Sermon – July 28th/29th, 2013

Stand Strong

Colossians 2:6-8

10th Sunday After Pentecost (Proper 12C)

July 28th/29th, 2013

St. John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI

            STAND STRONG!  Anyone who’s spent any time around here the past week has, no doubt, heard those words – it was the theme of our VBS this year.  For five wonderful days last week, almost 200 students and over 100 volunteers gathered here each day around the theme “Stand Strong.”  The students learned how God’s Love helps us stand strong.  They studied how family and friends help us stand strong.  They heard how Prayer and Trusting God help us stand strong.  They learned how the Bible helps us stand strong.  The students studied different Bible stories each day to help illustrate the common message: Stand Strong.

Paul’s words to the Colossian Christians may as well have served as the source of this week’s theme.  Paul wrote, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”  As you received Jesus, Paul writes, be rooted in him.  Stand strong in him.  Paul goes into a bit more detail as to what he means by this, providing here a concise summary of the Christian life.  The Colossians had been taught the truth about Jesus.  People like the Colossians, or like the members of this congregation, or any Christian on earth today, people who have received Jesus Christ, people who continue to walk in him, as Paul says, will be rooted and built up more fully in what they have been taught, so much so  that they grow in thanksgiving for it.  VBS this past week is part of that process, a way in which we help these children who have received Jesus to continue to walk in him.  Our day school is part of this process, a place where we help children who have received Jesus to walk in him.  Our Lutheran high schools are a part of this process, where we help young men and women who have received Jesus continue to walk in him.

And how important this process is.  For from an early age these children are being attacked by other points of view.  It is so important that they continue to hear the word of God taught clearly amid the noise in their lives around them, for once they are out of our schools, once they are out of our homes, the battle becomes even more intense.  Therefore Paul warns the Colossians, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”  Stay rooted in him, Paul warns.  Walk in him, Paul warns, so that you are not taken captive by the world’s way of understanding things.  It is a warning to us to help our Children be prepared to face the world, but it is even more so a warning to us as we face the world each day.

See to it that no one takes your mind captive to the philosophy of the world.  That’s easier said than done, for the philosophy of the world is unavoidable.  It is in the shows and movies we watch, it is in the music we listen to, it is in the articles and blogs we read.  It is everywhere, eating away at the foundation of the faith that has been laid in our lives.  Like the slow trickle of a stream eats away at the rock, eventually changing the landscape, the philosophy of the world eats away at our mind drip by drip, influencing our understanding in ways we never saw coming.  Part of the temptation for us as adults is to view growth in our understanding and knowledge of our Lord through the lens of progress.  After all, we spend our school years progressing from one class to the next – 1st Grade to 2nd, 3rd Grade to 4th; basic math to algebra to geometry to calculus.  No matter what field of study you commit yourself to, there is a progression through the study.

Part of the temptation we face as Christian adults is the desire to progress beyond the mere basics of Christianity.  It’s all well and good to teach children that Jesus died for them, but grown-ups need to move beyond that, we think.  Grown-ups need to know how to live like Jesus, how to make the right choices, how to handle the pressing moral and ethical problems facing us today.  We hear that grown-ups must move beyond the basics of Jesus’ cross and resurrection to face life’s true challenges.  VBS is great for the kids, we think, but I need real help for my real life – a life where I have to pay my mortgage and medical bills, a life where I am responsible for the health and wellbeing of my own children, a life where I am doing everything in my power to hold my family together, a life where I feel like I can barely keep my head above water.  The temptation for adults is to feel like the basics of Christianity taught to the children are behind us – that we need something more.

What we need, however, is a return to the basics.

We must be careful of the world’s talk of progress.  Progress can be a tricky idea to get a handle on.  There is usually a huge assumption that attaches itself to the idea of progress like a barnacle to the bottom of a ship.  The assumption is that where we are is progress over where we have been.  But just because we have arrived at a new place does not necessarily make our arrival progress.  C.S. Lewis insightfully pointed out that progress is only progress if it is in the right direction.  For example, if you want to go across the Mackinaw Bridge to St. Ignace, you’d probably get on I-75.  If you got on I-75 South, however, you’d be going in the wrong direction.  Maybe you wouldn’t realize it at first, but once you hit the Ohio border, hopefully you would recognize your error.  If not, then you might end up in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, or even Florida.  As you are driving through Toledo, the best thing you could do would be to stop and turn around, go the exact opposite direction – that would be true progress.  Moving forward is not progress if you are moving away from your desired destination.  Sometimes, progress requires turning around and doing the exact opposite of what you have been doing.

