218-547-3156
Walker, MN

March 17, 2019     Remember Wondrous Works

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,

 Just a reminder that -for these Sundays in Lent- we’re using an outline on the Bible word ‘remember’; it’s the brainchild of one of our retired circuit pastors, Rv.Dr.Larry Harvala.   Today we’re working with v.4 of Psalm 111: ‘He has caused His wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.’   ******************

“Spring ahead; fall back.” That’s the simple memory aid people use at the start of      daylight saving time. We just came off of ‘standard time’ and have entered ‘daylight savings time’.   This over 100 yr-old idea was to extend the daylight more into the evening so people had another hour of activity after the workday = especially during the summer. Our MN legislature has proposed to take MN off this changing of clocks. Maybe it’s inconvenient,

but I can see how a longer evening would be good for MN outdoor activities & tourism.

The ultimate daylight saving time event is in Joshua 10. God’s people were fighting a battle and their leader -Joshua- needed a little more time. So he spoke to the Lord, v.13: “And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

…The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day.”  Such a ‘wondrous work’ is something people would tend to remember.

The Psalmist thought so too. (111:4) “He has caused His wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.”  We’ll keep in mind that when the Bible uses the word ‘remember’, it’s not a thought, it’s an ‘action.’ So, when we encounter that word, we’ll look for God’s action. *What do people DO when God causes them to remember His wondrous works? They Believe that He Is Still Working His Wonders Today. WE believe that He is still working … /on us, /for us, /among us.

*********************************************

The people of the OT were reminded of God’s wondrous works; God made festivals for them to celebrate those works, because each next generation had been blessed by God’s past work. And WE should think that way, too.   +It’s like saying that if my great-grandpa came home safely from WWII & started a family; that means I benefited from God’s wondrous work with great-grandpa: I have life.

+If my mom had recovered from a childhood disease to grow up and have a husband & a family, those next generations were blessed because of God’s wondrous works to her.

That makes a lot of sense; we praise the Lord for His past gracious actions.

God worked miracles to get the Israelites out of trouble, and the following generations were blessed. *Who could forget how God enabled their army to defeat a great walled-city by simply blowing trumpets for 7 days? *Who could forget how God fed His people with miracle-manna while they traveled thru the wilderness? But, the granddaddy of all His OT wondrous works was God delivering His people out of slavery in Egypt, thru the Red Sea, and giving them a home in the Promised Land, from where the world’s salvation would come.

Whatever bad spot they were in, all they had to do was recall & celebrate what God had done; & by this remembering their faith was strengthened to believe that He could do that again, or some other gracious work for them.   BUT, they forgot; by not remembering,

they did not believe.  As soon as God led them out of Egypt, they forgot His wondrous work. Instead, they remembered the tasty food they had in Egypt, and that caused them to complain.

***************************************

If this was a story made up by a human storyteller, the next chapter would have God give-up on those undeserving people, & start all over again with others; that would be a fitting justice.  But this is not a human story; God is just, but also gracious. How easy it would’ve been with His first 2 people -when they sinned- to abandon & abort them, and start over with 2 more. But He didn’t.

Likewise, God was not going to deliver those imperfect people from Egypt, and then abandon them because they were still imperfect;   He wasn’t going to quit working for them because of their unbelief, fear, & doubt; that’s not who He is ~ even today. He would continue to work wondrously for them because HE is wondrous, full of grace & mercy.    That’s how the story goes; that’s our people’s history.   He causes us to remember His works, so that we will believe He is still working wonders today.

*******************************************************

So, that’s history, but *what has God done for US lately?  Here in church, we often hear about the miracles God did in the past; *what about now? We think a miracle or two would make our faith stronger.   But, *would it?    For example…..>

If real believers could all walk on water, we’d see a lot of people walking on the water; & if they couldn’t, we’d assume they weren’t real believers.   But, *did God perform miracles to show us what we should be able to do, or have in our life, if only we had enough faith?

NO; miracles are not about us. God performed wondrous works so we would know that HE is God. Just as God made a way for Israel to be delivered out of Egypt & so to believe in Him, so God has made a way for US to believe in Him. Rom 10:17 describes this modern miracle for us: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing thru the Word of Christ.”    

God saves souls thru the hearing of His Word. We confess this miracle like this: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

To believe in God is not our accomplishment, not our choice or work; it’s God’s wondrous work.   Don’t complain that it doesn’t look like much. By His Word, by His Spirit, and thru our baptism, we are forgiven, saved from hell, and we have a home in His heaven.   That is the greatest of all miracles for us.

************************************

God himself considers the Exodus of His people out of slavery in Egypt as His greatest OT work;   and yet, it was only a preview & appetizer of His most wondrous work of all time & for all nations.  Which is Jesus delivering all people from sin by dying on the cross.

Do not wish that you could’ve been there at Calvary that day; those that were at the cross did not see or perceive a mighty miracle. The disciples wanted to see the Messiah take Jerusalem away from the Romans. But *what did they see?   Jesus allowed himself to be /betrayed, /arrested, /beat-up, /tried, /condemned, /& crucified.

Even Jesus’ cross-work would only be part of the past history IF God didn’t make a way to bring it to all people & for all the time. God does this with ‘remembering.’ He acts to save & protect His people in a new way in the NT. So, *how does God bring the crucifixion of Jesus from the past right up to the present time for any believer? In the OT, God worked thru the temple/priesthood/sacrifices/ark of the covt.   But now He has put that working power in what we call the Means of Grace. God’s Word and God’s Sacraments are items filled with the working HSp; and these things have been working since Jesus’ death & resurrection.

When in God’s Living-Word, you hear Jesus say “Father, forgive them” Jesus’ cross is brought over -thru the years- to each believer. God chose the Word & Sacraments to bring & apply His grace to you, & to all.   Just as Jesus said in John 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life.”

God’s wondrous work on the cross is conveyed thru God’s miracle-Word.

Thru Paul, the Spirit makes the same connection between the cross and the Lord’s Supper, 1Cor.10: “The cup of blessing…is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”  And thru Peter, the Spirit connects the saving of Noah & family in the ark to our present time. In that ark, he says, “eight persons were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you.” (1Pet 3:20–21).  God continues to remember & deliver His people.

**********************************************

So, we can ask the question to learn, but not to complain: *what wondrous work or miracle has God done for us lately?  Too many people ignore, downplay, or despise the church; yet, in His Church, the Gospel is working right now so that we will believe. With each repentance & forgiveness, your Baptism is remembered; your old flesh is drown again, and a new person is regenerated each day, to live before God in uprightness.

As often as you eat the Lord’s Meal, you miraculously receive Him & his forgiveness to strengthen your faith. This is how God is working in our time, and thru His Church.

The Word & Sacraments are real spiritual things we can /see, /hear, /feel, /& taste.   Like that cross on Good Friday, they don’t look like much, but they are God-at-work.

***************************

God works elsewhere, too, in our time. Just as it is a wondrous work when God heals our diseases, illnesses, & injuries, so when we have good health & strength, we rejoice, for that -too- is the work of God for us.

And just as it is wondrous work that God has used His holy angels to rescue people from danger or harm, so your own guardian angel did a good job of protecting you last night, when nothing dangerous happened to you. As we remember what God has done for His people in the past, so we are able to believe that He continues to work today.

****************************************

It was a miracle that God stopped the sun, and it stood still for about a day, so that thru Joshua, He could win the battle against His people’s enemies. +It was a miracle the night Jesus walked on water, and then caused Peter to walk on water, too.  Scripture is filled with events for us to remember the wondrous works of our powerful, gracious God.

These events cause us to believe that He is still at work in & around us.   As Phil 2:13 says: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  That’s what God is doing for you lately.

Amen.