I Corinthians 9:16-27
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them…..To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
Dear Friends in Christ,
• Mike Malloy who really really hates Republicans, calls them liars, cheats, and sneaks. About the Bush family, “I hate you to the depths of my soul. I will hate you when I’m dead. I will hate you a million years after I’m dead. My hate will be a star in the firmament that will shine down on your Republican “rear ends” forever. That’s how deep my hatred is, because of what you’re doing to this country.”
• Paul, in Romans 9, “I am speaking the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit – that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart, For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites….ch. 10 – Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved….
• Passion for basketball success / RCLS story/ N Mankato story /
• Passion for daughter in prison / passion for those in drug court
• Passion in this place for students in confirmation class / school / passion begins with an appreciation of grace
First lesson today is to consider how God worked in Paul this deep desire and passion for lost souls. Few could appreciate the grace of God like Paul. He was the ISIS or the AlQaida terrorist of his day. When he wrote that he was the (Worst) of the sinners, few could argue the point. He was a Pharisee and a son of a Pharisee. As a young and ambitious man, he was intoxicated with hatred for the Gospel. He breathed threats and murder against the disciples of Jesus. Although we don’t have specific reports that he killed Christians, he went before the high priest and saw to it that they were imprisoned and executed.
It should tell you something about God that he would take the very chief of first century sinners and turn him into the very Best of the missionaries. How did God do that? He started the process with a bright light from heaven as Saul approached Damascus. With a question, “why are you persecuting me?” With a man of God named Ananias who prayed for and laid hands on and instructed and then baptized Saul. That’s how God got his attention and as the years went on God molded and shaped Paul into a preacher who wanted nothing more in life than to preach the Gospel at no charge. Into a free man who was subject to nobody who made himself into a servant to all.
God did that by making sure that Paul was whipped by Jews five times, 39 lashes each time. By making sure he was thrown into prison far more times and beaten far more than just about anybody else. God worked in him a servant heart by making sure he was beaten three times with rods, stoned once, shipwrecked three times, by making sure he was often in danger from rivers and in danger from robbers and in danger from his own people and in danger from Gentiles and in danger in the city and in danger in the wilderness and in danger at sea and in danger from false brothers, and on and on through fiery trials and the furnace of affliction, God’s Spirit produces a preacher absolutely on fire for His Savior. Who wants nothing more from life than that he might preach to the Jews in such a way that they would listen and to the Gentiles in such a way that they would listen to and believe and be saved and spend their eternities mounting up with wings like eagles and soaring.
• Lack of passion / my story is soft and easy / in the good times God is teaching me gratitude, cheerfulness, contentment. But in the worst of times, God is helping me develop a sense of passion. To be all things to all people
1) Death of brother moved me towards being a pastor and has helped me to cry with those who are weeping at the loss of a love done.
2) New Year’s Eve 1971 moved me to have a passion for broken teenage hearts
3) Failure of a family member’s marriage helps me to cry with those whose marriages are failing.
• Jenna Giassen / survivor of abortion / thinks of her cerebral palsy as a gift to be used for God’s glory. All things to all people
• When we hear of miscarriage, we connect them to those who have experienced it.
• When we hear of second marriages and families trying to blend, we direct them to someone who has experienced it.
• Men Who Need Help – we’re studying The Momentary Marriage / marriage first of all about being a picture of Christ keeping His covenant promises to His bride the Church. We leave with a renewed desire to go home and be a better husband.
First lesson today that in fact the worst of times are often those God will turn into the best of times for the sake of the Gospel / best of times are when we are encouraging another person along the road to heaven.
Second lesson is to ask how it can be that we sustain this passion, this desire to be all things to all people. I do not run like a man running aimlessly. I do not fight like a man beating the air. No I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
• Conversation with Adam Roessler about wrestlers and the discipline it takes to be successful.
• Aaron Sheehan, grammy for best opera recording / obviously developed a passion and disciplined himself on the way to success
• Three habits of maturing disciples
1) To receive gratefully God’s good gifts in Divine service
2) To eagerly search Holy Scripture
3) To humbly confess sins to God and others
Discipleship 101 language: First, it means that every Christian a (disciple). To be a disciple is to be a follower of Christ. It is to spend your days knowing that you have been given a place within God’s story, that you have an active role to play, that not a one of you is unimportant, and that no vocation is insignificant. What we do in our own little corners of the world matters here and now, and beyond.
Every Christian a (missionary). The Holy Spirit doesn’t just call and gather and enlighten us with His gifts. He keeps on sending us back into this world not just to wander around aimlessly but to love as you have been loved / forgive as you have been forgiven / serve as you have been served.
• Husband (knowing his sins are forgiven) listening to his wife who has got the blues / asking how may I serve you today?
• Wife (knowing that God has been patient with her )appreciating what her husband is doing right / commending and encouraging
• Parents (remembering how their parents loved their church) bringing and offering and their children into the house of God and being engaged in the mission
• Confirmation parents (remembering how Christ lived the perfect life they could never live) reviewing / learning alongside of sons and daughters
• Families (knowing how Christ fixed His eyes on Jerusalem) fixed on what is primary / secondary
• Youth worker (thinking of Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem) speaking with tears in her eyes about teens and their troubles
• Teachers at school (thinking of Jesus going off into a quiet place to pray) doing daily lesson plans / staying positive /
• Kingdom of God is like Pastor Muther (impressed by Paul’s willingness to give up his own eternal life if it meant that the Jews could be saved) teaching 7th and 8th grade students
• The kingdom of God is like a large church in a small town where the people of God are
1) More and more on their knees admitting that they have fallen short of the glory of God and reveling in the forgiveness of sins.
2) Standing up straight and tall and going about their business day after day with an absolute desire to put first things first and second things second. In Jesus Name and for His sake. Amen.
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