Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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Lent I – February 26th, 2012 – God Provides

Introduction: Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Our text is the Epistle Lesson just read, James 1:12-18. We begin with prayer.

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

  • Life is full of ups and downs, good things and disappointments, heart-warming joy and bitter heartaches. Sometimes it can be very confusing, trying to sort out the seemingly tumultuous ride that life can be.
  • Often that confusion intrudes into our relationship with God – so that He seems ambivalent and ambiguous toward us. This is a various serious challenge to faith – which must rest itself on certainties.
  • When this happens we may be tempted or even induced to the wrong conclusions, and this can be very dangerous – not only to faith, but to our happiness and life itself. The apostle James wrote of some of these temptations in our text, and provides us with assurances of reality, so that we are not led astray.
  • The emphasis in our text is the reality that “GOD PROVIDES” all good things – so that no matter what our experiences in life we must have faith, and continue looking to God for all good things!
  • James reminds us that:

I. God Provides All Good Things, Especially His Gracious Gift Of Salvation In Christ Jesus

Text: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

A. He Provides Us With New Life, Eternal Life Through Faith In Jesus Christ, So That We Who Believe Are The “Firstfruits” Of His Creatures

John 3:16 “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Text: “Of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of Truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”

B. In Order That We Might Have This Faith And Eternal Life He Has Provided Us With “The Word of Truth,” The Ministry Of His Word And Sacraments, The Life Of The Church

Text: “Of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of Truth.”

Rom. 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.”

1 Pet. 1:23 “You were born again not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, by the Word of God that lives and abides forever.”

Tit. 3:5,6 “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Statement:

  • How easy it is for us to get confused about all of this, and to think that God has only provided us with an “opportunity” to make choices and to “self-determine” our own relationship with God and our own eternal destiny. But this is certainly not the case – though the reality is somewhat mysterious to us. The reality, according to our text, is that God has worked all of this good within us.
  1. It was He that moved our parents to have us baptized, to receive the “washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” which He supplied to us in our baptism
  2. It was He that moved our parents to bring us to church and Sunday School, and Confirmation, so that we were exposed to His Word – which creates, nurtures, and strengthens our faith in Jesus Christ, by which we are saved and have eternal life.
  3. Application:

    • So we must ever remember that it was God Who “brought us forth,” giving us life and salvation, and every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.
    • And likewise, we must remember that our continuing in this faith in Christ and eternal life comes from God alone – for surely this is among those “good and perfect gifts” which come down from the Father of lights! Indeed, it is the most perfect and good gift that anyone of us can have from God!
    • So let us never get confused about this, or about God’s will for us in this matter, for “God wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” and He has made certain that we have received His blessed gifts of forgiveness of our sins and the Holy Spirit, by His own promise, in our Baptism.

    Transition: This “foundation” of faith is of critical importance as we go through the many ups and downs of life, both the good things as well as the difficult things – so we must remember where and how God continues to build us up in this faith, through His Word and Sacraments, for:

    II. God Also Provides His People Of Faith With Many Good Things Through Times Of Testing, Under Duress

    As we see in the experience of Abraham, in the grueling testing of his faith in the offering up of his only son Isaac.

    And even Jesus was “tested” in His time in the wilderness

    A. However, This Certainly Does Not Include The Many Temptations To Fall Into Sin That We All Face

    Text: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

    B. However, God Does Bring Blessing Into Our Lives Through Trials And Testings

    Text: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.”

    Statement:

    • So you see the kind of confusion that can so easily sneak into our thinking:

    1. When struggling with our grievous temptations to sin, we may actually be tempted to think that God is tempting us to evil – which is a horrible, blasphemous thought!

    2. Likewise, when suffering grievous trials and testings, we may be tempted to think that God is angry with us, punishing us, because He has rejected us and hates us and wants for us to go the hell. This also is a horrible and blasphemous thought!

    3. And when things are going great for us, we can also fall into confusion and delusion –

    a. thinking that we have attained these good things on our own, or

    b. thinking that surely God has given us these good things because we are better than other people, and so

    c. thinking that we no longer need the One from Whom “all good and perfect gifts” come from, but can thrive on our own, by our own cleverness, skill, and intellect, so that

    d. we end up giving God no praise, thanksgiving, or glory for all the good things He has blessed us with, and e. we end up falling away from faith as we cut ourselves off from the “word of truth” by which He gave birth to us and keeps us in faith.

    Statement:

    • So as you can see, there are grave dangers to our faith, our sanity, our relationship with God, and to our eternal blessedness in His heavenly kingdom. So the concern of James is warranted, and we do well to pay heed!

    Application:

    • We too will face challenging tests to our faith, as did Abraham, and difficult temptations – as Jesus faced in the wilderness, and even painful difficulties, as John did in his arrest. All of these kinds of experiences can be “disorienting” to our faith – and so we need to remain close to the Word of God, the word of truth, and the blessed Sacraments of God, that our foundation of faith never crack or crumble away beneath us!

    Conclusion:

    • So, all of these experiences in life – all of the ups and downs – are part of the “good and perfect gifts” that our heavenly Father seeks to bestow upon us, for again: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.”
    • These are the blessings, the blessedness that our Heavenly Father has in mind for us as we also experience testings, temptations, and difficult experiences – so that we, as His firstfruits, might also bring praise, honor, and glory to Him, as examples of the power of His glorious grace and love. May He grant each of us this blessedness in abundance! 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.