Sunday, August 30, 2009

“Prepare for Battle” (v. 10-11, 18)

S-1136 8/30/09 12SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #660; (S) #662; L. S.#666; #656; #665; (C)#671

Texts Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; Ephesians 6:10-20; Mark 7:14-23

Theme: “Prepare for Battle” (v. 10-11, 18)

Question: “What are you battling now?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil... praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (v. 10-11, 18).


Saints in Christ, I don’t know if you have ever been in a battle or prepared for one.  Ask our Veterans and they will tell what it takes to prepare for a battle. There are many things to do and complete before you go to war.

I remember well as a child, the many hours and drills we had when I was in school in the Old country. In 1966, I was only 11 years old and in the 4th grade. For a whole year, Israel was preparing for war against Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. At home and in school we prepared for the upcoming battle. In school, the children took construction paper and painted them black. Taped those papers to the windows, and crisscrossed the windows with masking tape; and moved everything away from doors and windows. Tunnels were dug throughout the school so that we could escape to the bomb shelters. We would practice and prepare for the battle as if it was real. At an unknown hour in the day, the sirens would blow and we only had 3 minutes to empty the classroom. The teacher would shut the light off and at her command all 40 of us children would get on our knees, begin to crawl as fast as possible through tunnels and hide in the bomb shelters. It was frightening to do, but something that we needed. We practiced because war was imminent. 

Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us today, that we need to prepare for battle. Not for bombs and bullets, not for laser guided missiles or IED’S (Improvised Explosive Devices); “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (v.12b). In other word, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the devil and his demonic forces. And the only way to be prepared for battle is to have the weapon that can destroy, demolish and devastate the enemy. This weapon is not man’s power or might, not planes or tanks and not even nuclear bomb, but the living Word of God.

It is the Word of the Living God that will destroy, demolish and devastate the enemy. Our only offensive weapon is the Word of God, the written Word of the Holy prophets and apostles. Our solid weapon is the 6 arsenal garments Paul highlights for us to wear and use against the enemy of our soul. Our only true weapon of defense against all the cunning attacks of the wicked one, remains faith and salvation by grace in Christ Jesus alone. Anyone of us who hold to this gift of faith and firmly hold to the Word of God will fight the battle even if all devils, the entire world, and his own flesh rage against him.

Our good Dr. Martin Luther got it right when he wrote in the great battle hymn of the Reformation (which is one of hymns for today) “though devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour us, We tremble not, we fear no ill; They shall not over power us. This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none, He’s judged the deed is done; one little Word can fell him.” Here is the absolute truth. If you want to be prepared for the battle, know the Word, study the Word, cling to the Word, and live by the Word. It is the LIVING WORD THAT WILL DEFELECT, DIVERT AND DETER our enemy from overcoming us. PAUSE.

But what do we do? More often than not, we attempt to fight the enemy on his own terms. We think we are mighty; we can handle it on our own. We think if we tighten our belts, if we pull our boot we can defeat the enemy. YOU CAN’T. If you enter the camp of the enemy know that he will chew you and spit you out like nothing. On your own it is impossible to fight and win. By your might, strength, or wisdom you will be defeated. But all is not lost. Our situation is far from hopeless! We have the answer. It is God’s mighty, moving, marching Word. It needs to be part and parcel of who we are.

We who live in the Midwest know the wisdom that has been given us through the ages, by grandparents, loving parents and caring weather forecasters. When the storms of winter come and the howling wind and wind-chill blow on the plains; they tell us to prepare for it. Dress warmly. Make sure you cover every part of your body before your leave the house. And if you have to travel make sure that you have enough gas, cell phone and a survival kit.

Paul gave that advice first to the Ephesians. He told them to prepare for battle by taking the 6 arsenal weapons to defeat the demonic forces that will rage and roar and rant against us. A well equipped warrior will take these 6 arsenal weapons and put them to a good use. 1. He has to gird himself with a belt so his long garments do not hinder his movement. 2. He has to guard his chest with a breastplate. 3. He has to put on iron-clasped boots as to cover his feet. 4. He has to protect his body with a shield and 5, his head with a helmet. And finally 6, he must take with him the sword of the Spirit to attack.

