Monday, July 31, 2017

Sermon July 29-30, 2017

Title: The kingdom and treasure that is Christ is given to you!
Text: Matthew 13:44-52

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

As we begin today, we again look at the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Matthew. If we remember the last two weekends we recall that the sower, who sowed seed everywhere, found that the seed that fell on the good soil took root and produced a crop that yielded 30, 60 and even 100 fold.

Last week we learned that the wheat that grew from the good seed, was planted by the Son of man, in the field of the world, and that the devil also planted weeds among the wheat where both would grow until the harvest, separating both wheat and weeds or believers and unbelievers by God’s angles at the end of the age.

Today we have three short parables and they all bring to mind the topic of the kingdom of heaven. We’ll look at these and see the truth that, through the Gospel:

The kingdom and treasure that is Christ is given to you!

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

In last week’s parable Jesus explained that the field was the world and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. In today’s parable the children of the kingdom is the treasure hidden in the world brought to faith by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel’s proclamation. Christ then is the man who found you, His treasure, but this treasure of being his child is hidden apart from faith, in the field of this world.

So to purchase the world back, Christ empties himself, sells all He has, as it were and gives Himself as a ransom to buy and redeem this world lost in sin, death and the power of the devil.

Jesus then says:

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Knowing that a perfect pearl, of large size, of spherical shape, would far surpass in value hundreds of small, imperfect pearls, this merchant, an expert in his line, set out to seek, and, if possible, to find, such a rare valuable pearl. Having found one which seemed to him exceedingly precious, he risked his all, stripping himself of all his possessions in the one great venture of his life. The glory and beauty of God's mercy in the Gospel - so great and precious a gift that all else sinks into insignificance beside it.

Popular Commentary of the Bible, P.E. Kretzmann NT Vol.1 Pg.76-77

The pearl of the Christians is the greatest treasure in the kingdom of God … salvation in Christ! He who has learned to know this priceless gift will gladly renounce all goods, joys, and delights of this world, and consider all human wisdom and righteousness as loss, in order to gain Christ.

Ill,

As I was driving some time ago, I caught a story on the Moth Radio Hour. This show has people speaking in front of a live studio audience and relating a story that was of some significance to them.

The speaker was Christof Koch an American neuroscientist who had been raised Roman Catholic and struggled with his own belief in God alongside his work as a scientist. The topic was: God, Death and Francis Crick. Francis Crick was also a scientist, who made his mark in DNA research and was an atheist. The two, though from different generations, spent many years in collaboration and study even authoring a book together called The Quest for Consciousness.

One day as they worked together, Francis Cricks received a call and confirmation that his terminal cancer had returned. Christof said he was immensely impressed with the Stoic faith of his atheist elder friend. “No doom and gloom, no gnashing of teeth and no tears just, “Accept what you can’t change.” And then he went on with what Francis Crick had to say, “Everything that has a beginning must have an end … those are the facts, I don’t like them, but I’ve accepted them.” This also caused Christof to reflect on his own mortality. Ultimately, he saw Francis Crick as his hero, with how he dealt with his own demise.

The show concluded with Christof speaking of being saddened by the loss of his belief and religion like, fond childhood memories, concluding that we all have to grow up, which is difficult for many and unbearable for the few, concluding that we have to see the world as it really is and stop thinking in terms of magic.

Or, he says, as Francis would have put it, “This is a story for grown men not a consoling tale for children.”

https://themoth.org/stories/god-death-and-francis-crick

To that Jesus says:

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The net of the Word of God and its Gospel proclamation is cast into the sea of the world and at the end of the age it will be gathered to the shore.

Here the angles will separate those, the righteous, who by the power of the Holy Spirit, are brought to faith in Christ and believe - while others - called evil, will be thrown into the fiery furnace of Hell and there, no matter how stoic they may be in this life, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

During the Festival of Lutheran hymns on Thursday evening at the Liturgy, Preaching and Church Music conference that Katherine and I attended last week we sang the first Hymn Martin Luther ever wrote – interspersed throughout the hymn festival Thursday evening. It is called Dear Christians, One and All Rejoice.

As we sang the second section, stanzas 4-5, I marked an X by it as it speaks beautifully to our message today. Broken and condemned by the Law we are rescued by Christ and made his child and forgiven. Please turn to Hymn #556 in your hymnal and let us joyfully sing these important words into our hearts receiving the forgiveness they convey in the work of Jesus to give us forgiveness, comfort and peace!

