Feb 26, 2009

My First Gig

Well, before I had the chance to so much as visit the seminary I will be attending in the fall, I had the opportunity to stand up and preach in front of some of our congregation. Our pastor has been fighting a terrible cold, and mentioned that he may not be able to perform the Lent service tonight. When I had heard that, I couldn't stop my mind from turning over ideas of what I could talk about in his place. The Holy Spirit was working in me in a big way. So, I contacted him and asked if I could be of service. He said yes, so I went on to get all of these thoughts down on paper, and prepared myself to lead the service this evening. What follows is my notes I wrote up for the sermon. I would welcome and encourage any and all thoughts and comments on what you see here.



Lenten Service Message, 02-25-09 - Why Jesus?
Or, more importantly, why not Jesus right away? God had a plan, and he knew exactly how our minds work, so he had to accomplish that plan in such a way that we would really get it.

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;

We were created in God's image - Sinless, Just, Righteous. We had a nature that, because we were sinless, allowed us to have fellowship with God and that allowed us to remain in his perfect presence without the stench of sin driving us away from Him. But, we were not mindless puppets that God controlled. We were created with a will. A will that can be convinced to go wrong because of the lies of the devil.

So, what happened?

Genesis 2:16-17
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 3:4-6
 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will
be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.;

We fell, lied to by the devil, convinced to sin against God's one and only commandment at the time. And as soon as the skin of the fruit was broken by the human tooth...

God shook his head and said, "no." The devil raised his fist and said, "Yes!"

Now, God could have said, "you screwed up, I'm done with you" but the God of Love prevailed. He found Adam and Eve ("where are you", as if He didn't know), showed them their sin, promised a constant struggle between mankind and the devil, and told us that we shall surly die an eternal death separated from God because of our sins, but then cleaned them up and clothed them. He wiped the tears from their eyes, wiped the juice from their chins, and made for them some L.L. Bean for their backs and Birkenstocks for their feet.

Now, God's plan is set into motion to restore us to him and His promise of eternity. We learn slow. He had to do it in a manner in which we would understand how it is that we can be righteous enough to remain with him in eternity.

Part 1 – Figuring it out for ourselves
We were then on our own for a while to try to figure out how to live righteously.

So, what happened?

Genesis 6:5-8
5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast,
creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

In trying to sort out what it means to be righteous, we got it horribly wrong and the flood happened. Our floundering around, trying to get it right prepared us for what was to come next. We were now ready for the Law.

Part 2 – A blueprint for righteousness
What did the law do for us? The law revealed God’s righteous nature so that we had a blueprint to guide us in righteous living. We had a way of figuring out how we need to live in order to stack up against God in righteousness. Eventually, we figured out that we don't have it in us to figure out on our own how to live righteously, so God sent His law through Moses.

So, what happened?

Ezekiel 33:17-19
17 “Yet the children of your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ But it is their way which is not fair! 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it. 19 But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it.

It took a couple of thousand years for it to finally sink in that we don't have it in us to follow all the rules and restrictions ourselves in order to live righteously. We were now ready for Jesus.

Part 3 – The answer
Jesus came and explained to us what righteousness really is. It is so much more than simply following the letter of the law. Our hearts, minds, and souls also have to follow the law. We can't possibly present ourselves as righteous before God by following the rules because our hearts, minds, and souls remain focused on the sin our nature wants us to commit. Jesus taught us that instead of our suffering and dying an eternal death separated from God, that He would be the one God would punish for all of our sins.
Just try to comprehend the Father pouring out his wrath on His Son for every sin that ever was committed, is being committed, and ever will be committed, all the while knowing that not one of these sins was committed by His Son. Jesus felt the full brunt of that pain, and God had to too. Finally, when Jesus had breathed His last breath, and his heart had beat it's last beat, and his body hung limp in defeat…

God smiled and said, "yes." The devil fell to his knees and said, "No!"

The devil knew that he had been beat once and for all. He knew that now he had no power to win souls for his own purposes in the face of the realization of what the death of God's son had now accomplished. The rest was just a formality. Jesus went down into hell for a one-on-one with the devil to let him know just how beat he was, and then rose again, triumphing over not only His own death, but for all of ours.

God had planned a way to restore us to righteousness that we could never have done on our own. God also carried out this plan in the only way it could have worked: by letting us sin, leaving us to try to be righteous on our own, giving us a blueprint of what it means to be righteous, and finally sending His Son as that one perfect and total sacrifice that paid for all of our sins, allowing God to once again look on us as we once were when we were first created in Adam.

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