S-1390, RS/C 11/03/2013 Hymns: (O) #907; (S) #708; L.S. #783; #623; #629; (C) #878
Texts: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Philemon 1:-21; Luke 14:25-35
Theme: “An Enlarged Heart” (Psalm 119:32)
Reformation Sunday preached at Clarinda, IA
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! What an honor privilege to be with you on this Reformation Day. I would like to take a moment and thank my congregation for granting me the blessing to be God’s mouth piece and for you for the kind invitation to share with you the marvelous Word of our only God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The text is from the Introit: “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” (Psalm 119:32).
INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.
Beloved in the Lord, in January of this year, I had open heart surgery to fix my descending aorta’s aneurysm. After 7 days in the hospital and over a ¼ million dollars I became bionic and was sent home. I recovered well and announced that I will be returning to the pulpit the Sunday after Easter to proclaim God’s precious truth.
However, beginning of Holy week, I began to cough and get weaker by the minute. On Maundy Thursday I went to church but shouldn’t have because I was indeed sick. That night, I couldn’t sleep because breathing was difficult and I prayed earnestly for the Lord to give me comfort and sleep. Sleep never came. I spent the whole night in my recliner chair and prayed like David, for the morning to come (Ps. 130:6).
I headed to the clinic to visit my doctor. After some tests, he informed me of the bad news “That I have an enlarged heart and need to head to the emergency room of the heart hospital in Sioux Falls.” I was rushed to the emergency room on Good Friday; after further testing they determined that my heart was suffocating and I’m in need of another surgery. I was told I don’t have an enlarged heart but fluid wrapping the sack of my heart, causing my heart to function only at 50% capacity. I’m thankful that the doctors were able to put me back together and I’m feeling well again to serve my Lord and His Church. PAUSE.
To be sure we don’t normally think of our hearts unless there is something wrong as was the case with me. Add to that when we hear of an “enlarged heart” then we think of it negatively. However, today, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit David tells us in Psalm 119 that God is in the business of enlarging hearts. Yes, you heard me correct an ENLARGED HEART!
Remember people of God, that when the writers in the O.T. spoke of the heart that was the seat of understanding and knowledge. The heart is the center of our being. David has good news for us about hearts today, because of what God is doing—He is enlarging our hearts to fill them with wisdom and God’s Word.
This is what David is sharing with us today saying: “I will run in the way of Your commandments when You enlarge my heart!” To fill the heart with wisdom is God work. To fill the heart with discernment is God’s work. To fill the heart with joy, love and peace is God’s work is totally. The Holy Spirit continues to work on our hearts that they may be enlarged. Our hearts are enlarged so that we may gain the insights and blessings of knowing who this God is and what He does to save sinners like us.
Think of how God enlarged Solomon’s heart—filled it with wisdom so that when two prostitutes came to him to solve the problem of a dead and living son; he was able to do it by the grace of God. Think of Dr. Martin Luther who was given a large heart to know that what was being taught by the Catholic Church was contrary to the teachings of Scripture.
That is why the Reformation matters—because it enlarges our hearts to know this Amazing, Awesome and Almighty God who save us by grace alone, through faith alone, by Scripture alone and on account of Christ alone. Our churches are known for teaching the truth as revealed in Holy Scripture, nothing more and nothing less. We stand on the enlarged hearts of the lay people who stood before Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire at the Diet of Augsburg of June 25, 1530 which resulted in the Augsburg Confession.
Today, our Lutheran churches have, as your church does in front of your building a “ceremonial stone” with these inscriptions UAC (show the picture). These three letters stand for the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.” And anyone who enters here knows what this church is all about. There is no confusion. We hold that whole Bible from the opening words, “In the beginning God… till the final words, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”
Like David and Solomon, Luther and Melanchthon and thousand others, we have an enlarged heart to know the wisdom of God that leads to eternal life. Because of what Christ Jesus endured—on Calvary’s cross—a broken heart; we receive an enlarged heart. This heart is different from the old one. This heart loves Him, serves Him and obeys Him. An enlarged heart that knows the Commandments and lives by them faithfully.
This enlarged heart has been given us the by the Master Surgeon who performs the greatest surgery of exchanging our hearts of stone to a heart of flesh. This He has done in our Baptism. In Him we have the large heart that leads to eternal life. PAUSE.
But there are many who don’t have an enlarged hearts yet. Therefore, God calls us again as His baptized, redeemed, forgiven, blood-bought and heaven-bound children to introduce people to the Master Surgeon—Jesus Christ so He can change their hearts and enlarge them too. Reformation matters because we are privileged to share the hope of eternal life with others daily.
David understood the work of God in His life. By the working of the Holy Spirit, he pinned these words for us to exhort us and encourage us to remain faithful as the God of the Church works on our hearts. David stated, “I will run in the way of Your commandments when You enlarge my heart!” David’s purpose of running towards God is that he may know the commandments well. He ran so that nothing can hinder him from reaching the great knowledge of what God is doing in his life.
To be sure, God’s commandments enlarge one’s heart. This heart has more understanding. Through this understanding, the commandments give us more room to roam, more freedom to travel. Nations and cultures that reject or distain God’s commandments have less freedom, less understanding, less progress, more war. They run to the extremes of lawlessness or legalism both which God commands to avoid. Don’t go too far to the right and left commanded God to Moses in Deut. 5. The Ten Words are the Ten Commandments that lead our footsteps into freedom. They enlarge one’s understanding on the boundaries of love, God’s mercy and grace provided in His Son, Jesus Christ.
We should heed and hear the command of God as Paul teaches his son Timothy in the faith and us saying God’s words frees us from the slavery of false teachings which shrink our understanding of God, love, freedom, (1Timothy 6). The Word of God enlightens our hearts and expands our mind to know the truth that sets us free to serve and love Him above all else.
Because of the enlarged hearts we have, we are blessed and privileged to gain the message of the Gospel. Through that Gospel message our understanding is enlarged to know the will and command of Christ for our lives. Through this Gospel, we hear of the Divine declaration that the whole world has been declared not guilty for Jesus sake.
All of God’s commands enlarge our hearts to grasp the beauty and blessings of who this God is, who loved us by sending His Son to be the propitiation of our souls. Because of His mighty miracle as the Chief Heart Surgeon we get more understanding about Him and His message and Ministry.
We see this playing out in Luther, how God’s commands enlarged his understanding, also C.S. Lewis, Blaise Pascal, Augustine....men of mammoth minds whose thoughts soared on the heels of God’s commands and especially the evangelical commands where God gives what he commands.
Since my surgery, I need to take pills daily @ 6:30 a.m. and p.m. These pills help my heart run smoothly. Likewise it is for us. We need to take into our hearts and mouth daily the Word of God and His precious Sacrament. Through these means, God continues to enlarge our hearts as we digest and chew on His gifts.
Oh, what joy to know that I have an enlarged heart and so do you. Oh, thank God with me for the blessed surgery He has done on our hearts of stones to give us a heart of flesh that loves Him, obeys Him, serve Him and our neighbor.
Today, we join the many saints who have had heart procedures to make their hearts alive again through the Gospel of Jesus Christ forever. Amen and Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA