spirit, we come to see the value of these words of Paul, that we have an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father, so much so, that we can call Him, “Abba!” Father!

On our own, we would never dream of claiming to be the children of God, we would never dream of calling Him Father. But His Only Son, Jesus Christ when He walked around the Sea of Galilee taught the disciples one of the greatest prayers ever recorded—the Lord’s Prayer. In the opening statement of that prayer, Jesus tells us how to call upon Him, as “Our Father.” He is not some other Father. But ours—yours and mine. We the beloved in Christ have God as our Father.

That is why we can call Him “ABBA!” the most intimate of words. Ask any father here present today, what happens when they hear their children cry out to them with that term, “daddy.” You have been there too. You come home from a long day. Your day at work has been terrible. The boss jumped at you, your coworkers didn’t respect you and you didn’t feel that good. But as soon as you step out of the car, your little girl or boy begins to cry out, “Daddy’s is home! Daddy’s is home!” At the hearing of these words, your day changes, your attitude changes and your outlook changes. You pick up your child in your arm and you say, “Yes, daddy is home.” What a feeling of love and security. What a relationship you have.

But like any family here knows all too well, is that relationships breakdown. As the children grow older, they no longer think daddy is that special. They no longer come to daddy for help. No longer do they think that he knows what he is speaking about. Rather than coming to daddy for support we begin to look for other things or persons to fill that void, and the relationship is slightly damaged. Sometimes the relationship is damaged so severely that they no longer speak with one another. That is sad. It happens all too often.

Yet, Paul tells us as the Children of God, we have the Spirit that leads us to come to our senses and realize that it is us who has broken that relationship and the only way that relationship can be restored is by a third party. By the Holy Spirit, we are moved to realize that our relationship between God and man has been restored through His Son, Jesus Christ the MEDIATOR between God and Man. This relationship is built on love, love of the Son for the Father, and for the rest of creation. It is that LOVE that enables us to come to Him, confessing our sins and asking for His mercy.

Here in we see there is a relationship of love between us and our heavenly Father which pervades our entire being. He is the One who chose to make us His children through His Spirit. He is the One who took action to adopt us into His family. He is the One who sent our Redeemer, Jesus Christ to give us the robe of righteousness. He is the One who stands at the gate eager to welcome us prodigals back home.

Is it any wonder that Paul speaks to our hearts today as he spoke to the hearts of the Romans and telling us that we should be delighted to call Him by that familiar, BUT delightful term, “Abba!” Father! In that loving relationship is embodied some marvelous blessings and bounty, privileges and promises.

First, there is the privilege of talking with Him daily as your dearest and most precious friend. I love it when my children call me and say, “Baba, (Arabic for father), how are you, what is new with you?” Likewise, every day, and in every circumstance, we can place our hand in His through prayer. We can place upon Him our perplexity, our problems, our sorrow, our woes and our worry and also prayers of thanksgiving and rejoicing.

Second, there is peaceful confidence. It is the trust that our loving Father, will not give us a stone when what we really need is bread. It is the certainty that in Christ God will work everything for our good (Romans 8:28), and give us the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Third, there is the sure and certain confidence that our heavenly Father is always with us. {speak about my culture dinning experience.} There is the abiding presence that comes to us in His Word and as we dine at His table by giving us His body and blood. We can know for certain we have a strong relationship with Him as His beloved children and we are not out of His sight or presence. With God as our heavenly Father, we lack nothing.

Oh, the joy of calling God, “Abba!” “Father!” What peace fills us our hearts as His beloved children? Through Christ’s death and resurrection we have a perfect relationship that is enjoyed now here below and someday forever in heaven. Amen.

Now the peace…

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


"A god who is everywhere is as useless as a god who is nowhere. What we need is a God who is SOMEWHERE." Norman Nagel

HT:Ibanez Eric and Will Weedon (Nagelisms Group, Wittenburg Trail)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

“Until Death Unite Us!” Romans 7:4

S-1061 6/29/08 7SAP/3A (O) #416; (S) #620; L.S. #208; #458; #204 (C) #261

Texts: Jeremiah 28:5-9; Romans 7:1-13; Matthew 10:34-42

Theme: “Until Death Unite Us!” Romans 7:4


Question: “To whom do you belong?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the book of Romans. “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” (Rom. 7:4).


Saints in Christ, during the months of June and July there are many weddings that take place. As people attend these blessed events, they hear the couple say: “Until death parts us!” Every married couple recognizes in these words that they are making a solemn promise before God and the witnesses that they will remain with each other until the Lord Calls one of them home.

As you ponder these words, you come to the knowledge that they stand at the heart of the marriage covenant; they express the fundamental truth on which marriage is built. That God is the only One who unites the woman to the man and makes them one flesh. For this reason, it is God alone who can bring that union to an end. The Savior, Jesus Christ while walking the dusty roads of Palestine proclaimed, “What therefore God has joined together let not man separate” (Mt. 19:6).

