…But deliver us from evil.

Pastor Lane’s Good Friday message from Peace Lutheran – Faribault on Vimeo.

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…But deliver us from evil.

Grace mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

This Good Friday we again remember and even celebrate an event that by all human accounts seems like something that we would want to forget and defiantly not something that anyone would want to celebrate.  You have heard the cliché like sayings about this day that reflect some sort of idea that Good Friday did seem so good but it was for us.  You have heard the questions from people of why would you call this day GOOD Friday?  We as those who have faith in Christ know what his death means for us and that is that our sins have been paid for and that we have been redeemed. We look at the cross and we see an act that seems so horrific.  Anyone who has watched the movie the passion of the Christ got a small glimpse into how horrific the act of crucifixion truly was. Perhaps we have even asked ourselves why did it happen this way?  Was there not another way for this to take place?  When we ask those questions I think we have lost sight of what is going on at the cross.  In our culture more and more people are looking at the cross as an evil thing.  Pastor Bob talk this past Sunday about the world simply sees this event of the cross as something evil happening to a fairly decent guy.  If we fall into this trap as well we have forgotten what Jesus is truly delivering us from.  The cross looks evil because Christ is dealing with evil. He is truly delivering us from evil.

To understand the cross we must go all the way back to the garden where evil reared its ugly head. Genesis 3:1–6 (ESV) Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

The evil one had brought temptation into the lives of Adam and Eve and they abandoned their original righteousness and partook in the evil that they had been tempted with. Adam and Eve who belonged to God had fallen into sin and were completely corrupted with sin along with every other human [with the exception of Christ] to every be born.  This means that you and I have been corrupted by sin and were born blind, dead and enemies of God.  Evil would be how most people would describe Satan but it is also how humanity should be described as well. We don’t like talking in those terms, but that is the reality revealed to us in scripture.  When we don’t see sinfulness as evil we tend to excuse the sins that we commit and the sins that others whom we like commit.  Sinfulness comes from evil.  Sin flows from an evil heart.  Your sin is evil. My sin is evil because it is counter to the will of the one and only perfect and holy God.

Evil people belong to the evil one but that is not where the story ends.  Even in the face of sin and evil God makes a promise.  Genesis 3:14–15 (ESV) 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” On the first Friday it was not known if its events were good or bad in fact we can see by the reaction of the followers of Christ they had no understanding that this was a good event because they could only see the second half of the promise from Genesis 3.  They could only see that the heel of Christ had been struck.  It appeared that Jesus had been struck down by the evil in this world which is led by the evil one himself. The words of Christ in which he spoke about his own resurrection time and time again in the gospels had either not been heard or they had not been understood.  It appeared as though evil had won.  It appeared that the death of Jesus was again nothing but hope coming and going.  It appeared that the world of the disciples was coming crashing down because all they could see was Christ being struck by death and since when has death ever been a good thing!

We have been walking through the Lord’s Prayer this Lenten season and tonight we find ourselves covering the 7th petition, “But deliver us from evil.”  If you were here last night you will have hopefully remembered that I talked about how the 6th and 7th petitions are connected with one another. We pray that Christ would lead us and because he is leading us in this world we know that there will be evil temptations no matter where he leads us, but we pray even more that he would deliver us from the evil that we will face today, tomorrow and the next day.  Delivering us from evil is what Christ came to do in the first place and it is what he continues to do today.  On that Friday that did not seem so good for the first disciples he was in fact delivering the disciples from evil, their own evils and the evil one himself. On that Friday that we know was good yet still seems so horrific Jesus was delivering us from evil, our own evil and the evil one.  The evil one who appeared to be victorious, who appeared to have gained the upper hand, whose head was about to be crushed by the heel of Jesus Christ our Lord.

“But deliver us from evil.” This is the petition that we can pray with boldness and confidence as those who know why this day is called Good Friday.  We know that we have been delivered and we know that Christ continues to deliver us even in the midst of a world and lives that at times seem only hopeless and filled with evil in every direction that we look. May we understand just as the early church understood as seen in the book of Acts, 22 that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.[1] When we look at our own lives and see the sins which are evils that we have perpetuated and perhaps continue to perpetuate we can cry out to the only one who has defeated evil.  When we see the result of evil in this world and in our own lives whether it is attacks, corruption, lies, greed, hatred, sexual immorality, or the despising of the gospel we can cry out to he who has crushed the head of the author of all evil in us and around us.  If and when that evil falls on each of us for the confession of faith in Christ that we hold may we be ever bold to pray “deliver us from evil” knowing Christ has the power to do so because he already has on that Good Friday.  When we face the consequence of sin and evil in this world and stare death in the face we can know that we have one who has gone before us and who has delivered us from the hand of the evil one that we might be in the arms of Christ for all eternity looking forward to Sunday, the Resurrection.

The cross is a horrific scene because Jesus was dealing with the horrific problem of evil and he delivered you from that evil.  In this life we know that just as our Savior faced evils we to will face evil still today.  Let us be ever so certain that it is Christ our Lord who has defeated the evil standing victorious for you and for me! Amen.

[1] Acts 14:22b (ESV)

Lead us not into temptation…

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

On this night in which we take time to remember the last supper in which Christ instituted Holy Communion for his Church we will also be taking a continued look at the Lord’s Prayer.  Tonight we will look at the sixth petition “And lead us not into temptation.”  This is one of those lines in scripture that has garnered a lot of attention throughout the history of the Church due to the fact that with a simple reading one could come to the conclusion that God is in the business of tempting His followers to sin. We always allow clear passages of scripture to interpret less then clear passages of scripture and James seems fairly clear on this point 13 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.[1] The sixth and seventh petitions of the Lord’s Prayer seem to be connected and work together. In light of the temptation that we will face we plead with God in this petition and the next to help us in the time of temptation that we face.

There are three places in which our temptations come from.  We are tempted by our sinful flesh, the world, and Satan.  At times these all work together while at other times they need no help.  Scripture is clear that we have a spiritual enemy in Satan 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. It is also clear that we ourselves are our own worst enemies at times Galatians 5:19–21 (ESV) 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. The world around us often times simply gives us the means for our sinful flesh to do that which should not be done.  1 John 2:15–16 (ESV) 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. We see in Romans that the world not only tempts us but it attempts to convince us that the sin that we are tempted with is actually a good thing. Romans 1:32 (ESV) 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. We don’t have to look real hard to find temptations because they are in us, around us, and following us where ever we are. We don’t have to look real hard to find places that we not only were tempted but succumb to those temptations in thought, word, and deed.

What is meant by “lead us not into temptation?” What we know as those who have faith in Christ is that we are being led by God.  We know that we are being led by Christ the good shepherd.  I think a wonderful picture of this petition is a familiar psalm, Psalm 23:1–6 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We are the sheep and Christ is our shepherd who leads us.  We know clearly from scriptures as well as from our own lives that our lives are full of temptations. When we are tempted does that mean that Christ has stopped leading us? No. When we are tempted does that mean that it is in fact Christ who is tempting us? No.  Christ is leading each of us through this life a life that is often covered by the shadow of temptation, sin, and death.  We know just because Christ is leading us does not mean our lives get any easier in fact often times they become more difficult.  Christ knew that where he would be sending his followers and leading them was not going to lack temptation. We hear this in part of his prayer before the passion which is often times referred to the High Priestly Prayer. John 17:13–18 (ESV) 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

Did you catch verse 15 and what it said? “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”  One does not have to try too hard to hear both the sixth and seventh petitions of the Lord’s Prayer in this section of the High Priestly Prayer.  When we pray the 6th petition of the Lord’s Prayer we do not ask God not to lead us into temptation because we think we might be tempted but rather as you are leading us in places where temptation exists also deliver us from that very evil and the evil one.

So as we are led by Christ into a world that is full of temptation and where we are tempted by the evil one and have enough problems to worry about with our own sinful flesh what does Christ’s leadership look like.  I invite you back to the 23rd psalm where Christ not only leads us as our good shepherd but also gives us what we need. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.[2] “You prepare a table before me.” Christ knows what we will face in our life time because he himself was tempted.  Christ also knows that the only source of hope for us in this world of temptation is Himself for us.  Christ is leading us to the only place that we can find hope he is leading us to himself!  He has prepared a miraculous table for us to partake in.  Today we celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper in which Christ invites us to come to the table and partake in receiving his body and blood in, with and under the forms of bread and wine.  Christ is leading us not that we might fall but rather leading us that we might be delivered from the temptations of this world and he has promised to be with us every step of the way.  When we fall he is there to pick us up and speak the words of forgiveness.  When we fear he is there to give us comfort and protect us from all things.  When we get off course he is there to get us back on track.  He is there for us in those places that he has promised to be, in the word and sacraments.

As we go about our lives as those whom have been called and redeemed by our Savior Jesus Christ we know that we will be tempted in all sorts of different ways.  We must understand that Christ is leading us every step of the way and calling us to him even as the world, Satan and our sinful flesh are attempting to distract us and get our eyes off of the one place that they need to be, our Savior Jesus Christ! As you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear no evil, for Christ is with you; his word comforts you.  He has prepared a table before you in the presence of your enemies, come and receive the body and blood of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for your life and salvation! Amen!

