Monday, October 4, 2010

Walking in the Word: LWML Sunday

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119: 105

Most health experts tell us that it would be beneficial to do more walking. Some have set a goal of 10,000 steps a day in order to increase cardiovascular health. While we may know the benefits that walking provides, that does not mean that we are going to do anything about it. Many people say to themselves, “I should get some exercise,” but then they proceed to just sit down again. Exercise is an individual decision, and it is not enough to have the desire to go for a walk. You have to actually do it. You are free to walk or to sit still, but the decision you make will affect your health, one way or the other.
God’s Word has something to say about walking in the way of spiritual fitness: In Psalm 119 it says: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” God invites you today—and every day—to let His Word light your way through life. And just like walking itself, you are free to use God’s Word this way or to leave it alone. The decision you make here will also affect your health, one way or another.
As a pastor, I have visited many people in the hospital, and one thing that I have seen firsthand is that is does not take long for our muscles to weaken from lack of use. Without walking on a regular basis, legs that once worked well can now only hang there helplessly.
If I may be so blunt; I would say that far too many Christians have been sitting too long without being active in Word of God. As a result, their faith muscles have atrophied. In fact, many have wandered from the faith. They fail to apply the teaching of the Word in their lives and have become spiritually unhealthy. The church needs to return to the spiritual bodybuilding that happens when we let the Word of God speak to us. Only then will we be healthy enough to reach those who are even weaker than we.
One example of how the “church at large” is doing this is through the mite collections of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. City of Hope, right here in Cleveland, is supported in part by the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. They are providing spiritual and physical health to the community by opening “Urban Family Learning Centers” in Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Cincinnati. These programs reach out to children and families with Saturday Schools that provide a weekly round of music, crafts, and Scripture memorization along with a nourishing meal.
Walking daily in the Word of God can inspire us to serve others like the volunteers at City of Hope. That same Word also calls us to remember who we are. The Word shows us where we gone off track. The Word of God tells us the truth: All have sinned—and the paycheck for sin is death; death of the body and the death of the soul, cut off from God’s goodness forever. I need to hear this. I need to understand the danger of sin. I need the call to repentance—the call to change—the call to go in a new direction by the power of God. His Word also reminds me of a Friday on which Jesus died on a cross to handle the debt of my sin. Just as importantly, it reminds me of a Sunday on which the Lord of Life broke the chains of death for me. Instead of the paycheck of death, Jesus hands me an invoice that reads: ‘Paid in Full.” He paid off all that I owe. He shares the resurrected life with me. When I’m walking in the Word of truth, there is confidence, knowing I am walking in the right direction.
All people need to hear the truth of God’s Word. One of the mite missions of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League brings this truth by supporting a female missionary who works with Muslim women. In the Muslim world, women are not allowed to have conversations with men who are not their husbands or close relatives. But another woman can speak words of truth to them. And another woman does, at great personal risk, because the good news of what Jesus has done is too important to leave unspoken.

So how much do you walk? It depends on how healthy you want to be. Do you need to change the way you walk in God’s Word? We need the help of the Holy Spirit to exchange our poor habits for good ones. When a child is learning to walk, there is a lot of falling that happens. But there is a built-in determination to get it right! Maybe you have fallen down in the study of the Word. Now is the time to get up and get into it again. There really is no in-between—you’re either walking in the Word towards spiritual health, or letting your faith muscles weaken with each passing day.
But there is help! Groups like the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League exist to help people walk in the Word and to help people communicate Jesus to their world. This congregation provides a variety of Bible Studies that are designed to help you exercise your faith. There are more personal devotional resources available to Christians now than at any time in history—many right here in our own church library—just waiting for someone to take them off the shelves and open them up. The point is that walking in the Word of God cements and sustains your personal connection with Jesus. Do you need to change the way you walk? The get on your feet and let God’s Word light your way through life. The Holy Spirit, sent from Jesus Himself, will give you energy and determination you need to be in step with Him.

Adapted from a sermon by Rev. Kenton Wendorf for LWML Sunday 2010

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