GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVOUR — JESUS THE CHRIST – AND FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Nate – confined to a wheelchair throughout his life – at the age of ten was playing basketball with his brothers and a few friends in the school gym when a particularly violent thunder storm erupted.
The electric went off leaving the windowless gym totally dark.
Panicked all the boys fled through the door – all but Nate in his wheelchair. He cried out for someone to lead him to the safety beyond the door. Everyone else had fled – no one heard his plea.
He had never been that scared before – and hasn’t since. He prayed “Lord Jesus, help me, please save me and I will always try to be a better person.”
Just then a giant flash of lightning lit up the entire gym and even lasted long enough for Nate to retreat to the safety beyond the door.
We never know when Jesus The Divine Host of the universe will come among us as our Divine Guest as He did that day in the school gym and as He does in our text this morning.
As the 10th chapter of St. Luke began, Jesus and His disciples were traveling across the totally barren Wilderness of Judea. Jesus was approached by a scribe who interpreted the law which he as both theologian and lawyer had learned through constant copying of God’s Word. Seeking to put Jesus to the test, the scribe asked, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? What must I do to gain Divine Favor and reward?”
Jesus responded with The Parable of The Good Samaritan. In His words and in His parable, Jesus explained the essence of the life to which we are called by Christ to live is to loveThe Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind; and to love our neighbor as we love our self.”
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR – JESUS THE CHRIST.
I remember the first time I met Guenther Tharp. He was such a little guy – cute as only a child of four could be – and shy as is so typical of a child that age. The whole time I talked to him he never stopped looking down at his shoes and did not utter a single sound. Soon the Tharps and I went on to other topics and Guenther returned to his toys – apparently totally oblivious to what his parents and I said or did.
Then his father made reference to the family’s visit to Disney World on their recent vacation. Those two words – “Disney World” – were like an alarm clock alerting Guenther to an interesting shift in what Guenther had considered a boring adult conversation. Soon he was directly in front of me talking about Mickey Mouse, “It’s A Small, Small World” and all the other characters and attractions he had seen at Disney World. Ten minutes passed and Guenther was still telling the story of his visit to Disney World. It was obvious the shy Guenther had a story to tell and loved telling it.
Smitty Weaver is the shyest and quietest of all the workers at the GM plant – until someone mentions the year the Cavaliers won and the Indians almost one it all. Then Smitty comes to life drawing vivid sketches with his animated and lively speech – he has a story to tell and loves telling it. Mildred Gunderson is that way about garage sales. She always knows where the best ones are, has a story to tell and loves telling it.
I guess we are all somewhat that way. We each have our own stories to tell. We each have some subject or subjects which interest us more than anything else in life and which become our story to tell – the story we love to tell.
One Nation Under God - Or Just A Nation Going Under?
“One Nation Under God – Or Just A Nation Going Under?”
Text - 1 KINGS 18:21 and ROMANS 13:1-7
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER, FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Lars Tharp had a rough day at the office and, after dinner, wanted nothing more than to collapse in his easy chair and read his
favorite magazine. Guenther had other ideas. He approached his Dad
with one question after another. Finally, he wanted to know about the United States map.
Lars found a chance for that relaxation he so craved. He tore a sheet out of his magazine on which was printed a map of the United States. Cutting the map into small pieces, he gave it to Guenther and said, “Go into the other room by the table and see if you can put this map together.”
In what seemed like mere minutes, Guenther was back with the map correctly pieced together and taped. Lars was surprised and asked how Guenther had been able to complete the jigsaw puzzle so fast.
Guenther smiled, “Dad, on the other side of the map there was a picture of Jesus. When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, our country just came together.”
Two hundred and forty-two years ago, a group of men who dreamed of a new nation gathered in a hot and musty room in Philadelphia. Those men were farmers, doctors, lawyers, surveyors, printers who had come together with a dream – a dream they were willing to give their very lives for.
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR PERSONAL CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR … JESUS THE CHRIST.
I’m often asked for more stories about Guenther Tharp. Our text this morning always reminds me of the time Guenther was studying The Ten Commandments with Mrs. Nielsen’s Sunday school class and she decided to give the class an oral quiz. She asked, “Which commandment are you breaking when you sneak some money out of your mother’s purse?”
Sally Nolan replied, “The Seventh Commandment, Mrs. Neilsen, ‘You shall not steal’.”
“What commandment are you breaking if you are disrespectful to your mother?”
Tim Ryan said, “The Fourth — ‘Honor your father and your mother’.”
“What commandment are you breaking if you cut off part of a little puppy’s tail?”
The children were shocked. There were very few things they could think of as horrible as cutting off part of a little puppy’s tail.
They knew it was a terrible sin — but wondered which commandment was being violated.
Mrs. Neilsen repeated her question several times. “What commandment are you breaking if you cut off part of a little puppy’s tail?”
Finally, Guenther Tharp somewhat tentatively raised his hand, “I think I know the commandment, but I am not sure of the number.”
“O.K., Guenther, which commandment is someone breaking if you cut off part of a little puppy’s tail?”
“What God hath joined together let no one rend asunder.” (MATTHEW 19:6)
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER, FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS THE CHRIST AND FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT.
There is something fascinating about a seed. It has a dead, lifeless appearance, and yet, within it there is life itself. Place a seed in the right soil and in a relatively short period of time, you have food stuffs to feed a nation or flowers to beautify the drabbest of landscapes.
Agriculture in the Holy Land is as diverse as anywhere in the world – from the bountiful crops springing up in the rich volcanic rain-soaked soil of the Galilee to the rock solid and parched soil of Judea’s wilderness and edge of the wilderness terrains – with a diverse assortment of soils in between – often side by side as on a day when, as usual, a large crowd gathered about Jesus and Jesus was teaching them many things in parables – in earthly stories with spiritual meanings.
It was at that moment Jesus saw a farmer planting seed in a field with a variety of soils -all unfenced and open to one and all. To this day, even the best soil is often too shallow for modern equipment so the farmer lifts the seed from the bag he carries and throws it from side to side.
With a glance at that farmer, Jesus said, "Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds of the air devoured it. Bordering and often cutting across the fields of Israel are numerous roads and paths – all having endured years of being beaten down into a rock hard surfaced road by people walking, by sheep and goat herds moving in search of water, and by the occasional camel, donkey, or wagon transporting goods. As the farmer sows the seed, the breeze blows some of the seed onto those paths where the seed lays on the packed-down ground, unable to penetrate the soil, and the birds scoop it up so no life bursts forth.
Jesus said, “And these seeds on the hardened path are the ones along the path where The Word is sown. Satan immediately comes and takes away The Word that is sown in them.” - takes away The Word from people’s hearts, that they may not believe and be saved.