Soul Prints #1
Who are you? If you’ve watched any of the Detective, Forensic or Mystery shows on television in the last 50 years, you know how important fingerprints are to the Criminal Justice System. No two fingerprints are alike. Each fingerprint is unique to that individual.
According to the History of Fingerprints website, fingerprints were first mentioned as far back as 1686. The first known use as identification didn’t take place until 1858 when an English magistrate in India had the locals impress their handprints on business contracts.
In 1882, Gilbert Thompson of the U.S. Geological Survey in New Mexico, used his own thumb print on a document to prevent forgery. The receipt for $75 issued to “Lying Bob” might explain why he started doing this.
Even though Mark Twain used fingerprint identification as the means of identifying a murderer in his book, life on the Mississippi in 1883, it wasn’t until 1892 that fingerprints were used to successfully identify the suspect in a murder case. Of course, since then, they are used all the time.
I learned something interesting this week when I took my grandchildren on one of the guided drive through at Fossil Rim. Did you know that the stripes on a Zebra are like fingerprints on people? When a Zebra is born, the mother will get up and walk around the baby several times, in order to imprint that particular Zebra’s stripes in her mind. She knows her baby by its unique stripes.
Why all this discussion of fingerprints? Well I believe each of our lives leaves a legacy. Who we are; what we have accomplished; the children, youth and adults we have influenced; even our values and faith can all be seen in the ongoing impression or the Soul Prints we leave behind.
Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to explore how to leave the Best Soul Prints possible.
All of this ties in with what our children learned during Vacation Bible School. In Shake It Up Café, they learned that God has a recipe for our lives, a recipe for living the Christian life so we CAN leave lasting Soul Prints. You might even say that if we follow that recipe we will be fed by God’s Soul Food.
You’ve heard briefly what they learned and that’s the points of the message this morning.
I. BE READY FOR GOD:
A. The first thing we learned is that we have to BE READY FOR GOD. Psalm 27:14 says: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
During the preparations for the very first Passover, the Israelites knew God was working a mighty work to set all the Hebrew people free from Egyptian captivity. They had to BE READY to go at a moment’s notice. And when the time came, they didn’t even have time to let the bread rise. That’s why they use unleavened bread during Passover, to remember the haste in which they had to leave.
B. As United Methodists, we don’t talk much about the second coming or dwell too much on trying to understand all the prophetic passages or when that moment will take place. Part of the reason for that is that Jesus said, “No one knows but the Father, not even the Son.”
But the main reason, I think, is simply this point. We are called, just like the Israelites to BE READY FOR GOD. We’re called to live a life of faith which is Constantly Ready for whatever God has in store for us, not only in the future but also today. We’re called to be ready to respond to God’s movement and calling in our lives no matter when or where it takes place. If we Live Ready, it will feed our Soul with God’s Soul Food.
II. BELIEVE FULLY IN JESUS:
A. The second thing we learned this week in VBS is that we are called to BELIEVE FULLY IN JESUS. Believing fully in Jesus, trusting in who Jesus was, is and will be, is how we live READY FOR GOD. In John 14:1, Jesus says, “Believe in God, believe also in me.”
Life is hard, with or without Jesus. Living a life of faith, living a life filled with Christian integrity and character is hard. But trying to live that life without Jesus is impossible. There are aspects of our faith which only make sense if we believe Jesus is who He claimed to be.
If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then God’s just a bully who watched his Son die on the cross for nothing. And I can’t follow a god like that. If Jesus isn’t the Son of God then he was nothing but a misguided lunatic whose words were empty and whose sacrifice on the cross meant nothing. If that’s the case, I’ve been living a lie for the last 40 years.
B. But, if Jesus is who He says He is; who Scripture says He is; who countless millions of Christians have said He is; then I think I better pay attention. I think I better Believe Fully In Jesus and live that belief with all my heart, soul, mind and strength as He instructed us to do so I can BE READY FOR GOD.
III. GIVE HAPPILY TO GOD:
A. The third thing we learned this week is to GIVE HAPPILY TO GOD. Hebrews 13:16 says: “Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have, because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.” And in 1 Corinthians 9:7 Paul writes: 2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Sometimes it’s hard to give let alone give Cheerfully or Happily. But when we do, it provides a double blessing. It blesses those who receive that gift and it blesses us because we gave out of our READINESS FOR GOD AND BELIEF IN JESUS..
What we tend to forget is that it’s not the size of the gift but the attitude of the giver which is important to God.
B. Change Bag: God can take the smallest gift we can give. God can take our nickels or our dollars and God can multiply it beyond belief. Here we have what’s known as a Change Bag and I think it illustrates what God can do with what little we might have to give, especially if we give with a cheerful heart. It’s not magic but God can and does do miraculous things when we GIVE HAPPILY TO GOD.
IV. REMEMBER JESUS OFTEN:
A. On our last day of VBS we learned about the Sacrament of Holy Communion and how it is a meal of remembrance. We also learned that one of the key ingredients to this life of faith is to REMEMBER JESUS OFTEN, which we do through the Sacrament. In Luke 22:19 Jesus tells the Disciples: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
So, every time we gather around this table for this special meal, this All You Can Eat Buffet of God’s Grace, we do so because Jesus told us to. Through the bread and the juice which we call wine, children, youth and adults all remember Jesus in their own way.
We don’t all understand our relationship with Jesus the same way or with the same depth of faith but we all Love Jesus and are seeking to become more and more like Him every day. He told us to “Do this in remembrance of [Him}.”
B. When we come, the Bread helps us remember the physical presence of Jesus in the world and how He told us He was the Bread of life. It also helps us remember His sacrifice on the cross and how His body was broken for us.
The wine or the grape juice reminds us that Jesus taught us that He was the True Vine and that when we BELIEVE FULLY IN JESUS, we are connected to Him like the grapes on a grapevine. The wine also helps us remember His Sacrifice and symbolizes the blood which was poured out for us.
When we Remember Jesus through the Sacrament, we are reminded how He took away our sin.
We talked a earlier about how God can multiply even the smallest gift. Well the same is true but in reverse, when it comes to sin.
We’re called to BE READY FOR GOD, BELIEVE FULLY IN JESUS, GIVE HAPPILY TO GOD, and REMEMBER JESUS OFTEN.
V. CELEBRATE GOD FOREVER:
A. The ingredient for the Recipe of life and faith we heard this morning. CELEBRATE GOD FOREVER. Psalm 45:17 tells us: “I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations; therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever.”
Our celebrations, just like those we learned about this week, usually involve food. And today is no different, that’s why we say we are going to Celebrate the Lord’s Supper or Celebrate Holy Communion. And the Good News is God wants us to celebrate.
Each of these ingredients is like making a birthday cake.
You might say that BEING READY FOR GOD is kind of like the Cake Mix. You can have everything else but if you don’t have the basics, all the icing, sprinkles, candles and whatnot won’t make a cake. So we put a little cake mix in our bowl to represent BEING READY.
Next, you need a little water or milk. We BELIEVE FULLY IN JESUS AND Jesus said he was “Living Water” so we’ll add a little Dry Milk and Dehydrated Water to represent Jesus in our lives. Next we’re called to GIVE HAPPILY TO GOD. What better symbol of giving happily than a candle and sprinkles for a birthday cake. You can’t celebrate birthdays without candles can you? And sprinkles just add to the festive nature of the cake.
Then we add all little bit of Sweetener to Remind us How sweet it is to REMEMBER JESUS OFTEN and add to that the power of Prayer. You mix it all together with expectation of a great celebration. Let them sit for just a little bit, then we CELEBRATE.
As you can see, it’s not a very complicated recipe. When we take all the INGREDIENTS and mix them together, we can CELEBRATE GOD FOREVER by living as Jesus taught.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.