8-7-16 I'M BACK

I'M BACK

August 7, 2016

               Yes, I'm back.  I was gone, but now I'm back.  Did any of you doubt that I would return from licensing school in Springfield?  I had someone fill in for me in my absence, and I am sure he did a great job.  But now I'm back.  None of you look surprised.  So why should you be surprised if Jesus decided to come back today also?  Well, yes I did tell you a definite day that I would return, and He didn't.  So what if I got caught in traffic and didn't make it back for today's service.  Would you still believe I was going to return?  Jesus did say He could come back at any time, and that we should be ready, and never doubt that He would indeed return no matter how long it might be until that day arrives.  You don't want to be like the servants in our Gospel reading (Luke 12:35-46) that thought they could act sinfully because their master had been gone a long time.

          So what should we be doing?  Like I did, Jesus has people that are 'filling in' for him until He returns - people that are called to do all the things that He does.  You know, like preach the Gospel, heal the sick, and warn the unbelievers.  I am one of those people, but so are you.  Anyone who is a true Christian is called to do God's work while on this earth until Jesus comes back.  So you might say, "Well, I ain't no preacher. And I certainly can't heal nobody.  And I was taught hell is a four-letter word, so I ain't mentionin' that to nobody neither".  To which I shall respond that we all, if we truly belong to Christ, have been given a spiritual gift to use in His service.  Not everyone has the same gift.  Sometimes we try to exercise a gift we don't have, just because we wish we did.  But we all need to find what our own individual gift is.  Maybe you even have more than one.  But when you really pray about it, and then let the Holy Spirit lead you into using it, you will find unique opportunities arise in your life to do so.   God gave you whatever your gift is because there is someone in your life that needs you to use it.  There is someone you can be a real blessing to.   And if you heed His call and utilize that gift, He will send someone else across your path, and then another, and before you know it you will have not only helped many souls, but brought great joy to your own heart as well - not to mention heavenly rewards.

          So what are some of these gifts that God might have entrusted you with?  Paul told the church in Corinth, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work". (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).  Then he listed some of the gifts, which include wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous power, prophecy, and discernment.  When he spoke to the Romans about spiritual gifts, he said "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully".  (Romans 12:6-8)   And that is not to say that there are not more gifts.  What about musical talent?  Artistic talent?  A sense of humor?  All of these things can be gifts used to serve God. 

          Unfortunately all of the gifts, abilities, and talents God gives us can also be used to serve self as well.  It is all a matter of what you put first in your life.  When you use your gifts to serve God, you are also benefitting yourself far more than if you only use your gifts to make money for yourself.  When Jesus comes back and asks you how you used the gift He gave you, are you going to show him your bank statement?  Or are you going to point to the person whose soul you healed.  Or the child who was struggling but you taught to pray.  Or the family you fed when the father lost his job.

          I came back.  Hopefully you are glad I came back and not wishing I would have stayed away longer.  Jesus IS coming back, too.  I don't know when.  Many Christians believe it could be very soon.  Better to be ready and have it be years from now, than not be ready and have it be today.  And you know you are ready if the thought of His return makes you giddy with excitement - not paralyzed with fear. 

          So every morning when you wake up, ask yourself this question, "If Jesus comes back today, will I be happy to see Him?"  If the answer is "no", take a serious look at your life, your ambitions, your dreams.  Is your faith not what it should be?  Are you not living the way He would want you to live?  Is there someone you haven't told the good news of the Gospel to yet?

           Jesus didn't tell us when He would return for a reason.  If we knew it was going to be 100 years from now, we would live as though we had all the time in the world to selfishly squander.  If we knew it was going to be tomorrow, we would all act out of fear, and not out of love, which is the real reason we should be serving God.   Hebrews 10:36-37 says, "You need to persevere, so that after you have done God's will, you will receive what He has promised. For, 'In just a very while little, He who is coming will come and will not delay'".  So if Jesus comes back today, will you be happy to see Him?  I know I will.  Amen.  Come quickly Lord Jesus!

CHILDREN'S MESSAGE:

Your mom and dad are going out for an evening.  They leave you with a babysitter and tell you that when they come home, they expect your room to be clean and your homework done.  If:

1.  They say they will be gone one hour, what do you do?

2.  They say they will be gone for five hours, what do you do?

3.  They don't tell you how long they will be gone, what do you do?

Jesus left us here with a babysitter (pastors), and told us to clean our room (our lives) and do our homework (reach the lost with the gospel).  Do we procrastinate because we don't know when He is returning?

Looks like my liturgist, Linda Baldwin, knows the answer!