Monday, November 20, 2017

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of November 19, 2017

Sermon: “For the Greater Good”

As 2017 comes to an end, we will soon start to see the annual tradition of year-end retrospectives and countdowns.  We will hear about the 10 best sports moments of the year, the 5 most romantic Hollywood couples of 2017, the 10 best movies and the box offices, and the list goes on and on.

This morning, permit me to start with a little retrospective as well.  As the church year comes to a close, we too will start by taking a look back, back to when Almighty God began his creative work.  Back to the dawn of time, where God spoke and everything came into existence. 

In six days, God created everything and after He did the work of creation He said, “It was good.”
  • God created light, and it was good.  
  • God created earth and sky and it was good. 
  • God created land and plants and it was good. 
  • God created the sun and moon and it was good. 
  • God created animals and it was good. 
  • God created humanity and it was good.

Then God looked over all He had created and He saw that it was very good.

As the crown of God’s creation, we humans were given talents and abilities, our reason and our senses, God given gifts to do good and to praise our Creator.

But we all know where the story goes from here.  As humanity fell into sin, things were no longer good.  Sin brought death and destruction, separation, heartache, and pain.

Fast forward to the modern times and we see in our popular culture the idea that this world is filled with evil.  Comic book heroes and sci-fi protagonists are looking to use their talents for the greater good.

Just look to movies like The Avengers or The Justice League and you will see fanciful examples of characters using their talents for the good of others.  We might include Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker in the mix as well; those who have used what were given to them to benefit others. 

Yes, I know that these are all in the realm of fiction, but I think they can help us understand God’s plan for humanity.  How can you use your talents and powers for the greater good and not for evil?

But before we go any further we need to remember the One who did the greatest good. 

Even though human beings rebelled, God never gave up on us.  It was His divine plan to send a rescuer, a hero with amazing abilities and talents whose sole purpose was to win us back from sin, death and the devil and reunite us with the Father. 

Jesus is the Greatest Good as He took your sin upon Himself even as you continue to sin and was beaten, spit upon, humiliated and crucified so you would not have to endure it. 

Jesus is the Greatest Good as He secured salvation for you and by His death and resurrection makes you worthy of eternal life. 

You see, I believe that God’s creative power is still at work in this world.  And you have been given talents and abilities that God would have you use to bring Him glory and point others to Christ.  

He does not wait for you to do good, He has made you good and we now have the privilege to use what He has given us to do His work for the greater good of our neighbors. 

God works through you, by the talents He has given you to show others who Jesus is and what He has done.

In our Gospel lesson we hear Jesus’ words of admonition to work for the greater good.  Jesus tells a story, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man going on a trip.  He called his servants and entrusted some money to them.  He gave one man ten thousand dollars, another four thousand dollars, and another two thousand dollars.  Each was given money base on his ability. Then the man went on his trip.”  (Matthew 25: 14-15)

You heard how the story played out.  Two of the three invested the money and received a return on their investment that benefited their master.  One, afraid not to lose anything buried it in the ground and did nothing. 

What is the point?  I don’t think this is about finding a good financial consultant. I don’t think it is about how harsh the master is.  I don’t think this is about earning an eternal blessing for work well done. 

I think this has everything to do with how we use what God has given us here and now. 

You have been given talents and abilities.  God has deposited them in you as He created you in your mother’s womb.  He has developed them and fostered them as you have gone through life and he does expect you to use them.  Not to earn salvation, but to bring a return to the master. 

What is that return?  Through your words and your witness, the work of God is done.  For the greater good of others, we have been entrusted with the ability to point to Jesus. 

This does not mean that you need to become a full time church worker, although that might be what He is calling you to be. 

It does mean that you can use the talents, the gifts, and the station in life you have right now that bears witness to God’s grace in your life.

When I was little I would always get a Christmas present from my grandparents on my dad’s side.  Like the other gifts under the tree I would shake it with the hopeful expectation of something I desired.  Every year the box sounded the same and I knew immediately what was inside…clothes.  Not what I wanted. 

One year my brother and I got matching shirts that were handmade by my grandmother.  The printed fabric had the words “I’m a good kid!” in a striped pattern.  I’m not sure if she was trying to subliminally make me behave or modify my behavior when I was wearing that shirt or not.  Who could do anything bad when you are wearing a shirt that says, “I’m a good kid”, right?

Sewn into the collar was a tag that read, “Handmade by grandma.”   My grandmother may not have had the talents to be a professional worker in the church but she used her abilities to provide for her grandkids. 

Just after Jill and I got married, I received a blanket that my grandmother quilted for me in 1985.  How do I know the year?  It is hand stitched in the corner and the quilt sits on our bed at home.

It was her wish that this quilt was not to sit in a box but to be used.  For you quilters out there the pattern is called Cathedral Windows and from what I understand is very labor intensive.  Both my brother and my sister also have the same style of handmade quilts given to them by my grandmother.

Every night, I have a reminder of the talents and gifts of my grandmother who wanted the best for me, and provided me with a wonderful gift.  She used her talents to give God glory and to be a bold witness of what God did for her in her life for the greater good.

What talents has God given you?  God’s creative power for good is within you.  God desires to work through you.  How can you use your talents and powers for the greater good, so that God will be given glory and others know Jesus?  Only you can answer that question.  If you want to chat about it, I’m happy to listen. 

May our good and gracious God assist you as your work for the greater good of others, and may He gather you again and again in this place to remind you of His good work of forgiveness and may he give you strength to be His hands and feet.

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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