Messiah Lutheran Church :: EASTER ON YOUR MIND

EASTER ON YOUR MIND

Dear Christian friends.

On Thursday nights my family enjoys taco night at a restaurant around the corner.  Last Thursday we saw something that was really nice to see.  A dad brought his two children to the restaurant to meet Mom after work.  The moment she showed, the kids screamed in delight and gave Mom huge hugs and kisses.  The faces of all who were in the dining room were lit up with smiles too.  

A certain child in our family sat across the table from me.  I said in jest that I was trying to jog my memory of an occasion when I was met with such vim and vigor.  I tried to remember the day when one of our children screaming out, “Dad!” and jumped into my arms.  I guess I was having a senior moment.  I was having trouble with any recollections.  I do remember one of our little cherubs complaining that one of his/her siblings had touched them or had looked at them and wanted Dad to put a stop to it.  Then there were the times when a certain someone warned our little quiver of young’ens “Wait until your father gets home.” That explained why they didn’t come running to me but away from me.  

It is funny how our children who have given us grandchildren remember the times they got in trouble or should have gotten in trouble.  It is amazing how much they remember how they were walking at the edge of the abyss in our home so many years ago.  Why don’t they talk about the times we had so much fun and had so many laughs when we went to the Nutcracker.        

 As I was studied this Scripture this week, Peter reminds us to do a lot of thinking about life and how we live it.  As Ray Charles is famous for singing “Georgia on My Mind,” let all the children of God have “Easter on My Mind.” 

With Easter on our minds, always remember what you are saved from.  What do you think about during the day?  Do you have a constant conversation going on inside of you with the Lord?  I know some of you have to concentrate on spreadsheets or contracts or some kind encryption, but how far is the Lord away from your thoughts? Do you talk to him throughout the day? Do you find that second nature to do?  Peter says here, Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.” This verse could be a sermon all by itself.  It gives us all kinds of things to think about.  

He says “Since you call on a Father…”  It is pretty easy to figure out that he is speaking to Christian people here.  There are two reasons.  Only Christians really know how God is our Father.  Only Christians really do pray to the true God who is our Father.

Every father/child relationship on this earth ought to pattern itself after the one that God our Father has with us.  Be clear on this: We don’t deserve to be called his children.  All of us are like that prodigal son who distanced himself from his father when he lived so far from his father in a foreign land. 

Yet, we are children of God by adoption.  I have been at and involved in three adoptions in my ministry – one through a Christian organization, another at a lawyer’s office.  The third one failed through a lawyer.  Our adoption into God's family never fails.  It takes place at a baptismal fount.  The Holy Spirit made it happen.  He brought us into the family of God and gave us new clothes to wear, the robes of Christ’s righteousness.  That’s what God promises through Paul. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” 

 The second reason we know Paul is addressing Christians is the fact that only Christians call on the true God in prayer.  Atheists obviously don’t pray, but people who say they are religious aren’t really praying either.  Remember Elijah and the prophets of Baal. The prophets of Baal thought they were praying.  Were they praying when the god they prayed to didn’t exist?  No one was there to listen.  There is no God but one.  We speak to him only through Jesus Christ.  

 The next statement tends in verse eleven tends to scare the begeebers out of us if it isn’t understood correctly.  Our Father is the one who “judges the works of each one.”  A cursory look at that passage obviously makes us feel very uncomfortable.  Everyone sins.  So when God judges the works of each one that is scary.  But remember we are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.   

 A good father is interested in every action and words his children say.  Our perfect Father is even more so.  He is interested in what we think and say and do.  Because the Lord is our father by adoption, his children don’t want to drag our father’s name through the mud.  We don’t want to embarrass him by what we think, say or do. 

 Have you noticed this lately in our politically charged nation?  A politician or politically connected person speaks his mind and media or other politicians or politically connected people are all over them. It is almost laughable. Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, had the worst couple of weeks as anyone lately.  Before long we heard from the Democrats that he was a registered Republican.  We heard from Republicans that he gave all kinds of money to liberal causes.  One hard, left leaning organization named him “man of the year.”  What were people trying to do?  Embarrass the other side. 

When Christians give into the sinful flesh, the faithless are quick to point that out.  That’s why we need to give careful thought to our ways. While we fail so many times, keep Easter on your mind.  It reminds us what we need to be saved from. 

 While we are by no means perfect, Easter reminds us what we are saved by – the blood of Jesus. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

People say that money will buy you anything you want; you just have to have enough of it.  Everyone or everything has a price.  But that is just not true. Money can’t buy freedom for the soul.  It can’t buy heaven.  That’s the job of the blood - not ours - but of Jesus’ blood.  It redeems us.  It sets us free. 

 I suppose most criminals have thought somewhere along the line that it would be the ultimate crime to break into FortKnox and take all the gold bullion that is there.  I was surprised.  I thought there was more.  There is $186 billion dollars worth.  It doesn’t come close to paying off the national debt. Above all, it cannot pay for a single sin.  That’s where the blood of Jesus takes over… and only the blood of Jesus.

 The blood of Jesus is able to provide for the cleansing of a myriad of worlds besides our own; it provides enough pardon for the guilt of sins that are more terrifying than even the worst of sins than anyone can commit. 

He says here that we “were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors.”  It would seem logical that he was referring to the empty way of life that Judaism had become over the centuries.  Over the centuries Judaism had become legalistic.  It became a religion based on what a person did rather than a religion based on what God has done.  The Jewish leaders were good at making the impossible even more impossible.  They created a book called the Talmud which was a compendium that offered nothing more than mere opinions of teachers and lost people along the way. It created a mountain of impossible do’s and don’ts that no one could fulfill.

But Peter was also referring to those who didn’t have Jewish backgrounds when he spoke about being “redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors.”  He was also referring to the religious traditions of the Greeks.

They had an afterlife that brought their souls across the river Styx into the realm of Hades, where souls wandered around in a cheerless world. That was what was handed down to many of them from their forefathers.  In other words, it was hopeless and eerie.

Hey keep Easter on your mind.  We have the crystal clear fountains of heaven to look forward too.  We have the joy and treasures forevermore down the road that is endless. We have an eternal audience with our eternal God who created us, redeemed us and sanctifies us to be his own.  We are certain of it by the blood of Jesus whose sacrifice was accepted as he arose from the dead on that first Easter.  Keep Easter on your mind.      

Remember what you are saved for - not only a life there but also here, full of hope and faith.

Early this week we there was an awful incident that took place at a place of business in CobbCounty.  A young man, very young man, rushed into a warehouse and started shooting.  He was nineteen.  Someone said he looked like someone who was going to war.  In the end he wounded six, some severely.  He committed suicide.  Thursday another horrible incident was averted when a young man who was only seventeen was arrested before he could carry out his plan to kill his parents and wreak havoc on his high school in Waseca, Minnesota. He planned that a SWAT team was going to have to kill him. 

Our family has driven through Waseca, Minnesota.  Where our kids went to school is not far from there. It is small town America.  Someone wrote about him, “He idolized the Columbine school shooters.  He planned to set off "numerous bombs" during the lunch hour at Waseca Junior/Senior High School, and then kill the school resource officer. Then he planned to unleash gunfire on students until police officers arrived, allegedly planning to let them kill him.”  Something was sure wrong this young man. With the billions in the world, you wonder how many might be thinking the same.

Hey, it is time to get our minds and the minds of billions who live on planet Earth to have hope and faith and live for him who died and rose for us.   Peter says, Through him you believe in God, who raised Jesus from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” That’s where our hope is.  That is where are faith is.  While everyone has their own unique struggles in this world, let all keep the good Lord’s acts of love on their minds.  Those acts of love are life-changing!  In other words, keep Easter on your minds.

 Amen 

 

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