In our text, Peter called his hearers to consider a comparison with newborn babies. We know that they demand attention – a blanket to be swaddled; a “plug” to be pacified, but, ultimately, they need something more than being comforted and pacified. They need to be “filled.” To satisfy their most urgent need, they need milk (food)! In the same way, Peter urges us “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2: 2-3)
That “pure spiritual milk” is God’s Holy Word – Old Testament and New Testament; Law and Gospel; His Word of hope, forgiveness, mercy and grace! We crave hearing it in worship and sermons; in personal Bible reading and corporate Bible study; in private and family devotional times. God’s Holy Spirit uses our time in His Word to build us up in our salvation, faith and life. As we grow in His Word, we grow in our strength/ability to “flex our spiritual muscles” – to serve, lead, give and make godly decisions.
Our faith is based on the bedrock foundation laid for us by God, Himself, and that foundation is nothing other than Jesus Christ! God says “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:7 quoting Isaiah 28:16) In the “old days,” the cornerstone was the most important stone in the building. It had to be perfect, true and exactly positioned so that all the other stones could find their direction, angle and line from it. In this way the walls could rise straight and sure; able to withstand the effects of time and weather.
Quoting from Psalm 118, Peter says, “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone’ (Keystone).” (1 Peter 2:7) As important as the cornerstone is to the foundation of a building, the capstone is equally essential in supporting a stone archway. If the Keystone was to be removed the whole archway would collapse immediately! Jesus is that most important Stone!
Jesus is the “Living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him.” (1 Peter 2:4) He was rejected by the people, by the religious leaders and by the Heavenly Father, Himself, for that one horrible moment – “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) He was rejected so that we would be accepted; condemned so that we could be freed; died so that we might be forgiven and have life! Jesus is the solid rock of our salvation.
Now, with the hands of a skilled master stonemason, He fashions us into living stones “being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5) We offer spiritual sacrifices through our worship, praise and service.
By His mercy and grace He has made us “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that [we] may declare the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2: 9) We thank God that He is “The Living Stone and We are His Chosen People!”
See you in church this week!
Blessings in Christ,
Good Shepherd weekend / Mother’s Day weekend May 10-11, 2014
“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep… Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what He was telling them. Therefore, Jesus said again, ‘I tell you the truth, I Am the gate for the sheep… I Am the gate; whoever enters through ME will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture.'” John 10:6-9
Gates are important in our lives. When we fly in and out of airports, it is VERY important to know our gate numbers. Then, there’s the Golden Gate Bridge–so named because it crosses the deep opening, or gate, between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Here in Wichita, some people feel safer because they live in gated communities that allow limited access. Many have fences around their yards that help protect their lawns, gardens, children, and pets. But, those fences are only helpful when they have gates, which allow them to get in and out.
The mention of a gate can conjure up a lot of different images. When Jesus says, “I Am the gate” He want us to know two important meanings:
a) Jesus says: v.9 “I Am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” v.11 “I Am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” A shepherd would literally lie down across the opening of the sheep pen. The only way any danger could get to the sheep was – “over my dead body” (if they would first kill the shepherd). Jesus is “the Gate” –He gave His life for the sheep!
b) In addition to this meaning, there’s also another meaning – especially as we read this “I Am the Gate” statement in context [the situation in which it was said]. In John 9, we find the story of Jesus healing a man who was blind from birth. Jesus’ own disciples asked the question, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They asked this because, in that day, it was a common assumption that sicknesses were caused by sin; God was punishing them. But Jesus clearly responded: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
Having “opened the spiritual eyes” of His disciples, Jesus then “opened the physical eyes” of the blind man. You would think, at that point, all kinds of folks would be happy. But not so. The Pharisees, who appointed themselves the “gatekeepers of God’s Law” were more concerned about strict obedience according to what they thought rather than what God’s Word said. So, instead of celebrating with the man whose life just got so much better, the Pharisees were more interested in being the “gate-keepers” – accusing people of breaking their religious rules.
Jesus was very clear that the Pharisees were not the gate, rather Jesus called them thieves and robbers. In Matthew 23:13, Jesus said: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Jesus is the only gate to heaven–not by following man’s laws.
That’s why Jesus said, “I am the gate.” Jesus is the only way through which the sheep (you and I) come in to find safety and salvation and go out to find pasture and nourishment.
