Better a Poor Farmer Than a Rich Fool

The Text: Luke 12:13-21

Better a Poor Farmer Than a Rich Fool

Few things are sadder than family members fighting over an inheritance. The possibility of gaining from a substantial inheritance can turn lambs into wolves. Imagine interrupting a sermon to seek help to get more wealth! That’s what the brother in today’s Gospel does. In dispute over assets, this man wants Jesus to decide in his favour. Both brothers are captive to covetousness. The man with the lion’s share of the inheritance could have divided it equally with his brother.

No mediating of one dispute by our Lord will solve the deeper problem of the human heart. People who covet what they don’t have are unaware of their covetous attitude. A priest has reported that in 25 years of hearing confessions, he’s heard every sin confessed except that of covetousness! The man who seeks Jesus’ help wants the broken relationship between he and his brother finalised by complete separation. Jesus points out that He hasn’t come as a divider. He’s come as a reconciler. He wants to reconcile people to each other, not to finalise divisions between them. Reconciliation will require the petitioner to gain a new perspective on himself.

Receiving his portion of the inheritance won’t solve the antagonism between the brothers, for the issue is greed rather than justice. Jesus’ parable seeks to change human hearts, to free them from being possessed by their possessions. His story of a “successful” farmer is a subversive story. It calls into question so much of what we hold dear in our culture. Our culture holds up successful people as an inspiration for us. Any book with the words How To Succeed In …   in the title is assured of large popularity.

The farmer in today’s Gospel is an outstanding success in earthly terms. But Jesus calls him a dismal failure in what really matters, what matters eternally. The irony of success is that it can limit as well as expand our horizons. This farmer was locked in by his success. What he’s mastered had come to master him. No other story is so full of “I” disease. In its short space, there are eight “I”s  and four “my”s.  All goes well for him in his business. His wealth isn’t ill-gotten. There’s no mention of him being a bad employer. Many people see nothing wrong with his attitude. After all, he’s acting with prudence and common sense. Our modern society would consider him an eminent success.

It is significant that in light of the gregarious nature of life then, the rich man dialogues only with himself. He has no one else with whom he talks. He consults no neighbour or friend to exchange ideas. His speech is pitiful. This affluent person has arrived! He has made it! And he needs an audience for his arrival speech. He exclaims, “Who will rejoice with me?” He can only address himself, his only audience!

This self-serving individual deals only with things – things like the bigger barns he’ll build, the profit he’ll make from selling his grain when the prices go up, and the richer selection of food and drink for himself to indulge in. The greatest good he can imagine in life is maximising his own pleasure. It never enters his head to give to the needy, or to assist the poor. He has no need of anyone else. He lives only for himself. Not only does he give no thought to thanking God for his huge harvest, he reveals that he’s forgotten that his own body is mortal and he won’t necessarily live on for many years. The existence of others has totally dropped out of the picture. His formula for the “good life” is sheer stupidity. He cannot take any of his immense possessions into the grave with him. In his hour of greatest need, all his possessions will prove of no use to him.

Though this man may have had nothing to say to God, God had something to say to him: “You fool! This very night your life is being required of you (v.20).” The verb “to require” is used for the return of a loan. His life was on loan and now God, the Owner, wants the loan returned. Jesus makes it clear that our lives are not our own to do with as we like, but are a gift from God. God thunders to the rich farmer: “Look at what you’ve done to yourself! You plan alone, build alone, indulge alone and now you’ll die alone.”  The man doesn’t know who will end up with his assets and riches after his death. A fool is someone whose plans end at the grave. Was there ever a more searching question concerning the meaning of life than our Lord’s question, “What does it profit any of us if we gain the whole world, but lose our lives? (Luke 9:25)”

There are few things our Lord condemns more than greed. He attacks the false evaluation of life in economic terms. As if we can measure life in such narrow terms! Greed prevents so much generosity from occurring. Greed never delivers all the benefits it promises, benefits like peace of mind, security and happiness. We need five things for a reasonably contented life: (1) food; (2) clothing; (3) shelter; (4) medical care; and (5) the means to purchase the first four things. Jesus doesn’t oppose an appreciation of the good things of life. The best way to enjoy all the good things God has given us is by thanking Him for them. Nothing sustains joy and happiness better than gratitude.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord” for life and health and daily food. “Life doesn’t consist in the abundance of possessions.” Life consists in the abundance of God’s undeserved goodness to us. God’s goodness is first of all evident in His gifts of family, friends, and neighbours. Where would any of us be without all that our grandparents, parents and siblings have done for us? Relationships with others are the true God-given riches of life. Relationships take time to keep together. Sadly, we see marriages breaking apart because couples are not spending sufficient time with each other. We hear of children becoming estranged from their mothers and fathers, because their busy parents haven’t spent sufficient time with them.

