Sermon 7/25/21 "Who is your Shepherd?" by: Pastor Chris Boyd
“Who is your Shepherd?”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
In today’s time there are many distractors. Family can serve as a distraction. Media can serve as a distraction. Education can serve as a distraction. Jobs. Even science can distract. The love of money, love of alcohol, love of drugs, love of crime, love of corrupted power, etc. All these can serve as distractors, but distractors of what?
Each and every one of us has a void in our hearts, a sense of lacking that comes from sin. For sin does not add to us, but subtracts from us our humanity. It forms cracks within us and bores a hole within our hearts. Thus to fill this hole we look out into the world. The things we look for becomes “gods” for us. I say this because our empty hearts, this bore of a hole, is liken to an empty throne that sits in the center. Who sits on that throne? Who or what occupies the position of “god” within your hearts? Who or what has the ability to lead you by the nose in such a way that all they have to do is say a command and you are so compelled to willingly obey? Is it your wife? Is it your daughter? Is it your boyfriend? Is it alcoholic drinks? Is it various pleasures? Is it pride or power? Or is it God Himself? Only one person can sit on that throne. So who is it? Who is your god? Who is your king? Who is your shepherd?
The thing about a shepherd is that they are charged with guiding a flock of sheep. And because sheep are not very intelligent animals they will gladly listen and follow their shepherd. In the past I talked about the difference between a shepherd and a hired hand. Today I will talk about the difference between a bad shepherd and The Good Shepherd. So back to sheep… Sheep are dumb animals, and are incredibly reliant upon their shepherds. They know their shepherd and their shepherd knows them. So if a shepherd calls, the sheep will follow. This includes bad shepherds. The sad thing about bad shepherds is that even though the shepherd will inevitably lead the flock to destruction and scatter the flock and not dare find their lost sheep, regardless, the sheep will, as best they could, follow the bad shepherd to their ruin.
Over time, throughout the course of history there have been many bad shepherds, and God calls them out, though not individually. Outside of the usual bad shepherds which includes dumb idols or false gods, you have evil humans who taught the flock that which goes against God. These shepherds mentioned in say Jeremiah, our first reading, are unrighteous people who not only taught against God but acted in malicious ways that force the scattering of the sheep. Their teachings lead the flock astray. In today’s time that would be any teaching that encourages sinful action and encourages people to believe evil notions that run counter to God. Such teachings will always cause the flock to become lost and disconnected from God. Scattered, for they have been lead down a path where they worship a false God and walk away from the true Triune God.
The most obvious example of this are the evil “pastors” who’s teaching cause people to hate God because God calls homosexuality and transgenderism and abortion sinful. God says this, not mankind. So out of hatred of religious dictates given by God, and a desire for spiritual freedom from the Law, many have run away from God and have been scattered by these evil shepherds who promote that which violates God’s Word. The sheep were scattered not because they were running away from the bad shepherd, they were scattered because they followed the bad shepherd.
But these bad shepherds do not have to be pastors, quite simply all they have to be is that which serves as distractors from the true Triune God, who leads you away from the Law and the Gospel of the Lord. Thus why I ask: who is your shepherd, who is your king, who is your god, who sits on that throne in your heart?
But let me flip the script, say a pastor did preach against homosexuality and transgenderism and abortion, as he should, but never ever preached God’s grace, isn’t that pastor also a bad shepherd? We need both the Law and the Gospel. It is meaningless if I went to a person, pointed out their sins, and say that they will go to Hell because of said sin and nothing can be done about it. If I hit people offside the head by bombarding them with their own sins, but never extend to them the gift of Salvation which comes through faith in the grace of God, do you know what will happen? Said person will either come to hate God or fall into depression.
It is true that we should speak out against evil, for as Christians we should desire to do that which is holy and good in the eyes of God. For if we do not speak out against evil but rather speak in favor of evil, then all we will accomplish is promote evil. Now while we are speaking out against evil, it is also proper to proclaim the source of Salvation, the source of Hope, the source of Life, the source of all that is Good; for there is only one true Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
Before His death, many came to him like a sheep without a shepherd. So out of compassion, he became their shepherd. He taught, he healed, and he did miracles. Yet that was not the reason why He came in the first place. We are a scattered lot, and the world will always lead us astray. In it there is nothing but bad shepherds, and all that sits on the throne in our heart will naturally guide our eyes away from God. This is why Jesus came, so that He might be the one who sits on that throne. For only Jesus can be our Good Shepherd, for where all others have failed, He has already succeeded.