These are your arsenal weapons ye soldiers of the cross. Prepare for battle by dressing up by the garments that Christ Himself has provided for us. For when we do, we are guaranteed the victory. A victory that He has already won for us when He fought the ultimate fight for our souls. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, just like us who are the redeemed of the Lord; Jesus, too, prepared for battle in the Garden of Gethsemane. Come close with me please (motion to one corner of the Sanctuary) and notice what the Commander in Chief is doing. Do you see Him? Do you hear Him? Have you noticed Him? Take a closer look please. There He is on His knees in prayer with the Father. He knew the battle was coming, coming so close that you could hear the whispers of the tempter in His ears as the battle lines that would lead to the cross are being drawn. His preparations are so fervent that He even sweats blood. But the greatest battle of all time would take the greatest preparation and effort.

And on the cross, Jesus has won the day. His prayerful preparations in the Garden led to the tremendous victory at the cross. The most brutal fighting of the campaign is done. Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of Lord’s have spilled His blood on the battlefield and the victory is assured.

However, there are still the mop up operations that must happen. Until our Lord comes again, we too will daily struggle with the demonic insurgency called the devil that is allied with our own sinful self and the world’s desires. We will do battle every day as the new creation in us seeks to be filled with God’s Word and life. And where are we called to prepare for battle? Is it not in the same location as our fearless General and Leader Jesus? Was He not in prayer before battle? This is where the Lord would lead us as well. For on our knees before the Good and Gracious Lord will we find the work and will to fight the fight that each day calls us to. PAUSE.

Study the text again and you would clearly see the image that Pastor Paul shares with us today:  He paints this formidable soldier ready for battle. Dressed with the proper attire with helmet, boots, sword, shield and belt, but the one thing that is exposed are the knees. Why you might ask? Because that is how we can bend the knees in prayers before the Almighty General and Chief Commander Jesus.

We are to pray (a) at all times.  We are not to take a vacation from prayer.  To cut off our prayers is to cut off much of our strength like Samson did.  We are to pray for (b) fellow soldiers.  Paul urges supplications for all the saints.  There is to be no jealousy or competition within the ranks of God’s people, but encouraging one another.  And so we continually intercede for those soldiers around us. And we find that we can be very open and honest with our heavenly Father, and so we can pray (c) with specific requests.  Paul asks the Ephesians to pray that he may declare the Word of God fearlessly.

Soldiers of the cross, are you ready for battle? First class private have you wore the battle armor today? If not please do so. By the mighty Spirit of God wear them as a soldier prepares for battle; as a police officer wears a bullet proof vest. Putting on a bullet proof indicate you are vulnerable. You can’t do it on your own. You need the protection of the Armor of God. There is only one weak spot for a bullet proof vest—that is the back. Only the back is lacking a spiritual armor “part”, so God’s response to us, DON’T WORRY, I got our back!

Join me in thanking the Commander in Chief our Great General who gave us His arsenal to be prepared for battle. Amen.

Now the peace…

Friday, August 21, 2009

“Eternal Word….Eternal Life” (John 6:66-69).

S-1134 8/16/09 11SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #16; (S) #421; (C) #352

Texts Proverbs 9:1-10; Ephesians 5:6-21; John 6:51-69

Theme: “Eternal Word….Eternal Life” (John 6:66-69).

Question: “What’s the Question behind the Question?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the Words of Eternal Life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God’” (John 6:66-69).


Saints in Christ, every Sunday morning Pastor Nour stands before you and greet you. Before the Divine Worship Service starts, he asks you a simple question. This question is asked to engage you in your mental preparation for the message you are about to hear.

Some of the questions Pastor Nour asks are simple, others are hard. Some questions you know the answers to others you don’t. But these questions are not as important as the question that the Savior asked His twelve in the Gospel reading today. “After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ (67-68). There is no other important question that you and I need to give a clear, concrete and complete answer to as this one. The One who is called the Way asks the question that must be answered by everyone.

The reason Jesus asked the question in the first place was because many who had followed Him, were eye witnesses to His power in healing the sick, the lame, the blind and the lepers and those who even ate at the greatest Fish Fry Banquet ever, walked away when He told them, “That He is the Living Bread that came down from heaven” (6:51). Hearing these words many left Him and went there way. Their hearts were hardened. Their heads were hindered and their hands were hampered to reach out to the One who could save them from every power in the Universe.

Turning with eyes of love He asked His disciples “Are you going to leave me too?” What a piercing question to the 12. Their Master and Rabi is looking deep into their souls even though He knows the answer to the question, He still probes them with the question. And Peter, the one who always spoke on behalf of the 12, does the same today. “Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the Words of eternal life”.

In essence Peter was saying to His Galilean Rabi and Lord, “With You we have found truth and peace. With You, You fill our heart’s longing and searching for the truth. If we wanted to forsake You now, where should we go? I suppose we could go to the schools of the Pharisees, but they couldn’t remove our present or future burden, the opposite is true, they would only burden us with new laws.

I suppose we could go to the sect of the Sadducees, but they have already given up trying to find the truth, since they deny the resurrection and angels and the after-life. They instead are looking and seeking for pleasures of this world that can’t calm our burdened hearts, busy heads, and beaten hands.

We certainly could seek out the wisdom of the heathens, who in their search for truth may deride the many gods and superstitions of their people, but their altars are inscribed, ‘To the unknown god.’ Nowhere do we find what we need except with You. For this reason, we want to stay with you, for You have the Words of Eternal Life.”

The holy Apostle Peter, speaking on behalf of the 12 spoke eloquent words, words that described their hearts’ felt emotions. Having heard the One whom they been following for sometimes saying: “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, NO one comes to the Father, except through Me” (John 14:6); They knew for certain that the Divine One was among us. Here is the Living Bread that came down from heaven. No denying it. He is the Heaven-sent Savior of the world.

How about us who live in an age when so many people deny the divinity of the Holy Scriptures? If the Lord, Jesus Christ was standing here this morning and looked at us and asked the same question, “Do you (yes you point your finger at the people) want to go away as well?” What will our answer be dear friends in Christ?

I pray that we will by the power of the Holy Spirit, give a bold, brave, and boisterous answer along with Peter, “Lord to whom shall we go, You have the Words of Eternal Life.”

Like the Apostles before us, we too, need truth and peace. Without them, we would be the most miserable of creatures. Without truth and peace, there would be no kingdom, no glory; no earthly desire can make us happy.

You see saints in Christ; our hearts have been created by our loving Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And unless God occupies our hearts, our hearts are empty and dead. St. Augustine said right when he stated, “Our hearts are restless unless they find their rest in Thee.”

Here is the truth. Only Jesus and His Word give Eternal Life. Nothing in this world will satisfy our longing for peace and truth and happiness. Ask any person on his death-bed who has chased after the wind, accumulated wealth but have no Christ in their hearts and heads and homes, ‘what do they have?’ and they will tell you nothing. They have wasted their whole life chasing after this philosophy, this idea, this gadget, more money in the bank, and more toys, but their souls were not connected and neither will they ever be content. Only Jesus will do.

To know all this is to know life - so even as many others turned from Jesus and deserted Him, the word of great strength and wisdom that doubting Peter could speak, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God, stands for life! Yes, today we celebrate Life. Jesus gives us life - in His flesh and in His blood. He who is the Creator of all that is and shall be will come inside of you. He is the Holy One who comes to make a doubting sinner like you, like me, into the very Sanctuary of Heaven! Heaven comes to abide within you. He comes down from heaven, but with you and the rest of the lost world in His sight, He considers such service not as coming down, but coming through - in love. This is wisdom, the wisdom of God - this is Jesus - and He makes you whole and He makes you holy, even the habitation of His Holiness. You are His Temple.

Oh, sure, it’s a hard saying, that we must eat Him, that He is the only hope for sin and sinners. Yes, who can bear it? Ah, but it is true! To know this Jesus is to know peace and life. To walk away from Him is death. I share this with you because it is not you, but Him, who will enliven dead hearts, enlighten blind eyes, and enable deaf ears (Matthew 11:4-6) - yes blessed is the one not offended by Jesus!

And this truth needs to be taught by us to all people. God’s Eternal Son came to earth to give His life as a ransom for me while I was nothing but a disobedient, dirty, dammed, and dead sinner. PAUSE.

In our reading Jesus faced a large crowd of tired and hungry people who had just run around the lake. His disciples too must have been running on empty. Jesus gave both groups what they needed most—His Word. He would soon take care of their short-term need for food, but first He focused on their long-term needs.

There is an old saying: “Give me a fish and you will feed me for a day; teach me to fish and you will feed me for a lifetime” (Chinese Proverb). We may add that we need to teach people of every generation about the Words of the Savior and the Savior Himself who will make them live forever—for His Words are Eternal and they are LIFE.

