May 27, 2018

Pastor Mark F. Bartels



Gospel Lesson;  John 3:1-17         

Epistle Lesson; Romans 8:14-17

Sermon Text; Deuteronomy 6:4-9


The text we will look at is from Deuteronomy chapter six, verses four through nine.  This is in our Savior's name.


Hear, O Israel:  The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.



These are your words.  Heavenly Father, lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



It was the dead of night, the middle of night.  A man goes bursting into the front door of his house, and begins to wake up everybody in his home.  He wakes up his wife.  He wakes up his children.  It is the middle of the night, as he says, “Come on.  We all have to get together.  We have to talk.” 

He gathers them all together.  Moments before that, he had a knife, with its sharp edge placed right at his abdomen.  He was about to commit suicide.  When, all of a sudden, in the middle of the night a voice said, “Stop!  Don't harm yourself.  We are all still here.” 

This jailer was afraid that all of the prisoners were going to escape, and the next morning the Roman government was going to take his life, and so he was going to commit suicide before that happened.  But, St. Paul said, “Stop!  Don't harm yourself.  We are all still here.” 

That man fell down on his knees before St. Paul.  He had heard Paul singing hymns, so he asked Paul,

“What must I do to be saved?”

Paul gave him this beautiful answer. 

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,

and you will be saved.”

That man, that night, in the middle of the night, came to faith in Jesus.  And, the first place his mind went, as soon as he came to faith in Jesus was, “Where?”  It went home. 

It went to his home. 

He thought, “I want my wife to know this.  I want my kids to know this.” 

And so, he risks everything, and takes these two prisoners out of prison to his own home, in the middle of the night.  He washes up all of their wounds, gathers the family together, and there in that home, in the middle of the night, that family learned about Jesus.  The Bible says the whole household came to faith, and that night they were baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

His heart, having become a Christian,

went right home.

When you are on the airplane, and they are giving all of the instructions before the plane takes off, they do mention this to those who are parents, “If there is an emergency, and the oxygen mask falls down, before you put it over your child's face, make sure you put it over your own face, first.”  Parents need to be told that, because where does a parent's heart always go first?  It goes to the child, first.  That is the natural inclination of a parent's heart, even an unbeliever, let alone the heart of a Christian.  Our heart should be towards our children, toward our family, toward our home. 

That is where Jesus' heart was.  Jesus loved children.  He loved them, desperately.  He said,

“See to it that you don't look down on one of these little ones. 

Because their angels always behold the face of

their Father in Heaven.” 

He said,

“Whoever offends one of these little children,

(that means cause them to fall away from the faith, or fall into sin)

it would be better if a millstone were tied around you neck

and you were tossed to the depths of the sea.”  

Jesus loved little children.  He loved the family, the Christian family.

Why is the family so important?  Why is the instruction of children so important?  Why are hearts going to children so important?  We get a picture of it in the text I just read from the book of Deuteronomy.  Here is what was happening in the book of Deuteronomy.  (By the way, the book of Deuteronomy was written for leaders of the church.  It was written for parents.  And, it was written for every single believer.)

It says this. 

“These words are your life.” 

These words are your life!  Here is what was about to happen.  The Children of Israel had wandered for forty years in the wilderness.  The older generation, who had rebelled against God, had died away.  And now, this newer generation was going to go into the land of Israel, and they were taking with them their children. They were going to take possession of The Promised Land, and the Lord knew how dangerous it was going to be. 

-He knew that when they went into the land, He was going to bless them.  And, he knew that for anyone, great blessings can be a danger.  Blessings can cause us to forget God, and focus on our blessings, instead of God. 

-He also knew they were going into a land where there were people who had  a different culture.  This different culture was going to try to entice the children of the Israelites.  They would try to entice them after other gods, and entice them after different, attractive world views. 

The Lord loves the family, and He didn't want these parents' children to lose their faith.  And so, He gives these words to them, (that are in our text today), as they are about to enter the land.

We are about to confirm five young people today. 

-There will be lots of blessings those young people have.  With all of the blessings that come, there is always a temptation to forget God. 

-And, talk about a culture that tempts people away from the Lord.  Our confirmands are going to be embedded in that culture. 

And so, what a wonderful day to look at the instructions of the Lord.  Here is what He says. 

“Hear O Israel:

The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”

This is a confession of faith.  Leaders should confess the faith.  Parents should confess the faith.  Every one of us should confess the faith. 

“Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”

We have been taught from scripture who that One true God is.  There are many competing gods out there.  Many competing gods.  They are constantly trying to tempt you, lure you, and pull you away from the One true God. 

-They can be clear gods you can identify, “That is a false god.  That is a false religion.” 

The world is going to try to tell you, “Oh, all religions are fundamentally the same.  It doesn't really matter what you believe.”  That is not true. 

-Also, our heart is going to go after gods, other hidden things that seem to be more important.  Maybe it will go after popularity, or maybe it will go after trying to be accepted by others.  Maybe it will go after money.  Or, maybe it will go after sensuality.  Maybe it will go after intellectualism.  Whatever our heart has a tendency to go after, here is the confession: 

“Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”

There is only one that is worth giving our whole heart to, our whole heart.  That is the One true God. 

        -God, the Father, because He is the One, and nothing else, that we get our being from.  We don't get it from anywhere else.  He is the One who made us, and created us.  He is the One who provides everything for us.  There is only One true God who made us, and created us to have a perfect relationship with Him. 

But, we have failed.  And so, that One true God,

        -God, the Son, then came to restore that relationship.  He is the only One who gives us value.  I have no value in this life, apart from what Jesus did for me.  He paid for my sins.  That is what we confess. 

        -God, the Holy Spirit is the One who gives us meaning.  He brings me to faith in Jesus.  He causes me to see, “I am going to be immortal. I am going to live forever with Christ, with God.  I have every reason on this earth to live for my Savior.” 

That is the God we confess.  That is the God our young people today are going to confess.  “I believe in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

This is for leaders.  This is for parents.  This is for everyone reading this, as well as our congregation members here. 

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart

and with all your soul

and with all your strength.”  

The word 'all' is there over, and over, and over.  It is this picture of totality.  Totality of love for God. 

And so, what if last night, when the day was over, God had sat down on the couch, with you at your house, put His arm around you, looked in your eyes, eye to eye, and smiled at you, and He asked you this question:  “Today, did you love me with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, all your strength?” 

I know, if He had asked me that last night, my eyes would divert, and then I would think, “Oh, that doesn't do any good, because He knows.  He sees right through me.” 

What if I said, “Yep, I loved you with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength”? 

He would say, “You are deceiving yourself.  The truth isn't in you.” 

It is true.  We fail to love God with all heart, all our strength, all our mind. 

He might look at us, and say, “You didn't love me with all your heart, all your strength, and all your mind.  You didn't even think about me today.  I didn't even cross your mind.  And, I know the things you did, that go against my will.  You didn't love me with all your heart, all your strength, and all your mind.”

But then, do you know what would happen next?  He would have every right to push us away, but He would say, “I am your God.”  He would put His arms around us, and He would hug us.  He would look us in the eye, and say, “I love you.  I still love you.  I love you so much that no matter what you did today, what you said today, what you thought today, how much you forsook me, I still love you.  I love you so much that I sent my own, dear, Son for you.  And, my own, dear Son has wiped away all of your sins.  They are gone.  And, I don't see any sins you committed today.  I don't see one of them.  They are gone.  All I see, when I look at you is the holy life of Jesus and his payment for your sins.

The Bible says, This is love, not that we first loved God, but that he first love us and gave His Son, as the atoning sacrifice for our sin.  The only people who can truly love God are people who know the Gospel message, that Gospel message of what Jesus has done for me.  When I know that, that changes my heart.  The Bible says,

“Anyone who has been born of God

and knows God,

loves God,

because God is love.” 

That creates in our hearts this desire to love God.  And so, in our homes, as leaders in the church, in our homes as leaders, or as private individuals, the only way our love for God grows, and grows, and stays strong, is when the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, is strong in our life. 

On my heart imprint your image,

Blessed Jesus, King of grace,

that life's riches, cares, and pleasure

have no power Thee to efface. 

This the superscription be,

Jesus crucified for me

Is my life, my life,

my hope's foundation,

and my glory and salvation. 

Our text says this. 

“Impress them on your children. 

Talk about them when you sit at home

and when you walk along the road,

when you lie down

and when you get up.”

What the Lord is telling us there is God's Word should be a part of our conversation life as leaders, as family members, as individuals.  God's Word should be a part of our regular conversation life.  Whether we are eating at the table, sitting at home, traveling around, God's Word should be there.  We want it to be there. 

