Sunday, April 22, 2012

“Can It Be?” (1 John 3:1)

S-1313 3SAE/3B 4/22/12 Hymns: (O) #52; #52; (S) #43; LS. #59; #53; #9; (C) #57 SOD

Text: Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36-49

Theme: “Can It Be?” (1 John 3:1)

Question: “How many times have you said, ‘this offer is too good to be TRUE!’?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Epistle lesson: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1).

In the name of the Risen Christ, Amen. You and I from experience know too well that if there is something to good to be true, then it IS. We have watched too many TV commercials that promote different gadgets that will make our lives better and happier. Every day there is a new product on the market that we are encouraged to buy, and when we do, our life will be enhanced and our troubles will go away.

But can it really be that simple? Can a product improve our life so much that our troubles go away? Can a gadget take all our worries and pain away? Of course there are gadgets, tools, equipments that make our life a little easier to function. I think of the blessings of the microwave, power tools, computers, cell phones and many other gadgets that help make our life easier, but not necessarily happier or trouble free. We know that when these gadgets don’t work, our frustration level is higher and our troubles are increased. PAUSE.

In today’s text the Apostle John, known as the “One whom Jesus loved” tells us: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Can it really be that we are God’s children? Can it be that easy, that God loves us in spite of us and wants us to be in His family? Can it be that the God of the Universe is even concerned with a little worm like me? Can it be? Can it REALLY be?

We know from Scripture that God has only one Son. The same author of our text, in his Gospel states: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16). In another place we read: “And behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I Am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:17). And again, we hear these words: “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him” (Mark 9:7b). But the Lord of heaven and earth was not content of having only one Child, He wanted more—many more. He wants you, ALL of you to be in His family and to shower upon you His everlasting love, grace and favor.

Again, can it be that God wants me to be His child? Can it be that God loves me as I am a poor miserable sinner who always goes against His holy will? ABSOLUTELY! That is the case of which John presents to us: “that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” That is exactly what it means. PAUSE.

The story I’m sharing with you is true. Amber and her husband Kevin (from Gregory) adopted four children. However, one of these children—Jarrit, was an unusual case. This is Jarrit’s story. Jarrit was born on the Rosebud reservation to an unmarried mother with severe alcohol problem. His father was out of the picture completely. His mother, due to her alcoholic problem was neither able to care or provide for his needs, nor did she even attempt to.

It was therefore left up to his paternal grandmother to care for him. Due to the high rate of poverty and alcoholism on the reservation, this grandmother has about a dozen other grandchildren besides Jarrit to care for. Like any other boy, Jarrit, sought attention from the one he knew to be his mother (grandma). But grandma was almost always angry, because of the demand on her life and the children she needed to care and provide for. For this reason, Jarrit got ignored for the most part.

He learned quickly, that to get her attention he would have to scream. The louder he screamed the more attention he received. It wasn’t the kind of attention you or I would like. His screaming always warranted a beating. But at least, to this young boy’s mind, it was attention. Finally the social services were alerted to the neglect and Jarrit was placed in various foster homes. The way it works in the foster system is the child will be placed with foster parents long enough for his biological parents to get their act together.

To the best of her abilities, grandma would try to get Jarrit back to live with her. But each time he returned, the abuse would start up again and the cycle would be repeated. Finally one day the social services took the little man away for good. He was placed in the care of a good family who tried their very best and even agreed to adopt him. Yet try as they might they could not handle Jarrit’s outbursts of anger and screaming. Reaching the end of their wits they finally asked the social services to come and get him. You can only imagine how this child felt, neglected, unwanted, unneeded and dumped yet again.

Then one day the Lord working through His Word melted and molded the hearts of Amber and Kevin and they agreed to take Jarrit. Admittedly the road was rough but they knew the Lord loved them and they knew with His help no matter what, they could and would Love Jarrit. A Year after he was placed with them, Jarrit and his Foster parents went before the Judge and he was granted a new last name and a permanent home with someone who loved him unconditionally.

I visited with Amber the other day and asked her about her adopted son—Jarrit. I asked if he struggled with the fact that he is adopted. Did he question their love? Did he trust them not to send him back to the reservation? Can it really be that he is now their son—a gift from God. And she said, “Absolutely, and he still does. But we are hoping that in time, there will be no doubt in that, and he will know he has a home and family that loves him and always will.” PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, this is not Jarrit’s story, but OURS. We too, have been born into a family that couldn’t care nor able to provide what we need—salvation. And under the devil’s load we were abused and neglected. We were beaten by the cruel master of sin and neglected, so that we would often lash out against our holy God in every sinful manner searching for someone to love us just the way we are.

We long to be accepted and loved. But deep within us there is that emptiness and void because of the disease—the dreadful disease of sin, that runs rampant on the reservation of our hearts, that causes us to doubt that someone wants us, care for us and loves us unconditionally. And when we are told that truth, we ask, “CAN IT REALLY BE?”

And the answer now and until eternity it is TRUE. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John wrote: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” We see here the definition of love demonstrated by Jesus Christ who in mercy is moved to adopt us. This is definitely how Jesus loves us—His love is unconditional. Before we could come to Him and ask Him to love us, He came to earth. On the cross of Calvary He painted love like a master artist describing His love to us is eternal and unconditional.

Can it be? That our gracious Lord chose us in love? Yes! What mercy! What grace! What undeserved action! What love! What compassion! What a family! Before He hung the stars in the sky, He sought of you.

Oh, the joy of knowing that in the waters of Baptism, we have been made children of the heavenly Father. On Good Friday, our Big brother Jesus forgave us our sins, and on Sunday morning as He burst from the grave gloriously, He stood before the Eternal Judge—His Father and introduced us to Him as His new bought children—bought by His blood. And because of that blood, we now have a different last name—Christians. PAUSE.

Precious and beloved children of God, for that is what we are! Therefore, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we celebrate with thanksgiving our adoption into the family of God, and by His mighty power, may we share what the Savior has done for us with those who are still being abused by the devil that they too, maybe part of the family of Faith.

As the blood-bought children of the heavenly Father, go in His peace knowing full well you are wanted, cherished, love and cared for, not only for a season, but FOREVER. AMEN.

Now the peace…


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