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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sermon 11112012 Veteran's Day 23rd 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!  Good and gracious God, we come before You this morning, knowing that we live in a world of sin.  Our sin is sometimes clear and easily seen and other times we try and hide it from our families, friends, fellow worshipers and You, but You know and see what we do in secret.  Forgive us Lord and enable us to ‘Give You our Best’.  For when we give You our best, and praise You when we overcome and praise You when we fail, we then know You are always there for us, like when Jesus went to the Cross to set us free from our sins.  Enable us to lay claim to this, leave it on the field, pray for rain and ‘Give You our Best’ like Jesus gave His best for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Brock wasn’t your typical high school athlete.  He didn’t have the chiseled abs, the magnetic personality, nor the best looking girls hanging on his arms.  But what Brock did have was the God given ability to lead.  You see, Brock is one of the main characters from the most recent Films of Faith Series, “Facing the Giants”.  If you remember it was Brock who first asked Coach Taylor if a player had left the school at the beginning of football practice.  It was Brock who voiced the opinion that they were doomed without the player that left.  And it was also Brock who showed his lack of focus in the classroom with a failing grade and wanting to have fun, rather than concentrate.

Yet, once Coach Taylor had introduced the ‘New Philosophy’, it was Brock that Coach Taylor pegged as a leader and challenged him to “Give God his best”.  The most pivotal point for the team in the movie was where Coach Taylor showed his belief in Brock in practice and challenges him to the ‘death crawl’.  Usually players would only do this for 20 yards.  But Coach Taylor raises the bar and the stakes by blindfolding Brock.  After starting Brock stops to rest for a second, but Coach Taylor says ‘give it everything you’ve got’, ‘keep moving’, ‘keep driving’, ‘give it your very best’, ‘don’t quit on me’, ‘don’t quit til you have nothing left’, ‘I want everything you’ve got’, ‘negotiate with your body’, ‘keep going…it’s not to hard’.  Finally Coach Taylor gives him a countdown of steps and after the final step Coach Taylor takes the bandana off his head and says, ‘look up Brock, you are in the end zone.’

This story illustrates for us this morning a truth of giving our best to God.  There are three things we can take away from this illustration.  First, if we are going to give our best to God, we need to ‘give it everything we’ve got.’  At every step, Coach Taylor was there encouraging Brock, but also challenging him to give it everything he had.  The death crawl is tough work, but it builds muscle, endurance and the ability to channel every bit of energy to the task of carrying someone. Brock only thought it would be 20 yards or the fifty, but in the end in giving everything he had Brock made it 100 yards.  He gave it all he had.

We are no different when we are confronted with diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia or open sores on our bodies that won’t heal, we need to give it all we have.  These are opportunities for all of us to rely solely upon God to provide the strength we need and focus on His plan and His providence for our lives.  When we rely solely upon God and give it everything we have, God will bless us.  So to in the church here, we have the opportunity to rely upon God to do some wonderful things through and by our congregation and our involvement in the community, like being involved in the ministry just starting at the Methodist church of feeding those less fortunate, providing or delivering meals for the shut-ins like with meals on wheels or the upcoming Thanksgiving dinners or even with our films of faith series.  These are all opportunities for us like Brock to ‘give it all we have’.

Second, sometimes we need to have our eyes closed in order to focus, not on our surroundings, but the mission God has given us to do.  For Brock, it was very clear, he didn’t know where he was on the field, because he had a bandanna covering his eyes, so he did not have his eyes on the prize and give up to a certain point.  So easily we in the church sometimes have our eyes on more people in worship, more money in the offering plate and more people to share the load of the ministry of the church.  But maybe we need to have a bandanna put over our eyes so we can ‘give God our Best’ and not have our eyes on the prize or finish line, the end of the project or the things or people that surround us and drain our energy.  If we close our eyes and rely upon God for not only our strength and effort, He will inspire the passion we need, provide the money and the people that we need to ‘Give God our Best’ and do His will here at Emmanuel.

Third, we will want to give up, because it is to hard or our bodies are worn out or we’ve done our time, but if we are to give God our best, we need to negotiate with our bodies to give to our last ounce of energy for God’s Glory and His ministry here at Emmanuel.  Throughout this sermon series, we have heard about giving God our best by ‘trusting God’, ‘leaving it on the field’, ‘preparing for rain’, ‘forgiveness’, and ‘a new philosophy’.  Now I wasn’t sure what affect I was having as pastor, but this past week, God spoke to my heart through two women who have stepped up and are still serving our congregation.  For some it may seem like an insignificant role, but their willingness to ‘give God their best’ by greeting people at the door is a role model for me as pastor to ‘give it my best’ even down to the last ounce of energy I have.

Giving to the last ounce of energy is extremely well illustrated by the people we honor this morning.  Yes, last week we honored the Saints that entered eternal glory in the last year with All Saints Day, but today we honor the Veterans on Veterans Day who have served our country in the line of battle in the military.  All of these men and women epitomize “Give God Your Best”.  This past week we had a meeting of some of the men of this congregation that served in the military.  Sitting around the table were men who modeled for all of us what Brock showed us in the Film of Faith of “Facing the Giants”.  These men entered the service in order to serve their country, protect our freedoms we sometimes take for granted, and ensure us the opportunity to gather here this morning to worship, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Some men like the ones we honor with silver stars on the World War II plaque that hangs on the wall outside the fellowship hall gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.  Through their ultimate sacrifice of their life they did give God their Best and did what Jesus Christ did for all of us today.  Jesus Christ through His sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary gave His life in order that all of us might be free.  By Jesus innocent death on Calvary we have been freed from sin, death and the devil.  This gift offered to each of us is made manifest because of His great love for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  May we be inspired to give God our Best for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
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