Fourteenth Sun. aft. Pentecost B
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
September 17, 2000
(In the Cardon valley of France there is a Roman aqueduct that was built in the first century before Christ. That bridge is an architectural wonder with tiers of arches rising 160 feet above the riverbed. It is 900 feet in length. The bridge is made of colossal dressed blocks of masonry, some weighing as much as six tons, which were laid without mortar. The courses are held together with iron clamps. As people stand on the riverbed below look up at this incredible structure, most wonder why it has not collapsed in this modern era of heavy trucks and equipment. The answer is surprisingly simple: It remains intact because it is used for nothing but foot traffic. If an 18 wheeler were to roll across that 21 century structure, it would crumble in a great cloud of dust and debris. Relationships are like that bridge, they may appear to be upright and secure, , until they are put under heavy pressure – or under the drip, drip, drip of years of negative interchanges.
I. OUR RELATIONSHIPS OFTEN FAIL BECAUSE WE DON’T KEEP THE PROMISES WE MAKE.
A. Promises kept are like the iron clamps that have held that bridge together for 21 centuries, but broken promises do the damage of an 18 wheeler on that old bridge.
1. Broken promises can bring down marriage, family, friendships and even society.
2. Promises come in all shapes and sizes:
a. “Let’s do lunch sometime.”, is a lightweight promise we often don’t keep.
b. But on the other end of the spectrum is the vow; the most serious kind of
promise we can make.
3. A vow is not only a promise, but a pact we make before God and witnesses.
a. The prime example of a vow is our wedding vows.
b. A couple being married promise many things, but it’s the final vow that is of critical importance: “…and I pledge you my faithfulness.”
B. Breaking a wedding vow has tragic consequences.
1. Listen to some of the things that children have said about the personal devastation they have experienced from a divorce:
a. “Dad used to love Mommy, but he doesn’t now. I hope he won’t ‘use to love me too’ “, said a five year old.
b. A nine year old said: “Why won’t Dad play by the rules? The rule is, you say ‘I love you,’ get married and you live together with your kids. That’s the rule. He wants me to play by the rules and not cheat but he cheated – now my Mom cries all the time and even when I hug her she won’t stop.”
2. But it’s not just marriage that is threatened when you don’t keep your word.
a. Like the iron clamps that hold that Roman bridge together, all our relationships depend on keeping our word to one another.
b. ILLUS: In our school, from time-to-time, someone forgets to pick up their child after school…poor little kid just stand there all alone unsure what’s happened to his parents. In Albuquerque last spring, one set of parents didn’t pick their child up on Friday after school and didn’t remember until the following Tuesday…How long before that child would be able to trust his parents again?
c. Keeping our promises we make are the iron clamps that help hold life together.
C. Why don’t we always keep our promises?
1. Sometimes we just forget.
a. We get too busy with other things.
b. It’s hard to say “no”, when people ask us to get involved in a project.
c. We willingly say “yes” without thinking of when we’re going to get it done.
2. Sometimes we don’t keep our promises because words don’t seem as important as they used to.
a. You might call it “word inflation”.
b. Many seem unconcerned about the words they utter…bad grammar, vulgarity, and I guess it can follow that our promise words don’t mean much either.
3. Finally, we don’t keep our promises because we have ultimately failed to be self-disciplined.
a. When a spouse makes a marriage vow and then breaks it, he’s undisciplined.
b. When a person consistently misses deadline after deadline, he is undisciplined.
c. The person who misses payments demonstrates a failure in self-discipline.
4. How long can we keep breaking our promises…failing in self-discipline until:
a. a marriage falls apart…a family disintegrates…and employer gives up… society fails to hold together?
b. Remember Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount? “Simply say yes or no.”
II. THANK GOD THAT OUR HEAVENLY FATHER KEEPS HIS PROMISES!
A. Keep in mind, however, that some of God’s promises are very threatening!
1. (Lev. 5:4)
2. (Deut. 27:21)
3. (Ez. 18:4)
B. Now if God were more like us, these promises you heard might not be a problem.
1. We figure that God won’t make good on His threats.
2. “Oh, God is a God of Love so He wouldn’t do that!”, we insist.
3. Yes, God is love, but He is also faithful…that is true to His Word…that’s His nature!
a. He wouldn’t be perfect if He didn’t keep his Word, would He?
b. No, God is always true to His Word…every single time!
C. That’s why Jesus Christ should be so important to us.
1. Yes, God does punish sin…and did so when Jesus died on the cross.
a. This is the greatest expression of divine love ever exhibited!
b. When Christ took our place He brought us the forgiveness of sins…including all our broken promises.
2. We can freely confess our brokenness to Him, because God forgives us for the sake of His innocent Son’s death…It is humanity’s only hope!
3. Yes, many of God’s promises are threatening, but the main thrust of God’s Word is good promises for you!
a. (Psalm 24:4-5)
b. (I John 1:7)
c. (Gal. 3:14)
d. (II Cor. 1:18-20)
CONCLUSION: The word “amen” means, “It shall be so.” Do you speak the Amen? Has Christ drawn you to the cross with your sins, believing His word of forgiveness? Let us not disown Him by being unfaithful to the promises we make. God promises the blessings of a good reputation, a clear conscious, and a blessed marriage. But the motivation is not mere self-interest that drives us to the blessings that come from keeping our promises. Rather it is love, our response to the love of God in Christ Jesus that moves us to reflect His faithfulness. Again and again in the Scriptures we hear our loving and gracious God say, “I pledge you my faithfulness.” You see, it is the faithfulness of Jesus Christ that can hold the whole structure of our lives together! In Jesus’ name. Amen. It shall be so!
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