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“Realize & Receive”

August 6, 2013

Rev. Scott Porath

So, how’s it going folks?  Tired?  Frustrated?  Is life a drag, futile, empty, meaningless?  Have you ever wondered why, after Jesus declares, “it is finished” – it isn’t finished – and what I mean is that there isn’t this immediate entrance into heaven?  Why does Jesus spend 40 days walking around on earth after His resurrection?

The obvious answer is that He preaches and teaches the kingdom of God, so that all nations might go to heaven.  That’s true – that IS the ultimate goal.  Heaven IS ALREADY won ……….. but NOT YET lived.

With Christ’s work of redemption “finished” – there is a “new creation” – where we once again live as creatures of God, in His creation.  But like Solomon, and Adam & Eve – there is frustration and “vanity” living in this world – toiling by the sweat of our brow, enduring much pain and suffering.

That is what sin does to God’s “good creation.”  But in Christ – you are a “new creation” – re-created to live with God, in and with His creation, even now.  Like Adam & Eve, you are re-created to “walk with God” – to have dominion over His creation – working where He has placed you, and taking care of those things He has entrusted to you.  The problem is that we fail to realize this new creation, and receive it with thanksgiving.

 

There is nothing new under the sun – the frustration, futility, emptiness and meaninglessness of life is not new.  You are in good company – with the great King Solomon – “the Preacher” who preaches a sermon to us today.

Solomon – in his thirst for meaning, fulfillment and purpose – tried it all.  He didn’t hold back.  He pursued pleasure and laughter – wine and cheer.  He examined both wisdom and folly.  He applied himself to great works – building houses, planting vineyards, making pools.  He collected servants and possessed great herds and flocks.  He gathered silver and gold and treasures.  He got singers and concubines.

“And behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”  Like trying to grasp the wind – in the end – all is vanity, empty.  Life is an “unhappy business.”  Work is WORK.  Solomon hated his toil.  What’s the use?  “Even in the night his heart does not rest.”  Sound familiar?

 

So what is one to do?  “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.”  We’re familiar with the motto – “eat, drink and be merry” – and we think of one big party.  Might as well enjoy all that life has to offer – booze, sex, gluttony, pleasure, anything & everything that makes me feel good.

But that’s not what Solomon is preaching!  Remember, he tried it all – he lived that life – and what was his conclusion?  “All is vanity.”  Instead, when Solomon says that a man should “eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil” – he means that we are to live by realizing the gifts God has given, and receiving them with thanksgiving.

Daily bread is not just that which we “eat and drink” – but everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body.  Realize that it is God who gives you food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, AND THE LIKE.

Realize these gifts, and receive them with thanksgiving – that is, use them as God intends.  God gives you daily bread for your benefit – to support your body and life.  That doesn’t mean you store them all up for yourself, and then kick back and say – “I’m going to relax, eat, drink and be merry” – because God has also given these gifts to you so that you can use them for the benefit of your neighbor!

God has created you to live WITH and FOR your fellow man – to help him with your thoughts, words and deeds – to protect him, defend his reputation, intercede on his behalf.  That is Good Stewardship!  Good for you, and for your neighbor.  This is His “happy business” – and there is nothing better.

 

But in our sinful nature, we are not content with what our Lord gives.  We fear that we will not have enough – that we will be left empty – that we will suffer.  So we hoard God’s gifts and use them only for ourselves.  That is not good.  That is not who God created you to be – or how He created you to live.

Folks, rather than living in FEAR – in frustration, futility, despair, as if all of life is meaningless – God has created you to live by FAITH in Him.

For indeed, “It is finished.”  All the destruction that sin has brought to God’s creation and to you – has been redeemed in the blood of Jesus Christ.  “It is finished” – you are forgiven – heaven is yours ……………….. and so is all creation!

God has not only provided for your eternal life – He provides for all your needs of body and soul in this life.  He gives daily bread to your neighbors – and through your neighbors (people like your father and mother, your brothers and sisters in Christ, the governing authorities) – God takes care of you!

 

The twofold shape of the Christian life is to live in FAITH towards God, and in LOVE toward your neighbor.  This is the creature that God has made you to be.  This is what gives meaning and fulfillment to life.

So that we might daily realize the gifts He gives, and receive them with thanksgiving – the Lord must continually put our old sinful nature to death – breaking and hindering every evil plan and purpose of our sinful nature – and resurrecting us by His forgiveness, as Him “new creation.”

That is what He is doing today as He gives you His Body and Blood, forgiving all your sin – and resurrecting you to live with Him and with your fellow man.  A full life.  A content life.  An abundant life.  A lived WITH and FOR others.

Dearly beloved, “It is finished.”  You are forgiven.  Heaven is yours – as well as all the temporal gifts He gives you.  So eat, drink, find enjoyment in the work God has given you – and then lay down your head and rest in peace ……. for, “It is finished.”  Amen.

 

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

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