In a tired state, Jesus’ and His Word tastes wonderful. He is the Shepherd who leads us to the quiet waters that give rest to our souls, that is, the forgiveness of sins that calms our fears and guilt. He beds us down in a rich pasture, where we can feed and rest in His promises. Heaven is there for all who believe in Him. And the One who has given His life for the sheep will certainly provide for all their daily needs on the way to heaven.

This is a message that even tired souls want to hear. This is a message that only the tired and hungry and thirty will truly appreciate, because they are Eternal Word—Eternal Life. Amen.

Now the peace…

“Arise and Eat (1 Kings 19:5-7)

S-1133 8/09/09 9SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #902 (S) #684; L.S. #625; #623; #629 (C) #917

Texts 1 Kings 19:1-8; Ephesians 4:17-5:2; John 6:35-51

Theme: “Arise and Eat (1 Kings 19:5-7)

Question: “When was the last you said to someone. ‘Get up and eat?’”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Old Testament lesson: “And he [Elijah] lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.’” (1 Kings 19:5-7).

FYI: During the sermon hymn, my head usher will come up and set up a table near the pulpit. On the table will be a variety of energy drinks such as "Full Throttle", "5 Hour Energy Extra Strength" and chewing gum, "Energy Gum" Not recommended for children" and "power bar", energy bar”, “Granola bars” etc.


Saints in Christ, in our reading today, we meet the mighty mantled man of God Elijah having a pity-party and wishing God would take his life. It is interesting to read this account in lieu of what took place before. It wasn’t long ago that this mighty servant of the Most High God defied the 450 prophets of Baal—challenged them once and for all to declare who the true God IS. The challenge was that each would build an altar, place a bull on it and call upon god to send fire from heaven. Whoever answers the prayer is the true God. Elijah built an altar, doused it with water that everything was soaking wet. He called upon the God of the Universe to bring forth fire from heaven and prove Himself that He is the ONLY TRUE GOD. God answered His prayer and the offering, rocks, and dirt, were all burned. And the 450 prophets of Baal were killed by Elijah’s sword.

But that was yesterday, today, Jezebel the wicked queen of the North, swore that she was ready to kill him as he had done to the false prophets. Hearing those words Elijah grabs his mantle stuffs it into his belt and runs for his life. On the journey he gets tired and lays down beneath a broom. He asks God to take his life because he is no better than his forefathers.

However, the Lord has other plans. Instead of hearing the prayer of Elijah to take away his life, God does something most amazing, He sends His angel The Angel of the Lord” who prepares a mighty mean meal to feed Elijah and at his command says, “Arise and Eat!” Elijah gets up eats and lies down again. A second time The Angel of the Lord” prepares another powerful meal to feed Elijah and at his command says, “Arise and Eat!” Having eaten from the baked cake and drank from the water jug, Elijah travels 40 days and 40 nights.

What kind of food is that? What was in it that made the messenger of God travel that distance without needing any food or drink? We don’t really know. But what we do know is that when God is the chef and server the food He gives is mighty indeed and the benefits are everlasting. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, as you can see on this table (there are many items) these items on the market when eaten and drank from suppose to boost your energy level to grant you to do more things. Here is one that supposes to boost your level of energy for 5 hours. The label on the can reads: “hours of energy now—no crash later” Here is another—it is gum. This gum is so strong they have a label that reads “Not recommended for children". Wow! Some kind of gum! How about the “power bar?”

You and I in this world look for things to give us the energy that we need—whether it is a drink, gum, or meal. These things suppose to keep us going and going and going, like the Energizer Bunny. It may work for a moment, but then comes the crash. Nothing works to give us endless energy. Nothing keeps the old man going; except God the Creator of this body.

He knows what we need. We see Elijah’s need being met today as the “Angel of the Lord” touches Him and invites him to “Arise and Eat!” and when Elijah does he receives power from on high. Consider this power that is given with these gifts of food and drink. Enough strength and stamina to travel 40 days/nights. Everything else pales in comparison to what the true POWER given by God. 

Elijah is not alone to receive such a wonderful meal served by such an amazing host—the Angel of the Lord. This Angel of the Lord is none other that Jesus Christ Himself. The Holy Meal at the altar, (will point to the altar here) is the food and drink we need. Not like these items (at the table) here that gives you temporary boost. But real food and real drink that satisfies both body and soul. This meal will not only give you energy for 40 days/nights, but to eternity.

You and I as the redeemed of the Lord need to understand the command (with the promise) “Arise and Eat!” It is very important and crucial for us to know that this command is given by Christ Himself the Bread of heaven. The command to “Arise and Eat” is the same for today - what is on the Table for us; this Meal of Forgiveness is ours as surely as it was Elijah’s.  His inability is also our inability.  His journey is our journey - sure and certain, for God does not simply go “with us” as a side-car alongside a motorcycle, He abides with us and in us, cake = body, water = reference to Baptism, yes, surely, He is Elijah’s meal and ours

Without Christ in our lives we are discouraged and have no hope. When we don’t see the hand of God guiding and leading us, we begin to have a pity party just like Elijah. When our eyes are not looking on the One who is able to do for us more than we can even ask or imagine, we loose focus of our relationship to Him and with Him. And the result?...discouragement! Elijah was discouraged, the 12 were discouraged, even the crowd in the Gospel reading today became discouraged and so do we become discouraged.

But not today! Today, you and I are in the midst of our wilderness journey. Here Christ our Host and Meal meets us and feeds us and encourages us to go on in His name on the journey of life. PAUSE.

Elijah got up and ran away because he was afraid of what might happen to him. Elijah faced a formidable opponent in Queen Jezebel. So formidable that he ran away for his life; but not our “Angel of the Lord”, Jesus Christ. He, too, faced a formidable foe—the devil, the punishment, the cross, the wrath of God, death and the grave. But Jesus didn’t run away, but ran to face the cross. As the book of Hebrews reminds us clearly: “Looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

Jesus faced the enemy on Calvary’s Holy Mountain head on. Sure He gave His life for Elijah, you and me. But in that death, we have life. In the tree of the cross we have the tree of life and the empty tomb we have heaven opened.

Elijah got up and ran away. But the “Angel of the Lord” asked him to “Arise and eat!” He does the same for us. He tells us “Arise and eat” today. Soon you will be rising from your pews. You will come to dine on the bread of heaven and the drink of heaven—Christ’s body broken for YOU; Christ blood shed for YOU and with that Gift you will go on the journey of life to eternity.

With this Meal of Love prepared by Christ Himself you will have all the stamina, strength and staying power you need. And Isaiah reminds us of this power when he wrote these words: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

The Angel of the Lord invited Elijah to “Arise and Eat!” And Elijah did. Therefore, I say to you dear saints in Christ, “Arise and Eat,” for the Angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, is here today, inviting you to be His guests, and serve you a powerful Meal in His Body and Blood. Amen.

Now the peace…

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

“Taking a Test…” (Exodus16:4b)

S-1132 8/02/09 9SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #457; (S) #521; (C) #50

Texts Exodus 16:2-15; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:22-35

Theme: “Taking a Test…” (Exodus16:4b)

Question: “Do you like taking tests?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Old Testament lesson: “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not” (Ex. 16:4).


Saints in Christ, I personally don’t enjoy taking tests! They make me study long and hard. I have to remember a lot of information to be able to answer the questions the teacher gives me. There will be many long hours of studies as I review my notes and prepare for the upcoming test. Some tests have so much weight on them because if you don’t pass them, you can’t do what you suppose to do. Consider the would-be doctor; he needs to pass the Medical exam in order to practice medicine. Consider the would-be accountant; she needs to pass her CPA exam to be an accountant. Consider the lawyer; he needs to pass the Bar exam to practice law.

Tests are not fun, but they challenge you to dig deep into your heart and soul and determine if this is really what you want to do. When I attended the seminary, I took summer Greek. That is to say, you try to learn the language in two months. After this period you have a major exam as a qualifier to move on in your studies. You pass the test; you continue to prepare for the Office of the Ministry. You don’t pass the test; you have to take another shot at it. For a week before the exam, all of my classmates and I spent hours and hours in preparation for the big day. Finally the day of the test came. My stomach was churning, hands were sweaty, mouth was dry and lips moving in prayer. When the test was over, I barely made it, but I passed. What a good feeling it is to pass the test. You know that feeling too, don’t you?

In our text today, God informs Moses that He is going to give a test to His chosen people. This test is given by God to see if those who have been delivered with outstretched arms and mighty hands from the slavery in Egypt would walk in His ways or not.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has been their protector by day and by night. He has done mighty things for them. Through the finger and voice of Moses ten plagues came over Egypt. They saw God’s mighty power as He fulfilled His promises. His agent Moses finally demanded that Pharaoh let God’s people go. These people had been witnesses to one miracle after another and this chapter falls on the heels of the day that God destroyed all of the Egyptians army in the Red Sea; they walked on dry ground to safety.

