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|BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz|
Jan 14, 2018 SERMON TEXT
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
The text for our meditation today is the Introit for this 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, Psalm 40:1-5. There we read these words: I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and | heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessèd is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can com-pare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
Dear Christian friends: When David speaks about a pit and a bog and a rock in todays Introit, he is using figures of speech.
David was not literally buried alive in a hole, as if he had been caught in a mining accident, and he was not literally stuck in waist-deep mud like those people in California who had to be rescued a couple weeks ago.
"The pit of destruction" and "the miry bog" refer to Davids mental or spiritual condition, not to the condition of his body. David was mentally "in a hole" or spiritually "stuck in the mud."
..........Was he overwhelmed by the thought that his enemies relentlessly pursued him, swearing not to rest until David was dead? ..........Was David depressed or grieving because his life did not turn out the way he had hoped? ..........Was David preoccupied and worried about big decisions that had to be made and could not be avoided? ..........Did David feel burdened by those several children of his that had given him great trouble, especially his son Absalom with the long hair? ..........Was he plagued by the lingering guilt of his past sins? Was he nursing a broken heart at the loss of his first son with Bathsheeba?
..........Had David simply realized that the throne of Israel and the head of the dinner table are very lonely places to sit; that office of King weighs heavily; that privilege comes at the price of responsibility.
Whatever the struggle was, David has given you an extremely great gift by NOT telling you the details in todays Introit from Psalm 40. David only speaks in a general way, using figures of speech. In so doing, David generously allows you to insert yourselves into his psalm of praise to God.
..........Are you exhausted; Are you depressed; Do you have a Christian brother or sister who feels overwhelmed and afraid at the thought of his or her own future.
There are many young Christians in our congregation who are at various stages of big decisions concerning education and employment and marriage and family. All of these decisions will carry significant weight for many years.
Some Christians struggle every day with thoughts that will not go away. Other Christians must continually fight temptation and habit and recurring guilt. ..........How about you? Is your home life as ideal as it looks from out on the curb? ..........Do you feel regret over what has happened? ..........Are you exactly where you want to be in life?
These are the sorts of things that fit very well into todays Introit. King David knew that he was not the only Christian who felt stuck and buried. By speaking in generalities and by using figures of speech in todays Introit, David allowed each of you to meditate upon the divine Word and to locate in your own lives "the pit of destruction" and "the miry bog."
David also wrote these Words so that you might pray and sing these Words along with him: The LORD my God drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. "
What is neat is the fact that although the figures of speech, "pit of destruction" and "miry bog," are very general and applicable to many things in life, that is not the case with the figure of speech, "He set my feet upon a rock"! The Scriptures make it very clear that the rock is the rock of salvation; the rock is Christ, our crucified and resurrected Lord.
..........The prophet Jacob called Jesus "the Rock of Israel" (Genesis 49:24). ..........David elsewhere asked, "Who is a Rock except our God" (2 Samuel 22:32). ..........Samuels mother Hannah insisted, "There is no Rock like our God" (1 Samuel 2:2) and Jesus IS our one God.
..........Jesus is the Rock that Moses struck in the wilderness, that the people might live and endure (Exodus 17:1-7, 1 Corinthians 10:4). ..........Jesus is the rock of whom both Isaiah and Peter spoke, "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense" (Isaiah 8:14, 1 Peter 2:8) for those who reject Him, but "a chosen and precious Cornerstone" for those who believe (Isaiah 28:16, 1 Peter 2:6).
Where is Jesus, according to todays Introit from Psalm 40? Jesus is right now under your feet! But Jesus is not under your feet like an old newspaper that you once looked at but now ignore. Jesus is not under your feet like a weathered doormat, to be occasionally used when needed.
No. Jesus is now under your feet because His is the Rock of your salvation, rich in forgiveness and overflowing with life! Jesus is under your feet because you are baptized in Christ Jesus, and in Baptism God made you His own.
God, the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostle Paul, declares in Ephesians 2:20-22, that ".... you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."
According to todays Introit, Jesus is right now under your feet because Your God drew you up from the pit of destruction (whatever that may be for you), out of the miry bog (wherever you have found yourself stuck), and He has set your feet upon a rock (that Rock is Christ), making your steps secure.
Two additional details in this verse will give you great personal help, and happiness for your everyday life. 1. The first detail cannot be noticed in the English translation, but it is clear in the original Hebrew. It has to do with that last and final Word: "making" in the phrase, "making your steps secure." The Word "making" was written in an emphatic Hebrew form (polel).
Of course, the other verbs here are important: God DREW you up and SET your feet upon Christ the Rock. But emphasis has been added to the last verb, "MAKING your steps secure." The emphasis can be taken to mean, "God has established beyond all doubt," or "God as securely made your steps secure."
The point is this: the Lord your God has done such a good job of saving yousuch a good job of rescuing you from your sins, from death, and from the power of the devilthat you that you now have absolutely nothing to fear. Your steps are now securely secure, completely secure, upon the Rock that is Christ.
2. The second important detail has to do with the Word "steps" in the phrase, "making your steps secure." This is noticeably different than what David had just said in the previous phrase, "set my feet upon a Rock."
What is the important difference between "feet" and "steps"? .........."Feet" has to do with where you are right now. The Words "He has set your feet upon a rock" indicate that you are right now fully forgiven, saved and securely included in eternal life. ..........The Word "steps" has to do with your future. "Steps" do not describe where you are right now, but where you are going.
Because, dear friends, you do not know what the future holds or where it will take you. I do not know, either.
The Lord your God knows where that is, and He wants you to know that your path is secure. "He has set your feet upon Christ the Rock, securely and emphatically and pointedly making your steps secure."
So: .........maybe the future feels uncertain for you younger Christians in the congregation. ..........maybe the future feels uncertain for you parents and grandparents, too, and it probably includes more thoughts about a literal hole in the ground.
..........maybe home life feels unstable for some of you. ..........maybe others of you are so lonely you would love to have a little chaos in your living room. ..........maybe its restlessness, guiltiness, broken-heartedness, mid-life-crisisness: these are all evidences that every Christian has his or her own "pit of destruction" and "miry bog."
Stop focusing on the mud and the stench. Your God has done better than that for you.
The prophets were all more than correct: In Christ, God "has guided our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:79). In Christ, God has made "straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather, be healed" (Hebrews 12:13).
In Christ, Your God drew you up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog and He has set your feet upon a rock, making your steps secure.
Christ is Risen.
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