05262019 Easter 6 Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel!”

05262019 Easter 6 Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

May 26, 2019
“God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel!”
Sermon Audio

If you have heard any of Paul’s story contained in the book of Acts it is a rollercoaster from being an opponent against those who follow ‘the Way’, to his encounter with Jesus on the road and ultimately God opening Paul’s heart.  For most of us, this rollercoaster would make us sick or keep us up at night. Yet our passage from Acts this morning clearly shows Paul as God’s chosen instrument for the Macedonian people. And Paul’s message is clear to Lydia, “God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel!”

The account we heard from Acts begins with a vision for Paul.  It was a vision that had at its core the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A Gospel that was so powerful that many would come from miles around to hear what was said, because Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the promised One, the fulfillment of salvation.  People who had heard rumors of what Paul was doing, would bring sick relatives in order for their loved ones to be healed, whether from sickness or possessed by evil. Paul’s vision called for him to go to Macedonia and preach the gospel.  What is clear is this was for the people of Paul’s day as well as for us that “God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel!”

In Macedonia, Paul encountered a group of women, including Lydia.  As a ‘worshiper of God’, Paul’s proclamation by the Holy Spirit to the women who gathered by the riverside.  The Holy Spirit “opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul”.  The Holy Spirit through Paul’s proclamation moved Lydia to not only ‘pay attention’, but Lydia was “baptized, and her household as well” and she invited Paul and his travelling companions to stay with her.  This clearly shows that when Paul spoke the Gospel of salvation of what Jesus Christ taught, suffered, died and rose to fulfill, the Gospel message was clear.  Lydia believed Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel message and that for her and her companions, “God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel!”

Yet for we who gather today, are we immune and do not hear God’s call?  Do we not open our hearts when we read the Gospel daily or hear it weekly here at Emmanuel?  Was the message of salvation only powerful in Paul’s day? Simply the answer to all three questions is no.  The Gospel of our salvation as proclaimed by Paul of what Jesus Christ fulfilled like a hammer used in mines like here in Export when coal was mined from the seam, the Gospel can crack open even the hardest of hearts.  For it is the Gospel that brings us life and salvation and clearly can open our hearts. This is what Lydia experienced along the riverside. She was already a “worshiper of God”, but when she heard from Paul the clear Gospel message, she was profoundly moved.  And by her being baptized, it is certain that she understood the message of salvation proclaimed of the Gospel she believed it was for her. A message of life and salvation where “God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel!”

But have we who gather here at Emmanuel heard this same Gospel?  Yes we have. The Gospel we have heard is simply that Jesus Christ loved us so much that He was born, lived among the people of Israel, walked from city to city, gathered His disciples and taught them.  Then went to Jerusalem, was betrayed, crucified, died and was buried. On the third day He rose from the dead proclaiming His triumph over the grave. And then ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father.  This is the Gospel that we believe, teach and confess that Jesus came to offer us the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. Where no longer would death have dominion over us, because we have been baptized into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  This is how “God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel” and believe in this gift of grace that He freely is offering each and every one of us gathered here today.  God is calling each and every one of us to ask for forgiveness.

We have the greatest opportunity today to declare the forgiveness of sins, for us and for all of mankind, because this is what God has done to and for each and every one of us today.  Paul understood this, because he had clearly sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. And God, redeemed even Paul and why Paul preached with conviction that the offer of grace was for all of mankind.  This is what Lydia heard and though she had heard the Word of God, worshiped God, when she heard Paul proclaim the Gospel, she heard clearly that “God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel!”

Today we gather to hear the Gospel of our salvation as well.  We gather to have the grace of God declared to us in the forgiveness of sins.  We gather around the altar of our Lord to receive the forgiveness we so desperately need in Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood, in, with and under the Bread and Wine.  We gather today to not bury the hatchet in each others backs, but to declare the grace, love and mercy of God in the forgiveness of sins for us and for all of mankind. For when we gather here today, “God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel!”

We have only to ask ourselves this question, will we look at one another with earthly eyes and see the grime of this world on each of our clothes, the imperfectness of our actions or deeds, or will we look with the eyes of Jesus Christ?  I believe in my heart that “God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel” and show the love of God to one another, because of what our Savior Jesus Christ came to earth to redeem, each and everyone of us.  May we live this today seeking the forgiveness of God and one another, believing and demonstrating our belief that “God calls us to open our hearts to hear the Gospel” for us and for all of mankind.  AMEN!