My family and I go to church together. It's one "our things" I guess. On our most recent vacation we were going to miss being in church so my wife suggested we just do church with all the family at the vacation site. She planned the songs, got the music and words for those songs; planned activities for the kids to do during the sermon; and of course, planned to have someone preach the message. That lucky stud was me. The following is, more or less, the sermon I did—because my wife made me do it—for our family vacation. Because I think all sermons should have catchy titles I'm calling it "Redeemed". And here it is below:
For those of you who don't know me: I'm Orville, Laura's husband. And I will be bringing the word today.
True story time. So I got baptized at 16, but witnessed my first ever miracle some time before that, in prep school. Now in my prep school all children were required to say the Lord's Prayer right before the day's first class began. I remember a time, around grades 3 or 4 when we were doing our daily prayer and one of the students did not want to participate. This was actually a recurring issue with this particular child. She never wanted to say the prayer.
On this particular occasion she decided she would not simply mumble her way through. Instead she would not say any of it at all. When pressed as to why, she boldly proclaimed it was because she did not believe God existed. This brazen "I don't believe in God." declaration caused quite a stir in classroom. Now being goodly little boys and girls, I'm sure you can guess what we did next: we teased her mercilessly 1. Predictably, the commotion we created earned us the teacher's scrutiny. When she inquired as to what was going on we—dutiful cherubs that we were 2—graciously pointed out the unbeliever in our midst (to deflect blame and save our skins) 3.
After finding out what was going on our teacher decided to take the girl "out back" which, as we all knew meant: "You in troublllllle." Now, I don't recall what happened later in the morning, or day, or even the next day. But what has stuck with me all these years, is what happened a few weeks later. A completely different child arrived at school, same body as that girl we got in trouble, but completely different attitude and outlook on life. I bet you're dying to know what happened (as were we all).
Turns out, the teacher that took her outside was an actual christian. So instead of punishing her, our teacher spoke to her, found out why she didn't want to say the prayer, and why she didn't believe in God. The little girl told her she was adopted and wanted to know who her real father was. In response, our teacher told her about our Heavenly Father. Our teacher also prayed with her that she would find her biological father.
And you know what? She did. And from that point forward she believed in God. One answered prayer changed a whole life. And let me tell you, it was a drastic change. A complete reversal in character, you could tell that she had been changed deeply and profoundly by this experience. Instead of declaring that there was no God, she was now boldly declaring there was and proclaiming his goodness.
So. What's the point of this story, besides "We have an awesome God?" To me, this story is a story of redemption. God redeemed 4 Himself in this girls eyes, and in doing so redeemed5 this little girl.
I shared this story because while preparing for this sermon I was drawn to the topic of redemption. By finding her earthly father, a little girl opened her heart to her heavenly father, and was saved from her sins. But wait, there is more! I even found bible verses about redemption.
Ephesians 1:7 says >"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,".
According to Ephesians 1:7 then we are redeemed by Christ's blood—blood which was shed by His death on the cross—and his forgiveness of our trespasses.
So what are trespasses? Today trespassing means intruding; unlawful entry. In the context of this verse though, a trespass is a wrong that you have committed, a transgression; sin, if you will.
Jesus' redemption (saving us by paying for our sin) comes from the abundance of God's grace and love for us. One of the most well known Bible verses is John 3:16 which explains how much God loves us:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
Now that much love requires some serious sacrifice. I don't know about you guys, but if your lives depended on me allowing one of my sons to die, you would all be dead. God on the other hand—since the fall of Adam and Eve—has been lining up the pieces, setting the stage for Jesus to do just that.
To drive home the lengths to which God will go to save one person, let me tell you another story.
So I grew up in Jamaica, had a mom and dad, but was raised by my grandparents. My grandparents were christians so they went to church and took me with them. Eventually, I was saved and baptized as a teenager.
I moved to the US, met a girl, invited this girl to church, and then, thanks to the influence of her grandparents she also got saved. This girl had a little boy. Due to the influence of me and my wife, this little boy got saved. This little boy had a father who was not me. He wasn't a very good father though: did drugs, sold drugs, got arrested, etc.
The thing is, after a while the little boy wondered why his other dad wasn't around anymore and he asked. My wife and I told him his father had some issues and needed prayer, so he should pray for him "to make better choices" because that's the only thing he could do to help right now. And pray the little boy did. A few years passed and we heard that his dad was sent to jail. My response was, "Well that's the end of that!". Our boy didn't stop praying though and a few weeks ago, we got a call saying that his biological father had giving his life to Christ. He too had been saved.
God it seems, has a plan for all of us. We all have a purpose that we may not understand, but it ties into God's desire to redeem us all.
If God can set in motion a plan where a kid in Jamaica gets saved, which leads to a child in the US getting saved, whose prayers help a man from Cambodia get saved, then what else can His steadfast love accomplish?
What complicated domino effect has God set in motion to ensure your redemption, or the redemption of those close to you? Maybe today is the day to topple that last domino as you decide to ask forgiveness and give your life to him.
You may be wondering, how do we get forgiveness? According to Romans 10:10:
"For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."
Confess your sins and believe that you're saved. So before we go, if anyone would like to be saved all that's needed is to say this prayer, "Lord, I'm a sinner in need of a savior, and I recieve your gift of forgiveness. Amen."
Now that you've confessed your sins, all that's left, is to believe.
Kids can be so horrible.
Can you taste the sarcasm?
I'd like to point out that, while nothing we said was untrue, it certainly didn't paint a complete picture of what was going on. We, after all, were the aggressors here. This is something you should always keep in mind when dealing with kids.
vindicated, shown or proven to be right.
saved, in this case, from sin.