Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“The Tipping Point!” (Romans 7:24-25)

S-1261 3SAP/3A 07/03/11, (O) #577; (S) #276; (C) #54

Text: Zechariah 9:9-12; Romans 7:14-25; Matthew 11:25-30

Theme: “The Tipping Point!” (Romans 7:24-25)

Question: “Have you reached your tipping point?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost is the Epistle lesson: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).

In Nomini Iesu,

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, if you listen to the commentators on the news, there is a rather new vocabulary word that they seem to toss around a lot. The term is “tipping point.” This isn’t about “tipping” a few beverages at the local watering hole. It isn’t about “cow tipping” either. A tipping point is something far more serious. A tipping point is the point when significant change takes place.

However, this term is nothing new. It has been around for years. But we use it and identify it more now than in the past. It is said: “In October of 312 A.D., “that Constantine in a dream saw the image of the Christian cross on the sun, and heard the words “In this sign, you shall conquer.” He ordered shields and clothing of the soldiers to bear a cross on them and he won the Battle of Milvian Bridge against Emperors Maxentius and Licinius during civil wars. Constantine became the First Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. In 313 Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all religions throughout the empire. That was the tipping point when the Great Roman Empire gave freedom to Christians to worship their Savior and Lord without fear of being put to death by fire, thrown to the wild beasts or crucified on a Roman’s cross.

There are many tipping points in our lives. Tipping points that have changed history in general and Christianity in particular! In the 16th Century a German monk named Martin Luther, started the Protestant Reformation and taught the truth of Scripture that we are saved by grace alone, on account of Christ alone through Scripture alone.

In 1964 another tipping point affected all Americans. Thanks to an atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair changed the opportunity afforded to all students to pray in schools. That was a tipping point that has affected us till today and we are reaping the consequences of taking God out of the picture ever so slowly, from schools, work places and even homes. How sad and tragic.

There are those who call the proposed troop drawdown a tipping point in our armed conflict in Afghanistan. Another “tipping Point” might be coming as we deal with our national debt issues. There is a tipping point now as the flood waters are rising in Minot, Oacoma, Chamberlain and other places. Marriages reach a tipping point where the conflict forces the ungodly change called divorce or a repentance that leads to reconciliation. PAUSE.

But my beloved in the Lord don’t let one woman alter your thinking or privileges to pray to the God of all grace in public and private. Use every opportunity to know the Scriptures to feed your souls and grow to a closer relationship with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Why, you might ask? Because, in the plan of Salvation there is a tipping point. That tipping point is the cross of Calvary! It was there that the most significant change of all time happened. There in the sacrifice of the sinless Son of God the balance of sin and death tipped in our favor. It was there that Jesus changed our status from being blind, dead, enemies of God into redeemed children bound for eternity with Him.

Because of the Cross of Christ the Tipping Point is in our favor. Satan has no power over us. Death can’t hold us. Sin can’t damn us; ALL because of the greatest Tipping Point in the History of the world. This is a universal truth. This is what Zechariah is talking about in the Old Testament Lesson: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!” (Zech. 9:9) Yes, rejoice saints in Christ. Jesus has tipped the balance of scales in your favor. He has done what you and I can’t do on our own.

However, there can also be a spiritual tipping point in our own faith walk with Jesus as well. Each one of us faces a conflict within us of epic proportions. St. Paul captures this in the second lesson. It is there that he very directly and correctly identifies the “civil war” that exists with us. We are at the same time Saint and sinner. There are these two constants battling within us. But the truth is our help does not come from within us. What is inside of us will work against the salvation that Jesus has won for us at the cross. Our only hope comes from outside of us.

The Lord Jesus Christ gives us the proper support from outside of us, as we are challenged daily in facing our crisis. He turns these crises as tipping points to our advantage. Our crisis shows us that we are indeed sinners in need of a Savior. The Holy Spirit highlights this for us—He is also the One power that tips the battle in our favor. He uses the Law to show us our sin.

Oh, the Law that accuses and condemns us before a holy God. The Law of God that points our failures to be true followers of Jesus. The Law of God that kills. Yes, when that Law kills we find ourselves in the same position as St. Paul who wrote in the text “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. We AREN’T good. Even when we try, we find ourselves doing what we detest and hate. It is part and parcel of who we are.

However, the Lord knows what we need. The balm of the Gospel is applied and the balance tips. We go from death to life, from blindness to sight, from enemies to friends of God. But the battle is not over. Every day that there is temporal life in this human body, we are in this Civil War. At times it can seem overwhelming. PAUSE.

Like the great theologian Paul, we cry out saying: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Indeed, we are wretched, poor, miserable sinners who need help. And who is it that gives us this help; Paul shouts the answer to bring comfort to our burdened hearts and peace to our troubled minds: Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Yes and a thousand times yes. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” who gives us the victory. The very same Cross that served as the tipping point in universal salvation is the same tipping point for our personal salvation. Jesus knows this. So He bids us rest from our labor of war against our flesh and the world. And the only place where we find this rest is in Him. In His Word and Sacraments He gives us the tools to fight the enemy of the flesh and rejoice in what He has accomplished.

Tipping points are all around. History highlights these events, but so does God’s Word. Constantine saw it in a vision, Martin Luther found it in God’s Book, Americans learned it through History in 1776, soldiers are coming home and the economy is causing havoc. Madalyn O'Hair affected prayers in the public school and Paul was changed from a murderer to a messenger of Christ and His love through the personal encounter with Jesus.

This same Jesus guarantees that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Every other yoke will weigh us down. It will drag us deeper into the muck and mire. But Jesus’ yoke is easy. He has borne the burden of the cross beam. He has carried its weight. We are free. Now, under that simple burden; we are free from fear and futility. We live and move and have our being in Him. So you and me, sons and daughters of Zion, can rejoice! Not only for today, but forever, because Christ has made the greatest tipping point—YOUR SALVATION SURE. Amen.

Now the peace…


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