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August 7, 2001, Sermon: Isaiah 55:10-12
Series A: Sunday of the Church Year: Pentecost 8 Sunday Theme: “The Word of God Is Powerful” First Lesson: Isaiah 55:10-12 (God’s Word Works) Second Lesson: Romans 8:18-25 (The End of Frustration) Gospel: Matthew 13:1-9,18-23 (The Planter of the Seeds) Preaching Place: Our Savior’s, East Brunswick, NJ
Dear precious people of God:
A medication that has been in the news lately is Lipitor. They now have a generic version that some companies
are trying to get on the market that won’t need a physician’s prescription. But watch out for the side effects.
These serious side effects include:
Call your doctor right away if:
You have muscle problems like weakness, tenderness, or pain that happen without a good reason,
especially if you also have a fever or feel more tired than usual
You have allergic reactions including swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and/or throat that may cause
difficulty in breathing or swallowing, which may require treatment right away
You experience nausea and vomiting
You feel more tired than usual
Your skin and whites of your eyes get yellow
You have stomach pain
You have an allergic skin reaction
In clinical studies, patients reported the following common side effects while taking LIPITOR:
Muscle and joint pain
Alterations in some laboratory tests
The following additional side effects have been reported with LIPITOR:
In the field of medicine and drugs, there are some wonders that are present. Billions of people are helped daily
by chemical advancement. But there always seems to be some side effects to a greater or lesser degree.
Sometimes medicines work, sometimes they don’t.
How different is the spiritual medicine that God has given to us! It is the Word of God. How powerful and
effective is the tool that God has given to us to cure our spiritual diseases! We understand this simple truth from
Isaiah and many other messengers from God.
“God’s Word Always Works”
I. What makes it work?
A. God says it is his Word. He verbalizes it by saying, “My words that come out of my mouth”
The prophets of old never claimed that their messages were their own words.
The same with the apostles who penned the testimony of the fulfilled prophecies in what we call the New
Testament. They asserted, “We speak not in the words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught be
the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13). The medicine that we use in our churches is divine, made in heaven itself,
conveyed to you in the pages of Holy Scriptures.
Because this is God’s Word, it is eternal and changeless. Isaiah reminds us that “the grass withers and the
flowers fall, but the Word of our God stands forever” (40:8). That’s just another way of saying the Word
B. Because it is God’s Word, it is powerful.
One of the blessings of living here in New Jersey is the change of seasons. Especially winter to spring
brings with it a wonderful example of God’s power in nature. What might appear to be dead ground now
bursts into life. And now in August we enjoy the result of God working through nature. There are fruit and
vegetable stands on the side of the road. No wonder they call this “the Garden State.”
The same is true on the front lawn of the church. We messed up some of the grass when we dug the
trenches for the electrical wires to the sign. After we filled in the trenches, we wanted to cover the scares
by growing grass. We threw grass seed, but seed needs water for it to germinate. When it rained, we
rejoiced. When it didn’t rain, we had to water it – usually twice a day. Now the grass is filling in. There is
more green and less brown.
What makes God’s Word work? What makes it grow? It is the fact that God empowered it and it waters
souls to make them grow spiritually. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return
to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and
bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth” (55:10,11a).
Missionary Paul had such confidence in the Word that he proclaimed it without shame (Romans 1:16) to a
world that despised it. Then when the few chosen ones believed it, he gave full credit to the power of the
Word. When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of
men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
The writer to the Hebrews compares the power of the word to the power of the sword in battle. The Word of
God is alive and powerful and sharper than any double edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). You see how the
whole Bible reminds us that the Word always works.
Transition: That’s quite impressive isn’t it? Because it is God’s Word, it always works. Because it is powerful it
affects human souls.
II. What does it do?
A. The prophet says it simply. God has a plan and a purpose for it.
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it
(55:11). What does the Lord desire to accomplish? For what purpose will he be sending out the Word? He
is looking for the Word to do what the rain and snow do: to bring life out of death and to cause that which is
already alive to grow. That is what he says his Word will accomplish. It will create life and sustain life.
For evidence that the Word is able to do just that, my brothers and sisters, we need to look no further than
ourselves. We have come from different parts of the world with different backgrounds, different
experiences, different economic levels, different personalities and different gifts. But with all the
differences we all have something in common: we came into this world as corpses – dead in transgressions
and sins as God says (Ephesians 2:1). We had another thing in common: hell was our destination. That is
equally true of all of us here today.
But that’s not what God wanted for us. He didn’t want us to spend eternity in hell. He wanted us to spend
eternity in heaven. He didn’t want us to remain dead in transgressions and sins. He wanted us corpses to
come to life.
He knew that dead people can’t bring themselves back to life. So he took the initiative. He gave us life
through the waters of Baptism. It didn’t seem like much. In fact, to one looking in from the outside, it
appeared to be foolish – just words and a few handfuls of water. But look what it did for us. It gave us life.
From Jesus’ own mouth he assures us, “Except a man be born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the
kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:5,6). And ever since
that day God has been keeping us alive through the same Word, the Word taught; the Word heard; the
Word read; the Word attached to the bread and wine through which he gives us the very body and blood of
Jesus. The Word assures us that the perfect obedience, the innocent suffering, and the sacrificial death of
Jesus deletes our sins from God’s records. The Gospel of Jesus is the power of the Word. It alone brought
us to life. It alone waters and nourishes our spiritual life. As we stay with the Word we keep on growing in
faith. That’s because the Word always works.
B. The opposite is also true. When we don’t use the Word our souls start to wither.
I’m a bit worried about the new grass that we just planted outside a few weeks ago. We have been watering
it two times a day most days. But now we won’t be here is water it for a couple weeks. Without water the
tender shoots may dry out and die.
The same is true about your faith. Sometimes when a pastor goes on vacation, some members think they
can go on vacation from hearing God’s Word. That’s a worry too. Some pastors don’t announce the
vacation for that very reason. But there it is in the bulletin for you to read. The same worry is true for those
who consistently miss the Word and Sacrament. My fear is that just as plants wither and die when there is
no water, so the Christian faith withers and dies without the Word.
Transition: That brings us to a vital question.
C. What are we going to do with it?
I must admit to you something this morning. There are certain people in this church that are hooked on
something. They are addicts. Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary gives this definition. Being an addict
means “to devote or surrender oneself habitually or obsessively.” There are some in this church that are
hooked on reading the Bible. They need their daily fix. They know they are hooked because if they stop,
they’d have withdrawal symptoms. The sinful nature would start rising up. Rebellion against God would
soon dominate their lives. Of course, reading the Bible not a bad addiction. It’s an addiction that enriches
our lives. It brings confidence in decision making. It brings comfort when disappointment attacks. A when
the critical time of death arrives, there is peace. That’s because the Word always works.
There is something else that happens to daily Bible readers. It makes them into dealers. They end up
sharing the powerful Word with others around them that are trapped in sin or suffering. They comfort with
the some comfort that they themselves have received (2 Corinthians 1:3-8). The Word overflows with deeds
of kindness and love as the heart is filled with the Word. It doesn’t mean that any of us are perfect – far
from it. But the forgiveness that we receive from our Father through Jesus, we apply to ourselves first and
then to others.
If you are not one of those who have this addiction to Bible reading, it’s never too late to start. Try it out
and you will see its growth in your life. So use it. Use it boldly. Use it confidently. For God’s Word always
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