From: "Lutheran Hour Ministries" <email@example.com> Sent: July 12, 2014 9:16 PM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: The Lutheran Hour: July 13, 2014
Sermon Text for July 13, 2014
"Truth Has a Voice" #81-45
Presented on The Lutheran Hour on July 13, 2014 By Rev. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker (How Can A Person Find Real Rest?) Copyright 2014 Lutheran Hour Ministries
Text: Romans 8:12-17
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, and by His Spirit there is a voice for us that proclaims the truth; truth that transforms our very lives. Amen.
Have you ever watched "The Voice" on television? It's a popular show that tries to find the best singer in the country. There are some similar shows on the air, but "The Voice" has a twist. During the auditions, the four celebrity judges face away from the singing contestants. They just listen. If the voice of a singer is compelling, if the voice is powerful and beautiful, the judge presses a button and his or her chair swings around to face the singer. A message on the bottom of the chair lights up for the singer to see. It says: "I want you." The talented singer then becomes part of that judge's team.
Millions of people watch "The Voice," because voices are compelling to us. And, even if you don't watch the show, you know what I'm saying is true because you've got plenty of compelling voices in your life right now, too. In fact, life is a lot like that television show for you and me. We sit in our chairs, live our lives, go about our businesses all the while voices are crying out to us, compelling us to turn the chair around and claim the voice as our own! You might have some good voices like that in your life right now, but if you are like me and others in this world, there are also compelling voices that are not good for us at all.
Have you responded to some of them? Some of them might sound harmless; it might be an advertiser telling you that you should dress a certain way, that should wear a certain fragrance, that you need a better car, or that you're not thin enough. Maybe it's friends saying that they like you, but you really just don't fit in? Maybe it's even worse, maybe you have family voices telling you that you don't matter and that you won't amount to much. Maybe all those voices have caused real doubt in your mind even with God.
These are terrible voices that speak doubt, pain, uncertainty, fear, and sadness into our lives. They can be hurtful voices from your past, inner voices of insecurity, or the abrasive voices of a rough and tumble world. These voices cry out and they harm your soul. They can cause you to live hopeless lives. They can sap our energy, causing us even to want to give up. They can interject a sense of sadness and joylessness into times even of blessing and gladness.
The Bible says that these are voices of the flesh; flesh meaning our fallen, broken, sinful nature; a fallen, broken, sinful world. In Romans, chapter eight, Paul comments on the outcome of listening to these harmful voices. He contrasts what these voices of the flesh do compared to what the Spirit of the true God does and gives. Romans 8:13 says it this way, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
The voices of the world, of the culture, the broken voices of our own sinful flesh, they'll take us apart, they'll dash our hopes, they'll drain our confidence. Ultimately, those voices, like Paul says, will kill us. But, dear listener, those aren't the only voices in your life. I'm here to tell you that today there is a better voice; a voice that says, "I want you, you're Mine!" There is a voice of truth in your life, one that should turn your chair around to claim, one that will change your life forever.
Paul says again in Romans 8:12, 14 "So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh." Stop listening to the voices that will destroy you, he says, and hear what God's voice of truth declares, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God."
Did you hear that? "All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." You are God's child! His voice says, "Take all your imperfections and failures and bring them to Me. Pack up your pain and hurts in life and lay them before Me. Give Me your doubts and fears, for you are My child and nothing will separate you from My love." That's what verses 15-17 say: "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if we're God's children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ."
You are an heir of God the Father! You are one who receives His blessings and favor through Jesus Christ. Do you really know what that means? Do you know what impact that can have on your life?
Did you ever hear of Timothy Gray? He was an adopted son who was in line to receive $19 million from the estate of a New York railroad magnate. But Gray never received the inheritance. More than twenty years ago, he walked away from his family after his mother died. Just a year and a half ago, Timothy Gray died in poverty and homelessness. The voices of his own struggles kept him from the blessings that awaited him.
The voice of truth, the voice of your Savior wants to keep you from losing the precious gift of new life. Blessing awaits you now. The voice of truth says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). The voice of truth says, "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11).
You are a child of God, bought with the blood of Jesus who gave His life for you on the cross. You are an heir who, through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, you receive the gift of forgiveness and restored life. Did you hear the voice of your Father in heaven today? Do you hear His voice of truth for you now?
It's very important today that you listen to the right voices in your life. Voices are one of the first things we learn to hear and discern. In an ongoing study of infant development from Queens University in Ontario, researchers revealed that babies can already hear sounds at 30 weeks. But, even more than that, they can recognize their mother's voice. An experiment was done that let a baby hear a recording of its mother reading a poem and a recording of another person reading the same poem. When the baby in the womb heard its mother's voice, its heartbeat quickened. When the stranger's voice was heard, the babies' heartbeats slowed down; a response that researches say is an attention-focus response, being quiet to figure out who is talking. The babies recognized their mothers' voices!
We're not that different than those unborn children. When the voices of the world or the voices of our own pain speak to us, our hearts slow down. Life is drained from us. But when our Creator and Savior speaks to us, when the One who loves us with an everlasting love speaks into our lives, our hearts quicken again with new life and true joy.
What voice are you listening to today? Are you listening to the One who created and redeemed you?
It's very important that you and I understand that destructive voices cry out in each of our lives. There is an epidemic of painful misinformation circulating out there. And it's coming at you and me day after day.
One fallen voice cries out that you will be loved only because of what you accomplish. We're living in a culture of fame and status. The voice says that unless you appear on an ESPN highlight clip, or have your own reality show, or acquire a million friends on Facebook, you don't measure up. You're of minimal value, if you're worth anything at all. It's a voice of untruth, but it makes a whole lot of people think they're worthless.
Another voice in our world cries out that you are worthy only if you have certain things and fit in with certain groups. Instead of being who you are as a unique creation of God, you've got to change who you are to be like everyone else. This voice of untruth in our world says that you can never be yourself. Instead of treasuring each unique person as a gift from God, this is the voice of bullying, prejudice, and hatred. This is the voice that says you have to look a certain way, be a certain age, weigh a certain amount, follow a certain pathway in life, and generally blend in with the group. This voice of untruth devalues your unique journey in life, it undermines the mission God gives you as His irreplaceable child, and it tries to diminish the imprint God wants you to make on His world.
Still other voices of untruth say that in order to get attention and be popular you must be critical, divisive, mean, skeptical. Twenty-four hour news networks can lead the way in trying to make this voice the one we listen to. The arguments and verbal battles for the sake of entertainment breed an epidemic of cruelty and division. They lead the way in eradicating compassion, listening, dialog, and understanding. This voice of untruth says that the meaner and louder you are, the more popular you become.
These voices of untruth slow our hearts down and they drain life from us. They cause people to crumble inside and you may be feeling that way today.
That's why it's so important to hear the voice of truth from your Savior Jesus Christ. Remember what Romans 8:15-17 says, "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ."
You are not a slave to the destructive, broken, and fallen voices in your life or in this world. You are a child of God! You are an heir of a new life and salvation in and through Jesus Christ.
God's voice declares this Good News to you. God's Son earned this gift on the cross for you. The voice of truth says, "I want you. I love you. I have redeemed you. You matter to me. I live so that you too may live forever." That's the voice of truth, my friend. And there is life-saving power in that voice.
Just a few months ago, a little boy was kidnapped from his driveway in Atlanta, Georgia. Nine-year-old Willie Myrick was lured into a car by the promise of money. The kidnapper pulled Willie into the car and he sped away. Willie was scared, but he started to sing a Gospel song he learned in church. The kidnapper drove him around for hours, but Willie kept singing. Over and over again, he sang a song called "Every Praise" by Hezekiah Walker. Willie sang out: Every praise is to our God. Every word of worship with one accord Every praise, every praise is to our God. Sing hallelujah to our God Glory hallelujah is due our God Every praise, every praise is to our God.
God my Savior God my Healer God my Deliverer Yes He is, yes He is.
Finally, the kidnapper, he couldn't take it anymore. The voice of truth penetrated his hardened and violent heart. He let the boy out of the car unharmed and he drove away. A few weeks later, on a Sunday at his church, Willie told the story of what happened. And who showed up but Hezekiah Walker, the composer of the song! He hugged Willie and he told him how thankful he was that the song helped save his life. The voice of truth is a powerful thing!
That's what Jesus spoke from the cross. He cried out, "It is finished!" He said, "Father, forgive them." He assured, "Today you will be with Me in paradise."
The voice of truth says to you, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever lives and believes in Me will never die."
The voice of truth says, "I am with you always to the end of the age."
The voice of truth says, "Proclaim this Gospel to all creation. Just as I have loved you, so also you are to love one another."
The voice of truth is powerful; it gives you new life. Do you hear the voice of truth today? Will you listen to the voice of truth in your life?
You may remember when Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). Every shepherd listening understood that sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd. Several flocks can be mingled in a field, but when the shepherd calls, the sheep that are his, they follow him. Why? How does that work, because the shepherd feeds and cares for the sheep. Those sheep know where their sustenance comes from! They know who provides for them. And they follow his voice.
Dear friend, be honest with me today; you know that there are many, many fallen and harmful voices at work in your life today, voices that take life out of you, lead you down destructive paths. Jesus has another word for you; a clear voice of life and salvation, a way of life for you to follow and live.
Last week we celebrated the pause button on a remote control and we talked about the "pause that refreshes." Today we celebrate another amazing button on that TV remote control. It's the "mute" button. Isn't that a handy button? When commercials are blaring, when the sound of the television set is too powerful, when the noise from the speaker interferes with conversation, or when you are trying to hear what a loved one is telling you, you can press the mute button; the silence that sustains us.
It works wonders, doesn't it? Suddenly, you can hear. In an instant, the background voices are silenced and the voices of those loved ones are clear. Today, God provides a mute button to the destructive voices of Satan, the world, and even our own sinful hearts. The death and resurrection of His Son silenced the dominating voices of death and destruction. The forgiveness of sins silenced the accusing voices of unworthiness and failure. The promise of God's love and presence silenced the loud noise of doubt and fear. Muted! All of them! And in the stillness of God's love and grace, He eagerly listens to you cry out, "Abba, Father!" You are His child, His redeemed and forgiven child. That's the voice of truth.
A Christian band called Casting Crowns wrote a song called "The Voice of Truth." The song begins by describing Peter's tenuous walk on the water as Jesus called him out of his boat. It compares that walk to the doubts we have and the voices that diminish our confidence and faith. The song begins: Oh, what I would do to have The kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I'm in Onto the crashing waves
But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed The waves they keep on telling me Time and time again. 'Boy, you'll never win!' "You'll never win."
Those voices sound familiar, don't they? But today, God presses the mute button with His living and gracious Word in your life. The voice of truth speaks into your life at this very moment. The song goes on. But the voice of truth tells me a different story And the voice of truth says "Do not be afraid!" And the voice of truth says "This is for My glory."
The voice of truth is a precious gift from God to you today. Will you believe it? Will you believe Him? Will you let God mute the destructive voices in your life to give you silence to sustain you so that you can hear Him speak His grace into your life today? Will you be that encouraging voice of grace to others too? Truth has a voice; it's the voice of Jesus Christ calling to you in and through His Word today. Trust in Him, for His truth transforms your life and mine, now and forever. Believe it!
LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for July 13, 2014 Topic: How Can A Person Find Real Rest?
ANNOUNCER: How does one find real rest? That'll be our question today for Pastor Gregory Seltz. I'm Mark Eischer. Pastor, our listener says she's worn out from the day-to-day grind, she needs rest, but she doesn't want to just idly sit around.
SELTZ: That's a great question for an over-programmed, over-scheduled culture like ours, Mark. It's also a great question for people all around the world, too, because life can be very tiring. Whether it's being too busy or it involves day-to-day effort just trying to survive. Wherever people are today, they need to know how to get real rest.
ANNOUNCER: And I get the feeling this is about something deeper and more profound than just taking a few days off now and then.
SELTZ: You're right. Real rest doesn't simply involve some down time. It may include that, but there's much more to getting rest than doing nothing for a while. In addition to stillness, rest includes being replenished and refreshed. These are gifts that come from outside ourselves and from outside our frantic world.
ANNOUNCER: Let's talk more about that word--replenished.
SELTZ: Will do. In Psalm 46, for instance, God says, "Be still and know that I am God." He didn't just say, "Be still." Being still is a start, but not the end of the story. It's not the sole answer to getting rest. In fact, spending time in quiet can get even pretty stressful. Suddenly, you're left with yourself; your problems, your struggles, your conscience, your list of things to do that are yet undone. Stillness on your own could be your undoing, too! God says that, in your stillness, in your quiet, know that I am God.
ANNOUNCER: Which means trusting that God is in charge, that He's in control, and that He doesn't change.
SELTZ: And most of all, that He loves you. He is your Friend and your Savior. In your stillness, amidst the problems, it will be okay. In fact, Psalm 23 discusses God's role in getting rest. We're told that the Lord is our Shepherd and that He restores our souls. Being truly replenished means being connected to God, the giver of all good things.
ANNOUNCER: We might think here, also, of Psalm 62 which says, "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him" (Psalms 62:1 NIV).
SELTZ: That's beautiful. Just as a car needs to be fueled from an outside source; a gas station, and just as water bottles need to be refilled from a source of fresh water, our souls find rest and replenishment in a source outside of ourselves; outside of this crazy world. God alone is our Source of real rest.
ANNOUNCER: So, what does God provide to give us that rest and how does He provide it?
SELTZ: The number one answer is His self-sacrificial, unconditional, restoring love through His Son, Jesus. That precious gift is brought into our lives through God's Word--the Bible, through the blessings of baptism and communion, and through our connection with God and fellow believers. Think about how wonderful it is to hear Jesus say, "Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
ANNOUNCER: And the fact that it's Jesus who says this-that makes all the difference.
SELTZ: That's correct; because He accomplishes what He promises! Think about the relief of hearing words like this from Psalm 94: "When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations (O Lord), they cheer me up" (Psalms 94:19). That's God's living Word going deep into our souls with His promises to restore and refresh us.
ANNOUNCER: And God doesn't intend for us to live in isolation, either. He gives us encouragement through fellow believers as we gather for worship and prayer.
SELTZ: Exactly; and even more, receiving, then, the gift of Holy Communion, the gift of Christ received together with fellow believers. His body and blood, then, holds us together, it holds us forever; and that, too, is the foundation of real rest.
ANNOUNCER: Again, something God wants us to receive and then also to share with others.
SELTZ: That's part of what's behind God establishing the Sabbath Day in the Old Testament. It's also why Christians began to gather on the first day of the week, the day of Jesus' resurrection. If you plow through life without a break, you become rest-less. God designed our lives to have real doses, regular doses of rest and replenishment in Him.
ANNOUNCER: And Jesus provides an example of this when He and the disciples from time to time would get away from the crowds.
SELTZ: I think you're talking about Mark, chapter six, where it says, "So many people were coming and going to Him that He didn't even have a chance to eat, he said, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and let's get some rest" (Mark 6:31 NIV). So, together with Jesus, whether it is eating, relaxing, exercising, or pursuing a hobby, His gifts can refill us and restore us from the weariness that comes in this life!
ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.
Music Selections for this program:
"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.
"God Has Spoken by His Prophets" arr. by Henry Gerike. Used by permission.
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