March 29, 2020: 5th Sunday in Lent

Let us pray: Dear Savior, teach us today that our world is not confined to our own little house, or our own little circle of friends.  Since we belong to You, our world is limitless.  It is as big as You are and extends across time and space.  It is even more expansive than the universe!  And all creation is anticipating the coming out party You have planned for us someday!  Amen


TEXT:  Romans 8: 11-19

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          Feeling confined and cooped up?  Yes!  I called one member this week and asked her how her kids were doing.  She responded that her teenage son had said: “Mom, it’s hard work doing nothing.”  I hooted.  It encapsulates the mindset that comes from our current home-confinement.  But of course, it doesn’t have to be that way—especially for a Christian.

          The writer, P. G. Wodehouse was an American who lived in and adopted England as his home of choice.  Peregrine Grenville Wodehouse is most famous for devising and writing a whole host of books about “Wooster and Jeeves.”  They are set in 1920’s England.  Bertie Wooster was a rich, likeable, air head.  Jeeves is his prim and proper “gentleman’s gentleman, who is also smart and gets Bertie out of countless problems.  The books are hilarious.  Of interest here is that Wodehouse found himself trapped in France during WWII.  The Nazi’s put him under house arrest and promptly forgot about him.  Wodehouse then adopted the carefree attitude of Bertie Wooster and spent the war happily writing more books until he was freed.  He literally made lemonade out of old lemons! 

          All of us find ourselves in a similar situation today.  What will help prevent you from going “stir crazy?”  Well, that’s where our lesson comes into play.


          By the time St. Paul wrote Romans, he had already been arrested and imprisoned at various times.  And he always used that time to make lemonade out of old lemons!  The classic story is of he and Silas imprisoned at Philippi, locked in dungeon and bound by chains.  They ended up singing hymns all night and talking loudly about Christ and His work of saving us.  You know how that ended.  They converted the jailer and his entire household was baptized.  Paul and Silas were freed.  And in heaven we’ll find out how many prisoners there came to faith, as well. 

          All of us are imprisoned and not in a jail.  We’re imprisoned by our sins and the guilt and remorse and second-guessing that our moral violations cause.  We’re imprisoned in our minds.  Currently, we don’t have armed guards surrounding us and limiting our actions.  But we do have psychological strictures—fear—keeping us from being physically free.  We’d all like to think that once those “shelter in place orders” have been lifted, we’ll be free again.  However, the psychological bars will remain and curb us in the future from being carefree.  You can never escape guilt.  You can never avoid fear.  And regret, well, who doesn’t wish they had invested more wisely just a couple of months ago? 


          Paul touches on the solution to our human locked-down spirit.  As a child of God, the Spirit has broken the bars holding us in.  Christ demolished our jailhouse of sin, fear of death, and the Spirit has given us God’s limitless love which nothing can truly diminish.  “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” 

          Next, Paul gives  us some practical application of this truth to our current situation.  “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship…Now if we are children then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

          Let’s put Paul’s chain logic this way:  1. We were all born sinners  full of anger, fear, and guilt all ultimately leading up to death.  2.  This made us unhappy and unfulfilled.  3. Out of pure love God wasn’t happy about our situation (even though we brought it upon ourselves) and sent His Son of win us eternal freedom from all this mess.  4.  Christ agreed to take upon Himself our pain and our sorrow and our death.  5. Jesus then arose from the tomb to announce His grace-filled victory to the world.  6.  He also sent forth the Holy Spirit to work faith in our hearts so that that victory would become our personal possession. 7. Once we know that we are now legal heirs of all Christ possesses—absence before God of: guilt, shame, regret, worry over the future, and feeling worthless and unfulfilled; our hearts are lightened.  8.  Yes, we still get slammed at times by evil beyond our control and engage in self-pity, but not forever.  For heaven is our home and nothing can hurt nor harm us there.

          Currently, America is demoralized.  Next comes anger.  Then comes a giant, national pity-party.  And eventually the scars of second-guessing over what went wrong will be with us.  They will fade with time, but be triggered by any bad news in future.  It’s not a fun way to live, is it?  So why not shake off those shackles?  Do so by embracing Christ and all the relief and healing that He brings?  Do so by living and embracing the Godly reality that is actually yours right now!  You’re forgiven.  You’re free!  Act like it, even though currently confined!  And never forget this one, gigantic truth: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”   My friends, THAT IS YOUR REALITY RIGHT NOW!  ACT ACCORDINGLY!

          On 9-11 I planned on staining the back of the parsonage. The weather was perfect to work with oil stain.  After seeing the grotesque morning news reports, that’s exactly what I did!  I wasn’t going to let horrible news torpedo me from doing something useful.  I finished the job later that day, as well.   If the world ended, I wanted God to find me engaged in work that beautified His property.  So, use these upcoming days to do likewise.  That’s true faith in action!   Amen 

The Peace of God Which……  

Pastor Thomas H. Fox      

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