June 30, 2013

Sermon, Fifth Sunday after Trinity

Christians Trust
Psalm 62, 63, Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, 18-23, Matthew 19:16
Fifth Sunday after Trinity
June 30, 2013

Our Scripture Lessons for this morning appear at first glance to cover a variety of subjects, and, indeed they do, but a common thread runs through them.  It is a thread that actually runs through all Holy Scripture, Old Testament and New, and that thread is, trust in God.  And so, the topic for this morning’s sermon is, “Christians Trust.”

Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes 2 are about the untrustworthiness of the pleasures and trinkets of the world.  They are untrustworthy because they promise to give happiness, but cannot give it.  Real happiness is a condition of the soul, therefore, physical things and worldly pleasures cannot give it.  That is Solomon’s point in his book, which we call Ecclesiastes.  Solomon, the third king of ancient Israel, started his reign well, but gradually his heart was enticed away from God by the power and wealth at his command.  Solomon had the money to buy whatever he wanted and the power to command people to do his bidding.  Money and power are good things, if used well.  A person can do much good with money and power.  A person can also do much harm.  The harm comes when a person begins to value money and power and the things they can procure, more than he values people, morality, and God.  That was Solomon’s mistake.  Solomon began to think of himself as the owner of Israel and its people, rather than the servant of them.  He used the land for his own profit, and forced the people to work as his servants to build his wealth and power.  This is the constant tendency and temptation of power.  Solomon fell under that temptation, as many public servants, both civil and ecclesiastical have also fallen, and continue to fall even today.

We do not have to be as rich as Solomon to be as selfish as Solomon.  In fact, I see people at every level of the economic scale living as self-indulgently and selfishly as their means and opportunities allow.  Look at the way people have transformed the word “freedom” to mean “licentiousness.”  Claiming to stand for freedom, people have become wildly selfish, devoting themselves to the gratification of even their basest desires and lusts.

Nor is this limited to those we would consider evil people.  The young man in our reading in Matthew was a very moral man.  When Jesus told him what he would have to do to merit or earn eternal life, Heaven, he said, “All these things have I kept from my youth up” (Mt. 19:20).  I believe the man had a few blind spots in his view of his own goodness.  He was able to conveniently overlook some things in his past conduct that did not measure up to the letter of God’s law, let alone the spirit of God’s law.  But it is true that he conducted himself well and had a great measure of moral success.  By all human standards he was an exceptionally good man.  But not by God’s standards.  And Jesus points this out in a way that grieved the young man’s heart.  Give your goods away, He demanded.  “[G]o and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor… and come and follow me” (Mt 19:21).  The man would not do it.  He loved his wealth and possessions more than he loved God.  Let me say this in more pointed language, because this is terribly important; he did not trust God to be better and more valuable than wealth and possessions.  Let me say that again; he did not trust God to be better and more valuable than his possessions.  Therefore he kept his possessions and give up God.

I want to look at Psalm 62 for a few minutes, because it elucidates this point in three short and solid points.  Its first point is; God’s people trust God.  This is the main point of the Psalm and it occupies seven of the Psalm’s twelve verses.  It is stated most clearly in verse 7, which is the culmination of the Psalm; “God is my health and my glory; the rock of my might; and in God is my trust.”  Let this be our motto as we travel this world; whether we live in riches or poverty, in worldly peace, or in persecution, “God is my health and my glory; the rock of my might; and in God is my trust.”

The second point is, Trust God.  It is made primarily in verses 8-12, and is made in such statements as; “O put your trust in Him always, ye people; pour out your hearts before Him, for God is our hope.”  I think this point is made for both believers and unbelievers.  It is possible for believers to become discouraged and even angry at God.  I even think it is possible for believers, true believers, to doubt, and to experience times when we don’t really trust God.  I actually think most believers have very little faith in God.  Most of our faith is in our feelings and opinions.  We trust God as long as we feel like He is close to us and helping us.  In reality God is there for us at all times, maybe even especially in those times when we don’t “feel” like He is.  Maybe He wants us to trust Him, not our feelings.  But know this; God will never leave or forsake you. The Author and finisher of your faith will complete the work He has begun in you.  So to you who trust God, trust God.

To the unbeliever, this point is an exhortation to give up unbelief.  God has good things for you.  In Him there is pardon for your sins, mercy for your weaknesses, and help and strength for your soul. I turn back to Matthew 19, and Christ’s promises to the disciples, who have forsaken all to follow Him (Mt. 19:27).  They have put their whole trust in Jesus, for this life and eternity.  And what does Jesus say to them?  You will sit on thrones in Heaven, and you will have eternal life, life in the presence of God, enjoying His love and richest blessings forever (Mt. 1928-30).  Why give up these riches for a few trinkets and pleasures that will fade very soon?  Trust in Christ and be saved.

The third point, in verses 3 and 4, is a warning to the wicked.  It calls them a tottering wall and a broken hedge.  “Ye shall be slain all the sort of you,” it says.  The Bible makes it very plain that the ungodly will not have any part with Him in Heaven.  Instead of eternal life, they will inherit eternal death, a living death, forever.  Why suffer that fate?  Believe in Christ and be saved.  Trust God.

Now it just so happens that the Collect for today is about trusting God.  “Order,” guide the world and its people so that we may live and serve God in peace.  That is the first part of the prayer.  The second part is more important, for it asks God to help us find our peace in Him; to “joyfully serve” Him.  In other words, it asks God to help us trust Him.
                                                                                  

“Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

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