I Have Formed You, You Are My Servant
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 Isa 44:21 "Remember these, (words) O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!
 22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."
 23 Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, And glorified Himself in Israel.
 Col 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. (Running the universe)
 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,
 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Lu 13:10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.
 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.
 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, "Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity."
 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
 14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, "There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day."
 15 The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?
 16 "So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound--think of it--for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?"
 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.

“I have formed you, you are My servant.” With these words from our Old Testament lesson, we are reminded again that God is the Potter and we are the clay. The occasion for reminding the Israelites of this most basic fact is found in God’s commentary in Is. 44 on the craftsmen who produce wooden idols.

He says, “The craftsman chops down a tree. Some wood is used for a fire to warm himself. Some is used to bake bread.

Is 44:16,17 - “He burns half of it in the fire; with this half he eats meat; He roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, “Ah, I am warm, I have seen the fire.” And the rest of it he makes into a god, His carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, prays to it and says deliver me, for you are my god.”

 Does this make any sense? He puts half the wood in the furnace, and some more in the oven to cook a meal, then with what is left, he fashions what he thinks his god looks like and  he bows down and worships it! Such a man “feeds on ashes.” (Is 44:20)

Of course we see that as ridiculous, not one of us here would do such a dumb thing. Or would we? We may not do it with a block of wood, but we will worship material things, mammon, money, and we will look to it as our most important need. We will and we often do put it before God..

As we mentioned last week, this material worship, the love of the things of this world is nothing but the sin of covetousness. And covetousness is evidenced by the lack of tithing in the church today.

And we are in effect no different than those idol making craftsmen. We too are feeding on ashes, because when the Lord returns none of those material things that we have coveted and put before our responsibilities to God and others will withstand the fire of His judgement.   

And so God reminds His church here that we are His servant. He has formed us, not the other way around. He is the Craftsman! God forms us, we don’t form God. We are made in His image and we are not to make Him into ours. We serve Him...not the other way around.

Isn’t that one of the biggest problems we face? All of us want to mold God into our image. We want to put Him into our box....it is so much safer that way. We take our little wood chisel and we say, “my God believes a woman has the right to choose an abortion.” (Chip chip) “My God doesn’t condemn homosexuality” (Chip chip) “My God allows for people to live together in sin outside of marriage.” (Chip chip)

We ignore God’s Word except those parts that we want to include for the likeness of our god, and when we do that, we shape God instead of the other way around. What we ought to be doing is allowing this Word to shape us, down to every last little detail.

 Lu 16:10 "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  11 "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  12 "And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?  

13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

Hear what Jesus is saying here. The least thing in the kingdom of God is money and this world’s goods. It’ll burn baby! And if we can’t be faithful in the way we are handling these things, which are ultimately ashes, ...well what can we be trusted with?

God uses His Word and the Holy Spirit to mold us into the servants that He wants us to be.  And so He says, “I have formed you. You are My servant! When we finally understand that truth, we are ready to serve. When we have placed Christ on the throne of our lives, we are ready to be shaped.

As further proof that God is in charge of forming we turn to our Gospel lesson where a woman who has had a spirit of infirmity for 18 years pops into a church service in which Jesus is teaching. Her body had been afflicted by a spirit demon of Satan and she was literally bent in two.

With this incident we get a picture of a spiritual reality portrayed in a physical way. The spiritual reality is that Satan seeks to deform God’s creation. He has been at it from the very beginning.

He cannot deform you by demonic possession in a physical way, (unless the Holy Spirit completely departs from you,) because at your baptism, the Holy Spirit moved in and your body became the temple of God.
But he will seek to deform you spiritually through disbelief or mistrust of God’s Word. He will seek to get you to ignore God’s Word, or twist it in such a way that you do not become what God intended you to be. His servant.

But with one sentence Jesus sets the woman free from her infirmity and she was made straight and she glorified God. We joke about our infirmities here at Limping Word Lutheran, I mean Living Word. My knee, Dave’s hip, Woody’s ankle, Margie’s heel, but I wonder are there any here whom Satan has crippled spiritually?

Are there any here who have allowed Satan to cripple them by ignoring God’s Word or twisting it for there own pleasure? Are there any here who are spiritually crippled by disbelief? Week after week, you hear God’s Word from this pulpit, but are you really trusting it? Are you really believing it and allowing it to shape you into what God designed you to be? His servant.

If not, who’s on the throne? You or God? If God is JUST your co-pilot.....it’s time to change seats! I think this is the biggest problem in the church today and I would include us here at Living Word. We treat God as our back-up, or as our navigator. He serves us while we fly, instead of us serving Him.

