Sermon delivered on July 8, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church.
Sermon given in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church on July 1, 2018.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17
A few weeks ago I needed to make two visits in Sioux Falls. One visit was to someone in the hospital in the morning. I then had another visit to pray with someone before surgery. There was about a three-hour window of time that I needed to fill. I went to a coffee shop, got a little caffeine, and did a little work on my tablet. Before I went to do the afternoon visit I decided to go to the mall. I wanted to see if I could find a good price on some clothes that I wanted to get for the upcoming trip to Sandusky, OH with the youth group. I parked near the food court entrance and spent roughly 30 minutes looking for a new pair of shorts. On the way out I was observing how little activity there was at the mall compared to time past. The handful of cars in the parking lot reflected how few people were moving around the interior of the mall.
As I was nearing my car I saw a mother and I would guess a three-year-old child. The child pulled his hand out of the hand of his mother and began to run from her. There was not much of a sense of urgency from the mother. There were very few cars and she could see every area of potential danger. I got into the car and thought about how differently that mother would have acted if it was a busier day. If it was Christmas season there would be no way the mother would have let her child run through the parking lot. Her quiet and passive pleas for the child to stop would have instead been a frantic scramble to make sure her child was back in her control. She would have dropped her shopping bags and done everything she needed to do to make sure that her child was safe. In fact, she would probably not have even allowed the child to walk next to her holding her hand. She would have held the child safely in her arms from the mall until she safely placed her in the car seat.
This got me to thinking about how we view God and what he has done to save us. If we believe that sin is merely something that we can correct on our own or that sin isn't that big a deal then our view of how God saves us and holds on to us is going to reflect that. If we see God like the mother I witnessed in the parking lot then we are ultimately in control of our salvation and God is overseeing us and keeping us from doing any major harm to ourselves.
On the other hand, if we hold to a Biblical view of sin and an understanding that we are dead in our trespasses and sins, things will be different. We would see God much more like the scenario I imagined during the Christmas shopping season. God would not only take hold of us but he would not let us go until he delivered us safely.
This is so important for our understanding of who God is, how he saves us, and how he holds on to us. Our sin is a big deal. It is treason against the Most High and in order to be rescued from it the ultimate price had to be paid. God the Son took on human flesh, lived for us, died for us, and rose again for us. He is now at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. Through the proclamation of the gospel, the Holy Spirit has brought us to faith. All to rescue us from sin and death. As we know so well from John 3:16-17 God showed his love for us in Jesus Christ. He did not leave us to wander. He did all that needed to be done to bring his people to himself. If you are in Christ, God has laid hold of you and he will not let go. He will bring you safely home. Rest in that good news and trust in his great saving work in Christ for you.
Sermon delivered on June 24, 2018 at First Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN.
Sermon delivered on June 10, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church.
Sermon delivered on June 3, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church.
Sermon given in Edgerton, MN on Sunday, May 27 at First Reformed Church.
Sermon given on May 20, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church.
Sermon delivered on May 13, 2018 in Edgerton, MN at First Reformed Church.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10
Often young children have a project in their early years of schooling that can be challenging for them. The idea of this project is for them to understand the natural process of a plant growing. The children receive a Styrofoam cup, a small amount of potting soil, and a bean seed. The three items are brought together easily but the difficulty comes with the young child's impatience. They often cannot understand why it is taking so long for the seed to sprout. No amount of wishing on the part of the child is going to cause that bean to grow any faster. Of course, the lesson that is intended to be learned is about how a plant grows and how to water and care for it. Perhaps the more important lesson that is learned in this project is patience.
Children check the cup regularly and they wonder why the bean hasn't come up. It can become an obsession. They wonder if it has been watered enough or whether there is enough sunlight where the cup is sitting. Through it all, they are forced to trust the process by which God has ordained for this small seed to grow into a plant. It can be slow but there is no magic way to make this seed grow faster.
When I was in the sixth grade my science experiment project involved growing some plants. I gave five different plants different liquids each day. I can't remember what the liquids all were. I do remember there was a control plant with water and two of the other plants got to drink Coke and milk each day. The water plant was the winner but the differences between the plants were negligible. What they needed to grow was time, liquid, and light. There was no magic liquid or method to turn that plant into Jack's beanstalk overnight. The caffeine in the Coke didn't jolt the plant to grow taller and thicker than the others. The plants grew like plants are supposed to grow.
In my experience so often we forget this lesson of patience when we look at growing spiritual fruit. We want to grow into better Christians overnight with a certain study or a weekend at a retreat or conference. In the end, while we may have benefited from these things the growth usually isn't as significant as we had hoped.
Just as we have to trust in the means that God ordains for the bean to grow in the cup, we must trust in the means that God has ordained for our spiritual growth. God has given us the Word and the sacraments for our benefit. He will be good to the promise for us to grow through them by the power of the Holy Spirit. God is working in you and just as he promised, you are being conformed to the image of his Son. It isn't going to happen overnight but that is also for your benefit. Things that grow quickly are not strong, do not last, and usually have very shallow roots. A faith that grows over time and is rooted in God's Word will last and have roots that are deep. Continue to hear the Word proclaimed to you. Continue to receive God's good gift in the Lord's Supper. Continue to fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. God is working in you. You are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. This is God's promise to you. You can trust it.