Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sermon for 4/13/11 - What If?

Sermon "What If . . . " Here's the audio link.

Our Lord, create in us faithful hearts to hear Your Word. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We seem to like to fill in the blanks. If this happens, what if . . . - do you do this? I sure do. I build all sorts of tragic situations, most of which never happen. If the tree branches reach toward the roof something bad could happen. What's that noise I've heard coming from under my hood? I have a headache and a ringing in my ears – could I have a brain tumor? Is it normal for that baby to sleep so much? What if our country goes bankrupt? What if, what if, what if. Of course, we fill in the blanks the other way as well. What if I suddenly become the chief executive officer of the company? What if I win the mega-super-multi-kazillions intergalactic lottery? But we tend to be realistic and think about how unlikely those things are. But falling ill with a dread disease, losing our job, losing our house, or accidentally offending all our friends, we aren't as logical about those issues.

How about the scenarios we build when God speaks to us? What if he were to send us, like he sent Moses and the prophets, to do something unusual? What if we ended up not fitting into our nice comfortable little niche? What if we suddenly did develop a desire to go live among the HIV patients in a central African country that is about to break into a civil war? Or what if the Lord impresses on us the sufficiency of His grace and the urgency to live a life which is more open about the Gospel, where we seek out opportunities to speak the Word of God and pray for our neighbors? But what if they don't like us? We can end up in all sorts of situations that make us uncomfortable, that place demands on us which we aren't sure we are up to.

Moses faced the same kind of situation. He had a genuine encounter with God, amazing in its manner, but in content, not unlike the kind of encounter we can have with God's holiness as revealed in Scripture. Moses saw God's priority to deliver his people Israel from bondage. And Moses knew he was to have a hand in it. But what if they wouldn't accept him? What did our Lord do for Moses? He showed him that regardless of the acceptance Moses might receive, God is still God and can use his servant to watch over the people of Israel.

Did Moses have lots of arguments? You bet he did. And they were really pretty valid questions. God wanted to use Moses in an area where Moses didn't feel comfortable. He was going to use Moses in ways that Moses knew weren't his strengths. He was sending Moses into a situation that Moses didn't have confidence in. Moses, in fact, knew that he himself was not up to the task. How does this compare with the life we live in Christ? When we think we are up to the task we had better watch out. It's a sure sign that we are not ready for it. When God gives us tasks to do, they are God-size tasks. We've seen many of them recently. Be perfect. Love your neighbor. Walk in newness of life. God gives us all manner of assignments that we can't do. This is because God gives us God-size tasks. What God sends Moses to do is something that Moses can't possibly do himself. He must depend on the living God. Likewise, when our Lord tells us to do something, we must realize that we can't truly accomplish it. Only God, in the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, can do it in and through us, working by the Holy Spirit.

Yet we take heart. We know that he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has come face to face with every situation he will put us in. Do we fear suffering? Jesus suffered for us. Do we fear humiliation? Jesus was humbled. Do we fear what the rulers of this world can do? Jesus faced the rulers of this world, was killed, and rose victorious over a greater enemy than Caesar ever dreamed of being. We ask, "What if?" But Jesus says, "What if I have already taken care of all you need?"

Thanks be to God. Amen.


Dave Spotts
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