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Sunday, July 27, 2014

07272014 Sixth 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.

If there is one thing Pastors do not have a problem doing, it is sharing opinion, sometimes to often and other times not enough.  Humanity in general as well does not have a problem sharing our opinion.  Whether it is the politics of our country, the latest entertainment news of who has done something outrageous or what was on Facebook.  Or even how we farm the land, make decisions about which combine to buy or whether we strip till or plow.  Everybody has opinions and we are not afraid to share.

Here in the church we are not any different.  From the color of the paint, to how we feel when put down, our opinions shine through like the noon day sun and scorch any skin.  We react and like our skin burn within ourselves or the polar opposite, we blow up.

But Paul in Romans 6 poses a question we all need to seriously consider and answer.  “What shall we say then?”  Paul is seeking to frame the conversation by asking a question, not for negativity but with a direction in mind.  Paul’s direction isn’t legalistic as he had been known before he personally encountered Jesus Christ.  Paul has one clear focus in mind looking directly at what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary.  Paul says, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?  May it never be!”  We are called through our baptism to live a life of grace, not the law.  For Grace is exactly what we find and receive each and every day from Jesus Christ.  Paul continues, “do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the Glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”  We are raised with Him and no longer should live in fear, but live in faith as Children of the Light.

Last week we concluded church with the sending song, “I want to walk as a Child of the Light”.  This is exactly what the Christian life is to be, the desire to walk in the light of Christ.  For with Christ we see no darkness, we feel no fear, we are the redeemed children of God set free by the blood of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  This is the gift of grace Paul alludes to and we are empowered and called to embrace and share with one another.

We here today are united with Jesus Christ in the most intimate way, not like husband and wife, but more intimate in that God knows our inner most thoughts and feelings, fears and failings that we share with no one else, and Jesus Christ responds to our unspoken and personal struggles by not putting us down, but lifting us up.  Jesus Christ with our baptism shields us from the arrows of the devil and even those who point at and to the blemishes we live and bear as burdens in our daily lives.  Recently, not only have some of our own farmers felt the sting of the devil and what we experience with the loss of both winter wheat and summer corn due to the hail, but even our church building has experienced the hail and had damage.  But as Dr. Henry Cloud says, we should be courageous in the face of these attacks.  We fear, which is natural, but what we do with the fear is another opportunity for us.  Dr. Cloud states, “Courage does not mean that you don't feel fear.  Courage means that you do what is needed even when it scares you.”  This is our opportunity to be courageous and be showered with and by God’s Grace.

Because of what Jesus Christ has done we now can lay claim to a life not living in fear, but faith.  For Paul says, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”.  We live with Christ and Christ has set us free.  Now it is a mind-set shift that we need.  It is the opportunity for us to change how we act and react.  Paul was a good example of this, prior to His encounter with Jesus Christ, he hunted down Christians and put them in jail and ultimately saw them killed, because they went against the Jewish faith as taught in the synagogue.  But after his personal encounter with Jesus Christ, Paul became the best known writer of the New Testament and was instrumental in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul’s mind and view point was changed to a life of faith and not fear, a life of grace and not the law.

We are no different today, hearing God’s Word, believing that it is for each and every one of us and living a life of faith, not fear, we can follow Paul’s new life after his encounter with Jesus Christ as well as his last statement.  He concludes, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  We are alive and free from that which binds us and now can in putting on the full armor of God believe we are new creatures because of our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.

Recently on Facebook there have been pictures of three little girls.  They are shown as a group, not the typical kind of kids who post ‘selfies’.  These three girls are shown not touting any location or something they are trying to sell or ‘look funny’.  In the picture they simply portray themselves as three survivors of cancer.  From a young age they have known and experienced the valleys of doubt and pain associated with the disease known as cancer.  They all lost their hair, endured multiple trips and long stays in the hospital, but in this one moment, they have their picture taken, not in failure, but in triumph.  You see, all three of these young ladies have been healed of their individual cancer.  For each of them the picture taken is not mourning the loss of nearly half of their young lives, but of their triumph of beating the disease that nearly took them from the loving arms of their families.

We to who gather here today can answer Paul’s original question, “What shall we say then?” with the boldness epitomized in the picture of these three young ladies.  We can respond as Paul concluded, we are “alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  And we through Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary have overcome sin, death and the devil.  For this is the gift offered to and for all of mankind including each of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

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