Roger's Postings

Friday, July 08, 2011

Isaiah 55:10-13.                      God's Word - never fails!                                10/7/11

 (10)  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, {11} so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. {12} You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. {13} Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed."

Here in today’s reading God is using something we all know, to make a very important point with regard to God’s Word – the Bible and what it does in life today. Just as the rain waters the earth and brings life and growth, so does his Word give life and growth to us as Christians.

 Now in the last week we have had a very good amount of rain. At the same time the prolonged drought that our land has experienced over the past years is still fresh in many people’s minds. So we know how important the rains are for our land and life in general. Here again it never ceases to amaze me what difference that rainwater makes to life. A good rain changes things so much: life and growth immediately starts to take place: the lifeless surroundings become a picture of splendour: even the human spirit seems to lift; and I could go on.

 But above all, it is again one area of life that we humans have no control over; thankfully. I know I don't have to tell you this. God and his Word has the power to make it rain and to withhold rain in accord with his plan. In this there is an important lesson for us all. In fact it is the very example that God’s Word here uses to explain an even greater truth.

 You see, God wants us to understand that His Word too, is powerful and never fails to achieve what he sets it out to do. It has within it the power to accomplish great things in our lives and in our community’s life, as well as in our country. This I believe is something we need to think seriously about today; because I am not so sure that we are so confident in God's Word and its power to do anything in our lives and in the lives of people around us.

 What happens is that we do not always see results; and especially the spectacular. We get our Bible off the shelf, blow the dust off of it, read it for a few minutes and are disappointed when nothing much happens. Then are tempted to think that perhaps the Word is not so good: it is just a heap of ancient words.

 Or we half listen to the sermon and then are disappointed when it does nothing much for us. Or when we use Scripture to speak to others and drop bits and pieces out which we think are unpalatable, and then wonder why we get no great response. Or we think that it is up to us to argue and convince others into accepting and believing in Jesus. In this way sadly, so often we are neglecting to give that Word its due respect and honour.

 Think about it; in our day there is a sad lack of the use of God's Word, even in our own lives. I wonder how many of you really listened to what God was saying to you in the readings a few moments ago. How many of you spend time reading your Bible daily and meditating on what God has to say to you through it? How many of you go on to use that Word to speak to others around you; allowing that Word to achieve results in the lives of those out there who very much need it?

 No, instead, so often we turn to the knowledge that this world has to offer, to assist us, without any thought to God and what he has to say to us: seeming to think that human wisdom will solve all our problems and give us everything we need; even when it comes to growth in the church. So the university lecturer is of more value and importance to us than God and what he has to say.

 Yes, perhaps the reason we are not seeing a spectacular Christian scenery today, is that there is a drought on the use of God's Word. More often than not, using a farming analogy, we are trying to use chemical sprays to water our spiritual crops, rather than the life giving Word. Without God's Word reigning supreme in our hearts and lives, and across our country, is it any wonder that life looks rather barren, empty and hostile. Without that which gives life, hope and growth nothing of any real consequence can happen; and we will be left uncertain and unsure; we will experience frailty and be in great danger: our country, community and our own lives will not have real meaning, purpose and vitality if the Word of God is not there. Five or ten points of rain every few weeks is not going to grow you much grass at all, if any.

 We here today are the ones who need to again recapture the importance what the Lord is saying here in this reading. God's Word has power and it never fails to produce what it was sent out to do. It is a lively Word – a living Word – a Word that can accomplish great things in the hearts and lives of all; transforming barren, empty and frail lives into something far more in line with what we really need; and above all will give our lives the growing harmony with the Lord and Saviour that is needed.

 This Word will makes us very aware of the sinfulness of each and every one of us, and then it will point us to Jesus and his death on the cross and there see God’s answer to our sinfulness. For there on the cross we see God in Jesus taking our sin on himself and being punished in our place, and then in return extends his forgiveness and acceptance of us as his very own. Through baptism his Word makes that forgiveness and acceptance personal for each of us. Then through Holy Communion he together with the Word gives us his very body and blood which he shed on the cross, so that week by week we can know for sure that we are loved, forgiven and that Jesus goes with us into our everyday life. So now we know that we are members of God’s family for all eternity. His Word thereby gives and sustain life for us in a very real way.

 Yes, it will also be a challenging Word. It won't let us live complacently in sin. It will speak harshly to those who think that they can live and do as they please. And it will condemn those who think that they can reject the Bible and the God who stands by that Word. This Word has and will continue to get the results in the hearts and lives of people who hear it, because it is God's Word; and where that Word is, there God is; and where God is, something always happens; the landscape changes.

 Yes, there are times when nothing much good seems to happen. The untimely rains that fall during harvest seem more harmful, rather than good. At other times too, it seems to fall at the wrong time and do nothing much at all. To our perception, it seems all wrong. But we know that the rain has achieved what it set out to do; even if it was to spoil the harvest so that we learn again to look beyond own self-sufficiency, to the Lord: to bring us to our knees so that we learn again to rely on God himself.

 Yes, God's Word also at times seems to be doing nothing; achieving nothing; being virtually of no use at all. At other times it seems to be sparking rejection and hostility and so do more harm than good. But the promise is here, that where the Word is in use, it will never fail to do what the Lord intended it to do. It will do everything he wants it to do. We may not see the results here and now; but they are there. Where the Word is in use, it will bring the changes that are good and fruitful, and for the long term benefit of his kingdom.

 However, as I mentioned before, if the Word is not used, how can it do good? How can it give life, and be of help to you or others and enable you to grow and sparkle if it is hardly ever used and allowed to be a part of everyday life. How can our community and country change and become more like it should be if we don't make use of that which can change it. That Word of God is the big rains – the good soaking rains than brings results: it is the constant rains throughout the season that continues the growth.

We here need to allow this Word to soak right through our hearts and lives. Then I promise you, as our Lord does, that things will happen: the landscape of your life will change, for the better. Then as you go on and use that Word in your dealings with others, there too it will never fail – it will do everything the Lord wants it to. Now, there is a challenge for each one us. But as we take it up and allow God's Spirit to work in our lives, pointing us ever to the Lord Jesus Christ, I guarantee there will be great blessing. The drought is over - let the rain continue. To God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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