Wait... There's More!

By Rev. Heidi L. Barham |  June 18, 2023

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Read Romans 5:1 – 8
Today is Father’s Day and there has been no shortage of jokes made over the years about the types of gifts that fathers receive on Father’s Day in comparison to what our mothers get on Mother’s Day.
I am reminded of watching one of my favorite sitcoms many years ago when the dad reminded the kids about a particularly gawdy light-up tie they had gotten him one year… he went on to remind them of a number of other seemingly random, useless gifts that they had given him in the past… all of this was meant to highlight the fact that we tend to put much more thought and intention into the gifts we give the moms on Mother’s Day than we do for the dads on Father’s Day.
But let me just say for the record, if it were not for the mothers AND the fathers, none of us would be here.  So, to all the fathers and those who have stood in the gap as fathers, we salute you today and say thank you!
Now, as I was thinking about some of those random gifts we may have purchased over the years, I could not help but think about some of the infomercials for those remarkable, just-have-to-have items…. Those as-seen-on-TV items that we see late at night when we are sleep deprived and susceptible to the sales pitches for those items that do all kinds of amazing things like picking a potato out of a bag, pealing the skin off the potato, slicing it into fries, and then loading them into the air fryer… without need of human intervention…
Meanwhile as you are sitting there… gawking at the TV in amazement… thinking you have seen and heard it all… when the announcer says, “WAIT… THERE’S MORE!” 
And as unbelievable as it may seem, that fancy smanshy product starts taking the fried potatoes out of the air fryer and puts them on a plate!  You are still sitting there watching… shell-shocked… waiting to see what astronomical price is going to pop on the screen.
But just as the incredibly low-low price is displayed… the announcer says again, with even more emphasis, “WAIT… THERE’S MORE!” as a bottle suddenly floats across the screen, pouring just the right amount of ketchup onto the plate of steaming hot, crispy, fries.
I know it sounds extremely farfetched and much too good to be true, but you get the picture…
And as we turn our attention to our text for the morning, I can almost imagine the Apostle Paul as he is writing this letter to the Romans about the hope and the glory of God… something that would probably sound extremely farfetched and too good to be true to those who would eventually read the letter.
And yet as Paul writes line after line about the amazing things God has done for us through Jesus… I can almost hear him saying, “WAIT… THERE’S MORE!”
Now, keeping that thought in mind, I want to invite us to listen to the first five verses of our New Testament lesson again as they are found in the Message Paraphrase:

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Because of Jesus we have been justified through faith and have peace with God… we are right where God has always wanted us to be… where God has desired for us to be from the very beginning of time...
From the time of Genesis to this moment we find ourselves in right here today… God has always had a plan for more for us. 
Think back to the story of creation when God made the heavens and the earth… the sun, the moon, and the stars…
God filled the sky with birds, the water with fish and the land with animals…
God made man and woman to care for all that He had created…
And despite their falling into temptation and losing their place in the Garden of Eden… not to mention starting the ball rolling for the rest of humankind to fall into sin… in spite of all of that, throughout the scriptures we can hear echoes of what sounds like the voice of God saying to His children, “WAIT… THERE’S MORE!”
As we look back to the point in time when God made the decision to send floodwaters to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch with Noah and his family… we can almost hear God say, “WAIT… THERE’S MORE!” as He declares that there will be no more floods and He says to Noah, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Genesis 8:22).
When Job lost his children, his servants, his livestock, and his health… his friends and even his wife suggested there was no hope… but if we listen closely, we can hear that still small voice of God say, “WAIT… THERE’S MORE!” as the scriptures tell us, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:7).
And when King David got caught up in adultery with Bathsheba and arranged for the death of her husband, Uriah the Hittite… things went from bad to worse… ultimately ending with the death of the son that was born to David and Bathsheba as a result of their affair…
But even in the aftermath of such a devastating loss as the death of a child… there is still this sense that God is saying, “WAIT… THERE’S MORE!” as David receives word of God’s promise communicated through the prophet Nathan, “But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:15 – 16).
Even in the face of calamity and catastrophe… no matter how dire the circumstances seem… we have been given the assurance that there is more to come… God has something greater in store for us.
And when we look at the text for this morning, we find Paul’s encouragement that even in the midst of hard times, something greater can come from our suffering…
Holding on and pressing through times of suffering produces perseverance… and perseverance in turn produces character…
Simply put, in times of adversity, our true nature shines through.  After we have endured the challenges and hardships for a while… the question becomes will we come out as people of integrity and virtue… doing what brings honor and glory to God… or will we allow the difficult circumstances to turn us into bitter and angry individuals?
Paul suggests that it is our suffering which produces perseverance and that will actually strengthen our character… and in turn that strengthened character will produce hope…
And that is good news for us today!
Even in the worst of times we can hold onto hope because no matter what else has happened in our past and no matter what we may be going through in this present moment… Paul assures us that God’s love has been poured out into our hearts…
And there is not one single thing that we ever have done or ever will do that can separate us from that love.
In fact, if we were to keep reading just a little further in Romans, we would find these words in the Message Paraphrase:
I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us (Romans 8:38-39).
And just how has Jesus embraced us?  In an absolutely unimaginable and incredible display of love…
Because as we look at the last verses of our New Testament lesson for the morning we find:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
At just the right time… when we were still powerless… that is when Christ died for the ungodly… in other words, that is when He gave His life for us… for you and for me…
It was not when we had gotten ourselves ready and started putting our lives in order… It was not when we had walked away from our sinful past and committed to creating a brighter future… It was not even when we had joined the local church and accepted the invitation to serve as an elder or a deacon…
Nope… that was not the case…
Although it would seem to make sense that Christ might be willing to give His life for someone who was good and righteous… that God would send His one and only Son to die in the place of someone who was truly deserving of the gift of salvation…
According to Paul… “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” or as it reads in the Message, “God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him” (Romans 5:8).
We were of no use whatsoever to God.
But God loved us so much that He was still willing to give us His Son as our Savior…
Jesus did not simply give His life for us to live common ordinary lives…
According to John 10:10, Jesus said He came so that we might “have life, and have it to the full” or as it says in the Message, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
A little further on in John’s Gospel, we read that Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).
Life to the full and complete joy… what more could we possibly hope for?
John also records these words of Jesus, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
Abundant life, complete joy, and the peace of Christ…
We have also been beneficiaries of the gifts of grace and mercy that the Scriptures say will follow us all the days of our lives coupled with the promise that we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever… I dare say, it does not get any better than that… at least not on this side of heaven. 
And so, on this Father’s Day, as we think about gifts… there is no greater gift we can ever hope to give than what has already been given to each and every one of us… and that is cause for us to celebrate and rejoice… because at the end of the day, when all is said and done, and our journey on this earth has ended… what joy there will be to hear Jesus say, “WAIT… THERE’S MORE!”
Hymn of Discipleship:  Rejoice You Pure in Heart (vs 1, 2, 3) #15.