Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31/ Acts 2:22-36 /John 8:48 – 59
Dear Friends in Christ,
A not – so – inspiring pair of golfers
• Me hitting four balls into creek, picking up and throwing
• Me looking for my driver with my right hand and holding it in left
• Muther and I taking two days to complete one round
• Muther standing too close to a tree / breaking a three wood on the tree
• The point of all four stories, if you’re looking for golfers to watch that will inspire you to take your own game to the next level, don’t be watching these two preachers!
On the other hand, if you want to take your game of life to the next level in terms of growing up into Jesus Christ and living the abundant Christian life the Spirit of God would have you live, well then, this sermon is for you. Confidence Inspired is our sermon theme today, and in all three lessons, the Holy Spirit would move us to be trusting in God with all our heart and never again to be leaning unto our own understandings.
Three bad habits we want to address in our sermon today. Bad habits that keep us from enjoying the grace, the mercy, and the peace that the Holy Trinity is wanting to multiply into our hearts in every season of life, one day at a time. The first bad habit we address is that of worrying that God is unhappy with us, the second is that of letting life’s troubles get the best of us, and the third is being afraid of dying.
First of all, perhaps you are here this morning feeling as though you’ve been falling short of living a God pleasing life, feeling as though you keep taking one step forward and two backwards, feeling as though you just can’t get your act together, feeling as though God must be shaking his head no as he watches you mess up one day after another, feeling as though God is disgusted with you, listen to truth #1 which comes primarily out of Proverbs chapter 8.
Truth #1 is that already in the beginning, the Holy Trinity was (delighting in you). For some people, the doctrine of the Trinity may seem abstract, dry, and intellectual. If you were to take a video of the average congregation reciting the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed or even the once a year Athanasian Creed, the outward appearance is hardly one of celebration. And yet in this text, the Father is delighting in His Son, the Son is delighting in the Father, together they are rejoicing in every bit of creation and in particular they are delighting in the inhabitants of that world….then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.
A time capsule from Orange, California. In July of 2014, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange, California, celebrated the 100th anniversary of its sanctuary. As part of the celebration, they opened the cornerstone and took out the time capsule placed there a century before. In the capsule, among other things, they found a German Bible, a German hymnal, and a local newspaper. In these three things, Professor David Schmitt from the St. Louis Seminary writes, “you have a picture of God’s work among and through his people: the Word of God, the words of his people, and the words of the world….with these small objects, those who laid the cornerstone offered a prayer for future generations, that they would continue in his mission.
In our Old Testament reading this morning, we do not have a time capsule with objects in it, but we do have a rare glimpse of what was there at the earth’s foundation. A time capsule from Proverbs. Most of us are familiar with the account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” By faith we know that out of nothing God brought all things into being. What is beautiful about this text from Proverbs is that we are given a glimpse of God before his work of creation. What we see there is delight. God’s delight. Before the world began, God was rejoicing, and his delight begins the story of our salvation.
What was God delighting in? Verses 30 and 31 answer in two ways. The Lord was delighting in Wisdom, and Wisdom was delighting in the people God made to inhabit the world. Jesus is this master workman who is with the Father before the world was created. The Father delighted in Jesus, and Jesus delighted in the Father. Before the world even began, Jesus was filled with delight for all people, including and especially you, and after the fall into sin, Jesus held on to this original delight. If one were to go back to the foundation of the world and recover a time capsule, within that capsule we would find a veritable festival of delight. Lesson #1 – The next time you feel like having a pity party and imagining that even God is pretty much ticked off at you, think again. His delight in you is for Jesus’ sake, and it is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Bad habit #2 into which we fall is to let life get the best of us. Our golfing buddy Norm is a pretty good golfer, better than your two pastors anyway, but the game of golf gets the best of him on a regular basis. After every bad shot, he mutters. And if he hits two or three bad shots in a row, he is pretty famous for saying, “I’m going to quit this game!” Perhaps you’re here this morning, muttering about bad breaks in life, thinking pretty seriously about picking up your toys and going home, feeling as though God is far away.