When Jesus Christ came he didn’t come to merely teach and to heal, he came so that he might die. We are not righteous, nor can we make ourselves righteous. Whereas the Law does exist for our own good, because we cannot obey the Law the Law is a curse to us. This is why people do not like hearing that homosexuality and transgenderism and all abortion are evil and wicked abominations, because the Law to lawless people, and we are lawless people, is but a curse. Thus because of the curse of the Law, we are doomed to fail, and can’t help but hate God. And the result of all this is Hell. Yet out of compassion, a desire to save His people, God sent His only Son, who is also God Himself, to shed His blood, suffer one of the most painful forms of death the Romans had devised, to take on all our sins, and not only die but go to Hell. He went to Hell so that we won’t. This is why Jesus came, and this is why He is the only Good Shepherd.
Nothing in this world can save us and all that sits on that throne in our hearts are empty. Except for Jesus, all other “gods” will leave us wanting. There is no satisfaction, only lies. There is no fulfillment, only hunger. There is no peace, only wondering. Yet through Jesus we are satisfied, we are fulfilled, we are at peace. For though we cannot make ourselves righteous, the Lord is our righteousness. He died so that through Him we may become righteous; again not on account of our own righteousness for we are not righteous, but wholly on account of His righteousness, thus the reason why Jesus is our righteousness. Nothing else could do this, not us, not worldly things, nor philosophical schemes.
A bad shepherd would convince you that you are not hungry and leave you empty. A good shepherd would point out that you are indeed hungry and feed you. A bad shepherd would tell you that you are not a sinner or that several sins are not sins and to ignore them. A good shepherd would tell you that you are a sinner, list out what actions are considered sinful, but also provide the means of atonement. A bad shepherd would tell you to ignore the Law and live in ignorant bliss. The Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ provided, alongside the Father and the Spirit, for us the Law, and then died on the cross in order to provide for us the means of Grace.
So I ask one more time, who is your shepherd? Is it one of these bad shepherds? Or is it the one and only truly Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ?
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, in this world full of devilish schemes and twisted sophistry, we pray that you guard us away from the tempting distractions that leave us thirsting but instead help us to always see the Good Shepherd who satisfies, sanctifies, and fills us. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sermon July 25th at 9am. “Go! And Serve” by: Pastor Chris Boyd
“Go! And Serve”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
For all Lutheran Seminarians one of the requirements for Ordination is CPE, Clinical Pastoral Education. CPE is a class provided typically at hospitals and hospice for those who wish to be clinical chaplains. It is required that all clinical chaplains go through multiple of these classes before certification, but as for Lutheran Pastors, who may not be clinical chaplains, it is required that we only go through one course. The reasoning is that you can only learn so much in a classroom, and eventually you will need hands on experience especially when it comes to death, psychological issues, and various traumatic situations. What better way to develop the necessary skills of approaching those stuck in a hospital or close to death than in CPE is the reasoning of the Lutheran Church. So alongside three to four years of education, all Seminarians of the NALC must also conduct one year of mentored ministry while at school, one year of internship, and one semester class of CPE.
Now what exactly is CPE? Basically, it is a course where you conduct so many hours a week of practical chaplaincy in a clinical setting as a part-time volunteer, while also attending two classes per week. During these classes you convey the events that have happened during the practical, assess each other, and then learn
psychotherapeutic skills. To tell the truth, whereas I am glad that I acquired the experience in CPE before I came out here, I am no fan of CPE and abhor the current practices that are instructed. At its core, CPE functions on the basis that, “No one has ever died because of CPE.” The premise is that no one can screw up so much that this would lead to someone’s death, and that this is merely a learning opportunity where it is acknowledged that you will screw up but that is ok; we can conduct damage control and teach you what you did wrong. It is a trial by fire course.
