Your past experience works for good in Christ
Reading: Luke 8:26-39
Additional readings: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20, Romans 8:28
Hymn: 276, 377, 403
Blanks: saw, permission, Jesus, left, Return
Word: Legion – major unit of Roman Army, large military unit
Everybody matters to God.
Everyone is important to God.
We know that.
We know that God created each person with a good purpose.
The question is:
Can people live according to God’s will?
Can we help them to live according to God’s will?
How can help them to understand that following God's will is good for them?
What about us?
Do we know what it's like to serve God according to God’s will?
Do we know the value of living according to God’s will?
Do we know that living according to God’s will is good for them?
Or do we know how to live with God?
If we know, we may help people to live according to God’s will.
If we are convinced that this is what is best for them, we want to help people to live and serve God like that.
When we love someone, we will pray that they find their purpose in life and live accordingly.
Because then, they will have more peace, more joy, more faith, love and patience that is coming from God.
Today, we read about Jesus helping a man to find his purpose and meaning in life.
As you know, the story goes like this:
There was a man who was crazy and dangerous.
In the past, for some reasons, he lost his mind.
Then he became like a wild animal.
His village people knew about this.
So they bound him and chained him.
But every time, the man broke his chains and ran away.
Then he lived in the tombs without wearing anything.
Nobody could talk to him.
Nobody could guide him.
Nobody could do anything for him.
It seemed that it would be like this until he died.
Then Jesus was coming to meet this man.
Jesus was sailing across the sea.
Jesus was the Last Hope for this man.
But for some reason, the man came right out to meet Jesus, as well.
The students of Jesus were watching how Jesus was curing this man.
Jesus ordered the evil spirits to come out of this man.
Jesus used his spiritual authority.
Jesus stood firm in his faith.
But the evil spirits cried out:
"What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I beg you, don't torture me!"
"What is your name?"
The evil spirits answered:
"We are army, because we are so many.
We beg you.
Don’t send us to the place of confinement.
Why don’t you send us to the pigs on the hillside, instead?”
Our gentle Jesus even listened to them.
Then he sent them to the pigs.
But when the evil spirits got into the pigs, all the pigs jumped into the lake and were all drowned.
It seemed that these evil spirits killed them all.
But the man became calm and gentle.
He was very thankful to Jesus.
Those who were tending the pigs ran to tell people in town.
Many people came out.
Something new, something beyond their expectation happened.
It was beyond their imagination.
So they became fearful of Jesus who brought such a sudden change.
Their minds were not ready for this kind of wonderful miracle.
They needed to think about all these.
So they asked Jesus to leave the town.
Well, our gentle Jesus listens to them as well.
Jesus simply goes away.
So Jesus got into the boat.
But the man who was cured said to Jesus:
“I want to be with you.
Let me come with you.”
Jesus looks at this man and thinks about his calling in life.
God has purified his heart and sharpened his intuition.
His mind is clear and clean.
Now he can think, choose, and create.
Now he can live a life according to God’s will.
And Jesus knows what is best in the eyes of God.
So Jesus said something like this:
“Now you are perfectly well.
And you know who I am.
So I am sending you to your own town.
Just walk around your own town.
Let your presence speak aloud about God’s goodness.
Let them see you being dressed and having a peace of mind!
Tell people how much God has done for you.
Let them hear about God’s power that you experienced in me.”
Jesus is calling him to tell the story.
Jesus helped him find his calling in life.
This is the only time when Jesus asked someone to tell their healing story.
Jesus commissioned this man to help his people.
He is an apostle (the sent) to his own town.
His calling is to serve God in this way.
What would happen if he tells this story to his community?
He will feel connected with Jesus.
He will produce good fruits.
In this way he will follow Jesus Christ.
He will understand more and more how much God loves him.
He will learn that Jesus helps him in the power of the Holy Spirit.
He will learn that Jesus is still with him.
Until he receives another calling, he's to tell this story.
This story is not only his story but also Jesus’ story.
He lets people know what it's like to be free from the evil spirits.
He lets people know that Jesus is greater than those spirits.
He lets people know what Jesus has done and how Jesus did that.
He lets people know what he knows best.
His past experience helped him to explain Jesus the King of kings.
His terrible past experience with the evil spirits prepared him to explain the power of Jesus Christ.
His past experience helps him to tell God’s goodness.
His past experience leads him to have new calling in life.
His past experiences work for good.
His past experiences work for good in Jesus Christ.
Let’s think about our life:
We might have thought that some of our past experience is useless.
We might have thought that we wasted some of my life.
But then God changed our life and used our experience for his glory.
God somehow made it beneficial and used it for his glory.
Then God asked us to use our past experience.
God asked us to share what God has done for us.
Have you experienced something like that?
We might have done something wrong in the past.
We might have experienced some consequences of our disobedience or sinful behavior.
I am sure that there were times I also did something that doesn't please God.
But our creative God can use those experiences so that we may mature in God.
Then God may make it work for good in Christ Jesus.
Can you believe that?
In Jesus Christ and for us, God is making all things new, good and beneficial.
How could we follow this God today?
I think about this.
So here's one suggestion that I could give to you.
Why don’t you write down what God has done for you?
Think about your life:
What Bible verses has God given to you?
What questions did God answer for you?
What have you discovered about God?
How have you discovered the gentleness of our Lord Jesus?
Write down what God has done for you.
Preparing this sermon, I was updating my past writing.
About 15 years ago, I had written down what God had done for me and what Bible verses God had given me.
Preparing this sermon, I was adding more of what I have learned.
That was a good exercise.
For example, this is what I learn:
I have been reading the Bible for about 30 years now.
There were times when I felt God was speaking through the Bible.
This time I noticed that God have given me a same Bible verse to encourage me.
Then I thought “I might be at a similar period in my life.”
Anyway if I have not written down, I might have known it.
Knowing this, I remembered what God has done for me then.
I remembered my journey of faith.
Because I was reminded of what God has said through the Bible, then I might be able to guess what God is asking me in terms of how I should live.
For our faith journey, remembering is very important.
That's why we do communion.
That's why we come to church.
We come to remember and to be reminded.
Christians are those who intentionally try to remember what God has done for us.
In this way we grow in faith and pray once more and receive God’s blessing.
So also think about your experiences.
Write and read about your experiences.
When do you experience the presence of God?
When was it?
Have you experienced God when you give praise and worship God?
When have you felt that the Spirit of God is with you?
How have you sensed the Holy Spirit?
When have you followed the Holy Spirit?
How did you realize that God has forgiven you?
When have you heard God’s words or God’s whisper?
What has God spoken to you?
When have you sensed that?
Write it down.
Write down what God said and think about that.
That's also our spiritual treasure.
That story is not only our story but also Jesus’ story.
As a church, we may think about our past experiences with God.
God can use our past experience and make it work for good in Christ Jesus.
So let's think about that:
When did you experience the presence of God here?
How has God led us so far?
Think about what God has been speaking to us.
We may discern God’s intention or desire for our life.
We may discover how God may work in our life.
Or you may have some experience that you are not sure whether it is from God or not.
Then we may need to discern together.
We can talk about it and pray about it together.
We may help each other to learn and discern God’s will.
I also like to hear about what God has done for you.
I like to hear about what God has told you.
I also like to hear what God has been saying to this church.
Awhile ago, on Friday nights, I have asked some of you about our future mission.
Then I sense that God wants us to be a missional church.
We want to obey what Jesus said in Matthew 28:16-20:
Go Make Disciples of all Nations.
We want to reach out to non-Christians and help them experience Jesus.
We want to share the story of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is what we can do as we love God and want to help people.
That may be our calling in life.
This may be God’s intention for our life.
This may be what God is trying to teach us today.
We want to obey God.
We want to follow God’s direction for our life.
God may also ask us to share some of our story with others.
Then as we share that story with others, we may learn more about God.
Telling those stories, we may relearn how Jesus loves us and cares for us.
Then we may also apply what we learn.
We may love people and care for people like Jesus.
I think I have been telling you this many times:
But again telling the story of Jesus is very precious and meaningful in the eyes of God.
So we are learning to tell the story of Jesus at the moment.
That is why on Friday nights, we read the gospels: at the moment the gospel of Matthew.
We think about how Jesus did what he did, because we want to learn from Jesus.
We read the gospels, because we want to obey him and do what he says.
Then we may even learn what Jesus is trying to do through us.
We want to read the gospels until we carry out the glorious ministry of Jesus that we read in the gospels.
Then one day, we may be bold enough to pray for our friends.
We may be bold enough to share the story of Jesus with our friends.
We may be be bold enough to find opportunities to tell the story of Jesus.
May God help us understand the story of Jesus.
May you share the story of Jesus.
Jesus, thank you for giving us a calling in life.
Help us to be faithful to our calling.
Help us to learn more of you.
Help us to share your story.
We pray this in your name.