Let us pray: Dear Savior, we all have people we know who need to know You. Most of them appear normal and together on the outside, but without Your grace and guidance they are struggling on the inside. So today move us to reach out and speak to them about Your comfort and help. Move us to calmly explain how You give meaning to our own lives and You want to do the same for them. And imbue our words with the Spirit’s power to make that occur. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF REAL STRENGTH AND LASTING PEACE!
TEXT: 1 Corinthians 2: 1-5
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
It was early Fall in 2018. What were you doing? Where were you living? Were you happy or sad? Were you healthy or ill? And just how many things have changed since then in your life? A year and a half. That’s how long St. Paul stayed in Corinth after he first arrived to plant God’s Church in that city.
Obviously Paul invested his time, talents, tears, and prayers in these people. And it paid off! A few years later they were thriving. They had become one of the most active churches in Christendom. When the power of the Spirit is poured out on thirsty souls, great and blessed things occur! And then people also begin to forget the past and forget where they were before God’s grace came into their lives. So in our lesson Paul begins by reminding them of where he was at when he first met them a few years prior and stayed on for that memorable year and a half.
“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Now Paul could have stunned the crowds with his eloquence and superior wisdom. Paul was trained by Gamaliel, the Jewish equivalent of Einstein. He was a prize pupil, too. Paul was as highly schooled in the classics as anyone on earth. But instead of elevating himself, he does the opposite and elevates Christ. On purpose he resolved to preach Christ crucified. He told them how the Son of God came to shoulder our burden and our pain. How the Son of God resolved to win mankind’s eternal freedom from sin and death. How He gave His life for theirs on a cross. How He paid the ultimate penalty in our place—death—so that through faith in Him we would be made right with God and inherit heaven itself. Then Paul also would have broken down the specifics of all this so that they would have practical knowledge of what such salvation means. The Beatitudes come to mind. Now they could grasp the meaning of: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, for they shall be comforted, for they shall inherit the earth, for they shall be filled, for they shall see God, etc.” Christ’s sacrifice on the cross opens human eyes to just of fulfilling life can be if we submerge our ego and look for blessings in the simple things of life by relying on Him.
We humans make life terribly complicated. Stress is omnipresent in our lives. We try to figure out true meaning behind all our worries and concerns and reap some sort of peace behind our struggles to make sense of life. But the cross says: “You have peace with God.” The cross says: “Don’t worry because Christ has forgiven you and given you a new life.” When you genuinely take that to heart, stress evaporates and human striving shifts into a lower gear.
“I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.”
I don’t think most people really grasp what they are doing and what they are handling when they talk about the Triune God and His plan for saving our souls. If you could see the glowing force of fiery energy it contains! If you could behold the liquid molten energy it gives off! But, in essence, that’s what’s happening. The power that God used when He created the universe is the same power and even more, when you and I share Christ—just as Paul did in Corinth. It may be hidden from your eyes, but not from God, not from angels, and not from demons. It’s real. More real than the earth we walk upon. No wonder Paul was humbled and did God’s work with fear and trembling! Yet, he did all this in love—love over Christ’s work in saving him and respect over the knowledge that God Almighty was using his frail, mortal body to accomplish cosmic blessings!
So preach he did! Care he did! Share he did! And God gave the increase. This was the demonstration of the Spirit’s power. And by your sitting here today, that demonstration lives on. For God has changed you. He has re-awakened your conscience over good vs. evil. He has shown you the futility of trying to handle life on your own. He has given you insights into what blessings are and are not. He has humbled you in order to remake you into someone better, remaking you in His image. He has shown you a better way to live and a blessed way to die. He has given you hope that never disappoints because it is grounded in the resurrection from the dead. None of this is man’s wisdom. It is all God’s power and God’s strength. So, like St. Paul, don’t be afraid to share it, to handle the Spirit’s fiery plasmic energy of love and forgiveness; it’s the greatest source power in the universe, and God has entrusted it to you! Amen
THE PEACE OF GOD….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox