Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for not giving up on any of us. Thank You for not letting our grumbling ways or our give-in-to-temptation attitudes torpedo Your love for us. Lord, You have promised us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Today we ask for the power to embrace those gifts. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR GLORIOUS SAVIOR!
TEXT: Romans 4: 18-25
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Envy is a great sin. Being envious of what others have is a slap in God’s face. Why? After all, isn’t our modern society built on envy? Isn’t that the rationale behind our consumer-driven economy? Envy is a great sin because it says to God: “I’m not satisfied with my blessings! I’m not satisfied with the gifts you’ve given me.” Envy is really saying: “God, you’re stingy.”
People say that money can buy anything. But, what’s the one earthly treasure that money cannot buy? No, I’m not talking about eternal life because that’s not an earthly gift, it’s a treasure that comes in the life after this one. So, what’s the one treasure which money cannot buy that believer and unbeliever alike long for while they have their feet planted on terra firma? Isn’t it a clean conscience? Isn’t it a life not dominated by worry? Isn’t it peace with God?
Today I want to tell you exactly how such a life can be yours. For,
TAP, TALK, AND TRUST=PEACE WITH GOD!
First comes the tap, the tap on your shoulder. It might be a slight tap or a firm one, depending on your attitude. But make no mistake, God has, will, and does tap you on the shoulder to get your attention. It may come when you’re lying in the hospital, or when you’re grieving over a loved ones death, or when a relationship has gone sour. It may come when envy rears its unthankful head and sours you on your blessings. However and whenever your soul is restless that tap will come.
In our lesson St. Paul talks about the father of the faithful, Abraham. When Abraham was about 30 years old, God first tapped him on his shoulder and said: “Leave your country, take your family, and trust Me to guide you to a new land.” Abraham did just that, too. And Israel became his new home. Then God tapped him again and said: “I’ll send you a son, an heir through whom the future Messiah, your Messiah, will come.” Again, Abraham believed God and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, Abraham grew tired of waiting and decided to make this happen all on his own. Sarah his wife pushed him into sleeping with Hagar, her servant, and fathering a child by her. This child, they thought, would be their heir. This child, they thought, was the fulfillment of God’s promise. But they were wrong. And over the years jealousy broke out in that household and finally Hagar and her son were banished. Abraham was now about 100 years old and Sarah was about 90. Humanly speaking they would have no child. Humanly speaking God lied. And yet, Abraham had paid attention to those insistent taps from God—with a couple of lapses. He paid attention when God talked to him and repeated His promises. And Abraham continued to trust God despite the apparent hopelessness of it all. “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
First came the tap, then came God’s talk, and then trust resulted. God operates the same way today. He has to constantly tap us on the shoulder to make us stop and listen. He has to tap us on the shoulder to get us to stop and reevaluate our lives. Are we truly appreciative of our blessings? Or are we envious of others? Are we content with life and are thankful for the gifts God sends us in the form of work, family, friends, hobbies, and insights into all of the above, or are we ingrates?
Abraham humbled himself before God. He listened and learned when God spoke. He trusted in God’s promises despite his human reason which said: “It ain’t gonna happen.” And finally, his trust was proven correct. God gave he and Sarah a son, Isaac, the future father of Jesus Christ.
Most of us are much more like Sarah than Abraham. She continually shrugged off God’s tapping and didn’t listen to His talking. She even laughed outside the tent when the angel of the Lord announced to Abraham that Sarah was pregnant with Isaac, hence his name which means “laughter.” Sarah’s lack of trust led to her being in a state of unrest throughout her life. And as I’ve already said, it spilled over into Abraham’s life at times, too. And yet, God kept tapping, talking, and trying to elicit trust in both of them. And finally, as they came to accept God’s guidance and not fight Him, it paid off.
St. Paul talks about Abraham’s trusting in God’s unseen promises when he says: “It was credited to him as righteousness.’ The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
The tap, the talk, the trust finally led to peace with God. It led to the realization that God never lies, that God always blesses His children, and that our future rests secure because it is in the hands of Christ, “the Lamb of God Who has taken away the sins of the world.” Abraham did nothing to deserve such peace with God. In fact whenever he and Sarah tried to achieve it on their own and make it happen on their own, it blew up in their faces. It was only when he humbly accepted God’s guidance and simply trusted his Lord that the worries and doubts melted away.
Folks, it is exactly the same for us. The harder we try to achieve inner peace and make worries fade through consumeritis, materialism, or working at playing that old game of let’s-make-a-deal-with-God, the more we’ll experience unrest in our lives. For if you play that game, enough is never enough. But, when we surrender our souls to the Lord and trust in His promises; when we truly appreciate those gifts of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—in other words when we’re content and thankful His peace will flood our lives.
Right now through faith in Christ you have eternal life and you have those gifts of the Spirit. What more is there to life? So, don’t worry, don’t fear, don’t agonize over what money can buy. Instead be happy over what money cannot buy, but Christ’s blood has—for you—peace with God. Amen