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|BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz|
May 7, 2017 SERMON ARCHIVE
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.
In todays Epistle, from 1 Peter 2:19-25, we read these words
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
We begin in the name of Jesus, AMEN
Dear Christian friends, Like everyone else in the world, you have something in your brain that influences and shapes the decision you make. I do not know exactly what that thing is for you personally, but everyone has something and here are some possibilities:
A child who has experienced the pain of divorce might not wish to marry because he does not want to risk the possibility of feeling again the pain of divorce. Divorce is that thing in his brain that shapes and influence his thinking and his decisions about marriage, children, finances, and so on.
If there is a medical condition in your family, that medical condition will likely become the thing in your brain that shapes the way you think: "I have a bad back, so I will not try to lift that piano." "My husbands arthritis means that we usually vacation close to home." "I no longer drive after dark because my eyes are getting worse."
Your finances can exert control over your decision-making. So can your job, your hobbies, your addictions, your temper and even your cat. It almost does not matter what the thing is. Everyone has something in their brain that influences and shapes the way they think and decide. What is it for you?
Todays Epistle is especially important because it tells us about the one thing that was always in the middle of our Lords brain; that one thing that influenced and shaped ALL of our Lords thinking during the days of His humiliation. Morning, noon, night, in any and every situation, Jesus "continued entrusting Himself to the One who judges justly."
Jesus repeatedly and incessantly handed Himself over to the justice of God the heavenly Father. No matter what was happening; no matter what threat had arisen or what decision had to be made; Jesus constantly geared all of His thinking around one, central idea.
Here is the one idea that had braced its feet in the middle of our Lords brain: "My Father knows best. My Father makes all the right judgments at all the right times. My Father is just." Why does our Lords pattern of thinking matter for you?
Your heavenly Father does NOT wish for you to think of todays Epistle as if it were an article in a psychology journal, merely giving insights into the Lords mind. Todays Epistle is a divine gift, and the gift has three parts:
First, God has given todays Epistle for your instruction, so that you will train your-selves to think the same way that your Lord Jesus insisted upon thinking. It is also written here that Jesus "left you an example, so that you might follow in His steps." In other words, Jesus created a pattern for you to follow, not only in what you say and what you do, but also in the way you think. As you heard: "when Jesus was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to the One who judges justly."
God wants you to think the same way. Be like Jesus. Continually entrust yourself to the One who judges justly. In all your situations, in all your decision-making, in all your thinking about anything, set this one, central idea set like a fencepost in the middle of your mind: "My heavenly Father knows best. My heavenly Father makes all the judgments decisions at all the right times. My Fathermy Lords Fatheris just."
Now, you might just be saying to yourself, "Pastor, I cannot think the way Jesus thought, or gear my brain the way He geared His brain! My sins are too many, my fears are too great, my brain is too cluttered, my past is too scarred, and my present is too difficult. I simply cannot re-orient all my thinking."
If you feel as if you are unable to re-tool your brain after the example and pattern of our Lords brain, you are not alone. My brain is rotten, too. But we should both know better than to protest what our God has written.
The long and the short of todays Epistle is this: your Lord Jesus "continued entrusting Himself to the One who judges justly" and He wants you to do the same thing. That is why He "left us an example, so that we might follow in His steps." Think for a moment about the consequences of not patterning your thinking after the Lords thinking, He who "continued entrusting Himself to the One who judges justly."
If you do not change your thinking to pattern your Lords thinkingif you do not continually entrust yourselves to the One who judges justlyyou will never come to know the day-to-day joy of the Lords resurrection. Christ is risen! (He is risen, indeed!) Jesus Christ knew He would rise. All of the Lords confidence was pinned to the certainty of His resurrection. Even while sweating blood at the thought of His death (Luke 22:44), the Lord Jesus was nevertheless able to say to Himself, "I shall prolong My days; the will of the Lord will prosper in My hand" (Isaiah 53:10).
Why could Jesus think so confidently, even in the hour of His death for your sins? Because He "continued entrusting Himself to the One who judges justly."
Jesus promises the same confidence to you: When you pattern your thinking in the same waywhen you continually entrust yourself to the One who judges justlyyou will finally be free and you will be able to live without fear of any kind. And, If you do not change your thinking to pattern our Lords thinkingif you do not continually entrust yourselves to the One who judges justlyyou commit sin. It is the sin of unbelief, the sin of idolatry, the sin against the First Commandment.
When you do not continually entrust yourselves to the heavenly Father who judges justly, you are saying to your Father, "I do not actually fear, love and trust in You above all things."
That, by the way is the second gift God gives you in todays Epistle: the gift of repentance and sorrow for your sin. Like everyone else in the world, you have something in your brain that influences and shapes the decision you make. So do I. Neither you nor I have the same thing in our brain that our Lord Jesus had in His brain. Not a single one of us has "continued entrusting himself to the One who judges justly."
I know this because I have seen you in action and because I know myself all too well. No matter what your intentions might be for your future decision-making; no matter how much desire you might have for improved thinking after the pattern of the Lords thinking, you still have the past to deal with. You still must confess and admit that you have not continually placed yourselves into the able hands of God, and todays Epistle makes such a confession possible.
You would not even know what sin is, were it not for God speaking to you. Therefore, this Epistle is a gift from above because it exposes your willingness and inability to entrust yourselves "to the One who judges justly."
That puts you in position for the third gift that God gives you in todays Epistle. In addition to setting before you the example of Christ; in addition to exposing your sin and failure to entrust yourselves "to the One who judges justly"; look what God does for you here! God speaks the forgiveness of sins to you on account of our crucified and risen Lord.
After showing you the Christ who "continued entrusting himself to the One who judges justly," God gives you this second picture of Jesus: "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."
What do these Words mean? These Words mean that: God will not hold against you your inability to continually entrust yourself to Him, or your inability to center all of your thinking and your decision-making upon "the One who judges justly." Jesus "bore your sins in His body on the tree" and that includes the sins that live in your brains.
Christ has so thoroughly forgiven you by His death and resurrection that God now considers your sin dead, "that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." God looks aty our brains as if they are whole and complete and functioning correctly, entrusting yourselves to Him who judges justly. "By His wounds you have been healed"; NOT you will be healed or your might be healed. "By His wounds you have been healed."
Although Christ certainly "left us an example, so that we might follow in His steps," He is not merely an example. He is also your hope and your confidence, your death and your resurrection, your daily strength and your every breath.
Like everyone else in the world, you have something in your brain that influences and shapes the decision you make. Have you had the wrong thing in mind? Have you used the wrong things to influence your thinking and your decisions? Do not be afraid.
Christ Jesus your Lord "continued entrusting himself to the One who judges justly." Jesus did so for your sake. Jesus did so in your place. Jesus also has given to you His perfect trust in God.
In those times when you know you have not done well entrusting yourself to God your Father, simply pray to Jesus, "Lord, I need You to do my trusting for me. I trust You to trust for me."
Christ Is Risen
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