10-4-20 Sermon

Matthew 21:33-46

Heavenly Father, through the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus the CHRIST, You have poured out Your saving grace to all who come to Him in faith, and have opened to us your heavenly kingdom. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to Your word and grant us the gift of faith that we might prove to be worthy disciples. This we ask in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.


In the Old Testament reading from Isaiah, the problem was bad fruit. God had planted a vineyard—Israel, in the Promised Land. He protected them, cared for them, and provided everything they needed. But the people turned to other Gods. They either forgot about God or took His care and love for granted. Old Testament Israel had gone to the dark side, and so God caused them to be conquered by the nations around them. Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.


In the Gospel, the tenants claimed all the fruit for themselves and decided the master’s servants should be eliminated. And so the servants were beaten, stoned, and killed, including the master’s son—the tenants thought getting rid of that meddling master everything would be theirs. What was God supposed to do?


We criticize Old Testament Israel or the Jews in Jesus’ day. But the truth is that there are bad tenants now as well-- those who call themselves Christians producing very sour grapes. So what’s God supposed to do?


Most every parent has asked that same question when a child messes up. We try to teach them, or at least help them learn from the mistake. But sometimes a child has to learn in the school of hard knocks and we can’t stop them from being hurt. Parents still love that child, even if the child doesn’t accept it


So it is with God too. God stepped in to save our lives; to save us from our sins, from ourselves, from that I want it my way bad tenants, attitude. But regardless of God’s good intentions, many still push Him away.


The apostle Paul knew about that. In the reading from Philippians, God literally knocked him down - to get Paul to realize what he was doing. Did God hate him? Certainly not! He loved Paul and had a plan for him, just as God loves us and has a plan for each of us too. It may not be anything that we’d expect. And we might wonder: What God is doing? Why are these things happening?


Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ and they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.


In sending Jesus Christ to earth, God certainly did something unexpected. He was laying a cornerstone upon which His Church was to be built. It’s not Jesus as teacher or Jesus as a good man or Jesus as moral leader, but the cornerstone is Jesus thrown out and killed - risen from the dead, alive again – that’s the cornerstone upon which the Church can be built; That’s the cornerstone upon which we can build our lives.


So do you recognize what God is doing in your life?


What trouble is He not allowing you to get into?


What difficulty is He using to ultimately help you? What trial is strengthening your faith? What weakness is causing you to rely on Him?


Of course, you can go all sour grapes on Him. You can throw Him and His Son out of your vineyard. You can go after a life all on your own rather than have His life that will last forever. You can do that.


Or, you can repent of all that rubbish in your life and believe the Word of God.


So whatever your vineyard --your life, looks like right now . . . if it’s full of sour grapes, God can forgive and make it sweet and good again. And if your vines are all puny and weak and stringy, God can strengthen them and change even the worst vines into good vines.


God sent His Son to die for you. And He is working all things to save your life.


So maybe the words of the apostle Paul are good advice for us today.


But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind—a fresh start, and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in CHRIST Jesus.


Straining... Pressing are not easy words. They’re faith words.


My life isn’t what I thought it would be. I’ll strain forward.


Things are falling apart. I’ll press on toward the goal.


It’s too hard. I’ll rely on His strength, not mine.


I don’t understand. I’ll rely on His Word, His wisdom, not mine.


I can’t do it. That’s exactly right. But just like Paul, God has a plan for you…a new life for you now.


Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love really does endure forever!

  October 2020  
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