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Sunday, July 26, 2015

07262015 8th Sunday After Trinity - We are children of God...heirs of God!

Sermon Audio (Will be posted soon!)

July 26, 2015
We are children of God…heirs of God!
“Congratulations, you have just won, the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes!”  For years these words were dreamed of by many people throughout our country.  Television commercials were filmed, media hype was in full gear on television, in the mail, newspapers and even magazines.  Everybody knew what Publisher’s Clearing House was and that you were going to win at least a million dollars.  At that time, it was a large sum of money.  There were even some people who would on the day the winners were announced would keep an eye out at their door, because, they wanted to be the big winners.  Unlike today of seeing the post on Facebook that the ‘prize van’ has been spotted in the neighborhood, the excitement was so tangible before cell phones and the internet that if someone saw balloons or the ‘prize van’ in their neighborhood, people would run out into their yards, chasing the van, hoping to be the heirs of the prize being given. 

In light of this, why are Christians not as excited about eternal life?  Why are Christians not as excited about coming to church, where we hear the Word of God or receive the gift of forgiveness and eternal life from God?  Why are Christians not as excited about being the heir of eternal life from Jesus Christ?  Why are we not as excited about church as people were for ‘Publisher’s Clearing House’, the fair, a new restaurant or even Friday night football under the lights or watching a wrestling match at the Max?  Simply it may be we do not clearly understand that we Christians, we who gather at church, whether here at Emmanuel or any other Christian church, “We are children of God…heirs of God!”.

Paul, the author of the Letter to the Romans and our epistle this morning gives a little insight to our heritage and puts flesh on what being an heir of God means.  Some would even say, Paul rolls up the proverbial newspaper and whacks Christians on the nose.  We don’t like the feeling of being ‘outed’ for what we have chosen to do and what we make a priority, yet Paul goes so far as to say, “we are obligated” as Christians.  Yet, we probably wonder and ask, what are we obligated to as Christians?  We think of school and making sure our children get to school as an obligation or ‘requirement’, paying our taxes or bank and land payments, making sure the pivots that water the corn is an obligation to our employer, our job and our lifestyle, but our obligation here in the church is not ‘law based’, but Gospel based.  We live by grace, how can grace and the forgiveness of sins have an obligation associated with it?

Paul wants us to understand we should be excited about church and about bringing others, not out of obligation, but out of the sheer joy of what we will receive, eternal life as heirs of God.  Last week, it was stated by Paul earlier in Romans that we receive eternal life, for since “we are children of God…heirs of God” we receive the greatest gift of God entrance into heaven for all eternity. 

Yet, as a free gift we should want to share it with others and have a desire to bring others to hear the good news.  But it is sometimes hard for us, because we don’t want to be seen as an evangelist or ‘fundamentalist Christian’.  Just as we love to tell our friends, neighbors and family of the impending birth of a child or grandchild, the Good News of Jesus Christ should have the same urgency and joy.  We should feel a clear desire to get up and tell others about what God is offering us through His Son Jesus Christ.

If we don’t feel this way, don’t want to share the message of the Gospel, don’t want to share what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary, don’t want others to hear about free salvation offered by Jesus Christ we then must not love our neighbors, family or friends.  But I don’t think this is our intention, nor our personal belief.  But our not telling others is exactly what the devil wants us to do and be, not tell the Good News.  The devil wants us to be apathetic and not share the gift of God for all of mankind.

Recently, I was reminded of how important our mission and ministry here at Emmanuel is for not only the church, but each of us individually and what an influence we can have upon others.  So profound is the mission and ministry of Emmanuel that it was clearly demonstrated by an event that began in our Vacation Bible School.

One of the craft ideas that was used for the Pre-Schoolers was painting Crosses.  This may seem like a no brainer, the painting of a cross at VBS, but in the end it had a profound impact.  When the activity was first conceived, there were enough crosses that each of the children could make more than one.  An idea was thought up by Michele, my wife.  What about having each of the children make an extra cross and they be taken to Wheat Ridge to be given to the residents.  One thing led to another and the activity was completed by the kids during the week.  The kids were excited and loved having the opportunity to paint a little more.  So Friday afternoon the week of VBS, Michele took, the crosses, with one of the children who helped make the crosses and two other campers from VBS.

As was told to me later, the residents at Wheat Ridge loved the gift of the crosses.  These simple gifts made by the small hands of the Pre-School group made the residents feel they were connected, to our Vacation Bible School here at Emmanuel.  Not only were they connected, they were purposefully thought of and were remembered with the cross and what it stands for, eternal life offered by Jesus Christ.

What makes this more poignant, is that the idea was originally meant only for the members of Emmanuel who live at Wheat Ridge.  However, once word spread around Wheat Ridge, which was surprising since the residents don’t move as fast, of the gift of the crosses, residents who saw the three little girls stopped them in the halls and were asking if there were enough crosses for them to have one as well.

The cross decorated by the children, though simple to make, showed how important our connection with the residents at Wheat Ridge is for the message of the Gospel.  How profound the message of Jesus Christ is and what an impact it can have when we take the time to share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet.  We are called to this mission and ministry to share in the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for all of mankind, but especially including all of mankind knowing the truth that “we are children of God, but especially heirs of God” who are offered eternal life through Jesus Christ.  Let’s share that Gospel message and the love of Jesus Christ for all of mankind and be the Church.  AMEN.

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