09302018 19 Aft Pent 18 Aft Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“Membership Matters: How can God redeem me?”

 

09302018 19 Aft Pent 18 Aft Trinity Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

September 30, 2018

“Membership Matters: How can God redeem me?”

Sermon Audiohttps://www.ourlutheranchurch.org/media/1/180930_002.MP3

Have you ever been walking down the street and looked down and found a coin?  The story is told of a multi-millionaire who when he finds a coin on the ground, no matter the value, even a single penny, bends and picks it up.  He was asked once why he would do that since he is by some standards rich. And his answer is very profound. ‘Every coin no matter how large or small, how clean or dirty has value.’  This truth even applies for we the members of the church.

In our series of Membership Matters, we have heard ‘why we should come to church’ and that all that is required is our belief that ‘we are sinners in need of a Savior’.  Yet, the next question we will ask in our series Membership Matters is simply, “How can God redeem me?”  Since all of us are sinners with truthfully differing degrees of sin, we like the coins we find on the ground are dirty and unclean and we at times are unwilling to change our ways and unable to make ourselves spotless and clean.

If we looked to the Bible to answer how to make us clean, we have many different witnesses with multitudes of answers.  Recently, I watched the latest movie entitled, Paul, Apostle of Christ.  Released right before Easter this year it tells the compelling story of the Apostle Paul when he was imprisoned in Rome.  Paul having 20/20 hindsight of the events of his life saw clearly how he had labored to destroy the spread of Christianity.  From in his early life, searching for the small cells of believers, dragging followers of ‘the way’ into the streets and even compelling the Jewish crowds to stone men, women and even children.  The images Paul remembered, haunted Paul’s thoughts and dreams. It was clear even Paul struggled daily with this question we face this morning, “How can God redeem me?”

When this question arises for all of us it is because our reality has been shaken, whether from decisions we have made or because of circumstance that we face in our daily lives.  It could be the sudden onset of a disease that knows no cure, an automobile accident that radically changes the lives of us and our family, a hospital stay that is unexpected. Or even our actions, our inactions, our attitude or our ego.  When we face situations like these and are ‘knocked down to our core’ we might wonder “How can God redeem me?”

In and of ourselves, we are unable to redeem ourselves.  Paul realized this, wrote about it to multiple people, churches and groups and clearly stated that even he was unable to ‘redeem himself’.  The only way redemption could be attained was from God. You see, God has a different perspective. Through the gift of grace that God offered through His Son, Jesus Christ we are made worthy.  The Man Paul encountered only once on the road, Jesus Christ was the only way salvation could come to all of mankind. When asked the question, “How can God redeem me?” the devil wanted Paul to doubt God.  And today the devil wants us to doubt the abilities of God as well.  However, God wants all of us who gather here today to stand firm in our faith and believe that God responded and wants us to know He loves us and desires for us to rely upon His love for each of us and His amazing grace.

James who wrote our epistle this morning understood this clearly.  The audience James speaks to clearly is of a different social class than most of us here.  However, he hits our culture clearly when he says, “You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence.”  To this point, one foreign missionary was asked what was the biggest issue in the local church in the United States, and it was said, ‘well, what color we should paint the church and what color the carpet should be in the sanctuary’.  And his response was perfect. “You have carpet!” We who gather here do live in ‘luxury’ compared to other people in other countries. Yet, what levels the field for all of us is that James hits the nail on the head, when he writes that we “confess our [your] sins to one another and pray for one another”.  For the greatest gift we receive from God is that we, all of us, “may be healed.  [For] The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”.  And this is the power that God fulfills for each and every one of us gathered here this morning.  God answers the question “How can God redeem me?” by offering us the redemption that only He can give through Jesus Christ.

So powerful is God’s gift to and for us that God answers this clearly and emphatically for us today by our receiving the forgiveness of Grace because of His great love for us.  God answered and took upon Himself our sin so we could receive the free gift of eternal life. When we ask, “How can God redeem me?”  God does this by daily showering us with His grace, cleansing us from the sin and dirt that holds all of us in its grasp and by God pointing us to the truth that He offers us this grace freely through His mercy believing that God makes no mistakes.

Once there was a little boy named Tommy who doubted his own worth.  He went to school and the children made fun of him because he couldn’t run fast, he was the tiniest little boy in the school and everybody made fun of him, even the teachers behind his back.  The teachers would relish marking his papers with red marks, because he not only was slow with his work, but the answers weren’t completely right even though he tried really hard. He would leave school and walk the three blocks to his home across the tracks where his parents would chastise him for not doing his chores as fast or in the way that they wanted him to complete them.  He didn’t have any friends and the only place he found peace was in the junkyard not far from his home.

One day he was walking through the junkyard and stubbed his toe on a piece of metal.  It was only poking through the ground and when he uncovered it found that it was dirty and grimy.  But it had a certain look and feel about it that drew the boy in and instead of tossing it onto the pile, he picked it up.  Carefully he took the piece of metal to his special spot that was a safe place for him and began to ‘clean it up’. As he carefully knocked off the dirt and wiped away the grime, Tommy realized what he had found wasn’t a piece of junk.  In that moment, Tommy realized what he held in his hands wasn’t junk, but a true treasure, a treasure to him.

We who gather here this morning here at Emmanuel Lutheran in the hands of God are not junk either.  Just as the old saying says, “God don’t make no junk”, we are precious in God’s eyes. And we can answer clearly the question we face this morning in our series, Membership Matters:  How can God redeem me? simply with this truth.  God redeems each and every one of us, because He loves us.  We should not let our culture, our world nor even the devil drive us to the point of doubting God.  For God redeems us and proves for all time and place the gift of grace and our redemption by the death of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We have only to see ourselves as the priceless person, gift and creation we are in the Hands of our God Who finds each of us covered by the stain of our sin, and how God redeems and cleanses each and every one of us through the Blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We are redeemed by God and receive from Him His Amazing Grace. AMEN.