Sunday, March 14, 2010

4th Sunday of Lent

And they grumbled, all the assembly of the sons of Israel, against Moses and against Aaron in the desert. And said to them, the sons of Israel, "Who was allowing our death by the hand of Yahweh in the land of Egypt, in our sitting by pots of meat, in our eating bread to fullness? For you have brought us out to this desert to kill all this assembly in hunger!" And Yahweh said to Moses, "Look, I will cause it to rain to you, bread from the heavens, and the people will go out and they will gather what is promised daily, so that I may test them, if they will not walk in my Torah. And it will be on the 6th day and they will prepare that which they bring, and it will be twice the amount which they gather daily." And Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, "At evening, and you will know that Yahweh has brought up you from the land of Egypt, and at morning, and you will see the glory of Yahweh, in His hearing of your grumblings against Yahweh; what are we, that you grumble against us?" And Moses said, "In Yahweh giving to you in the evening, meat to eat, and bread in the morning to the full, in Yahweh hearing your grumblings which you grumble against Him; What are we? Your grumblings are not against us, but against Yahweh!"

God provides; people complain. God is generous; people are unsatisfied. God blesses; people gripe. It is the same old story both then and now. God hasn't changed one bit. He is still loving and gracious, giving good gifts to us. The Israelites grumbled sarcastically against Moses and Aaron. The 12 disciples were pessimistic about being able to provide for the crowd of 5000, only finding 5 loaves and 2 fish. We still whine and bellyache, not content or grateful for what God has supplied. Why is it never enough?

What we don't realize is that each blessing from God is a test of sorts. He tested the Israelites to see if they'd walk in His instruction. Jesus tested the 12 to see if they realized how God would provide. And you are being tested, here and now, to see if you are truly trusting in the God Who gives all that you need. Let's see how well we are passing the tests that God is giving us today, shall we!

We all want our congregation to grow, but we don't always realize just how God grows His church. Sometimes we foolishly think of it as *our* church, and then rob God's job by trying to grow it ourselves. We may want to buy into the lie of the Field of Dreams movie, "Build it, and they'll come", but we know that's not God's way. For God's church is not a building. It is His people He builds up!

The foundation stone of the church is Christ Jesus, upon whom you are built as living stones. You were once not part of God's church, but the Holy Ghost called you by the Gospel message of Christ's love for you at Calvary, and by the gift of faith, you believed His Word. And just as God gathered you to be part of His people, so too does He call others by that clear, gospel message to join our fellowship. There is no other way that God grows His church than by the message of Jesus' love.

We all want to feel good about ourselves, but we don't always recognize how God makes us good. Sometimes we are tempted to think that what *we do ought to give us self-worth. But God says otherwise. What you do, on your own, is tainted by sin. If you have pride in that, it is a sinful pride. Instead, your sins ought to drive you to confess, but most folks don't come for private confession...

Some even grumble against the practice! Why? To come to confess your sins privately to the Pastor is simply to be Lutheran. You learned that in Confirmation Class. Luther once said that if folks realized what a blessing it was, they'd walk 100 miles to receive Holy Absolution. For those words are simply the ones you 1st heard at your Baptism, where they washed your sins to the cross of Jesus. They continue to do the same thing today, cleansing you from all your unrighteousness.

We all want to have a good, sustaining life, but we aren't always aware of how God provides this. Oh, you realize that part of it is eating right. So you make sure the 4 food groups are represented at every meal, or you follow the new food pyramid. Vitamin and mineral supplements too. But in the end, your body still ends up 6 feet under! There must be a better way to get a long and sustaining life...

There is: the Bread of Heaven. Not the stuff the Israelites called "What is it?" or Manna, in the desert. Not even the miraculous bread Jesus made into fish-wiches for the 5000. The Bread of Life for you is none other than the body of Jesus. He gave that body as your ransom price, nailed to the tree. He gives it to you in the bread of the Lord's Supper, that, if you eat of it by faith, you will never die! His body, in your body, means salvation for you, and eternal life in the paradise of heaven! do you measure up to God's test today? He gives you His Gospel Word which calls you to faith in your Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. He provides for you His Word of forgiveness in His Name through Holy Absolution. He feeds you with the eternal life-giving Bread of Jesus in the Lord's Supper. Not a single thing to grumble about there! For you walk in nothing but God's good gifts, which are all-sufficient for you, both now and forevermore as everlasting, heavenly blessings. Amen.

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