Advertisers give people unrealistic expectations of the benefits of material goods and possessions. God never meant these things to be the focus and goal of life. A TV interview with someone who had lost his home and possessions in a fire provides a vivid contrast to the rich fool in Jesus’ parable. He recalled that his brother had recently said they should avoid letting their possessions possess them. The victim of the house fire announced to the TV reporter with a note of unexpected triumph: “I am a free man now!” Jesus can free us from being enslaved to our possessions.

Jesus came into our world to help us become rich toward God. We become rich before God when we accept God as the Giver, and all we have as His gifts to us. We’re rich as far as God is concerned when we see the existence of everyone else in our lives as God’s gifts to us. We see and acknowledge faith, hope and love as life’s true riches, and Jesus Christ as God’s crowning gift to us. Thank God, His Son Jesus Christ shares the riches of His love, goodness and glory with us. “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).” Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life in all fullness and richness (John 10:10).” It’s a life too rich and wonderful to end in death. Let this good news of great joy possess you and overwhelm you with all its glorious possibilities.

Those who are contented with what God has given them are truly rich indeed. What better can we hope for in this life than God-given contentment? “Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these (1 Timothy 6:6-8).” The more grateful we are for all we have already, the more contented we will be. Saying “I love you” as often as possible to those near and dear to us fills them with a sense of contentment. We can be content in the knowledge that what God chooses for us is better than what we may choose for ourselves.

Better a poor farmer than a rich fool!

“Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him? (James 2:5)”


The Good News about Prayer

Text: Luke 11:1-13


It’s wonderful, isn’t it, when someone tells you they’re remembering you in their prayers. It can lift your spirits marvellously and transform your day. Today’s Gospel encourages us to pray. It seeks to impress on us that our prayers are welcomed by God and responded to as He sees best. Prayer is an essential part of being a Christian. Faith in our Lord and praying to Him belong inseparably together. Prayer isn’t just one expression of faith among others. To believe is to pray, because prayer is our response to God speaking to us in grace and love. The deepest expression of faith is to seek good things from God in prayer. So then think highly of your prayers, because we have God’s Word to trust that He welcomes them and encourages them.

God wants the best for you. He responds to your prayers in ways that are best for us. In prayer God either gives us what we ask for or something better. The great tragedy isn‘t unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer. God won’t let your prayers be for nothing or be wasted. Our spiritual safety and protection lie only in prayer. It’s the strongest shield we have against the devil. Prayer is the door through which God enters our home, our workplace and our community, in order to bless us in unexpected ways. When we pray we’re, as it were, sitting at Jesus’ feet speaking to Him as one friend to another. Prayer is an expression of Jesus’ friendship with us and our friendship with Him.

Prayers in the Bible display a fervour and frankness not often seen in prayers today. They remind us that God seeks honesty from us in our prayers. God is thrilled when we honestly face ourselves and bring our real needs to Him. The weaker our faith, the more essential is prayer. The degree of our faith is the degree of our praying. Luther said, “Prayer is the most important thing in my life. If I should neglect prayer for a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith.” No one can say their prayers are poor when they’re using the language of love. There’s nothing that can lead us to love someone as much as prayer can. The most important purpose of prayer may be to let God love us as He listens to us. What a wonderful expression of love listening to someone is!

Prayer changes us in ways we never dreamed of, for the blessing and benefit of those around us. A bad prayer is better than no prayer at all because we learn to pray by praying. When we’re feeling low, prayer seeks to take us out of ourselves and into our Saviour’s healing presence. For prayer is first of all about communion with our Lord to maintain, sustain and strengthen our friendship with Him. It’s more about having a conversation with Him than about presenting Him with a shopping list. Prayer is both a gift and a duty. The Lord’s Prayer is His gift of grace to us. It is one of the greatest treasures of our Christian Faith.

