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Subject: The Lutheran Hour: February 14, 2016 "Call on Him"

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Email Us button greenSermon Text for February 14, 2016 

"Call on Him" #83-24

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on February 14, 2016
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
Copyright 2016 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: Romans 10:11-13 

For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:11-13)

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

You just heard the Apostle Paul speak some incredibly bold words, wouldn't you agree?

Everyone who calls on the Lord Jesus Christ will not be put to shame. Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. Everyone. Let's talk about that. Everyone? Really? Is there any fine print in Romans, chapter ten? You know about fine print, don't you?

Fine print spells out exclusions in contracts. Fine print tells prescription users that the medicine is not really for everyone because some side effects can exclude people from its effectiveness. Fine print says that even though what is being marketed is for everyone, it's not really for everyone.

So, is there any fine print in Romans, chapter ten? Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will not be put to shame. Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. Does the Word really mean everyone or is there some fine print somewhere excluding people from this bold promise?

Where's the fine print in Romans 10? Nowhere. You won't find it there or anywhere else in the Bible. In fact, the Apostle Paul makes a radical statement here. He says, "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him" (Romans 10:12)."There is no distinction between Jew and Greek." That might not sound radical to you, but back in Paul's day it was like saying there is absolutely no distinction between the most holy person you can think of and the most unholy sinner you can imagine. "The same Lord is Lord of all," he said, "bestowing his riches on all who call on him."

There is no fine print here. Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus will not be put to shame. Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. That means YOU, too. If you call on the Name of the Lord, you will be saved. When it comes down to whether God can save you, it doesn't matter how much you've sinned. It doesn't matter if you don't fit into society's acceptable categories. It doesn't matter if you're in prison or you're sitting in a corporate office. God promises that when you believe, He is your source of help and you call upon Him, you will be saved. This promise is for both scholars and the uneducated. It is for people with any faith background or no faith background. It is for outsiders and insiders. There are no exceptions. There is no fine print. Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will not be put to shame. Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.

But, you might be asking, what does it mean then to call on the Name of the Lord? There's the catch, right?

Jesus told us a story to help us understand it. Listen to the Gospel writer Luke. He says this: [Jesus] told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: "Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: 'Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people-robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and I tithe on all my income.' Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not even daring to look up, said, 'God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner'" (Luke 18:9-13 MSG).

Then Jesus said this, "I tell you that this man, (the tax man) rather than the other went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and who humbles himself he will be exalted"(Luke 18:10-14 NIV).

What does it mean to call on the Name of the Lord? It's not a catch, nor is it merely going through some religious motions. Calling on the Lord involves a real cry for help because you know you really need it. The posture of calling on God your Savior means you've forsaken yourself, your power, your solutions, and your plans. Jesus is Lord, not you. You know it, you believe it! 

Just recently a man in Arizona decided to go rock climbing with no gear and no supplies. It was a spur of the moment decision to scale Camelback Mountain. He had never tried to rock climb before and he made it about fifty feet up a sheer cliff face when he found that he was stuck. It was too steep to go up and much too difficult to go back down. There he was, helpless. 

Now, mind you, this was no weakling. He was a strapping twenty-one-year-old with plenty of power and daring. But there was nothing he could do. His brawn, his bravery, and his brains couldn't get him out of the mess. So what did he do? He managed to pull out the cell phone he had tucked into his underwear before starting the climb, and he called 911 for help.

That's a glimpse of what it means to call on the Name of the Lord. You realize you need help. You come to the understanding that you're stuck. You see very clearly that in your present situation your life cannot last. So humbly, you call on the One Who can help. You're no longer in charge. You call on the Name of the Lord. Like the tax collector you say, "God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner."

In order to rescue the Arizona man stuck on the side of a mountain, first responders had to climb the cliff face and then rappel down to get him. Once safely on the ground, this young man said, "It was the stupidest thing I probably ever did. I'll never do it again." You don't hear too many twenty-one year olds make that kind of admission. The posture of calling out for help is one of utter honesty and humility; but calling on the Name of the Lord means even more.

You call on Jesus not only because you're helpless and ready. You call on Him because He is real, He is near you, and He has conquered the greatest obstacle known to humanity-the obstacle of death. You call on Him because He is alive and He's with you to save you. The Apostle Paul put it this way: "The word of God is near you, in your mouth, in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, 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 10:8-9).

Calling on the Lord Jesus is your spiritual 911 call. You're calling on the One who can help you. Like those first responders in Arizona, Jesus climbed up a mountain and then went down into the depths in order to rescue you. He carried His cross to Calvary, the Mount of His crucifixion. He bled and died, forsaken by God, to pay the price for all your trouble and sin. He descended even into hell to declare victory over the spiritual forces of darkness that want to destroy you forever. Then He rose up from the grave and in baptism He brings you up with Him so that you can walk in newness of life. You call on the Lord not only because of your trouble, but because of His triumph. He is mighty to save.

It's a turnaround in life. Pride is gone. Ego is slain. All the things you put your confidence in are seen as they really are-temporary comforts or entertainments. Your plans are realigned. The way you organize the world and the opinions you create are suddenly distilled to a humble cry to the One Who is really running the show. But God doesn't embarrass you. He doesn't scold you or tell you, "I told you so." He mercifully embraces you, speaks His love and care into your ears, and sets you on your feet again with His life-renewing grace.

And that's it. That's it. That's what it means to call on the Name of the Lord. The Apostle Paul meant what he said: Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will not be put to shame. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

There is no fine print. There is no need to get your act together or get yourself off the cliff before you call for help. There is no requirement to jump through hoops of tradition or align yourself with the correct institutional practices. You just call on Him. What cliff are you on right now? Now is the time for you to call on the Lord Jesus?

I love the honesty of the Biblical writers. There was no pretense and no game playing. Psalm 46 says it this way, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalms 46:1). God invites us in Psalm 50: "Call upon him in the day of trouble; I will deliver you," he said," and you shall glorify me"(Psalms 50:15). Like I've said to you before, Psalm 121 says honestly, "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth" (Psalms 121:1-2).

It's that simple. It also feels risky and can be messy in the crazy life you and I live. But the invitation and promise are clear: everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will not be put to shame. Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. Everyone.

A number of years ago, a man by the name of Walt Tomlinson desperately wanted to find his brother. Nearly fifty years earlier his mother had to give up her sons when her marriage failed and her health declined. She had no way to care for two little ones, so, in 1944; she gave them up for adoption. Walt's adoptive parents knew he had a brother, but never had records of his birth family. After waiting for nearly half a century, Walt decided to do some searching. He knew his mother's maiden name was Dukes and that she grew up in Waycross, Georgia. So, taking a deep breath, he picked up the phone and randomly called someone with the last name Dukes in Waycross. This would probably be a long and drawn out search, but at least he was beginning-or so he thought. The person he called knew his family. In ten minutes, Walt located his brother, his mother, and his family. Soon, he was reunited. He didn't realize it, but all he had to do was call. The predicament seemed so complicated and so difficult, but the answer was so simple.

You may feel like your predicament is also complicated. But, with Jesus, help is near. Grace is close by. The answer is simple: everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will not be put to shame. Everyone who calls on the His Name will be saved. Right now, will you call on Him today?

You may be frightened or hesitant. I understand that. You may be afraid of being hurt or rejected. You may wonder if there is any help out there for a person in your situation. But God's Word to you today is not a wish. It's not a dream. It's a promise, a commitment from Him. Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will not be put to shame. Everyone who calls on Him will be saved. 

These words quoted by Paul are actually quotes from hundreds of years even before his time. He relied on these words for his own life. His own rebellion, hatred, and wrongdoing covered him with shame. But he read first a word of promise from the book of Isaiah, that everyone who believes would not be put to shame. This verse was written in the context of a corrupt society in which leaders, both religious and non-religious, were oppressing the poor and the powerless. Evil had taken the upper hand. The world seemed to be falling apart. Into that hopelessness God promised restoration: everyone who put their faith and trust in God would not be put to shame. When Paul's life was falling apart because of his own failure and weakness, he had this promise to believe in. Today our world seems like it's falling apart sometimes too. You need a promise to believe in too, don't you? I know I do, and that's what is here for both of us!

Paul reminds us again of the certainty of God's promise. He pulls another quote from the Old Testament book of Joel. Joel spoke to a stubborn people who needed to return to God. They were suffering the consequences of selfish lives that pushed God away. Joel let them know that even for them there was hope. 

Is anything pulling you away from the One who loves you and who will make your life complete? Today is the day to set all things aside and call on Him for forgiveness, for His life, for His salvation! 

And know this; you're not calling a stranger, have no fear. You're not even making the first move. Your Savior God has known you before the world was created. Ephesians 1 declares: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:3-4). 
God is no stranger in your life. In fact, He made the first call. He's been after each one of us from the very foundations of the world, the Bible says. He wants you to put your trust in Him, to receive the life and salvation that only He can give! Isaiah keeps it simple when He says, "Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine'" (Isaiah 43:1).

God knows you. He called you. He sent His Son to save you. Jesus lives and walks with you today. That's why today's the day for you to hear God's invitation, once made to all in Acts 2 where St. Peter said,"Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself" (Acts 2:38-39). 

