November 26, 2022

The Grace and Joy of Our Lord 11-09-2022

11th September 2022 (Pentecost 14)

Sermon Title: The Grace and Joy of Our Lord
( 1 Timothy 1:12-17 & Luke 15:1-10)

                                                                                  By Heeyoung Lim 

In Luke 15, sinners followed Jesus eagerly, but self-righteous religious leaders constantly mocked Jesus for associating with such sinners.
Pharisees never realize that they are lost! They always count themselves among the saved, even though they have never repented for their sins. Religious leaders are too self-righteous to associate with sinners, but Jesus associated with sinners because he knew they recognized their need of salvation and would respond, bringing joy to heaven.

In today’s text, Jesus told two stories to show what it means to be lost and how a loving Father awaits the sinner to come home and be saved. If we find one missing from one hundred sheep, what are we going to do as a shepherd? Do we leave the ninety-nine to the open field and immediately begin a rescue mission for the lost sheep? Do we have the willingness and passion to search for the sheep late at night with risks? Do we have heavenly parties, celebrations, and joys in our daily lives and ministries? May we find the lost, care for the Lord’s sheep, celebrate and rejoice in the Lord.  

In verses 8-9, a woman had ten silver coins but had lost one of them. She began to thoroughly look through the house, looking into every corner. As she discovers the missing coin, she immediately calls her friends to rejoice together. The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin both end by calling together friends and neighbours to join in the celebration. Indeed, the movement of joy vibrates from the one to the many, from the earth to the heavens. Salvation by faith and grace consists of the rescue from sins and the eternal celebration. 

In 15:10, Jesus repeated the message of verse 7. A repentant sinner brings celebration and joy to heaven, but self-righteous religious people bring no joy to heaven. Heaven is populated with the lost who were found and the sinners who repented. Do our services and ministries God entrusted us bring the same joy and celebration to us? May we follow Jesus’ example and serve everyone, find the lost through being disciples instead of spending our whole life with the righteous or as the self-righteous leaders. 

Are we showing God’s patient love and welcoming grace when people leave and return? May we search for the lost and bring them back to Jesus and share God’s joy whenever repentance or returning is happening. I hope we won’t give up on people when they turn away from God and faith communities. God waits patiently for us in love for the lost to return to Him. May our church rejoice over the lost as they are found and join the heavenly banquet.

God is like the shepherd who values each sheep in the flock, like the woman who accounts for every silver coin in the purse. God treasures every child of the family. When one goes missing, God goes into searching. God is love, and love looks like one who goes out tirelessly searching. When one in our faith community goes missing or is in pain, we are all affected or suffered. When one is restored or returned, we are all better off for it. In Christ, we are the extended family of God. Until the lost returns, the community is incomplete.

The parables are about a hospitality that seeks to restore. These parables call the community to open its doors and rejoice. When the lost has returned home and sits in the presence of God, may we rejoice in the Lord and be glad in Christ!

We rejoice in the Lord with a spirit of love, hope, faith, and peace that leads us to deeper discipleship communities and spirituality. May the joyful celebration of finding those who were lost and have returned to Jesus continue in our lives and ministries abundantly. God has shown mercy to all of us, and Christ came to save sinners. As in Rome 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Paul opposed the work of God, was disrespectful of Christ, and harassed the people of God. He imprisoned people for their faith in Christ, witnessed persecution at the stoning of Stephen, and tried to destroy the church.  Even so, he was shown mercy. In a dramatic encounter with the living Christ, Paul was rescued from his unbelief and saved from his rebellion. (Acts 9) 

Reminding of how he lived before his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, his rescue from sin can be attributed to the overflowing grace of God. The grace of our Lord was poured out on him abundantly. In Acts 9:15, God clearly called him: “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel”. He was appointed by God.

Paul and Timothy had to deal with the false teachers in those days. In today’s text, Paul began his testimony by turning attention to Christ and expressed his thankfulness: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength. Whatever Paul was able to become an exemplary Christian life was because of Christ Jesus. Paul had an amazing life of powerful ministry for God. He knew that God was the giver of power and strength, and it was because of God from start to finish.

Paul continued to express his gratitude: God considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Paul had demonstrated faithfulness throughout his ministry, and in God’s economy and providence this resulted in greater ministry and responsibility.

In verse 13, looking back at his life, he described himself prior to his conversion as a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man. The more we understand grace and God’s goodness, the more we are aware of our own sinfulness.

Paul confessed that God’s mercy and the Lord’s unlimited patience were shown in me, the worst of sinners. He was forgiven and transformed. His persecution of the church made Paul the perfect example of God’s mercy. Paul was a sinner in need of grace. He was not only saved; he was changed, receiving the abundance of faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The flood from God’s grace and joy brings forth faith and love. All are gifts of God and the evidence of those who are captured by the grace of the Lord.

People may claim to know God, but the truth will be revealed by their faith and love. Paul’s words matched his life; his manner corresponded with the truth. When our character and lifestyle harmonize with our faith, we become a powerful example of God’s truth and reality. Paul was an example to all believers, and specifically to Timothy and church leaders, of how life and words must complement each other. May we become the exemplary of God’s mercy, love, and faithfulness to those we live with and meet along life’s way.

Do we share God’s feelings of love, pity, and care for the lost in our daily lives? I believe the results of our graceful discipleship journey will flood heaven with joy. Having recounted God’s grace, love, and faithfulness toward himself and all believers, Paul then burst into praise with Joy. He praised the Lord as the only God and the King eternal and incomparable. May we also burst into praise with joy. 

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)