I bet some of you can see the issue with such a course. Whereas I understand the premise, if you are going into a lake you need to eventually get your feet wet. This is not getting your feet wet, but more similar to a group of frat boys running up to the newbie unbeknownst, hoisting him, and chucking him sideways into the lake. On top of that, Lutherans, alongside many other denominations, believes that whereas you are merely alive and then you merely die upon death, you are truly dead without Christ and you because truly alive through faith in Him. So when they said, “No one has ever died because of CPE,” I begged to differ, in that I could fail so epically that the faith of the one I served could be shattered and thus cause them to truly die on account of me.
Many in my CPE class couldn’t wrap their minds around my words, but that was mostly because half of them weren’t even Christians. In fact one such participant was a “chaplain” for Planned Parenthood. Oh boy, that was interesting, let me tell you; I have never met and come to know someone as evil as her. I came with odd notions such as: the most loving thing you can do
for a patient is provide the Word and Sacrament; there is a difference between true and mere death; we are already condemned but through Christ are saved; without the help of God all our actions and thoughts are sinful in nature; we are but instruments; do not confuse empathy with slothfully allowing evil and a vacuum for hope; I believe in exorcism; one cannot be a good psychologist and a pastor at the same time, you can only pick one; etc.
So I guess you can tell I did not like CPE, and for a myriad of reasons. But there is a reason why I mentioned CPE. When it comes to ministry, one of these days a student needs to acquire experience, and for many this is a trial by fire. It’s not just me and all my fellow Lutheran pastoral friends who have gone through this, but also the disciples.
In today’s Gospel, right before Jesus feeds the five thousand, He sends his twelve disciples. “Go! And Serve,” he basically tells them. This was way before Jesus suffered on the cross, died, rose from the grave, met His disciples again, ascended into heaven, and then blessed His disciples with tongues of fire on Pentecost which opened their minds to the truth. Way before all of this, while his disciples were still students of Jesus, a Rabbi, teacher, He sends them out two by two. So at least they were not alone, but had a partner with them, which is always desirable. This way they always had a companion during their journeys whom they could confide in and rely on. But Jesus didn’t just merely send them out. He instructed his students to go and cast out demons, heal the sick, and proclaim the need for repentance.
Well that is a heavy thing to ask mere students. Sure Jesus gave them the authority over unclean spirits, but he did not lift them out of their disciple-rabbi relationship. The disciples were still his students. Yet, regardless, He gave them this heavy charge and they went out and did as he told them to do. They most definitely had a trial by fire experience.
Now as He sent them, He instructed them to have no money or food or bags, just clothes and a staff. Why that? This way the disciples would be forced to interact and become reliant upon the hospitality of the people whom they serve. You preach to them and heal them and hopefully they will provide for you. And if they don’t listen to you because they have scratchy ears and would rather only listen to what they want to hear and not what they need to hear then as you leave treat their house as if it is dirty than the outside. Even if you are to leave a house and enter into a pigsty, treat the pigsty as if it was cleaner than the house that will only listen to what they want to listen and thus did not receive you. But because the disciples had no food or money they had to quickly find a new home to serve.
It should be noted that as they served, they did not proclaim their own message, nor did they cast out demons and healed in their own names. They themselves had no authority, rather, the authority they did have was given to them by Christ who alone, as God, has the authority to cast out demons and heal and perform miracles. So when they did cast out demons and healed they always did so in the name of He who gave them the authority to do such. It’s kind of like the Constitution in that governing officers
do not have authority in of themselves and thus are incapable of their own power under the Constitution to order the people around, but through the Constitution governing officers have received authority and are capable of governing in the name of the Constitution, so long as they what they do is constitutional. God is the source of the disciple’s authority. These disciples are but men, they have no authority over unclean spirits, but through the aid of God, with and in Him, the disciples were capable of casting out demons and healing the sick and injured.
Yes it is a scary thing to be sent out, most especially if you believe yourself ill-prepared. It will always be initially scary for students as they are thrust into the fire and put to practice what they have been taught, thus developing much needed experiences and honing skills. The disciples are no different. For as a student who is going through such trials is not truly alone, a good instructor will always be supervising, even secretly, the disciples were never truly abandoned by their Lord. The mere fact that they did miracles in the name of the Lord is proof that the Lord was with them. You’ve heard the saying, “where two or more are gathered in My Name, there I am also.” Well Jesus sent them two by two, and they are preaching in His Name, therefore He is present. So the trial by fire for them is not so bad.
And the same can be applied to all of you, especially those who are new to the faith. For all Christians, old and young, new and seasoned, have received the Great Commission: Preach, Baptize, and then Teach. And if you do go out and serve the Lord know this, if you allow Him, it is the Lord that guides your words, and moves your hands, and heals the sick, and provides faith to
those who willingly listens to you. Thus know this, even if you are new to the faith, even if you believe yourself ill-equipped, even if you are uncomfortable with spreading the Good News, if you do Spread the Good News and do so in the name of the Lord, then the Lord is not only with you but also equips you with the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, through your Son you have given us the Great Commission to go into the world serving you as we proclaim in your name the Good News. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, providing us with guidance and assurance so that as we follow your commands we do not become conflicted or scared but rather know that you are indeed with us. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sermon 7/04/2021 by: Pastor Chris Boyd
2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-14
Mark 5:21-24a, 35-43
“God Protect The Flag””
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Most of you know that the Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Keys, many of you may be familiar with why he wrote it down, but how many of you are familiar the background, the events that led up to its creation and the emotions that were felt by those who witnessed these events unfold? This lack of understanding and appreciation has led many towards detesting the flag and the ideals of the country for which it stands. In the last several years many out of either hatred, misguided notions, or selfishness have kneeled against the flag, turned their backs from it, or burned it to ashes. We have heard accounts across our nation that classes are being taught in our own schools to hate America, to make scapegoats out of Europeans and Christians the same way the Nazis made scapegoats out of Jews, to destroy our relationship and faith in Christ Jesus, and to rewrite history in the lens of the 1619 project, white fragility, and Marxism. Whereas I am unaware if this pervasive hydra has infiltrated our schools here in Port Clinton and Danbury and such, I fear the day rapidly approaching that such will be implemented. We need to fight this, not only for the sake of preserving the flag, but to also preserve our American history and ideals which are founded on Religious Liberty and Judeo-Christian values. One such thing that we must defend, and we pray to God that he most definitely protects, is the National Anthem.
Before Keys was on the scene, the war of 1812 was already raging. The Revolution did not completely severe our ties with Great Britain, for they still desired to reclaim the now states, thus eventually a second war broke out in defense of our independence. But Great Britain was distracted for they were already fighting a war against Napoleon. During this period, while Britain was distracted many Forts were preparing for potential attacks. One such fort, Fort McHenry of Baltimore, a strategically placed fort that the American forces knew would eventually be attacked, was being fortified in anticipation. Now Major Armistead, the Fort’s command officer, expressed a strong desire to fly a large flag, a huge flag, the biggest flag the British has ever seen, over the fort, stating, “a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance.” The General and Commodore approved and by 1813 a 30 by 42 feet with fifteen stars, for there currently was fifteen states, was made and flew over Fort McHenry. Now in case of storm or battle they also procured a smaller and sturdier storm flag.
Eventually Napoleon was defeated and the British forces placed all their focus on America. By 1814, they just burned the Capital and destroyed the White house, now their eyes have turned to McHenry, saying to themselves let us focus all our attention on this Fort, burn it to the ground, destroy that flag, and demoralize America. This Battle was the turning point for the War of 1812, the most important battle. They tried to invade by land but failed. So they tried by sea, and this is when Keys enters the scene.
You see Keys was near Baltimore to organize a prison exchange. The prisoners were held captive on one of the enemy vessels, so Keys organized a meeting via ship. Lucky him, on September 13th, he successfully persuaded the ship’s commander to exchange his prisoners, there was only one problem, because the battle of McHenry by sea was to be that night, they would have to wait. So Keys and his ship was temporarily held captive as he witnessed the British naval forces attack Fort McHenry.
Due to the cannons that protected the fort, the ships that aimed their newly developed rockets and explosive cannonballs, thus legitimate bombs, had to keep their distance. Throughout the
night they fired their ammunition which lit up the blackened sky for all to see through the haze and smoke and kicked up debris. In an effort to demoralize the American forces they aimed particularly at that huge flag that huge high over the ramparts. With each volley Keys watched in amazement as massive explosion after massive explosion bombarded the fort, yet with the night sky so visible, not once did the flag fell. He and all the Americans prayed, God do not allow that flag to go down. A volley thrown, flag is still up, God do not allow that flag to go down. Another bombardment, flag is still up, God do not allow that flag to go down. And still another, flag is still up, dear God keep on protecting that flag.