In Jesus Christ, God called you His own. That promise is for you today. Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame. That's what I want for you right now too. That's what Jesus wants for you forever. Call on Him. Trust in Him. Believe in Him. You'll be glad that you did, now and more importantly, forever. 


LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for February 14, 2016
Topic: What Is The Season of Lent?

ANNOUNCER: Now, Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions. I'm Mark Eischer and today the question is, "What is the season of Lent?" 

SELTZ: It's interesting, Mark, that people who are connected with a church and those who are not have some familiarity with the season of Lent.

ANNOUNCER: In some parts of the country, even fast food restaurants publicize Friday fish menus.

SELTZ: Right. So people may have heard the term but they may not fully understand its meaning. So let's be concise. First, Lent is about a six-week period before Easter, the day of the resurrection of Jesus. It's actually forty days from Ash Wednesday-the first day of Lent-through Holy Saturday, the final day of the season just before Easter Sunday. The forty days of preparation include every day except the Sundays because Sunday is always a celebration of Jesus' resurrection.

ANNOUNCER: All right. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and the theme there is repentance; the acknowledgement that we will all return to dust when we die because of sin. It seems like a very somber time.

SELTZ: Let me explain the spirit of the season this way. Lent is a time for penitence, for preparation, and for pardon. You already mentioned the penitential spirit of the season. 

ANNOUNCER: Right, because we focus on the sacrifice of Jesus for us, His suffering in our place, His death on the cross for our sins. 

SELTZ: Right, during Lent, we see our own sin vividly. Psalm 51 captures the spirit of true penitence or repentance. Remember King David said, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned" (Psalms 51:1-4 ESV).

ANNOUNCER: Those are very honest and humble words. In contrast we're often too busy to assess our spiritual needs; we're too distracted, maybe even too proud.

SELTZ: These days, it's very easy for us to ignore our sin and failure, try to excuse it, or bypass it, or just simply say, "Well, God forgives me." Lent helps us slow down and focus on the truth of what it really means to come before a holy God in our corrupt condition. 

ANNOUNCER: Lent seems also to show us the truth that confessing our sin brings us back to the reality that we can't make it through life on our own. 

SELTZ: Exactly, We need God's forgiveness. We need His restoration. We need to take stock of ourselves so God can grow us and change us. 

ANNOUNCER: That's where the preparation comes in. During Lent, people might adopt practices that allow them to better focus on who God is and how He calls us to repentance. Some people have traditionally given things up for Lent. In the Middle Ages people gave up eating meat. I suppose, that's why, today, we have this idea of fish on Fridays.

SELTZ: Right. Personal sacrifice served as a reminder of our need for God's grace and mercy. It was an outward signal that we are not self-sufficient and we are not calling all the shots in our life. We need God's presence; we need His wisdom at all times. 

ANNOUNCER: On the other hand, some people take up something new for Lent-perhaps daily Scripture reading, dedicated prayer time, family devotions.

SELTZ: I really like that. All of these practices help us prepare during the season of Lent-not only for the celebration of Easter, but to live as God's people, shining His light of truth and grace into a dark and chaotic world, including into our own lives. In fact, Mark, Lent was a time when many new believers were preparing for baptism. It was a time to get to know God and to come before Him honestly and humbly.

ANNOUNCER: And that's where the pardon comes in.

SELTZ: It's very important for every listener to know that the season of Lent, though penitential and reflective, is not a season of hopelessness. We don't pretend that Jesus didn't conquer death and wash our sins away. 

ANNOUNCER: For the Christian, always underlying these weeks of Lent, indeed every single day of our lives, is the immense love of God to forgive our sins and make us new again in Christ. 

SELTZ: Lent reminds us of that too over and over and over again. The culmination of the season of Lent is Good Friday; the day Jesus gave His life for us on the cross. It's no coincidence that a central focus of Lent is the passion of Jesus. The word, "passion," Mark, describes not only the suffering and death of Jesus, but His great love for all people.

ANNOUNCER: The season of Lent: a time for penitence, preparation, and pardon.

SELTZ: A message all people need to hear today, 

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries. 

Action in Ministry for February 14, 2016
Guest: Dr. Stephen Hower 

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to The Lutheran Hour. Up next in today's Action in Ministry segment, Pastor Seltz talks with author Stephen Hower about a resource he's written titled Reasons to Believe. 

SELTZ: The truth of salvation is so clear to those who have been called to believe, but others, they struggle, they struggle with this. Tell us a little bit about this challenge. 

HOWER: There are so many messages coming at people and even different spiritual messages. Why should they believe our message? Why should they believe the Christian message? I think there is good reasons that we do believe.

SELTZ: For instance, how can history help us, in some sense, validate Scripture?

HOWER: It's not only the history of the Bible, it's the history outside the Bible that verifies the events of the Bible. The Bible is unlike any other book; it's a historic book. It can be examined. It can be examined in other people's history; in Egyptian history, in Phoenician history, in Syrian history. There are places that you can examine that still exist in archaeology is another reason. It has proven the history of the Bible to be accurate. 

SELTZ: Well, the other thing too is, and I talk about this all the time, this is a historical faith. If you can prove the history is wrong, the whole thing comes unraveled and yet, at the same time, that means your history matters to God too. 

HOWER: That's right.

SELTZ: That's really important. 

HOWER: And there are other faiths that have books that purport to have places in reference times and when you examine them, they just don't exist.

SELTZ: They don't hold up.

HOWER: And so you say, if the history isn't right, then I doubt that the teaching is right. But you should do just the reverse and say, if the history bears up, then you've got to trust the message. 

SELTZ: Let's go back to archaeology too. Jesus even says, if you guys won't talk about Me, I'll have the stones cry out. 

HOWER: Exactly.

SELTZ: In some sense, that's proclaiming, right? So, talk about a God Who's actually leaving testimony in the dirt. It's kind of neat, right?

HOWER: It's exactly right and people have mocked some of the things that are taught in the Bible and then they are discovered archaeologically and they have to backtrack. But we can know that that archaeology actually gives us confidence to believe those people existed; there's evidence of them being there; therefore the Bible bears up. 

SELTZ: Yeah, people don't realize this but just 100 years ago there were pastors who said Jesus didn't exist. 

HOWER: There were.

SELTZ: Now they've been made to look pretty foolish. But the other thing you talked about, and I don't think we've focused on this enough, that prophetic fulfillment; how important that really is and then when you look at the life of Christ and you look at how it fulfilled so many prophecies, how can people not say this Guy is unique?

HOWER: Just in relation to His birth, but also in relation to His death, the two most important teachings of the Christian church is that He was truly God Incarnate. He was Immanuel, God With Us. But when you look at the prophecies, even Nathaniel, he said, "Can anything good come out of Galilee?" He knew the prophecy said He had to be born in Bethlehem; but Jesus was from Nazareth, so He can't be the Messiah. He didn't know that He had come out of Nazareth, that He was born in Bethlehem, that He would flee to Egypt; there are so many prophecies even about His birth that seem contradictory and they are so complex that no one else could make the claim of being Messiah. He did come out of Zebulun. He did come out of the land of Naphtali, from Galilee. He was born in Bethlehem. He did come out of Egypt. Who else has done that?

SELTZ: And you can't even fashion that. 

HOWER: No, you couldn't make that up. So that prophecy, as complex and as apparently contradicting as it is, is important to verify that Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah. 

SELTZ: There is no way that two peasant folks are going to be able to make all that happen so that it matches up perfectly.


SELTZ: Let's go one more further. In your book you talk about the miracles of God including the miracle of Jesus' resurrection, but I honestly like what you said too, the miracle of His incarnation too. Even that seems to justify this sense of saying there's nobody like this Jesus and you really need to come to get to know Him. Tell us, in this booklet, the stakes are really high; why is that?

HOWER: They are high because Jesus is not just a Man Who brought us the Word of God, He was the Word made Flesh. He was God Incarnate walking among us. It's interesting that people have trouble believing in miracles. I said that there are miracles all around you. I have no trouble believing in miracles. The idea of snowflakes are miraculous; no two can be identified as the same; or that a butterfly could actually migrate to Mexico...additional generations of those butterflies will actually migrate back to the very same place that their parents came from...there are countless miracles...so don't tell me you don't believe in miracles. Just tell me you have a hard time accepting the miracles of Scripture. 

SELTZ: And the greatest miracle of all is that we come to faith in this Jesus. It's so wonderful. So, once again, the name of the booklet is Reasons to Believe. You remind us that Christian belief will always be a matter of faith; but it's faith based on evidence. It's faith based on stuff that we can look at and examine. Pastor Steven Hower, thank you for joining us today.

HOWER: Hey, thanks for having me and I appreciate what you are doing. 

SELTZ: It's a pleasure and that's our Action in Ministry segment today to bless, to empower, and to strengthen your life in Christ for others. 

ANNOUNCER: For your free copy of Reasons to Believe, call The Lutheran Hour toll free 1-855-john 316. That's 1-855-564-6316. Our email address is info@lhm.org. 

Music Selections for this program:
"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"O Lord, Throughout These Forty Days" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)


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