S-1405 NE/3A 12/31/2013 Hymns: (O) SOD #32; (S) #123; LS #416; #54; (C) LSB,#917
Texts: Exodus 12:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; John 1:1-5
Theme: “A New Beginning!” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
Question: “Are you working on a new project?” Armour, SD
Happy New to you faithful followers of the Savior, the text is from the Epistle lesson: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).
INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.
Most precious people of God, some of you know that I enjoy watching Western movies. Recently I was watching The Cowboys starring John Wayne as Wil Andersen. Wil finds himself with a herd of cattle which he has to drive 400 miles to the Belle Fourche market before the winter sets in, but he has no men to help him. He turns to a group of young school boys as his last hope to get the job done. There is no better training for these boys than hands-on as they don’t know what they are in for. They set out as schoolboys but return as Cowboys.
Wil’s cook is Jebediah Nightlinger. On the drive late one night they were visiting about family. Wil tells Jebediah that he has lost two sons. He doesn’t know how, but he wasn’t a very good and caring father. He didn’t know how to teach his children the value of family and life. Jebediah says to him: “You might have another chance to make the wrong right with these young boys!” Soon after, Wil began to speak in a different tone with these young boys and he made a difference in their lives.
This evening as we close the year, you might be just like Wil Andersen dealing with regrets of past sins and acknowledging that you may have fallen short of what God has asked you to be. You may not have loved your family to the best of your ability, your neighbor and even God. You may have lived to please yourself instead of Jesus Christ.
If you are like Wil, and if we are honest, at many times in our lives we are just like Wil, therefore, you are in the right place. The Holy Spirit has brought you here. In this place you will receive the medicine that heals broken hearts, cleanses guilty consciences and removes regrets. Listen to a preacher who has his best interest for you: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Paul states that if you are in Christ then you have become a new person with a new beginning. In Christ the old is removed and the new is brought forth. In Christ that which was done yesterday is over, you have another beginning. On account of Christ the regrets are removed and reception into the family of faith is granted.
Please also notice that Paul doesn’t say “if” as in conditional statement meaning it depends on you. No! Salvation is not conditional. To be sure, there is nothing “iffy” about the way of salvation. The Gospel of Christ doesn’t have an “if” clause.” It is a simple and beautiful declaration. “Christ died for our sins!” Paul confessed it this way: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” We have been reconciled. We have been redeemed. We have been washed and made new.
The reason we can stand in the presence of God as New creatures because Christ reconciled us to Himself by not counting our sins against us. Because our sins have been forgiven the past is covered by the blood of the Lamb and the New has come forth. The old has been destroyed and placed into the cold tomb of Christ and the New has risen out of the tomb. This is not a remodel job. It is completely new construction! You and I have a New beginning on account of Christ who is the in the business of reconciling us to God the loving and gracious Father. PAUSE.
Tonight in this hospital room know that Christ has made you a new creature with a new beginning. Don’t look back and wish you could have done better! Instead look up to Jesus the Redeemer and the Reconciler of your heart and life. Here in this household of faith which is also a banquet hall, don’t let the devil rob you of the joy of being forgiven, neither should you attempt to win God’s favor by doing the best you can be. The best you can be is not good enough—only the goodness of Christ is good enough to cover every sin and makes us NEW. Only in Christ every sin is covered, every regret is abandoned and every event of past history is forgotten in Him who has reconciled us to God.
Regrets can drag us down and drown us in sorrow. I don’t have enough time tonight to tell you of my many regrets. I can barely scratch the surface in admitting to you how often I have dishonored and disgraced, shamed and violated God and His Word.
But that is why I came tonight on this final opportunity I have to be in this hospital and banquet hall in 2013. Here I will by the power of the Holy Spirit hear again the sweet message of Pastor Paul who tells me and you, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” Indeed, we have been FORGIVEN, RECONCILED AND REDEEMED! And we even get to dine at His table.
Beloved children of God don’t let the world determine how you live for Christ! Don’t fall into the trap of making resolutions that you can’t keep. Every one of us has made these resolutions: I want to be a better husband and father, wife and mother, stop drinking, smoking, using fowl language, attend church more, show kindness and provide for my family better. And the best—I will go on a diet and lose weight. All of this is good, but not for your salvation. Instead rely on Your Redeemer and Lord Jesus Christ who has won your freedom and forgiven you ever sin you have every committed and will commit. PAUSE.
Remember, I said, I enjoy Western? The Rifleman was a great western TV show about Lucas Macain, a man raising his son Mark after the death of the boy’s mother.
Each episode contains a moral lesson about what is right and wrong. One, in particular, involves Lucas telling Mark how his mother died. It was a terrible wintery day. Lucas’ wife had given birth but was ill and needed medicine. She asked her husband to send her father—Mr. Gibbs—to retrieve the medicine. Lucas reluctantly agreed, gave his father-in-law money for the medicine, and sent him on his way in howling wind and blowing snow.
But Mr. Gibbs was an alcoholic, and the biting weather wore him down. He entered a bar thinking one drink would give him the energy to keep going. One drink wasn’t enough, and by the time Mr. Gibbs returned with the medicine, his daughter was dead. Mr. Gibbs left and never spoke with Lucas, who blamed his father-in-law for his wife’s death.
Twelve years later, Mark has learned to hate his grandfather for what happened to his mother. But in this episode, Mr. Gibbs is back and asking for forgiveness. Mark isn’t interested, yelling, “You killed my mother and I grew up without her. I will never, every forgive you!” Surprisingly, Lucas tells his son to let go of the past and to forgive Mr. Gibbs. Slowly Mark walks over to his grandfather and utters in a low voice, “Mr. Gibbs, I forgive you!” He then walks a little closer to the old man, looks up at him and says, “Grandpa, I forgive you!” Gibbs responds, with a huge smile, “That is just fine, boy. That is just fine!”
Today, as we stand on the portal of the New Year, the Holy Spirit helps us hear the voice of the Second person of the Trinity—Jesus the Christ saying to you and to me, “I forgive you for all of your sins. For all of your past disobeDIEnce. For every time you dishonored Me, shamed Me, denied Me and defiled My NAME. You are new in Me and have a wonderful life ahead because of My Sacrifice on the cross in your place!”
Unlike Lucas Macain who had to teach his son Mark how to let go of the past and forgive, God is different. He sent His Son to forgive us our sins and give us a new beginning through His death and resurrection.
We are not a new beginning because of “if”. We are not saved “if.” We are saved because—because God in His immeasurable mercy sent His Son into the world to die for your sins and mine. Our salvation is completed. Christ died, He rose again. We can believe this message. Not “if” but because our Lord has said so. And Since He has said so—we have a New beginning with Him now and always. HAPPY NEW YEAR! Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLI DEO GLORIA