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Subject: The Lutheran Hour: September 13, 2015 "There is Something More"

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"There is Something More" #83-02

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on September 13, 2015
By Rev. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
(What Is The Secret to Being Truly Content?)
Copyright 2015 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: Isaiah 50:4-10

Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the darkness, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.

Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed. Hallelujah! Amen.

Holly Ordway wasn't God's type; at least that's what she thought. Holly was an academic. She earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts. From there she became a college English professor. Growing up, her family was culturally Christian-by that I mean, she and her family observed Christmas and other Christian holidays. But, there was no active practice of the faith, no Bible in the house, and no habit of church-going in her family. By the time Holly was in her twenties, she described herself as an atheist. She said she went through a gradual process of being non-religious, to being indifferent about religion, to accepting atheism, the notion that there wasn't a god, accepting that as true. She thought that religion was fine for other people, but she was not God's type.

She confessed that she thought "Christianity was just a historical curiosity" that science could explain everything. She thought too that people were just intelligent animals with no soul, and that life ended in the grave.

She said this, "I thought that there was no ultimate meaning in life, and that people who believed in any form of God were seriously self-deluded. It was a bit depressing, but I believed it to be the best explanation of the way the world is."

She might have called herself a realist. After all, just look at this world. Do you think it has any redeeming values? There's wars, terrorism, senseless death, disasters that take innocent lives-the weak suffering at the hands of the strong; that can leave all of us low in depression and hopelessness.

But let me be brutally honest with you today too. I know that the world can be difficult for you personally as well. Your own past, your own hurts, your own deep wounds and heartbreak show how burdensome life can be. You feel it. At times, you wonder how you can get through it. But even then, don't you, deep in your heart, think there is something more. There must be something more. In fact, you may long for something more.

That's what nagged at Holly's mind and heart too. She knew that the questions about right and wrong were still right questions to ask. She longed for there to be meaning and connection in life. What she didn't realize was that this was exactly what the Christian message was all about!

The nagging sense persisted for her. She said, in her present way of thinking, "I couldn't give a compelling reason why I had this moral sense or to explain why I recognized that my efforts to be good always fell short of my ideals." There had to be something more.

Have you ever felt like that? Some parts of your life are going very well. They seem to fit and make sense. They're fulfilling and good. But other parts of your life seem to be scattered. They don't make sense. They cause pain or regret. They make you worry and stressed. You wonder if they'll ever be resolved. Whether it's the grief you're carrying, or a point of failure in your life that makes you feel like a hypocrite, or a general sense that there is something missing in your life, these loose ends become burdens that keep you awake at night and make you wonder if you can really get through life at all. It seems like everything is unclear, hazy, hard to see clearly.

Isaiah, God's prophet, was a man who observed firsthand the brutality of the world and its injustices. Folks, if you are listening to this program for the first time, let me say it plainly; the Bible is a realistic, down to earth book about life. Isaiah, the prophet, described the problems of our lives as those "who walk in darkness and have no light" (Isaiah 50:10).

Darkness, not dusk; darkness, not cloudy vision; darkness, unable to see clearly, unable to move forward; that's what life can feel like when you realize that even your best is not enough for what really matters! The darkness Holly experienced was a lot like people today, she didn't lack intelligence; she had some personal accomplishments in life. She experienced darkness because none of that fit together, it really didn't seem to matter. There was still an intense longing for something more, at the soul level, the heart level. She didn't even live up to her own ideals; let alone those of the Bible, and what if that really mattered?

But let me say this to you too. If you are experiencing that kind of darkness, the kind of yearning amidst the chaos, that, my friend, is the time when light is such a welcome friend; that is the time when light is so different, so radical, and yet such a blessing.

Holly loved literature, deep thinking, and compelling authors and poets, and in her reading she found out that some of the most compelling writers were Christians, people of deep faith; names like C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Gerard Manley Hopkins, George Herbert, John Donne, and others. Their writings weren't caricatures; it didn't fit into neat categories. It seemed to infuse all of their lives, their thinking, their actions.

She said that, "It was like a vision of the world that was richly meaningful and beautiful, that also made sense of both joy and sorrow, the light and the dark, a way that I could see and experience."

She confessed, "The Christian claim may not be true, but it had depth to it that was worth investigating."

Well, let me say it to you even more plainly. This isn't about a Christian philosophy of life that might be deeper, more meaningful than another way of thinking. The Christian life, the life of faith in Christianity, is different because it all depends on the person and work of Jesus for you, for me, for all, especially for all who believe.

If you are being prompted today to investigate those yearnings for meaning, for something that holds things together, there is nothing else like faith in Jesus Christ for all things.

People don't realize that the proclamation of the Good News of the Bible is not that this is some new way for you and me to get our act together. The proclamation of the Bible is the public news that God has come to get the world's act together on His own terms, by His work, so that you and I can truly have life that is meaningful, life that lasts!

I think that's why King Solomon, one of the richest and most accomplished people in the ancient world, astutely noted that God has "set eternity in the hearts of men" (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). Human beings, especially sinful ones like us, we won't find rest in our hearts and souls until we find rest with the God Who created and redeemed us!

Have you felt that? Do you sense that now? Do you get up in the morning and know that there has to be more to this life than what you face day in and day out? If you do, you're right! That's God Himself tugging at your heart and soul. Let me assure you that in Him, His Word, His promises, the eternal things of life are near, not far away. The Bible's message is that God comes with Good News when life is full of bad news. God comes with light, when all there is is darkness. Faith takes Him at His Word now and forever.

The whole story of Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter morning; the story of Jesus is a story of God coming down to meet you where you are to bring you back to Himself.

The failure you experience in your life, Jesus came to forgive you. The wounds that give you pain, Jesus came to heal you. The hopelessness that paralyzes you, Jesus came to conquer death so that you can have new and everlasting hope. The feeling that there is something more to life; Jesus came to sacrifice Himself for you, so that you can be filled with His love and purpose.

So often people think that the Christian message is just another religious teaching about do's and don'ts to get God off of your back and to show others how much better you are than they are.

Wrong! Way wrong! The message of the Christian Church is an offer from God to all by grace; it's an offer of a relationship with a living Person who would, if you would allow it, actually do something to change and transform you into a new person, a person fully alive.

Fully alive, that's something only God can do. Fitting together, holding together, that's something only God can do and in Jesus Christ He did it. He does it for all who believe.

That's what the Apostle Paul celebrated. In many ways, his life was a lot like Holly's. He was caught up in his intellect and accomplishments. But Jesus came down to him to give him new life. He said in his letter to the people in Ephesus: "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ" (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV).

Truth, the reality of God in action, that's the only thing that pushes away the darkness. Holly realized that God was telling the truth. Holly, the skeptic, realized that the Bible wasn't myth or fable, but Jesus in action in the real world with a solution that only God could accomplish. Isaiah, the prophet, proclaimed that too. He directed people who walked in darkness with no light to "Trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God."

And that's what you and I can do today too, right now. That yearning in your heart can give way to faith in Jesus by the power of His Spirit-filled Word. You, right now, can pray to God as Father knowing that He hears and answers and cares. How do I know? The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the One Who went to the cross, Who went to hell and back for you and me, Who rose from the dead, He told me so in His Word.

And that kind of faith lasts, my friend. It changes lives, it holds because it trusts in Jesus Christ Whose hold on you and me doesn't give way. And, know this, you're not alone. You are not alone. People have been discovering this good news for thousands of years that Christ is with them and we are with Him.

Even right there, at the literal cross of Jesus in history, a Roman soldier saw what was happening: the earth shaking, the darkness that enveloped the earth, the forgiveness that Jesus spoke to His enemies, and that soldier declared, "Truly this was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:54).

