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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
July 6, 2014
Central Passage
Luke 15:1-10
Description

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you. How do you resist the devil? By casting all your anxieties on your heavenly Father, who cares for you.

You have anxieties in this life. Bills that aren’t paid. Jobs that are thankless and overwhelming. Rumors that have or threaten to destroy or tarnish your reputation. Family and friends who have turned on you. Sins you have done that trouble your conscience and haunt you. Sins that others have done. We all have anxieties. And it is these anxieties that the devil uses to tempt you. It is these anxieties that the devil uses to distract you from your heavenly Father and lead you astray so that you stop trusting in Him and His provisions, in His promises, and starting working for yourself.

That’s what temptation is and what it means to go astray: to stop trusting in the promises and love of your heavenly Father. We are not tempted to commit this or that particular sin, we are tempted to stop trusting in our heavenly Father who cares for us, which leads us to do this or that particular sin. So the thief is led to stop trusting that the Lord will provide, and so he steals. The liar is led to stop trusting in the word of the Lord and so he lies.

Temptation is the attempt to make you stop casting all your anxieties on your heavenly Father and start doing things for yourself. So the Lord Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. He had anxieties. He was hungry. He was alone. He knew the road the lay before Him, what He must do to be doing the will of the Father. So the devil came and tempted Him. He came and tried to get Jesus to stop casting His anxieties on His heavenly Father who cares for Him and to start doing things for Himself. Remember, He was tempted in every way that you are. Which means He was tempted to stop trusting in His heavenly Father and start doing things His own way. But He was without sin. He never stopped trusting in His heavenly Father but received all things from Him. And it is His trust that now saves you, for you are in Him and have the same Spirit of God.

Jesus trusted in His heavenly Father’s promises and the devil fled from Him. But it wasn’t easy for Him. He grew in wisdom and stature before God and man. And it isn’t easy for you. You, too, must grow in wisdom and stature before God and man. And you do this the same way Jesus did: by listing to the word of God and sharing in the Spirit of God, which comes through the mysteries of Christ.

Those who cut themselves off from Christ by not coming to hear His word and receive His sacraments and signs, they stop growing in the true faith and turn aside to false and misleading faiths that do not trust in their heavenly Father but trust in false gods. False gods like faith itself or their own efforts or middle class morality. So St. Peter teaches, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God whose perfect love casts out all fear.

For that is what causes us to go astray: fear. Fear of being called out as sinner. Fear of doing something wrong. Fear of being judged. Fear of having to confess our sins and change our ways. But perfect love casts out all fear. Not your love – you don’t love perfectly – but the love of your heavenly Father. It will cast out all fear from you. Fear is the tool of the devil. Rest in the promises of your heavenly Father and the devil will flee from you.

Don’t rest in the promises of your heavenly Father and the devil will have you. For those that don’t rest in the promises of their heavenly Father are those who deny the Christ who did trust in His heavenly Father. And those that deny Christ do not attend His gathering where He gives the forgiveness of sins and joins sinners to Christ that they would be called righteous.

But you might say, I’m not pestered by the devil. I am pestered by this life. But they are one and the same. Everything that does not come from trusting in your heavenly Father is of the devil. So do what you are given to do by Him who created you. Consider your place in life. Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Then do those things according to the will of God. That is how Jesus did and does all things, according to the will of God. As He says, “I do nothing of my own by I do what I see the Father doing.” You see what your heavenly Father is doing when you meditate on the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer; when you are here, witnessing the love of God for the world and the mercy of Christ for sinners. You see what your heavenly Father is doing. This is what He is doing.

It is when you begin to do things out of fear – whether that’s to steal money for fear of poverty or to disobey the Lord out of fear of humiliation or stubbornness – it is when you begin to do things out of fear that you have fallen into temptation.

But take heart! The Lord restores you!

He searches diligently for you like a shepherd for His lost sheep. He searches for you by His gospel and the promises of God that by His blood and sacrifice you are called sons of God, that His God is your God, that His Father is your Father. He has found you this morning. You might be a strong Christian, well established in the faith, but you still need your Good Shepherd to find you and keep you in the fold. Here He reminds you of your heavenly Father’s love for you. Here He gives you your heavenly Father’s love; in the forgiveness of sins and the establishment of His kingdom.

Not only so, but the Church, too, searches for you. She is like a woman looking for one of her lost coins, your brothers and sisters are. They pray for you and you for them. That is why church attendance is so vital to the Christian faith. You may well be able to have a strong and lively faith in your heavenly Father apart from this gathering – though that’s not true, even Christ went to church to hear the promises of His Father – but others may need your faith. And as St. James says, you only show your faith by what you do. You don’t come here for yourself only but for those who need your faith and your prayers. That you would impart a spiritual gift to those around you and they to you as we are mutually built up by one another’s faith, which is shown by what we do, whether we attend or don’t attend, whether we forgive or don’t forgive, whether we receive and eat with sinners or think ourselves too good for others.

Be like the woman who lost a coin and through your faith and prayers search diligently for those who no longer trust in their heavenly Father but have gone astray. When they are found you will rejoice with the angels of God. We all will.

To repent means to trust in your heavenly Father. We were all like sheep who had gone astray. But through the preaching of the gospel we are found and return to the true Shepherd and Bishop of our souls who gives us the love of the Father and His promise of the eternal inheritance. And the angels in heaven rejoice with the saints of God in heaven and on earth over we who trust in our heavenly Father, just as we rejoice with them that they, too, trust in Him who cares for us.

+ In Nomine Iesu +