Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Realizing you are God’s child comes with reassurance and responsibility.

John 15:16-17 “You May Already Be a Winner” Jan 20, 2008

There is a historical account of the preparations for one of Napoleon’s famous battles. As Napoleon was talking to a group of his high ranking officers, his horse, standing nearby, spooked and bolted. A quick thinking private, observing the scene, pursued the runaway on his own horse, and was able to return Napoleon’s horse safely.

“Well done, Captain,” said Napoleon upon his return.

The private, with eyes as big as saucers, and with only a moment’s hesitation, saluted smartly and said, “Yes, sir.”

He then headed straight to the supply tent, got himself a captain’s uniform, and moved into officer’s quarters. Never once did he say, “I don’t deserve it. I should have worked my way up through the ranks. I need to earn this.” No, he just said, “Yes, sir,” and accepted the newly assigned rank.

This one verse of John – verse 16 – reminds us of the exact same situation between us and our Lord.

Last week you heard me talk about the mark of baptism – the “invisible tattoo” that God places upon us as His children when we are baptized. It is God’s seal of ownership; our ‘undeserved rank’ among all other human beings in the Army of Mankind.

Wouldn’t it be great if all of us could just accept God’s mark upon our lives with the same readiness as our young soldier?

“OK, Dad, so I know who owns me now. Got the adoption papers right here. They gave them to me right after the church service. So… what’s in this deal for me?”

Somehow we look at this relationship with God like that sometime. We go through the motions, we’ve learned our Sunday School lessons, and we know the theory….now, what’s in this deal for me?

We look at God as the guy to call when we’re in a jam, need a favor, or want to comment on a sunset. We go through the motions of worship, and we’re certainly glad we are part of the family, but we really only get together as a family on the big days of the year – Christmas, Easter, a birthday here and there – and for the rest of the year, we just sort of put God on the speed dial of our lives. We want Him to be available really fast, but only when we need to call on Him.

But the Scripture says that GOD chose YOU….I don’t seem to recall anywhere it referred to us doing the choosing of when and where. What I’m trying to say here is that we forget sometimes who is in the driver’s seat of this relationship; and who is in the passenger seat.

Even the very young ones here can remember a time at school when we were in gym class; or on the playground, and somebody chose two captains of the team. We all lined up with bright shiny faces, and hoped that we would be picked first. It wasn’t so much that we were that anxious to get into the game, it was simply that we wanted the prestige and recognition of being wanted….and wanted as one of the first round picks. You see, we like the importance of being recognized as who’s team we’re on, but we forget that the captain actually expects us to come into the game prepared to follow His directions and listen to His instructions. Some of those games are much longer than the others; some even go into sudden death overtime. But all the while, our captain is there…watching the play, giving us advice and hoping we understand that this life game is a team effort….not a solo performance.

God has chosen us all, and just like that football team, or Napoleon’s Army, God has been very deliberate about stressing that this is all very much a team effort. In every command, in every teaching, relationships are emphasized. Interacting with others, encouraging one another, reaching out to one another, and spreading the word through our compassion, our understanding, and our love to one another.

You have been chosen for the winning team. Your success at winning the prize has been assured, but do not be the athlete who stop there. God’s Love is so vast, so deep, that he has given us the prize and said it’s ours before we ever enter the game or ever join the Army, but that doesn’t mean he wants us to sit on the sidelines for the rest of the game.

God has chosen us, but as John relates in this Scripture, chosen us as His own, for the purpose of going out to bear fruit. Not going to that mountaintop and living alone; but to be among the other children in the family, and most importantly, to live out the love that got you the prize in the first place.

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