08112019 9th Sunday After Pent 8AT Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

"Believe God and He counts us as righteous! "

08112019 9th Sunday After Pent 8AT Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA
August 11, 2019
“Believe God and He counts us as righteous!  Gen. 15:6”
Sermon Audio (Will be posted soon!)

On May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy spoke to a Joint Session of Congress and with seven words, “I believe this nation should commit itself” began a defining moment in United States history that led to the United States “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”  No sooner had these words left his lips than the country set itself on a journey that would require sacrifice and innovation and ultimately changed the lives of a generation and many generations to come. This summer we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the fulfillment of Kennedy’s goal.  What did not change from the time of his speech was that John F. Kennedy ‘believed’.

This last week, Bob Jordan and many of our Brother’s and Sister’s in Christ of the North American Lutheran Church gathered in Indianapolis and we who gathered “Believed” that God worked through us to choose the next Bishop.  On August 9, 2019 Rev. Dr. Dan Selbo was elected and consecrated as Bishop and Shepherd of the North American Lutheran Church. We here at Emmanuel had consistently prayed for the churches during this last year and have recently prayed for the churches and those individuals who allowed their names to be considered for the Office and Calling of Bishop.  We ‘Believe’ that God worked through each congregation and our church and God’s will was done in Indianapolis. But how does this connect with our Old Testament lesson this morning and how we here at Emmanuel Export, PA ‘believe’?

This short passage in the life of Abram reveals in the last verse the truth we need to hear, heed and hold onto today, for when we “Believe God...He counts us as righteous”.  We hear this recounting of Abram’s looking into the heavens and God’s asking him to “number the stars, if you are able to number them”.  With only 10 fingers and 10 toes, it is clear Abram cannot count the full number of stars in the night sky and God gives him a pass.  Yet, Abram demonstrates His faith as he heard God by his simple and humble action, Abram did “Believe God”.  

Abram in true humility and by the vision of God into Abram’s heart, God could see that Abram did “Believe God”.  From a human perspective, no human has the ability to see into the heart of our brother or sister.  We like to believe that we can perceive or discern what is in the heart, by seeing what one does, how one sits or reacts, but we are unable, we don’t have that ability.  But God does and what transpired is that by what God saw, knew and trusted in Abram, when Abram did “Believe God”, God “counted it to him as righteousness”.  And from that moment on, Abram had revealed to him by God that the world would be different.  Abram’s world and Abram’s faith in what God was doing, revealed a future to Abram of God’s mercy, love and grace for, in and by Jesus Christ for Abram and his children and children’s children.

Today we are the direct descendents of Abram.  Each and every one of us are one of the stars Abram was asked to ‘number’.  And Abram is our ancestor and when we believe Abram and the promises given unto Him, we then can “Believe God and He counts us as righteous”.  When we hear, heed and hold onto the promise made to Abram, we take our place in the line of Abram’s descendents.  As we “Believe God” through His Word given to us in the Holy Scriptures and that stirs faith in each of us as we hear God’s Words of Love, Grace and Forgiveness that sets us free.  This is the Gospel of our salvation and we are made righteous by God. We are made heirs of eternal life and our line is clearly connected with Abram, through the works and merits of Jesus Christ for each and every one of us.  Not only does Holy Scripture affirm this, but our Confessions in the Formula of Concord (Art. III. The Righteousness of Faith Before God) clearly articulate and affirm that when we “Believe God...He counts us as righteous”.

However our culture, society and especially satan want us and all of mankind to ‘doubt, deny and denigrate’ these truths we find and believe are from God.  This is why it is imperative that we hold onto and remember and share this truth from Holy Scripture and demonstrate clearly, faithfully and fully that we “Believe God and He counts us as righteous”!

What Abram may not have understood when he stood under the stars that night was what would occur nearly 2100 years later.  His descendent, his own flesh and blood would usher in and fulfill the plan of salvation that God knew would occur when Abram did “Believe God”.  When Jesus Christ was born, walked among the people of God and willingly was crucified, died, was buried, descended into hell and ascended into heaven, Jesus disciples after they saw Him, ‘Believed’.  Just as John F. Kennedy ‘believed’ and set the United States on a journey of exploration, and the churches of the North American Lutheran Church ‘believed’ not only in our Core Values, but came together and elected and consecrated Rev. Dr. Dan Selbo as Bishop, we as well who gather here today are called to ‘believe’ we are numbered among the stars in the heavens that night.

God numbers us among the stars and wants us to share the love of Jesus Christ with each other and with all of mankind.  May we this day and every day of our lives, firmly, faithfully and fully show that we “Believe God and He counts us as righteous”!!!!  AMEN!