Thank you for making it a priority to come to God’s house this morning.
I was reviewing some of the past sermons I have given and I realize that there is a reoccurring theme. Apparently God is trying to use me to remind you of a few things that could be a help in reading or understanding the Bible.
That’s probably rational and expected, but then I I’ve heard many sermons on the radio that seem to have other reasons in their sermons. Good reasons in most cases, but really tangential to the main purpose of the gospel.
So let me see, there was the sermon where one if the takeaway statements was “We are dust that forgets we are dust!”
That sounds so harsh isolated like that. What I wanted to bring attention to is that we read what we need to read. Then we seem to forget. We hear a great sermon but we forget to put it in action.
We heard prophets in ancient times and we forgot and turned away. We heard and saw God perform miracles and weeks later, we forgot and whined to go back to Egypt.
So my question to you is what have you done to remember?
My suggestions were; come to church, read the Bible, have regular prayer. Since then I have thought about others.
Give grace at every meal, even meals in public, even when you are alone. Pray for every siren you hear, someone is in trouble and needs prayer. Celebrate the holidays for the right reasons, you can still watch football, wait for Santa, but it’s not for Santa.
Every communion is a time to remember. Remembering might be the command given the most times.
Another sermon was on the Unread Bible. You know, that Bible that you skip because of all the begats, all the prophetic dreams that are confusing. All the names that are unpronounceable. There is a tremendous amount of the Bible that goes unread. If we had Bibles where the unread pages died and crumpled to dust, we might be embarrassed how small our Bibles are. So what have you done?
My suggestions was to change things up, to buy a Bible organized in chronological order. To organize a read the Bible in six months, or a year. And perhaps study some history books that clarify what nations were ascending and what nations were declining.
Another sermon was summarizing the experiences in our Wednesday morning Bible Study. We have studied Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jacob, and Joseph. The scripture provides much to our understanding, particularly if we read about them as real people, living in a real world of the time. The point is two fold. Sometimes Bible characters are so familiar that we shut off any new thought that God brings to us through study.
What did you do here? Did you see Abraham as a flesh and blood stranger in a strange land. Did you walk a few miles in Moses’ shoes?
So, this sermon is along those same lines.
I think sometimes it is hard for us to see the connection between the reason for the Gospel and all the scripture that leads to the solution. It’s a reasonable problem, it is after all the biggest and most important story on earth.
But let’s back up a little bit. Is this an inside story? Is this Bible a secret manual given just to believers? Well, believers should definitely read it, but for two huge reasons. To clarify and support your personal belief, but most importantly, to act as a tool to save the sinner that is seeking The Lord.
Is it practical to respond to a seeker by reading about Jacob, then the exciting Noah story, maybe throw in Esther, and end with the stirring Sermon on the Mount?
Well I’m delighted by those, and I would be thrilled if you brought them to me. But then, I’ve already studied how each of this are connected to the beginning, and how they lead to the final solution and salvation.
Let me read you something that inspired me while breaking my heart.
“I was married with a child and dealing with the biggest crises of my life. I had been suffering from a debilitating depression for several months. It was a depression that suddenly appeared out of nowhere. There didn’t seem to be any logical reason for it. I had a loving wife and son, good health, a good job, we were buying our first home, and we had a little money in the bank to boot. I was frantically searching for answers, trying medication, and even a visit to a psychiatrist. I tried to seek comfort in my family, material things, and recreation, but it was useless. Then I spent a week or so talking to the Scientology people over in San Francisco.
The Scientologists were the scariest by far. I quickly came to realize that my mind, even in it’s terribly depressed state, was infinitely more healthy than was theirs. One night, almost defeated, I said to my wife, “the only thing that we haven’t tried yet is a Christian religion”. I remembered that my mother had my brother and I baptized in the Lutheran church when we were children,. . so, I thought maybe we should start there. I picked up the phone book and started going through the Yellow Pages looking for Lutheran churches. I just randomly picked one out and dialed the number. The voice of a stranger answered, it was the Pastor of the church. I briefly told him that I was having a little trouble, and wondered if he could come over and talk with me and my wife, as we had a few questions that I wanted to ask. His name was Pastor Ken. He came over the next evening, and I quickly got down to business and told him of my unexplainable depression, and asked him his thoughts about what might be causing it.
He said that God sometimes allows these kinds of things to happen, and he thought that God was trying to get my attention. He began to explain God’s love for us, God’s plan of Salvation, of how and why Jesus died for us. After hearing what the pastor had to say, everything started to become crystal clear,. . sitting there, I knew that I was hearing the most important truth of my life.”
That was the beginning of an exciting journey for him. And one of the reasons it was so successful is that the pastor knew that the Gospel included the original problem, the detailed plan that God worked out, and the final solution that was salvation and that it was freely available.
The issue for many of us is that we often see so many of the necessary steps as isolated, and disconnected from the Grand Plan.
So this morning I thought I would spend a little time reviewing some of the necessary steps.
First, let’s quickly review what the problem is, we were created in God’s image in order to have a love relationship with Him. He did not create a race of robotic followers.
For a time this worked, then the God given quality of free will created a crisis. Now this is a subject that has generated volumes of study. Important theologians have studied this, and looked at it from dozens of angles. “Free will” has been such a buzzword that it has been difficult to use without generating conflicting arguments. For the purposes of this mornings message, I would like to summarize the Problem with a different phrase, one that comes from scripture when defining the problem of Mankind.
Instead of original sin, the Fall of Man, Adam making a mistake. I’m going to refer to the Garden where Adam & Eve decided to “Go their own way”.
We can agree that it was disobedience, that it might have been theft, that it was certainly disrespectful, and that it was choosing to listen to evil instead of good.
This is all true but perhaps all of this can be summarized as “going their own way”, which resulted in a broken relationship that was not the desire of God. God created us for that personal love relationship where our ability to “go our own way” was under control through love, obedience and understanding.
The very second that Adam & Eve broke the relationship God out in place a plan that would restore that relationship, and every word of scripture points to the necessary steps and individual actions that fulfills that Plan.
Think about it, it could have been God’s plan to inspire Cain to rectify his father’s sin and restore the the relationship with God. In fact, God has done this countless of times in scripture, empowering the son to rectify the wrongs of the father. It didn’t happen. Instead the sin of “going our own way” convinced Cain to slay his brother, causing generations to move further and further from the Lord.
This is not just a story, it is simply the first part of God’s marvelous plan of redemption and salvation. I know it seems dark and bleak, almost like a gothic mystery novel, but remember we know the end of the story, and it we apply the Spirit that lives within us, we can glimpse parts of His Plan.
That pastor who so clearly outlined the problem, the plan, and the solution changed that man’s life. Saved him from depression but more importantly saved him for eternity. And that man helped my wife come to God, and eventually caused me to come face to face with my Lord. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that man, my brother Ed. Thank you
But this story isn’t new, it has been repeated for centuries, it can be yours as well.
Study the problem, study how God had to go thorough the centuries finding just the right people standing in the right place. How he used those people to bring about the perfect solution. How he used His perfect Son to bring about salvation for all of us. And the work is still ongoing.
Thank you lord
Let us pray.
The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’
Adonai will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection, Adoni will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you, bringing order, and he will beautify you, Adoni will lift up his wholeness of being, and look upon you, and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete!