Your Father in Heaven Wants You!
Dear Father in heaven, it is Your desire to save my soul. You have sent Your Son to be my Savior—to live a holy life in my stead and to die an innocent death to atone for my sins. Impress Your grace upon my heart. Send your Spirit to draw me to Your Son, to lead me to entrust myself to You, and to enable me to walk with faithfulness before You. In Jesus’ name I pray.
God appeared to Solomon in a dream early in his reign and offered to give him anything he wished. Solomon asked for a wise and understanding heart, so that he might properly lead God’s people. God was pleased with Solomon’s request and promised to give him not only the wisdom he desired, but many more blessings as well. May we also seek above all the wisdom necessary to fulfill our respective callings!
Paul and Barnabas preached in Iconium and Lystra during their 1st Missionary Journey but at great physical risk. They were driven out of Iconium by those opposed to the gospel, and after being received initially at Lystra as gods, they were nearly stoned to death. Nonetheless they refused to be intimidated and continued to preach the gospel. Serving in God’s kindom can be dangerous, but the rewards are heavenly!
Text: Luke 12:32-36
Jesus said: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also. Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.”
In Christ Jesus, our precious Savior and Lord, dear fellow redeemed:
Perhaps the most famous military recruitment poster in American history was designed by James Montgomery Flagg during World War I. I would imagine that most of you have seen it at one time or another. It pictured a caricature of “Uncle Sam” looking straight ahead with piercing eyes and his finger pointing with the words “Uncle Sam Wants You!” printed in big, bold letters.
The hymn that we just sang reminds us that until the end of time every Christian is involved in a spiritual battle with Satan and his wicked hosts. While that thought may seem frightening, our Savior’s response is “do not fear, little flock!” Our Savior Jesus does not want us to live our lives in fear. Literally, He is saying, “Stop being afraid!” “I am your Good Shepherd!” (cf. John 10) However, not being afraid does not mean being unmindful of the dangers that constantly surround us as God’s children in this world. One of the great problems facing Christians today can be and often is that we are oblivious to the spiritual dangers around them. It is because of the dangers that we face that the apostle Paul urges us to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). By faith we are all among God’s recruits. It can be truthfully said of each of us: YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN WANTS YOU!
He wants to give you the kingdom! Jesus said: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Note, first of all, that we do not by nature possess Christ’s kingdom. Quite the contrary, by nature the Bible says our “carnal minds” are at “enmity against God.” We are “not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). Yet, in spite of our sin and rebellion, God wants us to give us the kingdom. He wants us to experience the gracious rule of Jesus within our hearts and lives. The apostle Paul tells us, “God our Savior…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3b-4). To that end God, in His love and by His mercy, sent Jesus to deliver our souls from Satan’s grasp, to release the grip of death upon us, and thereby dramatically to alter our futures. Paul told the Romans, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:8-10).
Through His Word and by means of the sacrament of baptism, the Spirit of God leads us to repentance and faith. Into that empty hand of faith God pours His blessings of mercy and grace—the forgiveness of our sins, the assurance that we are now His blessed sons and daughters, that we no longer have to fear the future for He is with us to help and protect us, both now as we walk in this world and at the end of time when we stand before Him. Through the continued study of His Word, the Holy Spirit assures us of His sanctifying present. He says that He will “work in (us) both to will and to do…His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). He assures us that His word will “complete” us, instructing us in His will and ways, so that we will be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). Your heavenly Father does not want you to walk in uncertainty or fear, but rather wants you to enjoy a peace of mind and heart that only He can give (cf. Philippians 4:7), and which will free you to accomplish everything that He has planned for you, and by which He will bless you and others! Yes, YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN WANTS YOU! He wants to give you the kingdom!
He wants you, in turn, to give Him your heart! Jesus says, “Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In order to understand correctly what Jesus is saying, it is important for us to know the context in which He said it. Shortly before saying these words, Jesus had told the Parable of the Rich Fool. The rich fool was a covetous man, whose life revolved around the things he possessed. In the parable he found himself blessed with the prospects of a bumper crop. Instead of thanking God for his good fortune and seeking how he might use his profits to be a blessing to others, he determined that he would build bigger barns and sheds in which he would store up all his crops and goods. He then told himself, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry!” (Luke 12:19) But the Lord then confronted him and admonished him by saying, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (Luke 12:20)
When Jesus tells us to “sell what you have and give alms,” He is not telling each of us to sell everything we have and give it away—although some have falsely interpreted Jesus’ words to mean just that. No, Jesus is rather warning against covetousness and saying exactly what the apostle Paul would later say—as we prosper under the guiding hand of our Lord, we are willingly and generously to use portions of what God has entrusted to us to help others, especially our spiritual brethren (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 8:4). In so doing we will please our God, thank our Savior, and “provide (for ourselves) money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in heaven that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.”
Paul in writing Timothy tells him, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19). Now, lest anyone think that these words do not apply to us, for after all we are not “rich,” remember that wealth is indeed relative and we are all indeed blessed materially in our country. Jesus’ goal is that we all achieve the goal of “godliness with contentment,” while avoiding the “snare” awaiting all those whose hearts are overcome by greed (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6,9). In that same letter to Timothy, Paul reminds his young friend, “The love of money is the a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Remember, that which is most important to you is your “treasure.” Silver and gold in reality make a very poor treasure, they can be stolen or lost or simply used up. God, however, abides forever. Give Him your heart—make Him your treasure, and He will fill your life both now and throughout eternity with blessings. Yes, YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN WANTS YOU! He wants you to give Him your heart!
He wants you to be ready for Jesus’ return! The Psalmist advises us, “Do not put your trust in princes, or in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God, Who made heaven and earth” (146:3-6a). How often have we not ignored that advice to our own hurt—physical, psychological, or financial! Our Father in heaven wants the very best for us. He knows that our time here in this world is limited. He knows that the time of this present world is limited. He has placed the final judgment of this world in His Son’s hands. He reminds and encourages us to be ready at all times, so that we do not live our lives in unnecessary fears or with multiple regrets. He, therefore, through Jesus addresses us with the final words of our text: “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.”
What is Jesus talking about when He says, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning”? He is talking about being ready and active. In Jesus’ days men and women wore long flowing robes. In order to work they would tie the bottoms of the robes up around their waist to free their legs for action. The burning lamp meant that you were awake and ready to work, rather than dimming the lamps or putting them out for the night. Jesus ascended into heaven as our Lord and Master. He will return again some day—let us be ready! Let us be waiting! If you are a student in school—listen to your teachers, learn your lessons, develop your talents, encourage your peers, prepare yourself to accomplish the great things God has planned for you in the future. If you are a parent—take seriously your responsibility to bring up your children in the Lord! It is hard to guide and monitor the activities of your children, but it is important to do so. Set a good example of personal piety and devotion to God. Train your children to set good and godly priorities by doing so yourselves. If you are an employee—remember that God is serving others through you! View the work you are doing as a calling from God through which you are a blessing to others. Do your best, use your time wisely, fulfill your responsibilities, be honest and upright in everything you do. If you are a manager—work for your employees benefit, enable them and empower them so that they might accomplish their assigned tasks, recognize and reward their successes and help them learn from their failures.
Whoever you are and wherever you find yourselves, you are by faith a child of God. Live as a child of God—a member of Christ’s kingdom, motivated by His love and confident of His presence. Remember, YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN WANTS YOU! He wants the best for you—He wants to give the kingdom to you, He wants you to give Him your heart, He wants you to be ready for Jesus’ return, for then your will be blessed forever! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting