-------- Original message -------- From: Lutheran Hour Ministries <email@example.com> Date: 08/31/2013 9:15 PM (GMT-06:00) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: The Lutheran Hour: September 1, 2013
Sermon Text for September 1, 2013
"Lean Living" #80-52 Presented on The Lutheran Hour on September 1, 2013 By Rev. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker (Is Faith Too Complicated?) Copyright 2013 Lutheran Hour Ministries
Text: Hebrews 13:1-11
Christ is risen, He is risen, indeed and in Him you can live abundant lives forever! Amen!
Have you ever heard of John Krafcik? After graduating from college with a degree in mechanical engineering, the only job he could find was selling solar water heaters in southern California. After working for a couple of companies, John finally found his niche: he got a job with a car company; and he really loved cars! That job opened a big door for him. As he studied the manufacturing process, he decided that his next step should be to study more about management. So, this Connecticut native headed back to Boston to get his masters degree from MIT. While there, John Krafcik played a part in developing a revolutionary process, it was termed "Lean Production." Partnering with James Womack, one of the leading authorities in auto plant productivity, he co-authored: "The Machine that Changed the World" sharing a process that involved eliminating anything that would interfere with the smooth flow necessary to build something, while always adding practices that help make the flow better.
As we celebrate Labor Day this weekend, valuing the blessing of work, John Krafcik was part of a movement that continues to impact thousands of workers around the world. For example, if a person was running across a shop floor to get parts, lean production eliminated that repeated journey. Instead of wasting time walking across the floor, the parts were brought to him or to her, thus improving efficiency and easing a burden for the worker.
Lean production was also revolutionary because it respected each worker's insight, took his or her suggestions seriously, tried to remove hardship, and attempted to create a flow of work that led to the best possible outcome. If you're a worker anywhere, you may be thinking: "Hey that sounds pretty nice!" Work is a good thing, but it's also better if obstacles and redundancies are removed. With that I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, it got me thinking: "What would it mean to talk about 'Lean Living'?"
You heard me right--not just lean production or lean thinking, but lean living. What would life look like if you could eliminate what was unproductive and add what is beneficial? What might your life be like if you could remove complications and grow in clarity? How would you feel if struggles could be replaced with simplicity?
Dear friend, I think that's what the writer of the book of Hebrews is striving for that kind of clarity, even simplicity. In Chapter 13, he was giving you and me some direction about reducing the complexity, the confusion, and the consternation of life in this complicated, sinful world. Are you looking for a simpler, more streamlined life? Are you tired of being worn out by struggle after struggle? You may be ready for some lean living, especially when it is connected to the grace and power of a relationship to God through Jesus Christ!
"Let brotherly love continue.....Keep your life free from the love of money, be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:1-6)
Now, we're not completely sure who wrote the book of Hebrews. It could have been Barnabas. His name means "son of encouragement." Whether he wrote it or not, what is true is that the book of Hebrews is filled with encouragement, calling believers in Jesus to stick with Him through obstacles and opposition. The message of Hebrews strips away all the clutter of life and shows how Jesus, the Son of God sent by the Father, is the fulfillment of God's promise for a Savior.
He delivered a simple message for a life full of God's grace in Jesus. He removed the clutter that so easily entangles so that God's abundant life could be theirs, can be yours. You see, the first listeners to this letter were not living a lean life. So many things were stressing them, distracting them, getting in the way of the clear, simple message of salvation in Jesus. The first-century Jewish believers, they were entangled in theories about angels, in debates about Abraham and Moses, and in confusing teaching about obeying old laws. So the author brought encouragement after encouragement, exhorting his listeners to persevere and hold fast to the certain message of hope and salvation in Jesus Christ.
Some others say that the book of Hebrews could have been written by a man named Apollos. He was a skilled and knowledgeable teacher who served with the Apostle Paul and his companions. The vocabulary of the book of Hebrews has depth and beauty--showing that an able teacher wrote the words. More than that, the book of Hebrews shows the journey of someone who, himself, discovered that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Remember in the Bible how Apollos took such a journey, just like Paul; Aquila and Priscilla helped him understand the fulfillment of God's promise in the Lord Jesus.
