June 18, 2017 – 2nd Sunday after Pentecost / Father’s Day
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Romans 1:16 – 25
To all of you here, especially all you fathers on this Father’s Day, loved by God and called to be His saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father, the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The theme for today is to reform our lives to God’s Word without excuse by the Gospel Alone. Now some of you may be thinking why do we need to reform our lives to God’s Word? Well that’s the whole purpose of the Pentecost Season and that’s the reason why I picked the book of Romans to preach from during this Pentecost Season. The color for the Pentecost season is green, a season of growing, which in the northern hemisphere is during June, July, August and September and how do we grow in our faith? Through God’s Word, the living Water, and God’s Sacraments, the bread of life. But there are more reasons for spending this Pentecost season in the book of Romans than that. The first is that this years is the 500th anniversary of the reformation of the church started by Martin Luther in 1517. The second is because we are sinners and because of our sins our lives are constantly becoming corrupted and without reformation our lives we would fall from the truth of our faith and into the depths of despair. The third is that history shows us that if there is not a reformation of the lives of the people, the people will destroy themselves.
Now you might want to say to me, “But Pastor we are coming to church and receiving God’s Word and Sacraments regularly, we are being watered by the living water of God’s Word, so why do we need to spend this Pentecost Season reforming our lives to God’s Word? My answer to that question would best come from the reading of the book of Romans and especially through the reading of the first chapter of Romans, as God through the Apostle Paul, explains why it is so important to be reforming our lives to God’s Word.
The Apostle Paul begins by talking to us about the reason for reforming our lives to God’s Word with these words. “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers” (Rom. 1:8-10)
I am so thankful that you called me to be your Pastor and I am so proud of the faith that you have shown and that I have heard about as I visit with other pastor and members of the community who have heard about you or have come to know you and talk about how you as individuals and as a congregation having shared God’s Love, peace and joy with them. I to in my prayer pray for you constantly as I learn about the difficulties that you are facing and rejoice in the blessings that you have received, for you are making a difference in this world by your lives, by your words and by your support of others.
That reformation of our lives starts right here, where we come to receive God’s Word so that the Holy Spirit can continuous the process of reforming our lives to the love, peace and joy of God. It begins with us acknowledging that sin and corruption is working in our lives and we need God’s help or else we are doomed for destruction. I agree with the Apostle Paul as he says, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Rom. 1:11-12) I enjoy seeing all of you each Sunday, for it is in our worship together in God’s Word and Sacrament that we are mutually encouraging each other’s faith to meet all the difficulties and problems that well come upon us in our lives. I wish that I could say that I have imparted some spiritual gift to strengthen your faith each time that we meet together, but I know that each time that we meet together we will share in the gospel of God’s Word and through the work of the Holy Spirit God will strengthen us in the ways that are needed for our circumstances and difficulties in this life. God through the Apostle Paul says it this way, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”’ (Rom. 1:16-17)
It is the gospel that has brought us together on this day as we receive God’s Word and Sacraments for the strengthen of our faith and the encouragement of one another in a world filled with fear, death and the destruction of all that God wants to give to us. As we look around and hear all about what is going on in our world we start to understand why the Apostle Paul is telling us, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:18-20)
Today we live in a world that is changing and for the United States and much of what was called the free world at one time, well we are not changing for the better, but allowing the destruction and suppression of the Truth of God in our lives. For example, only about 100 years ago Europe and the United States were considered the hot beds of the Christian faith. That’s not true anymore because there are more Christians in Africa fighting for their faith than there are in Europe and the United States is following in the footsteps of Europe unless we start reforming our lives to God’s Word. Where the truth of God is ignored ungodliness and unrighteousness will take over and it begins right here with each of us reforming our lives to God’s Word.
Listen to what God tells us will happen if we don’t keep up the reforming of our lives to God’s Word. “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Rom. 1:21-25)
This is happening in our world, in the United States of America, in Colorado and yes, even here along the 285 corridor, that we call home. This is happening in the world that we are living in and it can happen in our lives when we don’t keep up the reformation that comes through God’s World. The only way that we can stop this corruption and destruction of life from taking over our lives and our world is by starting with our own live and let the Holy Spirit continue the reformation of our lives to His Word and then let God use our lives to show the way to others and how important it is to reform our lives to God’s Word. Why is this so important for each of us to be involved in this? Because we can see and hear and learn from others who didn’t continue to reform their lives to God’s Word throughout history and what has happened to them can happen to us. Oh, it may not happen in our life time but as we hear and see what is happening in the world around us we come to know that it will happen even though it is against all that we believe and have been taught is true. Listen to the final words of the first chapter of Romans and see if they aren’t describing the world that we are living in now, as our free world and nation becomes a slave to the lies and deception of the devil.
For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Rom. 1:26-32)
This is not the world that I want my children or grandchildren or great grandchildren or you to live in. And I would guess that this is not the world that you want your children or grandchildren or great grandchildren to live in either, but this is what the world will become unless we reform our lives to God’s Word and it begins right here. This may not be a warning that you want to hear today or tomorrow but as the Apostle Paul but it, “We have no excuse.” We have seen the glory of God in the creation that we love and we have seen the destruction that happens when others have exchanged the truth of God for the things of this world and it has never ended up in a better life or better world. So, it’s time to reform our lives to God’s Word and it begins with the Gospel alone. As we let the Gospel go to work in our lives we will have an effect on the lives of others, for God’s Word is the only way to reform our lives and world for the better. Amen.