O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Be with God Now
"Be with God Now"
Based on Mt. 6:19-34
Preached on March 21, 2012
Click on the Play button
to listen to the Sermon.
Fellow baptized saints, where you would you say your mind is most of the time - in the past, in the present moment, or in the future? When you wake up and take a shower, are you in the shower, or are your thoughts elsewhere, perhaps about what is coming up that day? When you lay down to go to sleep at night, are you in your bed, or are your thoughts jumping through a playground of Time - stewing over things that happened in the past, and anxiously worrying about the unknown future? The passing of time does a funny thing to our minds, doesn't it? If we aren't careful we can find ourselves wishing we were home while we are at work, and then worrying about the next work day while we are at home. Not exactly the way life is supposed to be, is it?
Tonight, we have yet another report from our spy within the Devil's camp. The latest briefings and training of the demons have focused on distorting time. Tricking us into abusing God's gift of time. But before we get into the details of our report, let us take a quick look at time itself. Let us find out how God wants us to understand His gift of time.
It may sound funny to hear, but we are creatures. Created in time as part of God's creation. Yet mankind is a special part of God's creation, different from all the rest. Mankind lives in time, but God destines us for eternity. He has placed eternity in our hearts. So we are a handmade hybrid of God. A hybrid that is focused on this present moment, but also on the eternity for which we have been destined. The best part is that because we are God's special hybrid - our eternal God comes to be with us in Time.
When? Right Now. In the Present. He doesn't meet us in the past. He doesn't meet us in the Future. He is here now - in the only real moment that is actually taking place - in the only reality that you actually experience. The Past is frozen and no longer flows. The Future isn't real, and it may never be. But the Present is lit up with all of God's eternal rays. It is the only place where His face shines - the only place where you can be with Him - the only place where He speaks His holy Word, His forgiveness, peace, comfort, security, hope and love. This is where He wants to meet you. His Presence is with you now. And now. And now.
How can our minds understand God's eternal presence and His Divine Majesty, which can in its fullness be in a single page of this book, above the page, on the page, throughout the page, inside and out, for He has made it all, yet also for every page in every book in the whole world - and still be completely beyond the entire world in all of His fullness? This Majestic eternal God wants you to be present with Him in the now - every moment of your life - meditating on His presence here with you, receiving His present grace, bearing your present cross, obeying His present voice of conscience, and giving thanks for the present pleasure. This is how God wants you to understand and live in His gift of time.
But as tonight's report details, the Devil hates when you experience even one holy moment with God. His goal is to keep you away from the present and the eternal. He wants you to focus on all of the other corners of Time. He drudges up the Past like a professional, reminding you of all of the things you want to leave behind - the things for which God has already forgiven you. He wants you to spend your time regretting - living in remorse with your neck turned back so that you cannot see what God is offering you now, in the present. He whispers "you can't forgive yourself" - "you can't forgive yourself" as if you are God and have the power to forgive even one of your own sins. He draws your eyes away from God's forgiveness to your past sins, and leaves you there to rot.
But even with its deep pitfalls, the Past is not his weapon of choice. After all, gratitude and thankfulness, appreciation and gratefulness look to the Past - they marvel at what God has done in the Past, but the Future - ohhh, the Future - that is the Devil's playground - his torture chamber. The Future is where the Evil One always wins, because the Future is the least like eternity. It isn't real. It is a bombardment of different unrealities. Things that he can make you meditate on, that he can make spin through your head over and over, that will never happen. When you are thinking about the Future, you are the farthest away from God, because you have waded out into the oceans of uncertainty. You are caught in the middle. Your sights have fallen short of the glory of God in eternity, and have landed in unknown earthly scenarios all of which keep you from being in the present moment with God. Without a doubt, the Future is the ultimate challenge to faith.
Consider what great trouble comes upon you when you set your mind on the earthly Future. It is like opening your front door to welcome in sin, for all vices have their roots in the Future. Fear, for example, is not an emotion of what is happening, but of what may happen in the Future. Fear robs you of peace now, in the present. Fear reaches into your heart from the Future and takes your security and comfort and peace, then slams the door leaving you alone. How wretched! Yet all of the other vices do the same thing - greed always wants more for the Future and robs you of being satisfied now - lust looks at what you could have and blinds you from what you already have - ambition looks ahead to what you could be one day, and ignores what you have accomplished. The Devil wants you to always be asking yourself "what's next?" - to chase the end of the rainbow never being happy now, honest now, or kind now, because you are throwing what God gives you now onto the altar of the Future.
God wants you to work all day for the good of your children and their children in whatever vocation He has called you to, then wash your mind of the subject, commit the issue to Heaven, and return at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over you.
And this is what we see from Christ. Christ took each day as it came. He trusted His Father to provide. He trusted His Father to deliver Him. He lived this way because His true treasure was His Father. Christ knew He had everything - even all eternity - when He was present in the moment with His Father - yet even when His Father told Him to give that away on the cross - Christ willingly obeyed.
He gave up His only treasure - and He did it for you. He was forsaken by the Father, so that you could have the greatest treasure imaginable - the perfect presence of Almighty God. His whole life is yours in your Baptism. Because He has lived this way, you have lived this way. Because Christ has perfectly fulfilled each moment, you have perfectly fulfilled each moment. He is your ticket to the Father, but He is more than that. He is the strength you need to face each day, the power to keep the past and the future from your mind. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. So when He tells you that not to be anxious about tomorrow, you have reason to trust Him. When He calls you to be with Him right now, it is because He is right here and He wants to spend time with you. He wants you to enjoy His presence and protect you from the Evil One. Be with God Now - for that is why He created you.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr