Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bethany Bullet - May 27, 2014

Week 5: A Five Tool Christian – Open Hands

In baseball a “five-tool” player is one who has an arm like a cannon, can run like a deer, has a glove that gets everything, and can hit for both power and average.  Opening Day of the baseball season comes with hopes of a line-up filled with “five-tool” players. 

The past five weeks we have been talking about opening day and baseball has been our analogy.  It was on Easter, that first opening day, which the tomb was open and heaven itself was open for all by the actions of a gracious and loving God and the work of Jesus Christ.

The hope that comes from that first opening day flows to the Christ-fans and encourages us to be 5 tool believers.  For the past few weeks we have talked about the tools of Christian as having: 
  • An Open Heart - opened by the Spirit that clings with confidence to the promises of God in Christ for us, personally.  
  • Open Eyes - that see God at work in our lives and in the lives of others and gaze upon the glory of a God who loved us so much to send Jesus. 
  • Open Ears - as we hear how God speaks to us, through conscience, comrades and clergy, and chiefly through the Word.  
  • Open Mouths - that converse in prayer with the Almighty who is where we are at and will bring us to where He is at and who wants to listen to us.

If you missed the past few weeks you can catch up by downloading the sermon podcast on our website. 

In many ways the first four tools are what prepare us to live out the calling of a Christ-fan, and today we will talk about a tool that will empower us to bring the love of Christ to others as today we talk about Open Hands and what happens when we serve. 

Read (or click on the link): John 14

In baseball, the equipment that the catcher uses is often time referred to as the tools of ignorance, from the notion that a smart athlete would not play such a grueling position.  We might say the tools of a Christ are the tools of obedience. 

The other tools that we have looked at have focused on our relationship to God, our personal growth and development and they are necessary. But having Open Hands is a bit different.  It focuses on how we represent God in the world through our obedient service to Him and to others on His behalf.

Listen to the words of Jesus, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Allow me to put that into some baseball terms, “All those on the team will follow the directions of the manager.”

God has claimed us off the waiver wire in baptism where He called us by name, put a new uniform of righteousness upon us and encourages us to have Open Hearts, Open Eyes, Open Ears and Open Mouths

Now He says get to work, with Open Hands; encouraging words from our coach and manager Jesus.

But in life, like in baseball we will not always do the right thing, our eyes will be closed as we attempt to swing, we will not listen to our coach who gives us instruction and often we fail to communicate.  Now, that doesn’t mean we are not part of the team.

I can only speak for myself, but I am sure it is true of most in this room; there have been times I have screwed up.  I have done things without putting my heart into it, I have closed my eyes to the needs around me, and I have not heard the cries of those who need help.  I have not been a very good team player or ambassador for Christ.  If people look at my actions, they would not always see Jesus.  For that I am sorry.

But all still wear the uniform that has the name of Jesus embroidered across the front.  We don the cap of one who has been washed clean in the blood of Jesus.  We all still have a responsibility to be obedient to our Lord, who has called us into faith and charges us with the task of serving with Open Hands and bring the love of God to others. 

For every time my hands were closed, unable or unwilling to serve, His hands were open.  
  • His hands healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead.  
  • His hands embraced the doubting, consoled the grieving and encouraged the repentant. 
  • His hands were folded in prayer as he prayed for his disciples and all those who would believe in them because of their message.  
  • His hands calmed the storm and silenced the wind.  
  • His hands broke the bread and passed the cup.   
  • His hands took the nails for all those times I have sinned.

But Jesus goes on in our text, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper who will be with you forever. That helper is the Spirit of Truth.” (John 14:16-17)

Like a base coach, the Spirit is there to remind you of what you have learned in His Word.  His is like the hitting instructor who will encourage you through your slumps.  He is like the strength and conditioning coach who motivates you to work hard and be ready to serve with Open Hands.

The good news today is that you don’t have to go it alone.  Jesus is not just waiting for you to figure it all out.  Like a great coach he has provided support, comfort and help for you by giving you his Spirit that will help you in every circumstance and will enable you to be an ambassador of Christ with open hands to serve others. 

On Friday, March 28th of this year, just before the start of the Major League Baseball season, Commissioner Bud Selig held a conference call with the media.  During that call he said, “No player in my time has represented this sport any better than Derek Jeter.  He really has in many ways been the face of baseball, and I am proud of him. I've told him that often. He's just been a great player on the field, but to be frank with you, a better person off the field.  Derek for me and for everybody has been the ultimate ambassador for baseball and a role model for fans and the rest of the players in our league.”

Whether you are a Yankee fan or not makes no difference, as a Christian with an Open Heart, Open Eyes, Open Ears, and Open Mouths, is our calling to have Open Hands and be an ambassador for Christ in a way that will represent Christ to others and be a role model in our families and in our communities.  This is true obedience. 

If sports is not your thing then think of yourselves as a patron of arts in serving others or president of the booster club that brings the love of Jesus to others, knowing we do not do this alone, not only do you have your teammates or cast mates around you, those who you sit next to on a weekly basis, you also have the Comforter, the Holy Spirit who is the coach, the conductor, the director, the guide and the helper so that we can have open hands to serve. 

On this weekend of remembrance we also pause to thank those who paid the ultimate price for service to their country.  Let us not forget their service or the service of Jesus on the cross for all and may these acts of service spur us on to good works. 

It was on the night when Jesus was betrayed he took the form of a servant, bent down and washed His disciple’s feet.  The next day He would make the ultimate sacrifice, but this night, in obedient service His Open Hands provide an example.  Jesus said, “Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14-14)  Just hours later the greatest example would be set as He laid down His life for us, for all the times we have forgotten to serve, He serves.  For all of our shortcomings, He brings forgiveness; His hands, served so that yours can too. 

Luther said, “The Bible has hands it grabs me and won’t let me go.”  Last week Pastor Kevin Kritzer said, “Prayer has hands, it grabs God and won’t let Him go.” Might I take it a step further today and say, “You have hands that can grab others and won’t let Him go unnoticed.” 

The poem, Christ Has No Body Here has been widely attributed to St. Teresa of Avila.  Whether they are her words or not the meaning is profound and is a great way to close today:
Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Let us pray…

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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