Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pentecost 3 - Proper 9

Proper 9 (3–9 July)
Gracious God, our heavenly Father, Your mercy attends us all our days. Be our strength and support amid the wearisome changes of this world, and at life’s end grant us Your promised rest and the full joys of Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Matthew 11:25-30 - His yoke is easy His burden light.

Most people do not enjoy their religion, for many religions deal with solemnity and seriousness, duty and denial, rules, and responsibility. None of these is all that joyous. They need to see that Christianity is a happy faith. Christians should be ever rejoicing. The Christian faith should involve pleasure and fun. The Jews of Jesus’ day had a burdensome religion — “All who labor and are heavy laden.” Christ offers a religion of joy and freedom. You can enjoy your Christian faith because —

1. It is voluntary — “Come” — v. 28. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease, relieve, and refresh your souls.]

A. You are not forced to come to Christ.

1. You couldn’t even if you wanted to. Your sin condemns you.

2. That’s why we all need to repent.

a. That what happened on the first Pentecost. Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." With many other words, he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Acts 2:38-40

b. That’s what happens every time you remember your baptism. Baptism now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21

B. You come as the Holy Spirit draws you.

1. He works through His means of grace; through His word and Sacraments to draw you to Himself.

2. Because the Holy Spirit is drawing you to Himself it’s all His working. He does it all for you. He does the work and we receive His benefits.

Transition: You can enjoy your faith because it is voluntary. You can enjoy your faith because it is restful.

2. It is restful — “Rest” — vv. 28, 29. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. [See Jeremiah. 6:16]

A. The world, the powers of sin and the Devil can and will wear us down. We can become worn down by fear and guilt. We can feel physically, emotionally and spiritually spent.

B. We find our rest in Christ. Isaiah the prophet foretold it a thousand years before Christ was born. Looking into the future, he saw the coming Chosen One and predicted Jesus suffering. Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

C. We find our rest in Christ who has promised rest for His people.

Transition: You can enjoy your faith because it is voluntary. You can enjoy your faith because it is restful. But most of all it’s easy.

3. It is easy — “Yoke is easy” — v. 30. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

A. His burden is easy because it is easy for Him to bear. Don’t worry about carrying the weight and burden of your sin. You can’t! He has carried it all for you. What you could not do for yourself He has done for you completely and totally. So stop pretending and repent! You can fall flat on your face or into the safe and sure hands of Jesus your Savior. Which will it be? Choose, but choose wisely.

B. As Christ bore all of the weight and the entire burden of your sin, you are free to serve Him. It is all about Jesus! Luther explains it this way:

1. WHO I believe that Jesus Christ, true God begotten from the Father and also true man born of the Virgin Mary is my Lord.

2. WHAT Who has redeemed me a lost and condemned creature purchased and won me from all sin, from death and from the power of the devil

3. HOW Not with gold or silver but with His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.

4. WHY That I might be His own and serve Him in everlasting righteousness innocence and blessedness. Even as He is risen from the dead lives and reigns throughout all eternity.

This is most certainly true! How can you really enjoy your faith? It’s voluntary, it’s restful, and it’s easy! In Christ Jesus our Savior.

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