Monday, September 1, 2008

Proper 17 - August 30, 2008

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

August 31, 2008
Proper 17
Matthew 16:21-26
Your Destiny
Let us pray to the Lord…

O God, we thank you for your Son who chose the path of suffering for the sake of the world. Humble us by his example, point us to the path of obedience and give us strength to follow his commands.”

Peter tries to dissuade Jesus from going to Jerusalem, but Jesus calls his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him to death. We are still at Caesarea Philippi. Peter had just made his famous confession that Jesus is the Messiah. Thereupon Jesus announces that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and rise again.

For Peter this was a denial of Jesus’ being the Christ, Lord, and King. It did not fit at all into the concept of the Messiah, who as God’s Son would be victor over any and all enemies, even death. But, Jesus saw in Peter’s rebuke a temptation of Satan not to fulfill His mission. Then He called upon His disciples to similarly deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow Him to death and resurrection.

The principle of life is to lose it in order to find it. When Christ returns, every disciple will be rewarded for what he has done with his life.

There Is A Divine Destiny For Your Life.

Introduction: We have no difficulty accepting the fact that each life is a creation of God. But, we have trouble understanding the fact that God made each for a purpose.

For the student - it's finding direction among so many options.

On this Labor Day weekend - if might be the worker facing the possibility of being down sized and asking the pressing question - what's next?

For the one contemplating retierment - Whaht do I do now - with so much time?

He sent us into the world, as Jesus was sent, for a purpose, to accomplish some work for God. Jesus knew why God sent him.

At Caesarea Philippi the disciples through Peter confessed that He was the Messiah who was sent to redeem the world. Today’s Gospel tells us of the temptation not to fulfill the destiny and of the Christian’s similar destiny. The need for today is rooted in the fact that many Christians have no idea why God placed them on earth. As a result there are many who are goal-less, without purpose in life.

Outline: God our Father has a destiny

1. For Jesus — the cross — Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection - Vv. 21, 23. From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You! But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.

Jesus sees that His going to the cross was a divine necessity. The Father had a destiny for His life. He came to the world to save it. Since He was the Christ, as Peter had just confessed it, the world would be saved only by His sacrifice on the cross. This reminds us that the cross was not the work of man, a stroke of bad luck, or an accident. Since it was the Father’s intention for Him to suffer and die, then we can understand why Jesus considered Peter’s protest as a temptation of the devil not to fulfill His mission. The cross was rooted in eternity, planned by our Father from the foundation of the world to redeem humanity.

Almost in the same breath Peter is the mouthpiece of both God and of Satan. After Peter’s confession, Jesus called him “blessed.” Now Peter is Satan incarnate. This reminds us that we can be possessed of a good or bad spirit, and we are spokesperson of each. The Holy Spirit not only can come but can also leave us. Even Peter, leader of the Apostles, could be Satan’s agent. Satan can possess church members, and even in the church Satan can be active. It is important to ascertain whether God or Satan is speaking when Christians speak to us.

Transition: Jesus’ destiny was to go to a cross for you Christian it is to bear your cross.

2. For the Christian — cross-bearing — we take up our cross and follow Him. Vv. 24-26. Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

As Jesus loses his life on the cross for the world to be saved, Jesus expects his followers to do the same. Life is meant to be given, expended, and sacrificed for Jesus’ sake. Life cannot be “saved” or it will be lost.

When we try to save our lives, we waste it on gaining the world. Here is a sound, universal principle of life: life is at its best, is most meaningful - when it is invested in a cause greater than self, - the cause of Christ. Giving one’s self to Christ’s cause takes us out of ourselves and we lose ourselves in the attainment of the cause. This results in happiness and purpose in life.

Conclusion: The path or journey of faith is to walk where Jesus has called us to be His disciples to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him to death of self and resurrection and new life in Him.

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