4.
But God had seen my wretched state
Before the world's foundation,
And mindful of His mercies great,
He planned for my salvation.
He turned to me, A father's heart;
He did not choose the easy part
But gave His dearest Treasure.

5.
God said to His beloved Son:
“It’s time to have compassion.
Then go, bright Jewel of My crown,
And bring to all salvation;
From sin and sorrow set him free,
Slay bitter death for them that they
May live with you forever.

We can’t know who will be gathered … but we can trust that God knows. He will gather his children unto himself and all that believe in Christ will be saved. Those who have once shared this faith but have fallen away, God, by his Holy Spirit will continue to call and we pray once again give them life by the Spirit found only in Christ.



The kingdom and treasure that is Christ is given to you!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sermon July 22-23, 2017

Title: Christ, the Good Shepherd’s seed is sewn in you!
Text: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

As a young boy I was sent out to do weeding around the house and also went with my dad to a farm that he leased a few acres to have a vegetable garden where we went to … you guessed it … pull weeds! Now, sometimes when I pulled the weed, I also pulled out the plant I was weeding around. Dad was none too pleased with that. That can be very frustrating and at times you might think that you are doing more harm than good.

Last week we discussed the parable of the Sower who sowed seed, throwing it everywhere, on the path, the rocky ground and even in good soil. The parable was explained by Jesus that the seed was the word of God and the Gospel proclamation that went forth transforming hearts of stone to good soil where the word takes root and brings to faith those called by God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today’s parable builds on that by saying:

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.

So in explanation to this parable, Jesus says that He is the one who sows the good seed and that the world is the field and the wheat that grows, which sprouts from the good seed, are those who are the children of the Kingdom by faith. The weeds, we are told, are those who are sons of the evil one which is the devil himself who sows the lies that Jesus is not who he claims to be, the way the truth and the life.

So as is made clear in our text, the world will consist of both those who believe and those who don’t believe. The church also being in the world, we will have its share of believers and unbelievers … or weeds among the wheat. (believers)

So as the church, shouldn’t we look to pull out those weeds among us?

Who’ll be first? What should we use to judge each other?

At Vacation Bible School this past week the children learned in a visit with St. Paul that:

Day 1

Theme: God’s Love Is A Gift
Text: Romans 6:23
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Song: Jesus Loves Me

Day 2

Theme: God’s Love Changes Us
Text: Romans 12:2
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Song: This Little Light of Mine

Day 3

Theme: God’s Love Is Always With Us
Text: Romans 8:38
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
Song: What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Day 4

Theme: God’s Love Saves Us
Text: Romans 5:8
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Song: Father Welcomes

Day 5

Theme: God’s Love Is Worth Sharing
Text: Romans 1:16
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Song: I Want To Walk As A Child Of the Light

We talked about being made good soil by God’s Holy Spirit … washed clean in the waters of Holy Baptism … we are clean. We are wheat. Aren’t we?

But what if we are acting like weeds? What if we avoid God’s word and teaching? What if belief gives way to unbelief?

Paul tells us in Romans 10 how we can know our own belief in Christ.

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

And then he continues:

11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.

So belief in the heart is what justifies or makes righteous and those who believe will not be put to shame but will be saved. So, as Jesus says to the question of, 28”do you want us to go and gather them?’

29 He says, ‘No, because in gathering the weeds you may pull up the wheat as well. 30 Let both grow together … until the harvest, and then I will tell the reapers to Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

In other words … the wheat is left behind after the weeds are gathered to be burned and then gathered into the Lord’s barn.

Well it is Christ’s desire that all would be saved and come to knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim 2:4 even those whom we believe are far from the Lord and his reach. This is accomplished by the proclamation of the Gospel in word and sacrament which will bring to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit those who will believe, and by God’s grace, those children at VBS who believed God’s word and were brought to faith by God so that the promised forgiveness by faith in Christ’s finished work was theirs.

We also know from the parable today, that some, those who are called the weeds in the parable are those who are the sons of the evil one, the devil, and that they will reject the saviors blessed call through the gospel message and through this unbelief be destined for destruction – thrown into the fiery furnace … and in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This will be of their own choosing as they reject the work of the Holy Spirit choosing to remain dead in trespass and sin.

