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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:Your Salvation is Completely in God's Hands
Text:Deuteronomy 9:1-6 (View)
Occasion:Lord's Supper
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2022-05-23
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Luke 18:9-14

Text: Deuteronomy 9:1-6

 

YOUR SALVATION IS COMPLETELY IN GOD’S HANDS

  1. It isn’t about you

  2. It is about you

 

  1. Psalm 47:1-3

  2. Psalm 6: 1, 2, 5, 6

  3. Psalm 124:1-3

  4. Hymn 23: 1-4

  5. Hymn 1

  6. Hymn 30: 1, 2, 4, 5

  7. Hymn 75:1-3

 

Words to Listen For: sermon, Anak, better, frustration, boost

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. What were we supposed to learn from Surfer Greg last week?  What SHOULDN’T be our takeaway?

  2. Is the form too harsh on our sins?  Why or why not?

  3. Were Israel’s fears legitimate?  How is the answer “yes and no” ?

  4. Where do we find our strength and identity?

  5. Is the Bible your story?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Congregation loved by our Lord,

In a recent sermon, I used my surfing teacher as an example.  Surfer Greg.  A young man who devoted his life to the surfboard - spending all day surfing, then eating a burger, and falling asleep on the beach.

And the point was, that Surfer Greg has devoted his life to worldly pleasures.  Like so many others.  But that’s not where the lesson stopped.  That might be all that you remember, but that’s not where it ended.  Because Surfer Greg was an example for us.  A mirror for us.  Because even as Christians, we focus on worldly pleasures too.  Whether our focus is on surfing or not, this world is tempting to us too.

And maybe, at that time, I was a little hard on Greg, but the intention was that I would be hard on myself too.  That I would be hard on you.  Because the truth is, that everyone - you, me, Greg...we are in the same boat.

We can’t do it on our own.  We can’t pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but instead, we need someone to do it for us.  We need to have the gospel preached to us, we need to have faith worked in our hearts.  But then...when that happens...we have a responsibility.  We have a responsibility to live drastically different lives.

We are supposed to be drastically different...but all of that change, the ENTIRETY of it...is because of God.  It’s not because of us.

The fact that I am the one up here, preaching to you the good news of Jesus Christ...the fact that it’s me and not Greg has NOTHING TO DO with who I was before God called me.  God didn’t call me because of who I was...He didn’t see me in a shop window and say: I want THIS ONE.  But instead, in His grace, because of who HE IS...He chose me for this special task.  And that shouldn’t make me prideful, but it should make me humble.  Humbled that God would choose ME to proclaim His praises.  And the same should be true for each and every one of us.  You are here today because of GOD.  You are partaking in the sacrament because of grace.  We heard that in the form, didn’t we?

The form goes on and on about our sins.  Sometimes I wonder if the form is a little harsh with us.  A little harsh with the wording...but it’s not.  I wonder that, because I don’t like to hear the bad news.  I don’t want to hear the bad news that I’m helpless and hopeless without Jesus Christ.  I don’t want to hear that list of sins, knowing that I’ve committed most of them at some point in my life.  That this past week, when I have been preparing for the Lord’s Supper, preparing to administer it, preparing a sermon reflecting on it, preparing to eat it together with you...this past week, that list of sins also hits home.

But do you know what that means?  Do you know what finding myself in that list really means?  It means that salvation is for ME.  Jesus Christ died...TO SAVE SINNERS!  If I wasn’t a sinner, if I didn’t find myself on that list, then it means that Jesus Christ isn’t for me.

But recognizing myself as I am, recognizing my sin, hating it, and turning to God in repentance means that I can feast with the rest of you.  There is something so humbling, but at the same time so freeing to realize that

YOUR SALVATION IS COMPLETELY IN GOD’S HANDS

  1. It Isn’t About You

  2. It Is About You

It Isn't About You

Deuteronomy 9 is one of those classic texts of the Old Testament.  A classic text explaining how we should understand the New Testament.  Because, even though this book was written thousands of years before the New Testament...even though it was written on a different continent, in a different language...this passage sounds like it could have come right out of the book of Romans, couldn’t it?

This passage sounds very “New Testamental.”  Because what is it saying?  What is it saying really?  Remember who you are, and know who God is.

Remember who you are, and know that you don’t deserve this.

Know who God is, and trust that His promises are true.

It is by grace

It is through faith.

Let’s examine our text a little closer.

Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you.

Hear.  Pay attention.  Listen up.  This is what’s going to happen.  Today (and what this means is “soon”).  Today, shortly, you are going to cross over the Jordan River.  You are going to do what your forefathers didn’t do.  They doubted God’s promise, and then they overestimated themselves.  They knew neither God nor themselves.  And it was a disaster!

Soon, shortly, you are going to cross the boundary and go into the Promised Land.  And what will you find there?

Nations greater and mightier than you, (with) cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heart it said, “Who can stand before the sons of Anak?”

Where did they hear this?  Where did they hear this phrase?  It is eerily similar to what we heard last week from Deuteronomy 1 - “The people are greater and taller than we.  The cities are great and fortified up to heaven.  And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there!”

Who said this?  It was the 10 spies who chose fear over faith!  So where did they hear these words?  This generation, now at the border of the Promised Land, heard these things from their parents.  The ones who refused to enter the land.

And God says, “Your fears may be legitimate...there are people already in this land.  They are huge.  Their cities are huge...but that’s not the whole picture.  Remember what I promised your fathers?”

Know therefore today that He who goes before you as a consuming fire is the LORD your God.  He will destroy them and subdue them before you.”

They may have giants, its true, but you...you have THE LORD!  You have Yahweh on your side!  And 1 person plus God is the majority.

