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Colossians and Ephesians Part Forty

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Colossians and Ephesians Part Thirty-Nine

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Denarius Jesus!

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Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost                   Trinity Lutheran Church

24 September 2017                                            Murdock, NE

 

Isaiah 55:6-9 / Matthew 20:1-16

 

My thoughts are not your thoughts.

Your ways are not my ways.

My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

Nothing could be truer. Exact. Spot on. And yet nothing could be more scandalous! Or deadly — to the old Adam! Especially when it comes to salvation!

 

After all, you’re old Adams/sinful natures have particular opinions about how salvation works. You are dead set on how God should act when it comes to salvation. And it’s this: God should give you what you deserve. What you earn. What you merit. So much work, so much salvific salary! You’re a Salvational Firster! Always comparing yourself to others and you’re always better! Deserving more.

 

Like the apostle Peter himself who at the end of chapter 19 declared in arm bar fashion: “Look here Jesus! We apostles have left all to follow you. Now, what do we get?” (Mt. 19:27) Yeah, you work all day in the vineyard. You bear the backbreaking burden. You sweat through the exhaustive heat of the day. So you should get more than the slackers and dead beat losers who don’t work a full day let alone those that arrived at the vineyard an hour before closing time as the sun starts to set! God owes you! He’s under obligation! You put in your time. You should be the first in line. Ahead of everyone else. It’s only fair. It’s only just. It’s only right.

 

Well, friends, you’d better get over that right now. PDQ over it! Quit your complaining that God isn’t fair. That He’s not just. I warn you. “Forsake” that way of thinking. “Is your eye evil because God is good?” That’s really “wicked.” You’d better repent of being a Salvific Firster! Boasting of your hard work! As if you have God in a headlock or a full nelson.

 

Learn the proper function of works and working. They are significant. Vital. In this way: your working and works in the vineyard are not for the next world. Your working and works in the vineyard are for this world. Your working and works in the vineyard ARE NOT FOR SALVATION. They are FOR THE SERVICE, HELP AND LOVE OF YOUR NEIGHBOR – your spouse, children, community and congregation members. So work. Please do. Honor authority: parental and civic. Support your family. Protect life. Live in holy marriage faithfully. Protect your neighbor’s property and reputation. Go for it! With all you’ve got. Not to earn your salvation but because you are saved in Christ.  Yes, indeed — God’s ways are not your ways. God’s thoughts are not your thoughts.

 

God is under no obligation to you. In fact, and this is really incredible and mind blowing — God doesn’t give sinners what they deserve. Sinners deserve damnation.

 

However, God gives what sinners deserve to — JESUS HIS SON! Therefore, God saves sinners only in, with, under and through His Son’s Good Friday on the cross death! The coin, the denarius, that God promises and gives is His Son Jesus and the forgiveness of sins for every sin and every sinner! Jesus died for all. He atoned for all sin. Salvation is for everyone alike. He is totally generous – SALVIFICALLY to all – EVEN THE UNDESERVING THE LAST ONES! Who are you to say God can’t do what He wants with Jesus – His coin — His salvational stash? If you insist on calling the salvation shots Jesus has these words to say to you:  “The first ones will be the last ones.”

 

If you’re going to boast of anything, boast of God’s astounding, amazing grace! FOR YOU and for all! In Good Friday Dead On The Cross Coin Denarius Jesus!

 

So it’s high time to “seek the LORD while he may be found and call upon Him while he is near” to you and FOR YOU in Jesus’ CALVARY CROSS and HIS giving the benefits of His death FOR YOU in your baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

 

My thoughts are not your thoughts.

Your ways are not my ways.

My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

Absolutely! Most especially in this way: HIS HEARTY COMPASSION AND ABUNDANT PARDON as He promises through Isaiah the prophet.

 

Or through the parable Jesus tells. Better just sit back, enjoy and listen to the owner of the vineyard – the God-figure in the story. He does what He wants with the salvation gift – the coin – the denarius — that belongs to Him. That’s Jesus! In Jesus His generosity of forgiveness and salvation knows no bounds. He gives it to all. And TO YOU! Most especially in the Lord’s Supper today. “Given and shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of yours sins.”

 

My thoughts are not your thoughts.

Your ways are not my ways.

My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

Good thing! Especially when it comes to our salvation! All His doing! All His giving! Praise the Lord!

 

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Colossians and Ephesians Part Thirty-Eight

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Colossians and Ephesians Part Thirty-Seven

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What Forgiveness! What Joy!

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Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost                                       Trinity Lutheran Church

17 September 2017                                                                                           Murdock, NE

Matthew 18:21-35

 

Well. Well. Well. Pastor Peter, the rest of the apostles and the church have been given the office of the keys. “Whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven.” Jesus said so. Mandated so. Twice. Chapter 16. Here again in chapter 18. The Lord’s Good Friday forgiveness is to be let loose on the earth. Just like He did with the paralytic in chapter 9. “So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth …” Pedal to the metal absolution of sin. Forgiveness to the hilt. Full bore forgiveness for sinners. After all, Jesus’ death atoned for all sin and for every sinner.

 

That’s when Peter speaks up. And you’d agree with this eminent apostle, right? Of course! “Lord,” Peter declares. “I’m in favor of this forgiveness – office of the keys – stuff. After all, you’re quite bullish about it. But I believe that there should be a limit. A maximum.   A ceiling.” You’re shaking your heads in agreement aren’t you? Sure you are. Peter’s on a roll. He continues. “So, Lord, I propose some enormous godly, churchly and pastoral discretion – forgive someone seven times – and then put on the brakes. Put a plug in it. Can’t just let sinners off the hook all the time! Wouldn’t you agree Lord?”

 

Well, Peter – NO! You don’t have better words than the Lord. He says: “Not seven times but seventy times seven.” That’s perfect forgiveness multiplied without measure. Isn’t that what you personally expect from Jesus and His Good Friday forgiveness? Of course! That’s a no-brainer! You don’t put on limit or ceiling on the Lord’s forgiveness for you, do you? NO WAY! Every Sunday you confess that you “justly deserve God’s temporal and eternal punishment” because of your sin. And what do you expect to hear from me, the Lord’s ambassador, every Sunday? You eagerly want me to boldly and categorically speak the limitless Good Friday forgiveness of Christ into your ears. What if I started to exclude the unlimited and astonishing divine absolution from the service on Sundays? What if I decided that I will not speak the Lord’s heavenly absolution to you anymore? That the Lord’s forgiveness has run out? That your sin is too big for His Good Friday forgiveness? I know what you’d do. You’d box in my ears and demand that I forgive you in the stead and by the command of Christ! That the Lord’s forgiveness is more than and bigger than all of your sin! Right? Of course you would!

 

So why in the world would you and Peter want to place a limit on the forgiveness you give to those that sin against you?

 

That’s precisely why Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant. “You wickedly evil servant,” the King declared. “I spilled my guts out for you. That’s how compassionate and merciful I was to you. I forgave you everything. I forgave your debt. Tore up the note. Wrote ‘paid in full’ in the books. I set you free! And now what have you done? Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?” And so the King had the servant thrown in jail – to be tortured. Let me be plain. The King was essentially telling the unforgiving servant: “If that is what you do with My amazing grace, then you can straight to hell!” (Hell, by the way is where everyone gets to pay off their debt but it never ends.)

 

“So also,” Jesus says, “my heavenly Father will do to everyone of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Wow! Does Jesus finally have your attention? Good! With those startling words Jesus intends to repent you. To put your old sinful nature – your unbelieving, grudge-holding, calculating, unforgiving heart TO DEATH! TO KILL IT! All in order for Him to faith you through His full and free Good Friday forgiveness once again. And then His good use of you to be His instrument and mouth to freely and fully forgive those that have sinned against you! Today, Jesus is after you! To repent you from your unforgiveness in order that you will live by faith in and from His forgiveness!

