Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
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September 2018

Following His Plan

Of all the things written in your Bible, what do you find the most difficult to understand?

Of course, there are some things in the Bible that we may never fully understand completely this side of heaven. As 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known".

But, 1 propose that it's not necessarily the teachings of the Bible that we don't understand that is our problem. Instead, it's the teachings found in the Bible that we do understand, and yet we find them difficult to apply to our lives, that is our problem.

As Mark Twain once wrote, "It ain't those parts of the Bible that l can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand". And such was the case with many of the followers of Jesus in John chapter six, when he said in verses 48-51:

"I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 1 am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

Jesus was very clear about being the Bread of Life came down from heaven, and that He was about to offer up his life as the acceptable sacrifice for the sins of the world to His Heavenly Father, so that all who believe in Him will live forever.

And yet, the people responded to his teaching in verse 60 by saying, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" For when Jesus was talking about offering up his own life, he was inviting his followers to join him in willingly offering up their own lives, as well.

Consequently verse 66 tells us, "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him". And so we have to ask ourselves, are there things in God's Word that seem too hard for us to apply in our lives that are preventing us from following Jesus with all our hearts, souls and minds?

Jesus calls Himself the "Bread of Life", and as such we are to feed on every one of His living Word. for the sake of our spiritual health. But there are too many "cafeteria" Christians" who pick and choose what they like from God's Word, while eschewing what they don't like.

From a human perspective, we can understand why so many of the followers of Jesus left him.

For Jesus was going to give up His life, and he was asking his followers to be willing to do the same. But as he says in Matthew 16:24, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

We tend to over-look just how brutal the sacrificial system in the Old Testament was. But, if you stop and reflect upon it, it was one bloody and gory mess!

How could a Holy and Loving God come up with such a brutal system? Why didn't He choose instead to have His people offer up plants, grains, gold, or some other non-living commodity as a sacrifice for their sins?

The answer is that sin is no small matter. For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and death involves blood. All the blood and gore involved in the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to the once and for all Sacrifice that Jesus would eventually on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, your sins and mine.

Jesus Christ became a mess, because you and I were a mess! When you consider that Jesus took upon himself all your sins, past, present and future, that's a lot!

But for him to take upon himself the sins of everyone who has ever lived and will live, that must have been one horrific event to see!

As Isaiah 52: 14 prophesied, Jesus' appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.

But the spiritual agony Jesus went through was even more awful than his physical agony, causing him to cry out, "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?" The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross is the key event in his life that we cannot simply ignore.

And he asks his followers to join him by identifying with Him in our own sufferings in this life, in order that might be glorified with Him in a resurrection like his in eternity,

And so the same question, Jesus asked his disciples nearly 2000 years ago, he is asking us today, "You do not want to leave too, do you?"

Will you respond along with Peter by saying, "Lord, to whom shall we go. You have the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Or will you abandon him, when following him seems to hard?

Will we as members of Messiah Lutheran Church commit ourselves to be faithful followers

of all of God's Word, no matter how hard things may become? Will our church families, respond, as Joshua did in his day, by declaring to this godless generation that we find ourselves living in, "Choose this day whom you will serve ... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). And will you personally, in this day of compromise, make a commitment with the help of the Holy Spirit to be both a hearer and doer of God's Word? For as Jesus promises in Luke 11 :28, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it".

Martha Snell Nicholson was a bedridden invalid who had suffered from four incurable diseases and was in pain for over 35 years. Her loving husband, whom she had depended upon for many years, died suddenly. And yet God used her sufferings as an impetus for her to write Christian poems that highlight the brevity of this earthly life compared to eternity in heaven.

An especially poignant poem that Nicholson wrote is entitled "His Plan for Me". I invite you to join me in praying the words of this poem in response to what God might be speaking to you through this article:

HIS PLAN FOR ME

When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ
And He shows me His plan for me,
The Plan of my life as it might have been
Had He had His way, and I see

How I blocked Him here, and I checked Him there,
And I would not yield my will --
Will there be grief in my Savior's eyes,
Grief, though He loves me still?

He would have me rich, and I stand there poor,
Stripped of all but His grace,
While memory runs like a hunted thing
Down the paths I cannot retrace.

Then my desolate heart will well-nigh break
With the tears that I cannot shed;
I shall cover my face with my empty hands,
I shall bow my uncrowned head ...

Lord of the years that are left to me,
I give them to Thy hand;
Take me and break me, mold me to
The pattern Thou hast planned! Amen

In His Plan,
Pastor Wendt

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