July 15, 2018: 8th Sunday of Trinity

Let us pray: Dear Savior, no matter our circumstances, no matter how we feel, no matter if it is a good day or a bad one—we all need to be reminded of just how great Your love for us really is! We need to be reminded of how deep it is, how expansive its reach, and how awesome its reality. Since You give us such truth today, we thank You without reservation. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO PICKED YOU TO BE HIS ETERNAL CHILD BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE!
TEXT: Ephesians 1: 3-14
Dearly Beloved in Christ:
Well, it was a sorry week at Foxhaven. If you had a special, super-secret black cloud detector and trained it on 24 Wilmington Rd. it would have red-lined. The dog was recovering from dental surgery and felt miserable for a few days. The leader of the pack, yours truly, was coming down with Aunt Ellen’s “plague-like” virus that she imported from her recent visit. And then Mom was hit by it, too. Those of you who have kids know exactly what I’m talking about. When everyone gets sick, the household grinds to a halt. The hacking, sneezing, and continuous napping for everyone hit an all-time high. Our watchword for the week was: “For a good time, come to the Foxes!” I felt like one of those cartoon characters with a black cloud lingering over my head wherever I went! Too bad I didn’t buy Kleenex stock a month ago!
I
We all employ clichés to try to cheer others up, including using them on ourselves. You know the type: “After every dark night the dawn breaks.” Or, “for every cloud there is a silver lining.” When you feel lousy you really don’t want to hear any of it. You just groan and try to sleep some more. But, for the Christian it is true. And for me the silver lining arrived in the form of the lesson before us this morning.
Listen to these words and see if you aren’t transported to somewhere better, someplace much more sublime: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”
Before God made time, before He created the universe, before there was the sun, moon, and stars—God Almighty knew you. He looked ahead and saw you. And He decreed that He loved you so much in Jesus Christ and because of Christ that He then adopted you as His eternal child. He decreed that you would be born, come to faith, and reap every eternal blessing worth mentioning because your Forerunner, Jesus, would earn them all for you. You didn’t do anything to deserve this kind of treatment. On the contrary, because you would be and are a sinner, a rebellious ingrate against God, you and I deserve the opposite! But that’s not how God saw it because He viewed you through the prism of His boundless love for Jesus Christ! I like to say that because of our eternal election of grace, we’re “heavenly VIPS.” Well, it’s true. Nothing is more true. And if this fact doesn’t shake you out of your inner doldrums of feeling sorry for yourself, then you must already be dead.
II
Who could ever compose a letter with a greeting like this except God? But it doesn’t end there. “In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”
Some will recall cartoons about a weary traveler searching for the meaning of life, arriving at some obscure mountaintop cave and getting an esoteric answer to their query from the hermit living there. Well, right here we have the answer and it is awesome! The answer to the meaning of life is: Jesus Christ. Jesus, God’s Son, Who redeemed our souls from hell with His blood. It is Jesus Christ, Who forgives even the unforgiveable, you and me, because His love knows no bounds. It is Jesus Christ, Who doesn’t just “give” but “lavishes” upon us all wisdom and understanding about what really matters in life. That being: The truth that God is life, love, and every blessing all rolled into One and without Him we are and have nothing. Without Him life is nothing.
III
But this awesome introduction doesn’t end quite yet. There’s more. God gets very personal with us. “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.”
I had a bad week, but once I read all this it got immediately better! Hearing such words from God Almighty directed to me, well, it puts the struggles we have into perspective, doesn’t it? It elevates the spirit. It lifts you up on eagle’s wings. You’re able to soar above mere time and space into eternal blissful happiness. The black clouds are left behind. The worry and fear of life are left behind. Even death is left behind because through our election of grace we are joined with Christ forever and He conquered death with His resurrection.
I’m going to try to focus on these sublime words every single day. I hope you do, too. Because they alone contain the real meaning of life……Amen