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VBS Celebration Sunday

Luke 10:38-42 – Food for our Souls

Let’s pray: “Lord Jesus, lead us to sit at your feet and learn. Amen” One of the railroad cars that we looked at this last week was the hopper car. The hopper car is the train car that carries things that can be poured, like grain. There’s doors on the bottom of the car for the grain to be unloaded by gravity. Grain is, of course, used to make food. Food keeps our bodies strong and healthy. But just like our bodies need food, our souls also need food to stay strong and healthy. The food that our souls need is the Word of God.

This is a very familiar account about Mary and Martha. They were sisters. Both were followers of Jesus, both loved Jesus, both cared deeply about Jesus. But when we first read this our heart immediately goes out to Martha, doesn’t it? Why? Isn’t it because we can all relate. Martha’s busy working and what’s Mary doing? Sitting around doing nothing but listening. Really?! Who of us hasn’t been in some situation where we’re exhausted from working hard and then there’s someone else who’s hardly lifted a finger. That’s not fair! “Lord, don’t you care?”

Every day in life we make value judgments, what’s important to us? Martha wasn’t just working, she was working for her Savior, she was busy preparing things and getting things ready. It’s good for us to work hard in serving our Savior. It’s good when we work hard at our work so we can provide for our families and support the gospel ministry. That’s a good thing! Unfortunately, how much of our hard work really isn’t going to help others or support gospel ministry, but going to support ourselves or to get things we want, or get things so that we can have a better life. But that wasn’t Martha- Martha was busy working for her Savior, but here, we’re told that Mary chose what is better. Even better than working hard for Jesus is being filled up by Jesus. That’s what Mary was doing. She sat at Jesus’ feet to listen and learn.

So, here’s the question: Are you a Mary or a Martha? Think about your life. What’s the most important thing you do each day? It’s not going to work, it’s not getting that project done, it’s not making food, it’s not eating, it’s not putting on the perfume and the make up, it’s not even saying and acting lovingly to your spouse (that’s right up there, but that’s not the most important thing). The most important thing you do each day is sitting at your Savior’s feet and listening to him. The most important thing is setting aside time, setting aside the busyness and the distractions and the work of the day, to spend some quiet moments listening to your Savior through His precious Word.

You see, it’s sinful and wrong to let anything crowd out God’s Word from our lives. It’s sinful and wrong to let anything become more important to us than God and His Word. It’s sinful and wrong when we push God down on the priority list. Does the way that we live make it very clear that God’s Word is our number 1 priority? Honestly, we all have to admit that we’ve failed to be Marys and sit quietly at Jesus’ feet. We’ve been distracted, we’ve confused life’s priorities. And that’s why we need what God tells us oh so much! We need His Word to remind us of our sinfulness, but even more of God’s grace and mercy. We need Jesus to tell us through His Word, “I’ve forgiven you. I shed my blood for you. I didn’t come to be served, but to serve and give my life in place of yours. I came that you may have life, life to the full in heaven. I came to give you the one thing needful.”

And the amazing thing is, as we, like Mary, focus on Jesus and listening to His Word, then we’re not so worried, upset, and distracted by many things. For we’re reminded that Jesus is in control, He’s the Savior- not us, and He’s taken care of the most important thing: eternal life. Thank the Lord for His Word- the food for our souls!

Luke 15:1-10 – Precious Cargo

On Wednesday this past week we looked at one special train car that carries automobiles. At one time they would transport cars on open flat freight cars, but soon discovered that cars were getting nicked by stones and other debris or pelted by hail in storms. So, soon, because the cars were so valuable and precious they made train cars that were completely enclosed to protect the cars. They were precious cargo.

But infinitely more precious that cars are to the railroad operators is how precious souls are to our God. Here Jesus told a couple of parables to illustrate that very point.