Though the British intended to take down that flag that mocked them, all they did is expose the flag still gallantly streaming. Such a perilous fight should have destroyed the flag, let alone the pole it was on, but instead with each volley the Americans grew in courage and hope and faith in God while it was the British forces that grew more demoralized as they saw with obvious proof, that God has sided with America and was protecting the Land of the Free. I do not believe in coincidences and neither did the Early Americans and their enemy. There is no way that flag should have remained standing, and yet it did. This was an act of God. The next morning, on September 14th, 1814, the storm flag was lowered, and the much bigger American Flag was raised triumphantly for all the British Soldiers to see. God is on our side, God has blessed America, He is protecting us. After that battle the British forced slowly accepted defeat and has since never attacked us, but has rather decided to be a friend.
Now Keys was writing his song during the Battle, it is four verses long. Did you know that every sentence in the first verse is a question? He is asking will the flag still stand. By the last verse, he got his answer, yes it will! And He proclaims such:
“O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto - "In God is our trust,"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
When Jesus died for us, He did so in order to free us from the tyranny of Satan. Under Original Sin, we were held captive by Lucifer, born as slaves of his domain, thus incapable of doing anything void of sin. We were already damned. But through Jesus, our liberator, He died so that he could take on our chains thus freeing us from the clutches of Satan. Free to do what? Free to do good works. Freed and adopted as children of freedom capable of entering into heaven. Free to still sin, but now of and only of our own volition, for Christ didn’t put us into new chains forcing us to commit only Good works and into believing Him, but freeing us from Satan who forced us to only sin and to only hate God.
It was this Judeo-Christian reality with regards to the sacrifice that God constantly makes for our sake that spurred the founding of our nation rooted in Religious Liberty. For just as Christ died to make men holy, our Founding Fathers and Militia were willing to give up their lives to establish religious freedom and to protect, not provide, our already God-given rights. And it is this that the flag represents: a republic, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
We ask God to still protect the flag and what it truly represents, for since our founding our Founding Fathers has always known that if we wish to remain free then we must also remain to be a religious and moral country. Without God and His protection, we will fail and give into tyranny once again. But be it far from me to speak on behalf of these individuals, so I will conclude with them speaking for themselves.
·“Spiritual freedom is the root of political liberty… As the union between spiritual freedom and political liberty seems nearly inseparable, it is our duty to defend both.”
·“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters.”
·“To preserve the government we must also preserve morals. Morality rests on religion, if you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall. When the public mind becomes vitiated and corrupt, laws are a nullity and constitutions are but waste paper.”
·“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are the indispensable supports… In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens… And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion… reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
·“The only foundation for… a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”
·“Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.”
·“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
These are but a small handful of the many quotes available to us by our founding fathers. They knew the importance of religion and relying on God when it comes to liberty. So I ask you this, as you gaze upon our flag and remember that if it wasn’t for God we would not be a free nation, pray to God to continue blessing this nation, to preserve the faith of the people, and to continue to protect our flag.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, just like how you proved to the world during the battle of McHenry that you have blessed America, we ask that you continue to bless our nation and shield it from all the evils that assail it, keeping it a holy nation. In your most glorious name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sermon 7/11/2021 "Tough Crowd" by: Pastor Chris Boyd
Psalm 143:1-2; 5-8
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Many of you will understand this perception I am about to impart, first hand or at least second hand. It is the perception that one feels with regards to watching the young grow up, particularly a younger sibling. I am the oldest of four kids. I have one brother close to me in age followed by one sister and then finally a wee little brother. There is a nine year gap between me and the youngest of my siblings, and growing up I have always viewed him as the baby of the family. Before I went to college, Jacob, my youngest brother had yet to go through a growth spurt, so the image of Jacob cemented in my mind is still the little snot nose brat who whined about everything in order to manipulate our parents into doing things for him. He was a great actor, even went into paid acting at an early age, and as the youngest child he got away with a lot. Now it’s not that he wasn’t a child who misbehaves, for he has always been polite, a joy to be around, and has a good sense of right and wrong. It just that he was also the crybaby of the family and a great manipulator. He was a kid.
