the view from the pew 1-15-17

What? A Sunday service? Yes, a 10:45 AM service with organ music, a jumble of kids for ‘children’s church’, and ushers wearing suits and ties. It was nice to see some Lutheran faces after a few months of sleeping in on Sundays (one of Susan’s super powers). Despite my earlier beefs about volume issues during Sunday services, it was nice to worship in a classic praise ceremony. Some hymns we sang were easy such as “Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation”; “Here I Am, Lord”; and “Lamb of God”. Then there was a communion hymn, “The Infant Priest Was Holy Born”. Susan manages to slog her way through new songs by breaking out a hymnal and comparing the lyrics to the notes being played and making the best of it. I sing until I get lost, pause, start over again with the next verse and if that doesn’t work I mouth the words until I quit and look to see what is next on the service folder (in this case, Prayer & Benediction).

Pastor Sattler’s lesson was called “Why Are You Here?”. I’m just going to tell you the answer. The purpose of your life is to serve the Lord.

That’s it.

That’s it?

That’s it.

Isaiah explains in chapter 49, verses 1 through 7:

The Servant of the Lord
1 Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”
5 And now the Lord says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord
and my God has been my strength—
6 he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
7 This is what the Lord says—
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and stand up,
princes will see and bow down,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

This scripture isn’t just pointed at Isaiah but at you, me, the president, a lorry driver in France, the miner in Uzbekistan, and him and her and he and she and them and those and on and on. The job as servant isn’t to just tell others the Word of The Lord but also to treat everyone as Jesus does.

[[[ Internal conflict erupts ]]]

“But, Janis, that’s not reasonable. I have to work to pay my kids through school and a billion other things. As a matter of fact, I’d rather work and reach the top of my profession. How about this? What if I take care of all my things then return to help The Lord. Imagine what I could give back to the church after I become a big muckity-muck.”

King Solomon did all that a long time ago. Because of his request to God for wisdom and not riches, dames and conquered lands he was blessed by God and He gave Solomon the wisdom to acquire all those things and more. As he reveled in his riches, Solomon’s God-given desire for wisdom led him on a search to find the meaning of life.

He dedicated himself to follow a lifestyle to its end to determine if the answer to life lay there. He began with education. He studied and read and had the best teachers come teach him all that could be known. The answer to life did not come from education. Whereas he spent seven years building The Temple for God, Solomon spent 13 years with 150,000 men building his palace (1Kings7). It was so ornate that silver was considered too common a metal to be used on it. The answer to life did not lie in his home. He followed other pursuits which included music, food, and alcohol. There were no answers to be had with those. He spent the time he needed to accumulate all the beautiful women he could stand. He ended with 700 wives and 300 concubines (girlfriends) and there were no answers to life there, only mothers-in-law. Sensual pleasures led to a dead end. Earning money was futile. For years he earned 25 tons of gold, above and beyond operating expenses, fees, taxes and costs for feeding an army and a kingdom. So, after spending years studying the ways of the world, what was Solomon’s verdict?

The Conclusion of the Matter
(Ecclesiastes 12:9-14)

Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil

What is a Christian to do? How does one serve God while earning a living and being involved in the rigors of life? Martin Luther’s answer to this was simple: With everything you do, work at it as though you are doing it for Jesus. If you are preparing a report or slides for a meeting, prepare them as though Jesus will be in the room or on the conference call. Are you doing laundry, dishes or other housework? Fold those t-shirts as though you are folding them for your Savior. Playing sports or board games? Are you going to stiff Jesus the money you owe Him for Park Place? Are you going to give Jesus a hard foul under the basket? Not only does serving The Lord affect how you do something it also helps you decide whether you should do something. Applying Luther’s answer to your daily routine will open you up to a self-examination causing you to have great insights about yourself and in many cases, to blush.


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