First, notice who it is that Jesus is speaking to. He’s speaking to Pharisees and teachers of the law who had said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  In other words, they couldn’t believe that Jesus associated with people who had messy lives and messy backgrounds. People who clearly weren’t as good as them.

So Jesus told this parable. A shepherd has a hundred sheep, loses one of them, leaves the 99 in search of the one lost sheep and when he finds it he rejoices, celebrates, and throws a party for that lost sheep has been found. In the same way there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 who don’t need to repent. Then he tells the story about a lady with 10 coins, loses one, searches her entire house, finds the one coin and celebrates. In the same way there is rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner.

What’s Jesus’ point? Well, there may be 99 people who don’t need to repent because they are already repenting and trusting in Jesus for forgiveness and God has a continual joy over them. But then there is a sinner outside of the fold, outside of the church, who repents and trusts in Jesus for forgiveness, now there’s an outburst of joy.  Just like a mother might continually rejoice over all her children, but then one gets sick, then recovers and the mother has an outburst of joy for that one child. That’s God’s heart for those who are lost. Each and every soul is priceless, precious, a treasure to Jesus.

Do we have the heart of Jesus? A heart that aches for souls outside of God’s kingdom? A heart that rejoices when anyone comes to repentance and trust in Jesus as their Savior? Or do we have the heart of a Pharisee- that God’s church is only for the deserving, for those who’ve earned it, like us.

Thank the Lord for Jesus’ heart. There once was an outburst of joy in heaven when you were lost and found, when you were brought into God’s fold through faith in Jesus. So, rejoice in your own salvation and rejoice in the repentance and salvation of others, for every soul is precious to Jesus.

Luke 10:25-37 – Lives full of Service

On Thursday this past week we took a look at the train boxcar. A boxcar is exactly that: a big box. And just like boxes carry all kinds of different things, so do boxcars. They might carry: food, clothing, tools, wood, materials, etc. Well, in a way, as Christians we “carry” all kinds of things in us as well. We carry help that we can give someone, we carry service which we can bring to someone, we carry God’s love to share with someone. And in God’s world, the law of the conservation of mass doesn’t exist. When you give God’s love to someone with your words or actions, you don’t have less of it. Actually, the more of it that you give out, the more that you get.

In this parable Jesus teaches us a lesson on what it means to serve our neighbor. The expert in the law was trying to excuse himself from having to love and serve everyone, so he asked who is neighbor is. Surely there were some people he was supposed to love and some people he didn’t have to love. Who is our neighbor? With the parable, however, Jesus shows that that’s the wrong question to ask. Instead of asking, “Who is my neighbor? Who do I have to love?” Jesus makes the point that we rather need to ask, “Who can I show myself to be a neighbor to? Who can be a neighbor to?” In other words, how can I be on the look out for people I can serve and show love to?

This expert in the law needed to hear God’s law. We also need to hear it. We need to hear that it’s sinful and wrong to refuse to love and serve anyone. We need to hear that it’s sinful and wrong to “pass by on the other side.” On the other side of the coin we also need to hear that it’s sinful and wrong to expect or demand that other people serve us! It’s sinful and wrong to expect others to do for us what God has enabled us to do ourselves! Both are wrong: It’s wrong to not be looking for people to be a neighbor to and it’s wrong to expect or demand that others be a neighbor to us!

And that’s why we need the perfect neighbor. That’s why we needed Jesus to love God with all his heart, soul, strength, and mind. That’s why we needed Jesus to love his neighbor as himself perfectly. So perfectly that it led Him to die on the cross for our sins and rise to guarantee our salvation.

And in view of that grace and in response to it we can serve others. We can be God’s face and God’s hands as we look for people to serve and be a neighbor to in our lives, first in our own families, then our coworkers, customers, friends, acquaintances. Who can I serve today? Who needs encouragement today? Whose life can I lift up today?  To whom can I be a neighbor today?

Filled up with God’s love and His service to us, our lives are full of kindness, care, and encouragement that we can give to others. Amen.