Let us pray: Dear Savior, how comforting it is to know that You care about us enough to die for us, to rise to life for us, and to provide us with a blueprint on exactly how to have a blessed life! May we always listen to Your voice of wisdom, follow Your holy guidelines and thereby reap a blessed life! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR GLORIOUS, RISEN SAVIOR!
TEXT: Acts 2: 14, 36-47
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Do you want your children to be unhappy, sad, and angry with their lives? Do you want your nieces and nephews to turn to drugs because they have nothing else to live for? Obviously not! So, what are you doing to make sure these things don’t happen? Are you assisting in their education? Good! Have you developed an honest, open relationship with them? Double good! Are you spoiling them and not indoctrinating them with sound values? Not so good! Do you merely lecture them and then try to buy their love with the latest fade “toy”? Double not so good!
The fact is: we love our family members and want the very best for them. We want them to have a better life than our own, to spare them pain and disappointment. We also want to equip them for the various hard knocks that life will hurl at them. So, what’s the very best way to fulfill your vision for their lives? Well, our lesson outlines it! For right here St. Peter lays before each of us:
MARCHING ORDERS FOR A BLESSED FAMILY!
Let’s be blunt.—Life is a series of crises, isn’t it? And you cannot shield your loved ones from such problems and the pain they bring if you don’t first get your own life in order. After Peter preached his great Pentecost sermon to the crowd, the people realized that fact. And so they asked the disciples: “Brothers, what shall we do?” How do I fix my own life? What’s the first step on the road to a blessed life? Peter replied: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children…for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Contrary to popular opinion, repentance isn’t a dirty word. It’s an honest one. You cannot help another unless and until you get your own life in order. Repentance means being honest with yourself and with God, Who sees all, when it comes to your failings, your sins, and your bad habits. It means telling God your problems, telling Him you’re sorry you’ve offended Him, and asking Him to forgive you. And when you do that, God really does forgive! He personally gives to you the holiness and perfection that Christ won on the cross!
The second step which follows the first one is: to embrace baptism! Today both a young boy and an infant relative of his were baptized. What a blessing! For thereby they have both received God’s promise of complete forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a new lease on life—just as you have who are baptized, too. Through baptism they have been born anew into God’s holy family. They are now, just like you, heirs of all the blessings that belong to Christ.—All the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Those being: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” So, the next step toward a continued blessed family life for them and for you is to put those gifts into daily use!
Peter goes on to stir the pot and provoke a usage of such gifts in the lives of his hearers. “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about 3000 were added to their number that day.”
We live surrounded by evil. The devil and his many allies claw and reach out to grab hold of us. Drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, the easy sin of lying, cheating—whether it be on tests in school, on taxes, or at work, using unkind and unclean language—these are but a few ways he attempts to corrupt us. We need to stand out from the crowd. We need to embrace Godly values and morals. We need to always be honest and have higher standards than the world around us. Yes, we need to put the Spirit’s gifts into daily usage. When you do that in your own life and children see it, they learn by example. And what results? A blessed family!
I like the baptismal order of service that we used today. I especially like where I, in the place of Christ, ask not only the immediate family, but the whole congregation if you will pray for and assist in the Christian training of the child. For that’s the point, isn’t it? We’re all in this together. The entire family of God is responsible for each other. Parents don’t have to go it all alone.
Folks, that’s what happened in the early Christian church, too. They viewed themselves as an entire, unified family under the headship of Jesus Christ. They practiced unity and oneness. We see that illustrated by Luke’s account of the aftermath of Pentecost. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe…all the believers were together and had everything in common…Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”
Now I realize that the world of modern suburbia is not conducive to close-knit neighborhoods. As a child, all the area mothers knew who we were and watched out for us. They scolded us when we got in trouble. They weren’t afraid to call our parents. Lawsuits were unheard of. No one worried about sex-offenders or pedophiles snatching kids off the streets. And because we live in an uncivil world where you can’t trust others, it is both a joy and a relief to come to church! It is a relief to belong to an extended family where, just as in the early church, people carried enough to help you raise your kids in a positive way. It is a privilege to have church friends who share the exact same morals that you do. Who are concerned about both you and your entire family. By devoting yourself to God’s truth, by sharing insights into how God wants us to handle problems, by communing together (that’s the meaning behind that first reference of “breaking bread”), by praying for and with one another, by providing help to and for each other, and by forging personal ties that extend beyond the confines of our four walls—these are all ways of building up both individuals and families.
So, yes, right here St. Peter lays out: Marching Orders For a Blessed Family. And lest you think they are too simple and idealistic to work, listen to the final sentence of our lesson: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Amen