June 28, 2020: 3rd Sunday after Trinity

Let us pray: Dear Savior, just as You gave the 12 marching orders to fulfill their purpose in life, so today, renew those marching orders for each of us.  Make us mindful of always doing Your bidding, whatever our circumstances, so that Your kingdom may grow and flourish and we will find lasting contentment in doing God’s work instead of just our own.  Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF THE CHURCH!

TEXT:  Matthew 10: 1-8

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          Everyone needs a purpose in life.  Parents with kids at home these past months know now just how vital this is.  Oldsters likewise.  Sitting around contemplating your navel while watching TV doesn’t give anyone a sense of fulfillment.  God created us to be “hearers of the Word” but also “doers of the Word,” too. 

          Christ has called the 12, instructed them in the basics of our faith, and now it’s time to send them out to show what they’ve learned.  As He says: “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”  They were the “few” here.  You are the few today.  So, Jesus gives them marching orders to fulfill their purpose in life—to lead people, hurting souls, to Christ.  All the 12 are included, even Judas, who had his own problems.  For now, For now Jesus skips over sending them to the Gentiles, or non-Jews, and the Samaritans, who were confused non-believers.  He orders them instead  to start with their fellow Jews.  What do we learn from this?  Start with people you have a relationship with.  Start with your immediate family, friends, and relatives. At least they will give you a hearing.  “Go to the lost sheep of Israel.”

I

          “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’”  Every Christian is called to preach Christ crucified.  Every Christian is equipped to talk about how God has given them forgiveness for their sins on a cross and explain how vacant inside they were until this message took hold of their heart.  Basically it’s all about being honest and  laying your soul bare before another.  In our “communication age” it’s the ultimate in voicing the need we all have to possess something that’s bigger and more uplifting than just our pride and natural arrogance.  We need God.  They need God.  The country needs God.  So analyze their situation and give voice to that need.  Were the disciples a bit scared at doing this?  Of course.  But they had God’s power behind them.  So do each of you.

II

          “Heal the sick.”  None of you are doctors, but every Christian is a healer.  We don’t use lab tests and drugs to do this, we use the amazing power of prayer.  When was the  last time you prayed over someone?  When was the last time you prayed for your wayward child to face up to their problems and for God to heal their wounded body  and soul?  Be specific.  Ferret out their fundamental issues and be very specific in your prayers.  Show them thereby that God really does care about their hurts and that nothing is secret from Him.  He wants you to address their needs, to give voice to their pain, so that He can take it away.  I’ve seen it work—both physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.   It will strip away the false façade all people live behind and relief will come.

          “Raise the dead.”  I don’t know of any person outside an Apostle or two that did this.  And that only after Christ arose on Easter, thereby showing them that it wasn’t a pipe-dream.  But He tells them here to attempt it, because He wants them to be aware that all believers can resurrect another’s dead soul with the power of forgiveness.  Nothing can stand in the way of God’s forgiveness.  People can reject it.  They can ignore it.  But it is still there.  It is real.  It still gnaws away at unbelief.  And at the ultimate resurrection everyone will see this amazing reality. 

          Leprosy was the dread disease of the time.  It was living death, until the body was overwhelmed.  Christ cleansed 10 from leprosy at one time.  What’s the dread disease today?  Cancer?  Co-vid?  God made your body with a built-in disease fighter.  It’s called the immune system.  Sin has disrupted its ability to perform in an optimal way.  Again, addressing such disrupters in specific prayers lifts the spirit, gives insight into medical helps, and strengthens the body’s ability to focus on the root causation of the disease problems.  I smile when I hear more and more medical doctors talk about how important the patient’s state of mind is when fighting cancer.  They’re right.  God heals in a multitude of ways.  And He does it with and through you, dear Christian.  Literally every hospital call I’ve ever made found the person in better spirits and physically stronger than when I first walked through the door.  God’s Word coupled with prayer works!

          “Drive out demons.”  Demonic forces are real.  They exist.  I’ve driven out a couple that I know of in my ministry.  I’ve also known at least one demonically possessed person who is now in Federal prison.  They feed off another person’s soul, off their energy fields.  And over time, they destroy a person’s life force.  To be sure, the disciple’s didn’t always have power over all demons.  Sometimes they were thwarted.  Was it lack of faith, lack of courage, or just being scared at the unseen?  I don’t know.  Likewise, sometimes we simply have to commend another to God’s care and then continue to pray over them and for them.  But always remember that Christ took on Satan himself at various times and ultimately destroyed his hold over humans by dying to sin and rising in righteousness.  Every time you invoke the Gospel in Christ’s name,  Satan is shoved backwards. So for the afflicted hope is the result.  And that’s what we Christians do: give hope to the hopeless.  In fact, that’s really everyone’s real purpose in life, isn’t it?  And as St. Paul later says: “Hope does not disappoint.”

III

          One final point that we need to always remember is this: “Freely you have received, freely give.”  This is why Jesus tells them not to worry over money, food, clothing, or other things that we deem so vital to fulfilling our purpose in life.  He’ll provide and see to our needs.  I remember hearing one of my profs talking about a young pastor who had a poor parish and struggled with the basics of life.  He longed for another call to come that paid better, but he didn’t receive one.  He talked about his worries to another pastor who told him: “The Lord knows your address.”  God certainly does!  And years later, after the Lord had blest that young pastor, he thought about those wise words. 

          None  of us asked to be forgiven, to have God send His Son suffer and die to win us heaven. None of us asked for Him to give us an eternal purpose for our lives and provide us with joy and gladness as we followed Him.  That’s all a product of grace.  He gave to you and me freely.  He gives to you and me freely—Christ makes it so.  My friends, joyfully go forth and do likewise in hope-filled confidence.  Amen

THE PEACE OF GOD….

Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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