S-1101 2/25/09 Ash Wednesday/3B Hymns: (S) #342; (L.S.) #145; (C) # 92
Texts Joel 2:1-12, 12-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b -6:10; Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21
Theme: “His Time” (1st sermon series in Lent on HIStory, Galatians 4:4-7).
Question: “Have you ever said, ‘this is my time?’”
SOLI DEO GLORIA
Saints in Christ, I remember the day as if it was yesterday. We were expecting our first child. We had come back late from some friend’s house and had gone to bed. Early Saturday morning @ 1:10 my wife jabs me on the side and says, “It’s time!” My response was “go to bed, I am tired”. Few more minutes had gone by and again she jabbed me and said, “It’s time!” In a grumpy voice, I said, “Time for what?” “It’s time for the baby to be born,” was her response. I jumped out of bed so fast and started getting ready while still removing the sand out my eyes.
“Its time!” Those were wonderful words to hear on that Saturday morning December 13, of 1979, because the Lord was about to bless us with a gift of a child—Tony. The time had finally come after nine months of growing in the womb. It’s Time to greet the world and be loved by his parents.
Today by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the Apostle Paul speaks these words: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
God was saying “It’s time! Time to fulfill the promise made to our first parents in the Garden. Time to carry out the plans God shared with father Abraham to bless all the nations of the world through his son. It was time to save mankind from sin, and death; and to redeem them from the punishment of hell and the jaws of the devil.”
God the Father determined when the time was right for His Son to come to earth, as man and God. Revelation 13:8 says that the Lamb (Christ) was slain “from the foundation of the world.” This world, the cosmos, is the world apart from God, and that world was founded when Adam and Eve sinned. When sin entered into God’s creation, given God’s purpose for mankind to be made into His image, it was necessary that there be a method of reconciliation between man and God. This reconciliation was only possible through the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
We must keep in mind that God is not a procrastinator, He may seem delayed in His time but He is never late. Just at the right time God set in motion the plan of redemption. God began to carry out that which all of creation has been longing for—deliverance from the bondage of slavery under the tyranny of sin and death and hell.
Study the Gospel of John and you will notice that in the 1st 12 chapters, the comments are “it is not His time yet.” Here are few examples: “When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come’” (Jh. 2:3-4), “So they were seeking to arrest Him, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come” (7:20), “These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; but no one arrested Him, because His hour had not yet come” (Jh. 8:30). And then the pendulum swings the other way, that the time had are arrived. Here are few examples: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (Jh. 13:1), “Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. For You granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him” (Jh. 17:2).
In the fullness of time Christ began to march to the drumbeat of God’s will. In the fullness of time Christ began to look at Jerusalem with intentional mission. It in the fullness of time Christ was heading to Jerusalem to fulfill the deliverance of man. In the fullness of time, Christ was willing to give His life for you and me by dying our death and receiving our punishment.
Paul is clear here; when the time had fully come Christ came into the world in flesh and blood. What Paul is saying is this: When the best possible moment in history for the advent of Christ into the world, He arrived on the scene of human history. He came during the Pax Romana (the peace of Rome). The economy was good and they had peace in the land, but morality was bad. And it was at this time that Jesus came. And by His arrival into the world, and His mighty deeds on the cross of Calvary, we become the recipients of all that He accomplished for us through the empty tomb.
One of my colleagues asked, “What is the best Ash Wednesday present you have ever received? Most all of us will agree, I think, that we don’t usually receive AW gifts. That is true. By the grace of God we can start a new tradition, but these are the best gifts we’ll ever receive—forgiveness of sin, becoming children of God, calling God “Abba”, and heirs with Christ.
This text is often used for Christmas day. But I am using it for Ash Wednesday to remind us of God’s great goodness to us in the sending of His Son. During this time of the year there are no reminders in the stores of how many days are left to shop. There are no trees or tinsel to draw our attention. There are no radio announcements to get to the stores to buy that gift.
During this night we are privileged to open, no correction, to re-open God’s most precious gift to us—the gift of His Son, to be our Savior and Lord. And what a gift! It is by that gift are we truly blessed indeed. So blessed that we can’t fathom what it is that God has accomplished through the sending of His Son.
What does this really mean for us: We are heirs with Christ. Do you understand what that means? You as a child of God receive all of the blessings from God, life, forgiveness, peace and eternal life. PAUSE.
A very wealthy man had planned well for his family’s future. He had opened accounts for His children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The inheritance would come to them at the specific time when they reach the age of 30. Now these children and grandchildren grew in their homes knowing that they have a lot of money coming, but couldn’t use it until the right time. But when they reached that age, that money was all theirs. Now having grown under the watchful eyes of their grandfather, they appreciated the gift. Just think overnight these people became Millionaires.
We as the children of God are millionaires. Not in dollars and cents, but in grace. Overnight we became saints because of the shed blood of Christ on the cross of Calvary. On this Ash Wednesday when we mark our brows with ashes we are reminded that we are dust and to dust we will return. But the cross on our foreheads reminds us that death is no longer our master, but our means by which we receive all of God’s blessings on account of Christ.
It was time for my son to be born my wife told me. Tonight the Apostle Paul reminds us that on account of Christ, it is our time to be included as the saints of God rather than excluded as the children of the devil. Jesus took upon Himself that curse to redeem those who were already under the curse What He did on the cross was to complete the forgiving of our sins which means that we are no longer held accountable for any of our sins, of word or deed. Jesus, the heaven-sent Savior, at the right time took the punishment upon Himself with the words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Beloved in the Lord, remember that time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. We master our minutes, or we become slaves to them; we use time, or time uses us. By the grace of God we can use our time for His glory as we feed at His table in His house. By the mercy of God, we are invited to His house to view again and again what it that our Savior has accomplished for us on the cross of Calvary—our redemption; our salvation; our adoptions as sons.
Tonight, we begin our journey to Calvary and we reflect on HIStory and how HIStory shaped ours. And we can be thankful for His time in our lives. Time spent on the cross to save us. May we cherish this time as we spend it with Him throughout the next 40 days and beyond. Amen.
Now the peace…