This is an excerpt from a sermon I preached April 4, 2011 at Winston Salem First Assembly Christian School for Middle School Chapel.
What do Animals From the Animal Shelter Have that the Church Needs?
1--They have an urgency to be redeemed or rescued from their situation
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7)
Animals in the shelter are put to death unless redeemed and they have a desire to be saved, well most of them do…tell about the first few dogs I looked at before Randolph—(I offered salvation to a couple dogs that one was too hyper and trying to escape and another just indifferent, how many people do that to Jesus?)
2--They have knowledge of the consequences of their actions (gas chamber)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Just like with the scriptures say, the wages of sin is death and in the context of the animal shelter animals that are runaways or just bad dogs end up in the shelter and their actions go them on death row. The only way out is having a redeemer. We have Jesus to save us out of the imprisonment of sin and death.
3--They know the importance of obedience
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will in you. (John 14:15-17: niv)
My dog, being from the shelter, knows the consequences of being a bad dog and he knows where he was before I got him out of the shelter. I paid for him, bought him for a price, just like Jesus paid the ultimate cost on the cross for our sins. It is like slapping Jesus in the face when we disobey him and in our complacency we forget what he took us out of and what he saved us from. Obedience is important because it keeps us in good standing with the Lord, just like my dog, when he is obedient he doesn’t get punished and the same with us, when we are obedient and following Christ we will not be punished.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6akGVheLlc] So what is sin?
-- An online dictionary says it is deliberate disobedience to the known will of God
-- A condition of estrangement from God resulting from disobedience
-- To commit an offence or violation.
4--They know that they can do all the good they want while imprisoned but unless they are rescued from their situation their good deeds won’t matter much.
(Romans 7:21-25 (The Message) 21-23It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 24I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? 25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
How easy is it to sin when you are praying, reading the word and in the master’s presence? Almost impossible right! Just like with Randolph, when the master was away and he wasn’t in my presence it was easier for him to slip back into sin. He couldn’t eat the treats with me around, or even right after I left, but after some time with me not in the room he was less resistant to temptation.
Verse 21 says the MOMENT I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.
Who knows that our minds are in a constant battle and when we choose to walk in faith with Jesus our flesh, that is our sinful nature, tries to persuade us to slip back into sin?
We WANT to do good but it seems like a constant internal fight to actually do the right thing. See Satan tempts us to sin over and over because he is the best liar ever. Once he tricks us and we sin, he then uses his tactics to condemn us for the sin we committed.
Just like with my dog, he did wrong and because he is mine I forgave him and I love him. It is the same thing with God, when we sin and we ask his forgiveness he forgives us! He doesn’t hold it over our heads; he forgets about it and loves us because we are his. Isn’t that cool?
Romans 8 says “Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” So as believers in Christ when we feel that guilt or condemnation after we have asked forgiveness for our sins we know it is not the Lord, but the enemy of our souls, Satan.
So lets go back to the analogy of my dog, Randolph, and the animals in the animal shelter.
5--They know the love of a master and don’t take that for granted once they are rescued.
Randolph was locked up at the animal shelter. He was picked up or dropped off at the shelter because he was a bad dog or a runaway and put basically in a dog prison. He tried to do good in the shelter, but without the acceptance of a loving master and redeemer he was destined for the gas chamber to be put to death. Even though his sin wasn’t a big one and he didn’t kill anybody or anything he still would be put to death because he didn’t have someone to forgive him and love him.
The same is true for us. No matter how hard we try to be good, we can never be good enough to not go to hell. The only way not to be condemned is to be IN CHRIST and the way we do that is to accept him into our lives so he can rescue us. He is our master and if you relate that to how you love your dog and you are your dog’s master you know that even when they mess up you still love them because they are yours. The same is true with Christ, when we are his and we sin, he forgives us. He loves us because we are his. We have to have a relationship with him and walk with him, we have to obey him and most of all we have to love him. He saved us from the biggest prison in the universe, which is hell, and we are thankful for his grace and for how he rescued us from that prison. Jesus sets things right for us.