Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we struggle along through life burdened with financial worries, physical pain, and emotional upset it is easy to get down on life, on ourselves, and on You. It is easy to hope for quick answers to our problems, even though we know that painless solutions are humanly impossible to achieve. So today give us a heavenly solution! Give us faith, hope, and love! Give us uplifting joy! Yes, give us grace—God’s riches at Your expense! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO ALWAYS DELIVERS ON HIS PROMISES TO US!
TEXT: Romans 4: 18-25
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
What’s America’s biggest problem today? Is it the meltdown of housing prices? Is it the high cost of energy? Is it the further increase in food costs? The airwaves are full of plans to fix all these problems. The politicians all have solutions to them that they like to push in order to win your vote. And the polling companies are working overtime and must be recording record profits all because people are fixated on these current issues and want someone, somewhere to “bail them out.”
However, the biggest problem facing America and the world today is really none of the above. The biggest issue facing people is a lack of hope. O, I know the politicians like to talk about hope. Just hearing the word inflames many people because they desire it so much. But, down deep we all know that their version of hope is really a band-aid. It doesn’t fix a broken heart or a guilt-ridden conscience. It doesn’t sustain a person when death looms.—If you doubt that, I ask you this: Have you ever heard a terminally ill cancer patient worrying out the price of gas, the cost of food, or even the market value of their home? No!
Does the “world” make people right, or do people make the world right? Can happiness and contentment be created by fiat from Washington, or does it begin with each person in their own homes? You know the answer. Unless people are right with God first, nothing else matters. As Christ says: “Apart from Me, you can nothing.”
That’s why our lesson is so important today. You can scan the internet and read all sorts of political blogs, but only at church, today, will you hear about:
GOD’S BAIL-OUT PLAN FOR HURTING SOULS
Abraham had lived for 100 years. His wife Sarah had lived for 90 years. And during that long time span they had clung to a promise from God. Specifically, the promise that God would send them an heir, a child, through whom the Messiah, their ticket into heaven would come. But, so far, no child had been born to them. So far, no tangible proof of future glory had appeared. And humanly speaking, at their advanced age it just wasn’t going to happen. And yet, the inspired St. Paul tells us something astounding about these two believers. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 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 of all, this lesson teaches us that true hope starts with a promise. Now, human promises sometimes are fulfilled and many times are not. That’s because situations in life change and many things are simply beyond our control. But, God never changes. Nothing is ever beyond His control. And when He makes a definite promise to any of His children, it is fact. It is as good as done.
Abraham’s faith amazes me. Did you catch Paul’s words about: “without weakening in faith” and “not wavering” when it came to the promise of a child born to he and Sarah? I ran this section by an 88 year old member this week and they, too, were amazed. Anyway, all true hope begins with a promise from the only One Who can always fulfill it. And that One is always God.
Hearing good news is easy. We like good news. We crave it. And it uplifts us for the moment, usually until the emotional high wears off and reality sets in. But to continue to uplift and comfort us, genuine trust needs to follow. Abraham had such trust because His hope came from God. It was a gift of the Holy Spirit. The same gift that little Sam received today in baptism and that you and I received in our baptisms. The very fact of Abraham’s unwavering faith in God’s promise to him is a reminder that our faith and trust can and will continue, too–even into old age. All this because the one making the promise, God, cannot and does not change His mind.
How do you think Abraham’s faith stayed so strong and constant over those many years, even in the face of seemingly impossible odds? I’ll tell you how. Abraham fed his faith. He recalled all of God’s promises to humans from Adam and Eve down to him. He prayed for strength and guidance. He searched and pondered God’s words of truth, just like we do when we read and study Scripture. For faith continues only when faith is fed and sustained by the continual reinforcement of God’s truth.
“Abraham was fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why ‘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.”
Perhaps you’ve never really thought of yourself as a gazillionaire. But you are. For all of us have an unlimited bank account in heaven. An account which will never run dry because it is backed by the full faith and credit of Jesus Christ and His blood and infinite righteousness. Abraham believed, just like you, me and little Sam, that God’s Son suffered and died to pay for our sins. He suffered and died to replace worry and despair with lasting hope. That’s the point of the resurrection, isn’t it? Because He now lives, we too can and shall live in hope that will never cease. Abraham’s faith was really the same as ours because the source and object of that hope was the same: Jesus Christ.
This was and is God’s Bail-out Plan for Hurting Souls. He saves. He comforts. He relieves our stress and uncertainty. All this because Christ has won peace on the cross between anxiety-ridden humans and the God of hope and love. So, next time you start feeling down-in-the-mouth, next time you begin to waver and wonder if God lied when He said: “never will I leave you nor forsake you;” next time you begin to doubt that He meant it when He said: “I will not test you beyond what you can bear;” think of Abraham. Think of Christ. And then thank Him for bailing you out of hopelessness by healing your soul. Yes, if you’re right with God nothing else truly matters, does it? Amen