Often times, that is what we adult Christians truly need.  We need to stop what we are doing.  We need to turn in the opposite direction.  We need to repent – repent of the pride we take in our own intellect; repent of the pride we take in our own abilities.  We need to begin moving in the right direction.  What direction is that?

Down.  Not forward.  Not backward.  Not left.  Not right.  Not up.  Down – like a tap root.  That’s the image that Paul gives us today.  As you have received Jesus Christ, continue to grow in him by being rooted in him.  Roots grow down, clinging more and more firmly to the ground around them, feeding off that ground, holding to that ground so that when the winds beat against the plant above, the plant still survives.  We don’t need to move beyond the basics of the Faith, we need to move more deeply into them.  The basics that the VBS kids learned this week are just as important for us to remember.

First and foremost, God’s Love helps us stand strong.  God’s love helps us stand strong because he showed his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  God showed his love for us in this way: he sent his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him might not perish, but have eternal life.  We are and remain children of our Lord.  Sometimes I think we hear that phrase so often that it loses its impact, so take a moment to reflect on what that means for us: we are children of our Lord.  The prophet Isaiah compares the comfort we receive in the church to a child being comforted by his mother, like a baby bounced on his mother’s knee or cradled in her mother’s arms.  Peter exhorts us to desire the pure milk of the word as newborn babies desire their mother’s pure milk.  To be sure, there certainly are sections of Scripture that encourage us to put away childish ways, but we are also encouraged to live as the children of our Lord, relying on his love for us as our own children rely on their parents to provide for their needs.

Family and Friends help us stand strong by encouraging us and holding us accountable in the faith.  Bear one another’s burdens, Paul tells the Galatians.  We bear one another’s burdens in the family of our Lord’s church.  We offer comfort to others in their grief and sadness, the same comfort that we ourselves have been comforted with.  We do not neglect meeting together, but we build each other up through our Lord’s Word.  We pray the prayer that our Lord has taught us, a prayer where we address God in heaven as our own Father.  Having been adopted into his family through the water of baptism, with Jesus as our brother, we call upon God as our Father with all the confidence of a two year old asking her Father for something.  All these truths are the so-called basics of the Faith.  We don’t move beyond them, we grow more deeply into them.

And in so doing our lives are changed.  Our relationships are changed.  Rooted in the reality of our own sinfulness and the gift of forgiveness we have been given, we are ready to forgive those who have wronged us.  We are ready to admit when we have wronged others.  We live with forgiveness and undeserved love as the foundation in our families, not keeping score about who is contributing what.  With prayer as our gift, we turn our troubles and anxieties over to our Lord’s caring hand, rather than taking out our frustration on those around us.  In these things, we are growing more deeply rooted in the foundation of our Lord.

So we hear Paul’s words once again.  As we received Christ Jesus the Lord, as the sinners that we are, receiving him as a gift given without any merit or worthiness in us, so we walk in him, living lives transformed by the forgiveness we have been given, rooted and built up in him, digging ever deeper into the foundation of forgiveness so that we are not blown down by the winds of this world, just as we were taught from the beginning.  Back to the basics.  Not moving beyond, but more deeply into the reality of our sin and salvation.  In so doing, we too will abound in thanksgiving.  See to it that no one takes this abundant thanksgiving from you by taking you captive in the world’s dying philosophies and human traditions.  Rather, stand strong on the promises of God’s Word.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guide your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting.  Amen.