Let it be known and understood therefore, that marriage is not a man made institution; it is not a union of the human wills; marriage doesn’t consist merely in the choice of the man or the woman. Rather, marriage is an act of the Creator, by which He joins the woman to the man in one essence; she is flesh of his flesh, bone of his bones. He who joined them is the only one possessing the authority and power to separate them.

In the book of Ephesians Paul lays a wonderful image of what a marriage should be like. And he compares it to the marriage of Christ and His Bride—the Church (Eph. 5). And so, too, in this text, Paul teaches us that there is a deeper and more important relationship to this marriage. Yet in this text, Paul throws a curve ball at us and our thinking regarding marriage. He surprises us in a sense. For it is true that in marriage, death does indeed parts us—from someone we love. But it’s also true that DEATH unites us to our Spouse. The marriage of Christ and His Church isn’t possible until death unites us.

Our author, Paul is a great theologian who deliberately takes the time to teach and guide us in our thinking about salvation. Study the book of Romans (as we have been doing for the last five weeks) and you will see what a master piece of truth is found in this wonderful book. He lays the ground work and distinction between sin and grace, justification and sanctification, salvation and damnation.

What Paul wants us to grasp in this portion of God’s holy Word is this: Marriage to Christ consists in a death to the old self and a resurrection to a new identity. Thus we can say, “Until Death Unite Us.”

Paul uses two images to express the reality of sin. First, he likens sin as a world-wide tyrant enforcing his will upon his slaves. Putting them to death, the wages of sin is death (6:23). Sin reigning in our mortal bodies (5:21), Man as a slave to sin (6:20); and second, Paul likens sin as a groom whom mankind embraces.

In this image, Paul, demonstrates that sin is not some foreign power in our hearts, but an intimate husband that we hold dear and embrace. Man is not forced to sin, but enjoys and embraces a life of sin. And because of this sin, man can’t become a son.

What’s at stake here is that mankind is married to a husband that drives him into slavery. The Law of God always reveals the death hold on man. The Law of God doesn’t seek to serve man, but to rule over him. The Law of God doesn’t bring pleasure to the heart of man, but death. As Paul himself stated, “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” (7:7), and he further states: “I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me” (7:9-11).

The Law doesn’t deliver, but binds us. The Law doesn’t free us, but frightens us. The Law doesn’t please us, but pains us. And so we long for freedom. We long for faith. We long for something different. We want to be freed from this evil world. We want to have a husband—a new husband that can deliver and free us and give us what we can’t do on our own as slaves.

Paul introduces our new husband as the resurrected, reigning and returning Christ. Jesus Christ is the New Husband for the Church. When Christ died, He made the Law, which sin uses to bind us to itself of no effect. No longer does the Law have any power over us. What Paul is saying here, is this: It is as if our first husband, our sinful self, has died, setting us free to marry another. Therefore, we belong to another. For this reason, then, Christ’s death opens the way from slavery to sonship.

This sonship took place when we died with Christ in Baptism (Romans6:1-6). Through this death we were united to Him forever and rise to a new life—never to be separated from Him by any force or power.

Oh, the joy of the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. For the resurrection of Christ begins man’s marriage to God and His righteousness and blessedness. By His grace alone we are now married to the risen Christ, the man who rules over all things. By His grace alone we are now married to the risen Christ, the man in whom there is no sin. By His grace alone we are now married to the risen Christ, the man in whom there is no death. By His grace alone we are now married to the risen Christ, the perfect husband who truly loves mankind to the end.

As we gather in this house of worship we see how Christ continues to woo His beloved. He does so by the preaching of His Word that assures us that we are no longer slaves, but sons and heirs with Him forever. In Baptism, in His death and resurrection, we know for certainty that is the way to Paradise. In the Sacrament of the Altar, we become fruitful sons and daughters of his divine love to others.


“Until death parts us” These words that we so often hear at a wedding ceremony, are a sometimes taking lightly. The young couple who speak these were, hardly think about the meaning of them. They slip off their tongues without any consideration to the severity of what could take place. These words are constant nagging and reminder that our joy will end in grief. Ask any person here who has lost a spouse of the pain of these words. What begins with joy will end with pain and sorrow. We know for sure there is an end to this union. However, in Christ, there is victory (that is why we will be singing two Easter hymns today). Yes, brothers and sisters in the family of faith, Christ’s death has parted us from our first husband, that old sinful self. But in Christ, we can now also say, “Until death unites us.”

It is Christ’s death that has united us to one another and to His Father in heaven. It is our death in Holy Baptism that has annulled the power of the evil one so that we might be a holy Bride adorned with the true righteousness for our Bridegroom. Finally, it is our death to this world that brings the full consummation of our union with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that knows no end. Amen.

Now the peace...