June 7, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
Romans 5:1-5 NIV
Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
Finishing Just To Begin…
Prayer for God’s word to be heard through me or in spite of me…
Have you ever played video games or some of those on-line games? One of the games I have played is Candy Crush. In order to go on to the next level, you need to finish with a certain amount of points or collect the right amount of a certain candy. Just when you think you have finished the game…another level pops up. It’s kind of like schooling. You have to complete…to finish…a certain level of education in order to go to the next so that you can acquire a certain degree.
I remember when I was at Boston University. I had finished my course in United Methodist History only to have to take United Methodist Polity. I couldn’t take the Polity class unless I passed the History class. We have some Katahdin High Seniors here with us today and now that they have completed their “studies” they can now begin a new era of schooling. This finishing to begin can be a little daunting at times but the “prize” at the end is worth it…
Jesus Himself had a time of ending to begin. In order to fulfill His purpose, He had to end His life and then rise from the dead, to new life, in order for us to have a new beginning with God. Jesus ended His ministry here on earth in order for us to begin our ministry to the least, lost and forgotten. He had to end His life to begin His new reign over heaven and earth. He had to end His life in order to fulfill the law and become a new life as the spotless “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Hebrews 12:1-3 talks about what happened as He ended to begin… (I am going to ask you to take out your bibles to read along again this week…) It reads: Hebrews 12:1-3New International Version (NIV)
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
He became and is the “Author and Perfecter” of our faith. As we fix our eyes on Jesus…we too will be able to end…come to the end of ourselves…only to begin…begin our new life in Christ Jesus.
There are many pieces of scripture that talks about ending in order to begin. As we come to the end of ourselves, Romans 5:1-5 tells us we are given peace, hope and grace…let’s read what it tells us…turn to Romans 5 in your bibles…
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
As we persevere we build the character that we need for our new beginning and as our character builds, so does our hope…we have hope for the future…
The final piece of scripture I want us to look at this morning comes from Galatians. It talks about what happens to us…what our lives will look like…as we come to the end of the old life and into our new life in Christ. There is a change…a renewing of our minds…as we set aside our old ways and pick up new ways in our life…a new character that emerges… please open you bibles to Galatians 5:22-23:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
There is a change…a shift…a new beginning…that transpires as we emerge from the cocoon of faith and into a vibrant child of God…ready for the road He has set before us.
Finishing to begin…it is how we live our lives. We go from one completed task to another knowing that as we move forward we grow in grace and faith. As we finish to begin, newness is birthed. It is not easy looking at new beginnings in the light of what is old and familiar but two things that will always stay the same…our God goes with us and that Jesus will strengthen us for the journey. I would ask that our Graduates will come forward as we honor them as they finish only to begin a new life…a life that God has put upon their hearts…a life with promise and hope…a life that is enveloped in peace and grace through our Risen Lord Jesus… Graduates come forward
Prayer for and over the graduates…