S-1210 17SAP/3C 9/19/10 Hymns (O) #383; S#347; (C) #441
Texts: Amos 8:4-7; 1Timothy 2:1-15; Luke 16:1-15
Theme: “A Godly Desire.” (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Question: “What’s your desire?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for The 17th Sunday After Pentecost is from the Epistle lesson: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Timothy 2:3-4).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved, a young woman from Yonkers, New York was madly in love with her fiancé and desired more than anything else to be married to him and have a BIG fancy wedding. However, they didn’t have a lot of money to have a big fancy wedding. But she still desired to have an elaborate wedding with all of the glitter and glamour that comes with it. AND SHE DID!
Her wedding was one of those rare weddings that brides-to-be dream about. She got a $1,200 wedding dress, a big diamond ring and flowers galore. She had the best of everything she desired. The problem she got it all through deception and lies. 23-year-old Jessica Vega, of Yonkers, N.Y., faked cancer to get a discounted wedding.
After claiming she had leukemia and less than a year to live, Vega was the recipient of sympathy and good will from members of her community. Vega said she wanted to marry her fiancée and be with the couple’s baby daughter before she passed away. Generous strangers donated the wedding ring and wedding flowers in addition to the dress.
After about 6 months, Michael O’Connell noticed that his wife was not getting ill or getting worse. He became suspicious and contacted the doctor she was supposed to be seeing. Dr. Dan Costin’s told her husband that Vega was “NEVER A PATIENT HERE.”
Upon his discovery, Michael filed for divorce and is seeking full custody of the couple now 1-year old daughter. Once the world found out about it many felt hurt and betrayed. The owner (Gina Verdes) of the shop who gave her the wedding dress stated: “You can’t help but to feel betrayed and you know scammed by someone who would say that they are dying from a terminal illness.” PAUSE.
Deception, scheming, planning, lying, betrayal and Scamming produces hurt and harm for too many people. But that is the nature of man—sinful to the core. Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Mt. 15:19). When we look to man, to ourselves, all we see is death, corruption, fear, isolation, in short... sin! Sin is the norm and rule of what we do, because we are selfish and self-seeking, for it is part of who we are. You see that clearly in the Gospel lesson we read today (Luke 16).
But there is another picture, another angle, another story that we need to see and hear. Today, the Holy Spirit teaches us a very important lesson—what God does for His saints and cherished ones. In Paul’s letter to his son Timothy, Paul reveals what God desires. “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” God’s desire for you His beloved and beautiful bride is to be saved. Saved from pain, deception, hurt and harm. He desires to have YOU in His protective and pierced hands. He desires for YOU to know Him intimately, and grow gracefully in the truth that sets YOU free. God desires for YOU to see Him as the ALL merciful and compassionate God who gives His all so that He may right the wrong the world is in.
There are many Jessica Vegas in our world and in this building. We deceive, we lie, and we scheme and plan our personal desires at the expense of others. We promote ourselves to get the most of life. We may face Leukemia, but we live a double life. In Church we are the most holy people, but in the privacy of our homes or alone from people we are men and women who succumb to the will and desire of the devil.
How many of us have habits that we don’t want people to find out? How many of us have secrets that we don’t want people to know? How many of us pretend to be something we are not? There are many who are addicted to alcohol, dirty magazines, or dirty movies that enter our homes through the TV and still others spend plenty of money down at the Casino—to fulfill one’s desire. PAUSE.
This is who we are if the truth be told. But we don’t want to tell the truth all the time. We don’t want to correct the wrong. We want God’s grace and still live in sin. But the Apostle Paul challenges us with these words: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we...?” (Rom. 6:1-2a). Yes, how can we? How can we do what we do, just like Jessica did? Simple, within us is the sinful nature. And as long as we live in this flesh we will sin, even when we try our best not to.
BUT, I am so glad our Good, Gracious and Righteous Lord is not like us. He is holy, just, pure, and loving and desires to do what we can’t do. In His grace He covers your sin, and in His righteousness, He pays for and absorbs that sin. We all stand guilty in His presence. Listen again to the apostle Paul. Yes listen to the condemnation! “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by HIS grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God put forward as a propitiation by HIS blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in HIS divine forbearance He had passed over former sins” (Rom. 6:23-25). Yes, we are all guilty, and... and He is our Gracious and Righteous Savior. This Gracious and Righteous Redeemer and Mediator gives us the truth—that in Christ, and only in Christ Jesus, that is, in Him alone, Him plus nothing, are we all saved.
This is the absolute truth that you take with you today and every day as you leave this holy ground. Yes, you enter here a sinner, but leave a saint. You enter here dead, but leave alive. You enter here blind, but you leave seeing. You enter here deaf, but leave with ears open. You enter here lame, but leave whole—all because God desires for YOU His beloved and beautiful bride to be with Him eternally.
Study Scripture from its beginning to its last Word and you will know that God’s desire that His grace be poured abundantly upon all people. From the Paradise of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane He lovingly and passionately gives us His mercy to forgive our sins.
On three occasions, God proclaimed His decree of GRACE to all people without exception, calling them into His Kingdom of grace. The first time was in Paradise, through Adam as the root and head of the entire human race. The second proclamation was through Noah, the second ancestor of humanity, and the third was made by the apostles, who were commissioned to go into all the world, teaching all nations and preaching the Gospel to every creature.
And now that grace—the Divine Grace has come to us through the Lamb’s shed blood on the altar of the cross right here in this garden we call, Redeemer Lutheran Church; we realize how blessed and loved we are. Sunday after Sunday, the Lord God Almighty reveals His desire to us—forgiving us our sins, feeding us His sacred meal and showering us with His Sea of unending love. But He doesn’t stop there, He sends us out with changed hearts, armed by His Spirit and His Word to share the Gospel with those who don’t know Him as the eternal and merciful Lord.
What a privilege this Mediator and Redeemer Jesus Christ blesses us with every minute, hour, day, week and month to the end of our lives. Yes, you get to have the grandest wedding with the grandest ring and all of the glitter and glamour that goes with it.
Here the Lord dresses YOU with the fanciest wedding DRESS stitched with golden thread and purchased by His blood. Here, He places on YOUR finger the signet RING of His love. And here He provides YOU with His healing touch from the leukemia of sin.
Oh, to know the desire of our groom Jesus who wants nothing better than to spend an eternity with His holy bride—YOU. Amen and Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA