Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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PENTECOST 17 – September 16, 2018 – Mark 9:14-29 “THE LORD HELPS ME”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson just read, from Mark 9.  We begin with prayer.

 

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • In his hearings before the Senate Judiciary committee, the nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, repeatedly declared that he is a “sun-rising” person, an optimist who believes that America’s best days are still ahead.
  • Given the kind of trial and tribulation that he had to endure, and the nature of his work as a judge, it seemed remarkable to me that he remained an optimist.
  • The thought struck me: With all of the negativity and fears being expressed by the senators, how many of them are “optimists”?  And of course, biblical pastors also struggle with the issue.  Given the troubles described in all three of our texts, just how optimistic should we be? 
  • God is an optimist. I don’t know how He can be, but He sees a lot of things I don’t, including how everything is going to turn out in the end.  He also encourages us to be optimists – but not naively and foolishly so.  So His Word is truthful, and often warns us also to be sober and somewhat somber. 
  • Our optimism is to be rooted in God’s love, and God’s works, and God’s promises, and in the reality that “THE LORD HELPS ME.” This is the assertion of Isaiah.  It is the assertion of faith.  It is our assertion as well! 
  • But we must still take cognizance of the fact that:

 

I.  Evil Remains Very Nasty, Strong, And Incorrigible

 

Epistle:  “The tongue is a very small member, yet it boasts of great things.  How great a fire is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness.  The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell itself. . . .  the tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

 

A.  People Are By Nature Rebellious And Even Violent

 

OT Lesson:  “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.”

 

B.  Evil Makes Us Self-Destructive

 

Text:  “ . . . my son has a spirit that makes him mute.  And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. . . . It has often cast  him into fire and into water, to destroy him.”

 

C.  But God Helps Us

 

OT Lesson:  “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”

 

Text:  “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.  And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can?  All things are possible for one who believes.’”

 

1.  He brings us to repentance

 

Text:  “Oh faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?  How long am I to bear with you?”

 

2.  But He provides us with “justification” – forgiveness and cleansing and defense, so that we can put our faith and trust in Him

 

OT Lesson:  “He Who vindicates me is near.  Who will contend against me?  Let us stand up together.  Who is my adversary?  Let him come near to me.  Behold, the Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty?  Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.”

 

3.  And so God becomes our confidence and optimism in life

 

OT Lesson:  “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His servant?  Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the Name of the Lord and rely on his God.”

 

Statement:  We are not to shy away from the bad news, the reality of just how horrid evil truly is, and how many dangers we face each day!  The evils are “out there,” beyond us, threatening to harm and destroy us, and eager to accuse and contend against us!  The evil is also within.  If our little tongues can be such a source of horrendous evil, how much more so our more powerful parts? 

 

Application:  But God has provided us with forgiveness and salvation, and His gift of “justification” assures us that He will defend us so that we are found “innocent” and “not guilty” in the end.  Likewise, He will protect us from all who seek to disgrace us, all who abuse us, all who would destroy us!  He urges us to “fear” Him, that is to reverence and respect Him with faith and trust in Him, to believe and trust in His Word! 

 

Application:  This is what makes children of God optimists – what God has done for us in Christ, what He is doing to protect us now, and what He has promised to us in the life to come!  Nonetheless, we must still contend with evil, so long as we are in this life.  And this much is certain:

 

II.  In This Life, Much Evil Can Only Be Driven By Prayer

 

A.  This Is True Of Our Own Besetting And Beseiging Sins – The Little Demons That Plague And Afflict Us

 

Epistle:  “The tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.   With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. . . . No human being can tame the tongue.”

 

B.  Only The Lord Can Help Us With These Matters

 

Text:  “All things are possible for the one who believes.”


C.  We Access His Help By Prayer – Fervent And Persistent Prayer

 

Text:  “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!”

 

Text:  “His disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’  And He said to them, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.’”

 

Statement:  The disciples had cast out demons before.  When they returned from their mission they reported to Jesus:  “Even the demons are subject to us in Your Name.”  It must have shocked them that they failed on this occasion!  However, it is a valuable lesson.  Even though we conquer some evils by certain methods, there is still more evil, some even more incorrigible and resistant.  Ultimately God must heal us, and such occasions of failure remind us:  “THE LORD HELPS ME,” and if not, all is lost! 

 

Application:  Remember, that Jesus wants to help us, to heal us, to enable us to prevail against all evil!  Remember also that “all things are possible for one who believes.”  It is faithlessness and disregard for God’s Word that makes our struggles against evil seem at times futile and impossible.  But God, the One Who vindicates and defends us is always near.  So we can know that we will not ultimately be disgraced or put to shame!

 

Conclusion:  I don’t know if any of this is the source of Judge Kavanaugh’s optimism.  I hope that it is, for then his optimism is well based and well placed!  Likewise, I hope that our politicians might also come to have this kind of faith and trust in God, and such optimism. 

I do know that God wants us to have this optimism.  He invites it, and instructs us to have it, and gives us all the blessings we need to sustain it.  God grant such confidence and optimism to each of us!  For then, all things are possible for us!  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.