St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Teach Me Your Way, Lord

Confirmation Sermon on Psalm 86:11

Text: Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

You recently finished eight years of your education, nine, if you include Kindergarten. Think of how much you have learned during that time. You have learned to read. You have learned some science and history. You have gone from math using blocks to math that has letters of the alphabets in the problem. I would like for you to admit something to me. As you were learning some of these things, you thought to yourself, ‘Why do I have to learn this? I’m never going to use this. What difference does it make that a2xb2=c2? When will I ever have to know the dates of the Civil War?’ It may seem that there are many things that you have learned that appear to be pointless. The fact is, you may never use some of the things you have learned ever again. You also have just finished three years of catechism class. You have learned many things during that time. You showed that earlier this morning. There is a great difference between what you have learned in school and what you learned in catechism class. The things that we learned together will be useful to you for the rest of your life. We also know that we are to continue in our life-long study of what God says to us. So, we pray TEACH ME YOUR WAY, LORD 1. That I May Rely On You and 2. That I May Glorify You.

Let’s do a quick review of what you have learned. We started by learning about God’s law. There we found exactly what he demands from us. As we go through the law, as summarized in the Ten Commandments, we see how often we have failed to do what God wants us to do. For example, we learn from the Fourth Commandment that we are to honor our parents and others in authority. This doesn’t just apply to children. This commandment is meant for all people. We see what God wants us to do. Yet, we know how many times we have failed to obey them. We have made fun of or talked badly about the people in the government. We could just look at the First Commandment that tells us that God is to be the first priority in our lives. However, we know that we have put things or people in that spot. We haven’t always trusted in God more than anything or anyone else. We also learned that God is serious about our keeping these commandments. He will not accept anything less than perfection. Yet, as we go through the law, each and every one of us must admit that we have broken God’s law time without number. God is also clear about the consequences for breaking his law. Those who do not perfectly follow his law will spend their eternity apart from him in hell.

Yet, we thank God that this is not all that we learn about God. As we continued our study of God’s Word, we came to the Apostles Creed, where we see God’s amazing love for us, especially when we looked at the Second Article. There we learned all about what Jesus did to rescue us from this certain destruction. We learned that Jesus came from his throne in heaven to be our Savior. He was perfect where we were not. He always gave perfect honor and respect to those who were in authority over him. He never failed to put his Father as the first priority in his life. As true God, he was able to keep the law perfectly for us. Then, to pay for the sins that we have committed, he willingly went to the cross. While on the cross, he was punished for every one of our sins. We talked about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, which assures us that our sins have all been forgiven. Jesus’ resurrection also tells us that we will also rise from the dead on the Last Day and we will spend our eternity in the glories of heaven. This is the beautiful gospel message that we learned. We further saw God’s love in action as he gave us the two sacraments. In Baptism, faith is created and we become the children of God. In Holy Communion, our sins are personally forgiven and our faith is strengthened. Jesus invites us to come to God in prayer, even teaching us a prayer that we can use. God has been so gracious to us by revealing his great love for us. Because of his love for you, he has made sure that you have learned this about him. You have learned a great many things about your God’s love for you.

Yes, you have learned everything you need to know about God. However, this is not a graduation service, as if you never needed to learn more about your God or to continue to strengthen what you already know. There are many benefits to continue to learn about your God, especially as you continue in your life.

One of the benefits is that you find someone that you can rely on. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but the world is a scary place. There are so many unknowns. Next year, you will enter high school. There are some uncertainties there. Then, after that you will have the choices of whether or not you will go to college, and if so, which one. Then, you have which career to pursue. There will be choices about whom you will marry and where you will live. There may be some medical difficulties in your future. The list goes on and on. Where can you turn for help? What can you rely on in all the changes in life? There are a number of possibilities. You can try to rely on yourself. If you just try hard enough, you can figure out which way to go. But, will you always have all the answers? You could rely on family and friends. However, as much as they might like to help you, there will be times when they are unable to do so. You could rely on wealth and possessions. What will you do if they are gone? These are all examples of things that you just cannot rely on.

Where can we go for help? The psalmist wrote, “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness.” As we study God’s Word, we see how much he loves us and wants to help us. Since he took care of our greatest problem, sin, we can be sure that he will be there to help with everything else, as well. We have so many passages that promise his help. For example, we read Psalm 50:15, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” God makes an open invitation to you. When you have difficulties or uncertainties, he promises to be right there, willing to help you. We have the promise found in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Where other people or things might fail you, God promises that he will always be there by your side. The more that you learn about God, the more that you will find that you can rely in him, because of his faithful love.

Another benefit as we continue to learn from the Lord is that it gives our lives focus and a purpose. So many people wander through life wondering why they are here and what they are to do. They try to find their fulfillment and sense of purpose in the jobs or in their families. They look for joy in the things of this world. However, I would ask you to think about something that you really, really wanted when you were younger. You just had to have it. You knew that, if you got it, everything would be great. Yet, how often didn’t it happen that what you so desperately wanted, failed to meet your expectations when you finally got it? Or, you got what you wanted and it did everything that you hoped for, until the newer and better came on the market. This is what happens when we try to find our fulfillment and joy in the things of this world.

The psalmist reminds us where we can find fulfillment. He shows us what our purpose in life is to be. He said, “Teach me your way, LORD . . . give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Here the word “fear” doesn’t mean to be afraid of God. If we were still in our sins, then we would have every reason to be afraid of God. Because Jesus has taken away our sins, we are not afraid of God. As a matter of fact, we call him our Father. Here the word “fear” has the idea of revering God, or glorifying God. As we learn more and more about God and his love for us, we will want to thank him for all that he has done for us. As we study God’s Word, we see those things that we can do that please him. As children of God, we no longer see God’s law as something that we must do or else. Rather, we see God’s law as a guide to thanking God. When we do this, we will find joy and fulfillment in this life. We see that there is great joy in serving others, rather than serving ourselves. When we live as God wants us to live, we find fulfillment in life. This is why the psalmist wrote, “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Now, admittedly, there will be those with whom we come into contact who will not understand why we are living this way. They may even make fun of us for doing so. While it will not seem pleasant at the time, we know that, in the long run, this is where true joy is. We get to glorify God with our lives. As we study God’s Word, we find both what we get to do for God and the motivation to do so. So, we pray, “Teach me your way Lord, that I might glorify you with my life.”

So, my dear friends, as we close our sermon this morning, let us pause and thank God for all that he has taught you. He has taught you his law and gospel. He has told you about sin and his amazing grace. What a wonderful God we have who has revealed all of this to you. I would also offer this encouragement to you. Keep on learning. Don’t ever think that you know all that there is to know. What God’s Word has to say to you will affect you in different ways at the different times in your lives. Paul wrote to his co-worker Timothy, “As for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of.” (2 Timothy 3:4) May we all heed Paul’s advice and continue in what we have learned, until we reach complete knowledge in the glories of heaven. We conclude with this simple prayer, “Teach me your ways, LORD, that I may rely on you and glorify you with my whole life.” Amen.