Monday, October 17, 2016

Sermon October 1-2, 2016

Title: Repentance and forgiveness are yours in Christ!
Text: Luke 17:1-20 LWML Weekend

3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.

A few days after the tragedy, [there was an] an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.

As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper was but two words -- “Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning "forever faithful." With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country -- those who have remained faithful.

J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.

Being faithful as followers of Christ and his Gospel also has obstacles and enemies. As Jesus says:

“Temptations to sin are sure to come,”

We all fall short in thought, word and deed - even at times allowing the things, and those that we love, to become a stumbling block – separation us from the love of God and getting in the way of the gift that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

Even the little ones, those who are new to the faith, child, teen, and adult alike can have those who lead them away through their own apathy for Christ and love for the world. Jesus gives a word picture of a millstone and sea as to what awaits those who lead away from him, becoming a stumbling block where unbelief results.

We too find temptations to sin and fall away all around. The needs of the body and the loves of life can draw us to inactivity. I just don’t have the time to get to worship. The kids have a game or are so busy. They’ve been confirmed … I’ve done my job.

I had the same problem. Work demanded much of my time … even working nights and weekends. As God drew me closer to him and as I read more of his word I saw that I needed to be the spiritual head of my family. 

“No way!” that’s hard. I have enough to do. I work long hours, care for the house and yard and besides Monica would be better at it than me!” She’s nicer.

But Jesus calls … through the word. “Russ … you need to do it.” Not, that Monica can’t teach and lead and support, but YOU are the one who needs to be the spiritual head of the family and mom’s need to encourage their husbands to that duty. “Semper Fi, Forever faithful to Jesus and his words!”

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Even the apostle’s faith was struggling. They’re confused and until after the resurrection won’t really understand what Jesus is saying.

6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Duty can be summed up with these letters: LWML

This weekend we celebrate the work of the ladies of the LWML, better known as the Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League. You might think of them as the group with the little boxes or mites that are collected where pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are put into mission work in our area and around the world.

You might think as well, “That little bit of money I give won’t even be noticed.” But the giving of mites and the small donations grow by the blessing of the Lord. So, your paper money is appreciated too!

Some of you may or may not know that I have been serving as the LWML pastor for the zone we are part of. I was involved also at the fall rally October 1st at St. Stephens yesterday. It is an honor to serve in a small way those who serve the Lord and his flock in so many and varied ways.

For instance the LWML is involved in a clean water and evangelism ministry, disaster response, cancer care packages, healthy families initiative, training teachers and leaders for service, helping hands initiative, Deaconess training, Lutheran Youth Corps, Hope for Detroit and so much more to the tune of over $1,400,000. Even St. Paul Pontiac, our own missions outreach, received a sizeable grant for continued mission work.

Duty is their middle name as these members of the body of Christ work for the benefit of our Lord’s kingdom.

Your heavenly Father knows your needs and also the needs throughout the world. These needs are met by God through means and one of those means that we contribute to is the LWML mites program and that money multiplied by God brings relief and service to a hurting world … not only for the needs of the body to be fulfilled but also for the needs of a world hopeless without Jesus.

Our local LWML and their mite collections are just a small snapshot of God’s greater work throughout the world. He lets us help much like a child with a plastic saw and hammer sees himself helping dad build the deck or finish the basement. We go through the motions and God does the real work.

10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

Our duty is to believe on Jesus whom he has sent. Through faith as a gift we believe and serve our neighbors as his servants. May that be your comfort now and always.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


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