S-1508 8SAP/3B 7/19/2015 Hymns: (O) #16; (S) #333; (C) #47
Texts: Jeremiahs 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-44
Theme: “Be Careful in How You Live?” (Jeremiahs 23:5-6)
Question: “Do you care what others think of you?”
IN NOMINE IESU
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost is from the O.T. reading: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’” (Jeremiahs 23:5-6).
Beautiful and Beloved people of God, a long time ago someone gave me this sign (Show) that has been hanging in my office. The sign reads: “Be careful how you live—you may be the only Bible some people read.” This is so true for all time! But now more than ever, we, Christians need to pay close attention in how we live and act in the public square. It is so vital for us to be in the ways of the Lord and give witness to His life-giving Word. While our good deeds do not save us, while we in no way earn our salvation, knowing that indeed, the Lord, He is our Righteousness, our being made right, pure, whole, complete – our Restoration to that which was lost in Eden. With that gift, we are indeed equipped to live in the light of His merciful victory! So often we downplay the full victory of Christ on the Cross! That is why I greeted you with the Easter Greeting: “Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! Alleluia!”
With that as our backdrop, we can look at our witness in and to the world, our witness to Christ’s victory on the Cross! Yes, we have seen a major shift in the world in general, and our country in particular. So many people no longer hold to the truth of Scripture. No longer do they believe that God is God and Jesus is His heaven-sent Savior. No longer do they adhere to the truth taught in the Bible. But raise themselves above God and His mighty Word.
Things continue to deteriorate in our world. We see evidence of this all over. On Thursday we heard again of the evil that was unleashed on the four US Marines and one US Sailor who were brutally murdered in the name of that liar and false god of Islam in Chattanooga, TN. We just heard of the Jury’s decision of James Holmes who 3 years ago walked into a Colorado theater and killed 12 people and injured 76 others. We have seen Bruce Jenner change his physique from a man to a woman saying he likes himself better this way. In essence, he said, “God made a mistake when He made me!” And if this not bad enough, the media on Wednesday (7/15) honored Bruce Jenner or whatever you want to call him/her “Caitlyn” with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs.
Indeed, the world we live in has lost its moral compass. Now anything goes because God is no longer the Supreme God, but instead He has been pushed out of the lives of people who have elevated themselves above Him. How sad is this! Still, the Lord, He is our Righteousness, and that righteousness shines now through His Christians, through you and me, shining brightly in this darkened world!
So then, if ever there is a time for us as Christians to live and give witness that we are followers of Jesus, it is now. Now more than ever, we the minority must speak in love and truth who this God is and what His Son has accomplished for us on Calvary’s cross. And yet, with the minority of One dead corpse on a Roman Cross about 2,000 years ago, He won the victory. “Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! Alleluia!” PAUSE.
Let this truth sink into your heads and hearts. There is BIG difference between living for yourself or living in the reality of your Savior and His victory. There is a mega difference if you only think of yourself and not others. So many people are serving the gods of this world. Just this week I heard a lady who had cosmetic surgery saying: “Nobody is going to hold me back in getting what I want out of my life. THIS IS MY LIFE AND I WANT TO LIVE IT THE WAY I WANT TO!”
This is the problem the Lord God addresses in the text before us through the prophet Jeremiah. God warns the unfaithful shepherds of the imminent disaster that is coming because they have NOT held to the truth, taught the truth and lived by the truth. God warns of the demise of all these people, the unfaithful, the ungrateful and the untrue under-shepherds. He then offers Christ, the Righteous Branch, the Lord, our Righteousness!
The problem of unfaithful shepherds, and deep confusion and darkness in the hearts and lives of folks is not limited to these leaders but to us also. Many parents neglect their responsibilities and let their children do what they want to do. Too often, even in the Church of God, His Bride is unfaithful - We are no longer holding the Word of God before them as the compass for all of life. We have given up our role of leadership in the home, in church and in the community and have permitted the world to take over and affect how we live and what is right only in their eyes. Why don’t we stand up and live as the confessors and followers of Jesus? Why don’t we teach ourselves and our families what Scripture has to say about sin and its consequences? Why do we close our eyes about the evil around us without saying a word? PAUSE.
Beautiful and Beloved people of God, the time is now for us to live the right way that is from and in His Righteousness, as a “twig” growing from the Righteous Branch who is Christ and thereby reflecting the truth that we are the Baptized, the Redeemed, the Forgiven, the Blood-bought and the Heaven-bound children of God. Now is the time for us to live carefully and be the Bible that people read! Because sadly many don’t know what is in the Bible. They have been duped by the devil’s wily schemes and lies, like our first parents were. We should, by the power of the Holy Spirit be vigilant calling out to the Savior who died and rose for us to be His true and faithful followers.
Listen carefully please to the words of St. Paul as he encourages the saints in Ephesus with this admonition, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17), and again to the Church at Galatia: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:16). Truer words could not be spoken for the times we live in.
Beautiful and Beloved people of God, today through the prophet Jeremiah God gives us this eternal promise: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’” He has done that already and fulfilled this promise in the gift of His Son—Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Faithful Shepherd who would lay down His life for the lost sheep—you and me. He is the Faithful Shepherd who died for the sake of those who ignored His Word and lived according to the world. He is the True and Faithful Shepherd who even today calls you to hear His voice and come to Him and receive the blessings He offers you.
God kept His promise by sending His Son Jesus. He is the One who has dealt wisely with us and bids us come to Him, fear and trust Him above all things. He is the Lord our righteousness who makes us righteous by taking our sins from us and giving us His holiness so that we may not spend eternity in hell but with Him in the incarnate joy of the resurrection. He is the God who in our Baptismal Grace calls us back in His Righteousness. This Baptismal reality, that sinners like you and me can be brought back. This is a clear witness to the power of the Cross and Empty Tomb. This is the witness of Easter that Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! Yes, you are perhaps the first or only Gospel that someone will read. You have been redeemed by the Lord who is Your Righteousness. Branches grow and reach out and offer shade and food. He who is our Righteous Branch is working through you in this horridly dark and dead world. Go forth then, beloved of the Lord and be careful, that is full of care, His care, about how you live!
Yes, in this Holy house we—you and I have attempted to do everything we can to live carefully and faithfully for the sake of Christ and His blood-bought people. And pray we remain steadfast in the confession of faith given us through the Great Shepherd of the sheep—Jesus Christ.
Therefore, may our prayers be that we would continue to live our lives carefully to be the Bible that people read and give glory to God alone. Amen.
Please join me in a word of prayer: “Great God, never can we thank You enough for the privilege of calling You our Father. Your love in making us unlovely ones Your children in Christ staggers our minds. Give us, we ask You, the richness of Your Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of prayer, and let Him forever move us to look up to You in childlike trust, to tell everyone what You have accomplished for us on Calvary’s cross and the empty tomb. In the name of the Righteous branch—Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.”
Now the peace…
SOLI DOE GLORIA