Did you notice the sermon title says: Jesus and Mom: The Gate? On this Mother’s Day weekend, we are especially thankful for our Christian mothers who a) “lay down their lives” for their children and families; and b) are Godly “gatekeepers” for their family bringing us to holy Baptism, teaching us about Jesus, warning us and protecting us from the sins and evils in the world around us. Working with Godly fathers, it is MOST important that children be protected from the dangers and evils of the sinful world.
There are a lot of different kinds of gates in our world. The best gate is Jesus, who opened up the Way to our Heavenly Father and all the blessings He has to give. Jesus says: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s what Jesus means when he says, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through Me will be saved.”
Luke Chapter 24begins with the Evangelist recounting how on that first, early Easter morning the women went to the tomb to lovingly provide what they thought would be their last service to their Lord, preparing His body with spices and perfumesfor its final rest. But they found the tomb open and empty, and were greeted with a vision of angels who questioned, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you…‘The Son of Man… on the third day [will] be raised again.’” (Luke 24: 5-7) And they DID remember, so they hurried back to tell the all the other disciples. After their report, Peter and John Mark rushed to the tomb “to see for themselves.” They, too, returned – uncertain – finding the tomb empty!
Two of the disciples who saw and heard the report of the women, Peter and John, left the gathering of disciples to walk northwest seven miles to Emmaus. Saddened, confused and downcast, they were joined on the way by Jesus who they were “kept from recognizing.” (I think that they were prevented from recognizing Him because they would have been so excited in seeing Him that they would not have listened to the critically important lesson which our text tells us He wanted to teach them.)
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (Luke 24: 27) Using the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible which were written by Moses) and all the books of the Old Testament, He explained that the Christ – the Chosen, Anointed, Appointed One –was sent by The Father in Heaven in order to suffer, die and be raised again for the sins of the entire world. Jesus’ name means “Savior.” (See Matthew 1:21) Jesus is the “sent Savior,” the “golden cord” woven throughout the whole Bible who “ties together” God’s plan of salvation for humankind.
These two disciples were like dry sponges soaking in every word He spoke, and when they arrived at their destination – and it appeared that Jesus was going on further – they begged Him to remain with them so that they could “drink in” even more of what He had to teach them. He came in and “When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight.” (Luke 24: 30-31) Now they too had seen the resurrected Savior for themselves! Hearing Him, seeing Him, being with Him they were motivated, “their hearts burned within them.” They were filled with joy and “couldn’t sit still” in Emmaus. They just had to get up, at that very moment, and rush the seven miles back to Jerusalem to witness what they, too, had now seen and heard for themselves… Jesus was alive!
There are often times in the lives of Jesus’ “modern day disciples” when we come to “a fork in the road.” We have the option of going our own way; doing our own thing; setting our own agendas; and serving ourselves. OR, we have the option of listening for the voice of our Savior, watching the path which He is traveling and then coming alongside to follow in His footsteps, following His direction and guidance – of “Walking with Jesus, Every Day!”
He comes to His followers, His disciples – to us – in His Word, through the sacraments, as we gather for worship and as we join in Christ-centered fellowship. He bids us to follow Him, rather than “living lives the way we choose” – and asking God, afterward, to “bless our mess!”
We are His modern-day disciples. We live “on the other side of Easter” and believe that He died and rose for us. We see Him in His Word and the sacraments and He calls us to “Walk with Jesus, Every Day!” Therefore, we, too, are motivated, joy-filled, active in His service and willing witnesses that “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!”
See you in church this week!
Blessings in Christ,
“Don’t be afraid.” This is repeated many times in the Bible: for from the beginning of time (Adam after sinning, telling God, “I heard You in the Garden and I was afraid…” Genesis 3:10) – FEAR of PUNISHMENT because of GUILT and SIN; to the revelation God gave to John, in Revelation 1 (the last book of the Bible) John writes: “When I saw Him (the exalted Jesus), I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever!…” (v.17-18) – FEAR of the UNKNOWN, of the PRESENCE of GOD.
