How God Turns Trash into Treasure
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - October 21, 2012
*Back in 1996, Craig Randall was 23 years old, and drove a garbage truck for Waste Management in a Boston suburb.
Sometimes Craig liked to bring his work home with him.
There was an old-fashioned sewing machine he salvaged, also some books he got from the trash.
*Then one day, Craig lifted a cup off of a pile of trash.
It was a contest cup from Wendy's.
The week before Craig had found another cup, and when he peeled the sticker, he won a chicken sandwich.
This time, he figured he'd win some fries to go with it.
But this time the sticker said: "Congratulations -- You have won $200,000 toward a new home."
*Craig turned trash into treasure, and that's what Jesus Christ wants to do in our lives.
How does the Lord do it?
1. First: Jesus finds us.
*In vs. 9, Jesus found Matthew sitting at work in the tax office.
And in that day, Matthew was certainly considered to be a piece of trash.
Matthew was a hated tax-collector for the Romans.
*William Barclay tells us that: "There was never a more unlikely candidate for the office of apostle than Matthew.
Matthew was what the King James Version calls a publican; the publicani were tax-gatherers, and were so called because they dealt with public money and with public funds. . . .
These tax-gatherers were universally hated.
They had entered the service of their country's conquerors, and got their fortunes at the expense of their country's misfortunes.
*Tax collectors were notoriously dishonest.
Not only did they cheat their own countrymen.
They also tried their best to swindle the government.
They also made a booming income by taking bribes from rich people who wanted to avoid the taxes they owed."
*But in vs. 9, Jesus found Matthew sitting at work in the tax office.
Jesus finds us.
He meets us right where we are.
In Matthew 4, Jesus met Peter and Andrew after they had been at work fishing in the Sea of Galilee.
Then a little while later, Jesus met James and John as they cleaned their nets.
This was not the first time Jesus had met these men.
But He met them at work to call them into His service, and in Matthew 4:19, Jesus said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
In John 4 Jesus met the Samaritan woman at a well.
In Luke 19 Jesus met Zacchaeus when he was up in a tree!
*Jesus met people where they were.
And remember that He wants us to do the same thing.
Jesus wants us to go to people where they live and work and shop and go to school.
In Luke 14, Jesus told a parable with this message: "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."
*God always wants us to be inviting people to His church, but next Sunday is a special day to invite.
Who could you invite to come to Sunday School and church next Sunday?
Will you do it?
Jesus said, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."
*Jesus finds us where we are.
But this is not just a matter of the highway.
It's a matter of the heart.
*In Acts 9, the Lord met Paul on the Road to Damascus.
But the real story is about Paul's heart, because at the time, Paul was as far away from Jesus as you can get.
Paul certainly did not know Christ as his Savior.
He did not believe that Jesus was the Christ.
And Paul was doing everything he possibly could do to persecute Christians.
Acts 9:1 tells us that Paul was "breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord."
*But the Lord found Paul right where he was.
That means we can come to Jesus just as we are.
We don't have to clean up our lives to come to Jesus.
We come to Him just like we are, and He cleans us up.
*One of the hymns that has meant the most to me over the years is "Just As I Am."
We were singing that hymn 37 years ago on the day I made my public profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
We were singing it in Macon, Georgia 8 years later on the day I went forward to answer God's call into the ministry.
*"Just As I Am" was written in 1835 by an English woman named Charlotte Elliott.
Charlotte was visiting some friends in London, and met Pastor Cesar Malan.
While seated at supper, the preacher said he hoped that she was a Christian.
Charlotte was offended by this, and told him she would rather not discuss that question.
Malan said that he was sorry if had offended her, that he always liked to speak a word for his Master, and that he hoped that some day she would become a worker for Christ.
*They met again three weeks later at the home of a mutual friend.
Charlotte told the preacher that ever since he had spoken to her, she had been trying to find her Savior.
And she asked him to tell her how to come to Christ.
Malan answered, "Just come to him as you are." -- Charlotte did!
And she went away rejoicing.
Shortly afterward she wrote the hymn with these words:
"Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come."
*When Jesus finds us, He calls us to come to Him just like we are.
He turns trash into treasure by finding us.
2. Then Jesus invites us to follow Him.
*We see this truth in vs. 9, as Jesus saw "Matthew sitting at the tax office.
And He said to him, 'Follow Me.'
And he arose and followed Him."
*"Follow me:" The word picture is "to walk the same road."
It's the same word Jesus used in Matthew 16:24, when He said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
*In Eph 5:1&2, Paul tells Christians to:
1. . .
Be followers of God as dear children.
2. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma."
*Jesus invites us to follow Him.
And one of the most wonderful things about following Jesus is that it turns us into what Bill Hybels calls "contagious Christians".
Following Jesus makes other people want to follow Him too.
That's why in Matthew 4 Jesus told Andrew and Peter: "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
This is also why Paul wrote these words to the Christians in Thessalonica:
2. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers,
3. remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,
4. knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.