Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What if I stumble ed. 8/6/14

John 20:19-23
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight oh Lord our Rock and our redeemer. Amen.

I said it to myself quite a few times and I said it to a few other people. I responded to my own thoughts and to the queries, "That is why I am a Lutheran". I said it to myself when I felt the difficulty that I have living out the words of my confession. The difficulty I have in receiving God's good gifts and keeping the ten commandments in Spirit and truth.

We are followers of Jesus Christ, gathered to this place by God to receive his blessings of word and sacrament, and through that the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins. I know this, I dedicated five years to studying it and understanding it. But yet I still struggle to believe it and live it out in the holiness that I have attained.
Each Sunday I confess my sins along with you, I confess to my Heavenly Father that I have sinned against Him and against others and I confess and repent of those sins. Along with you, I truly confess and believe that Jesus Christ has redeemed us from all our sins and that I desire forgiveness in his name alone. With you I say that I intend with the help of the Holy Spirit to live as in God's presence and strive daily to lead a Holy life knowing that Christ has made us holy.
I actually don't at that point hear the comforting words of Christ proclaiming the forgiveness of sins and spoken through one of his ordained representatives, but the reality of my forgiven state is no less true. Regardless of whether we hear it spoken or not God is faithful and whenever we ask for forgiveness we receive it. We receive forgiveness whenever we seek it, though we do not always receive peace.

Peace comes alone from God, it is a fruit of the Spirit, which was breathed into us when we were baptised. Peace is a good thing, and God promises to give good things to those who ask.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." James 1:5 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

In practice however, we don't, we don't ask God for the good things he promises and we don't receive the peace we seek in the way we expect it, Instead we often must learn patience through our suffering. And this is why I am a Lutheran. I believe the Lutheran understanding of the gospel is the true understanding. I believe that while we were still sinners Christ died for us and that we will constantly struggle with our old selves that have been drowned in the waters of baptism. I believe that Christ died on the cross in our stead so that we might have peace, and I know in my heart that I struggle to receive that peace.

Jesus came to his disciples when they were locked in their house for fear of the Jews; he came to them in their fear bringing peace, we know from the account in Luke that this peace was not received at first blessing. "Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost."
Jesus himself spoke peace but it was not initially received.

You are Christians, people who have had the Holy Spirit breathed into you, through Word and sacrament. You have received Peace, yet no doubt you still worry, you have received forgiveness and the Holy Spirit so that you can live a holy life, and yet you sin. You have been set free from the burden and guilt of sin, and yet it weighs you down.

Luther lived this struggle, Paul lived this struggle, every Follower of Christ lives this struggle. To you, in your struggle, Jesus says Peace. "Peace be with you, I know your failures, I know your sins, and I am sending you." Jesus says "I am blessing you with the Holy Spirit, which will strengthen you in your moments of weakness, It will help you stay true to the path of righteousness and bring you back when you stray. The Holy Spirit, which you have received will give you peace."

Your failure to keep God's law even after being forgiven is not a failure of the Spirit, it shows you your constant need for Christ. Your lack of peace is not a lack of the Holy Spirit within you, but it reminds you to pray to God in all things and continually ask him for what you need to live.  The constant stumbling over the same sins is not a damnation but shows the love of God, that even though we are broken, God did not and does not reject us.
When we stumble, when we struggle to find peace, when we find it hard to love, that is when we know that we need Jesus. and those times when by God's mercy we are kept pure, when we do have heavenly peace and our love overflows, at those times we praise God, Praising him for bringing us into his family, loving and caring for us, and making the peace which we have by faith a tangible reality.
and the peace which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus amen.

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