Fully Convinced

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave Glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.                                                Romans 4:20-21

We have quite an honor this morning in participating in another confirmation.  ******, you have finished a course of study, but more than that, you desire to take on the responsibilities of mature Christian life.  Up to this point you have been under the responsibility of your parents, but now you step before God, to be accountable directly to Him for yourself, your actions, and your life.  This is an important step in your walk with the Lord, and we all must support and encourage you in every way that we can.

But there is more that is happening here than merely your progress in faith.  Something is happening from God’s direction as well:  He is bringing to pass the promises that He gave to you on the day of your Baptism.  He has proved Himself faithful in creating and building your faith and knowledge of Him.  He is making you realize more and more the depth and truth of His saving you from the penalty of your sins, and the great joy that awaits you when one day you sit down by His side forever.  You are growing in your appreciation of the specialness of prayer, of the Holy Spirit’s work within you, and of the surprises that God can bless you with.  He stands with you as your wrestle with decisions and problems, as you sort out life, its meaning, and the direction you must take.

Sometimes it is hard to see where He is leading, sometimes it can seem mighty lonely, sometimes it is just plain confusing.  How you may wish that you can see down your life a few years to clue you in on what you should do now to prepare for that eventual day.  Unfortunately, such a possibility doesn’t happen for us.  And so you must take each day, each week, one at a time, usually never even dreaming how things could perhaps turn out, where life may take an abruptly different direction than where it seemed to be heading.

As it is, change swirls all around you, as who you are matures, as you feel pressure to determine your future courses of actions: what will your occupation be, your romantic attachments, where you will make your home, what possibilities will you choose to make you into the kind of person you will be proud of.  So often there can be a sense of how you need to get it all right, or else future happiness can be greatly affected.

And so today is  also FOR you, from God, not just something that you do.  We usually focus on that this is a day in which you pledge and commit yourself to the course of life given to you in your Baptism, but actually today is also a renewal of the Lord’s pledge to you on that important day that you really are His child and that He will walk with you throughout every day to come.

In other words, He is here to remind you of His presence and care, and that as often as you look back over your life, you will be amazed, because you will see that He has always been there, nudging you, using your decisions, even your indecisions to frequently bring you into His blessings.  He is here for you today, to remind you that He keeps a watch over you, just as His eye is on the sparrow, and He will be there, for you, every day of your life.  As Jesus’ life demonstrated an involvement in this real world, He will be with you in all the grit and in all the shine you experience in all the years to come.

You travel the same road as Abraham.  Abraham had had no idea what the future would bring as he traveled from his home to the new land he was promised.  He face a powerful struggle consider God’s promises said one thing, nature said something completely different.  In the Epistle, St Paul reminds us how the Lord had promised to Abraham, that a nation would come from him, out of which would come a blessing for the world, Jesus the Messiah.  As each year passed, the confusion must have built within him: He and his wife Sarah were getting too far from the childbearing years and too close to the end of life for the promise to make sense.  If only he could have looked down the years to find out how it all came together, that would have made it a lot easier in deciding what he should do and how he should react.

But he also couldn’t.  And he made mistakes.  He tried to help out the Lord once, by having a child by Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar.  God replied that this wasn’t His way – however, He would bless this offspring as well, but not in the special way that the son He would send would be blessed.  Then there was the time he laughed when God came with the promise of the son, as well as another time when Sarah also laughed at the promise.

Yet each time, God applied His forgiveness and reaffirmed that He had not deserted them, rather that His promises were being accomplished, but His own time.  And Abraham believed Him.

Abraham’s faith was remarkable.  He was willing to operate His life as though the completed promise were just around the next corner.  Why, he even changed his name at the command of the Lord – changed from “father of many” to ”father of many nations” – when he had nothing but God’s promise to hold to.  How hard that must have been though to hold on the promise when he met some new person and gave his name, and the person in casual conversation would ask the father of Many Nations how many children he had and he would have to reply, “none.”

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In a sense the Lord is doing the same to you today.  He comes now to remind you of the wonderful benefits of Baptism that He has placed you into, benefits that although you experience some of their blessings now, still their fullness is yet to come.

You are a very child of God – yet you must wait before you can see Him face-to-face.  Still you have the amazing privilege of already calling Him “Father!”, of talking with Him and having Him share in your daily life.  He guides you, as you read His Word, as He makes you realize something, as you talk with fellow children of God.

The greatest benefit of course is that in Jesus you stand before the Lord totally clean and acceptable.  Yes, here again you don’t have the fullness of the promises yet – you still rebel, you still mess up, some of your best intentions go wrong, those times when you fail, and always that worry about being inadequate which we all have.  Just as Paul cries out at the end of chapter 7, yes, you are saved from your sins – yet you yearn and still must wait to be free from their sabotaging the good things you want to do and be.  In repentance we cry out to the Lord along with Paul, laying into Jesus’s hands our failures and frustrations, our rebellions and distrust of God’s way, our self-centeredness and our neglects.

And so God has chosen to come to you today, as He did to Abraham, to reassure you and to build up your faith.  He comes to remind you that all His promises that were made through your Baptism, through your reaffirmation of your Baptism, that He hasn’t forgotten about them and that they will be fulfilled.  This is as sure as the promises He made to Abraham, which seemed more and more impossible with each passing year, yet finally reached fulfillment; which are as sure as the promises about our Savior, which had seemed so impossible, yet these too reached all their fulfillment in Jesus.  Your Father wants you to know that all His promises to you are just as firm and guaranteed.

That guarantee is just as firm as when the promised baby was revealed in flesh and blood to Abraham, so also today the guarantee is revealed in the Flesh and Blood here on the Table of the Lord, as Jesus shares the very core of His being with you.  It is His demonstration that not a week will go by without Him and His Word being very much a part of your world, your life, your reality.

And that can give you the power now to go out and live the intention that you are demonstrating in your confirmation.  You want to be mature, adult-like in your faith and action, and you are being reassured today that this will be most welcomed and blessed, that the significance of what you do will never be lost nor worthless.  God will back up your efforts with His power and promises, and they have eternal significance because of how the Holy Spirit uses them to God’s Glory.  So the Lord bless you as you take a new step, something deeper and more powerful, in your life with the Lord.

And for the rest of us, you are not here merely to observe, then say, “Wasn’t it nice!” and then go home.  The Lord is here today also for you!  He has come back again for YOUR sake as well.  He comes to reassure you, to build up your faith, to let you know that His promises to you (and yours to Him) made years ago have not been forgotten – they still are powerfully effective, and His intent is to carry them out in full.

But then on your side on this day of confirmation, what is YOUR desire, what do you wish to have happen in your faith-life?  This is to be a day of re-confirmation for you as well!  What are your intentions – how are you going to carry those intentions into your life as well?  your faith is no spectator sport, to merely watch OTHERS practice their faith.  God doesn’t allow you to ride the coattails of someone else’s faith.  Isn’t it about time for you too to be revisited by God, to walk more closely with Him, and to rediscover the depths of all His promises to you?

So the Lord also comes for your sake as well, as He does every Sunday, particularly when He comes with His Body and Blood, to prove vividly and visibly that He is utmostly serious about what He wants for you.  There in the bread and wine is His Body broken, His Blood shed for you.  If He didn’t stagger at that promise for your salvation, then He will not stagger at any other promise, since they demand far less from Him than that single one did.

So everybody today, come again before the Lord, and pledge yourself to Him once more, join Abraham as you reaffirm that this faith is what you want for your life.  Come to His altar and experience afresh the presence of the Lord Who would come to reassure you, strengthen you, and prove to you afresh the joy and power, the life and salvation that are yours today, tomorrow, and every day into eternity.

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