Gods Fire & Rescue Squad
Message: “God’s Fire & Rescue Squad” 10-27-19
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters[a] in Christ in Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
Paul Thanks God for the Colossians
3 In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. 7 This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant.[b] He is a faithful minister of Christ on your[c] behalf, 8 and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s[d] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled[e] you[f] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.[g]
1 Thessalonians 1:1-
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.
“Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming...”
MESSAGE “God’s Fire & Rescue Squad” 10-27-19
Wrath! I haven’t preached about that in the past year, have I? So right about now are you wondering, “are we about to hear an old-time religion Fire and Brimstone sermon from Peter about the wrath of God for the first time?... Probably not. But neither can we entirely ignore the fact that the Bible has some pretty pointed things to say about God’s view of evil, sin, and the reality of wickedness in our world. The many things that are wrong on our planet stand in stark contrast to the right-ness, or righteousness of God. And the holy God of our Scriptures cannot abide evil in his presence because it is antithetical to his very nature. In the great hereafter Hell might be a lake of fire, but perhaps it is nothing more than a dismal existence for some who have separated themselves from the light of God’s presence and live in darkness as a result of their own choices. Bad news for some, but there is good news in all of this: The apostle John said:
This is the message that we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness—none at all! (1 John 1:5)
If we claim that we have fellowship with him but keep living in darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. (1 John 1:6)
But if we keep living in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
Back again to the last verse of our 2nd reading “Jesus, is the one who rescues us from the wrath that is coming...”
The last verse from our first reading says very much the same thing: there we read:
“He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Jesus has delivered us from God’s fiery wrath towards evil and sin. Jesus, our First Responder, has rescued us and you and I, by virtue of our faith, are all members of God’s Fire and Rescue squad. That’s what I’d like to focus on with you now.
Later on today, our community will gather together for about an hour to honor to express our gratitude to Block Island’s Police, Fire and Rescue Squads. I hope you can be there, its at 3pm at the St. Andrew’s Parish Center. Tomorrow is National First Responders Day, and a couple of months ago the BIEM group decided to host an event to recognize the contributions of our local volunteers. We all know what a tremendous contribution these people make to our community, but I’d like to remind us of just a few things they did this past summer I the hopes that they may inspire us as God’s spiritual fire and rescue squad.
Just a few weeks ago a surfer was crushed by a large wave and seriously injured;. him Somehow he made it safely to shore where emergency rescue personnel stabilized him and then carried him over almost a mile of rough cobbly beach to get him the medical attention he desperately needed. it’s a miracle he didn’t drown, but he could have. Our rescue squad provides for emergency physical needs. For God’s rescue squad, the needs are just as real, they are just not always as tangible or visible. There are spiritual currents, big waves crashing into the lives of people all around us much of the time. Some People are drowning themselves with too much alcohol. Others are drowning in tears as loved ones are abruptly taken from them. Still others are in deep financial waters having lost jobs or homes. In all this we have a unique opportunity to be first responders, to see the need and do what we can to be of help. But it takes courage. How do you pick up the phone and what do you say to a someone whose spouse has just ended their life by their own hand? Where do we find the courage to come alongside someone whose family has filed a lawsuit to dispute a last will and testament even before the memorial service has been held? What can we say, what can we do, what do we have that can help us help others when we see there need? We can respond, because In the words of the apostle Paul, ” because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God.
We who have experienced this grace firsthand, can extend it to others and offer hope as our first response.
More recently, there was an early morning fire at an Inn downtown. It was a legitimate blaze that had gotten inside the walls of the building by the time the fire department extinguished it. It might have been catastrophic. The wind was blowing over 40 mph and if the fire had not been contained it could have spread across to other buildings in Old Harbor. But here again, the First Responders did what was needed and a conflagration was averted. Here it wasn’t only an individual that was saved, but a town that was threatened was preserved. There are so many different winds blowing through our community. Controversies, conflicts, and issues that affect us all. We read about something new every week in our local newspaper. These too, provide opportunities for God’s Fire and Rescue Squad to make a difference. We can do our part to quell the hot air of gossip and character assassination. We can promote solutions instead of fanning the flames and adding fuel to the fire. To encourage the church in Thessalonica, Paul told them that they had become an example to others. They set the example for others to follow. And not only that but he went on to say that “in every place their faith in God had become known”. This is my prayer for us as well. That as God’s people we will have the wisdom to know what to say and when not to speak. That we will have the courage to respond and stand up for God’s truth and principles when it is needed. And that we will continue to act with compassion and sensitivity toward those around us, not only building up our church, but also this beloved community of people with whom we live.
Finally, as God’ First Responders, we will have opportunities come alongside people who are living still living lives separately from God. We can help with this as well. We can help folks make the connection with the Divine through our words, our actions, and by looking for ways to respond to their specific needs. Much Like our towns Fire and Rescue Squads, we don’t do it for our own glory, or for personal recognition. We do it for the glory of God in the hopes that people will recognize the worth of the God we serve and experience Jesus as the one who can not only rescue their bodies, but save their souls as well, amen.