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Sermon – June 30th/July 1st, 2013

Patience in Vocation

Luke 9:51-62

6th Sunday After Pentecost (Proper 8C)

June 30/July 1, 2013

St. John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI

Marriage was on my mind a lot last Wednesday, as I’m sure it was for much of our nation.  For last Wednesday, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that declared the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 to be unconstitutional, which means the court basically declared it unconstitutional for the Federal Government of the United States to limit the definition of marriage to one man and one woman.  Now, this ruling should hardly be considered a surprise.  This has been coming for a long time now.  Neither should it be surprising that the Supreme Court would deliver a ruling that contradicts Scripture.  The Supreme Court does not consider itself under the authority of Scripture.  They have delivered previous rulings and opinions that clash with our Lord’s Word, and they will do so again in the future.  This ruling just demonstrates definitively that the State’s understanding of marriage is different from the Scriptures’ understanding of it.  So the helpful question to ask in light of this ruling is not, “How could they do this?”  They do this because they are not a Christian court.  A better question to consider is, “How should we respond as Christians to this ruling?”

To answer that question, I’ll tell you the other reason that marriage was on my mind last Wednesday – it was my and Mrs. Richert’s 9th wedding anniversary.  Yes, 9 years ago today we were honeymooning in Toronto, on our way to a beautiful Bed and Breakfast just outside Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, where they hold a yearly Theatre Festival.  It was a wonderful escape before entering our new life together.  Since then, she has had to put up with me on a daily basis, and some days, I’m sure, that’s easier than others.  I tell you this not to drum up sympathy for her, although she probably deserves it, but to illustrate the point that a lot of days have passed since our wedding, and God willing, there are many more that she’ll have to survive with me.  Over the last 9 years, our relationship has grown and matured as we have been blessed with children, lived in 3 different states, and faced the other challenges life has to offer – challenges that I’m sure many of you have had to face in your own marriages.

One of the things that has gotten us through those challenges is the advice given to us by the pastor in pre-marital counseling.  One consistent theme that ran through every session we had was the importance of recognizing that marriage is a journey, not a destination.  I realize that is a bit of a cliché, but the point he was making was that we must approach every disagreement with the knowledge that we are going to live with this person for the rest of our lives, therefore we should choose our words carefully so as not to cause hurt.  He taught us that being right or proving your spouse wrong is the groundwork for a relationship of fault-finding and nit-picking.  He encouraged us instead to have forgiveness as the foundation of our marriage.  I could list many examples of how he encouraged us to live in this way, but what these examples would all have in common is that we were encouraged to live with patience and humility in our vocations as husband and wife.

Jesus is touching on the same ideas with his disciples in today’s Gospel reading from Luke 9.  These particular verses are part of a longer narrative.  In the beginning of Luke 9 we read that Jesus, “called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” [Luke 9:1-2].  When the apostles came back to Jesus a week later, probably very excited at the miracles they had just performed, he told them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” [Luke 9:23].  While the disciples were marveling at their ability to do miraculous signs in Jesus name, he reminded them that a life of following Jesus is a life of tasting rejection by the world.

A few days later, an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.  While the Bible doesn’t specifically say, given the overall context this argument is probably connected to the apostles comparing the different miracles they had done in Jesus name.  Jesus rebukes them for their arrogance, but then the apostles then tell Jesus that they saw someone else, someone who is not one of the 12, casting out demons in the name of Jesus.  Jesus again rebukes the apostles for not understanding their role as apostles.

That’s where today’s reading picks up the story.  The apostles are sent by Jesus into a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival, but the Samaritans reject them.  So James and John ask, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” [Luke 9:54].  The disciples sound like a child who has just gotten a new toy and just can wait to try it out.  Like Ralphie going outside in his pajamas on Christmas morning to fire the first shots from his new Red Rider BB gun, the disciples are anxious to use their new found authority to punish this village.

Their question betrays a desire to see immediate resolution from Jesus.  “Lord,” they say, “these wicked people have rejected you!  What are you going to do about it?”  But Jesus rebukes them for their bloodlust and desire for revenge.  That’s not what they are supposed to be as Apostles.  As Apostles, they are in it for the long haul.  They have to get used to rejection and hardship.  Following Jesus is not easy, as he warns in the next few verses.  Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.  There will be times where you are put at odds with your family and friends and the world around you.  But in these times, don’t look for fire from heaven to wipe them out – be patient in your vocation.  Continue to preach the word.