Jesus’ disciples had recently heard Jesus pray a prayer of thanksgiving to His heavenly Father. So now in order to pray like Jesus did, they ask Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” This is the only time they ask Jesus to teach them anything. Jesus knows of no better prayer He can give us. He gives it to us in two versions with the version in St. Luke’s Gospel slightly shorter than the one in Matthew 6. In this prayer, Jesus lists the things we need to pray about every day. The purpose of the petitions is that we’ll never have an excuse not to pray. The Lord’s Prayer opens our eyes to our real needs. In the first two petitions, Jesus invites us to identify with Him as God’s Son. In the next three petitions, our Lord identifies with us and our human needs.

Jesus prayed in a revolutionary way, by addressing God as “Father”. He used the title and form of address of “Father” for God more than any other. By doing so, Jesus changed the way people viewed God. “Abba” means “Dear Father”, that is, God as someone near and easy to approach rather than someone distant and aloof from us. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus invites us to either address God as “our Father in Heaven” or “Father (Luke 11:21).” A father is someone who is close at hand and approachable at all times. The Father whom Jesus reveals to us is the Father of prodigal children who continues to think fondly of us even when we’ve wandered away from him. He’s our ever-present help in trouble who sympathizes with us in our distress and wants to share it with us.

Fathers delight in giving to their children. So our heavenly Father wants above all to give us the Holy Spirit to pray for us when we’re weak and vulnerable. Our heavenly Father acts towards us as His Son Jesus acted towards little children, the sick and the needy. If someone wants to know what God is like, we point them to Christ. Our God is a Christlike God. Jesus said, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:9).” He is a model for earthly fathers. There’s no one more like a father than God. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus reveals to us a Father who provides for our daily needs, forgives and protects us. Fathers know what their children want, but love it when they ask for these things. So it is with our Father in heaven. “Father! To God Himself we cannot give a holier name (Wordsworth)” That’s why Jesus wants us to honour God’s name and treat it with reverence and awe. To love and honour His name is to love and praise Him. God’s name represents His nature, His works and words. Jesus hallowed God’s name by showing us why God is worthy of our worship, honour and glory. God’s power is released on us when we do that. God’s holiness is revealed when He reveals His glory to us, especially in and through His Son Jesus. His glory is part of the majesty and beauty of His holiness.

God has vested His name on us as His children. His reputation is at stake in how we live. We praise and adore His name in our worship together because His name for us is all about His gifts of hope and love, joy and forgiveness. We hallow His name by eagerly hearing His Word and gladly putting it into daily practice.

Where God’s name is so honoured, there His Kingdom with all its unique blessings embraces us. Wherever Jesus went, He brought the good news of His Kingdom to those who welcomed Him. The secret of God’s Kingdom is that its King is our Father. Jesus says to us, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” Through baptism we’re brought into God’s royal household as His adopted children. God advances His Kingdom through its embassies, our churches, and through us as its ambassadors. As its ambassadors, we pass on and promote God’s work of reconciliation so that living in reconciliation with one another, the routines of daily life can become celebrations of love. “In the Kingdom of God, eating and drinking aren’t important. The important things are living right with God, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).”

The next petition concerns our daily needs, which Jesus wants us to pray about. “Give us day by day our daily bread”. The technological development of our modern world only seems to increase our sense of insecurity. The more scientific our world becomes, the more insecure we feel. God wants us to trust that He will provide for both today and tomorrow’s needs. “Our bread” reminds us of the unselfish nature of Christian prayer. We pray the Lord’s Prayer for each other, on behalf of one another. There’s no room for any prayer that seeks advantage over someone else. Gandhi said, “There is enough food in our world for everyone’s need, but not for anyone’s greed.”

“Daily bread” involves everyday necessities, not luxuries. It includes caring fathers and mothers, healthy children, pleasant people to work with, good government, good friends and good weather. Here we acknowledge that God is behind all that goes right in our lives each day. Instead of taking everyday blessings for granted, this petition leads us to receive them with gratitude. “We are conscious of that, in normal life, so much more has been received than we have given, and that it is gratitude that first makes life rich (Bonhoeffer).”

We need God’s forgiveness, God’s most characteristic quality as our heavenly Father, as much as we need daily bread. Forgiveness is God’s barrier-breaking, future-opening gift to us. “Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and blessedness.” Forgiveness meets our longing to make a fresh start in our relationships with God and with one another. Forgiveness means you can live as if today is the first day of your life, because God promises to remember no more the sins He has forgiven. Passing on God’s forgiveness to each other frees us from past hurts and resentments and helps our love for one another to grow warm instead of cold. A school boy, after confessing his sins to his school chaplain, was reassured of God’s love and forgiveness. He then rushed outside and turned cartwheels right across the football pitch. The reassurance of God’s forgiveness can make us want to turn cartwheels of joy, in spirit at least. What a priceless expression of love is forgiveness!