[1] James 1:13 (ESV)

[2] Psalm 23:4-5

Forgive us our Trespasses…

Grace mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

In our midweek services this year at Peace we have been walking through the Lord’s Prayer.  The message today will be the fifth petition, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If last week’s message was challenging in view of our own wealth I would imagine that this petition will also be challenging for those of us who take a real honest look at the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

The plea for forgiveness is something that we find throughout scripture. Psalm 51:9–11 (ESV) Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Psalm 25:16–18 (ESV) 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. 18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector which was told by Jesus the one who is justified spoke these words. Luke 18:13 (ESV) 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ We also have a very familiar text 1 John 1:8–9 (ESV) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The Lord teaches us to pray and ask God for forgiveness.

I don’t think that anyone sitting here is surprised with the fact that scripture speaks a lot about asking for forgiveness and coming to God time and time again for that forgiveness.  Where we tend to find a problem in the 5th petition is with the second clause.  “As we forgive those who trespass against us.” Even if you want to translate it according to some of the manuscripts “As also we forgave our debtors.” It is still a challenging thing to pray.  We as those who know of the grace of Jesus Christ and have been called share that good news in our daily callings in life known as our vocations.  We proclaim his perfect life, sacrificial death, and his victorious resurrection all to make forgiveness possible for the world.  That is who we are as Christian people.  We are also aware of the hurts and pains that go along with the joys.  I am guessing that most of you know of a time in which you were deeply wounded by someone.  Perhaps they spoke about you and slandered you. Maybe someone lied to you or did something that has deeply damaged the relationship that you have with that person.  The idea of forgiveness for someone else even when they repent of their actions can become a hard thing for us to swallow. We tend to want to cling to our hurts and pains rather than to freely forgive.  We like to play the martyr card for many different reasons.  Perhaps the pain is so big that you don’t even know where to start addressing the issue.  Yet we are called to forgive no ifs and or buts about it.

We know that this section of the Lord’s Prayer is not making our forgiving others into a prerequisite to be forgiven by God for that would simply leave us to our own works to be saved.  This section of the Lord’s Prayer does seem to be reflecting the parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18:23-35. The servant being forgiven his great debt by the king then turns around and forces one of his own servants to pay back in comparison a small debt and refused to even give him time to repay it let alone reflecting the grace that he had received from the king and canceling the debt.  He then found himself back on the hook for the debt that he owed.

Do we as those who have received the grace of Jesus Christ knowing how great of a debt that he has forgiven in our own lives then withhold forgiveness from those whom have in comparison a minor debt to each one of us?  When we become blinded to the fact that we ourselves only stand before God because of His grace to us we will quickly insist on the debts that are owed to us be paid in full. The root of the problem is not our unwillingness to forgive but rather our lack of realization of the need for the forgiveness and lack of trust in the forgiveness that has been given to us.

I have two brothers and I thank them often for giving me a great sermon illustration that I think I could work into every sermon that I preach.  When they were in grade school they came home on the bus every day and some days they would be home alone for a few hours until our mom would get home.  As brothers tend to do they got into a bit of a skirmish on their way home and one thing led to another and the older of the two locked our younger brother out of the house.  With all his might my youngest brother took his back pack full of books and swung it at the fount door which was made of glass and the glass shattered.  They both had a new perspective on the guilt that they shared.  They both understood that they were guilty of doing wrong and they were in big trouble.  They quickly got over whatever they were fighting about.  Now I have no idea if the words I forgive you ever came out of their mouths to one another but they defiantly had a different perspective and that was that they were both equally guilty before our parents.   As my youngest brother went and hid in the tree house in the back yard my other brother ended up going and getting him saying “don’t you think mom and dad will find you our here?”  He went outside not clinging to whatever the wrong was that started the problem but with an understanding that they both were sinners and would need forgiveness.

When we speak the words forgive us our trespasses with an understanding that we in fact need that forgiveness just as much as the people who pray that petition with us the next clause becomes realistic, not easy but definitely possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.  When we see the sin in our own lives as it truly is we see that we are in desperate need of the forgiveness of our Savior Jesus Christ we can then seek to forgive as we have been forgiven.

If you refuse to forgive take the parable of the unforgiving servant to heart as a warning.  If you struggle to forgive the only place to go is the cross of Jesus Christ where your forgiveness was bought and paid for. If you know what you are supposed to do and yet struggle to speak words of forgiveness cling to the words that were spoken about you and for you “Father forgiven them for they know not what they do.”  If you need the strength to forgive come to the place where it is freely offered and take and eat for the forgiveness of your sins.

