January 10, 2021
Pastor John Hering
Listen to me, you coastlands. Pay attention, you faraway peoples! The Lord called me from the womb. When I was inside my mother, he mentioned my name. 2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword. He hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me a polished arrow. He concealed me in his quiver. 3 He said to me, “You are my servant Israel, in whom I will display my glory.”
4 But I said to myself, “I have labored in vain. I spent my strength and came up empty, with nothing. Yet a just verdict for me rests with the Lord, and my reward is with my God.”
5 But now the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to turn Jacob back to him, so that Israel might be gathered to him, so that I will be honored in the eyes of the Lord, because my God has been my strength—
6 the Lord said: It is too small a thing that you should just be my servant to raise up only the tribes of Jacob and to restore the ones I have preserved in Israel, so I will appoint you to be a light for the nations, so that my salvation will be known to the end of the earth.
Yesterday I attended a 6 hour workshop by Lori Lorig who is a WELS consultant for an organization she calls, “Faith Unleashed.” We took surveys and answered questions about ourselves—our personalities, characteristics and our gifts. Here’s what I found out about myself. I am a Lion/Otter that likes challenges and communication, consensus and motivating involvement with the spiritual gifts of Leadership, Administration and Teaching. So, you all know me. Would you agree with the assessment?
I’m sure you’ve had to participate in surveys in your life. The surveys gather information to gain information and hopefully make adjustments to better the situation. Maybe you’ve done such a survey at work. If we were to survey Jesus’ job satisfaction as the Savior of sinners, he would score perfectly. These days people are just plain happy to have a job, and no doubt there are people doing jobs but dread them. According to studies the two biggest reasons some people can’t wait for the workday to be over is 1) They are not doing the right job (wrong seat on the bus), or 2) They don’t receive any encouragement from management. So, how do you think this lines up with Jesus and Scripture? We’d find Jesus is the right person for the job and he received lots of encouragement from above. Today if you listen to the Word of God in Isaiah 49, the Holy Spirit will inspire you and
You’ll Love Your Job!
Doing the Right Job
Divine Peace has a reputation. If you ask people about Divine Peace Church you’ll hear people talk about a congregation full of very talented people. But, we all know that the success of an organization depends on more than many talented people. It also means having those talented people doing the right things and the things they want to do. That’s what we mean when we say, “Have the right people on the right seats on the bus.” When people are sitting in the right seat where they can perform skillfully and passionately what they like to do, you’ll create the recipe for success. Jesus loved his job! He knew he was called to be the right person in the right seat on the bus. How do I know? Just listen what the Servant of the Lord said through Isaiah the prophet, “Listen to me, you coastlands. Pay attention, you faraway peoples! The Lord called me from the womb. When I was inside my mother, he mentioned my name.” Would it be invigorating to you to be recruited and hired as the top manager for a new business, and then hear that they had their eye on you for the past 10 years as the only one they would hire to do the job? Well, God the Father had his eye on Jesus before his birth as the only Savior who would come to fulfill the Christmas angel’s words, “you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). God called Jesus to do the Right Job and Jesus Loved his Job!
To make sure he’d remain the right person in the right seat, the Father protected and equipped his Son with powerful tools and talents, as Jesus continued through Isaiah, “2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword. He hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me a polished arrow. He concealed me in his quiver.” The Lord God provided his Son with a tool so powerful that it could slash open any human soul to perform spiritual surgery and save life eternally, it could even pierce through a heart hardened by unbelief and plunge it into God’s life saving forgiveness. What tool was this? “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17). “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to the point of dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, even being able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart” (Heb 4:12). Jesus loved his job and was perfect at it! He swung the Word of God into the crowds, told parables, exposed sin, promised forgiveness and turned hearts from death & despair to deliverance & delight!