This is also in the Easter Gospel accounts – the women coming to the tomb early because the disciples were hiding for fear of the Jews; the Roman guards when the angel came down from heaven and rolled back the stone and sat on it, “… were so afraid that they shook and became like dead men.” (Matthew 28:4); the women who came to the tomb; when they saw and heard the angel, Mark records for us, “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” (Mark 16:8) In today’s Gospel reading, Easter evening, “the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews…” John 20:19, and a week later, when Thomas was with them, “the doors were (still) locked…” (v.26) There are hundreds of examples in the Scriptures where an angel of God, and even God Himself, says, “Don’t be afraid.”
AMIDST all the FEARS that assail us, the Easter message is repeated: “Peace be with you.” On the evening of that first Easter, the disciples were together behind locked doors full of fear. “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!'” (John 20:19) Notice that this was both an absolution and a promise. These are words of absolution because these were the very guilty disciples who had forsaken Jesus during His arrest, trial and death. Knowing this, these words, “Peace be with you!” are a great blessing in that only Jesus can give; the real peace that drives out fear. He had said to His disciples already on Maundy Thursday, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, do I give unto you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:1)
Note that Jesus’ gift of peace did not immediately change their circumstances. Their situation had not changed but Jesus gave them PEACE and FAITH to overcome their FEARS.
The true peace of the Christian life is not the absence of troubles (we won’t have that until we are in heaven!) Jesus tells us, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)
On that first Easter evening, the fear-full disciples, having received from Jesus the absolution and blessing of peace, “were over-joyed when they saw the Lord.” (v.20) Because of Jesus’ presence with them, they had moved from FEAR to PEACE and FAITH!
“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! [Jesus repeated it a second time!] As the Father has sent Me [Jesus sent to “seek and to save that which was lost” – lost in sin, lost in fear, lost in hopelessness] As the Father has sent Me; I am sending you.” (v.21) And then He equipped them with everything necessary to carry out this ACTION: “And with that He breathed on them (sounds like Creation doesn’t it? and the breath/wind of Pentecost – soon to come!) and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone their sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.'” (v.22-23)
The message of Easter is that Jesus conquered sin, death and the devil (the causes of FEAR in our lives) and through His death and resurrection we have the forgiveness of sins. The ongoing message of Easter is: “Don’t be Afraid” – You are freed from sin and fear – “your sins are forgiven.”
We also read that Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared on Easter evening. And when the disciples told Thomas about seeing Jesus, Thomas doubted; missing out on the joy and blessings of Easter! From this we see that another important part of “Jesus sending us” is to speak to those who are absent when Jesus comes to bring His peace and blessings. Every Sunday is an Easter celebration. But there are those who, like Thomas, for many different reasons are absent from corporate worship; who are not present for the PEACE of the confession of sins and the Absolution; who are not regular at the Sacrament of the Altar. Jesus also wants to give them PEACE to calm their FEARS.
Jesus said to Thomas, “do not be faithless (doubting) but faithful (believe).” (v.27) The condition of being “faithless” is most often NOT recognized by the person involved. I think of it to be something like the condition of freezing to death. At first a person feels the deadly cold and the body senses the need to be warmed up. But there comes a dangerous point where the warning signs are no longer present; when there is no longer any feeling and the false and deadly sensation is that everything is alright. There is no longer any “warning” to protect the body from the deadly cold, and without someone to rescue, death follows soon afterwards. Regularly being absent from worship; absent from the gathering to receive God’s Word and the Lord’s Supper is a very serious matter. That is why Jesus “sends us,” who ARE in worship – filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by His Word and Sacraments – to invite and encourage those who are absent to return. So that they too, like Thomas, when they return to “faithfully” worship and commune, will look to Jesus with the bold confession of true faith: “My Lord and My God.” (John 20:28)
The Easter message is: Don’t be afraid – Jesus promises: “Peace be with you.” And so, may “the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds centered in Christ Jesus, until life everlasting.” (Philippians 4:7)
Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed, alleluia! What a wonderful day of celebration! I know many preachers who feel like they could preach forever about Easter. (Don’t worry! I didn’t say that I would preach forever, I just said that I could!) But our worship, singing and praise will go on forever. Think of our glorious Easter worship, today, as a “foretaste of the feast which is to come.” Each Easter gets us “one step” closer to home!
