Optimal Obedience

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION           (Romans 12:2)

We approach God’s Word and seek the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds understand its Truth. Join me in a spirit of prayer.

God, our refuge and our fortress, we tremble in the present moment as we remember the tragic past. Our strength dwindles in the darkness but you bring light. Gather us under your wings and fulfill your promise to be with us in trouble. You are faithful still. Open our hearts and minds to listen for your gift of salvation as we put our trust in you, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

SCRIPTURE   READING       Psalm 14         Denunciation of Godlessness- To the leader. Of David.

Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.

Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the Lord? There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous. You would confound the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge. O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

We pray that the Lord will bless us with these Holy Words.

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN# RED 494   “Step by Step”


SECOND SCRIPTURE                    Luke 15:1-10                          The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”So he (Jesus) told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

“Or what woman having ten silver coins, a if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

THE MESSAGE                      “Optimal Obedience”

I wonder if you remember where you were 15 years ago, on this date? September 11th, 2001 began as a sunny pleasant Tuesday morning. I rode across town to East Point Café for our Men’s Breakfast bunch. As I drove up Milwaukee Avenue, I heard a news report of a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I imagined a small Cessna plane that lost control. Then the news reporter switched stories. It was not even a topic of discussion at breakfast. We continued life as if nothing monumental had happened.

After paying my bill, I had a brief thought that would terrorist load explosives on the Cessna and attempt to complete the failed attempt to blow up the building with explosives in 1993, when I still lived in NY. Then I went to Rock County Honda/Buick to look at a new car. It was then that I saw the first images of a Boeing 767 entering the north tower. By then a second airliner crashed into the south tower and by the end of the morning two more airliners crashed into the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

These Islamic extremist were obedient to an evil cause. They shattered our sense of peace and security. The nineteen hijackers committed their lives to die to instill terror in our lives. They knew that they would not survive the day and still went through with the plan while their superiors lived to tell their story. They acted on the hatred in their hearts and performed abominable deeds. They reject the Christian view of a loving God and see little value in 2,996 human lives that died that day.

In contrast, we see Jesus who finds value in every life. Even tax collectors and sinners of every kind. Jesus comes not only to meet and teach, but to dine with and shower them with love. Into a world where no one is good, even the faithful wonder astray, and can even do perverse things, the love God redeems. Jesus responds to the criticism of the Pharisees and Scribes with a parable. When eating with the least of these in society, Jesus points to God’s care and concern for the lost. Jesus equates sinners, the lost evil doers, and the God, as a Shepherd, will search until the very last one is found.

Just in case they don’t quite get the importance, Jesus tells a second parable of a woman who loses a coin and she searches diligently until it’s found. I remember a day, when I misplaced my paycheck just before Christmas. I was frantic. I retraced my steps and eventually found the check in a snow bank in front of a member’s house that I had visited. I rejoiced that I did not have to call Diane to come and rewrite me a check.

We’ll skip the familiar third parable of the lost Son. Some of the Pharisees still would not catch the point that God wants us to seek the lost. Our optimal task of obedience means that people of faith must seek to share our faith with others. We can be God’s instruments of peace, joy, and grace.

As we, sinners, one and all, receive forgiveness and Jesus restores our relationship with our God, we rejoice. When we acknowledge God’s grace for us the optimal obedience is to help others understand that nothing separates us from the love of God. No matter what abominable deeds, corrupt actions, foolish sayings, or evil done can deter God’s love from seeking to restore us. If we repent and discover our refuge in the Living Lord, we will be in the company of the righteous.

As we come to the Lord’s Table, let us seek our optimal obedience as Christians and work with the Lord to share our faith. TGBTG. Amen.

  January 2018  
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