43 But you who believe, the righteous … will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sermon July 15-16, 2017

Title: Bearing fruit is the work of the Spirit!
Text: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23


23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundred fold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

A man, after 25 years with one company, was still doing the same old job and drawing the same salary. Finally he went to his boss and told him he felt he had been neglected. "After all," he said, "I've had a quarter of a century of experience." "My dear fellow," sighed the boss, "you haven't had a quarter of a century of experience you've had one experience for a quarter of a century."

Unknown.

Ill.

When I worked in sales in the piano business and began waiting on customers there’s a principal we all learned: It is called the “KISS Principle,” as in, K-I-S-S: And it means, Keep It Simple, Stupid! In other words, if you want people to understand what you’re saying, and in my case showing them the benefits of owning a piano, I was reminded by the KISS Principal … to keep it simple. Don’t talk to technical or in ways that people can’t understand what you are really trying to say.

It seems a bit strange then that Jesus would use parables or stories that were something like a riddle at times to teach the crowd. How will they learn from these parables? Wouldn’t this complicate understanding? The disciples even asked about this: “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (v 10).

Actually, hearing God’s Word with understanding isn’t just a matter of “getting” the parables. Understanding God’s Word is hard anytime, and there are good reasons for this, but particularly when Jesus speaks in parables.

Jesus knows his audience well. There are things He knows that are keeping them from hearing and understanding what He is saying. Jesus teaches his disciples that even though 12 the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, Heb 4:12, the hearer – which is you and me - in our sinful state has the ability to resist and misunderstand God’s word.

As Luther says in the explanation of the Third Article of The apostles Creed:

I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.

We understand that faith is a gift of our loving God. So what is it that keeps us from hearing … understanding and bearing fruit?

First, Jesus says, it’s the devil. He is like the birds that come and snatch the seed off the path. Certainly, we all can attest that the devil exists … because we notice the sinfulness of our thoughts even, at times as we wonder off while listening to a sermon. No that would never happen.

What are you thinking about right now? Are you thinking about what you did last night or what you might do after church? Whatever it is … you can be sure that the devil will shorten your attention span and even introduce thoughts into your mind … that have no business being there at this time!

[Edited: Story of attending a funeral for a classmate and how though the funeral had many good points and opened the ears of those who needed to hear there was one speaker who closed the ears of all by talking too long, being unfocused, and turning the funeral into a Bible Study so that the loved ones having ears closed had to lead him back to his seat. We need to know when to speak and when to hold back and just love those who are hurting before they close their ears to the message.]

The second thing Jesus says is that it’s your flesh. The sinful flesh, yours and mine, looks for the next spiritual high. As long as everything is going well, we’re all for the Word. But when problems arise, or when tribulation and persecution come, we’re quick to abandon the word and leave it far behind. This is like the seed that falls on the rocky soil. We avoid suffering and substitute something more palatable and to our liking.

[Edited: Contrasting a funeral I officiated at on the previous Tuesday evening that had many ears opened and the evangelizing work of Robert Fisher who was a member of Peace and had passed away and how he brought Jesus to many through his mentoring in AA. One man said Bob was his sponsor and mentor for 17 years ... "He literally saved my life!" The value of word and dead to keep the ears open and the message received.]

Third, Jesus says it’s the world. We have many cares, some that even steal away the joy of listening to the Word. Yes, at times the word of God is joyful but we have work to do, whether from our employer or a teacher at school or even well intention friends. We may be concerned about our income, our children, the rising expenses of health care, and other essentials to our life – as our costs go up … sometime our income goes down. What to do?

When you deprive yourself of preaching and the word you steal the Good News God wants you to hear.

The devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh make up the unholy trinity that keeps us from hearing and bearing fruit – they block the word if you will. The meaning of the Third Commandment, thou shall keep Holy the Sabbath day, calls on hearers not to despise preaching and God’s Word. It needs to be “set apart” which is what holy means, yet when you are listening problems and a lack of understanding happen and then this is precisely what occurs. The Preaching … and God’s Word are both despised.

But God’s Word is heard, and when it is - understood - what blessings! 

Jesus said to the Twelve,

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (vv 16–17).

How does that happen? Jesus answered the disciples’ question this way:

“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (vv 11–13).

Did you hear that? Hearing and understanding God’s Word is given; it’s a gift.

You have just been gifted … Just now. Again … you have been given the Spirit of God in Christ. For many of you, that first happened at your Baptism. Your eyes have been opened to see that Jesus truly is the Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world by dying for you on the cross. And you continue to hear God’s Word that kills the sinner inside and raises the new man to life … just like the seed that dies in the ground and then sprouts and grows and eventually bears fruit. It is the listening to God’s Word and his preaching that does this.

With his death on the cross, Jesus has conquered the devil, the world, and our flesh. This gives us the authority and the comfort to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” This evil is not just some impotent, inanimate, impersonal substance. It is the evil one, who steals the Word from our hearts, who tempts us with suffering, and coaxes the world to follow him.

But our Lord has overcome the evil one, and in faith in his victory we may pray confidently and resist the snares and traps he sets. Our Lord has chosen you – dear friend - to receive this gift of faith so that you may hear and understand. This is grace and grace alone. No merit on your part has caused this, but our Lord and his love for you give it freely.

Jesus teaches the disciples to sow the Word of God liberally. There are no places, regardless of their potential to grow, where the Word of God may not or should not be preached. The Sower, in the parable is spreading seed everywhere … over the path, the rocks, and the weedy areas. That’s because God’s grace is for everyone. Everybody who hears the words you have heard today may be certain that Jesus really has died and has risen for them, has forgiven them, has given them eternal salvation.

Bearing fruit is the work of the Spirit!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!

Amen


Monday, July 10, 2017

Sermon July 8-9, 2017

Martin: The man! Video series 2nd Installment
Title: Monastic life, God, and Love in the Spirit!
Text: Romans 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the daylong;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Peace in the monastery for Luther was doing things. The schedule was certainly difficult. Prayer, fasting and daily work was the life Luther entered. His focus was on God and how to make peace with an angry God who was ready to condemn … him.

Monastic life was hard, regimented and scheduled. Some of you may have experienced this type of life in your families growing up or it may sound familiar to those of you who have served in the military - When to wake, when to sleep, when to work and when to eat were daily scheduled. The attitude of the time for Luther, the people, and the church was that God was watching you … every moment of your life … and what must I do to be acceptable to him.

It’s also how we feel as kids, don’t we? Under the watchful eyes of our parents we feel less than free. It is only after we are out of the house and school that we really know how truly free we were … in our parents house … no bills, didn’t pay for food, and everything we needed was provided for us.

Throughout scriptures God is present among his people:

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Gen 28:16

1God is our refuge and strength, very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
[Jesus said] “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matt. 28:20b


God is always with us.

In Luther’s day vs. our own people believed God existed. They worried about his attitude towards them and were convinced that he was angry with them.

Today … people have crafted God in their own image … and are only angry with people and policies that go against their lifestyle, feelings and belief … going so far as to want to change God and his word to fit their own desires.

Some of the attitude in Luther’s day was brought about but a misunderstanding of repentance. Turning from sin or being sorry for sin is much different from “Doing Penance.” Do you ever feel that way as well?

When my own father told me to “Go to your room and think about what you had done.” It wasn’t the time in my room that my father was looking for and wished me to have … but he was looking for a change of attitude in me.

The misunderstand of repentance still has many trying to appease God by what they do rather than turning from sin to the one who restored peace between God and man – our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Luther, as a priest, even forgiveness found in the Lord’s Supper brought terror.

“How can a sinful man hold the body and blood of Christ in his hands without being damned?” he thought.

1 Cor. 10:16 would eventually bring him peace:

16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

The body and blood of Christ are present along with the bread and wine. In the supper the bread and wine remain and we truly eat bread and drink wine but also in a sacramental union we also receive the real body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith.

Some still today see the Lord’s Supper … as a burden rather than gift. It makes the service longer they might say. It takes too much time. Why do we need it so often … even three times a month?

But God’s word tells us:

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Cor. 11:26

The supper is gift not burden! It brings peace and forgiveness! Luther would come to find this out. It is not for all though … but only for those who believe Christ’s words “This is my body” … “This is my blood” … “for the forgiveness of sins.”

Even those with the tiniest of mustard seed like faith receive all that Christ has promised … forgiveness and peace in and through this blessed gift.

