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Sunday, August 17, 2014

08172014 Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

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.

“Are you ready for some football?”  This iconic song and statement means one thing, sports are starting back up! Whether it is football, the coming of the playoffs in baseball as well as the beginning of school, it is certain that we will watch commercials advertising the sports and showing the stars of the different sports.  Currently the NCAA is in talks to pay college athletes for using their likeness on posters and other advertising, because kids look up to these athletes and see them as the model and example.  But the reality and question we here in the church need to address is, who do we look to as an example?

Clearly, there are probably three distinct groups that we look to in our daily lives.  They include our parents, our teachers and even the professionals that we pay lots of money to go and see, or sit in our living rooms and dedicate our Saturday’s and Sunday afternoons to watch on television.  But what do these three groups provide as a model for us?

Certainly our parents are clear examples of people we want to emulate.  Recently there was a clear expression of why we look to parents to emulate by a mother who was diagnosed with cancer.  But her cancer as well as the situation wasn’t normal.  She found out she had cancer after she learned she was pregnant.  Instead of sacrificing the child, which would have been publically acceptable, she chose to carry the child to term, allow the cancer to continue to grow along with her child in the womb and ultimately give birth at full term, before she began treatment for the cancer.  This woman now has been told she has less than a year to enjoy and bond with the child she would not sacrifice giving life too.  Why would we not use her as our example?

Or teachers who not only teach our children, but model for our children more during their waking hours than even parents do.  They not only are expected to provide discipline, compassion and even provide for them, but teach our children how to read, write and do arithmetic.  But even teachers model something above and beyond.  Remember both Columbine and especially Newton, Massachusetts.  There were stories told of a teacher who hid her students in the cabinets and told the gunman they were gone and sacrificed herself, in order to save the students she loved and cared for.  We have seen the impact of those tragedies, both by our redesigning our schools here in Goodland and refitting them to protect our children.  Why would we not use teachers like this woman as role models for our children?

We also not only see the professionals who play the sports, but how the media portrays them or in some cases crucifies them and their beliefs.  Having lived in Niagara Falls, New York, I watched Jim Kelly quarterback the Buffalo Bills.  But now Jim Kelly no longer on the radar or in the cross hairs of the media, fights for his life with cancer.  Yet he continues to hold his firm convictions not only as a parent but also as an advocate for children with mental and physical challenges.  Tim Tebow closer to home for us, former quarterback of the Bronco’s received more scrutiny than most for not only his upbringing, but especially his faith in God and willingness and desire to show it both on and off the field.  Why would we not want to follow the model of those who show their faith willingly and in some cases to their downfall?

No matter who your own personal example may be, each and every person has character traits that can both attract praise as well as criticism.  Yet as Christians, members of Emmanuel and especially members of the church, we have to ask ourselves the most serious question, who do we look up to as our example?

The simple answer should be Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ modelled for all of humanity not only the desire to do the Father’s will, but the willingness to sacrifice Himself because of His great love for us.  If you could have had a conversation with Paul after he had written this letter to the Corinthians, he would have plainly stated Jesus Christ was the person we need to look to most as an example for our daily lives.  Years ago the “WWJD” bracelets and key rings were the rage, but have fallen out of constant circulation.  But the reality remains, we as Christians not only can ask but look to Jesus Christ, what He was willing to do for all of mankind and know He is the best example for us today.

Paul in his letters always pointed and had his ultimate centering in and upon Jesus Christ.  Prior to his personal experience of being blinded on the road to Emmaus, Paul persecuted the underground church that followed the teachings of Jesus Christ.  But after encountering Jesus Christ, Paul preached tirelessly, through the night in order for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached and proclaimed.  Paul confessed he was not the perfect example, but Jesus Christ was and came to set us free.  Paul was not afraid to point to Jesus and we can daily look to Jesus Christ as not only our ‘true North’, but our example for each of us.

Ultimately as the church, we can and do point to Jesus Christ as the perfect example.  We see His likeness in our stained glass window above the altar.  Yet the reality remains, we even have examples here among us today that emulate and model for each of us a clear measure of sacrifice.  Whether it is the mother that speaks on behalf of and represents a departed son and continues his legacy of service in the community and making the world a better place.  Or the sacrifice many families in our community daily make of taking care of their loved ones, as they see them diminish and ultimately go to meet their maker.  Or even those who watch as their children who should have grown up and had families of their own, now have to be cared for by the very parents who gave them life.  We have examples right here among us where Jesus Christ is clearly visible and present in action and deed by the people we call brothers and sisters in Christ.

Clearly this is where we can see and individually lay claim to the example given us by Jesus Christ and know that Paul was true and correct when he said, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

We each know people who are in need of being introduced to Jesus Christ and we as the church have the opportunity not only to introduce them, but continue to model for them who our example is in Jesus Christ.  Recently, I saw the movie “God is not Dead” and was struck by not only the profound opportunity, but clear impact one person can have upon countless lives.  But it was not the philosophy professor, nor the young man that defied everyone he held dear to defend Jesus, but it was the Pastor that for me that emulated the example we need.  Though he had the best laid plans for vacation, God used him and orchestrated the greatest opportunity and element of seeing and being an example and shoulder to cry on by many of the characters in the movie.  While he knelt at the side of the Philosophy professor, he truly understood Who his example was in Jesus Christ and what he needed to do for this man he had just met, but had been counseling people that were impacted by him.  It wasn’t make the man comfortable, but offer him the opportunity to confess Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.  It crystalized for me what we need to be challenged to do as Christians, but also the church, not just be willing, but clearly be open to point to the Man Jesus Christ in all of our opportunities that daily present themselves.

We need to daily point to and introduce others to the perfect example we have that is found in Jesus Christ.  We need to be challenged to not only emulate Jesus Christ, but be His emissaries here in the church, and also and especially in our community.  And when our ‘perfect plans’ are changed, see it as our being used to not only give greatest glory to God, but used for His Glory.  For “God is faithful” and we can point to Jesus Christ as our perfect example for all of mankind that we daily encounter, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
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