In Chapter 15 we hear Miriam as the cheerleader of God’s people in signing and dancing. This is what Moses and the people of Israel sang to the LORD: “I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and will exalt Him. The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is His name… (Ex. 15:1-3).

But that was before. Now the people of God are grumbling again. They grumble Gimme, gimme, gimme, because they don’t have any food and God intervenes and says, “I will give them a test to see if they will walk in my WAYS.” PAUSE.

Did you know that the whole life of the believer is a life of testing? Look at God’s inspired and inerrant Word and you will see God’s people being tested often. In the Garden of Eden God gave Adam and Eve a “Test of Love” to obey Him and NOT eat of the forbidden Tree. But they failed miserably.

God gave Noah a test telling him to build an Arch which will be his floating home while the rain came down for 40 days/nights. Noah obeyed and walked in the ways of the Lord. Abram had been promised a uniquely gifted child by God from his aged wife Sarah. And when Isaac was born, God gave Abraham “The Supreme test of obedience” on Mount Moriah to offer his son as a sacrifice. Both Abraham and Isaac passed it and God was pleased with them. Joseph was put to the test by his brothers when they sold him to slavery. He was put to the test by the seductive wife of Potiphar; and was put to the test when thrown in jail. By God’s grace, Joseph passed the tests.

God’s chosen people were put to the test to see if they would trust the Almighty Father to provide them with what they need. He gave them specific instructions to collect just enough for a day’s ration to eat and no more. And throughout all of this no one was hungry because God’s hands are never short. The Psalmist reminds us of this saying: “For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Ps. 107:9).

We, too, as God’s chosen and redeemed people are given the same test to see if we would walk in God’s ways. But how often we do really trust God to fulfill all that He promises to us? How often do we not loose sleep because there is not enough money to go around? How often do we question God’s decisions and look for another to supply our needs?

You see saints in Christ; the whole life of the Christian is truly a life of testing and trouble. Our opening hymn for today even challenges us to come to Him and see how He meets all of our needs as is evident in the Gospel reading today where the heaven-sent Savior, Jesus provided food for them to eat. The opening hymn is a very familiar one but have you really looked at the words, studied the words and understood the words? Listen again please: What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Beloved in Christ, we are not immune from troubles, trials and testing. We grumble. We ask, “By what sign will you show us that we may believe in You? ... Even when the manna falls from heaven! Still we ask, “Anything new? What have You done for us lately?” Oh, it makes sense; we get distracted by our stomachs. He remains faithful. I’ll give you quail in the evening and manna in the morning, water from the rock (that is water and blood from My riven side). Oh, and the God of this first wilderness wandering - He has not changed - He walks with you now, feeding and keeping you, even when you grumble. What He gives you is not even what you can bear, that would be too human, to fallen, too limited. Rather, as Paul reminds the Ephesians: 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift! This is the Gift that is Christ, and the Gift that flows from Christ - Christ our host and Christ our meat. It is the fullness of knowing that forgiveness lacks nothing in its scope, for He lacks nothing in His giving of Himself! It is the fullness and measure of Christ’s gift, the Cross and Empty Tomb - His complete love! Here He reveals God not as awful judge, but as Our Father, ready to forgive and heal, ready to supply every need, all granted by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Is this arrangement “fair?” No! He shouldn’t die on that cross if things were to be fair - you should have, and I should have! Not fair, but not foul... Gracious!

I am so thankful that I don’t have to take the test today. Because I would fail miserably! As a sinner, I don’t take time to study all of the things God has done for me. I don’t remember His goodness to me. I am no different than the people of Israel. I know on my own I fail the test. But Jesus on the other hand has taking the test for me. You might say He was my proxy. Stood in my place and fulfilled all that the Heavenly Father has given Him to do—walk in His ways always.

You and I may fail the test but Jesus never did or does. In His sermon of the Mount He stated, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Mt. 5:17). Yes, Jesus passed the test of obedience. Jesus passed the test of following the decrees of God completely. Jesus passed the test by filling every demand of the Law. Jesus passed the test of the cross. Jesus passed the test of death. Jesus passed all tests given and because He passed it we get an A+ for our life’s test. Amen.

Now the peace of God…