Even if it is mocked by the one presiding … “Bread thou art and bread thou shall remain and wine thou art and wine thou shall remain as Luther found in his pilgrimage to Holy Rome does not change what Christ said it is … his very body and blood … for you.

Ultimately we all, like Luther, take time to come to a full knowledge of the truth. We struggle with things of God because we are still in the tent of sin and in a corrupted world.

But like the Apostle Paul and Martin Luther we can rejoice.

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

Amen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgVFlbvjNwQ&t=5s

Monday, July 3, 2017

Sermon July 1-2, 2017

Title: Being lost in Christ is life eternal!
Text: Matt 10:34-42

38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Yam Sing came from China to California and was brought to know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [through the proclaimed word of truth]. When asked before baptism concerning his own faith, how he found Jesus. "I no find Jesus at all; He find me," was the answer from the converted man, an answer which showed the work of God’s Holy Spirit in him, and which showed that he had learned something of the love of Him who came to "seek and to save that which was lost."

S. S. Advocate.

Being lost in Christ is life eternal!

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

We as a people certainly know the difference between peace and war. The sword of war was brought to our shores after the Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4, 1776.

It read in part:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

To achieve these self-evident truths peace fell into war for a time. Thankfully those who fought for our freedom and the life, liberty and happiness we all pursue were victorious. The war continues to rage in our life and work, on college campuses, and in the politically charged debate and talk that stretches across this great but troubled nation.

But peace … true peace came to the Earth at the promised birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He came to restore the peace that was lost through the fall into sin and the separation between God and man. Peace was earned, not by we who broke the peace but at the cross by Jesus Christ, where the price of sin was paid in full and satisfaction was finished.

God and man are now at peace but war still rages.

There is also another effect of God’s peace and the Gospel being proclaimed.

Maybe you’ve experienced it? Jesus tells his disciples:

36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.
Man against father and daughter against mother, daughter-n-law and mother-n-law will be at odds. Even during the Revolutionary War the colonists were divided between British Loyalists and American Patriots dividing families and loyalties within homes and families.

Christ says also that there is only one truth and one way, only one way for true peace. This sounds very similar to last week’s reading and Jesus’ warning as well.

37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life in this life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Where Jesus says that he came not to bring peace but a sword we need to understand this a bit more. What is the sword that Jesus Christ brings that his disciples should be aware of?

Paul gives us a glimpse in Ephesians chapter six when he uses the metaphor of putting on the whole armor of God and he here also gives us a better picture of who the fight is truly against

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood … but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The fight is real but many times the true foe is hidden. It may appear that the fight is against father and son or mother and daughter and these fights will have real battle scars of a true fight, but the truth is first that those who are opposed to the word of truth proclaimed and received by the work of the Holy Spirit are lead by a different spirit … the spirit of darkness whose fight is against the sword that Christ has – the word of God. Paul gives us the armor:

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

The armor that is put on has different functions:

14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

All of the armor that is given for the use of the disciples and us is defensive.

All that we put on gives protection from the darts of the evil one though one … is given for our use as a weapon. The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God!

Being received into Christ is your great reward!

Ill.

I had a conversation a number of years ago with a friend who I had been witnessing to. I had invited him to church and he said, “Sunday mornings are the time that my wife and I do things and go places.”

His wife was not a believer or interested in hearing about Christ at all.

I asked, “Do you get up early Sunday and do things?” He said, “No, we don’t really get up until about 10:00 am.” So, I said, “Why don’t you go to an 8:00 am service and you can be back home before your wife gets up and 10:00, then you have the whole day to spend together? I’ll even help you find one.” “No, that won’t work.” “Why not, I asked? Because she’ll be mad that I went to church … she thinks it’s stupid.”

Ultimately, they got a divorce. Both were at fault in the relationship. Unfortunately, their marriage was not built on the hope and comfort that Christ gives.

38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life in this life will lose it, even if it appears that the love of wife, brother, sister, father, son-n-law, daughter-n-law or whomever, is a reason to forsake Christ and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Being lost in Christ is life eternal!

Jesus comforts us all:

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward.

Your reward is in Christ. He has given you the most blessed reward of eternal life which is the prophet’s reward and the reward of a righteous person … Jesus Christ! It is yours because you are His!

This gift is not only for you but for all who have been brought to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit.

42 Whoever gives one of these little ones a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Your reward is held fast in Christ by God Himself and you are His now and for eternity!

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