 

Unforgiveness, as I’ve said many times before and I will say it again, only hurts the person that won’t forgive. You think you’re hurting the person who has hurt you by NOT FORGIVING HIM. Wrong! You only hurt yourself! Seriously! Unforgiveness is like banging your head against the wall because someone insulted you. “That’ll teach him,” you say! Really? Unforgiveness is a spiritual cancer that eats away at your bones. It demeans you. It robs you of life and joy. It drives you to say and do things that are not worthy of you as God’s redeemed and baptized children.

 

Unforgiveness diminishes you. Makes you small. In fact, unforgiveness MAKES GOD SMALLER. Marriages go south when husband and wife won’t forgive each other daily. Families starve and scatter when family member won’t forgive each other. Our congregation is weakened when we hold grudges against each other, won’t talk to each other and refuse forgiveness for the brother or sister in Christ.

 

Unforgiveness is like living as a slave on the I Won’t Forgive Plantation. When you do not forgive those that sin against you, you give them power over your emotions, your decisions and your actions. The people you won’t forgive run your life. They become lords over you that you have to serve with your grudges, anger and hatred.

 

The word, “forgive” means to set free. To cut loose. To dismiss. When something is forgiven it no longer has power. When a debt is forgiven, it no longer has any claim over your money. When sin is forgiven it no longer has the power to condemn. So, when you refuse to forgive others, you are chaining yourself to them by the power of their sin in a perverse and destructive bond that ties up your freedom as the free children of God.

 

To “forgive from the heart” is an act of the will. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. Did you hear that? I’d better say it again. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. You don’t have to be in a forgiving mood to forgive. The essence of forgiveness are in the words spoken: “I forgive you” and in actions shaped by those words. Forgiveness means that you do not return evil for evil, sin for sin, hurt for hurt, anger for anger. You don’t do to others what they do to you! When God forgives you for Jesus’ sake (and He has!) He doesn’t count your sins against you. Because of Good Friday God refuses to condemn you as your sins deserve. Why? Well, because He has damned all your sin forever in the crucified Body of His Son. God deals with you in love because of Jesus.

 

Let me just say a few more things. I know. I know. You’re looking at your watches and smartphone. My time is short. It’s this. To forgive does not mean to forget. The King in the parable did not for one minute forget the debt He forgave. Absolution is not amnesia. God doesn’t forget the sins He forgives. Instead, He refuses to act on them because He remembers that He has already done them to death in the Good Friday death of Jesus! God doesn’t get even with you because Jesus evened you up with God by offering His divine body and blood into death as the only atoning sacrifice for your sin. Similarly, you don’t forget what you forgive. How can one forget adultery, murder, abandonment, hatred, betrayal or violence? Forgiveness simply means that you don’t act on it. You don’t try to get even. You remember the sin but you remember it differently. Namely, “Oh, yes. I forgave it. I forgave him/her.” That is what it means to “forgive from the heart.”

 

So, brothers and sisters, the forgiveness that flows to you from the cross knows no boundaries or limits. God doesn’t keep track of how many times we come to Him for forgiveness. The confessional liturgy has it bang on as it quotes 1 John 1. “If we confess our sins, GOD IS FAITHFUL AND JUST AND WILL FORGIVE US OUR SINS AND CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.”

 

Seven times in a day or 490 times – it really doesn’t matter. That is how Jesus forgives. He forgave His own people that plotted to kill Him. He forgave the soldiers who pummeled Him with their fists, violently pulled on His beard, whipped, mocked Him and spit in His face. Jesus categorically absolved those who crucified Him. “Father, forgive them.”

 

Jesus forgives you too! Yes, even you! You are very precious to Him! You heard His living voice in this morning’s absolution and now in the gospel being preached. In just a few more minutes at the altar you’ll hear His living voice again: “Given and shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of your sins.”

 

In the strength of that astoundingly overflowing and undeserved divine forgiveness Jesus sends you to be His means, His instruments, His mouth, His conduits, to speak His pardon and peace to sinners in your life, your family, your community and your congregation. To let His forgiveness flow to others just as He has given it to you!

 

So, as we pray today, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” Jesus declares, “You are forgiven! You are free!”

 

What joy! In the Name of Jesus.

Colossians and Ephesians Part Thirty-Six

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