Sermon 010320 Romans 5:12-19 (Mt 4 1-11)

Just before our baptisms today I want to talk about our 2 Bible readings & how they relate to baptism.
Our 1st rd. today (6) starts off with the phrase ‘while we were still HELPLESS’
HELPLESS! HELPLESS is how the Bible describes us in our relationship with God!
Helpless is how the Bible describes us in how we follow God!
Which sounds quite shocking.
When I think of ‘HELPLESS’ my mind takes me to those images on TV recently regarding the floods:
One particular story was told of a lady trapped in top of her car in the middle of a road which had become a river. She was drifting off into unconsciousness until a passer-by saw her, waded in & HELPED her to get to dry ground & to hospital.
Other pictures showed elderly residents being rescued from their homes which were surrounded by water. The Fire Brigade in inflatable dinghies HELPED them to safetyBut does that term ‘helpless’ relate to us in following God??
Maybe we don’t think so – we try to be good, kind, caring…
But God’s standards are high.
Earlier on in this book of the Bible it says that ALL of us ‘fall short’ when it comes to following God. 
Let me DEMONSTRATE – if I try to get this paper plane to land on that chair… if that’s the target in meeting God’s standards… if this is following God…
Then we might get some way… but not all the way (drift off/deliberately turn away/ just run out of steam)
But NONE of us in our own strength can be good followers of God
ALL of us are HELPLESS in that sense & in need of external HELP!
If you think about the 10 commandments for a moment (love God, do not steal, do not murder, do not lie…)
And then think of how Jesus defined these & took them to another level, he said: ‘when it says “do not murder” – I say “do not get angry with your brother or sister, don’t even call them a fool”’. Jesus is concerned with our attitudes as well as our actions, as well as our words.
Sometimes people who maybe have led an obviously bad life can recognise their need for God a lot more than those who haven’t led an obviously bad life.
The Bible reminds us that we ALL fall short of God’s way (room including vicar, including Bible characters)…
We are ALL HELPLESS in that sense.
In our baptism service it says, ‘we ALL wander far away from God & lose our way’
That’s the depressing bit!
But the good news is that God has sent Jesus to help us.
The next part of the Bible reading (6) says, ‘but God has shown us how much he loves us – it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.
So Jesus brings us forgiveness so that wrongs things don’t stop us from having a relationship with God.
So Jesus sends the H.S. to live inside us, to change us from within, to guide us & strengthen us.
If you’ve been trying to follow God in your own effort & not getting anywhere:
be encouraged that’s usual!
be encouraged there’s HELP at hand
there is HELP for the HELPLESSIn our baptism service is says, ‘Christ comes to find us & welcomes us home’.
Baptism is the way of us saying ‘YES please!’
And it is an offer not a demand & we have the choice to accept or reject…
… Just as the people in those flooded houses could refuse the HELP of the fire service
Baptism is saying YES to God’s offer of HELP
For those who are too young to speak for themselves, the parents & godparents say YES on their behalf hoping that one day they will make that choice for themselves.
Baptism is saying:
YES to forgiveness
YES to HS to change us from within; it’s not an instant change but a gradual change over our life
YES to being part of God’s family; this is where we can support each other in faith & learn more about faithThe last part of the Bible reading (11) says, ‘we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God’s friends’.
So ask God for HELP in your HELPLESSNESS – pray to God.
If you are already a Christian, keep asking for God’s HELP – keep growing in prayer.
In our baptism service it says, ‘In baptism we respond to his call’
We ALL wander far away from God & lose our way’
Christ comes to find us & welcomes us home’.
In baptism we respond to his call.