Sermon for 23 Sunday After Pentecost

Psalm 146; Ruth 1:1-18; Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 12:28-34

Psalm 146 is most certainly a hymn and one of a number of psalms that allows the congregation to lift up their praise to God, by describing His greatness and majesty. In the hymn, worshipers invite one another to praise God and to provide reasons for such praise. This one names God as our “present help,” for our only true hope of relief for those who are oppressed is the faithful God, Lord of all heaven and earth. He knows and cares for the needy whom we tend, whom we tend to ignore and many times, he uses us as His response to the needs of others.

This “hallelujah” psalm praises the sovereign, eternal God rather than temporary, moral rules. God’s creation and His faithful care of the oppressed and needy reveal His sovereign power. Praise belongs only to the One who rules eternally.

The entirety of Ruth is a testimony of doing effectual evangelism in the home. Ruth was a Megabit and did not worship the Lord, but the witness of her mother-in-law Naomi and her godly lifestyle was an overwhelming example to Ruth, that she wanted what Naomi had, a faith in God that was stronger than anything she had ever seen before and she wanted that for herself, and she claimed she wanted her home to be like Naomi’s. Naomi even understood that when she was in Moab, her prayers were still heard by God, revealing that geography had not limitations on God’s ability to hear petitions by His people. Ultimately, Ruth claimed Israel’s God as her own and committed her life to Him and to the one who had introduced her to God. A firm commitment to God is the first step towards a relationship with God, and this beloved, is what He desires to have with each one of us.

Through Christ’s death on the Cross, he became the sacrifice for one and all who would accept Him as Lord and Savior. No longer was it necessary to sacrifice goats, sheep, animals of all kinds for the sins of the people, as Jesus had taken this task on when He was nailed to the Cross for our sins, those before, present, and even those to be committed in the future. He became our salvation, By accepting God through His Son, our Lord, we can come before the throne of Grace and find forgiveness of our sins, as long as we truly repent of our sins. The Holy Spirit empowered and guided Jesus to offer His life as a sacrifice to God to take away our sins. Upon accepting Jesus as our Lord, we received the Holy Spirit, which is a free gift to us, to guide our pathways and give us wisdom when making daily decisions. Therefore, the works we do can not save us; rather they honor the relationship we have with Christ. In short, we cannot work our way into the kingdom, it is a free gift, upon accepting Jesus as our Lord.

In the Gospel of Mark this morning, we read Jesus is teaching the importance of relationship with God, because the question of whether one marries in the kingdom. Jesus told them that God is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the, and the God of Jacob. Jesus said, “These three are dead, and God is not the God of the Dead, but of the living.” A teacher of the law had been listening and he asked Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus very quickly answered, “The most important one,” answered Jesus, is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than this.’ Yesterday, I attended a funeral service for a friend from high school. We talked and used facetime pretty regularly on the last year as he was battling pancreatic cancer. He told me that he had never had a lot of anything, though he was a good musician, but he played his guitar in the church and other places to praise God. He wasn’t the kind of person who would get up in crowds, preferring instead to have intimate conversations about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. This is where he shined, for he loved to hear of others encounters with our Triune God. He spent his whole life, serving God, it was who he was known by and he loved to praise God. This beloved, is what should live for.

Instead of worrying about whether we sinned or not, and I’ll give you the answer to the test, we sin regularly, but the point is, Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, because he was without sin. He took our place on the Cross, so that we not have to. His gift allows us to pray to God about our sin, being repentant of our various sins, then to claim forgiveness. Because sin separates us from God, this action of true repentance freely gives us forgiveness necessary to restore our relationship between God and us again. Want to be like someone, be like my friend who lived his life praising God and seeking every opportunity to tell others about the gift he was given freely and abundantly. Wouldn’t you like to live this style of live too? You can, all it takes is accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior and it will abundantly and regularly like a waterfall showering you and cleansing you like you never had any sin before. Relationships is what people want to establish, and it is what God is want to have between us. Amen

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