April 21, 2013: 3rd Sunday after Easter

Let us pray: Dear Savior, we live in an evil world and You know that better than any of us. After all, You went to the cross and suffered the totality of the world’s evil on it in order to save people like us from the even worse fate of hell. Lord, we thank You for that deliverance. We thank You for freeing us from the tentacles of an evil mindset. We thank You for bringing us out of darkness into the sunshine of Your grace. Lord, continue to do so every day of our lives as You change hearts and souls from evil to good with Your self-sacrificing love. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR RESURRECTED LORD WHO HAS LED US OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT!

TEXT: Psalm 27: 13-14: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Dearly Beloved By Christ Our Strong and Ever-living Lord:

So, how does it feel to live in a terrorist-ravaged war zone? That’s what we’ve experienced during this past week with the Marathon bombings, the chase and subsequent lock-down of some of your towns and cities. It’s horrible. It’s frightening. It shakes your confidence. Words fail to convey our emotional state. And although we’ve also witnessed countless acts of bravery and kindness along the way, people still cannot get bloody images out of their heads. Likewise, that omnipresent question: Where was God? fills their minds. As I write this, the investigation is still ongoing. Many facts still need to be revealed. But, terrorism is terrorism. Evil is evil. So, what is God’s answer to all this and what does it mean for our lives as we go forward in this business of living?

For the past few years I’ve said more than once from this pulpit that when evil touches people’s lives the first thing most say is: “How could God allow this to happen?” Or, “Where was God?” Isn’t it amazing that the first thing most people do when confronted by evil is to somehow blame God for it? What does that say about the internal corruption of the human heart? But, it was the same in Christ’s time. Remember when He was accused of casting out evil spirits by using the power of evil spirits (Beelzebub, the prince of darkness) to do so? Godly goodness doesn’t come to human beings naturally. It is only a product of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit by God’s grace.

The fact is: Satan has many allies. Satan twists minds and hearts. Satan even corrupts people into thinking they are somehow doing something noble by engaging in evil acts. That is what fuels terrorism and breeds fear. But then, you now know all those things firsthand. We’ve seen it played out on our TV’s during this past week.

Are we the only generation to grapple with this problem of evil? No. Every generation known to humankind has been plagued by it. Our Psalm was written by David, the King of ancient Israel. Early in his life he had been the object of a continual manhunt engineered by the demonically possessed King Saul. Now, late in life his own son, Absalom, had tried to kill him and take over the throne. But, by God’s grace David escaped, lived, and now provides us with answers on how to both handle evil and to overcome evil in Psalm 27. Considering the emotional upheaval that David had just been through—much like us this week—he begins with some amazing words: “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.”

Do those words resonate with you this morning? They should. For like David, you are a Christian. You have the eternal Son of God as your champion. He is your life, your stonghold, your confidence, your hope, and your help. Note well that David doesn’t get angry with God here. He doesn’t blame God for allowing Absalom to make that attempt on his life. David knows evil exists. He knows it personally considering his own evil actions in being a party to Captain Uriah’s murder in order to cover up David’s adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. But, by God’s gracious love which spawned a repentant heart within him, David also knows that God never, ever, lets His people down.

So, what is God’s answer to evil? Well, there are many passages which give that answer and they provide us with a multi-faceted overview. “Vengeance is mind, I will repay, says the Lord.” Or how about: “The soul that sins, it shall die.” The ignominious death of Judas the betrayer, who hanged himself over a cliff which extended over the burning city dump, had the rope break and had his body fall and break apart on the rocks below, shows that God never allows evil to go unpunished. Yes, evil behavior always has God-driven consequences in this life and in the one to come.

That being said, God’s ultimate answer to evil is Jesus Christ. Yes, Christ is His answer to Satanic terrorism. How? Because Christ destroyed and destroys Satan’s power. He destroyed it on the cross when He died to ransom fallen humans like us from the devil’s clutches. He destroyed it when He rose from His grave and ours on Easter morning. And He destroys it today by changing hearts and minds from evil to good with His gracious love and forgiveness for all sins. Have you ever thought how Satan must feel when one of his evil minions wrecks havoc like we saw this week? He must be gleeful.—If that is even possible in hell? And yet, when one sinner repents and is embraced by God’s light, when fear is replaced by the Spirit’s compassion, Satan loses another soul to God and grinds his teeth together. Likewise, when good God-fearing people stand up to evil, refuse to let it control them, and praise God for strength instead of somehow becoming disillusioned with the Almighty, well, Satan gets stomped on.

On Thursday I visited Tirzah Krey who is suffering from cancer and communed her. Tirzah’s sister, Esther, was there as well. We talked about all the events happening. Esther told me that the Boston group which set up the 9-11 area fund is now being activated once again to help the victims of the bombing. Her son, Eric, our congregational chairman is now the President of that group. Good people, God’s people, are standing up against evil and being counted! Where is God in all this? Open your eyes and see!

Our text for today is the very end of David’s Psalm. It is a fitting conclusion to all the ups and downs we’ve just faced and are facing as we go forward as a people, a city, an area, and a nation in our fight against Satan and his allies. “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” My friends, that is exactly what we’re doing today! We’re waiting for the Lord to continue that cosmic battle of destroying evil with good. You and I are foot-soldiers in that battle. Our General is Jesus Christ. And that will make us eternal winners. So, let’s turn that newly coined phrase: “Boston Strong” into: Boston, Strong in the Lord! Amen