There are some things we just naturally talk about.  We talk about the weather.  We talk about the Packers.  We talk about what is going on at school, or at work.  They just flow.  It is just natural conversation. 

And so, the same with The Word of God.  It should just flow.  It should just be part of the natural conversation.  Why?  With our children, and our friends, there are so many other cultural things they are hearing about, and bombarded with that are anti-scriptural, anti-Jesus, and are trying to pull them away from their faith.  And, if we don't talk about Jesus, and we don't talk about His Word, that is a dangerous thing.

Jesus should be in our homes.  His Word should be a part of who we are, and what we talk about.  To help parents do that, Martin Luther even wrote something called The Small Catechism.  It was written primarily for fathers to be able to instruct their children.  So, if you think, “I don't know how to talk about God's Word”, get a Catechism.  It will give you lots of things to talk about, as a family.

Here is something to really think about.  As a parent, when I am lying in the dust, it is not going to matter to me at all where my kids got their degree, their college degree.  That is not going to matter.  It is not going to matter to me, when I am lying in the dust, how many goals my child got, or how they did on the court, or on the field.  I am not going to care.  When I am lying in the dust, I am not going to care how much money they had. 

What is going to matter to me then, what is going to matter to me is, “Did I pass down a Godly heritage?  Did my children pick it up?  Did they make it their own, by faith?” 

Handing it down to the next generation is what is going to matter.  So, we want to get ourselves in settings where The Word is talked about, whether we are lying down, walking along the way, or sitting at the table.

And then, it says this. 

“Tie them (these commands) as symbols on your hands,

and on your foreheads.

Write them on the doorframes of your houses,

and on your gates.”

I used to have, (but I lost it), this tiny, little Bible, and it was the entire Bible.  It was very tiny.  When we moved from Milwaukee Street to here, I lost it.  I don't know where it is, but maybe I will run across it, someday.  But, imagine if you had a tiny, little Bible right on your hand, just tied there.  And, it was there all of the time.  And, imagine you had a tiny, little Bible tied to your forehead.  Imagine you had a Bible over every doorway you went through, every doorway.  Do you think it would affect your actions?  Do you think you would look at your hands, as you were about to do something, and say, “Oh, that's right.  I am here to live for my Savior”?  Other people see that, too. 

And, as you thought things, and words came out of your mouth, you would think, “Oh, that's right.  My thoughts should be for my Savior.”  

As you walk through doors, would you think, “Oh, that is right, as I go through this door, it will remind me that whatever I am about to do next, I want to do this for my Savior.” 

You see, we could have all the words in our house about the Lord.  We could have all of the words.  You could have devotions every day in your home.  But, if your actions aren't in line with that, it can undermine every word you said.  That is why the Bible says to pastors,

“Watch your life, and your doctrine closely,

because in so doing you will save yourself and others.” 

It tells pastors not just to watch their teaching, but to watch their life.  My life can undermine everything I said.  You could walk away, and say, “I don't believe a word he said.  He sure doesn't act like he believes it.” 

In our homes, we could have the most religious ritual of having devotions every day.  But, if you close the book, put it on the shelf, and live differently, and the words you say, the way you treat people, the way you act, and what your priorities are, that can undermine everything. 

And so, as leaders, in our homes, and as church members, we pray our actions would be in line with what we teach, what we believe, and what the Lord teaches us to believe.  The bottom line is this:  Whether it is the five young people today, you and I as leaders, as parents, as congregation members, our five young people aren't going to be any different than the rest of us, here. 

By that I mean this.  I make lots of mistakes.  I make lots of mistakes, because I fall.  Sometimes I fall hard.  I get attracted by false teachings, or questions of the faith.  That happens to all of us.  But, may we always be a people who is marked by this.  Even though there is much wrong with each one of us, (and we know that), we know where to run for safety. 

We run to Jesus. 

We run to His forgiveness. 

We know He loves us. 

We run to His Word. 

We build ourselves up in that Word. 

We are strengthened in the Word. 

And, we understand how important it is to take that great heritage, and pass it down to the next generation.  That great heritage doesn't become theirs, it doesn't become theirs automatically, until they pick it up, and they make it their own by faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

May we, as parents, as leaders, as a congregation, make that our effort, that we faithfully hand that down to the next generation, for Jesus' sake, and for their sake.