Now this was the perception I had of him as I left home and went to college. Once a month during college I would come back home to say high and during most of the summers I would be home. After I left college, Jacob was in middle, so by the time I
started officially living on my own year round was the time that Jacob started to truly grow up into the adult he is now. The only problem is that my observation of him during then all the way to now has been severely lacking, and behold, in a matter of weeks, he is about to be married.
My wee little brother, this snot-nosed brat is about to become a husband, I can almost not believe it. Time flew by quickly and I missed quite a bit. Who is this man who stands in front of me? I almost cannot recognize him, for the Jacob I knew was a short child. Now I see a tall skinny dude with a beard adorning his face. Is this my brother? Again I marvel at my unbelief, caught up in years past, back in the days when I lived in Dayton, for that is the Jacob I remember, and not this man who is about to give his wedding vows and in the presence of God and his family join as one with his soon to be wife.
So many of you may understand this sentiment, where you observe a person growing up and then you marvel at your own disbelief as you see the adult in front of you but can’t help but think of them as the child they once were. Jacob will always be the baby of the family to me; always my wee little brother. But he is not a baby no longer, for he is just that in my mind.
It is a variation of this sentiment that Jesus faces in His home town. Jesus, a well renowned rabbi, a prophet, from the perspective of many who listen and follow him, has come back home to preach the good news and to teach the Scriptures, just like he had in other regions. He has been away for a while, and now He comes back a rabbi with a following. Sure He was a kid
who was wise beyond His years, but He was the son of a carpenter of all people! What is he doing acting like a prophet? When Jesus came back home His own people were conflicted for they were astonished by the power and wisdom that came out of Jesus’ mouth, but then they remembered who He was and were He came from.
They began with astonishment, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?” Jesus was preaching in the synagogues and like everywhere else was performing miracles, healing many who came to Him. Thus the amazement the crowds had was genuine, but that amazement quickly faded, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” The crowd quickly took offense at him. They became blinded by their own perception of Jesus before He left them to fulfill His purpose on earth. Why is this snot-nose brat, this carpenter of all people, acting like some noble priest, teaching to us such lofty things? Why does he not instead just grab a nail like usual and help fix own of our leaky roofs? Why does he not instead get a knife and craft a sturdy chair? Why does he not use those good calloused hands of his to move wood and help raise new buildings?
Though they at first saw a preacher and was amazed by His words, they quickly saw a child and was offended that such a person had the audacity to tell them Scripture. This was the trouble Jesus faced in His own home town and amongst His own family, thus leading to Him say, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own
household.” After which, because no one had faith in Him and turned their backs from Him he had little chance to speak words of wisdom and do mighty works such as healing the sick. He marveled at their unbelief, turned around, and sought a new place to preach.
At least Jerusalem, the place that murdered Him, received Him. At least Jerusalem had many who listened to Him and reached out to him for help. Yes, His hometown did not seek to kill Jesus; he was one of their own, and only wicked people will seek to harm a brother. But they did not receive Him, but rather gave Him, as a community, the cold shoulder. This is why Jesus was unable to do mighty works.
Jesus came to the world to save us from our own sins, but he does not force his salvation on others. Jesus wants to save us and through His death He has saved all who believe in him, but that is the key, faith in him. For it is through faith alone that you are saved, and not through any amount of merit nor reason. Because Jesus is not like some evil totalitarian tyrant who forces his dictates on others, we have the ability to turn away from his. And it is this that His own people whom he grew up did. They turned away from Him, which completely baffled Him, and I would wager greatly saddened Him.
He came with great wisdom, and because the crowds were amazed by Jesus’ wisdom it must go to show that Jesus was saying things that they never thought about. Jesus was opening their hearts and minds to the truth. But the mere fact that Jesus was doing this disturbed them, for that would mean this child
whom they raised was claiming to be better than them, so out of their own misguided pride they became offended because they could not see the prophet their own brother Jesus had become.
A brief example of this, and I’m sure most pastors has faced a similar situation. After I was trained in seminary and still to this day I will get in a tussle with my mother, of whom I am very close to and who is the daughter of a Lutheran Pastor, but she is not a pastor, nor was she ever trained to be a pastor. But I am her child, and out of genuine motherhood she tells me things, strongly instructing me on certain things, that I disagree with and will show her through Scripture why she is false. Such is the relationship between parent and their pastoral child. For whereas I respect her, I cannot allow her to dictate to me things that I cannot agree with on the basis of conscience guided by Scripture. So respectfully, I show her why I disagree. Some pastor’s may have it worse of then me in that their family may try to force them away from Scripture and adopt that which goes against God. This is not out of hatred or any ill will, but is usually due to the relationship that was nurtured over the years prior to said person receiving their pastoral duties.
So Jesus’ statement also applies to pastors, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”
Despite all of this, it should always be noted that Jesus never truly gave up on them, just like how He never gave up on Israel, a rebellious people. He kept on fighting for them, fighting against sin in of itself. And died not only for those who accept
Him, but for all people. He died for friend and enemy, near and far, family and outcast, Jew and gentile, for the eternal lives of all people equally mattered to him, and not just some select few. Again this does not mean He will force his salvation onto them, but regardless, He died for them. He died for you and me. And he even died for the one who hates him, hoping that one day that person, whomever he may be, turns to accept the gift that Jesus is so desperately wishing to give. In the end Jesus is not so easily discouraged by tough crowds, but he will always be at the ready.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, though you marvel at our rebellious nature and our unwillingness to faithfully follow you, regardless you continue to look out for us and provide for us just like a parent who lovingly raises an unruly child. Though we may struggle against you, your hand of mercy and grace is always readily open, ever so waiting for us to grasp it. So we ask that as we struggle against you, that you never turn your face from us and withhold your hand, but rather help guide our hearts towards you. We ask this in your most holy name Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Sermon 6/27/2021 By: Pastor Chris Boyd
Psalm 107:1-3; 23-32
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
“Wrestling the NE Wind”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Many of you who live up here your whole life, or at least of it, are aware of the storms and floods that may come with the NE Wind. I myself am just a newbie up here and though I have witnessed several NE Winds and its terrible storms, I wager that I have only witnessed a small portion, a taste of the might that the winds could bring to Catawba and Marblehead and Port Clinton. What happened on the week leading up to Memorial Day and the Walleye Festival is about the worse storm I have yet to witness up here. The grounds flooded, merchandise all over the place, tents toppled, dead fish in people’s yards. Again, you may have witnessed worse, but that was the worse I have witnessed here.
Now before you accuse me of being sheltered, I have witnessed many floods. Down in Dayton and over in the valleys of Pittsburg, with the Great Miami River and Ohio River, the people are well acquainted with water related property damage and massive floods. With Dayton in particular there are roads I grew up crossing regularly which had a very high frequency of floods. In fact many times I have witnessed the very drive I live on, flooded over; we had a nearby creek. Now the drive was itself a
hill, but the closer you got to the creek at the foot of the drive the higher the flooding was.
So I grew up with my own fair share of floods, but what I didn’t grow up with, due to the fact that I grew up in a valley, was the massive and harsh winds that Catawba gets. Many of you are prepared for such winds, just as how many in Dayton are prepared for floods. And just like how many in Dayton have come to an understanding of floods and such, all the risks and the risk managements, and a healthy dose of respect towards our relationship with the river, so too does Catawba with regards to the lake and her winds. Many of you know the risks associated with living up here, many of you have risk management, and many of you have a healthy level of respect towards the terrifying might of the Lake.
Do any of you honestly believe that you, by your own might, can stand up against the NE Wind? When a NE wind comes do any of you can get on a bout and wrestle against the storm? And I ask you this, if a friend decided to do just that, intentionally get in a bout to wrestle with the Wind, what would your response be: laugh at their stupidity, angrily chide them, worry over them? Such a person is either incredibly foolish or very brave.
A healthy level of respect would tell you that there are somethings that you do not have the power to control, and thus instead of fighting the storm you ride it out and wait for it to blow
over. But there are many of us who pay no attention to the warning signs or do pay attention but pay it no mind. Why? Well, because there is another pressing issue at stake, something that
can’t just wait. For Jesus it was his mission. He had a duty to complete, so He and his disciples got on a boat to cross the lake.
Now I can imagine the fishermen of Jesus’ crew, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, reading the skies and being all concerned over the coming storm. But Jesus said go, and so they did. By the time the harsh winds caught up the reactions we witness to the storm between Jesus and his Disciples are quite different. The Disciples are all terrified, they respect and know the winds, and they knew that death was just around the corner. Had it been up to them they would have waited until after the storm before they set out on a boat. Jesus on the other hand, has no respect towards the wind, but ignores it and sleeps soundly in the boat. Of course the Disciples are going to chide Jesus for sleeping as they concern for their lives, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” That is when Jesus rebukes the wind, and the wind stopped.