But the journey of Apollos is the same journey of Barnabas, of you, and of me. In fact, the journey is about a God who came for them by grace through faith. Whoever wrote this book of the Bible, in chapter 12, he roots all true faith, not on our journeys, not even on our messages, but on the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The writer calls all people of every time and place to look to Jesus, "the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). That is the solid foundation for your life and mine. Jesus won the victory over sin, over death, so that we might have His eternal life!
But that's also a foundation for action, that's a platform for living. So, from that strong foundation, the writer of the book of Hebrews closes his letter with some practical life-application. In some concluding remarks and words of encouragement, he starts us on the pathway of lean living in the abundance of God's grace. He works to remove complications, to help us overcome obstacles and to add what is beneficial.
Now, what do you think he would tackle first? Well, he tackles those issues that are so common to us all, misuse of money, sex, and power. Yes, I said it; they are common to us all. Christians are not sinless, holier than thou people. They are people who struggle with the same things as others. The difference, they struggle with those things with a Savior who has done all things well for all people.
So, how do you handle the big three? Our news is littered with people who have handled such things poorly, with their own power. The Hebrew writer says there is another way; lean living through Jesus Christ, by the power of His Spirit, that's how. Listen to how these verses eliminate the unproductive and add what is beneficial: "Let brotherly love continue. Don't neglect to show hospitality to strangers.....Remember those who are in prison.... Let marriage be held in honor among all, let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from the love of money, be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' (Hebrews 13:1-6)
Lean living when it comes to stuff, things, money, he warns us not to get caught up in the love of money and wealth in this sinful world. It's a trap, it ensnares. What it promises, it can't fulfill. That's why here God even adds a promise, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." And with that certainty that can't be taken away, the Hebrew writer can say "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?"
In the area of bills, of mortgages, of food and drink, know this, God cares about you and He will provide. Don't be a chaser of this world's things, be one who seeks God and the things of God and watch all these other things find their proper place in your life, whether simplicity, modest wealth, or abundance. We don't need to be those panting for the latest products or gadgets. Such things change so quickly! Styles come and go. Technology is obsolete before you take it home from the store. God lets you say, "Enough! What I have is enough." Instead of being a slave to accumulation, God frees you to pay attention to your life. Instead of devoting yourself to things, God lets you care about people. Instead of being tethered to everything that breaks down or becomes outdated, God connects you to life that lasts forever and love for others which never goes out of style.
When you live lean by the grace of God in Jesus, money doesn't distract you from trusting God and loving others. Instead, money, the wealth you earn, becomes another way to say thank you to God who created and redeemed you, and another way to serve others in His Name!
But the Hebrew writer doesn't stop there. He directs the challenge of lean living by God's abundant grace to the most powerful area of human life, sex and marriage! Verse 4 of Hebrews 13 says, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled" (Hebrews 13:4). In one simple phrase, God eliminates so much of the clutter of our misguided sexual culture! The clutter of impurity, false temptations to intimacy, all sirens of destruction in our culture, we're directed away from such things. But, God also has so much more to add. It sounds simple, but it is filled with such abundance. With the commitment of married love, rooted in His promises, in His grace, He opens the door to the beauty, the intimacy and the mystery of husband and wife, one that reflects God's relationship to us.
That's the gift that is to be honored and respected among God's people. Our sexual lives are to be ones of simple purity. Now, I know there is plenty of temptation. I know that all of us struggle with desire. In fact, many of you might now even be struggling with the wreckage that results from sexual impurity, sexual promiscuity, or fractured relationships run amok. Know this; God doesn't want that for you, for anyone. He wants you to know that joy of love, in a committed relationship with those who love you, not just because they love you, but because they want to love you the way that God loves them!
When you live lean by the grace of God in terms of your sexuality, you realize that love, marriage, sex, they are about caring for other people and serving God especially there. Instead of being a slave to desire, God frees you to trust him, to show genuine love and respect to the people you love, and to have an enduring intimacy with others that this world can never truly deliver.
Keep free from the love of money, keep the marriage bed pure. Work at it because you are graced with God's abundant love in Jesus. But that's only two of the big three. What about power, what about the very thing that seems to make this sinful world go round? Hebrews 13 opens with God's remedy for a self-serving spirit. He says: "Let brotherly love continue" (Hebrews 13:1-2). The only answer to the lust for personal power is people showing God's love to others. Serving people in His Name. No government structure, no politician's policy, no business person's product can do what people can do for each other when they share the love of God.
Once again, only God can remove the unproductive and destructive practices of our selfishness. Why, because your personal life, mine now is His concern, you are in His hands. He cares about you more than you can care for yourself. So, He challenges a new way of living in His Name; lean living, self-sacrificial love for others--especially those who are pushed to the margins, the least of these, the disenfranchised.
What a clear remedy. What a focused way to live. In fact there is a common thread that runs through all three of these challenges. There is a strength and power amidst the real temptations of money, sex, and power and it's more than you doing your best to love God, to serve others. No, it's lean living in the abundant grace of God in Jesus Christ. It is not some complex system of rules and regulations. It's a message of mercy in the person and work of Jesus, gifting all who believe with a love truly from God that can be received and shared! It is as simple as what the apostle John says in 1 John 4:19, "We love because [God] first loved us."
In fact, that the greatest news of all. Even in our day-to-day lives, God doesn't abandon us. He cares for us and He calls us, in that grace and love received, to follow His lead! And one of the beautiful things even here is that God brings people, leaders into our lives who show that kind of living can still happen today. In that light, we are called especially to: "Remember your leaders, he says, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:7-9).
To live a lean life in the abundance of God's grace is to follow Christ's lead; but it's to lead a life in and through Him that others might wish to follow; to leave a legacy of grace in the lives of others just because they were graced to know you.
That kind of living strives to make other's lives better; so many of today's philosophies and even religious teachings miss the basic point. The Hebrew writer keeps it simple again, saying, in verse 9, "Don't be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them" (Hebrews 13:9). Be strengthened by grace, follow His lead, bless others; that's a legacy of leadership that can bless, one that can endure.
John Krafcik tries to lead this way. With a lean living philosophy in his new role as the executive of a major auto company, he didn't just let this outlook stay in the manufacturing plant. No, he regularly picks up the phone and calls customers to help resolve problems there too. He believes it's important to care, not just for your product, not just for your workers, but for the very customers you wish to serve. After a couple purchased a car and experienced some problems, John made sure he reached out, listened, and helped solve the problem. The couple was expecting a baby. When the baby was born, he made sure they received flowers congratulating them. Lean living means caring. It means showing love. It's a legacy you pray that your company will embrace, your customers will know, that will speak to a greater purpose than just meeting a need for the moment. For John Krafcik, it is all about simplicity and clarity. Even if there is trouble, he says, "We don't care about the cost, we'll give our all to help and care for our people."
What a great attitude, what a unique way to live; but it only works because God Himself was willing to give His all for people like John, like you, and like me, people who didn't deserve it, who were unworthy of it. Thank God, when it comes to the things that really matter; He didn't care about the costs. He, Himself lived life completely focused on your eternal needs, He endured the cross that you might live forever and that kind of living, that kind of leadership can start with you today!
God offers you a way to live today that is sure of His grace and love, that can be lived with simplicity, clarity, and power in the areas that make us truly human beings in this world. It's lean. It's clear. It's simple. By grace, He came for you, by grace you walk with Him, in a life overflowing with His mercy and love. And now lean and serene, with His confidence, you walk with the people God puts in your life to share His incredible care, respect, and compassion. Let God eliminate the clutter in your life and mine; let Him empower us all with His grace! Start living again lean and focused towards others in the abundance of His love and grace. You'll be glad that you did! Amen.
LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for September 1, 2013 Topic: Is Faith Too Complicated?
ANNOUNCER: Now, Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions from listeners. I'm Mark Eischer. Pastor, we talk about faith but sometimes we make it sound too complicated. Shouldn't faith be more simple?
SELTZ: Wow, I'm glad this question came along, Mark. Honestly, what seems normal to church people or to people who have been Christians for a while, it can look mystifying to people who haven't been around the church or Christian teaching.
ANNOUNCER: I suppose it's easy to take certain vocabulary or practices for granted when you've been on the inside for a long time. How would you answer our listener?
SELTZ: I think the most important answer, initially, is that faith is not all that complicated. In fact, it's very simple and completely accessible to everyone. True faith, according to the Bible, is trusting in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Romans chapter 3 tells us why and how. It says "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified, (that is declared innocent) by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24 ESV). So, there are the two core truths of Christianity. First we all have a deep need as sinners. Second, God gave us the gift of forgiveness of our sins in Jesus Christ.
ANNOUNCER: And the shorthand way of referring to that is Law and Gospel.
SELTZ: Yes. Those are Biblical words and themes that are expressed over and over again in God's Word. It's very simple, straightforward, and completely true. There are other very simple expressions of the Christian faith in the Bible. One that gets a lot of press is called the Gospel in a nutshell, John 3:16.
ANNOUNCER: Which says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 ESV).
SELTZ: Right. See, it's simple; but I have to say not simplistic. God loved us so much, even in our sin that He sent Jesus to save us from eternal death. Now here's another simple expression of faith it is in Romans 10: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9-10 ESV).
ANNOUNCER: Would you say we over-complicate things sometimes?
SELTZ: Well, we can. But not for the reasons you might think. We tend to make faith more complicated because we often don't want to take the clear word of God on face value. The Bible is clear about the basics; that's for sure. Faith in Christ is a faith that saves. Faith too is a gift, something God grants by grace through His Word. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace through faith and all of this is a gift! So, often when we complicate things, it's not an intellectual issue, but an issue of our will. We want such things, just another way!
ANNOUNCER: And you don't have to have a PhD in Biblical theology in order to be saved.
SELTZ: And that's why it's important for everyone listening to know that faith in our Savior is not meant for people only with graduate degrees, or vast Biblical knowledge, or deep theological understanding. God came to us in an understandable way. Even a small child can grasp all of His gifts. Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it" (Luke 18:17 ESV).
ANNOUNCER: Earlier you said faith is simple, but not simplistic.
SELTZ: Absolutely, that's part of the beauty of God revealing Himself to us. On the one hand His grace is simple. God uses common things even to convey that grace. He comes to us with words, water, bread and wine, things we can understand and believe. They're regular, everyday things. On the other hand, the message of God's love and salvation through the person and work of Jesus, that's God in human flesh, through a cross, with a promise of resurrection life; there's a depth there that defies human explanation. So there are things in the Bible that God tells us straightforwardly and calls us to trust in them by faith.
ANNOUNCER: But He doesn't do that in order to confuse us. God wants to show us, instead, that He's been working for us all the time.
SELTZ: Exactly. God isn't trying to trip us up, stump us, or keep us under His thumb by confusing us. He is revealing Himself to us so that we can see that He is our great Savior, He's on our side, He is accessible, He loves us, and we truly can place our hope in Him.
ANNOUNCER: Simple, powerful clear promises that invite us to trust in Christ. Thank you, Pastor Seltz, and we thank you, the listener, for making this program part of your day. We hope you join us again next time. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.
Music Selections for this program:
"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.
"O God, My Faithful God" arr. Henry Gerike. Used by permission.
Dawn DeBlaze wanted me to get the word out that the auction for Tom and Delores DeBlaze's estate will be on Sunday October 13. You can go to www.thornhillauction.com/auctions to check out all the info.
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