It is no surprise as to how often the scriptures talk about forgiveness because of the desperate need that we all have for it before God. Paul’s words reflect this reality Romans 7:24–25a (ESV) 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! How truly wretched we are yet how freely giving of forgiveness is Christ may we desperately cling to this free gift of forgiveness and let it be reflected in our lives to others as well.

Give us this day our daily bread

Grace mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

We continue our walk through the Lord’s Prayer this Lenten season and today we are shifting directions slightly as the Lord’s Prayer shifts slightly at this point.  Thus far we have talked about God’s name being kept holy, God’s kingdom coming specifically his reign of Grace, and the will of God.  Today we shift our focus slightly on to things that are more focused the temporal needs as we pray “give us this day our daily bread.”  This is the one petition in the Lord’s Prayer that is dealing with primarily a physical need.  The petition is quick and straight to the point yet covers a multitude of things.  The prayer is not simply for food but rather it is a pray that God would provide all the things that are needed for our physical life TODAY.  I want to stress two things one is that the prayer is that God would provide for our needs that we have today not tomorrow, and it is a prayer for what we need.

In our reading from Matthew today “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?[1] The reading concludes “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.[2] This petition that is prayed in the Lord’s Prayer is not asking for anything more than today’s provisions.  It is not a prayer that is asking God to give so much today that one will never have worry about what they will eat or where they will live ever again.  The prayer is that God would provide for today.  That is not typically how we think in this country which is perhaps the wealthiest country in the history of the world and more specifically it is not generally how most of us think in the culture that we in this congregation find ourselves a part of.  Most people here not all but most people here don’t worry about what they are going to eat today. There may have been a time that some had that fear but I would imagine that not many of us are worried about what we will eat today, and by the way if you are please talk to me and we will make sure you have food to eat.  Most of us don’t probably pray this pray out of need but more out of thanks as we understand that it is God who has provided all that we have today.

The lack of what one might define as urgent need blinds us to what is being asked for in the Lord’s Prayer as well as what is being addressed in our Matthew reading for today.  I talked about how there is not great worry or anxiety about what many of us will eat today, but that does not mean there is not great anxiety about things that we would incorrectly think fall under the category of “daily bread.” Often times we have a misunderstanding of what we need verses what we simply want.  Many of us have been blessed with a home that is much bigger than we actually need.  Many of us have been blessed with a job that provides us with more money than we would actually need which allows many different luxuries to be a part of our lives. I am not going to stand up here and preach the ascetic lifestyle, but I will warn that one begins to enter dangerous territory when they can no longer distinguish between needs and luxuries.  I warn because Jesus warns us often about the dangers of money and great amounts of wealth.  The problem is not the money, but rather our sinfulness that cannot handle what money provides, a worldly security.

For us who have been so blessed by God what are we praying when we speak the words of this petition?  Are we asking for more or are we giving thanks in acknowledgement of who has blessed us?  Would it be helpful not to simply pray give us this day our daily bread, but to pray “Teach us to distinguish what we actually need from what we can do without. Give us today our needed bread, which comes from you and lead us today to give to others what they lack.”[3] For many of us this petition is an invitation for us to repent of our greed and deep desires to acquire more for ourselves and build our own kingdom here on earth which draws us away from seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  Matthew 6:19–21 (ESV) 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Our sinfulness tries so hard make greed ok.  I was driving around up in northern Minnesota and I saw a sign for a storage place.  You know the kind when you garage gets to full and you need to put stuff somewhere. This storage place actually used the bible verse that I just read as an advertisement.  They interpreted the verse as you just need to store you stuff in a better way so it doesn’t get destroyed or stolen.  There is a reason Jesus talked about money so often because he knew how problematic it is for those of us who are sinful.

The food we eat, the clothes that we wear, the home we live in are all needs that we have and they are needs that we can go to God about as we pray give us this day our daily bread.  For most people they are needs he has graciously and abundantly provided for.  As we examine our own lives let us take the words of Jesus to heart Matthew 6:33 (ESV) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. God has provided all we need in the person and work of Jesus Christ and even if that is all one had they would be set for all eternity.  Yet for many of us God has also blessed us with blessings in this world.  We must never allow the small blessings of house, food, clothes, and the like take our focus of Jesus.  When our focus stays on Jesus with the understanding that he gives us all that we have most importantly His righteousness we then will not be blinded by the god of mammon/money/stuff.

[1] Matthew 6:25 (ESV)

[2] Matthew 6:34 (ESV)

[3] Gibbs, J. (2006). Matthew 1:1-11:1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. (335).