Wednesday, November 12, 2014

“True Blessedness” (Luke 11:28)

S-1454 19SAP/3A 11/12/2014 Hymns: (O) #59 (S) #32; (C) #18 SOD

Texts: Psalm 23; Romans 8:28-39; John 14:1-7

Theme: “True Blessedness” (Luke 11:28)

Celebration of life for Loren Gene Horsley (passed away on 11/1/2014. He was cremated.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia. The text for our the celebration of the new life promised to our departed brother by His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is his confirmation verse: “…But He [Jesus] said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28).

Beloved in the Lord, especially you Delores, Kevin, family and friends, we have gathered in the Lord’s house today to celebrate the new life given to you dear husband, father, grandfather and friend. By the Holy Spirit’s power, we have been gathered in God’s house to hear His Word, find comfort and consolation in His promises that those who die in Him shall live with Him forever.

For this reason today, we will listen with attentive ears to hear the message from God’s own lips that truly comforts us in the hour of sorrow and give us hope as we walk in the valley of the shadow of death as you are doing today.

However, all of us here have a problem with hearing. No, I’m not talking about the inability to hear that you are in need of a hearing aid. But rather, it is the absolute fact that we don’t want to hear what is being said to us; least of all from God. Instead we want to talk and be heard. In our fallen nature that is just the way it is. But that is not what God designed us for. If you paid close attention to your face, you realize you have two ears and one mouth. That is to say listen more and talk less.

The text of Loren’s confirmation is indeed a true blessing because in it the Lord states: “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it! But to help us understand this text we need to know the context.

Jesus was casting out demons. What He did made people marvel. The people who saw Him do it knew, instinctively and by religious training that what was happening could only happen if God were present and at work through the man, at the very least. It simply was so good that it touched the people who witnessed it, and so, those who were Jesus’ adversaries were troubled by it, and they tried to ‘spin’ what Jesus did negatively. They suggested boldly that Jesus was in league with the devil. After all, who had ever seen anything like this before?

Then Jesus describes the Jews with another parable. That the Jewish leader were misleading the people of God from hearing the truth. He is speaking of Israel when He describes the man from whom the unclean spirit is driven out. Then those who reject Jesus are the unclean spirit that finds the house all cleansed and put in order, and goes out and find seven spirits more foul than itself. It is Israel that Jesus is describing; when He says that the last state is worse than the first. He is picturing Israel as a man (which God does throughout the Old Testament), and He is saying that when His cleansing is done, they - the Jewish leaders - will wreak havoc and ruin on Israel by rejecting their own Messiah. Which to this day still deny that Jesus is the Messiah. They are still waiting for the Messiah to come.

“And it came about while He said these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice, and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts at which You nursed.’” These words are true enough, But Jesus responds in this manner. 'On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the Word of God, and keep it.’”

Let this truth sink in your ears. Jesus is certainly worthy of all that praise - and we also praise Him with our whole heart. But Jesus meant to turn the attention of that woman, and everyone in the crowd, and us, too, who read the account centuries later, to where true blessedness is to be found, and what it is comprised of. His odd-sounding response to this wonderful saying of this woman in the crowd is, ‘Go to the Word, and pay attention to that Word.’ Jesus tells us to ignore everything but the Word of God, and to pay close attention to that, and let every decision be made solely on the Word of God that endures forever.

This is the true blessedness that we SHOULD hear the Word of God and keep it. For this reason when the Creator Father, Son and Holy Spirit made man in His image He gave him two ears and one mouth to hear that Word.

Yet it is so hard for us to keep quiet. As I shared before we would rather talk than listen. We want to be heard rather than hear. But thankfully, the Holy Spirit teaches us the truth that true blessedness comes from hearing the Word and keeping it.

Our beloved and departed brother Loren knew this Word intimately. He heard the Word spoken over him in the waters of Baptism on April 12th, 1936. He continued to hear that Word as his parents brought Him to the Lord’s house. The Spirit continued to teach him the truth as he attended Sunday school, VBS, Confirmation classes and private devotions. He heard the Word because that Word took root in his heart, head and home.

He continued to hear the Word as he came often to the Lord’s house. Here in this place He received the true blessings from God as he heard the Word of forgiveness spoken to his guilty conscience, and filthy heart. He received the true blessings from God as he listened to the sermons. He received the true blessings from God as he received on his sinful tongue the life giving body and blood of the Lord.

Even into his old age he continued to hear the Word, because that Word was special to him. He loved hearing the Word. However, as often the case with age, he was unable to come to the Lord’s house as he desired, but the Word of the Lord came to him as I visited him, prayed with him, read scripture and broke bread with him. He loved seeing me, because he knew he would be hearing the Good News again-receive forgiveness and dine with His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—the Lamb made flesh.

Few days before, I left on my Holy Land Nour Tour (Thursday 10/16) I visited him at the nursing home in Mitchell. There he, Delores and I heard the Word of God and gave him the Sacrament of the Altar for the last time. Then God called him home (11/01) to be in His presence forever and ever.

Beloved in the Lord, true blessedness comes in hearing the Word and keeping it. By the Spirit’s power, you and I have a golden opportunity to gather in this house to hear the glorious promise of God. Therefore, I challenge you to set aside that time where you can be with Your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and hear His Word and grow and mature until the day He calls you home to be with Him forever.

Do you want to be truly blessed? Then, hear the Words of Jesus “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it! By the grace and mercy of God Loren did and so can I you. Therefore with joy we look forward to the true blessings from God as we gather often in His presence to hear the Word.

True Blessedness is faith. Listen to the Word of God, as Jesus says, and do what He tells you to do. Gather, don’t scatter. Hope, don’t despair. Trust in God, don’t fear life and what is going on in the world around us. Set your values and attitudes by the Word, not by the world around you. Take and eat and drink often of His holy Supper, as Jesus tells us to do. And love one another, as Christ has loved each one of us. Listen to the Word, and observe it - keep it - believe it - do it. If you do all of this, you are living in true blessedness. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Let the people say “Amen!”

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!!!

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