Peter tells us that our Heavenly Father, “In His great mercy has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1: 3) We are on a journey toward our heavenly home and sometimes it can seem like “such a long journey!” Have you ever been on a long car trip with your children? “How much farther is it?” “Are we almost there?” “I can’t wait; are we almost there?” When we can finally answer, “Yes, we’re almost there,” there is SO much Joy! There is renewed joy in our hearts and a new “bounce” in our steps. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “…they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come… to save you.’” (Isaiah 35: 2-4)
It can be easy for us to begin to lose heart throughout the long journey of our earthly lives. Trials of various sorts; financial woes; employment or underemployment concerns; troubles in relationships; the death of loved ones and so many other difficulties can bring discouragement. But Peter reminds us that we are born into a living hope “and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” (1 Peter 1: 4)
We have this confident hope through faith because we are “shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1: 5) His almighty love and power shield us from sin, death and the power of the devil. And His mercies are new every day. He shows His mercy through His word when we come to Him in our family devotions, personal prayer time and in our corporate Bible studies. Through worship and sermons and the “mutual consolation of the brethren,” He comes to us anew to strengthen our faith in Jesus who lived, died and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins. This faith is “of greater worth than gold” and will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ in revealed. This Spirit-given, saving faith is “faith without sight”… “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1: 8-9)
Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed, alleluia! Now, through the resurrected Christ, our faith is renewed and our hope is restored. There is joy in our hearts and a new “bounce” in our steps. We are “Heading Toward Home… Heartened and Hopeful.”
Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed, alleluia! And it makes all the difference in the world! Amen!
See you in church this week!
Blessings in Christ,
Palm Sunday weekend is a wonderful time of celebration for the church; a celebrative time of rejoicing in the midst of our sober, somber, penitential Lenten reflection. In only a few days, we will once again observe the passion of our Savior. We will see His anguish in the Garden; watch Him arrested and drug away by His enemies; hear Him being falsely accused; see Him viciously beaten and maliciously mocked by His captors; and watch Him, finally, be crucified for the forgiveness of our sins and the sins of the entire world.
But for now, for today, there are Parades, and Palms and Praises! And the celebration that first Palm Sunday was, as much as anything, the “fault” of Lazarus who had been miraculously raised from the dead by Jesus! “Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was [in Bethany] and came, not only because of Him but also to see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.” (John 12: 9) Lazarus was “Living Proof that Jesus was the Lord of Life!” Crowds gathered to see Jesus and this man raised from the dead!
One of my favorite scenes from the movie, “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” follows the raising of Lazarus – seeing the wonder, excitement and thrill in reaction to this miracle. The dead are raised, the crippled can walk and the blind are given sight. They are ALL living proof that Jesus is the Lord of Life!
And thus, the Palm Sunday parade! His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem was a part of God’s divine design, the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan. His coming was predicted in the Old Testament… David wrote, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118: 25-26) and Zechariah wrote, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” (Zechariah 9:9) He was the bringer of the Father’s mercy, forgiveness and peace. His humble cross breaks our proud hearts and breaks the power of sin, death and the devil!
But, of course, not everyone was glad to see Him come! “So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well [as Jesus], for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in Him.” (John 12: 11) There were (and are) always those who tried to put “roadblocks” in the way of Jesus’ redemptive mission. The devil tried for 40 days to “derail” Jesus by tempting Him to serve Himself, having the world serve Him or forcing the Father to serve Him. Even Peter, one of His closest disciples, tried to dissuade Him from suffering and dying for the sins of mankind, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22) False teachers, false churches and non-Christian religions continue to try to place “roadblocks” in the way of Jesus triumphantly riding into the hearts and lives of His followers today.
What His enemies lament, we celebrate this Palm Sunday weekend, “So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘…Look how the whole world has gone after Him!’” (John 12: 19) Like Lazarus, may it be our “fault” that more, and more, and more people “come over to Jesus and [put] their faith in Him” (John 12:11) because “WE are Living Proof that Jesus is the Lord of Life!”
See you in church this week – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday AND Easter Sunday!
Blessings in Christ,
Death Stinks – literally and figuratively! In the beginning, God created everything beautifully, completely and perfectly. Each day, He looked out over His creation and “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning…” (Genesis 1: 31) Death, decay and destruction were never a part of His divine design! Sin entered the world through Adam and death came through sin. (See Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12)
In John, Chapter 11, we are reminded of a loving family –two sisters and their brother, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Apparently, Jesus frequently visited these friends since they lived in Bethany, only two miles from Jerusalem. (See, for example, Luke 10: 38-42) Jesus knew and deeply loved this family and they knew and deeply loved Him in return.
