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Come As You Are

The Mission of God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God is focused on His purpose, and yet does not ignore our needs on account of it. His answers to prayer are not the end in themselves, but are a means by which we are encouraged to trust in His lovingkindness, not only in the affairs pertaining to this live, but to eternal life. We trust in God’s love, so that we come to Him in every situation to praise, pray, thank and intercede, knowing that in Christ the Father has shown us the riches of His grace, and the foundation of our trust in His goodness towards us.

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Luther and Prayer

So Much to Do

Scholars remind us, “Luther was above all else a man of prayer.” Martin Luther was an insatiable worker. He drove himself mercilessly. Up at daybreak, he put in long hours studying, translating, and writing. Think of his massive commentaries. Think of translating the entire New Testament from Erasmus’s Greek into a common language in eleven short weeks! Yet Luther took time to pray an hour or two each day. He said he prayed a lot because he had so much to do.

Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a Word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Who is the Lord to you?

Mark 1:29–31 ESV
And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
The experience that Peter, Andrew, James and John had shared up to the moment presented in today’s text was powerful: They had heard His authoritative teaching (1:21-22), and they had seen His power over spiritual forces of wickedness (1:23-27). Still moving with purpose, Jesus now enters Pater and Andrew’s house. Upon entry, it seems, He is confronted with a need - Peter’s mother-in-law had a fever, and they told Him about her. He healed her, lifting her up by her hand, and she served them.
The text tells us that later, at sundown, “they brought to Him all who were sick or oppressed by demon.” They did, this, not because they were commanded, but because they thought that they saw in Christ, not only an ability, but a willingness, to respond to their needs.
Who is the Lord, to you?
If you are known by others to be a Christian, what they think of Jesus is an attribute of what they think of you. If you appear to live no differently than they, they will not think much of Jesus when you speak concerning Him, since He does not appear to have had any impact upon YOU.
Isaiah 40:21–23 ESV
Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
In our nation, God is no longer worshiped as the Most High - Money is. Governing authorities bow to money, community advocates bow to money, educators bow to money, even religious leaders bow to money. Everybody beseeches the favor of finance, because we have become convinced that it is the essential element, the thing without which we cannot live or move or have our being. “Money makes the world go round,” and while maybe “money can’t buy me love,” it can entice people to say that they love me.
A recent Time Magazine article entitled, “Rich People Problems” included fears of being sued, kidnapped, and as you might expect, used. A Reddit thread asked rich people about the downsides of wealth, the DailyMail.com recently reported. In answer, a man from a well-off family confessed how difficult it was to find true friends. Even worse, after his family suffered a financial setback, his so-called friends made themselves scarce.
“They ditched me in an instant because I no longer paid for their drinks at clubs and paid for expensive meals,” he said. “I was heartbroken because I legitimately thought they were my friends.” He never saw those friends the same way again, and when his family “bounced back,” his former friends came back, too. He told them to get lost.
Some respondents to the Boston College study said they question just how many of their friends are real. “I start to wonder how many people we know would cut us off if they didn’t think they could get something from us,” said one respondent.
Love isn’t much better. The uber-wealthy often question if the “average person is really marrying you for who you are or for what you have,” said Marlon*, a blogger with the blog “Frustrated Billionaire,” a blog written to chronicle the journey of a man, from the city of Manila in the Philippines, who seeks to make it to that exalted status. Indeed, the gold digger threat is alive and well. One self-titled money grubber told the New York Post, “…Some people like dark hair, some like blue eyes, I just like a giant wallet.”
Most of us don’t have those high a level of expectations, but we would like to have less stress, and we have come to believe that enough money will make it better. Do we give the impression that “Jesus might get you into heaven, but He has nothing for us on earth?” Or do we say in our prayers and teaching that “Jesus got it all, but you have to know how to get on His good side?” Both ideas are perversions of the Biblical revelation of God, how He loves us and cares for us. Both ideas are popular, based upon our human reasonings about God apart from His revelation of Himself in Christ.
I want Jesus to make a difference in my life
