Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sermon for 5/25/14--Easter VI




Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Most of the time, our lips aren't used for praying or for speaking well of others. They're used instead for grumbling. In the wilderness, the children of Israel had all the manna they could eat. God supplied them this heavenly bread to keep them from dying in the wilderness. But did they thank Him? Did they praise Him for this gift? No. They loathed the manna. They were sick and tired of it. They did nothing but complain against God and Moses.

What about you? Most of the time that words come out of our mouths, they are not words that worship God or build others up. They are words that grumble and complain about what the Lord has given us. When we open our mouths, it is not to ask God's blessing upon others but to say how awful they are. Brothers and sisters, repent! When the Israelites did that, God simply would not put up with it. If the children of Israel would not glorify Him and speak well of each other, then they were worth nothing but destruction. And so the fiery serpents came to bite and kill them. And if we keep running our mouths the way we do, we too can expect the righteous judgment of God.

So what hope is there for such sinners who speak like we do? For the children of Israel, a bronze serpent was lifted up. When they looked at it, they were saved from their snake bites. This bronze snake points us to Christ, who is lifted up on the cross for the sins of the world. Look to Him and be saved. Christ, with lips that spoke only purely and perfectly, carried upon Himself the sins of the world and every useless and worthless word we have uttered. On the cross, Christ's blood and water flow into the font to wash you clean—just as Briar, Eli, and Titus have been washed and made clean this very day. Now, when we are bitten by the snake, pierced by our sins, betrayed by our wagging tongues, we look to Christ, present upon the altar in His very body and blood, to be saved. Where Christ's Word and gifts are given, we may be certain that the Father of Jesus is now our heavenly Father too. Where the water and blood and Spirit are given to us, we can be certain that our Father has forgotten our sins and remembers our wasted words no more. Your sins are forgiven. Hear these words of life which save you!

Now because Christ has rescued us from sin and death, He has given us a far better use of our tongues than what we would make of them. Christ has rescued even our tongues for the worship of God and the service of our neighbor. Therefore He tells His disciples, "You won't ask me for anything, you'll ask the Father in My name and He'll give it to you." Whatever you ask the Father in the name of Jesus, He will give it to you. God Himself has promised to hear us for the sake of Christ. Could there be a more astounding promise? We have been given what the world seeks in vain to find—the ear of God. The religions of the world work overtime trying to figure out how to grab God's attention. You already have His undivided attention because you are in Jesus! Jesus, the Son whom the Father always hears and honors, now gives you the same place as sons of God to call upon the Lord.

When your mouth turns to evil and wickedness, and the Law sinks its teeth into your flesh and soul, then look up and behold Christ! Behold His blood and water in the font and on the altar to wash and cleanse the poison of sins from you. Then, lift up your lips, cleansed in Christ, in prayer and thanksgiving. Rejoice to ask your Father for anything and everything that will make you a good and faithful servant to God and your neighbor, for He will not fail you. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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