Third Sunday in Lent, Year B

Keeping the Law of God

The psalmist wrote:

The law of the Lord is perfect
and revives the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure
and gives wisdom to the innocent.

The statutes of the Lord are just
and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear
and gives light to the eyes.   (Psalm 19:7-8)

There are advantages in keeping the law of God. The law is perfect and is given by God to help perfect us. Contrary to what many Christians believe, Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it in himself and in us.

How do we keep the law? By asking God for help. The psalmist again wrote:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my
heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.   (Psalm 19:14)

His prayer should be our prayer. We daily need to seek God for strength, guidance, and direction. But unfortunately, many of us failed to do that. Are we easily distracted? God understands these distractions of the enemy. That is why he begins the law with this statement:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.   (Exodus 20::2-3)

Our focus must be on God. That is primary if we are to keep the law. He is the law giver and he is the author and finisher of our faith. We should look no one else. The world’s message and Satan’s message is very confusing and designed to be that way.

Part of the good news is that God helps simplifies things. His message about keeping the law is also the message of the cross. The Apostle Paul wrote:

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.   (1 Corinthians 1:18-21)

God wants us to understand what he is asking. His message is clear and it is good news to all who believe. But we cannot accept it without faith. We must believe in God and his message. Unfortunately, the Jewish leadership in Jesus’ day did not want to believe anything he said:

The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.   (John 2:18-22)

People look for a sign. They are really looking for a distraction. Anything to not focus on what is actually being offered by God. Signs and wonders do not always lead to faith. Jesus had performed many healings and miracles, yet many who saw these things refused to believe.

As Christians today, how do we keep the law? We focus on God. We focus on Jesus. We do not focus on the world. We allow the Holy Spirit of God to lead us into all truth. We allow the Spirit of God to direct our path. We pray daily. We remain in the Word of God. We read the Bible.

For many of us, however, there is still a hurdle to overcome. The Season of Lent highlights this hurdle. It is an awareness of our failures. It is an awareness of our sinful nature. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, constantly reminds us where we have failed, This is where the good news of the Gospel comes to our rescue. Without God’s help we will always fail. With his help we will be victorious. Jesus has won the victory for us.

As we approach a Holy God we will be convicted of sin, but we will not be condemned. Jesus has eliminated the curse of sin by taking the curse upon himself when he hung on the cross. In return, he asks us to believe that he has. He also asks us to confess our sins when as discover them, He will then forgive us, provided that we are willing to forgive others.

Therefore, this is not a time for distractions. It is a time to focus our attention upon the saving acts of Jesus Christ. It is a time to give him all the praise and glory. It is a time to trust him in all circumstances. It is a time to seek him in prayer. It is a time to meditate daily on his Word. The psalmist wrote:

With my whole heart I seek you;
    do not let me stray from your commandments.
I treasure your word in my heart,
    so that I may not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes.   (Psalm 119:10-12)

We serve a loving God who gave us everything. He just wants us to remember him. God says:

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, Lent, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year B

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