Service Elements and Message 03/15/2020

Call to Worship:

L: In the midst of our failures,
P: We stand in God’s grace.
L: In the midst of our struggles,
P: We boast in our hope through Christ.
L: In the midst of our suffering,
P: We claim the endurance given by the Holy Spirit.
L: In every part of our lives,
P: The love of our Divine Creator has been poured into our hearts.
All: Let us be open to this love as we join together in worship.

Opening Prayer:

Loving Father, So many times I turn away from you and always you welcome me back. 
Your mercy and love gives me confidence 
Thank you for the invitation to share, fast and pray so that you can form a new heart within me. 
Your powerful compassion for my weaknesses leads me to ask for mercy 
and await with great hope the Easter joy you share with us.


A big sigh…..  Yes here we are again today.  Here you are every day.  I mean the same old same old comes and goes.  We did not ask to be born but God had a different idea and so here we are.  Do you remember as a kid asking your folks where you came from?  I don’t know that I ever did but for many that do the answer is the same:  We found you in the garden.  And while we can look at life and think here we go, the same old same old, we are very fortunate people if we grew up in a house where God was honored.

. . As we grew and developed we eventually learned where we came from, and it was natural for us to want to know why, but the human side of creation put aside, we were created for one great purpose by the One Great Creator, and we will get to that in a moment.  

In growing up as children and even as adults, the word NO is applied to all of us.  We don’t always get what we want, and that can be hard because we are human and don’t like to be told NO, however because we are genetically connected to the first humans are we infected by sinful pride so we need to hear the word NO and we need to hear it from our creator.  We werecreated to glorify God and enjoy Him forever but, sin entered the world . . . tainted that which was created and said to be “very good” . . . turned it into that which was subsequently looked upon by God our Creator as “ungodly” and therefore unworthy of our Lord’s favor.

As human beings we have choices.  The choices made my Adam and Eve brought sin into the world and the defiant choices made by the suceeding humans on earth served as a way of shoving the glory we were made for into God’s face. 

Until He got so fed up that the flood came and wiped out human beings except those He found worthy and reading on about the life of Moses we know even that was not perfect.  

Scripture tells us, “There is none righteous, no, not even one,” and the sins we choose today are what we will be judged on tomorrow.  It’s the same for everyone.  God is not going to look at Lloyd and say he sinned a little, well Jordan over there sinned a lot and Wayne back there somewhere in between.  It’s all the same criteria.  All have sinned, we all are unrighteous, unrighteousness can never inherit eternal life with God . . . there could be only one just consequence – separation from God or “spiritual death”. In view of this, we have only one plea: We need help!

The good news is that there is someone who a couple thousand years ago went to the cross to help us.  Someone who was willing to get out of the boat, to walk on the water and call us unto him, and that person is Jesus.  

I am going to go a little backward with are scripture today but here these words from Romans 5: 6-11:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  

I look at this congregation and I can honestly say that I believe I am looking into the faces of Godly people.  I cannot imagine you purposely going out and saying, “today I am going to sin.”  Yet we do just that.  We sin and we certainly do not want someone telling us that what we are doing is ungodly.  We would not want to be associated with “those people” and yet we are those people every time we disobey God.

But the good news is we have reconciliation through Christ every time we do something that is against His will for us, but that one dramatic act of God – an act of love made a way for sinners to be restored to a right relationship with God.

John Wesley called it Justification.  Just as if we had never sinned.  We are found not guilty of our sons because when we sin we repent, knowing that God has washed us clean through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus’ blood.  It’s amazing grace. As the song by Chris Tomlin says: My chains are gone I’ve been set free.  
My God, my Savior has ransomed me And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

Based on our faith in Christ who died on the Cross to atone for mankind’s sin of rebellion, God declares all those who have been saved to be righteous . . . in a right relationship with God.

When you pray the sinner’s prayer, God forgive, come into my life, I want a relationship with you, we are made righteous.  It doesn’t mean we are perfect.  But we have that assurance that every time we screw up and go to God and admit that we screwed up, we can rest easy knowing we won’t die for those sins because Jesus already did.

Paul talks about the fact that we were “at odds with God.”  We were separated from God due to the state of ungodliness we found ourselves in.  Maybe you could say we had “irreconcilable differences” (the legal ground most often employed as a basis for divorce) but Jesus came and convinced us to turn away from our sinful state, to follow him, God proved to us by His love that our differences were reconcilable.

We were convinced to turn away from a life of sin, to turn to a life devoted to God for this reason Love that laid down His life for all sinners!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!”

God’s act of love provided the Way. Our act of turning away from a life bent toward sinning, turning to God’s Way of grace – believing that Jesus is the Son of God and accepting Jesus as Lord as well as Savior – put us back in harmony with God, and with one another. God took the initiative. We took Him up on it.

God brought us into favor with Him because of grace.  Paul talks about living in grace in the first half of our scripture this morning.

Romans 5:1-5 . . .5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  

The Holy Spirit within us guides us . . . encourages us . . . guarantees the outcome Jesus promised when He declared: “Because I live, ye shall live!”

The end result of our salvation is guaranteed because of the Resurrection! Paul said: “We shall be saved by His life” – by the fact that Christ Jesus lives! We stand amazed in His Presence!

God didn’t wait for us to clean up our lives . . . straighten ourselves out . . . invite Him into our hearts. He sent His Son anyway – Jesus died for our sins anyway – “while we were yet sinners”- before we repented or sought to make things right. Such love wasand I believe still is unheard of!  We look at people for their sins.  Because we are human we judge others and that is our sin.  I am no different I sin and fall short of God’s glory just like you.  How can we change that?

Well if you came to me as your pastor or even just your friend and said to me, Linda I have committed the sin of adultery we would talk about it and pray about it and repent of it right then and there.  So when you or I sin no matter how small or how large it might be all we have to do is go to God and say I have sinned, I repent and then know you are forgiven as God says go and sin no more, and then we see 

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see!”

WE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE BECAUSE OF GRACE. “For by grace have you been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We can respond in one of two ways to God’s gift. We can take it or leave it. Gladly I took God up on His offer. I hope all of you here today did too. If you haven’t don’t wait.  We are not guaranteed tomorrow.  It’s simple folks.  You don’t need to come up front (although our altar is always open) right where you are just say Lord, I am a sinner, I need forgiveness, come into my life.  If you pray that simple prayer He will hear you and may all for whom Christ died . . . to whom we witness . . . for whom we pray do the same. Amen.