The Lutheran Hour: May 31, 2015 "Enough is Enough"

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Subject: The Lutheran Hour: May 31, 2015 "Enough is Enough"

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"Enough Is Enough"

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on May 31, 2015
By Rev. Ken Klaus, Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
Copyright 2015 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: 2 Peter 3:9-10

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed. Before the Lord looks at this sad and sorry sinful world and says, "Enough is enough," may those words of life be our words of salvation. Grant this, Lord, to us all. Amen. 

Enough is enough. This past week, in the grocery store, Pam and I followed a woman and her child through the store. We weren't trying to follow her, but somehow our shopping lists coincided so we kept bumping into the pair. Each time we did so, mother and child were interacting. Maybe I should also say the interaction was not positive. The first time we met, the mother was looking for a clerk to clean up a great, big jar of pickles which her little one had pulled from the shelf and dropped. The second time we encountered the pair, the mother was restocking a shelf of beans. It seems her son had taken a can from the bottom of the stack and not from the top. The third time we had a meeting, mom had discovered her tiny tyke had been putting his finger through the plastic wrap on some packages of meat.

The last and final time we saw the two, mother and child were in the checkout line - a line which was four carts deep. This time the boy was demanding, not requesting, not asking, not pleading for, but demanding a candy bar. Mom said, "No," and he howled. She said, "Not now," and he screamed. She said, "Mark my words, never again for the rest of your life will you every receive a candy bar from my hands." In the heat of the battle, I am fully convinced that Mom meant that threat. Well, her words were countered with a shriek which caused everyone in the store to stop dead in their tracks. It was at that moment the red-faced mother lowered her voice, looked her little one in the eye and said, "Enough is enough." She picked him up from his seat in the cart, pushed her groceries off to the side, got the attention of the clerk and said, "I'm sorry someone is going to have to restock these groceries, but I have some important business I have to take care of." Then, deliberately, firmly, and gently, Mom escorted Junior out of the store. That, my friends, defines "Enough is enough." 

In the course of my life, the Lord has blessed me with two wonderful women: my mother and my wife. They are, in ways too numerous to mention, different individuals. That being said, there is one thing they share in common. When I am being good and cooperative, they speak to me nicely. Mom used to call me "Kenny," and Pam calls me "Honey." When I was a little bit cantankerous, those names would become "Ken" and "Dear." When I was a lot bit cantankerous, Mom would give me a warning by saying "Kenneth" and my wife would do the same. Still, and I'm sure you will have a tough time believing this of me, there have been those moments, exceedingly rare moments, when I had, quite unintentionally, managed to push their buttons. As I say, they are different women, but they came together in chewing me out using my entire name: "Kenneth Richard Klaus." Their voices sounded like a funeral bell as they let me know, "enough had been enough." 

No doubt you can recall moments in your life when enough was enough. The divorce courts of our nation are filled with people who, once upon a time, had pledged unending love and support to each other. Still, over time they had rubbed each other the wrong way. Finally they reached that point in time when enough was enough. People leave their jobs when they are unrecognized, unappreciated, and unapplauded. When enough is enough, they turn in their two week notice and start looking for something else, something better. 

Enough is enough. Yes, almost every human being can be pushed to a breaking point; almost every one of us has, somewhere in time, been taken to that place where enough had been enough. Thankfully, the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a Deity who has, as one of His attributes, an attitude of long-suffering. Long-suffering means that while He has every authority, grievance, and power to punish us for our repeated and ongoing wrongdoings, He oftentimes patiently stays His hand from dishing out the temporal and eternal punishments we deserve. 

Again and again Scripture points to God's undeserved and unexpected patience. In the Old Testament book of Exodus (34:6 ESV) Moses was inspired to write, "...the Lord,(is) a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." In Ezekiel (18:23), the Lord tells us He gets no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Indeed, He would much rather everyone be turned from their wicked ways and live. Hundreds of years later, through the Apostle Peter, the Lord reiterated His commitment to giving us time to repent. In 2 Peter (3:9) it reads, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."

Now, it is a nice thing that God is patiently waiting for us to see and be turned from, the error of our ways. But you should know that the Lord doesn't spend all His time sitting on His heavenly throne, twiddling His thumbs. God doesn't do that because He knows sin has permeated every bit of us and we are helpless to straighten things out... at least on our own. 

No, God didn't just wait for us, He took the matter of our salvation into His own hands and, in the Person of His Son, cleared a path for us to heaven. Indeed, His love for the world was so great that He gave His only Son to be our Substitute under the law. His Son, Jesus, came into this world as a Man and lived a perfect life on our behalf. Not only did Jesus keep all the Commandments which we had broken, He resisted the temptations which have tripped us up. As part of His Divinely directed work, Jesus carried our sins and, almost 2,000 years ago, died the death which our transgressions had deserved. Now, whoever is brought to faith in Jesus as Savior, will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16). In other words (Romans 6:23), the wages of sin is death, but, because of the Redeemer, "the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Eternal life is what happens when a sinful soul is forgiven and brought to faith. In truth, it is God's greatest desire to give salvation to sinful human beings. Unfortunately, many folks don't want, or refuse to receive, the Lord's gracious, blood-bought present. In many cases that is because the Lord IS patient, long-suffering, and doesn't immediately give in to an enough is enough attitude. That means the same gift of time which the Holy Spirit uses to bring people to faith is misused by Satan and the world to lull others into believing the Lord is unconcerned, or is going to be eternally patient, or He just isn't out there at all. And, as we said, because God's sentence against our evil deeds is not executed speedily, the hearts of many people feel quite comfortable wallowing in their sin (see: Ecclesiastes 8:11).

Well, my friends, the Lord is out there; He is concerned and, while He is patient, He will not be eternally so. The prophet Nahum made that abundantly evident when he wrote (1:3), "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet." Of course you don't have to take Nahum's word. Read the Bible. It gives abundant examples of times in human history when the Lord looked down on us and said, "Enough is enough." 

The Lord had said 'Enough is enough" to Adam and Eve after they broke His single commandment in the Garden of Eden. If it had not been for God's immediate intervention and promise of a Savior, temporal and eternal death would have been their punishment. But the lesson was not learned. Not so many generations had come and gone before the Bible reports, "the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and filled with violence. ...13 And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth" (Excerpts Gen. 6:11-13). In other words, God said, "Enough is enough," and humanity, with the exception of eight people, was destroyed. 

Centuries later, Abraham's nephew, Lot, went to live in the party towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. Having observed the sinful shenanigans going on in the twin cities, God revealed to His man Abraham, that He intended to destroy the cities. Immediately Abraham entered into negotiations and received the Lord's assurance that if there were ten righteous people in those towns He would spare them. Well, you can forget about finding ten righteous souls in Sodom and Gomorrah; you can forget about finding seven or five. God had to almost redefine the word righteous so Lot and his family could qualify and get out of town. They had just wandered down the road a piece when the sky opened up raining sulfur and fire. The Lord had shown He's not eternally patient; He had shown He could be pushed into saying, "Enough is enough." 

When the Children of Israel, who had just been freed from slavery in Egypt, decided to desert God and worship an idol shaped like a golden calf, the Lord said, something like, "Moses, I'm really angry and I'm going to destroy the people and start over. I'll make a great nation of you and your crew" (Exodus 32:10). Once again God had said, "Enough is enough." 

Do you think the people learned? They didn't. Not so much later God's people refused to follow the Lord and enter the Promised Land. The people, the cities, everything frightened them. That's when the Lord said, "If they don't want to get what I've promised, that's fine. They can die in the wilderness." It took 40 years for all of them, with the exception of Moses, Joshua, and Caleb to die out. Enough had been enough (Numbers 14:30).

Look at the book of Judges. It sounds like a broken record. Each event in that volume begins with: "The Children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord" and that information is followed by, "and God delivered them into the hands of their enemies." Eventually God's people repented, the Lord restored them to favor, and everything was all right until the people's sins drove the Lord to say, "Enough is enough" and the cycle repeated. 

For almost 1,000 years that process kept up until God reached a final "enough is enough" and both the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel were taken captive and relocated. Never again would God's people enjoy the freedom, the independence, the self-sufficiency they had once had. Never again would they have the complete confidence that the Lord was smiling upon them, blessing them, and protecting them from their enemies. That is what can happen when the Lord says, "Enough is enough" to a nation. 

You notice I have been speaking about countries here. Today I'm more concerned about what happens when the Lord says, "enough is enough" to an individual. He can do that, you know. Numerous times the prophet Moses visited with Pharaoh and tried to negotiate the release of God's people. Five times it says "Pharaoh's heart was hardened" or "Pharaoh hardened his heart." But things changed with the sixth visit which preceded the sixth plague. There, and most of the time after that, it says, 'God hardened Pharaoh's heart.' In other words, the Lord had said, "Pharaoh, I'm through with you. Enough is enough." 

It is a frightening thing when the Lord says "enough" to you. It is a terrible thing; it is a damning thing. And nowhere in Scripture can I find anywhere where the Lord indicates how many times He is going to try and reach someone; how many times He's going to keep knocking at the door of someone's heart when that person insists on staying on the other side throwing the locks and barricading the door against God's invitation. I do know after Jesus began His ministry He went back to His childhood home of Nazareth a number of times. He tried to reach them, to get them to see He had come to save them. They didn't listen and He didn't come back. Enough had been enough.

When Jesus was in Galilee, the fishing village of Capernaum was His center of operations. That community saw His miracles, heard His teachings, and were privileged to be closer to the Savior for a longer period of time than just about anyone. Unfortunately being near to Jesus is not the same as believing in Jesus. Many citizens of those communities were glad to eat the food Jesus could miraculously provide; they were eager to have their sick healed by His almighty hand, but being brought to faith in Him was something many declined. That is why Jesus sadly said, "And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? (No,) You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you" (Matthew 11:23-24 ESV). Enough is enough. 

Years ago I called on a man, a member of my church, who was a good man, at least in the eyes of the community. By that I mean the fellow was honest in his dealings with others; he took good care of his family, didn't drink, gamble, or swear. He was always faithful and conscientious in paying his bills and taking care of his other debts. During our visit I asked, 'Tell me, you pay all your other debts, but I never see you in church; I never see you at Communion, and the church offering plate never sees a dollar from your account. Why are you faithful in paying your debts to others, but not to the Lord?" He thought for a minute and then, without being flip, he replied, "Well, pastor, I don't pay so much attention to God, because He doesn't push as hard as everybody else." 

Listeners, that guy had it right. The Lord is not going to push; He is not going to beg; He is not going to twist your arm. What He is going to do is say, "Look at My Son who gave His life to save your soul. With faith in Him You will be in heaven; without faith, you are headed for hell. Jesus is the best thing which has ever happened to you and for you. Don't turn your back on Jesus. Be ready for the day when He will say to this world, 'enough is enough.' When that day arrives, I want everyone to be glad to see Me." 

And if you aren't ready now, you should know, right now, we at The Lutheran Hour are ready to help you get ready. To that end, I extend this invitation, "Please, call us at The Lutheran Hour." Amen. 

LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for May 31, 2015 
Topic: Hypocrisy

ANNOUNCER: Now, Pastor Ken Klaus responds to questions from listeners. I'm Mark Eischer.

KLAUS: Hello, Mark. Good to see you.

ANNOUNCER: Today we're going to talk about hypocrisy. I don't recall we've ever really covered that topic here in all the years we've been doing this segment.

KLAUS: I'm surprised. People like to accuse Christians of being hypocrites. That's one of the top complaints-or excuses.

ANNOUNCER: Generally speaking, a hypocrite is someone who pretends to be one thing when they're actually another.

KLAUS: And one thing to keep in mind is that Christians are, at the same time, both saints and sinners. Also, the visible Church is made up of both believers and fakers, for want of a better word.

ANNOUNCER: And this may confuse those who look at us, look at the Church from the outside. We don't claim to be perfect, and we certainly aren't. That's why we need Jesus and the forgiveness He won for us on the cross.

KLAUS: I like what someone said, that as redeemed sinners, we despise sin and struggle against it and we earnestly wish we were as holy as God declares us to be, in Christ Jesus.

ANNOUNCER: Or, as someone else has said, "I wish I were as good a man as my dog thinks I am."

KLAUS: Now, on to the listener's question.

ANNOUNCER: Okay. Our listener has a friend who for years and years has refused to attend church. Why? "Full of hypocrites," that's what she said.

KLAUS: That's one way for an individual to show that--unlike those Christian pretenders--they are truly open, honest, and have nothing to hide.

ANNOUNCER: But now hear this-our listener's friend has recently begun attending church on a regular basis. Our listener wondered what had changed. The friend replied, "Oh, nothing. I don't necessarily believe all this stuff, but I figure I've got nothing to lose."

KLAUS: Okay...

ANNOUNCER: Is she now being the hypocrite? Don't you find it ironic that a person who once complained about hypocrites has seemingly become one herself? Finally, should our listener blow the whistle and tell the pastor about this?

KLAUS: First, I think something happened to this friend, the one who has complained about the hypocrites. I don't have the gift of prophecy, but something got to this lady. It may have been a traumatic event in her life. Maybe it's a concern for the future. Maybe she's just not as sure and confident about things as she once was-but something happened.

ANNOUNCER: And now that church that seemed so false and fake doesn't look so bad after all.

KLAUS: Absolutely. But until she is more established in what she believes, she's not about to recant all the ranting and raving she did in the past. 

ANNOUNCER: What else can you say?

KLAUS: The second thing is this: I don't think this lady is laughing at the Church anymore. That may have been the case at one point, but it's not anymore. Otherwise, she wouldn't be investing that kind of time and effort in attending as she is.

ANNOUNCER: So our listener need not go on the defensive.

KLAUS: Probably not.

ANNOUNCER: How, then, should our listener react in such a way as to encourage her friend?

KLAUS: First, I wouldn't tell other people what she knows or suspects about her friend's ongoing doubts. The friend is on a journey of sorts and does not need to be confronted and challenged by a swarm of well-meaning parishioners. Second, we need to realize that this woman, whether she is sincere or not, is still being exposed to Christ and the story of salvation. Every Sunday, she's hearing the Word of God and the Holy Spirit works through that Word to create and sustain saving faith.

ANNOUNCER: Just as the Holy Spirit does that work in us. So you're saying, let the Lord do His work.

KLAUS: Yeah. That's right. We need to encourage this lady in her worship and not try to second-guess and figure out all the things that are going on in her heart and mind. 

ANNOUNCER: Anything else?

KLAUS: Yes. Isaiah, speaking about the Savior's work, says "a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench." Simply put, the Lord will not pour cold water on a faith that seems to be sputtering. Rather, He gives the Holy Spirit room to fan that burning wick into a bright flame, to enable that bruised reed to stand strong.

ANNOUNCER: And He also enables His Church to aid in that encouragement.

KLAUS: Yeah. Even as we confess that we also are sinners who need the forgiveness only Christ can give.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Klaus. 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 Day of Rest and Gladness" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"Come Down, O Love Divine" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)


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