“Save us from the time of trial” is our battle cry. We realise how easily we can be tempted to sin. Here we need our Father’s help more than anywhere else. It’s a prayer we pray for each other as well, realising how vulnerable we are to giving in to what we know is wrong. Here we pray that we won’t be caught off guard when we’re tired or depressed, but ask Jesus to pray for us as He has promised. Jesus prays on your behalf to His heavenly Father: “I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but I ask You to protect them from the Evil One (John 17:15).” God’s Word reassures you, “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).”

Victory over a time of temptation and testing brings you closer to Christ and more grateful than ever for all that He has done for you. When you then face temptation, pray passionately, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner”. God knows how to rescue you from temptation in ways that may surprise you. In this petition, we pray that we will always remain citizens of God’s eternal Kingdom until we hear our Saviour’s words, “Come, O blest of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you (Matthew 25:34).”

In conclusion, remember if you’ve had an earthly parent who let you down, God is the most reliable Father you can have. “There’s no one more like a Father than God is (Tertullian).” Amen.

Easily distracted

Text Luke 10:38-42

Easily distracted


We are a society distracted by many things, like Martha.

Text messages – Facebook messages – Twitter messages – Snapchats – come all the time to distract us.

You go out for dinner these days and the diners aren’t talking with each other, they are looking down at their phones. Conversations are interrupted by the need to check out a text message or answer a call.

They are distracted by many things.

But in today’s Gospel Reading we are talking about a different type of distraction. We are talking about a distraction away from God.

There are many distractions in our lives that take us away from God, as it did to Martha.

It reminds me of the time when Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and asked to join him. Peter was fine while he was focused on Jesus, like Mary was. But as soon as he was distracted, like Martha, by the waves crashing around him he began to sink. The waves of fear and worry distracted him. Just as the waves of worry for Martha about getting things right at home for the guests distracted her away from Jesus.

So too the waves of fear and worry distract people away from God. Martha had gotten to the point of her worry that her work had stopped being a joy and vocation to God and had become a distraction to her faith in God. It had therefore stopped being a blessing to her and others and became a source of worry and anger.

Martha obviously had the gift of hospitality, making sure everything was right to welcome Jesus, but had become distracted by the worry. Instead of being a source of blessings to others it caused a division between her and her sister Mary.

It is easy for us also to become distracted by the worries of life and believe that we have to solve our problems rather than taking them to the Lord in Prayer. Like Martha, we have all been given a vocation in life by which we can serve God and our neighbour.

However, Martha’s distraction now saw her go to Jesus antagonised and angry with Mary. The love of God and neighbour was gone.

Our human nature can easily turn our love for God and neighbour around where we love ourselves only and forget to use our gifts to serve God and our neighbour. As Christians that’s where we can easily find ourselves, as we are reminded in the Parable of the Sower –

The seeds that were sown among thorns were the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the distraction of riches choke the word.

And so we need to keep coming back to the feet of Jesus and allow him to remove those thorns in the flesh in our lives.

This is where worship plays a vital role in the life of the Christian to keep breaking that cycle of distraction. We need to see our worship in the same way that Mary sees it as it nurtures our faith to keep us focused on our vocation as serving God and our neighbour.

We need to see our worship as sitting at the feet of Jesus being nurtured for our life for when we leave to go into our daily vocation and not as a duty to God.

And remember that vocation is not just employment. It is how God uses you each day as mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, sister, brother, friend.

Just look at how the distraction affected the 2 sisters of Mary and Martha. Sadly, to many Christians, church becomes another task in their already hectic lives. And when that happens we can begin to see the friction between brothers and sisters in the faith.

We become distracted by the tasks rather than the service of God. Church should never be seen in such a way.

No, it needs to be seen in the light of what Paul says about the church being the body of Christ where the riches of God’s glory have been placed.

And so the message of Martha and Mary also speaks a message to the church that its core message is always the Gospel that has freed us from our cares and burdens. The church needs to help us place our burdens on Jesus who says – come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.

The gathering around the Word and the Sacraments is not another thing for the Martha in us to add to our schedule. Remember, Jesus is the host here and we are the guests.

