Secure

The following is the preface for the Great Thanksgiving in the Holy Communion liturgy for today (based on the Gospel text from Jon 10:22-30)…

It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God, Maker of all things. Through Jesus Christ You have brought us into Your eternal Kingdom, giving us a security and peace like nothing the world can offer. You hold us firmly in Your loving hands, where no thing or no one can touch us. You keep us free from all harm. Though the body is fragile and wastes away, our soul is kept perfectly in Your care. And so, with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven we join in singing Your unending praise…

All I Need

The following is the opening paragraph for the sermon I plan to give on Sunday, May 12 on John 10:22-30 using a bit of Psalm 23. If you want to hear the full sermon, stop by Living Word Lutheran Church on Sunday or check out our website later for the audio file. To God be the glory!

___________________________________________________

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, for He is everything I need. The first part of that sentence you recognize as the opening of the beloved Psalm 23. It headlines a beautiful Psalm of salvation; describing the peace we have because of God: Green pastures, still waters, restoration for the weary, security in darkness, evil forces irrelevant, sustenance, bounteous provision and a place prepared especially for you forever. This peace is something we have by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a peace secured by God’s love and faithfulness. This peace assures us of the forgiveness of sins and thus peace with God. And this is the Truth that we can cling to for it has been stamped and sealed with the blood of the Lamb. This beloved Psalm also details a future that can not be altered by those who would oppose God, not even you. No one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28) And therefore, through faith in Jesus, you WILL dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, for He is everything I need. Do you hear his voice? Are you truly following?

Wanting Needs

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
[Psalm 23:1]

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you couldn’t think of anything else?
I really want that new phone.
I really want that new car.
I really want that job promotion.
I really want _________.
You get the point. Wants are dangerous as they redirect our attention from what we already have. For if you are part of God’s flock through Jesus Christ, then you already have everything you need. And when you see that you have everything you need, then your wants become what God deems that you need in order to glorify him. Your selfish wants won’t do that unless you need those wants to glorify God and God agrees with your wants and thus gives you what you need. If that be the case, then those wants are not selfish but needs that want God more.

[Whew, did you follow all of that?]

Basically, it’s all about God and thus God will ensure you that you have everything you need (Jesus) to want to glorify him.

Oh God, give me what I need to want You more. Amen.

God’s House Forever

I “stumbled” upon this verse today from Psalm 84…

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. [Psalm 84:10]

Now, consider the closing verse of the beloved Psalm 23…

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. [Psalm 23:6]

Do you see it? One day in the courts of God would far exceed a 1000 years elsewhere. I agree with that. I am right there with the psalmist. But now consider this, through faith in Jesus Christ, we get more than one day in God’s courts. Actually, we get to dwell in God’s HOUSE…FOREVER. Did you just get goose bumps? Yup me too 🙂

All praise be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Pastor -|—

Lenten Sermon Teaser ~ The Good Shepherd

Sermon teaser for our midweek Lenten worship tonight…

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
[John 10:3-4]

As followers of Jesus Christ, it is our joy to hear the beautiful voice of our Shepherd; knowing that that voice is one of peace and love and compassion. It is a voice of Truth. It is a voice that can be trusted. It is a voice the beckons. It is a voice that soothes. To ignore that voice is foolish and dangerous; not because our Shepherd is vengeful; but rather to follow another voice means following unto our death. The Good Shepherd is the only one who loves us unto death and beyond; for he lays his life down for his sheep. The Good Shepherd is the only one who true cares about you. And therefore it behooves us to drown out the competing voices and listen to THE Shepherd and joyfully follow him…

The Pastor -|—

The Wolf and The Shepherd

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” [John 10:28-30]

Earlier in chapter 10, Jesus is talking about him being the Good Shepherd. He cares for his sheep and his sheep hear and listen to his voice, and thus follow.

[The sheep, of course, are those who place their faith in Jesus.]

Under the care of anyone else, the wolf comes and snatches the sheep away because the hired hand does not care for the sheep like the shepherd does.

[The wolf, of course, is Satan]

I am the Good Shepherd Jesus says. Under my care the wolf will not snatch you away.

But yet there are many sheep who would rather put themselves under the care of “hired men”. They follow them because of what they claim to provide. These sheep blindly trust these false guides but when the going gets tough, the “hire men” have no interest in the well being of the sheep. They will run away and protect themselves for they know deep down inside that they have no power over the wolf. And they are definitely not willing to lay down their life for the sheep.

Just before these verses, the Jews are questioning Jesus; imploring him to tell them plainly if he is the Christ. Jesus basically said this, maybe not as plainly as they wanted, but Jesus did say it.

I am the Good Shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep.

The problem is that the Jews are still following and listening to the “hired men” so they can’t and won’t hear the voice of another shepherd. So therefore they can’t understand or accept a “Christ” that is going to die.

But this is what this Good Shepherd does:
~ He places himself between his sheep (you) and the wolf.
~ The wolf attacks and kills the Good Shepherd (Jesus).
~ The wolf celebrates his victory.
~ The wolf prepares to devour the sheep.
~ BAM!
~ The Good Shepherd rises from the dead; claiming and protecting his sheep.
~ The wolf is held at bay; unable to snatch the sheep out of the shepherd’s hand.
~ The wolf’s ultimate defeat is at hand.

And only the sheep of the Good Shepherd can hear this and see this and know this.

Through faith in Jesus you will never parish.
Through faith in Jesus, Satan can not touch you (but Satan still can entice you, so beware).
Through faith in Jesus we are corralled into the Father’s hand.

I am the Good Shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Meditate on that verse today and relish in the joy of being in the Good Shepherd’s flock.

May God grant you the ears to hear the Good Shepherd.

All praise, honor and glory be to God our Father through Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd. Amen.

The Pastor -|—