S-1412 6SAE/3A 2/16/2014 Hymns: (O) #234; (S) #134; (C) #416
Texts: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37
Theme: “Oh The Choices Before Us!” (Deut. 30:19-20)
Question: “What choice did you make today?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 6th Sunday After the Epiphany is from the O.T. lesson “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord Your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deut. 30:19-20).
INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.
Saints in Christ there are so many choices in life it isn’t even funny—it is downright stressful. Have you gone to a restaurant lately and looked at the menu. You get so confused that you don’t know what you want. You look at all of the choices only to come back to that which you are so comfortable with.
Not long ago, someone had gone to a restaurant to eat breakfast. The man ordered two eggs, sausage and bread. The waitress asked “Do you like your eggs sunny side up, scrambled, or flipped over?” He said “sunny side up”. Then she asked “do you want link or patty,” he said, “link.” “Would you like beef, turkey or pork?” “Pork!” Was his answer. She went on to the bread. “Do you want whole wheat, Rye, Cinnamon raison or white?” “Wheat.” “Do you want it as is or toasted?” “Toast it.” “Do you want butter or margarine?” “Butter.” “Do you want it on the bread or on the side.” In exasperation he said, “I don’t care I just want to eat!”
Choices are not limited to restaurants. Have you been to the grocery store lately? Walk through the isles and see the varieties of soups. Just the various “cream ofs” (chicken, celery, asparagus, mushroom, onion, potatoes and Broccoli) to fixa casserole. PAUSE.
Our world has also become a “Canaan” of moral choices. Alternative and optional lifestyles connected with a growing lack of morals introduce a catalog of personal choices and individualistic decisions that are advocated as acceptable. Thrivent have chosen to be neutral rather than take a stand on life issues.
Sure, it is nice to have choices; in fact, many would probably propose that having choices is a divine right. Honestly, we can propose that choices are truly God given. Except we quickly discover that God offers only two choices.
This morning’s text clearly states what God has placed before us: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil” (v 15). The choice of life and good, is characterized by obedience to God’s Commandments. But as God places these Commandments before us, He also creates in us the new life that enables us to be obedient to them.
Today, the Holy Spirit teaches us the truth. In reality we don’t have too many choices. No, there are only two choices: Obey and live, disobey and die. Simple yet profound! God’s Word is true without exceptions, exemptions or exclusions. His Word is the final authority. PAUSE.
With these Words of farewell, Moses states, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.” Please be clear in this truth, in matters of salvation, there is nothing that you can do. It is all the work of God. He has chosen us before the foundation of the world in Christ. In John 15, Jesus states, “You didn’t choose me, BUT, I have chosen you and appointed you to bear fruit” (15:16). However, in matters of sanctification, we have choices that the Holy Spirit helps us carry out, not to earn salvation but in thanksgiving to what He has done for us.
Today, we hear Moses pleading with the people of Israel before they enter the Promise Land to do the right thing—chose life and live in obedience to the will of God. They said they would. But Scripture paints another picture.
You know they disobeyed God when He told them to go and fight their enemies. They grumbled and wanted to return to Egypt and live under slavery. They complained about everything God gave them including the daily provisions. At last, God was fed up with them and sent the snakes that brought death and caused them to fall on their knees seeking forgiveness and repentance.
But before we start pointing the finger at others saying those bad Israelites, look at our lives, how often have we made the wrong choices? We haven’t been faithful in being obedient to the will of God. We have choices to come to church or not. We have choices to attend Bible Study or go downtown for coffee. We have choices to pray, to serve, to give our offering, and be a messenger of God’s grace or do none of these things. Ultimately there are only two choices. Live by serving Christ or die by serving yourself.
In verse 20 of our text Moses states: “…Loving the Lord Your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is Your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” In the original language the words “holding fast to Him” can be translated glued to God. We, who would choose death, if left to ourselves, are given new life now in Baptism. Now we are glued to Christ through His choosing us so that our faith choices are pleasing to Him. Yet, we don’t always remain glued to Him or obey His will in our lives. Instead, we chose to do our will.
But while Jesus was on earth, He too, had choices to make. Listen to His earthly parents or not. Obey the will of God or not. Serve God or not. We know that He chose always the best—doing that which God has asked Him too.
While growing up under the watchful eyes of His foster father Joseph and mother, He was obedient to them. As He grew up in years, He was obedient to the will of the heavenly Father. While He was in the Garden of Gethsemane He had a choice to let Himself be taken to be crucified or run away. He chose to stay for our sake. His prayer was this: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Lk. 22:42). Yes, that was His prayer and He carried it out.
Like us, Jesus had two choices, Live under God’s grace or die at the hands of murderers. And He chose death, so that you and I will live. He chose to obey the will of God, because of our disobedience. He chose to be holy and perfect in the presence of God, because we have been and remain unholy and disobedient. He chose to suffer the punishment of hell, so that you and I will experience the grace of God.
What a blessing to know that which we couldn’t do, Christ has done for us. He was obedient to the point of death—death on the cross for us. But He also chose to be with us and for us.
Therefore, today, join me in giving thanks to God that He is the One who has “glued” Himself to us by baptism! He has “glued” Himself to us through His Son, Jesus. Because of His choice, death for our life, we who often choose the expedient and the foolish have the grace of that Cross to call us to repentance. Repentance is God’s gift for the Israelites as they enter Canaan and for you and me as we live among the many worldly choices of today. Trust that this call to repent is the call of Him who glued Himself to you, even so, Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA