Second Sunday in Lent
March 17, 2019
Rev. John R. Larson
Ascension Lutheran Church Littleton, Colorado
Whoever invented Daylight Savings Time didn’t help us poor preachers at all. Last Sunday, that Sunday every Spring when we miss an hour of sleep, attendance was down by about 20%. For some who had lost that hour of sleep the night before, they caught up during my message. When I tried to get people to stand following the sermon I had to announce it twice!! I don’t think everyone’s mind was fully engaged.
Where’s your mind today? Engaging our minds is not always easy. You might be stuck on what happened yesterday. You might be thinking of the things that have to happen today, or if you’re a planner you’re already making your list for tomorrow. My mind? I’m still wondering how they make all that beer green for St. Patrick’s Day!!
Has anyone chastised you with the words, “Your mind is in the gutter”? You tell a joke that is a little off color. You snicker if someone says something that can be taken two different ways. They look at you and give you the word, “Get your mind out of the gutter.” Or, maybe you have said that to another. You know where they seem to go with everything and it’s not the right place.
So, today I want to talk about your mind and where it should be. Not in the gutter. But a little higher, a little better – in fact, all the way into heaven. I want to talk today about being heavenly minded.
Our text, “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:18-20a) Heavenly minded.
Every week the news tells us of lives that are centered on earthly things. This week it was about the powerful and wealthy bribing universities, and those who work there, with insane amounts of money to get their kids into the best places. Greed, lying and cheating branded those who are known to us for other things they do very well. Right and wrong were all twisted.
We saw about 50 people brutally murdered in New Zealand. Hatred over a person’s color or religion or way of life won the day. Those who did such an act didn’t even try to hide their heart. They allowed the darkness of their heart and soul to take over their mind.
But that is not just the trouble of those who got the headlines this week. We know what it is to have minds set on earthly things. Earlier in this chapter Paul talked about a mind that had a false hope. I’ve just mentioned about a false life. Now I speak about a false hope.
After listing his heritage, his works, his accomplishments, Paul talks about where his new mind finds a foundation, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:7-9) Paul went from having a wrong mind and a wrong heart and a wrong life to one that was right in all ways. He went from having a mind on earthly things – himself and his manner of salvation – to one that was heavenly minded – settled in Christ alone.
Heavenly minded happens when anyone is grounded in Christ. Last Sunday, for those who weren’t catching up on that lost hour of sleep during that opportune time during the service – the sermon – you heard me talk about Billy Graham. When we were receiving Holy Communion, I heard Mike playing and you singing, Billy Graham’s signature hymn, “Just as I Am Without One Plea”. (570 LSB) “Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.” (Verse 5) Heavenly minded is knowing that we only have one reason to be confident before God, our confidence is in Jesus. Jesus paid for our sins. Jesus came back to life after His stay in the grave. Jesus will give everlasting life and a glorious body on that final day to everyone who trusts in Him. It is good to be heavenly minded.
10 days ago the Pastor’s Conference was over at Pastor Rick’s church – Immanuel in Englewood. We had our study in the room next to his office. As I looked ahead of me I saw two items on the same shelf – a cross and a First-Aid kit. I don’t know if someone did that on purpose, if they were getting ready for the Children’s Message, or if that is where things just ended up – but they do go together. Perfectly. The cross is the Christian’s First-Aid kit.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “They are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good”? I think that word is talking about folks who don’t connect Jesus with every day life. They seem to be other-worldly. Very spiritual but not very practical.
If anything, people who are heavenly minded are filled with earthly good. This section says that a Christian has a deep concern for others. When talking about those who have become enemies of the cross of Jesus through a sinful life or by a false foundation of hope, he says, “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears…” (Philippians 3:18a). Tears often show a humanness to life. It contains the feeling of compassion. St. Paul, heavenly-minded St. Paul, wept for those who were far away from God’s ways by a godless life or by a false faith.
Tears seem to be the theme of the day in our readings. Our first lesson is from Jeremiah who has been called, “The Weeping Prophet.” In the Gospel lesson Jesus shares His sorrow over the city of Jerusalem. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Luke 13:34) Later, Jesus, on Palm Sunday, revisits Jerusalem and He does so with tears. He is heavenly minded, He is grounded, and He carries a burden that goes deep into His soul. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42)
Heavenly minded people have a heart for people. They feel pain. They have compassion. They care when something is not right. In our reading Paul wept over people who had chosen to be enemies of the cross of Christ. He lived his life revealing the goodness of God, calling people to leave a life that is defiant of God and His ways and turning to the Savior, Jesus.
I want you to be heavenly minded but I also want you to be earthly good. Don’t ever become indifferent to people and their needs. Never give up caring that they know the brilliant truth of Jesus.
Heavenly minded people are authentic people. Did you hear how Paul begins his words today? “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” (Philippians 3:17) Paul told them, “Follow me.” He said, “Do what I do.” The word he uses is ‘mimic’ or “imitate”.
Can you do that? Can you tell others, “Do what I do”? Too many times it is “Do what I say, not what I do.” I know that we have a ways to go, but the goal of heavenly minded people is to have people watch us, observe us, see something true and godly, something unique and different, and then follow in our steps as we follow in the steps of Jesus. Heavenly minded people do much good to many people right here on earth.
Where is your mind today? I hope that it is looking clearly at Christ, knowing that you are fixed and firm in His salvation by His cross and empty grave. Where is your mind today? It is filled with the Spirit of God guiding you in ways that witness of God’s place in your lives to anyone who you know.
Where is your mind? In the gutter? No!! It is in the clouds. You are heavenly minded in faith and in your living. Amen!!