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Seventh Sunday after Pentecost- “Help in Our Weakness,” Pastor Joe Asher, Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church, Germany. *IN NOMINE JESU*
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[a] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Today in our nine verse Romans text, the apostle Paul clarifies our current life situation and the work of the Holy Spirit in this fallen and sinful world. And let me warn you that the picture he paints is not a pretty one.
The great apostle refuses to sugarcoat or gloss over our present reality because he ultimately wants us to find our true “help” in God. So in the opening line of today’s reading, Paul lists the first thing we face in our lives… verse 18-
…the sufferings of this present time…
Then in verse 20, we are told that the…
Creation (meaning, everything in this world) was subjected to futility…
Further, the apostle says that the creation is in, verse 21-
…bondage to decay…
And because of this, Paul’s focus is that the entire world is groaning in pain over its fallen condition. And humanity, all of us, also groan in pain over the personal decay we experience.
For all you soldiers and airmen, hasn’t the PT (physical training) you could so easily do a few years ago become a significant challenge today? That’s personal decay, for as you get older, you simply can’t continue to do what you could do when you were younger.
I know in my own career as a high school baseball coach, hitting fly balls to the outfield became increasingly harder through the years. That’s personal decay. And this is part of the “bondage to decay” which we all experience. Our bodies are getting older, winding down, and with age will eventually cease functioning.
But the “sufferings of this present time” comes to us with much more variety than just physical pain and decay. We may suffer psychologically, and this mental pain can include sadness and grief. Or we may suffer the pressures of this world as job and career and family problems press in on us.
Beyond this, the expectations of others, our responsibilities, and our network of relationships can also be the cause of pain, because in our social connections we may suffer anxiety, loneliness, frustration, self-pity, heartbreak, and guilt.
But God uses the hopelessness of this world to drive us to the only source of real hope- which is our Lord, Himself.
In all of God’s Word, there is a reason why John 3:16 is the most beloved Scripture for all Christians. In the Gospel message, we learn that our hope is rooted in Christ our Savior.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
When God gave His Son to pay for our sin on the cross, He demonstrated His love for all humanity, including you and me. In God’s love, we have hope. No matter our sin. No matter our unworthiness. Christ’s blood shed on Calvary’s cross washes all sin clean… and gives every Christian believer the gift of eternal life. So our hope is never placed in ourselves. It is never how good or righteous or holy we are. Instead, our hope is based upon Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection for us.
That takes all the pressure off.
And when the Father looks at us to evaluate our status and worthiness for salvation and heaven, it is Jesus Who is our Advocate before the Father. And for every believer, Christ testifies for us saying, “I died for that Christian.” 1stJohn 2:1 says it this way-
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
Jesus is our Advocate, our Spokesman, and our legal Representative before the Heavenly Father. And it is His blood which cleanses us from all sin and clears us of all charges of unrighteousness.
But even with our hope in the Gospel, in this fallen world there are times in our lives when we feel forsaken and forgotten. And we are further plagued by jumbled and incoherent thoughts of guilt, self-condemnation, and despair. In the struggle of daily life, you know, in the raising of children, or in the attempt to meet job expectations, or in dealing with the pressures and complexity of our human lives, it can be difficult for us to keep a firm hold on the Gospel and all the promises of God.
We tend to see ourselves through our own eyes, rather than through God’s eyes and His love in Christ. And because we know our sin, and because we know our failures, the enemy works to destroy the hope that we have in Jesus. And when we struggle with hopelessness, it is then that we need to remember Christ is our Savior. And in the low points and despair of our lives, we need to rely on the help of the Holy Spirit to lead us to our heavenly Father. Verse 26-
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
In the tough times of our lives, we can find it difficult to keep a firm hold on the promises of God, especially regarding the forgiveness of sins which we have in Christ and the certainty of our salvation. And so, we know from this passage of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit comes to help us by turning our eyes to Jesus and boosting our confidence and trust in our Savior.
When life seems to heavy to bear, when obedience to God’s Word and will seems impossible to
accomplish, when we feel like everything depends on us, and we feel forsaken and alone, the Holy Spirit moderates our dependence upon feelings, and He helps us by turning us to the promises of God in His Word so that we can rely on God’s strength and His sufficiency.
But the Holy Spirit does even more. Please take a look at verse 26 again-
For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
God the Holy Spirit presents our cause and our case to God the Father. In our lives, when we struggle to even know what to pray for, the Spirit understands our hearts and cuts through all the confusion so that our prayers are corrected by God’s Spirit, with the result that we petition the Lord with what we truly need.
I’ll give you an example of how the Spirit could intercede for us.
Let’s say we may pray for a new job, or less pressure at work, or an end to an illness. But the 3rd Person of the Trinity speaks to the Father like this:
Father, he/ she thinks he needs what he is praying for because he is weary of the pressure. But I know that it is Your will that he learn to depend entirely on You. So Father, please don’t give him what he is asking for right now. Say “no” to his request, and instead give him supernatural strength and a Christian friend to handle the pressure.
Sometimes we are so
- Hurried and overwhelmed
- And weary…
…that either prayers will not come to us, or we end up praying for the wrong things. God the Holy Spirit fixes our prayers and ends the confusion and sends to the Father every request for what we really need.
In our humanity, our vision is so limited. We often see only a tiny fraction of the universe, and our perspective is tainted by sin and selfishness. But God does not abandon us. Even in our prayers, we have the Holy Spirit to help us pray for the things we really need.
And what we really need always lines up with God’s will, and what we really need, ultimately, is Jesus Himself. For Christ is the One Who can get us through tough times.
And here is the wrap-up on this Romans 8 reading: In your weakness, when you feel desperate about the things that truly matter to you, and you don’t know what to say, and all you can do is cry out, “Dear God, help!…” Don’t worry. That’s enough. Because the Holy Spirit is praying for you. And He is bringing you God’s strength and sufficiency in Jesus Christ our Lord.
In Jesus’ name.
Amen. +Sola Deo Gloria+
Pentecost 7- KELC Prayers- 7/19/20
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that in the hard times, you always send the Holy Spirit to those who love You. We rejoice in the fact that our salvation, and even our prayers, depend on You. We pray that You would always keep our eyes of faith on Christ our Savior, and that by Your Holy Spirit, You would make all our prayers in accord with You will and acceptable to You.
Lord in Your mercy,……………… Hear our prayer.
Gracious Triune God, we pray that You would guide our lives according to Your will. Keep us from all sin, and empower us by Your Holy Spirit to serve You in righteousness. In all that we say and do, help us to honor Christ our Savior.
Lord in Your mercy,……………. Hear our prayer.
Eternal Holy Spirit, strengthen our faith and keep us in Your care. If it be Your will, protect us from all health problems which include the COVID-19 viral emergency which continues to impact our globe. In our lives, we pray for Your will to continually be done.
Lord in Your mercy,……………….. Hear our prayer.
Finally, Lord, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care. For those who are sick, hospitalized, away on duty assignments, traveling, unemployed, lonely, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now…
Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer…
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.