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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Feb 5, 2017  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.

In today’s Introit from Psalm 119, King David prays, "I have stored up Your Word in my heart, [O LORD,] that I might not sin against You."

We begin in Jesus’ name, AMEN

When he says, "I have stored up Your Word," King David is not talking about stacking up God’s Word in his heart like cookies in a cookie jar or hay bales in a barn. David is not comparing his heart to a warehouse in which he has stored and kept God’s Word for future use.

David is speaking about wall-to-wall carpeting. David is speaking about the gold overlay that covered the ancient temple and its furnishings. You could translate these Words from David as, "I have wall-to-wall carpeted my heart with your Word," O Lord. "I have gold-plated my heart with Your Word so that I might not sin against You."

Dear Christian friends, What do you do in order to cover over or disguise those flaws you see in yourself, but would rather not have other people notice?

Do you wear your hair a certain way so that people will not see your bald spot or your cowlick or your scar? Do you use makeup to hide a pimple or to divert attention away from your crow’s feet? Have you avoided contacts because your glasses hide the dark circles under your eyes?

Do you want to wear a certain style of clothing because it helps you create a certain image for yourself, or because it minimizes those features you do not especially like about yourself? Would you rather not go out the door until you have had a chance to get everything stapled and strapped securely into place?

No matter what surface feature you might want to hide—whether pimples or pudge or a pasty complexion—no matter what surface feature you might want to hide, the stuff on the inside must be hidden most of all. Everyone has stuff they want to keep hidden.

One difference between old Christians and young Christians is that old Christians have accumulated more stuff that we feel the need to hide: Young or old, God forbid that we ever learn how to read one another's thoughts!

War would immediately break out; families would shatter more quickly than they now do; society would crumble around us and anarchy would destroy us all. Just because something passes through your mind, that does not mean it needs to come out of your mouth.

Stained Glass Baptism Window

God has done exceedingly well by NOT giving us the ability to read one another’s minds. I want NO ONE—not my children or my closest friend—I want NO ONE to know every detail of what I am thinking. Take a tour through my heart and mind and you would see unbecoming things about me and unflattering opinions about other people...............maybe even you.

BTW....(If you feel angry or offended to know that I have such opinions, you only prove my point about the need to hide certain things!)

Jesus was speaking about you and Jesus was speaking about me when He said, "Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immortality, theft, false witness, [and] slander" (Matthew 15:19).

Young or old, what things have you done that you need to keep hidden like a pimple under makeup? Young or old, what things have happened to you that make you feel the need to hide self-consciously, carefully minimizing those things that you do not want others to notice about you?

In today’s Introit from Psalm 119, King David prays, "I have stored up Your Word in my heart, [O LORD,] that I might not sin against You." The problem with this translation is that it almost makes your heart and my heart seem like a better place than they actually are.

This translation of today's Introit makes it sound as though our hearts could be compared to a warehouse in which we store up God's Word for future use, or a cookie jar into which God's Word can be stacked.

When he says, "I have stored up Your Word," King David is not talking about cookie jars or warehouses. David knows all about that hostile environment we call the human heart. When David talks about his heart and our hearts, he is talking about a landfill. He is talking about a garbage dump.

When King David prays, "I have stored up Your Word in my heart, [O LORD,] he is speaking about wall-to-wall carpeting, as it were. David is speaking about the gold overlay that covered the ancient temple and its furnishings. You could translate these Words from David as, "I have wall-to-wall carpeted my heart with your Word," O Lord. "I have gold-plated my heart with Your Word so that I might not sin against You."

God's Word does not merely get stored inside the garbage dump; God's Word covers over and seals off the garbage dump. God's Word resurfaces the landfill of the human heart into new grassland or a beautiful park. All the garbage is still underneath! All garbage—the sin, the regret, the injury, and all the other stuff that you feel the need to hide—all the garbage is now sealed off and made inert and rendered harmless by the impermeable, protective covering of God's living Word!

Look at the divine and miraculous result of having God’s Word wall-to-wall carpet your heart, having God’s Word gold-plate your heart, or having God’s Word seal off your heart as though it were a filled-to-capacity garbage dump: King David prays, "I have covered my heart with Your Word so that I might not sin against You."

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

David has no greater ability to keep his promises or commitments to God than you do. David knows that his love for God is sometimes strong and sometimes weak, but that sin is always there and always before him (Psalm 51:3). There is no escaping it; there is only hiding it and covering it. So David runs to that one thing that is able to cover his sins and hide his transgressions:

The Living Word of God that was with God from the beginning (John 1:1); The Word that would later become flesh and be born of the Virgin Mary;

The Word that made its dwelling place among us (John 1:14), despite full knowledge our sin and of our death and of everything else we cannot ultimately hide; Jesus the Perfect Word Who willingly carpeted Himself with our sin (John 1:29), carrying our sin to our death for us, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).

Jesus the Word who has come to you and who still comes to you through Words, re-plating, re-carpeting, re-hiding under His perfection everything that you and I so desperately need to hide.

When you get up every morning, go ahead and cover your bald spot, hide your pimples or minimize your crow’s feet. Wear those clothing styles that portray you in the best light possible. (Such acts might even be considered an act of love for your neighbor!)

While you carefully staple and strap everything securely into place, use these hiding places as a way of thinking about what Jesus continually is doing for you every day with His Word. His Word is not found inside your heart, like expensive jewelry might be found in a store.

Jesus’ Words cover your heart like wall-to-wall carpeting. Jesus’ Words have gold-plated your heart and the plating gets reapplied with every worship service and every reading of the Word.

Jesus’ Words have so securely sealed off your heart like a capped landfill, you may look your God right into the eye and confidently confess with David, "I have covered my heart with Your Word so that I might not sin against You."

Christ is Risen.

Luther Rose

 

Christ Is Risen
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