Wednesday, April 10, 2019

1 Timothy.2.1-8; Weekday Lent Service, April 10, 2019;

1Timothy.2.1-8; Weekday Lent Service, April 10, 2019;
Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN
1First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 1 Timothy 2:1-8 (ESV)
(From a Sermon from LWML)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
When you live in the mid-west you know about Paul Harvey and “The Rest of the Story.”  It’s usually a story all about some famous person you know, but he would wait until the end to tell you who it is.  Until you get the name you only know part of the story.  Now in real life we sometimes see only a part of the story.  Like the woman whose neighbor said to her, “You have a wonderful husband, everyday I see him get out of the car, walk around and open your door for you.  It’s so nice to see that chivalry isn’t dead.  You’ve been married 20 years you must be very happy.”  “Well,” she answered, “It is true that we are very happy.  But what you don’t know, if the truth be told, what you can see is that every time he gets out of the car to open my door, he’s complaining about silly door handle that doesn’t open from the inside.” 
“If the truth be told,” is a common expression we use whenever we want people to know the “rest of the story.”  Sometimes it’s just not easy to tell the truth from fiction, the truth from a half-truth, truth from little white-lies.  And there are even times when we don’t care or even want the truth to be told.  It’s been said the Mr. Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” are often more fiction than fact.  But millions of people don’t really care.  They listen because he told a good story, the truth simply isn’t important.  In a “Dennis the Menace” cartoon Dennis is pictured sitting at the doorway of his home.  His mother, typically shown with her arms crossed over her chest, stands with a scowl on her face.  Dennis’ father has just returned from work.  “Would you rather hear the truth… or my side of the story?”
We know that people often keep the truth from one another.  They do it for many reasons.  Our relationships with other people are not always what they seem to be.  The person we have coffee with may seem to be content, but if the truth be told, they are really stressed out and troubled about life.  People we work with may seem to have it all together, but the truth be told, they are nearly in a panic.  Because that’s the way life is, because that’s the way that you and I live, it’s a good thing that we have a saying like “The truth be told.”  The more it is used the more open and honest we can be with one another.  In every corner of our society we know and believe that it’s better to tell the truth.  “Honesty is the best policy,” we say, “and if the truth be told,” we would all be healthier and happier if we always told the truth.
But right now, there is another force at work around us.  Really people today shy away from truthfulness.  “What’s true for you isn’t necessarily true for me.”  It’s called relativism.  That’s the idea that there is nothing that is true.  And in fact, relativists say, truth is a made-up idea that is used to gain power over other people.  This idea is growing everywhere.  It is disconcerting to realize that the important people and institutions that we used to trust can’t really be relied on any more because they have been so influenced by this idea.  “The truth be told…” 
And we can’t even rely on lie detectors any more.  In the cartoon “The Wizard of Id” Johnny Hart pictures the Wizard showing the King a machine, “My new lie detector beeps when someone lies.”  The King asks, “Is it reliable?”  “Of course,…” the Wizard answers, as the machine lets out a long stream of beeps.  
As Christians we are concerned about the truth.  We are concerned not just because we think life would be better if the truth were told, but because God is concerned about the truth.  The bible says that God is the God of Truth.
“Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17) St. John tells us.  When God sent Jesus, the Word made flesh, He came to us “full of Grace and Truth.” (John 1:14) When Jesus spoke about himself, he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) Jesus remained true to that even when people told lies about him.  It was the truth about who he is and what he came to do that took him to the cross, where he died to establish the truth once and for all.  In his life, death and resurrection Jesus proves that God is our only savior from sin, and that he wants all people to be saved.
“If the truth be told…” we deserved the punishment that Jesus saves us from.  Not just for the times we don’t tell the truth, but for all the wrong things we do.  Jesus hung on the cross and suffered the punishment for our sins.  Instead of punishing us God punished Jesus.  God tells us the truth when he says that baptism joins us to what Jesus has done.  His death is our death, payment for our sins.  That same baptism joins us also to Jesus in his resurrection.  With daily repentance and rebirth we rise in new life through the power of the Holy Spirit.  That’s what our baptism is all about, daily death and daily new-life, leading to eternal life, because of Jesus.
We know, too, that God doesn’t want this truth to be known by just few people.  We celebrate here every Sunday the truth that through God’s saving grace in Jesus we have eternal life.  We face the truth that we are sinners and deserve nothing but punishment from God.  We count on the truth that God forgives our sins because of Jesus.  We rely on the truth that eternal life is a sure and certain hope for us, because God has brought us to faith in Jesus as our living savior through the work of the Holy Spirit who is the “Spirit of Truth.”  The truth of our faith stands squarely on the truth of the resurrection of Jesus.  Paul himself said that if it isn’t true our “faith is futile” because we are still in our sins.  As for me, I put my faith in the truth of Jesus who died and was raised again to life.
“If the truth be told…” God our Savior… desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  That’s the truth that sets the vision for our mission and purpose in life.  If the truth of the Gospel is told, people will believe in the truth, because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will bring them to faith.
Now St. Paul gets at the heart of matter when he speaks the truth about what needs to happen.  He first quotes the prophet Joel, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13) and then he asks a series of penetrating questions.  “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14) 
As a church, we recognize the importance of this sequence from sending to preaching, to hearing, to believing, to calling on the name of the Lord, to being saved.  That’s the reason they do all that we do.  And the truth be told we thank God that he has used us through our creative efforts to reach people of all nations, tribes and peoples so that they too can call on the name of the Lord and be saved. 
Today based on God’s Word we too take seriously this matter.  “If the Truth be Told…”  God is a God of Truth.  God’s truth is full revealed in Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He wants that truth proclaimed to the whole world.  Just like Paul said the God had appointed him “a herald…” that is a teller of the truth, we to have been called to be tellers of the truth.  We are sent to proclaim the truth to all nations.  We do a great job of sending our money to help with mission work all over the world, but do we do that same great job of proclaiming that truth right here in this town, this county, this state? 
Jesus tells a parable of a dishonest manager to encourage us to be wise in our dealings with the world.  We use the gifts God has given us to build friendship with people who then will be able to hear the truth of the Gospel of Jesus.  Jesus wants us to be trustworthy and honest in handling our worldly wealth, because God also trusts us to be stewards of the “true riches” that we have been given.  The true riches of faith in Jesus. 
There’s a small town in Texas that every year holds a liar’s festival.  They have a contest as to who can tell the tallest tale.  They compete for the honor of “the biggest liars the Midwest has ever seen.”  While that kind of lying is meant to be humorous, if the truth be told, it is still lying.  I wonder what would happen if Christians spent as much energy and creativity on telling the Truth, especially the truth about Jesus.  What if… the truth were told…
God has given us the truth, so that we can share it with others.  The truth is God’s native language.  And God’s Word repeatedly invites us to imagine what life would be like, what the world would be like, if the truth be told.  What a difference it would make in the world!  God’s love and forgiveness would bring peace and hope to people who are lost and hurting because the truth is not being told to them.  If the truth be told… the true faith would be taught to all people.  
In the church, “If the truth be told” is more than a common expression. It boggles our minds to imagine the possibilities for the mission work of the Church. It expands our vision as members of the Church, who see and care about the lost, the hurting, the lied to, the deceived, the lonely, the poor, the confused. “If the truth be told” expresses our compassion for the lost and our mission mandate to use the Means of Grace to bring all people to a knowledge of the truth. If the truth be told, in contrast to Dennis the Menace, as far as God is concerned, the truth IS God’s side of the story for the salvation of all people by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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