If you have nudged God off the throne of your life, I highly recommend that you get back to the practice of revisiting what took place at your baptism. In Luther’s catechism we read: What does baptizing with water signify?

Answer: It signifies that the old Adam in us, together with all sins and evil lusts, should be drowned by DAILY sorrow and repentance, and be put to death; and that the new man should daily come forth and rise to live before God in righteousness and holiness for ever.”

This is what Paul is talking about in our epistle lesson. He says, “If then you were raised with Christ.” In other words, if you were baptized, because that’s what happens in baptism, we die to self and rise with Christ.  

 Col 2:12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

 Ro 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Anyone here been baptized? Well if you have been, he is talking to you! You need to readjust your thinking! Set your mind on things above! Set your mind on the things Christ has His mind set on, and His mind is set on loving others.

His mind is not set on the following things.

fornication: sex before the consummation of marriage
uncleanness: any kind of lewd sexual behavior involving yourself or others
passion: sexual lusting
evil desire: longing for what is forbidden
and covetousness, which is idolatry:

There’s that covetousness again that we talked about last week. Christ’s mind is not set on the things of this world and since we have been raised with Him, our mind shouldn’t be on them either.

But our lack of tithing, our disinterest in the needs of the poor is just the evidence that we are in the grip of the things of this world....covetousness.

Remember, God is our Creator. He shaped us. His plan for sex in His creation was to be expressed in marriage between one man and one woman for the purpose of raising godly offspring.

 Mal 2:15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

 Vote Yes for the marriage amendment in November!
God also Created all material things, and His plan for them was to bless us with them and at the same time help us mirror the gospel as we give of these material blessings with no strings attached to those in need. When we tithe and give offerings for the poor we demonstrate that we understand our Creator’s plan.

Don’t miss verse 6 because this is serious stuff.

Because of these aforementioned things, the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. This is not just the wrath reserved for the end of the world, even though God’s Word clearly states that the sexually immoral and covetous will not inherit the kingdom of God. But God will also, at times,  judge people in the here and now when he gets fed up with sexual sin and covetousness.  

He did not just judge Sodom and Gomorrah for their sexual sin as many would have you believe, they were also judged because of their covetousness.

 Eze 16:49 "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  50 "And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

Again, don’t try to put away these sins by threat of Law or in your own strength. The way you put them away is to realize by faith, that in your baptism you were raised with Christ. Your old man who relished these sins is dead. Your life is now hidden in Christ! You are now in His arms! He is not interested in sinning, only in living and loving through you, the servant He has formed and redeemed.

But sexual sin and covetousness are not the only things we must allow the new man to put away. Look at the next list.

Anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, and lies. All of these are spiritual deformities. They are not any part of what God intended His creation to be. And if you are plagued by any of these things, it’s just a sign that  you are allowing the world, your flesh, and the devil to form you rather than the Creator.

God especially hates these sins because they harm others. I remember my struggles with anger. I could really get people shaking in their boots because of my displays of rage. Now, if I had created these other people, maybe I would have the right to get them shaking in their boots, but I didn’t, create them, my loving Father created them, and I have no right to bring fear into their lives.  The new man in me (Christ) should only be interested in bringing love into their lives.

I have no right to lie to them. I have no right to blister their ears with angry words, filthy words, or threatening actions. God made them as He made me, and they are precious in His sight.

Do you want to grieve the Holy Spirit? .....I don’t think so. The last place you want the Holy Spirit is shrunken up in a grieving ball on the couch in your soul. You want Him active, in the forefront, leading you and this new man into loving servanthood for God.

But the Bible tells us that the sins of the tongue grieve the Holy Spirit.  

Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Finally, Paul warns us about any and all forms of prejudice. Verse 10 tells us that we all were created in the image of God, and that image is present in all of humanity.  To dislike a man because of his color or station in life is to tell the Creator that He goofed..

How crazy would it be for that craftsman that we talked about in the beginning to make a piece of wood and then have that piece of wood dislike another one, or get angry at it, or speak poorly of it. What crass arrogance!

Turn back with me to Is 44:21. God says, it was not the craftsman who formed you, “I have formed you. You are My servant.”

And then listen to the rest of the text:

O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, (0 visibility) your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

This is a fact. God  redeemed the whole world on Calvary. His Son paid for every single transgression, every single sin committed. Your sexual sins, your sin of covetousness, your sin of anger, and all manner of evil speaking, your lies, your prejudice.

And He invites you here to return to Him in spite of your sins. He promises to blot them all out! , Return to your baptism daily, allow the old man and all these deforming sins to die daily, and rise up to a new life in Christ daily.

A life that forsakes all of these sins, and instead seeks to serve our Master as we put others first. We were formed by Him. We are His servants, and as His servants He commands us to love others as He loved us!