So, how about you? Have you ever felt like you’re on the wrong seat of the bus when it comes to your Christian life? Have you ever felt like you knew your church, but your church didn’t know who you were? How about your passion for fighting temptations, selfishness and lust—fantastic or fizzle? How about your thrill for learning and memorizing passages of the Bible and applying them to your life—magnificent or mundane? How about your church membership—to grow and go with the power of the gospel—spectacular or just a spectator sport? How about your Christian life—something to echo down life’s walls or to keep contained within these walls? That doesn’t sound like a person who is sitting on the right seat of the bus? It doesn’t sound like someone who is thrilled with his job! It doesn’t just sound like the wrong seat, but like the wrong person and even a sinfully wicked person. But, that person isn’t you. It sounds like the sinful nature inside you that hates Jesus and hates his work. It sounds like a desperate situation! So, what did God do with that sinful nature? Isaiah said, “4 But I said to myself, “I have labored in vain. I spent my strength and came up empty, with nothing. Yet a just verdict for me rests with the Lord, and my reward is with my God.” God didn’t give us a little squirt gun to fire at hearts of regret. No! God declared us not guilty through Jesus who paid the penalty of all our sins on the cross. Then God gave us the gracious gift of forgiveness through waters of our baptism! Live every day on the right seat of God’s bus of your baptism! “We were therefore buried with him by this baptism into his death, so that just as he was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too would also walk in a new life….6 We know that our old self was crucified with him, to make our sinful body powerless, so that we would not continue to serve sin….8 And since we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him….consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:4, 6, 8, 11). When you’re tempted to think you’re just all wrong or don’t have what it takes to get it right, live through faith in the power of your baptism and cheer, “my God has been my strength!” I’m living for Jesus’ sake and to God’s glory! I’m Doing the Right Job and I Love My Job! For God has graciously put me on the right seat on the bus on the way to heaven! And while I’m riding through life God also gives me
Encouragement from Above
Surveys taken with people who love their jobs revealed a single most important factor for job satisfaction—making progress in meaningful work. So it makes sense to help workers have more meaning behind their work, managers acknowledge accomplishments, provide feedback, and recognize everyday contributions. Listen to the Encouragement Jesus Received from Above! “5 But now the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to turn Jacob back to him, so that Israel might be gathered to him, so that I will be honored in the eyes of the Lord, because my God has been my strength—6 the Lord said: It is too small a thing that you should just be my servant to raise up only the tribes of Jacob and to restore the ones I have preserved in Israel, so I will appoint you to be a light for the nations, so that my salvation will be known to the end of the earth.” We saw this fulfilled in today’s gospel lesson! There is Jesus standing in the Jordan River with the world’s sins being pour over him in his baptism. He would carry this spiritual burden with him all the way to the cross. How would he do it? Even when forsaken by his disciples in the garden, or praying if there’s some other way, “A voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love. I am well pleased with you’” (Mark 1:11). Jesus received encouragement from above!
Talk about Encouragement! And Jesus went to work! And while he worked to save the world from the curse of sin, deliver all from the power of Satan, and open up the gate of eternal life for us all, Jesus spent tons of time communicating with his Father, privately meeting in the inner chambers of the Holy Trinity. Or on the Mount of Transfiguration the Father sent Moses and Elijah, or in the Garden the Father sent angels to encourage him. He assured him, “You are my servant Israel, in whom I will display my glory.” Jesus became what the Children of Israel should have been, what we should be, but are not. Jesus did not give up, he persevered in suffering, was persistent in prayer, grew in grace and contended faithfully for what is always right. Jesus Loved his Job and Received Divine Encouragement From Above to faithfully carry out his work.
We want to honor God and flourish at our work. There are all sorts of seats on the bus of life—parent/child, husband/wife, single, student, divorced, widowed, accountant, engineer, manager, musician or teacher. Can you love your job? Yes, and begin by believing what Isaiah declares, that you are “honored in the eyes of the Lord, because my God has been my strength.” You see, the Lord has equipped you with unique gifts, skills and interests; personality and characteristics. He weaves all that into your being and equips you for just the right job. First, use them for God’s glory and you’ll love your job! Secondly, listen for your heavenly Father’s encouragement just like he encouraged Jesus, “It is too small a thing that you should just be my servant to raise up only the tribes of Jacob and to restore the ones I have preserved in Israel, so I will appoint you to be a light for the nations, so that my salvation will be known to the end of the earth.” Jesus came to save the world, and then Jesus called you “the light of the world” (Matt 5:14). Jesus loved his job, not as the Light of Divine Peace, but as the Light of the world. Therefore Jesus commissions you to shine the light of the gospel to the rest of the world.
God doesn’t need us to take a survey about who we are. He knows! Therefore, listen to Jesus’ encouragement to you, and sitting on the sit of the bus where Jesus put you, and Love Your Job! Trust in Jesus who already succeeded in the most difficult job of the world—saving sinners! And Jesus Loved His Job! Now work for him doing the right job he has given you, and listening to the encouragement from God’s Word, and you’ll love your job, too! Amen!