On this particular occasion, Jesus had gone “back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here He stayed and many people came to Him… And in that place many believed in Jesus.” (John 10: 40-42) It was while Jesus was there that the sisters sent word to Him that Lazarus was seriously ill, asking Him to come to them. But instead of “dropping everything to rush to Lazarus,” He stayed where He was for two more days, telling His disciples, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11: 4) Notice, especially, Jesus did NOT say that Lazarus’ illness would not cause his death; rather He said that the illness would not end in death! Lazarus did, in fact, die and was buried.
So, when the time was right, Jesus and his disciples returned to Judea and to Bethany. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him, and in effect, said something like, “Lord, if only… Lord, You could’a, should’a, would’a!” “Lord, Martha said to Jesus, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.” (John 11: 21-22)
“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she told Him, ‘I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’” (John 11: 23-27)
Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life, miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead and “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in Him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” (John 11: 45-46)
Caiaphas, the High Priest that year, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, predicted that it was better that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish. “He prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God to bring them together and make them one.” (John 11: 51-52) The divine irony is that Jesus raising Lazarus to life caused His death, which in turn, causes our life – and brings eternal life to all who believe!
w Jesus asks us, as He asked Martha, “Do you believe?” We often try to give Jesus “all our best advice” and answer Him, “Lord, if only… Lord, You could’a, should’a, would’a!” May we, rather, by faith and the work of the Holy Spirit in us, answer, “Lord, I do believe that You love me; that trouble will NOT destroy me; that You will lead me through the Valley of the shadow of Death (Psalm 23: 4); and that You are the resurrection and the life!”
It’s true – death stinks, but life in Christ is fragrant, fresh and beautiful, just the way God first designed and created it!
See you in church this Wednesday and next weekend!
Blessings in Christ,
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 8, we read about an interaction which Jesus had with enemies who thought that He was seeking glory for Himself. They thought that what He was saying seemed “crazy” and that He must be demon-possessed. Jesus replied, “I am not possessed by a demon… but honor My Father and you dishonor Me. I am not seeking glory for Myself… If I glorify Myself, My glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the One who glorifies Me.” (John 8:49-50, 54) Through His preaching, teaching and miracles, Jesus was showing Himself to be Who He truly was – namely, the Son of God, the Savior of the World, the Messiah promised by God the Father.
The miraculous event recorded in John 9 demonstrates the glory of God through the Person and work of Jesus. Jesus sought out and found a man who was blind from birth. Immediately, the “disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’” (John 9: 2) This was nearly the very same misconception expressed by the Pharisees who, later, insulted the healed man by refusing to listen to him. “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out [of the synagogue]. (John 8: 34)
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in is life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9: 3-5) This happened – NOT as a punishment for sin, but rather so that God would be glorified!
There are those today, too, who falsely believe that God punishes sinners by directly, divinely inflicting them with terrible diseases and maladies. Some say that God punishes homosexuals by giving them AIDS. Another false prophet, who died just this past week, taught his followers that they should protest at the funerals of honorable US military service personnel because God caused them to die as a punishment for the sins of America. Jesus teaches otherwise!
The Bible is clear that “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…” (Isaiah 53: 6) and “there is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3: 10) “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3: 23)
But God has chosen to show His glory in Christ. God is glorified in the miraculous healing of this man who had been blind since birth; and God is glorified in sending Jesus who took away all of our sin through His sacrificial death on the cross.
Our loving and perfect Heavenly Father may allow us (and, perhaps, even cause us) to experience difficulty, hardship and disease in order to be glorified through us. It may be His plan to perform a miracle in your life! It may be His purpose to grant you grace to withstand such testing of your faith and to give you insight into how He is powerfully, mercifully and graciously working in your faith and life.
We pray faithfully and frequently… “Our Father in Heaven, may Your name be kept holy among us, cause Your kingdom to come among us and may Your good and gracious will be done among us…” In other words, God – Be Glorified in Me! Amen!
See you in church this next weekend!
Blessings in Christ,