February 3, 2008

"Every Day God: Enriches"

(1 Corinthians 1:1-9)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn


INTRODUCTION:

I found out something which I thought was interesting this past week. Do you know what the difference is between vitamin enriched food like enriched flour and food that is fortified with vitamins?

Enriched food means that vitamins or minerals have been added to the food. The vitamins and minerals are added to replace the original vitamins and minerals that were stripped and lost during the refining process. For example, if the food originally had iron, but the iron was lost during the refining process, the food will be 'enriched' to add the iron back into the food.

We often mistakenly think enriched means 'added vitamins and minerals'. Enriched simply means to replace what was lost during the refining process.

Fortified means that vitamins or minerals have been added to the food over and above and in addition to the levels that were originally found before the food was refined. When foods are fortified, they have more vitamins and minerals after they are refined than they did before they were refined. Common fortified foods are: milk (fortified with vitamin D) and salt (fortified with iodine).

"Fortified" is often misused by companies who produce cereal and fruit drinks. Cereal boxes will often say 'fortified with essential vitamins and minerals'. Adding vitamins and minerals to the cereal gives it more nutritional value, but it doesn't change the high amount of sugar that they contain.

So, what does all that have to do with how Every Day God Enriches our lives. Let's look at Scripture from Paul's first letter to the Church in Corinth, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (NRSV)

[1] Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

[2] To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

[3] Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

[4] I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus,

[5] for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind--

[6] just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you--

[7] so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[8] He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[9] God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

I think if we look at those terms Enriches and Fortifies we can see how God moves and acts in our Every Day lives to Enrich our faith, Enrich the mission and ministry of the church and Enrich the world.


I. ENRICHES:

A. First, let's look at the word ENRICHES.. God does enrich our lives in the food industry sense. You see, because of the fall, because we have been disobedient, because we've turned away or drifted away from God, that original relationship has been stripped and lost. We've become a broken people. And in the process, our relationship with God is broken.

B. On May 21, 1972, during the 11:30 a.m. worship service at the Vatican in St. Peter's Basilica, a man leaped over a tiny wall into one of the side chapels that surround the main altar. He took a hammer that he smuggled in and began to break into pieces one of Michelangelo's statues depicting Mary, the mother of Jesus, holding the dead body of Christ. He struck it until he was arrested but 40 pieces were laying on the floor.

It was a destructive act that demonstrated well the brokenness of humanity. This beautiful work of art was battered and broken like our lives.

The Vatican assembled a team of "experts" to restore the statue, as near as possible, to its original condition. It was a monumental task. Fortunately, the team was equal to the task. Seven months later the mission was completed. One art critic said, "You can't even see the fault lines and cracks created by the assault . . . It is beautifully restored." (1)

I think that's a great parable for what God has done for us. We know that we have all sinned and fall short of the Kingdom of God. We don't have to have our noses rubbed in it. We know we're broken. Broken homes, broken hearts, broken promises, broken relationships, they surround us. But what took those "experts" seven months do, Jesus did for us on the cross.

Through Christ Jesus, we have been reconciled with God and restored to our original Through Christ our lives have been Enriched and we have been brought back and restored to our relationship with God.


II. FORTIFIES:

A. Second , let's look at how Every Day God FORTIFIES our lives. God doesn't want us to just have a right relationship. God wants us to be strong Christians, strong and faithful Disciples. Paul says that God enriches our lives "in speech and knowledge" so that we may be "strengthened" and "not [lack] in any spiritual gift" as we wait for Christ to return.

While we are brought back into relationship through the cross, the Resurrection and Pentecost are what fortify our relationship and our faith. The Risen Christ and the power of God's Holy Spirit strengthen us Every Day with the "spiritual gifts" we need to not only remain as disciples, but to grow in our Discipleship. We may not notice how God is doing that, or even know how God is doing that. But its an ongoing process, like a journey. You take one step at a time.

B. Several years ago The British Weekly published the following provocative letter: "Dear Sir: It seems ministers feel their sermons are very important and spend a great deal of time preparing them. I have been attending church quite regularly for 30 years and have probably heard 3,000 of them. To my consternation, I discovered I cannot remember a single sermon. I wonder if a minister's time might be more profitably spent on something else?"

For weeks a storm of editorial responses followed, finally ended by this letter: "Dear Sir: I have been married for 30 years. During that time I have eaten 32,850 meals, mostly my wife's cooking. Suddenly, I have discovered I can't remember the menu of a single meal. And yet . . . I have the distinct impression that without them, I would have starved to death years ago." (2)

You know, we may not remember every Sunday School lesson, Vacation Bible School or Youth Group Lessons we've ever heard. We may not remember every sermon point, or illustration we've heard. But I do know this, God's Word impacts our lives, feeds and nourishes us. Worship, prayer, devotion, the music and even the sermon all FORTIFIES our faith. It FORTIFIES our walk with Christ. It adds that extra something that strengthens our relationship with God.

EVERY DAY GOD ENRICHES our lives through FORTIFYING our faith.


III. ENHANCES:

A. There's one aspect of this whole idea of ENRICHMENT that the Food Industry definitions don't touch on. And that's the idea of ENHANCEMENT. Oh, they DO some enhancements to their products to make them tastier. Just look at the ingredients on any can of almost any vegetable. They add salt and sugar as well as all kinds of other things to make them a little tastier.

You and I are called to be the salt of the earth. We're called to add ENHANCEMENT to the people and the world around us through being faithful, through living our faith.

B. How many of you like ice cream? Is there anybody here who doesn't like vanilla ice cream? I know everybody has their favorite flavor but almost everybody likes vanilla. And a bowl or a cone of vanilla ice cream is just wonderful isn't it?

But what happens when you begin enhancing it? What happens when you add a little chocolate syrup or strawberries or caramel. And then sprinkle it with some nuts, add a little bit of whipped cream and top it with a cherry? That ordinary bowl of just wonderful vanilla ice cream becomes a culinary work of art. It moves from just wonderful to scrumptious. It goes from being a bowl of ice cream to being a sundae.

And that's what we're called to do. You see EVERY DAY GOD ENRICHES our lives, God ENRICHES, FORTIFIES AND ENHANCES our lives, so we can ENHANCE the world with the Good News of Jesus. The church has plenty of nuts, but we're called to be Chocolate Syrup so the world can go from being plain vanilla to being the living Kingdom of God.


CONCLUSION:

This morning is Communion Sunday. This is a day when we are visually and physically reminded of how much our Every Day God Enriches our lives. The bread and the wine remind us of the cost of our restoration. But the bread and the wine also give us a foretaste of the banquet which awaits us.

This bread and wine are elements by which God ENRICHES, FORTIFIES AND ENHANCES our lives and our faith. Through this bread and wine we are drawn to the cross of our redemption. We stand once again on the hill of Calvary and are reminded of the sacrifice made for our sakes. But we're also drawn to throne of our restoration. For through Christ's sacrifice we are restored. But through the Resurrection we're brought home.

Through the Cross we are Enriched, through the Empty Tomb we are Fortified and at Pentecost we are Enhanced with the power and the presence and the strength of God's Holy Spirit so that we can share the Good News. We are changed from plain vanilla to something scrumptious so that others will be made hungry for the one who changed and delivered us.

Remember EVERY DAY GOD ENRICHES your life, so you CAN be a living witness. That's our call, that's our purpose.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

______________________________

Bibliography

1. www.sermons.com

2. Wynnton UMC Bulletin, Columbus, Ga.

3. Bruce Larson, THE PRESENCE, (HarperCollins Publishers, 1988), p. 98.

4.

Other References Consulted

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