Is It Too Late For Me? 9-20-15 Sermon
Is it Too Late for Me?? 9/20/15 Matthew 25:1-13; Luke 23:39-43
I was looking on a Christian question and answer web site.? There was a question asked by a sixteen year old.? They were saying, ?I have made a terrible mistake.? I have really messed up.? Is it too late for me to become a Christian??? Peter could have written that after he denied the living Jesus on earth.? Paul could have written that after he took part in stoning Stephen and throwing Christians in jail. I. WE MAKE OURSELVES LATE- I think it is important when we are asking the question, ?Is it too late for me to be a Christian? that we recognize we make ourselves late. Lateness is our construct. ?We make ourselves late by not seeing the urgency for doing the important.? We get side tracked- it is the ADD of life.? We think the trivial is important and then we leave room out for what is of ultimate importance- our Maker and our salvation. ???? But the other side is we may think we are late when we are indeed right on time.? We can set up false expectations- so that we think everything has to happen in normal, regular, perfect ways.? So the teenager thinks they have to be perfect to become a Christian.? I know no perfect Christians.? God saves only those willing to admit they fail, they sin, they make mistakes.? The ones who cannot admit that have a problem.? There are people who don?t want to get their lives straight with God- they enjoy their sin and they cannot imagine enjoying real love instead of the fake love.?? But if you know you have a problem you are half way there.? You see Christianity is a drop in- come any time.? But you are asked if you come to remain until the party ends. ???? I have heard people say when they get a fever that it is too late to go to the doctor- they don?t feel like going.? Is it too late to go to the doctor?? If you are alive, I would give it a shot.? Is it too late to try to take medicine?? I?d go for it. The longest journey begins with the first step.? Do no imagine you are too late.? Instead imagine what God can do for you if you come. ???? Jesus told a great story of workers in the vineyard.? Some came to work for the vineyard owner and started in the morning.? Others came at lunchtime for the same wage.? The owner realized he still needed to get the harvest in so he got even more workers at the last minute giving them the same wage.? The workers who were hired in the morning complained- why did we get the same wage?? The owner said, ?Didn?t you agree to work for this wage?? Then why are you complaining about my generosity??? What people think who believe they are too late- is that it is not fair for God to let them in after they have messed up- or after they have lived a long life without Him.? That would almost be like the group hired last complaining that they shouldn?t be hired.? But the great news is the grace and generosity of God far exceeds our own grace and generosity. II. GOD IS ALWAYS ON TIME- in the end He is the One who calls us to respond.? God?s timing is always good and right.? It is designed for us and He is at work to bring everything together in just the right way and just the right time for us. ?????? God is always on time in answering our prayers.? He does it in ways we don?t expect in the timing we don?t expect. ?You may have been praying for someone and have felt like giving up. ?Jesus said pray and do not give up- because it teaches us to wait on the Lord.? The thief on the cross- lived a criminal life- but was saved at the last minute.? God can help you too. ???? The Psalmist says, ?Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart- wait I say on the Lord!??? Isaiah says, ?Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.?? God has seen us through so much- and He will again if we wait and do not give up.?? The father of our faith was Abraham- who waited long to have a child- though promised one from God.? Waiting is an essential part of faith- believing in God?s timing is important. ?Keep your lamps trimmed and burning- because you never know when the bridegroom will show up to help you and strengthen you and bring you joy.? If you think it does no good to wait on God- you are like the foolish bridesmaids. ???? The African American church has a great saying- ?God is good- all the time; all the time- God is good.?? If we look at that the wrong way it sounds trivial.? But if we realize the persecution and heart aches the African American church has endured- their belief in the goodness of God even in times of trouble is riveting. III. THE CALL IS THERE FOR YOU NOW- The call of God is always out there.? The Bible says he desires none to perish.? The call is universal- for all people- but not everyone responds to the call.? If you have the opportunity to hear now- and you feel God tugging at your heart don?t tell Him to be quiet. ?????? Problem for Presbyterians- since we are predestined- there is never any urgency.? Since it is up to God- do not need to commit.? But God does not save us despite us- He saves us through our decisions.? To think otherwise would be to purposefully stiff arm and resist God.? Work with God?s plan- not against it. Truth is God calls us not only to believe intellectually.? He calls us to make a commitment. What if you never feel any urgency toward God?? Then perhaps everything else is more urgent and I would say you are not taking your Maker seriously- instead you are taking Him for granted.? Ingratitude is a horrible sin.? You are not seeking Him first but maybe fifty-first.? If you never feel you need to make a decision or a commitment to God- then you are going against what the Bible says- when it says choose this day whom you will serve.? You are deciding to firmly place God on the back burner.? Whatever you feel is more urgent than your relationship with God- what you have on the front burner in the front of the line in your priorities- that is your God- or that is your idol.? So the bridesmaids went to sleep- and they didn?t have enough oil in their lamps.? They were lackadaisical- lazy- in their relationship to the bridegroom and His wedding.? One of the key themes of Jesus is not only the need to love neighbor- but it is to love God- and that means seeking Him first.? I would contend also that if we seek God first all these other things we are so worried about and consumed about would fade in importance and we would be set free from them.?? ?Real love- real faith is not afraid to jump in.? The water may be like Lake Murray- you can?t see the bottom.? Jump in anyway.? The Lifeguard is there to rescue you.? Commit without knowing exactly what will happen in the future.? Have faith.? When the bridegroom comes- are you asleep or awake waiting ????? I believe I have talked before about the oldest person I have baptized.? She was 85 years old.? She and her husband had moved to the coast of South Carolina from New York.? You could tell that both of them had been handsome in their prime and they had a huge house on the coast.? It reminded me of the story of the Great Gatsby.? She was an artist, he was vice president of a large firm and had a law degree from an Ivy League school and they had travelled all over the world and had children and grandchildren.? Their parents had both gone to church Christmas and Easter but they had both drifted off as teenagers in college and had not come back- neither of them had been baptized or made a profession of faith in their lives.? I baptized the wife who had such a great joy when she found Christ.? She wanted me to talk to her husband because she wanted him to share her joy.? He would not respond. I went to see him several times.? One by one his questions were answered to his satisfaction.? He believed intellectually, but he said he couldn?t be baptized. ?He told me he didn?t think it would be honest.? He lived, he said, his whole life in a different way.? It would not be consistent.? I literally begged him.? I said, ?Do you know the motto of South Carolina?? It is ?dum spiro spero? while I breathe- I hope. God has given you breath and life so you have a chance now to decide.? It is never too late to come to God.? It is never too late to come back.? But we have to recognize the urgency of the gospel for each of us.