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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Jul 14, 2019  SERMON TEXT

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Today’s Old Testament Lesson is a sermon on the Ten Commandments.

God Himself first preached this sermon directly to Moses. Then, through the words God inspired Moses to write down, God continues to preach this sermon to all Christians of every time and place, including each one of you today.

Actually, there are two things that your heavenly Father is doing for you in this sermon. First, God explains to you the way you must treat your neighbor in the various situations you might encounter in your life.

"You shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard."

In other words, make sure your neighbor has enough to eat. If someone on your porch asks you for a sandwich, give him an apple and a cookie as well.

Do not be so concerned with getting the biggest piece of pie or the largest cookie; Do not worry about stuffing your pantry to bursting, even when times seem like they are getting tougher; Do not be terribly concerned about the placement of the fence between your yard and your neighbor’s, whether it should be placed six inches to the right or three inches to the left.

"You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear by My name falsely."

In short, do not take anything away for your neighbor. Do not take away his physical possessions by stealing from him, but even more so, Do not take away nor the trust and confidence you neighbor places in you by dealing with him falsely, by lying to him, or by misleading him with an oath or promise you do not intend to keep for him.

"You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him… You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind." "You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor."

Stained Glass Baptism Window

In other words, treat people decently. Do not exploit their weaknesses, especially for the purpose of your own gain. Do not mock others in order to feel better about yourself; do not deal impatiently with those who cannot function as well as you. Do not be too impressed by those who seem more able, more attractive, or more successful. As best you are able, treat everyone the same way.

"You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

With these last Words, "Love your neighbor as yourself," God your heavenly Father gives you a summary and closing for His sermon and workshop on the Ten Commandments.

Now, if you are alive and breathing, this first part of God’s sermon on the Ten Commandments has probably not been especially enjoyable or comfortable for you. As God was going through His various scenarios on how you ought to treat your neighbor, you probably were able to say to your self at least once—if not several times—"Gee, I have not treated my neighbor as God commands."

However, dear friends, if God’s sermon did not find you guilty of treating your neighbor badly, please raise your left arm, place your fingers like this and check your pulse, because you are either dead or you are not paying attention.

This workshop on the Ten Commandments is supposed to condemn you and expose your guilt. It is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable. Which is exactly what makes today’s Old Testament lesson such a treasure and the second thing God does for you here.

In this second thing He is doing for you—that is, in His explanation why you should "Love your neighbor as yourself"—God gives you a pot of gold!

What I mean is this: Did you notice how God kept repeating Himself during the workshop. Each time He laid out a scenario for you on how you ought to love your neighbor, He concluded the scenario with the words, "I am the LORD." Five times in this workshop and sermon, your God emphatically declares to you, "I am the LORD."

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

"Leave [the gleanings of your field and the fallen grapes from you vines] for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God." "Speak honestly and do not profane the name of your God: I am the LORD."

Do not oppress your neighbor, such as when you curse the deaf or put stumbling block before the blind, but fear your God: I am the LORD." "Do not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD." Then the summary: "Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD."

With these Words, your God is saying to you, · Do not worry if you should lose some portion of your harvest, or if your neighbor should eat the fruit that you planted. Loosen up! I am the LORD. There is plenty more food for you where that food came from.

Do not use your words against your neighbor, in order to gain something from him. Calm down and come out of your tree! I am the LORD and you are Mine! Your eternal health and well-being live at the forefront of My mind.

Why would you want to short shrift your neighbor’s wages, or why would you want to victimize those who have less than you?. Relax! I am the LORD and you are My people—there is no place on earth safer than the security of My loving care. There is nothing for you to fear.

Of course you can stand up for the life of your neighbor, even if it costs you dearly! Don’t worry about it! I am the LORD. I am the LORD who gave you life, who redeemed your life from the power of the grave, who cleansed your life from every spot and blemish of sin, and who secured for you life in eternity that cannot be taken away.

"Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD."

By repeating the Words, "I am the LORD," God wants you to know that. He is YOUR LORD. You have nothing to worry about and nothing to fear.

So, love your neighbor as yourself: Christ is risen.

Luther Rose
Christ Is Risen
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