Sermon – 04-18-21 – Easter III – Cycle B
Scriptures: Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48
Sermon Title: As Children of God, What is Right and What is Wrong?
If we think we are the only person who makes occasional bad choices, listen to the dilemma of King Darius in the time of Daniel. The time of Daniel is when the Israelites were captives in Babylon. But by the time of this story, the Medes and Persians had overtaken the Babylonians. King Darius was the king at this time.
This verse from Daniel 6:18 in the Old Testament from the New International Version of the Bible, reads like this: “Then King Darius returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.” I think King Darius has something on his mind. Do you already know what it is?
Daniel is one of the captured Israelites. God had given Daniel the power and ability to interpret dreams and such. As the Babylonians eventually lost power to the Medes and Persians, a Darius became king. Daniel’s story is stuff for thrilling movies. It could take a whole sermon but not today. The problem evolves that King Darius made Daniel govern the whole kingdom. Daniel was made governor of the whole kingdom because he governed better than any of the other possible governors. The other persons who would have been governors were out to get Daniel.
These jealous men came to the king and suggested that King Darius make a rule that everyone in the kingdom must bow to King Darius and to no other god or gods for the next thirty days. If anyone does, that person shall be placed in a lion’s pit overnight.
King Darius thought that was a good idea, either not knowing or forgetting that Daniel worshiped Daniel’s one and only God. So he signed this order into law. In this kingdom laws could not be changed. When the jealous men reported to King Darius about Daniel praying three times a day to his God, King Darius was heartbroken! He had been trapped by his own jealous governors.
As Daniel was being placed in the den with live, hungry lions, King Darius came to Daniel and told Daniel that he, King Darius, was praying that Daniel’s God would protect him. That is when the verse I read came into play. King Darius wanted no food, no usual entertainment, and he could not sleep. At daybreak, King Darius ran to the lion’s den. He heard Daniel’s voice! King Darius became a believer in Daniel’s God. King Darius commanded everyone in his kingdom to worship and honor the God of Daniel.
Did you notice the cover of our bulletin? It is bright colors around the words “right” and “wrong” and “?s” King Darius learned that he was wrong to listen to his jealous officials. King Darius learned that it was right to pray to Daniel’s God – our God.
We heard in our 1 John 3 reading today that God has named us his children. We are children of God! We can only be children of God if we are without sin. Well, I don’t know about you, but I would have a very short stay as a child of God. In no time, I would be complaining about something. A sin. Now what! I am thrown out of the family of God something like Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. Is it the end of me or will God love me enough to take me back as his child? The good news is that God loves us so much that the warm circle of his arms is always open. But not so fast! We can’t go back and forth in and out of God’s love like a sideways yoyo.
First, we need to know what is right and what is wrong. Using the Ten Commandments as a guide is the place to start. If my sin is complaining, I think I am breaking the commandment about my attitude toward my neighbor – the one about telling lies about other people. That is the umbrella for gossiping. I put my complaining under that umbrella. I can either be complaining about God’s actions or lack of action or I can complain about my neighbor. It is false. It is wrong to be doing this. I am smearing my neighbor. I am denying my relationship with God.
Do you remember the lesson when Jesus said that “We should not speak about the speck in our neighbor’s eye while we ourselves have a log in our eye.” It is wrong. We are not building up relationship and gifts and talents. We are tearing down something that could be wonderful.
It is wrong! What the “right” would be is that we say only encouraging things about our neighbors and about all of God’s actions or lack of actions, like too much rain when the grass needs to be mowed. Then we try to mow the grass and the mower becomes clogged. It was a wrong action to not wait for the wind to come along and dry the grass. When our schedule is out of sync with nature, we have some choices. We can develop some patience. We can be creative and change our schedule. We might even be thanking God that the grass is growing rather than our having a drought.
What wrong choices have you made – either with thought or accidentally? Does you poor choice keep you awake at night? Does your poor action, or do your unkind words, make you a grouchy person? Are you out of sorts? Are you out of God’s family and his embrace? Are you making the people around you uncomfortable or miserable? In Psalm 4 today, we read, “Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause; you set me free when I was in distress. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”
So our God showers us with mercy when we ask for forgiveness; when we realize we have done wrong. In our Acts lesson today, Peter is actually loudly accusing the Jews who demanded that Pilate crucify Jesus. He boldly says, “. . . you killed the Author of Life.” But Peter does not leave this crowd of people without hope. First Peter says that God planned it to happen as it did. Second, if persons in this crowd want to connect with Jesus the Son and with the Father, there is hope. They simply need to repent and turn to God and their sins will be “wiped out.”
So it is with us. No matter what wrong we have said or done, no matter the awful result, God will help the situation and God will offer restoration to our souls. There is no reason for us to stay outside of God’s grace. God will help us to find the “right,” the good, the return to a Father’s embrace.
Psalm 4 concludes, “In peace, I will lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me rest secure.”