There was no earthly way for Israel to possess the land.  They were not trained warriors.  They were nomads, having eaten nothing but manna and quail for 40 years.  

And what about us?  What about our fears?  Our fears of the future, our fears of disease, of poverty, of loneliness, of death?

And our biggest fear.  For what is a bigger giant than sin?  Who is a bigger enemy than Satan?  The one prowling around like a lion, looking for someone to devour?

He’s real.  He’s out there...and he HATES you.

And even though we can’t fight him on our own, we take comfort that God goes before us.

Just as He went before Israel like a consuming fire to destroy the Anakim.  Just like He destroyed the walls of Jericho, so too has our God broken the power of Satan.  Not through a plague, not through walls tumbling down, but through the cross.  Through God dying for us on the cross and rising again, Satan’s power was destroyed.  We no longer have to fear.

And while that lack of fear is truly wonderful...it can also lead us down wrong ways of thinking.  Having possession of the land led Israel down the wrong path.

And here Moses warns them

Verse 4: Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before your, “It is because of MY righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess the land”

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, ISRAEL.

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, _________.

Your salvation didn’t come to you because you were so lovable.  Because you were so much better than anyone else around you.  Because God saw something special in you.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…

  • Taking pride in yourself

  • Finding your identity in your heritage

  • Confidently finding yourself on the right side of the Liberation of 1944

Or anything else...this isn’t the Christian way!  Finding your identity, finding your strength in anything less than the shed blood of Christ is IDOLATRY, pure and simple.

We heard this in our reading.  The Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

How did the Pharisee pray?

God, I thank you that I am not like other men

Let us not fall into that trap ourselves - God, I thank you that I am Canadian Reformed.  I go to church twice a week and support our Christian school.

That’s not what gets you into God’s good books.  There is only one thing that does that - the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Because your righteousness?  Your good deeds?  They cannot stand up to God’s righteousness.

The Israelites in the desert were warned - Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess the land

It’s not because of you.  The Bible isn’t your story, the Bible is God’s story. You are in it as a supporting character, or even a background character.  The world does not revolve around you, the world revolves around God.  Around His love and His grace.  Around His mercy.  History revolves around the birth of Jesus Christ, and existence is centered on our Triune God.  It’s not about you.

And yet.  Why did God intervene?  Why did Jesus Christ come down from heaven?  His love wasn’t motivated by how lovable you are...but it was still about you.  It wasn’t about your strengths, but your weaknesses.  It wasn’t about your greatness, but about His grace towards you.  Salvation isn’t about you...but it is for you.  And that’s what our text teaches us, doesn’t it?

Verse 3 - Know therefore today that He who goes over BEFORE YOU as a consuming fire is the LORD your God.  He will destroy them and subdue them BEFORE YOU.

Verse 4 - Do not say in your heart after the LORD your God has thrust them out BEFORE YOU, “It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has BROUGHT ME IN TO POSSESS THE LAND

It’s not because of your righteousness, but it is about His love for you.

Because, you see, God knows our needs, and He meets our needs with His love and provision.

Why did God give the Israelites the Promised Land?  Could He have been glorified by them in the desert?  Yes.  There were sacrifices.  There was the tabernacle.  It was all there.

Could God have been glorified by the nations in the land?  Yes.  He could have changed their hearts.  He could have abandoned Israel as His people.

But that’s not in His character.  It is not in God’s character to abandon His people.  It is not in His character to give His people over to total destruction due to frustration with them.  Though He would be completely just in doing so, after all, look at the description of the Israelites’ rebellion and wickedness in the second half of Deuteronomy chapter 9...even though God’s anger burned hot against His people, His punishment was meant as discipline.  Training them up in godliness.

He taught them righteousness, because He knew that they couldn’t do it on their own.  God went before the Israelites into the Promised Land, clearing a path for them, BECAUSE HE LOVED THEM.  Because they needed Him to do this.  They could not possibly stand up to the inhabitants of Canaan.

And in exactly the same way, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, came down to this earth, taking on human flesh, giving up all the glories of heaven and taking on the nature of a servant...He did all of this because our need was so great.

Because we were dead in our sins and tresspasses, weren’t we?  We weren’t struggling, we weren’t a little bit sick, and just needed a boost, we were DEAD.  Just like Lazarus in the tomb, would couldn’t have raised ourselves.  The only thing that can change us is Jesus Christ.  His words outside the tomb caused the dead man to rise.

And His words on the cross - “Father forgive them,” and “It is Finished” caused these things to come into existence.

As preacher Jonathan Edwards so brilliantly put it: “You contributed nothing to your salvation but the sin that made it necessary.”

And when we celebrate the sacrament of Lord’s Supper in a few minutes, let this be what we say in our hearts.  It’s not about me, but it is FOR me.

Taking the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, was not because of Israel’s righteousness.  They did nothing to deserve the land, but out of love for them, God went out powerfully and defeated the Anakim.  Out of love for His people, God caused the walls of Jericho to fall.

And thousands of years later, Jesus Christ went out powerfully, not with an army, not with 10 000 legions of angels, but He powerfully went to the cross, and defeated sin and Satan.  Out of His love for His people, Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins and set us free from condemnation and hell.

We are but unworthy servants.

So congregation, as we prepare to take of this meal, this meal of love and grace, let us not respond as the Pharisee did, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people” but instead, let us say with the tax collector: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  And then, responding to God’s grace in faith, let us be sure that He has.  Let us be sure that He has had mercy.  Through the hightest cost, Christ our Lord and Saviour, who did not cling to His heavenly glory, but emptied Himself that we might be saved.

AMEN.

 



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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