We respect the storms because we have no control over it, instead we recognize its full potential, measure all the risks, and act in a way that is most appropriate and most prepared to accomplish are goals while mitigating any damage that might accrued do to the coming storm. The fear the disciples had was because they understood the storms and knew they were not prepared but rather doomed. Yet they forgot something important.
Instead of chiding Jesus, did they ever consider why Jesus was so relaxed? Out of fear of the storm did they forget who was sleeping in their own bout; who Jesus truly is? Here is God! God doesn’t respect the storms, the storms respect God! What does
Jesus have to worry about some little storm? And yes I said little storm. Here is an image. In those days and many centuries prior, the respect and healthy fear toward the seas was elevated to godhood for many pagans. If the storms were a brewing then the gods were angry. Humans cannot fight against such power and thus they turned to appeasing these gods. To find favor with them so as to calm their anger and thus be able to cross the seas. To the Romans, Neptune was one of the most feared gods. The open seas terrified them. Now imagine the storms are whipping up and the terrified Romans are cowering before their scary god and here comes the one and only true God who looks down at this puny god and says, “Stop that. Now go to your room, stop your whining, and think about what you have done.” The winds serve God, so what has he to fear of such insignificant storms?
The whirlwinds might be mighty, but God is mightier. So you think wrestling the winds foolish, what about wrestling with God Almighty? And here we come to the story of Job. Job is in a terrible state, for because of his faith he is probably the most unfortunate and pain stricken person who was walking the earth. He was so miserable that he started complaining to God about his suffering, getting angry at God, and wished he was never born. He demanded that God answered him explain why he, Job, the most faithful follower of God currently on earth, was suffering so much. He demanded answers. Oh, so you’re going to wrestle with God, I hope you know what you are getting into because here he comes. God Almighty, whom even hurricanes and earthquakes and tsunamis and volcanoes bow to, has arrived like a tornado, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and make it known
to me.” Dress for action like a man. In other translations it says, “brace yourself like a man,” and still others, “gird up your loins like a man.” Basically, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” It was time to wrestle and if you truly wish to wrestle with God then don’t cower but act like a man, and yes, God did tell Job to act like a man. You asked me to come down, so here I am, do not be surprised when I bring all my might with me, so be a man and own up to your challenge as I pummel you with words, as I talk down to you about my might. What you see here in our first lesson is but a short snippet of God’s speech, which is 4 chapters long or 124 verses.
You who fear the storms who are you to demand answers from me whom the storms fear and obey without question? Now because Job is an incredibly faithful man and is quick to repentance whenever he actually does do something wrong, after God severely chastised Job, he did own up like a man and instead of giving in to anger he bowed down to God and apologized, saying, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” It should be noted that just earlier, Job said to his friends in 28:28, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” After Job’s apology, God did bless him and protected him.
So I ask you this, which would you rather have, God for or against you? Would you rather wrestle against God or have Him wrestle on your behalf? Do you not fear the storms? Does not the storms fear God?
Here is the thing. When Jesus came, he came to save us all from our sins, he died for our sake. But he will not force his grace upon you. He is not some evil tyrant, aka totalitarian, who forces His will on you, for you can choose to walk away from Him and be against Him, but if you are against Him, you won’t receive his blessing, mercy, or grace. Yes, He is still trying to give it to you, but you are the one deciding not to receive. On the other hand, if you are willing, Christ will act as your shield, He wants to ask as your shield, fight against the Devil on your behalf, guarantee Salvation, and even provide the occasional miracle, for Jesus is not subject to the storm, he is not lesser than the storm, he is not afraid of the storm, but rather the storm is subject to Christ.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, woe is we for we who are worthless worms, incapable of commanding the winds to blow the way we wish it, dare to command you who controls the winds. We ask for protection against the storm while also fabricating false images of you to our liking. Give us the wisdom to have more fear in you than in any storm that comes our way, to respect you for who you truly are and for not what we wish you to be, and to love you and your self-sacrificing defense against all that assails us. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.