12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
Soon It will be time for our church to usually recognize our confirmation students, but as will many things during COVID-19 we are going to delay Confirmation Sunday till we can celebrate it properly. So in the meantime here is the short speech I gave last year. Surprisingly it is very timely to where we find ourselves today.
Confirmands, if you haven’t realized it yet, in this life you will struggle with your faith. There are times in our lives where our faith can seem to be so fragile, it can seem difficult to see God at work anywhere, especially not in our lives. In these times where every moment seems to throw temptation after temptation at us, we wonder when God is going to step up and do something to help us. We begin to wonder why does God allow wicked people to hate and lie about us? It even appears that these people, who do not believe in God, catch all the breaks while we fight just to get out of bed in the morning. In these times of struggle, when our faith is so fragile, we wonder what is the point of faith….does it even matter?
Confirmands, you may have people you look up to who appear to live such good and saintly lives. They always seem to be doing the right thing and even saying the right. So much so that we can find ourselves thinking that they are doing on their own without God’s help. What hope is there for me, for those of us who wrestle with temptation and often lose, those of us who fall into sin again and again? Are we God’s forsaken? No of course not! Even those people in our lives who seem so good and saintly, if they are depending upon their own strength to follow God they are despising the Gospel. For the Gospel tells us that only true good person or saint is one who trusts only in Jesus’ saving work for us.
This Confirmands is our greatest comfort, especially in the midst of suffering and trials. The righteous person is not the one who never struggles, never falls into sin, and is applauded for How good or Godly they are. A righteous person is righteous because they trust only in what Jesus does, and therefore God declares them to be righteous for Christ’s sake. The enemies of the gospel lean on their abilities, skills, gifts and strengths. Confirmands don’t be like this, resist the temptation to trust only in yourself. The enemies of the Gospel end up trying to drive away the righteous person because they trust only in God’s promises of forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation, not in anything the righteous person themselves has done, good or bad. When we try to impress God with our doing, we are like a man who tries to bring down the sun by shooting it with a pistol.
Confirmands, be like a true saint who clings to Jesus’ bloody suffering and death for his justification and realize that as a true saint you will be the target of slander, cursing, gossip, false accusations, and the like. But only because the true saint refuses to listen to others who encourage him to offer his words and works to the many gods of this world, money, fame, beauty, family or even Capital G God. Instead, a person who is declared righteous on the account of Christ’s work for him will be poor and in need more often than not. He will struggle, suffer, and be labelled all sorts of nasty things by people outside and even inside the church And Yet, this is what Jesus promises to anyone who listens and follows him.
The wicked are wealthy, powerful, influential, and generally happy people. And why not? They have everything they need. But the righteous are poor, often alone, and made to feel out of place in the world and the church. What little he has, the wicked will try to take away. But the psalmist encourages us not to be upset by this. Instead, leave them to their wealth, power, and happiness. It is better for the righteous person this way. The wicked have piles and piles of money, friends and good things to fall back on in this life. But at the last day, they will encounter only God’s disapproval of them because they confused the Gospel of Jesus Christ with earthly rewards. But the one who is poor and in need, tempted and tried, in this life on account of his clinging to the gospel, at the last day he will be welcomed into the heavenly banquet with Jesus that has no end
Only trust in Jesus’ saving work for us is of any lasting value in this life and into a new creation. God does not care about the size of our house, how many cars are parked in the driveway, how many friends surround us, or the number of people at church who call us “saint” and hold us up as an example of the God-Pleasing life. None of that matters to him who says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am pleased, Listen to him.”
Confirmands, l cannot and I will not promise you that life as a true Christian will be easy, but I can tell you what God promises to us in the midst of our lives on earth. God will hold us up in all suffering and affliction. He will not lets our faith be taken from us. He will not allow us to sink irretrievably into hopelessness. His arm and hand are over us and have an unbreakable grip on us. He loves us so much. And through faith in Christ Jesus alone, no matter how rough the going gets, we will be vindicated. God is on our side, so who can be against us? Who can overcome us? No one, because the One who overcame sin, death, and hell for us will never leave us or forsake us and in him alone we live, move, and yes, even suffer the curses and condemnations of the wicked because we trust that “the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.”
Pastor Ryan Dittmann
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