We are called to be Mary here and be prepared for our vocations as Marthas in the world. Martha had sadly confused the two.

The Gospel allows us to revalue our gifts to become our calling and vocation rather than a burden that distracts us away from God.

How do you see your life?

Do you see what you are doing as a burden, like Martha, or do you see it as a calling and vocation from God, like Mary. The work that Martha was doing was not the problem. It was her gift and calling. But she had let them distract her away from her service towards Jesus.

Martha does not let her gift of hospitality become a service to God but a distraction from the spiritual blessings that would come from it. The work she was doing needed to be done – but allowing them to burden her the way they did was the issue.

Our lives are going to be busy and burdensome at times. But in our busyness and burdens we are energised by our worship life and seeing our work as a vocation and calling by God.

Jesus didn’t say – you shouldn’t be burdened – but come unto me you who are burdened and I will give you rest. You can find that rest in your worship but you can also find it each day.

Luther in his Catechism teaches us how:

In the morning when you get up, make the sign of the holy cross and say: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. Then go joyfully to your work,

In the evening when you go to bed, make the sign of the holy cross and say: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Then kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. Then go to sleep at once and sleep in peace.

Begin each day at the feet of Jesus. End each day at Jesus’ feet – and see how a new perspective of life comes on you. Our identity comes from Jesus Christ not from the work we do.

So when our work becomes our identity, like Martha, then the burdens take over as it did to Martha.

When our identity comes from sitting at Jesus feet, like Mary, then the burdens are easily transferred to Christ to receive his rest.

So choose the better part – choose to sit at Jesus’ feet and it will not be taken away from you. Amen

“The grass might be greener on the other side, but where is God?”

Dt 30:14
No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it.

            Do you remember passing by McDonalds, and a child asks their mum, “mum can we have Maccas?” the mum replies, “No, we’ve got food at home”. How often do we look away from what we have, to say, ‘the grass is greener on the other side’? To forget the wonders we have been given, sun, clouds, rain, the precious breath of life; and chase after other things we don’t have or need. Of course we need food, drink, shelter and community; yet we don’t need all the money, power, or pleasure that the world can give. However, sometimes mum’s home cooked food gets boring; it’s not as exciting as Macca’s; so off we go to try and find something better, forgetting mum, her food and her love, and going out into this world of wealth, power and pleasure.

            Now Moses, after leading God’s people from Egypt through the desert to Moab, calls God’s covenant people together. He lays out God’s Law to them again and says, “if you listen to the Lord your God and keep His commands and decrees that are written in the Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul; He will delight in you and prosper you.” (Deuteronomy 30:9-10). Then Moses says, ‘this is not difficult or beyond your reach.’ Wait a minute … To keep the 10 commandments is not difficult? To remember and keep the 600 odd other decrees is not difficult? What is God saying here? What is the Holy Spirit teaching through Moses? Is it that you should look to yourself for your salvation, whether you checked the boxes or not? No, rather that, just as Christ and the Apostles taught, when God makes you alive, when He frees you from slavery and gives you the treasures of His Word, even Himself; don’t forget Him or throw those gifts away even if you get bored of them. Simply put, live the life of Christ that you have been given, then you won’t cause Him pain.

            Yet so often we see and hear people give up listening to God and reject the life He has given. Throughout the Old Testament we see the Israelites constantly chasing after other gods, reaching up to bring spirits down from the heavens, like Baal the storm god, or reaching down to bring up omens from the dead, as Saul went to the witch at Endor, or reaching out to other lands for their salvation, when Jonah fled toward Spain. And today so many Christian people are tempted to chase after wealth, power, pleasure, all sorts of things, all sorts of gods. And so often we feel bored with the gifts of God, we read novels or magazines rather than God’s Word, we listen to the radio or TV instead of reflections on God’s Word, we obey the commands of the broader culture living first as Australians then perhaps later as Christians. Reaching for salvation, for comfort, for truth, apart from God. This is sin, and it leads us away from Jesus, the one who loves you and gives you life.