The same is true in the lasting relationships we hold.  We live in a culture that idolizes quantifiable results.  To put it another way, we live in a culture that tends to live as if life were a movie and we are trying to get to the credits.  One of the problems with romantic movies is that they tend to end when the couple finally gets together.  Never mind the amount of deceit, dishonesty, or dysfunction present in the formative days or weeks of their relationship, once they are finally together the credits roll.  Happy ending.  Sometimes I have to wonder how long those couples will actually stay together.

The point is that we face the temptation to view our lives are if they were moving from one roll of the credits to the next.  We are tempted to face each disagreement with our spouse as a battle to be won, believing that once the argument is won the credits will roll and we will be victorious.  But the credits don’t roll, and sometimes we are left to pick up the pieces of the brokenness caused by hurtful words.  As Paul wrote to the Galatians, one of the fruits of the Spirit is patience.  We are called to be patient in our vocations, as our Lord is patient with us.

And how patient he is!  He patiently endured the rejection of the Pharisees in his day.  He patiently endured suffering at the hands of the very ones he came to save.  He patiently endures with us and our continued meanderings back into the sin from which he has set us free.  He has cleansed us with the washing of rebirth and renewal, granting us his Spirit that we may live lives of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Yet so often our lives are instead filled with sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.

Yet in the midst of our continued failure, in the midst of our perpetual falling away, there our Lord waits patiently to bring us back to him, not calling down fire from heaven for our rejection, but continuing to convict us in our sin by his Word of Law, and deliver to us the sweetness of the salvation through his Word of Promise.

So also we are patient with the unbelieving world around us.  The government of our country has just issued a proclamation that rejects our Lord’s Word on marriage.  How do we respond to this as Christians?  We do not call for Jesus to send down fire from heaven as James and John did.  Instead, we hear Paul’s words to the Galatians as if they were written to us: “For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only, do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,” that is, to quench you thirst for vengeance, “but through love serve one another.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Galatians 5:13-14].

The government may have issued a proclamation, but the story is not over.  Our response to the government’s proclamation is to continue steadfastly in prayer and proclamation.  We pray that those who are positions of authority would pass laws that were in keeping with God’s Word.  We pray that the citizens of this land would know and believe the truth revealed in those same Scriptures.  We aren’t surprised when that word is rejected, but we continue to pray anyway, trusting that even in the midst of this our Lord remains the one in control.  We continue to proclaim the truth of our Lord’s Word.  We live in our own marriages in such a way that the world can see the love our Lord Jesus has for his bride, the church.  We live in forgiveness in all of our vocations, readily confessing our sin to each other when we have done wrong, and readily forgiving those who have sinned against us.

Just as we live in patience with each other within the church, we are patient in our vocations with those outside the church.  We do not treat this ruling as if the credits have rolled and the final word has been spoken.  Neither do we call for Jesus to send down fire from heaven upon the Supreme Court.  As with all our vocations, we patiently continue to pray and proclaim the Gospel even in face of rejection by the world, for ultimately that is as much we can hope to do.  The rest is in our Lord’s hand.

We continue steadfastly in prayer, confident that on the last day we will be taken to life in a new and perfect creation, life in a world free from sin and its consequences.  Until then, we continue to live lives worthy of the calling we have been given in baptism: lives that share the forgiveness we have received, and lives that reflect the hope we have been given.  May God grant us such lives for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

Sermon – July 21st/22nd, 2013

Satan’s Attacks

Luke 10:38-42

9th Sunday After Pentecost (Proper 11C)

July 21st/22nd, 2013

St. John Lutheran Church, Fraser, MI

 

            It’s good to be home.  For the last two weeks my family and I have been travelling.  We spent time in the U.P., North Dakota Badlands, South Dakota Badlands, and the Black Hills.  We saw several national parks, including Mount Rushmore, we toured two caves, sat in a car surrounded by Buffalo, and visited some family.  One night we even slept in a Tee-Pee on the banks of the Missouri River.  Yes, at the end of a long school year followed by a quick transition to my new responsibilities here, it was nice to have some time away.  Coincidentally, when I came back to work one of the first things that I read was a piece about how Americans in general have a hard time taking vacation. The piece noted that Americans take an average of 2 full weeks less vacation than European workers.  Not only that, the piece also observed that for many Americans, time off isn’t fully time off – not with the invention of email and smartphones.  Even on a typical day off, most Americans still check their inbox, giving them a brief glimpse of what is happening at work.  Still, there are those days when we get to leave work behind and go do something else for a while.