Truth #2 is that in every season of your life, the Holy Trinity is (right there beside you). All too often, we think of God as a momentary fix for our problems in life. We turn to God mainly when something is wrong, we cry out for his help only when we are driven to our knees in time of crisis. And God is that temporary healer, that ever present refuge and strength in time of trouble.
But the forgiveness of sins is not simply a momentary fix in our lives. It is part of a much larger story. It is part of God’s delight before the world began. God not only rejoiced in creating us in marvelous and wonderful fashion, He has always looked forward to saving our sorry souls for time and eternity. Throughout Scripture, for those who were in fact sorry for their sins and crying out for God to have mercy, the Lord has always been near. And the fact that the Lord has been near has always inspired confidence in the hearts of believers. It has meant everything.
For David, it meant that he (would not be shaken). This is one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture. Peter quotes David saying, I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken: therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.” As Israel wandered through the wilderness, as often as they saw the pillar of clouds by day and fire by night, they knew the Lord was near, and they would not be shaken. As often as their priests made bloody sacrifices on their behalf, they knew the Lord was near and they would not be shaken. So also for New Testament Christians, as often as we hear the Word of God and keep it, we know that the Lord is near and we would not be shaken. As often as the water connected with the Word splashes in this place, we know that the Lord is near, and we will not be shaken. As often as we eat and drink at our Lord’s Supper with believing hearts, we know the Lord is near and we will not be shaken. As ofen as we confess our sins, that often our sins are forgiven, and as often as our sins are forgiven, we will not be shaken. Tossed around maybe, but not crushed. Confused, but not driven to despair, suffering and sad as can be, but not abandoned, struck down but we keep getting back up again, by the grace, the mercy, and the peace of our God.
For Peter, it meant that repentance and faith were (two sides of the same coin). In our text for today, Peter spoke with confidence about the resurrection of the Christ, that his body was not abandoned to hades nor did his flesh see corruption. He spoke with confidence about Jesus rising up again and how they were to be witnesses of that near and far. He spoke with confidence about Jesus being exalted at the right hand of God and pouring out His Spirit at just the right time and according to a definite plan. He wanted the Jews to know first and eventually the Gentiles to know for certain that Jesus was both Lord and Christ, to know for certain that whoever repented and was baptized would be saved, to know what I’m calling lesson #2 today, that because of who God is and all that He has done and all that He promises, life need not get the best of us anymore!
Truth #1 was that already in the beginning, dear friends, the Triune God was delighting in you, He had a blast creating you in the first place, and nothing gave Him greater joy than saving you in the second place. Truth #2 was that in every season of life, not only is your God going on before you, not only He is right there beside you, He is always picking up the pieces after you!
Truth #3 is that even if you end up dead and buried, the Holy Trinity will not (abandon you).
David said it this way, “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades or let your Holy One see corruption.” Jesus said it this way, “Truly truly I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death…..in response, the Jews paraphrased what Jesus said this way, “and yet you say if anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.” With these words, Jesus would inspire in a confidence that in Him there is forgiveness of sins, there is a resurrection of the body, there is a life everlasting.
The kingdom of God is like a large church in a small town who spend their days tasting (victory). They know they are but pilgrims and travelers here and that a new heaven and a new earth will be their home. They know that even when they feel like they’re fighting a losing battle, the ultimate victory is theirs. They come early and they come often to their Lord’s Table, where the foretaste of paradise is as sweet as it can be. They know that to live here and now is Christ, to die is gain. They desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
The kingdom of God is like a pair of preachers who will be sticking to their (day jobs). Golfing will remain their hobby, and for now and the forseeable future, preaching will remain their vocation. A not so inspiring pair of golfers we are and I’m guessing will remain. But on this Trinity Sunday, 2016, your pastors invite you to listen in as we pray for you, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, fil the hearts of your faithful people in this place, in this hour. Inspire in them strong confidence in you and help them not to lean unto their own understandings. Help them to know how already in the beginning, you were delighting in them, help them to know in every season of life that you are beside them, help them to know that even if they end up dead and buried, you will not abandon them to their graves. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther