Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pentecost 21 - Proper 24

Luke 18:1-8

Persistence in Blessing – Persistence in Prayer

The Gospel for today and next Sunday, both dealing with prayer, show the Savior’s ability to use short stories about earthly life in teaching spiritual truths to His disciples and others who would hear. As with most good stories, these contain casts of only a few characters. Next week it will be the Pharisee and the tax collector. This week, let’s examine what the persistent widow and the unjust judge teach us about Persistence in Blessing, Persistence in Prayer.

1. What the widow in Christ’s parable teaches us.
A. About ourselves.
1. Like the widow, we also experience injustice and evil at the hands of others. In her case, we don’t know specifically what was involved. Similarly, we often don’t know beforehand what people will do to us; malign us, impugn our motives, pilfer our homes and businesses, persecute us in overt or subtle ways.
2. But we do know that our sin makes us deserve nothing but punishment from God. Not only do others sin against us, but we sin against them; thinking, speaking and doing evil over and over again. Each of our sins against others is also a sin against God, a striving against Him that earns the disinheritance and death for which all sin calls.
3. In the face of the evil done against us and the evil that we do, we are tempted to despair. We are virtually unable to help ourselves, and help from God appears to be unduly delayed.
4. But God invites us to seek His help and blessing for Christ’s sake. We are not unknown to God as the widow was to the judge. You are His elect” that is, He has chosen you in Christ before the foundation of the world. He has adopted you as his beloved child because of the work of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.
B. About God.
1. As the widow persisted in her please, so did our lord persist in His work of winning for you His Father’s good pleasure. He endured as your Substitute human injustice and wickedness, drinking to its bitter dregs the cup of suffering that the Father administered to Him as the result of your transgressions and sins. Never did He falter in carrying our His mission of salvation. He persisted, declaring, ”It is finished!” but also promising, “I am with you always!”
2. For the sake of His crucified and risen Son, the Father now persists in hearing your prayers and blessing you. Through Christ you have access to the throne of grace. What a blessing it is to uphold one another in our Friedheim family - taking our needs burdens joys and sorrows to the throne room of grace. Being thankful as the Savior answers each petition.

2. What the judge in Christ’s parable teaches us.
A. About ourselves.
1. In stressing that the judge’s decision was a selfish one, the parable reminds us that we also decide to do many things for a selfish desire to benefit ourselves, rather than a pure desire to praise the Father and benefit others. For example, our obedience to civil laws is sometimes motivated more by our fear of punishment than by a concern for the common good. Or a celebration of the Reformation can tend more toward worship of the self then toward proclaiming with thankfulness and patience the glorious message that the Father has entrusted to us the salvation of others.
2. Such selfishness is unrighteousness. Such selfishness is contrary to God’s will. Such selfishness deserves condemnation. Yet, it so thoroughly pervades all human thinking, that the parable is not at all absurd or unbelievable. The judge is a picture of how we by nature deal with each other!
B. About God.
1. How different in this regard is God form sinful human nature. We can contrast the judge’s forced and selfish decision with God’s willing and selfish promises. God loved the world so much that He freely and selflessly gave His only Son into death to save all sinners from death and everlasting death. Jesus did not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped but rather humbled Himself and became obedient even to death. The Holy Spirit designs to enter even our frail and mortal bodies and build us into a holy temple in the Lord.
2. Unlike the judge, who in selfishness was erratic and suspect the Father is altogether trustworthy. He wants us to hold Him to His promises and blessings. Demand them! You are His child. His answers to prayer do not always come according to our time table. But He does answer – and always at the right time.

The Father wants you always to pray and not despair. Realize His faithfulness toward you. Be constant in prayer. The Father’s persistence in blessing leads to persistence in prayer.

Face of Christ

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