 

            Unless, of course, you’re a mother of young children.  It struck me again this past vacation that for moms, vacation is not really all that different from every other day.  I’d like to think I was some help to Becky on our trip, but I’m not sure how true that is.  She was still doing laundry at the campground, making beds, making dinner, changing diapers, getting band-aids for scrapes, and generally keeping peace in the backseat during those longer stretches of driving.  The scenery around her was a bit different, but I’d hesitate to say she got some real time off.  For that to happen, I think the kids might have to go to Grandma’s house.

 

            Time off.  Time to relax.  Time to sit back and do nothing.  It is something each of us desires to some degree.  But it is something that Satan has no use for.  No, the devil never takes a day off.  He is relentless in his assaults, tireless in his temptations.  He knows his time is limited, he knows his days are numbered, and so he thrashes and flails in his death throes, never resting for a moment, always looking for the best way to distract the children of God, always looking for a way to take our attention off of Jesus and put it somewhere else.

 

            Sometimes he is very aggressive in his attacks, like with the Apostle Paul in today’s reading from Colossians.  This letter is one of what is known as Paul’s captivity letters, written under house arrest in Rome.  As we know from the end sections of the book of Acts, Paul had been arrested for preaching the Gospel.  He was  imprisoned in Ceasarea for a few years, and was faced with the prospect of being sent back to his enemies in Jerusalem to stand trial, when he made his appeal to Caesar, an appeal that any Roman citizen could make.  He was put on a ship and sent to Rome, where he remained imprisoned.  This imprisonment lasted at least 5 years, maybe longer, during which time he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.  In each of these letters he speaks about being in chains because of the Gospel.

 

            What is significant is that Paul rejoices in his suffering, rejoices in his captivity, because he knows he is doing it for the sake of the Gospel.  He knows that it is not simply Jewish Rabbis or Roman Governors who are trying to silence him, he knows that it is Satan himself who does not want the message of Jesus spread, and so Paul is willing to suffer gladly the attacks of the devil knowing that the message was the most important thing.  This perspective, which itself is a gift of the Spirit, gives Paul the courage and endurance to continue proclaiming the Gospel in the face of opposition, in the face of personal injury, even to the point of death.  “For this I toil,” he wrote, “struggling with all [Christ’s] energy that he powerfully works within me.”

 

            Satan will attack us in the same way.  He will attack the church today with aggressive, head-on challenges.  He has convinced our culture that there is no such thing as objective truth, with the result being that our culture now considers us unloving and hateful for claiming Jesus is the only name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.  We are branded as unloving because we confess the truth of what our Lord’s word says about homosexuality.  We confess what our Lord’s word says about any sexual relationship outside the bonds of marriage, and we are called old-fashioned and out-of-touch.  We confess the six day creation and are labeled as ignorant, all while the world casually ignores the gargantuan moral and philosophical problems raised by Darwinian Evolution, not to mention the significant questions about origin and cause that such a model fails to answer.  The list goes on and on.  If we confess our Lord’s word, we will be attacked by the world around us.  Like Paul, we can rejoice in the midst of those attacks, for so also they persecuted the prophets, so also they persecuted Jesus himself.

 

            Even more dangerous, however, are the subtle attacks.  Even more deadly are the ways that Satan tries to undermine the Gospel through seemingly pious and godly activities, like Martha in today’s Gospel reading.  Another pastor described such a subtle attack in this way:

 

“First, you see a good work that needs to be done, you know it’s important, so you get after it. Martha saw Jesus and several disciples coming, she knew they would need something to eat and drink, that the house needed a bit of cleaning up, so she got after it. The Lord wants us to serve one another, after all, so we serve. So far, so good.

 

But then Satan begins his work.   He whispers in our ears to effect a subtle shift from the importance of the work to the importance of ourselves. We begin to think “I’m important because this work is important.”

