Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin
Listen to Today’s Sermon:
Jesus said to the crowd, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” – Luke 12:15
Uncertainty. That may be the only thing on the horizon. Uncertainty in the economy. Uncertainty in health care. Uncertainty in the job market. The list could go on endlessly. Because there is so much uncertainty it is easy to develop questionable practices. There is a natural tendency to hoard things. There is also a tendency to want even more. This desire to want more leads to an unfortunate philosophy: “Get all you can get, and if you can, get even more.”
In contrast to this kind of thinking Jesus issues a warning. He uses two very strong exhortations. Both are used to uncover the serious nature of all kinds of greed.
The warning is appropriate. Greed, or the love of more, is a sin that plagues rich and poor alike. It becomes especially powerful when people have less. It is a sin of which I need to be particularly aware. It can come at any time. It can capture my thoughts. It can color my decisions. It can even affect my actions. Not only do I need to be aware of the sin of greed, I also need to repent of it. I need to turn away from the love of possessions, and turn my love to the Lord.
Here is where greed can be good. To make the Lord my only love, my complete joy, and my one pursuit is good. To have his will take hold of my will is also good. To color my actions and decisions on the basis of his Word is equally good.
This change in my thoughts and actions can only come through Jesus. Not only does he teach me about being rich to God, he also offers me that wealth. It is given through his blood-bought forgiveness. It is received through his promise of lasting joy. It is offered through his invitation to be content in his loving care. This is the wealth I need, and the wealth I desire to have in abundance.
Yes, these are uncertain times. I may be tempted to look for stability in gaining more wealth and possessions. These can be lost. This is why I need to look to Jesus for the stability he alone can give. What he offers can never be lost. My greed for more of everything my Savior gives is good.
Jesus, priceless treasure, fount of purest pleasure, truest Friend to me.
Ah, how long in anguish shall my spirit languish, yearning, Lord for thee?
Thou art mine, O Lamb divine!
I will suffer naught to hide thee, Naught I ask beside thee. Amen.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” – Luke 10:36-37
How do you see yourself? Do you think you stand above the common crowd of sinful people? Do you find that when you compare your life to the way other people live, you believe that your behavior is better, perhaps more God-pleasing? Do you confess that you need a Savior from your sins or do you already stand convinced that you good enough for God?
An expert in the law of Israel approached Jesus. He considered himself superior to others. He believed he had already kept the greater part of God’s law – loving God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind. He wanted Jesus to confirm that he had also loved his neighbor as God required.
So he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied by telling the story of the Good Samaritan. Who would help the man who was robbed, beaten, and left for dead? A Jewish priest? A Jewish Levite? That’s what could be expected from those religious leaders, but instead they passed by the needy man. The one who did stop to help was a foreigner; he was a Samaritan who mercifully and lovingly provided for the stranger who desperately needed help.
Jesus asked the expert to confirm that the Samaritan rather than the Jewish priest and Levite in the story had loved his neighbor. “Who was a neighbor?” Jesus asked. The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
“Go and do likewise,” Jesus concluded. The expert said nothing more. We don’t know if he fully understood Jesus’ teaching. Did he reflect upon the story to see his own sin, how he kept failing to love and help people, all people as God commanded? Did he return to Jesus later with a cry for mercy, “Lord, save me?”
What we don’t know about that man, we do know about ourselves. We have failed to love God and others perfectly as God demands, and for our sin we deserve God’s wrath and punishment. All our acts cannot save us, but Jesus’ work – not ours – has saved us. He loved God and all people according to the holiness God demanded of us. He loved us and gave his life as the sacrifice for all sinners to save us from the condemnation we deserve.
Because Jesus has loved us in this way, we are moved to love all other people and mercifully help them in their needs. In love for our Savior, we will heed his command, “Go and do likewise.”
The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other. – Galatians 5:17
What comfort is there in the tomb of Christ?
It’s common thought that life for Christians ought to become easier, troubles should fade away, and there would be a great sense of peace that settles into everything they feel and think.
The Apostle Paul would disagree.
The reality is that, in many ways, the exact opposite is true. The moment the Holy Spirit brings you to faith in Jesus, a conflict begins in your heart – a conflict between the Holy Spirit who has entered your heart and between your sinful nature with which you were born.
This conflict is total. The Holy Spirit and your sinful nature agree on nothing. As Paul says, “The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other.”
And make no mistake. This conflict is not some polite, parlor-game debate about ethics and theology. It is a fierce, bitter, ferocious, violent cage-match for the ownership of your soul. In addition, this conflict does not merely last a few months or years. It is life-long. It ends only when you die.
Is such a life of conflict worth it? No doubt, there are times we get tired of the fight. And there are plenty of times when we lose battles. But when we stop and remember what we possess through faith in Jesus Christ – forgiveness of sin, peace with God, deliverance in every difficult moment, eternal life in heaven; when we stop and remember what we have, we know the answer.