We are Special to God, Sermon 1/13/2019

WE ARE SPECIAL TO GOD

Is. 43:1-7 Lk.  21-22

Today is the Sunday of the Baptism of our Lord. At Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit descended on Jesus as a dove and God’s voice declared him to be his beloved Son. The emphasis is upon the anointing by the Spirit. Baptism is seen as the occasion for the reception of the Spirit. The Scripture says, “After all the people had been baptized, Jesus also was baptized. While he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my own dear Son, I am pleased with you” (Lk. 3:21-22).

The voice of God was directed to and intended for Jesus alone. According to Luke, many people were present when

Jesus was baptized. God’s voice was not for the group but for

Jesus himself. Since baptism was a prayer experience between the Father and Son, it is natural for the message to be personal and individual. This reminds us that baptism is the time when a personal relationship with God is established.

At the Baptismal Covenant, there is the statement to the congregation which says, “Brothers and sisters in Christ:

Through the Sacrament of Baptism we are initiated into Christ’s holy church. We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit. All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price” (The United Methodist Hymnal # 33).

Through Baptism we are incorporated by the Holy Spirit into God’s new creation. The book of Isaiah 43:1-2 said, “Israel, the Lord who created you says, “Do not be afraid-I will save you. I have called you by name-you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.”

The book of Isaiah was written in the sixth century (540 B. C.) by an unknown author to the exiles in Babylon. To those in bondage this is a comforting message. Since Israel is God’s people, he will rescue them from captivity. God tells the people that despite their spiritual failure, he will show them mercy, bring them back from captivity and restore them. He would give them an outpouring of love, not an outpouring of wrath.

On this Baptism of Our Lord Sunday, we, too, in our baptism are made God’s people by his gracious adoption. The Lord rescues us from the bondage of our sins.

Dear friends!

We are special to God! We are God’s new creation. It is not a matter of who God is but whose we are.

God tells us we are his. We are his by virtue of his creation and formations. We do not belong to the world or to Satan. We are his because we bear his image on our souls.

The Lord said, “1 will give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor” (Is. 43: 4). In this verse the Lord openly and frankly says, [‘l love you.” He loves us though we are not deserving of any love, because he is love. That is his nature. Because of his love, he has created us, redeemed us and promises to be with us always.

The Scripture says, “…God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. This is what love is; it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven” (1 John 4:9-10).

Love explains:

  • why God creates-because he loves, he creates people to love *why God cares- because he loves them, he cares for sinful people
  • why we are free to choose- he wants a loving response from us
  • why Christ died- his love for us caused him to seek a solution to the problem of sin and
  • why we receive eternal life — his love expresses itself to us forever.

Remember the “Peanuts” comic strip in which Lucy announces that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

Younger brother, Linus, is very upset by the prospect and he says, “Lucy, it won’t work. You can never be a doctor!” “And just why not?” Lucy retorts. “Because, replies Linus, “you don’t love humankind. You can’t be a doctor because you don’t love humankind!” “B t I do, says Lucy, “l do! I love humankind; it’s people I can’t stand!”

Dear friends!

Not so with God. He loves the whole world, and he loves all the people in it. Do you see what this means? It means that you are the beloved child of God, that I am the beloved child of God and that every single person we meet in this world is the beloved child of God. The message is obvious; accept God’s love for you and love God back and pass God’s love on to others in this world.

God’s love is a love so powerful that it can redeem and reconcile and save. Listen to it again: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The entire gospel comes to a focus in this verse. True love is not static or self-centered it reaches out and draws others in. If you love someone dearly, you are willing to pay dearly for that person’s responsive love. God paid dearly with the life of his Son, the highest price he could pay. Jesus accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins and then offered us the new life he bought for us.

When we share the gospel with others, our love must be like his- willingly giving up our own comfort and security so that others might join us in receiving God’s love.

The Lord said, “l have called you by name-YOU ARE MINE” WE ARE SPECIAL TO GOD!

The Scripture says, “You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Your life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!” (Colossians 3:1-4).

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