            Even if you may be bored or tired, why should you give up the treasure of peace, love and joy in Christ. Have we forgotten our first love? Are we chasing after other things running into idolatry, into adultery? Can we not come back together to Christ, gather around Him not just of a Sunday, hear His Word together? This Word you have here by your side, not something far off that you need to run a get, you know what He has said, the Holy Spirit has even preserved His Words in that handy little book. Can we not come together to sing glory and thanks to God with the songs of scripture and the songs we know, as well as the good songs that God might drop into our laps? Can we not dust off our hymnals and pray these written prayers and be guided by the Psalms, the litany and the prayers of the Church in your own prayer lives? Remember and celebrate the festivals we have recorded, lighting candles for the saints who now live hidden in Christ on All Saints Day, use the season of Advent as prayerful preparation for the coming New Creation in Christ, perhaps water games for the Baptism of Jesus, and think of how this community could celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit’s fire at Pentecost, could remember the conception of Jesus on March the 25th, how as a community we can enliven and encourage each other, in our day to day, to see the treasures of what God has put in your pocket, your ear, your heart.

            You have the greatest and most precious gifts in all of creation! Do not forget it! More than Maccas’ more than green grass, even more than mum’s home cooking, you have the Holy Spirit, you have Jesus. You have the One who sustains all life, you have your loving Lord and Saviour. What wonderful Good News, God Almighty is not far off, He is here now with you and He is for you.

            And so the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now unto life everlasting. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.

“Life by Law and Spirit”

Galatians 6:8
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

            Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. You reap what you sow. If you act to please your flesh, forgetting your soul, from your flesh you will reap destruction. If you act to please the Holy Spirit, from Him you will reap eternal life. What is Paul saying? He is telling us what the Law of God teaches, what happens most everyday in this world; that drunkards sow to please their fleshly appetite and reap alcohol poisoning and death; that those who live according to God’s way receive blessings, like Elijah taken to heaven in chariots of fire, or like those who pray for small blessings that God grants like a parking spot. And yet this is still God’s Law, how you are to live and what will happen as a result: You reap what you sow.

            At the end of this wonderful letter to the Galatians, Paul returns to the Law of God, to how we are to live. He has said that the Law was our guardian, a harsh schoolmaster; He has said we are now free to live in Christ. He has told us of Christ’s victory over sin, death and the devil; of how Christ saves us, of the promise of salvation kept and guarded by God’s people from Adam to John the Baptist. That by trust, by faith in this promise Abraham was made right with God. That it is in trusting Jesus that we have a good and right relationship with Him, after all what is a relationship without trust? Yet now Paul points to your life, how this works out after Christ has started His work, after He has begun speaking with you and you with Him. What does God’s promise mean for your life?

            It means you live by the Holy Spirit. It means you do not live according to the flesh, your own selfish and bodily desires. It means you can live according to the Law of God given by Jesus and enlivened by the Holy Spirit. This is the third use of the Law. As a short refresher, we can talk about three ways we receive God’s Law, curb, mirror and guide. It is a curb in that God’s Law keeps us from sinning (you will not murder). It is a mirror in that God’s Law reveals to us our failings and sin, our need for Jesus. It is a guide in that it shows us, who live in Christ, the right way to live with God and other people. And it’s this third way, the guide, which Paul applies today. That when one lives against the Spirit, we are to restore them to God’s right way gently; to care for those who have known Christ and been a part of the Church, yet have fallen for a time, be that 10 minutes or 50 years. That we together do not weary in doing good. That, as often as we have opportunity, we do good to all people and especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ, those of the Family of God. To carry each others burdens, here in this congregation, amongst our members here, especially those struggling or unable to gather with us. Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the Law of Christ. By this you live according to God’s Law, to let yourself be guided by these words given by the Holy Spirit who lives in you. To live by the Holy Spirit.

            Yet it is not your prayers that died for you. It is not the money and loving care you give that paid for your ransom. It is not your abstinence that stands victorious in the Highest Heavens. It is Christ Jesus our righteousness. He is the one who has made you right with Him, who has given you the Holy Spirit that you might live by the Spirit. It is His work that saves you and He is the New Creation, God and humanity at one, Creator and Creation reconciled. So, with Paul we may never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to you and you to the world. In Christ you are dead to the corruption in the world, you are a New Creation; therefore let the corruption in the world be as though it is dead to you, just as death is dead to Christ. For if anyone falls into sin and rejects the promise of God, they receive the wages of their sinful works. Death. But for those who fall into sin yet turn back to the promise of God, their sinful works are taken from them and they receive the wages of their life in the Spirit. The Life of Christ. So boast in the Cross of Christ, for it is His Work that forgives and reconciles; yet don’t be lazy in the faith for now you have life you are called to live it.

            And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now unto life everlasting. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.