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Monday, September 16, 2013

09152013 16th Sunday After Trinity

Sermon Audio

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.

Imagine if you will being on a beach somewhere.  The sand in your toes, the wind in your hair, the sun not to bright, but just a beautiful day.  Reclining, yes, reclining in a chair like this on the beach.  For some of us this could also be sitting on a deck overlooking the mountain vistas of the Rockies or the fields that we have just tilled in preparation for planting.  We have not a care in the world, our kids, grandkids and others are playing while we are taking in the sites and our senses are just bursting with every wafting of the breeze and the sounds that are not assaulting us, but relaxing our nerves from the daily grind.  They include the warm breeze, the birds in the distance, the smell of salt or pine needles or freshly turned dirt, the relaxing calm of not having a care in the world.

Left behind are the stresses of work, the strains of relationships, whether of family, friends, business, church or even our favorite sports teams that may make it to the playoffs.  We don’t need sun screen because the sun is not to bright and won’t burn us, we have a cool refreshing drink and nobody and nothing is going to pull us away from our well-deserved ‘rest’.

Then we hear an unmistakable voice that not only elicits a smile, but also a warm feeling deep from within our soul.  It is not the screech of our kids, the nagging of our boss or co-workers, nor is it a sound that would instantly make our nerves come on edge.  It is the sound of not only a friend, but someone that we trust implicitly.  It is not only the tenor of the voice, it is the soothing sensation heard and felt that slows our pulse, eases our stress and helps us to put everything that stresses us out of our mind and release it to Him.

This is the experience that God wants us to have when we come and worship.  In our series we have come to the last of the ‘First Table’ of Commandments that deal exclusively with God.  Let’s follow along as I read from the insert in your bulletin, the Third Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.”  Let us pray asking God to speak to each of us saints gathered here this morning.

Gracious Father, enable us to remember the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  We are called by God to put Him first, but there are times where we let the world, our circumstances or our sinful desires encroach upon our lives even here in the church.  Continue to reach to each of us individually and help us to rest in You and make our Sabbath about You and Your Glory of what Your Son Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here this morning.  AMEN.

When we sit in a chair like this with either our toes in the sand, on the deck of our porch, on the edge of our fields, our backyard or around a camp fire, we seem to have nothing to worry about.  God uses this time to not only rejuvenate us and recharge our batteries, but let our collective hair down in front of our friends and sometimes even our family.  But the reality is we do not do this here in the church.  Whether it is because of the stigma of having something ‘cold’ to drink with an umbrella, or the age old stigma of ‘Christians don’t drink’, or Christians can’t cuss or God will strike us dead if we are caught doing anything like that is not a reality for us today.  God wants us to understand correctly that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

We need the vacations, we need the weekend away from the house, farm, even church and the stresses of our lives and no one, not even God or even me the Pastor begrudges anybody this inherent need that we should take care of ourselves.  Some would ask the question, “Ok Pastor, what is the other shoe that is going to drop?”  What are you going to follow up with that will make me feel like I have to be in church, have to serve in some capacity in ministry of the congregation or have to do in order to earn my salvation?

The reality is we cannot earn our salvation.  No matter what we do, we do not, cannot and will never earn our salvation.  The salvation that Jesus Christ offers us on the cross of Calvary cannot be bought or sold or earned by anything we do, it is God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ.  This is why the Third Commandment is so important, it is the final commandment that deals with relationship between God and man.  It is the final command and response that we hear from God in the Ten Commandments that deals specifically with our relationship with God.  The first dealt with our personal relationship with God, the second with His Name and now how we are to take Sabbath and rest in Him.

Our collective reality is that this chair and drink is not meant to get our collective tongues wagging about what Pastor did on Sunday, nor how I dressed, but for us to see past the images and understand the relationship that God is calling us to have with Him.  God in the Commandments and through His Son Jesus Christ is offering us a relationship for all eternity where the stresses of our lives will not have us up in arms.  The relationships that we have through the church will not cause us to be angry with one another, the responsibility we feel we have as a church about money, janitors, helping the poor and in one sense dividing us will not drive us to the edge.  We are to take our Sabbath and rest in God, because of what Jesus Christ did on Calvary.  It is through our embracing this Sabbath that God will use us as His emissaries and His hands and feet to collectively reach not only our community, but minister within the Church.

This Sunday is known as “Back to Church Sunday”.  Across the nation there are churches that are making the priority of people returning to church.  This concept of Sabbath has become taboo in the church and it is ironic that it falls this of all Sundays.  We need to remind people of what true Sabbath is in Jesus Christ.  When we find true Sabbath in Jesus Christ like we will in a few minutes with our receipt of His precious Body and Blood this will truly and radically change our perspective not only of our lives outside of the church, but also our ministry that occurs within our church for those who are both inside and outside of our church.  We as the Body of Christ, Jesus Christ representatives within the walls of the church and outside in the community of the church can radically change the trajectory not only of the community, but also our own hearts when we find not only our rest in Jesus Christ and the salvation offered by Him but also our strength to mission and ministry in Him.  This is a part of Sabbath, because it is not work.  It is fully, totally and truthfully resting in God’s promise of Sabbath in Him.  Thus, I challenge each of you today, take your rest in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ on this Back to Church Sunday, but let it be a means of changing not only your attitude, your personal direction in your faith life, but also and more importantly your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let this image of Sabbath not only enter your lives, but also challenge your current relationship and role here in the church and the world, but not in order to earn your salvation, but to understand how free this gift is for you today.  For God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  Our Sabbath made for man is so our relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be truly understood and experienced in for, by and through Sabbath for all the saints, including all of us gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
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