Three hundred and fifty years later, a man name Augustine was moved after hearing the life stories of two Christian men. Augustine was 31 years old. He was not a Christian, but as he pondered the lives of these men, he heard a child's voice saying, "Take and read." So he did. He opened a Bible and he read it. He was struck by the kindness exhibited in the verses he read. He realized that he was living selfishly, but that Jesus would transform his life. That very day, Augustine, now known as Saint Augustine, came to faith in Jesus. He wrote this truth about life with Christ: "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you."

Sixteen centuries later, a woman named Joy Davidson, an atheist who became enamored with political causes in the 1940s, became disillusioned with her life. Her political pursuits became meaningless. Her marriage was a mess. In the pit of despair she said, "For the first time my pride was forced to admit that I was not, after all, 'the master of my fate'. . . All my defenses - all the walls of arrogance and self-love behind which I hid from God - they went down momentarily - and God came in."

Joy, like Holly, began to read people who wrestled with such questions and later discovered that there was no one like Jesus in all the religions in all the world. Incredibly, her life changed dramatically as she shared deeps questions with a writer named C.S. Lewis. Soon they became friends. Then, they eventually married. Surprise, surprise....or as Lewis once wrote "Surprised by Joy." The joy of Christ that even brought him and Joy together; two former atheists became two people who influenced thousands upon thousands with the beautiful truth of new life in Jesus. Their discovery of Jesus paved the way for Holly to see Jesus too.

Who knows what surprises God has in store for you and me?

Well, let the first surprise be that there is something more for you. Isaiah the prophet said, "Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God" (Isaiah 50:10).

God Himself, He is that more for you and me. You can trust Jesus Christ. You can rely on the Servant of the Lord; the Savior Jesus Who died and rose again from the dead.

That changed Holly's life. She knew that there was something more--Someone who loved her and gave His life for her, Someone who transformed her life with His grace. She could truly trust in the Lord and rely on her Savior God. It was a delightful surprise, a surprise that gave power and strength to face whatever came her way each and every day.

And that's the surprise God wants you to have too, my friend. In this message, He is calling your name to Himself. He is challenging you to see that He has so much more in store for you; more than you can imagine or think. It might even cause you to see blessings that are even now right in front of you.

Incredibly, that happened to Holly too. She liked fencing. Yeah, that's right, fencing. Now, I don't think I'd be very good at that. My wife tells me that I actually need to stay away from sharp objects like that. I agree. I do know this; if I wanted to fence, I would need a coach, and a good one!

But who would imagine that a fencing coach would become a blessing from God, one who could make a difference, not just in your parry and thrust; but in your heart and soul.

But that's exactly what God sent Holly's way. She had worked with this coach for about a year. She learned he was a Christian. He was an exemplary coach. She said, "He was intelligent, thoughtful, very patient" (and she admitted that she wasn't the easiest student!) He really cared about her too. He listened. He answered her questions and more than anything he introduced her to Jesus!

In their conversations, puzzle pieces were falling together, things started to fit. That's the something more that God has in store for all who put their faith in Him. That's what He can provide for you today!

Today's the day that you can pray and know Jesus to be your Helper and Savior. Today's the day you can share the hope you have in Jesus with someone you love. Today's the day you can believe that Jesus loves you, has forgiven your sins, and gives you the gift of eternal life. Today's the day you can be freed from grief or guilt, from addiction or oppression, from self-doubt or self-criticism and begin to live life again.

There is something more! There is something beyond! But even more, that Something, better Someone, is here for you right now. It's the crucified, risen and living Lord Jesus Christ, offering His life and salvation to all who believe!

And here is an invitation that only God can make true for all. It doesn't matter where you've been; today can be that day in Him when you find out that more, much more is here for you. That's Isaiah's word. That's Holly's testimony. She was even willing to put it in print in her book, "Not God's Type." Why, to tell anyone, everyone, that Christ came so that all can believe and be saved, be His own.

And if you want to find out more about Him, this Savior Jesus Who loves you and gave His life for you, you can contact us here at the Lutheran Hour because we are dedicated to make Him known to anyone who will listen because He brings abundant life to all who put their trust in Him. To that end, God bless you today and always!


LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for September 13, 2015
Topic: What Is The Secret to Being Truly Content?

ANNOUNCER: Now, Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions from listeners. I'm Mark Eischer. Pastor, we are in the afterglow of Labor Day as it were and a listener asks, "What is the secret to being truly content?"

SELTZ: Wow, maybe that goes to the heart of it. That question touches on a huge need in our culture. People are searching for true peace, genuine contentment, but we're living in a hurried world. People can barely take a breath to rest or reflect or even develop meaningful relationships. We are in a culture obsessed with acquiring more and more and more things, from the newest cars, the latest clothes, and the most updated technology.

ANNOUNCER: Well, advertisers tell us we won't be satisfied until we do what they say and buy what they sell.

SELTZ: Right and our labor, then, is another way we work to fill that emptiness. But sadly, we are looking for satisfaction and fulfillment in the wrong places. In fact, all the things we seek for happiness don't seem to be making us happy.

ANNOUNCER: Plenty of evidence for that: broken relationships, people ruined by addictions, a culture that seems to grow in anger and anxiety, and a general purposelessness that so many feel.

SELTZ: Well, then, the big question is the one our listener asked. "What is the secret to genuine contentment?"

ANNOUNCER: And we hope you have an answer.

SELTZ: Well, the Bible does, that's for sure. One of its writers, a man named Paul, once sought contentment in notoriety, in accomplishments, in his academic prowess, in his dominance of others. But he was living an empty life. Finally, Jesus stepped in. After seeing that the Son of God loved him, forgave him, and had a unique and constructive purpose for his life, listen to what Paul said. He said: "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content......I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13).

ANNOUNCER: And we find that verse in Philippians, chapter four.

SELTZ: Yeah, and I've seen it written on t-shirts, banners, e-mail tags, bumper stickers. It seems like people are holding on to this verse because it shows the secret to true contentment that in all things Jesus gives strength.

ANNOUNCER: So being at peace doesn't come from what we do, but from what God provides through His Son.

SELTZ: Exactly. Stuff actually causes more worry and anxiety. Our achievements will all come to an end. But Jesus took all of our imperfections, our flaws, and failures and He paid the price for them. So we have hope no matter what happens in life because of Him.

ANNOUNCER: So, in Christ we have a rock-solid foundation, then, to navigate a world that would try to have us find satisfaction in all the wrong things.

SELTZ: We do. We know that everything in this world, it's all temporary and that real satisfaction is in our Savior who loves us unconditionally. For everything and every situation, I am strong because of the One who strengthens me. In Him, I have enough.

ANNOUNCER: Saint Augustine once said: "Our hearts are restless until it finds rest in thee," meaning God.

SELTZ: It's so simple, right? But it is so true.

ANNOUNCER: But not easy.

SELTZ: It's also not easy. You're right. C.S. Lewis used to talk about yearnings we have in life. He said that if some of our yearnings can't be fully satisfied by what this world offers or by what we accomplish; he said it this way: "There must be greater satisfaction for us elsewhere." And so he pointed to the ultimate fulfillment we have in our relationship with Jesus.

ANNOUNCER: And C.S. Lewis was no pushover. He was an academic and a former atheist when he came to faith.

SELTZ: Lewis was no pushover either, that's for sure. He realized that so many people have over the years; that God is real, that Christ truly rose from the dead, and that living for the present isn't only what we're meant for. There is a connection between us and God--a connection established by Him and rooted in His love for us.

ANNOUNCER: So, this abundant life that we crave, that's the gift God wants to give us through Christ.

SELTZ: Well said. So, as our listener searches for the secret of contentment, I can give some counterintuitive direction for life. Instead of searching for more, God calls us to be still and know Him. Instead of seeking satisfaction in things, Jesus calls us to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. Instead of worry, God calls us to prayer. Instead of protecting what we own, God calls us to generosity and thankfulness. Contentment comes from Him who gives us strength.

ANNOUNCER: That's a powerful way to live life!

SELTZ: Absolutely!

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz, and we thank our listener for that question. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Action in Ministry for September 13, 2015
Guest: Rev. Michael Tanney

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour and this is Action In Ministry. Pastor Seltz, today you reminded us that there is something more. God works all things together for good for those who put their trust in Him, but there are other forces at work in a spiritual battle between good and evil.

SELTZ: Mark, Satan is the great deceiver. He'd like nothing better than to take our longing for something more and twist our thoughts in such a fashion that we would eventually doubt God's love and instead buy into his lies.

ANNOUNCER: And our next guest encountered this in a very personal way. First of all serving as a missionary in Venezuela. His name is Reverend Michael Tanney and he is a pastor here in St. Louis. His story is featured in an online Bible study titled: Great Deceiver. And in just a few moments we'll tell you how you can view or download that Bible study for free. Pastor Tanney, thanks for joining us.

TANNEY: You're welcome.

SELTZ: Pastor Tanney, here is an eye-opening statistic. According to one survey, only about one-third of Christians believe Satan is real and about twice as many believe he is merely a symbol of evil. What do we know about Satan? How do we know he's real?

TANNEY: Just think about what God had to do in order to free us from the captivity of Satan as sin entered this world. He had to send His Son Jesus to be our Redeemer and free us to be home with Him.

SELTZ: He literally had to die on the cross to do this.

TANNEY: He sure did.

ANNOUNCER: In the Bible study, you describe an encounter you had with these demonic forces as a missionary in Venezuela. Tell us about that.

TANNEY: That's correct. It all began with this 16-year old at a Lutheran youth gathering. And it just kind of set the stage that the Lord was going to put this ministry in my lap, where then, through this experience, over 60 other exorcisms or deliverances were done in the time I was there in Venezuela.

SELTZ: And then you even have been dealing with some of that even here in St. Louis.
TANNEY: That's right. The Lord is opening doors here too.

ANNOUNCER: And tell us a little bit about the specific spiritual tools that you brought to bear on that demonic situation. What was it that helped break through?

TANNEY: Well, it's always helpful to be on a team because the one who is actually doing the confrontation of these demons, the other two are praying and are in the Word.

ANNOUNCER: Prayer and the Word.

TANNEY: So you have these incredible tools that the Spirit gives you for discernment, for understanding, for knowledge; just giving you ideas from His Word and in prayer that He will just talk to you and reveal how to go about a deliverance like this one.

SELTZ: In today's sermon we were talking about people thinking something more, there's got to be something more available. So the theme even that's in the Bible; when life is dark and Satan is pouring it on, how can we know God is still greater?

TANNEY: Just that Name, Jesus Christ.

SELTZ: A powerful thing too to think about. That's what baptism is-God puts His Name on you. That's for your protection. It's for your blessing. It's more than just don't curse, don't swear, don't misuse His Name. It's live in the power, the protection, and the joy of His Name too like you're talking about. Once that has you, these other things have to cease.

ANNOUNCER: We invite you to go online to view or download our Bible study, The Great Deceiver. Go to lutheranhour.org and look for the tab there that says Action In Ministry. Again, that's lutheranhour.org.

SELTZ: You know this is powerful stuff, Pastor Tanney. It really is. Your online Bible study, I know it shares stories of others who have experienced the oppression of Satan's schemes, but what you've said with us today, which I think is really important for our listeners, is it proclaims also the power and victory of Christ that they can have in their lives.

TANNEY: It's exciting.

SELTZ: And that's what's so exciting. It's so great to be here with you.

TANNEY: Thank you.

Music Selections for this program:

"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"I Am Content! My Jesus Ever Lives" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)


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