 

And this self-importance leads to isolation. “Look,” we say, “I’m the only one doing this work.” This is now getting dangerous, but it’s difficult to see it. We become self-absorbed, and there’s even a bit of self-pity. We start to think that if we didn’t do this thing, then no one would, and even though there is no joy is our work, we trudge on, playing the martyr in our own mind.

 

As this continues, our perspective becomes even more twisted.  We forget what’s important, and bitterness sets in. What began as service to our neighbor is now actually distancing us from our neighbor. 

 

This is the slide that Martha went down. We can hear it in Luke’s words, “But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’”

 

Do you see the isolation? “She left me to serve alone.” The self-importance? The loss of perspective? “Do you not care?” she asks Jesus. Do you see the bitterness, “My sister has left me?” And then this marvelous pride, “Tell her then to help me.” Do you see how Martha began by serving Jesus, but now she is accusing Him around, telling Him what to do, and imposing her will on her sister Mary. The devil’s work is done.”

 

            How familiar does this sound?  I think if we are honest, we can each see ourselves in Martha’s slide.  In our families: My husband never helps with the kids.  My wife doesn’t appreciate all the time I spend working.  In our school: That parent never volunteers to drive on field trips.  That family never donates anything for classroom parties.  Why am I the only one who stayed to clean up?  In our congregation: That person doesn’t help on any of the boards.  That person doesn’t volunteer for any of the evangelism drives.  I spend way more time here than that person, but they get the better part in Boar’s Head.  Each of us faces the temptation to bitterness, to self-pity.  We need to repent of such attitudes, and remember Jesus’s words to Martha: “One thing is necessary.”

 

            That one thing is Jesus himself.  That one thing is what gave Paul the ability to rejoice in the midst of the world’s attacks.  Paul did not wallow in self-pity, questioning why he had to suffer the worst while other Christians got off easy.  Instead, Paul rejoiced in his suffering because he knew that one necessary thing, that Jesus had already died to secure his eternal salvation.  We too can find confidence in the face of the world’s attacks knowing that our place in heaven is secure.  The world may laugh at us and call us ignorant, unloving, and a host of other names.  But nothing they say can take us out of Jesus’ hand.  In him we rest secure.

 

            And when Satan tempts us to self-pity and an inflated self-importance, we remember Jesus.  We remember the great love that he showed by dying for us, but we also remember that we needed to be died for.  We aren’t perfect.  Far from it.  We are, in fact, by nature sinful and unclean.  We deserve punishment from God, both right here and now, as well as for all eternity.  That realization, given through the revelation of God’s Holy Word, will crush all our pride and bitterness.  How can we stand in prideful judgment over our neighbor when we realize that in our sin, not only are we not any better than they are, we’re actually worse.  Yet we have been shown infinite love.  We have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb.  And because we have been forgiven, we now live a life of forgiveness.

 

            It is here, in the Divine Service, that we find our truest time off.  It is here where we sit like Mary at the feet of our Lord, hearing his Word and feasting on his Supper.  After all, that’s what the Divine Service is – God’s service to us, our Lord coming to us to forgive us and strengthen us for service outside these walls.  Here is where we find our Sabbath rest, gladly hearing and learning our Lord’s Word.  The attacks of Satan, while relentless in this life, will come to an end one day.  But the Word of the Lord remains forever.  We rest in the comfort and protection of that word, humbly confessing our own sin, and clinging to our Lord’s gift of forgiveness.

 

As you enjoy a few days off this summer, remember that Satan does not take any time away.  He is always there to tempt and attack, sometimes in obvious ways, sometimes in subtle ways.  But the answer to these attacks is always the same: we rest in our Savior and what he has done for us.  He shares in our weakness that we might find the joy of salvation even in the midst of suffering.  He humbles us in our pride that he might raise us up in his love.

 

            Therefore You alone, my Savior

            Shall be all in all to me;

            Search my heart and my behavior

            Root out all hypocrisy.

            Through all my life’s pilgrimage

            Guard and uphold me,

            In loving forgiveness

            O Jesus, enfold me.

            This one thing is needful

            All others are vain –

            I count all but loss that

            I Christ may obtain!