January 6, 2013: The Greatest Honor There Is Has Been Given To You

Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we rejoice that You have adopted us into Your family and made us the true spiritual children of Israel. We rejoice that You have honored us, not with gold, frankincense and myrrh, but with everlasting love, eternal forgiveness for every sin, and a mansion in heaven with our name emblazoned over the door. Yes, it is to us poor Gentiles that the riches of Your unseen world are given in abundance. Lord, all we can offer You in return is our hearts—accept them, accept us as Your reborn Children of the eternal promise! Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE SAVIOR OF ALL PEOPLE WHO HUMBLE THEMSELVES BEFORE HIS CROSS

TEXT: Ephesians 3: 2-12

Dearly Beloved Honored By The Prince of Peace:

Did you ever wish you could trade places with the shepherds arrayed around the manger, or those to whom the angels spoke, or even the wise men whose homage of the Christ-Child we remember today? Imagine the impact on your life of actually hearing an angel choir and seeing them thronged together in their shining robes? Imagine what it must have been like to gaze at the baby Jesus and know beyond any doubt that there was God Almighty laying before you, nestled in a manger? Imagine seeing that star in the east, having it move ahead of you for months and months as you followed, and finally discovering the purpose of its message to the universe—seeing a crawling, toddling Jesus happily at home with His parents in Bethlehem? Imagine the inadequacy of your almost priceless gifts—the gold, frankincense and myrrh—and yet knowing that none of that mattered to this little King because all He wanted your heart and now He had it? Ah, to be so honored! Ah, to be so humbled and yet so uplifted at the very same time!

Well, my friends, according to God’s Holy Word given by inspiration to St. Paul you and I have been given the exact same blessing albeit in different form. Yes,

THE GREATEST HONOR THERE IS HAS BEEN GIVEN TO YOU!

I

Currently J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic “The Hobbit” is out in movie form. I read it and that trilogy of books, “The Lord of the Ring” well over 40 years ago and I’m looking forward to seeing the movie when the lines thin out a bit. Tolkien’s book touches a deep cord within us because it speaks about the unseen world, the world we know is there, but we just cannot see it. It speaks of great mysteries and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. In it are mysteries which we know are being played out in our lives right now. Well, where do you think Tolkien discovered these heroic themes? He discovered them in Christianity. Yes, in the Christian faith our eternal, unseen God hides profound truths from the worldly wise and the humanly proud and then those truths are revealed—not to angels but to humble humans, to us. St. Paul sets the stage for this background when he writes: “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. (That’s a reference to his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus). In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

Yes, instead of action figures celebrating Gandolph the wizard, or Aragorn the warrior/protector, or Bilbo Baggins the searcher, according to Paul we should remember Moses the miracle-worker, Elijah who was taken to heaven in a fiery chariot, Peter who walked on water and then was saved by Christ when his courage failed. Yes, we should walk in the path, not of hobbits and made-up characters, but in the path of the saints of God, His apostles who have given us some far better than an all-powerful ring to wear. For they have given us a direct insight into Who God really is—our kind and loving Father—and how He treats us—by giving His life for ours on a cross.

II

“I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people (a reminder of his pre-conversion days when he persecuted Christ’s church), this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”

Yes, St. Paul received the greatest honor there is—the God-given ability to make an eternal difference. Think about it. By changing one person’s heart from a prideful fool into a humble believer God is made happy. As the Bible says: “There is great rejoicing in heaven over even one sinner who repents.” Changing people’s lives for the better by insuring them an eternal future through faith in Jesus Christ—that is something politicians cannot do, kings cannot do, angels cannot do, even demons cannot do. But those whom the Christ-Child has touched, those He has honored with His love and forgiveness, in other words–to us—such power has been given! Today you and I take the place of St. Paul and the other apostles here in time and space. We have been honored by God Almighty, think about that, God Almighty, to change lives eternally with the truth of the Gospel—“That Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the chief.” Yes, we possess the Greatest Honor There Is!

III

And to take away any doubt from your mind about God’s honoring of you, St. Paul goes on to say this: “His intent was that now, through the church, (that’s us) the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Not only does our Lord honor us with Divine truths, He also uplifts us in the process! Yes, we can approach Him not with those priceless gifts of the wise men, but clothed only with faith. But faith in enough because it means we wear His love. Faith means we’re free from guilt over past sins. It means we’re perfect in His sight. It means we can confidently ask Him to help us with anything and He will! Yes, as the Bible says: “All things work together for good to those who love God.”

You may think of yourself as humble, insignificant, and lowly. You may think that 100 years after you die no one will ever remember you. But you’re wrong on all counts! As a Christian, as one of God’s ambassadors of His forgiving love, your name and your history are written in heaven to be marveled at and recounted throughout eternity. Yes, The Greatest Honor There Is Has Been Given To You! So, hold your head up. Christ has earned you that right. Amen