Monday, March 5, 2012

My latest Sermon. Grace, Good News, and Christian Action

Howdy. It’s a great privilege and pleasure to be with you today to celebrate and worship our great Lord and Savior. Won’t you bow your heads for a prayer to the Holy Spirit.

Lord , in your Son Jesus Christ are hidden
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Enlighten our minds by your Holy Spirit,
and grant us that reverence and humility
without which no-one can understand your truth,
through the same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Allow me to share the Word of God with you:

Jesus was teaching in Matthew 25 versus 34-45, about the judgment of mankind, when God will divide the people. On his right are the righteous, on the left those who are to be cursed due to His divine judgments. He said, “Come you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for as I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison, and visited you? And the King will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
And those on the left? He said, “You are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”
Like the righteous, they also plead and ask when was He hungry, naked, in prison? Again he answers, “Truly I tell you just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”
This is the word of the Lord. Praise be to God. Amen.

Albert Einstein once said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Thomas Edison tried for years thousands of different ways to try to make a lightbulb burn and eventually he found one. Someone asked him, “What was it like to fail like that, over and over and over?” He reportedly answered, “I haven’t failed, I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work!”

There is definitely wisdom there. We cannot grow if we don’t attempt to do new things, step out of the box, get out in the world and share the Good News. We Christians have spoken of the Good News for 2000 years, but do you really know what it means? Could you explain it to someone who doesn’t know?

I mean, What is the Good News? What are we to share? It’s God’s Grace. It’s God seeking a relationship with us, loving us, and wooing us. It’s God providing the ultimate mediator for us in Jesus Christ. It’s Jesus, fully human and fully divine, and his sacrifice on the cross so that we might all be redeemed and justified in God’s sight. It’s becoming sanctified and living in a holy relationship with the God of the universe.

I think this is the greatest thing EVER! Think about this for a second. God was seeking us. God wanted a relationship with us. He wanted us and loved us so much, that he sent a part of Himself to become human to repair our relationship with him. Now consider this: It’s all about God seeking Man. It is not about what man can do to achieve or be worthy of God. In Christianity there is nothing we human beings can do to be worthy of Heaven, of a relationship with the Creator of everything. He sought us and is still seeking us. That’s amazing and one of a kind in the religions of the world. God seeking us. Not man seeking God. That’s Grace. God seeking us. God seeking you.

Jesus, fully human and fully divine, took our sins and died on a cross so we could have an eternal relationship with God.

Why was this important? Imagine an eternal gulf between God and man. God cannot look upon sin, so the pure spirit of God could not cross the gulf that divides us. Man, in his sinful state cannot cross the Gulf to reach God. But Christ, who was fully human, and fully God can cross the gulf. See Christ was human and divine, and he was sinless. He paid the price for all our sins, so when God sees us after we have accepted Jesus into our hearts, he sees Christ in us. He sees us without sin. That’s why only Christ could cross the gulf and save us, redeem us, and allow us to join him for eternity in fellowship with God and one another.

God Seeking Us. God Seeking you. That’s grace. That’s the Good News.

So how do we share the Good News? How do we share God’s Grace?

First we have to get out of the boat. Matthew 14 verses 25-32 tells the story of Jesus walking on Water and the Disciples, especially Peters, response to it. It says: “About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “it’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped.”

So my question to you is, did Peter fail? He followed Jesus’ command to come and he did walk on water! But then he became distracted by the waves and the wind and that was when he began to sink. He took his eyes off Jesus, and what he saw scared him. He, in his human condition, failed. But I submit to you that Peter did something great that day. He walked on water! Of all the disciples, only one had the courage that day to get out of the boat. Peter wanted to follow Jesus, and he had the courage to step out of the boat. And he only failed when he took his eyes off Jesus, when he let the fears of this life, those waves and the wind, distract him from his calling. It was only then that he failed. But even then, Jesus was there to pick him up. Remember this, God is faithful. He will never leave you, never abandon you, and he will be with you through the darkest night, and in the brightest of days. We can be assured, that when we step out of the boat and have our eyes on Him, everything will be all right. Because even if we get distracted, and fail, he will be there to raise us up, to keep us above the waves, to rescue us and bring us back into the boat.

So I come before you today asking you this question: Are we willing to become true Christian disciples? Are we willing to get out of the boat? Do we trust Him? Will we share the good news?

Jesus told us how to share the Good News. Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome a stranger, help the needy, visit the sick and witness to those in prison. And I’ll add that we should take a moment to smile, to show love and appreciation of others. Share the Good News! Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep.” This is not just food to eat, but feed them the Word of God. Instruct them on how to accept Jesus into their hearts, and how to live a Christian life. How do we do this? We do it through our actions even more than our voices. St. Augustine told us to share the good news and to use words if necessary. Our actions truly do speak more loudly than our words.

I’m in a Christian accountability group, and we agreed to challenge ourselves to find that moment when we could pray with and for someone by using this refrain: “May I pray for you?” What better witness is there than to find someone who is hurting, needing God, perhaps in the depths of despair, anger, frustration, or helplessness, and to approach them as an authentic Christian and asking them, “May I pray for you? Or May I pray with you?” Not only are you taking the time to be interested in them and their problems, we are willing to take it directly to the Great mediator, Jesus Christ, to lay it all down before the King, to lay it at the foot of the Cross and trust in him to resolve whatever issues we are praying for.

Jesus’ parable about the sower of seeds reflects this idea. In Matthew 13:3-8, Jesus said, “A farmer went out to sow his seeds. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate them. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop- a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” We as Christians, must plant the seeds in fertile soil, this comes from Christian’s sharing the good news. Christians taking Action to show others that we do care, that they are forgiven, that we are eternally redeemed, that through him we can face anything!
Jesus told us what to do. Normally He taught in parables and stories, but in this instance he told us exactly what each of us are to do in simple, very understandable words. And when God speaks so directly, we-who profess His love and grace, had better listen and take it into our hearts and let it show in our actions towards others. Remember feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, help the needy, visit the sick and those in prison. He is calling us to be authentic witnesses of the Good news. He is calling me. He is calling you. Will we answer the call? Will we take our Christianity out of the four walls of the church and into our homes, our jobs, our community, our state, our nation, and our world?
Remember, we don’t do good works to be saved, we do good works because we are saved! We are called to represent Christ on earth to a hurting world, to share the good news that Christ has paid the costs of our sins, that He is Risen and that through Him we may all have eternal life! That my friends is Good News.
Do you know Christ as your personal savior? Do you want to?

When services are over please come see me I’d love to talk with you and help you begin the journey, to accept Christ, and to welcome him into your heart. To know the Good News.

Remember to love everyone you can, the best you can, for as long as you can, in all the ways that you can. Thank you and God Bless each of you as you go into the next week. Amen