Faithlife Sermons

Ephiphany 5 - Grace Changes Us - Origin Story

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Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

1 Corinthians 15:1–11 NRSV
1 Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. 3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Received, Standing, Being Saved

Everyone has a story. The way we tell stories has changed over the years as new cultures are born, they combine with each other, and former cultures resurface. Some of the stories have changed from being about heroes to being about us - and often told in such a way that we are the heroes ourselves. These stories show up in commercials, in movies, and on television, in the way we talk sports, politics, sometimes even the weather. The weather can't seem to just be rain or sunshine... we follow the motion of cloud and storm patterns, wondering where they might change directions, and then end with a story about us shoveling and scraping our way to the grocery store, as if shopping for milk or bread is an act of heroic proportions. Some days it is. We tell our stories all over, in person, on the phone, in zoom meetings, on social media, in our music... everywhere. Telling stories has not changed. Jesus did most of His teaching by telling stories. Most of the Bible is stories and references to stories, and Jesus is famous for having taught through stories. In fact, in many of those stories, Jesus invited us to dive into and find ourselves. We are made for stories and God made us this way. We have opportunities throughout our lives to tell our story, or at least, parts of it. There are times when other people tell our stories. People will tell our stories after we are gone. Our stories are influenced by the stories of others around us, and if we are willing to, we can allow the story of Jesus to shape our lives as well. In our passage today, Paul encourages us not only to let the story of Jesus influence our lives but to plant ourselves firmly in His story and let it continually shape it from beginning to end. 📷

Christ's Death, Burial, and Resurrection

We all have a story and our stories all have a beginning. Some of us start our story like the Gospel of Mark: One day I showed up and started making a difference in the world and we don't need to talk about anything else before that. Or we can do the Gospel of Matthew: My family goes way back. We have always been important and this is how I fulfill my family obligations. Or maybe the Gospel of Luke version: My family is just another member of the human race and we have our good sides and our bad sides. This is how I live to be a good example of humanity. Some strange people might start out like the Gospel of John: Before the world was even created, God had a plan for me. Everything I have ever done has been to try to fulfill that plan God has for my life. Most of us probably tell the stories of our lives somewhere in the middle of all these, or maybe a different way entirely. When we become followers of Jesus though, we get a new origin story. Our stories are changed, redeemed, and in some ways rewritten altogether. Our lives are forever changed by the grace of God because Jesus lived, died, and rose again... for us. It doesn't matter what we have done, what we have failed to do, what we could never do no matter how hard we try... because Christ did it. Now, some people take that as a license to sin. They say, God forgives me and I am always going to be a sinner, so my life doesn't matter. I can do whatever I want. They act like a person who was just released from jail that thinks they cannot be sent back, and they think they can go out and break the law all over again, maybe even worse. That happens all the time! There's something weird in us that somehow believes if we are not paying the price for our own sin then we don't matter, and nothing else does either. What the story of Jesus does to us is recast our own stories in a completely different light. Everything matters. Everything we do right and wrong matters. But God shows us that we matter to Him more than our actions, and if He has to come down and lay down His life so that we recognize how much we matter to Him, He is willing to do it. He has done it. It is time to quit trying to make up for the past and start living your life today with God. 📷

Christ's Appearance to and Transformation of Others

The transforming story of Jesus did not stop with his own miraculous death and resurrection. He intentionally passed his story on to others. Most of our studies and examples of Jesus making disciples come from the three years he spent with them before the cross. We sometimes forget that Jesus spent time with the disciples after the resurrection as well. It was in the 50 days after the resurrection that Jesus helped reshape the identity of the disciples based on the power of the cross and the empty tomb. What does that mean to us? It means there is no part of our lives, no part of our story, where we are intended to go alone. The Holy Spirit of Jesus and His disciples guide us before we choose to follow Him. They guide us when we choose to follow Him, and they join with us as they all empower and guide our lives and our stories far greater than we could ever come up with on our own.

Where do you stand?

To live that life, Paul tells us we have to receive that story, to stand firm in it, and find salvation flowing from it every day. That is what relationships do for us. They join our stories together. As families, we grow our stories together into a family story. As communities, we share common stories together. And as God's people, disciples of Jesus, we show and tell our stories as they grow out of the story of Jesus and God's love for the world. Our story origins, our beginnings show our roots and our belongings. It shows who we belong with and who we belong to. What part are you playing in the story of our church? What is your role in the story of our community? Who are you in the story of Jesus that continues to be lived out today? Do you stand in those stories and grow out from there, or do you jump from one story to another, looking for greener grass or fairer weather across the way? Will you stand and stay with Jesus, or are you still trying to make up your mind? What story are you showing and telling today? 📷 Paul encourages us to stand and stay with the only person in Whom we may find true, continuous salvation. The story of Jesus is our evidence of that. Jesus, taught this same lesson when He invited people to follow Him. He said:
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
-Matthew 7:24-29
And now, let us receive Christ and root ourselves into His story together.


Communion – The Great Thanksgiving II

Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.
Therefore, let us confess our sin before God and one another.
Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God's love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven! In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven! Glory to God. Amen. The Lord be with you And also with you. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise. It is right, and a good and joyful thing, Always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. And so, With your people on earth And all the company of heaven We praise your name and join their unending hymn:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. Holy are you, and blessed is your Son, Jesus Christ. By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection you gave birth to your church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, And made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit. On the night to which he gave himself up for us he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said; “Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said: “Drink from this, all of you this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” And so, In remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving, as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith. Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again. Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.” By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet. Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy church, all honor and glory is your, almighty Father, now and forever. Amen The body of Christ, given for you. Amen. The blood of Christ, given for you. Amen.
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