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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sermon 10142012 19th Sunday After Trinity

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Gracious Lord, it is with divine authority that You healed the paralytic.  That authority is given by Your Father in heaven.  It caused the people to be awestruck.  Enable we Your children today to not only be awestruck by Your authority, but enable us to lay claim to Your promise of life and salvation offered to us by Your death on Calvary for all of mankind.  And enable us to work for You in Your kingdom here on earth to reach the lost who have not heard the message of salvation for all of mankind, including all of the saints here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Growing up in rural Southside Virginia, fall was a time of great optimism.  Unlike most Southern Baptist church families who were devoted to the church all day on Sunday like in the Deep South our Sunday pastime as a family revolved around sports. Not just any sport, it was about football.  It was always a past-time to hurry home from church and eat our Sunday lunch, usually of soft-poached eggs, toast and grits while watching the 1PM match-up of the week on ABC, NBC or CBS, depending who was playing and which station came in best.  Without fail my older brother Dean, who was and still is a knowledgeable sports enthusiast would watch every down, every pass and every turnover analyzing each move or misstep of the mighty.  From his favorite team of the Cowboys to my younger brother Dale and parents favorite of the Redskins, each game wet their appetite further and without fail entertained and caused all of us, even my mother to be in awe of the talent of each team and player.

Years later when Dean worked for the Philadelphia Eagles during the Buddy Ryan years I had the opportunity to meet some of the famous players like Randall Cunningham.  Personally I was most awestruck by one player.  His name was Reggie White.  Reggie was not a small man.  He was huge and had a heart to match.  His evangelistic nature and love of God was clear and manifest since he was a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In one real and clear sense, Reggie with his football as well as his faith, took our theme this morning to heart, Reggie would “Leave it on the field”, not only the grid iron, but the field of life.  Reggie lived a life of faith as a model for his teammates as well as the church he pastored.

In this mornings Gospel we hear the story of Jesus Christ Who also lived His faith and would “Leave it on the field.”  Jesus encountered a paralytic man.  Matthew writes, “And they brought to Him [that is Jesus] a paralytic lying on a bed.”  For Jesus it wasn’t by chance, but by divine design in order that His Glory may be revealed that the people brought this man to be healed.  But the scribes, looked at Jesus and what He said with derision and distaste.  Matthew writes, “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” In a clear sense of compassion and care on the field of battle with Satan, Jesus heals this paralytic man.  But all the scribes could see is the foul against the Law of Moses by Jesus when they “said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.”

Yet with the clarity of the Second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ “Leaves it on the field” and says to the scribes.  “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’?”  Jesus like a defensive tackle who sacks the quarterback with the ball for a loss behind the line of scrimmage clearly puts the scribes in the proper place and perspective saying, “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”.  Jesus stakes His divine right and claim that He has the divine right and authority to forgive the sins of man and mankind here on earth.  Thus turning to the paralytic Jesus says, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.

Can you imagine the reaction from the crowd when Jesus had said those words.  Matthew says, “But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”  Their collective jaws probably had to be raised from the ground, because Jesus modeled His “leaving it all on the field” when He rightfully claimed His divine authority to heal the sick.

How can we lay claim to this today?  In the movie, “Facing the Giants”, Coach Grant Taylor not unlike Jesus Christ when he encountered the opposition and potential attempt of his being fired was at a lost, mentally, physically and emotionally.  But in wrestling with God for an answer Coach Taylor resolved to “leave it on the field.”  In wrestling with his faith in God His faith in God was renewed and he told the players of the breakthrough he had revealed by God.  It was simple.  Coach Taylor resolved and challenged his players and fellow coaches to leave everything on the field, give it their all and leave the results to God.

Last week, I suggested this same approach with the insert in the bulletin, both the catechism as well as the small insert with the ad for “Facing the Giants” and the sermon series.  When we “leave it on the field” and let God have control over the outcome, we give God the Glory He earned on the Cross of Calvary.  This same Glory God gives to us in, through and by our baptism into His life death and resurrection and enables us to call upon His name and trust Him with everything.

This afternoon, at the Sherman Theater David Branda will show, “Facing the Giants”, I want you to see how God worked in the lives of the coach, the team and the town.  God worked so clearly that they were awestruck by God’s action.  But more importantly it was Coach Taylor trusting God fully and clearly in everything that had the most profound affect.  Coach Taylor let his actions speak for themselves in three ways.  I challenge you to doing this as well.

First, in your life, give your all in everything, whether it is relationship with your spouse, with your children or family, your job or your church.  Don’t settle for second best.  In everything let God inspire your work habits, your demonstration of faith and be manifest in your “leaving it all on the field”.

Second, trust God for the results.  All of us know the results will not always be success, but praise God even for failure.  Failure is an opportunity to continue to praise God, because we may need to learn something from it in order for God’s glory to be revealed to us whether in our lives or our relationship with God.  For Coach Taylor it was the loss of a key player from the team, the loss of the first three games of the season and the reality that he could not have children that drove him to trust God fully and without compromise for the results in the future, whether in his walk with the town, the team or on the field.

Finally, if you give everything you can and trust God for the results allow God to work and look for His results.  We as a society think the change of the world depends upon us, the change of the church depends upon us, the change of a persons heart depends upon us.  That is to much control and God through the Holy Spirit is the only one Who can change the heart of man.  Ezekiel the prophet says it well, “I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,20 that they may walk in My  statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”  This promise occurs only through and by what God did on Calvary through Jesus Christ for each and every one of us.

May we as a church and as individuals inspired by “Facing the Giants” in faith, trust and hope give everything to God, trust in God for the results and allow God to change our hearts of stone, for this only occurs when we “leave it on the field” and allow God to be God.  For the promises of God are clear that He freely offers us life and salvation through Jesus Christ death on Calvary for all of mankind because of His great and unconditional love for all of us.  God will make us awestruck by His action, whether it be healing a paralytic, breaking our heart of stone or using Emmanuel Lutheran Church to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all of Goodland, Sherman County and Western Kansas.  So let’s resolve to trust God and “leave it all on the field”.  AMEN.
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