VBS Celebration Sunday
Genesis 3:1-19 – Buyer’s Remorse
Have you ever had “buyer’s remorse”? It’s something that happens usually after you’ve made some large purchase or spent a lot of money on something, but soon afterwards what you bought begins to disappoint you, maybe worry you, buyer’s remorse can lead you to even try and take your purchase back if you can.
Do you think Adam and Eve had some “buyer’s remorse”? The devil had come to them and sold them the idea that eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a good idea. But God had told them that if they would eat from that tree that they would surely die. But the devil came to them and sold them a bill of goods. So, Adam and Eve took the fruit.
Can you imagine their anticipation as they went into it? As they were about to eat the fruit? “Wow! We’re going to be like God! We’re going to understand good and evil! We’re going to advance to a whole new level!”
And then? Some “buyer’s remorse”? All of a sudden they were hurled into all those terrible things, all of a sudden they felt guilt, shame, fear, selfishness, pain, anger, blame – all those things that we hate about ourselves. What the devil had painted as being so wonderful, turned out to be awful and horrible! “Why, why, why did we listen to the devil? Why, why, why didn’t we listen to God!”
Well, nothing is new today is there? The devil continues to paint sin as being alluring, attractive, interesting. “Go ahead and hold a grudge instead of dealing with the person who hurt you, bottle it up inside, be angry, you deserve it!” “Go ahead and indulge yourself even if you can’t afford it!” “Just be lazy at work for once, so many are, your employer won’t notice, it’s about time someone did something for you for a change.” But what happens afterward? Sin always ends up biting us, making us feel terrible, or plunging us into more sin.
This past week the children learned about a certain deep sea creature. It’s called the black dragonfish. It looks like a snake and it lives deep in the ocean where there is hardly any light. What it does is it has a way of shining a little light in the darkness that causes little fish to swim to it, but when the little fish get close it suddenly chomps down on them with sharp teeth. Isn’t that what Satan does when he tries to get us to sin?
Finally, all the horrible things of this world, all the bad stuff that we experience, comes back to this: our first parents’ sin and it is perpetuated by our sin.
But did you notice what God promised? “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers, he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This is the first gospel promise, the first promise of the Savior, which came moments after sin first entered this world. God promised to send Jesus who would come to crush the devil’s head, to destroy the work that he did in the Garden of Eden. And…Jesus came. Jesus lived knowing full well what he was getting into, knowing full well what he was purchasing with his life and bitter death on the cross. And…He did it. He went to the cross to buy us out of our horrible debt of sin. So we can live, we can live free from sin’s guilt, live free from slavery to the devil and his bill of goods, live free to glorify our God and Savior. Amen.
Matthew 4:1-11 – Protection in Temptation
What scares you? What are you afraid of? We might be afraid of all sorts of things in life: Perhaps the darkness, perhaps an intruder in our home, perhaps we’re afraid of some sickness or disease, perhaps we’re afraid of some kind of loss, like the loss of our money, loss of our respect, loss of friends or family. Living in this world there are all kinds of things that can scare us. And how do we deal with those things? If you’re afraid of the dark you might keep a light on all night long, if an intruder you might purchase a gun, if you’re afraid of getting sick you might take a bunch of vitamins or regularly visit a health professional.
But finally all of those things really pale in comparison with something that probably should fill us all with a great amount of fear. Most things that we fear in life have only to do with this life, this temporary life. But really there is someone who wants nothing less than for you to suffer eternally because that is exactly his fate. You see, the devil’s number one goal is to bring people, including you and I, down and he will stop at nothing in order to try to get us to distrust God, abandon God and His Word, lose our faith, and suffer forever with him.
We learned about a certain fish this past week called the porcupine fish or pufferfish. When it is scared or in danger it has a way of filling itself up with water or air and it becomes kind of rounded with these spikes sticking out all around it. Whatever predator wants to eat it quickly decides eating that fish would be worse than not eating it at swims away.
Wouldn’t that be nice? Would that be nice to puff ourselves up with spikes so the devil and his evil angels would think twice about attacking us with temptations to bring us down?
Temptations in and of themselves are not bad. Any temptation that the devil throws at you has to first be allowed to come at you by God. In fact, it was God who led Jesus to the desert to be tempted by Satan. And here in the desert unlike Adam and Eve who had everything Jesus had all kinds of things against him: he was hungry, he was alone. And yet, Jesus didn’t waver at all, He stood firm against every one of Satan’s attacks.
And why? To be our perfect substitute. Jesus didn’t give in to temptation for every time you and I have fallen for the devil’s tricks and lures. Jesus didn’t give in for all of the times we’ve dove right into sin. And because Jesus remained perfect his whole life and died on the cross for our sins, the devil has been defeated. And you notice that each time Jesus didn’t use His power as God to shut down the devil, he didn’t strike him with lightning or blow him away with a powerful wind. Rather, Jesus relied on God’s Word. We want protection from the devil? We want to give glory to God in every temptation in our lives? Memorize God’s Word, keep it close to your heart and mind and the devil must flee.
Exodus 14:21-23, 26-27, 16:11-16, 17:3-6 – Providence in Need
At times in our lives we face obstacles, don’t we? Things that keep us from confidently moving forward in life. Perhaps it’s a health issue, a relationship issue, a difficulty of some kind. And when we face obstacles it can be easy for us to get discouraged, to complain, to get frustrated, or to just be down. Where do we go? Where do we turn?
One little fish in the ocean is called a clownfish. It’s bright orange fish and is an easy target for predators. There’s another fish called the sea anemone that has a bunch of long tentacles. Apparently, when a fish touches one of those tentacles it stings and paralyzes the fish. It does that for most fish except for the clownfish. The clownfish is unaffected by its tentacles. So, when a clownfish is in danger it swims for protection in the tentacles of the sea anemone.
Well, the Israelites faced many dangerous obstacles. God had just miraculously delivered them out of slavery in Egypt but now there they were sitting on the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army marching after them. Where do they go? Where do they turn? There’s no solution that they can see. So what does God do? He parts the water so the whole nation could go through on dry ground and then closes the sea on top of their Egyptian pursuers. Then, later on they’re hungry, they have no food, what will they do? There’s no solution that they can see. What does God do? He miraculously provides bread for them every day while they wandered in the desert. Then later on they have no water, they’re dying of thirst, so what does God do? He causes water to come from a rock for them to drink!
It wouldn’t have been too difficult for the Israelites to see that their protection, their food, their water, really came from God. Perhaps it’s more difficult for us to see that. Our pantries are often filled with food, we don’t really ever have to wonder if we’re going to have water when we turn the faucet on, and we aren’t exactly afraid of an enemy nation ready to kill us or take us hostage. Perhaps it can be easy for us to forget that it’s really God who gives us everything we need for life.
And so sometimes God will let us realize that we have a need or a bunch of needs. We’ll hit an obstacle in life just like the Israelites. They saw clearly their need for protection from the Egyptians, their need for food, their need for water. What need in your life has God let you see? A health issue, a financial issue, a relationship issue?
But when the Israelites lived only by sight they were filled with discouragement and fear. When we live only by sight we, too, are filled with discouragement and fear. But when we look back at God’s faithfulness to us in the past, how He’s provided for us in the past, how He’s protected us, how He worked things out so that today we could once again hear His Word, hear the message of Jesus our Savior, when we look back at God’s faithfulness in the past we’re encouraged to live not by sight, but by faith, trusting that our faithful God will bring us from the point we’re at now to the place where He’s calling us. And one day, because we have a faithful God and Savior, we know He will faithfully lead us and bring us to our ultimate home in heaven. Amen.