Mark 1:32–34 ESV
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
tells us:
Psalm 34:8 ESV
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
That evening, at Peter’s house, the entire small town of Capernaum did just that, bringing their sick and those who were occupied by demonic trespassers into their lives. I don’t know just who “they” refers to, but it was Peter’s house, and the text does not show any effort on Peter’s house to stop the crowd. Jesus took pity on them, perhaps like he did with the crowd that He would later feed, because they looked like “sheep without a shepherd” and He knew that He was their Good Shepherd.
Mark 1:32–34 ESV
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Jesus believed in prayer; He both prayed for us, and He promises that the Father will hear and respond to our prayers that we offer in His name. Yesterday, we had our second prayer gathering on the first Saturday of the month. The gathering was small, but most prayer revivals start out that way. Then they grow as God does awesome things through the fervent effectual prayers of the righteous.
Who is Jesus to you?
Mark 1:35–40 ESV
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.”
I don’t believe that you can out-care the Lord. You go to bed after a long day of worry, but He “never sleeps.” You watch over your situation, wondering if there is any way out, but He “watches over His Word to perform it.” We can’t extend our lives by worry, in fact, we’ll be more likely to subtract from our days that way.
Psalm 37:3 ESV
Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
God’s Word, as we meditate on it, as we feed upon it, as we study it, will feed our faith
Romans 10:17 ESV
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
God’s word teaches us about prayer. It shows us, in the 2nd Commandment, that God does listen to what we say, both to Him and about Him:
SC I:3-4 [The Second Commandment] [3] You are not to misuse the name of your God. [4] What is this? Answer: We are to fear and love God, so that31 we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.[1]
[1] Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 352.
SC III:9-11 “May your will come about on earth as in heaven.” [10] What is this? Answer: In fact, God’s good and gracious will comes about without our prayer, but we ask in this prayer that it may also come about in and among us. [11] How does this come about? Answer: Whenever God breaks and hinders every evil scheme and will—as are present in the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh—that would not allow us to hallow God’s name and would prevent the coming of his kingdom, and instead whenever God strengthens us and keeps us steadfast in his Word and in faith until the end of our lives. This is his gracious and good will.[1]
[1] Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 357.
The ultimate proof of God’s love for us won’t be fully appreciated in this life, even by those of us who declare our love and faith in Him, it’s a reflection of the Old Adam that clings to us, that we must drown daily as we remember our baptism and receive His gifts of grace in Confession and Absolution along with Holy Communion. It’s the battle against sin and satan that we fight by drawing near to God in prayer and worship and by drawing near to one another in fellowship and mutual building up in our most holy faith.
That proof, displayed...
On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross The emblem of suff'ring and shame And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross Till my trophies at last I lay down I will cling to the old rugged Cross And exchange it some day for a crown
Another songwriter wrote,
In the old rugged Cross, stain'd with blood so divine A wondrous beauty I see For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above To pardon and sanctify me So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross Till my trophies at last I lay down I will cling to the old rugged Cross And exchange it some day for a crown To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true Its shame and reproach gladly bear Then He'll call me some day to my home far away Where his glory forever I'll share So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross Till my trophies at last I lay down I will cling to the old rugged Cross And exchange it some day for a crown.
Another songwriter wrote,
“They hung Him high, they stretched Him wide.
He hung His head; for me He died – That’s love, that’s love…
But that’s not how the story ends, three days later, He rose again – THAT’S LOVE. THAT’S LOVE!”
[1] Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000), 357.
One day, against the scale of eternity, it won’t be long, Jesus will come again. When He does, we will see Him whom we pierced, we will see the wounds that He bore for us. We will see Him as He is, and know Him as He is. Now, it is enough to know Him by faith, to trust that, even if we don’t see all of our problems vanishing at the mention of His name, He is faithful, and He is still letting His Kingdom come, and His will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.
Let us pray....
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