Text: Psalm 33
When I was originally told that the LWML zone rally was here, I was asked for a verse and a theme for an opening devotion.
No problem I say to myself. I’ll do the evangelical thing. Open the bible to the concordance, look for one word that feels good and can support a portals of prayer length opening, and shamelessly rip that verse out of context.
Then Deb tells me about 2 weeks ago, “oh, no Pastor, its an opening worship service.”
Ok, look at the fuller context of Psalm 33. Oh, I might have chosen differently…
Gospel in the Text
How many of you have a “junk drawer” in your house? Is it the first place you look or the last? I guess that falls under the “there are two types of households…”. Ours is a last place house. You run around opening every other drawer and when you don’t find what you a looking for, cursing under your breath that it’s not where it should be, you open the junk drawer. Saying a quick prayer that it is like Harry Potter’s Room of Requirement. And mystically, out of the last place, what you need is found.
The Psalmist opens up telling us to “shout for joy to the LORD!” Why?
- Because the earth is full of his steadfast love.
- Because by the word of the LORD the heaven were made and the deeps put in their place
- Because the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
Surely God has placed everything in its correct drawer. And we know exactly where those correct drawers are. Right?
“The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.” Oh.
Ok. So that steadfast love isn’t found in nations and peoples. But maybe it is found in the pride of place draw. The corner one with a glass front that shows off the impressive things.
“The King is not saved by his great army, a warrior is not delivered by his strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation.”
Oh, that steadfast love isn’t there in that drawer either. So where is it?
“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.”
God places that steadfast love where we least expect it. In those who fear Him. In those whose soul waits. In those who hope. In the junk drawer of the world.
You get a picture of an early junk drawer in the Acts reading. That early church was going to where they thought they’d find ears. “They were scattered after the martyrdom of Stephen, but spoke the word to no one except Jews.” Surely the steadfast love of God is in this drawer, his chosen people.
“But some of them spoke to the Hellenists, preaching Jesus. And the LORD was with them.”
And who does Barnabas get? He goes to Tarsus to look for Saul. The guy who had been part of the persecution. The guy who had shown up with a crazy story of meeting Jesus on the road. But everyone was afraid of him. So they threw him in the junk drawer. And Barnabas goes into the junk drawer to match the former Pharisee of the Pharisees with the former goyim who somehow had heard about Jesus. And it was in Antioch, in that Junk drawer of a city, that the disciples were first called Christians. In this junk drawer that they found the Steadfast Love of God in Christ for all peoples. It’s not the drawer that we look for, but it is exactly the drawer God has chosen.
When Barnabas came and saw the grace of God, he was glad….For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in His holy name. When we see the grace of God in action, when we realize “oh, here it was all along,” we can’t help but be glad.
Gospel in the World
The church used to have lots of drawers. And you can talk about that church as the larger institution or as the congregation.
There were lots of drawers that you’d open up. Surely what we are looking for is in this one. The seminaries, the pastoral office, the board of elders, the Praesidium, the mission execs. Surely these draws have the answers that we are seeking. Surely the steadfast love of God is found here.
And I don’t want to run those things down too much, but we’ve all opened those drawers enough and found them wanting. Or in latter days, just empty. “By their great might they cannot rescue.”
But then you see the church’s junk drawer. Funded by mite boxes. Sometimes asked, sometimes just expected to “do what needs to be done.” It is probably a little different in each of your congregations, but whether it is giving a cup of cold water to the thirsty person or knowing that God is going to show up and planning for it – when nobody else will. It is the LWML that again and again is where we find the steadfast love of God. Where we see the grace of God. Exactly where God desires it.
“He fashions the hearts of them all, and observes their deeds.”
It is the LWML that again and again demonstrated a heart after God.
It is the LWML that has always understood and continues to understand what it means to fear God.
Let your hearts be glad, because the Lord has seen you. And his steadfast love rests on you.
And may your trust in the name of Jesus, and hope in his word, that gladdens your hearts in service, be seen not just by God, but by our congregations. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us. May we hope in you as those gathered here today hope. Amen.