Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Intro: Have you ever visited a junkyard? It might be necessary to clarify what a “junkyard” is to the younger generation. It is a place where cars and trucks are taken after they quit running or are damaged to the point of being declared a total loss. Most communities have at least one. They are often found in the poorer or more remote sections of town with mandatory fences to hide them from view.
There are some experiences that come with being poorer and having to make do with less. Going to the junkyard may be one of those. My first car was a 1964 Mercury comet with a lot of miles on the odometer. My first job was pumping other people’s gasoline and fixing cars. I have spent some time in junkyards looking for used car parts I could afford in an effort to get things running again. In fact, I can still get nostalgic about going to a pull-it-yourself yard and finding the part I need.
I have often thought that there are some life lessons to be viewed from the common junkyard – many of these lessons can be viewed in the words of James. (Maybe he had been to a junkyard too)
I. A Junkyard is a Junkyard is a junkyard… It can be a challenge to find a junkyard in the yellow page directory because they are seldom called that anymore. A few years back they were referred to as salvage yards. More recently they are listed as auto recyclers or auto reclamation centers. At times we yearn to make things appear more appealing or sophisticated. But no matter what we call it, a junkyard is still a place full of stripped, rusting, non-working car corpses.
A. Man’s approach to sin, particularly his own, is similar. We desire to make sin more acceptable and respectable. James 4:4 –4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Adultery becomes “having an affair” or “living together”; Lying is being disingenuous or providing disinformation; homosexual behavior is an alternate lifestyle; abortion becomes simply a choice; pornography is adult material; covetousness is ambition. The Bible clearly identifies these activities as sinful, and consistently condemns sin as sin.
• Galatians 5:19-21 – 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
• 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. This objective approach to moral issues is God’s approach and must be ours as well. We must avoid the temptation to make sin respectable, or avoid using God’s language to identify it. A sin is a sin is a sin…
II. The Testimony of Rust… I have seen some really nice cars in the junkyard?! Well actually what I saw was a car that used to be a really nice, expensive car. But now it is just a rusting pile of parts. That is what they all have in common. All the money spent on those cars and trucks did not prevent their corruption.
A. Material things do not last. This experiential truth may be the hardest for us to consistently apply. Consider what Jesus said about laying up treasures. Matthew 6:19-21 – 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. We are not to lay up treasures on the earth because they are subject to rust, decay, and theft. All of the material things we place so much value in are going to decay just as these cars and trucks are doing now. We can put the wax on; but we cannot prevent the waxing old that comes with this world.
• James 5:1-3 –Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.
1. As the song says, “Earth holds no treasures but perish with using however precious they be. Yet there’s a country to which I am going, heaven holds all to me.”
2. Most of what we do that consumes our time will not be of any consequence in eternity. The kind of car or truck we have driven will not make a difference in deciding our eternal destiny.
III. The Testimony of the Cracked Windshield… One of the most difficult things to find in a junkyard is a good windshield (most of the good ones are removed). But there are plenty of cracked ones. Most of the cracks are directly in front of the driver and passenger seats. They are evidence that someone suffered serious, possibly fatal head injury in a crash. The owners left home that morning as they always did and expected their day to be as normal as the one before it. They were on their way to work, to shop, to visit a friend – a routine day that may have been their last. Their whole life was changed in an instant.
A. Again I am drawn to the words of James. James 4:14 – 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
IV. The Testimony of the Unrestored… I love restored things. It is a noble endeavor. This is especially rewarding if You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, we happen to see the car or house before the restoration. The junkyard is a good place to go to see what an unreclaimed car looks like. I have seen a few that I thought were beyond repair or restoration, and though if only someone had seen the value and done what was needed.
Example – My uncles on my mother’s side of the family were unique in many ways (eccentric?) I had one uncle that loved cars (Buicks), and another that loved boats. I know that is true because they both had several of each in their yards. (Buick Skylark from the 50’s; a Ford Edsel, an Austin-Healey sports car) I remember thinking (and posing the question to other adults) why does he have so many old cars (or boats) in his yard. The answer was always the same – “ONE DAY he is going to restore them. They will really be valuable then”. That day never came. Eventually they were towed off to the, you guessed it, JUNKYARD. The junkyard is full of potential.
A. God is in the business of restoration. He reclaims sin-damaged people and makes them like new again. There is no such thing as being totaled. God can rebuild us from the ground up. But the lesson I want us most to see is that God’s desire is to restore us, not throw us away.
1. Isaiah describes the Messiah who would come in the spirit of restoration to bring God’s people back to life again.
• Isa 42:1-3 – “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. 2 He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.
• Ps 80:3 – Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
• Isa 38:15-17– “What shall I say? He has both spoken to me, And He Himself has done it. I shall walk carefully all my years In the bitterness of my soul. 16 O Lord, by these things men live; And in all these things is the life of my spirit; So You will restore me and make me live. 17 Indeed it was for my own peace That I had great bitterness; But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
2. God took Ezekiel to the junkyard of nations – to the valley of dry bones in Ezek 37 – Can these bones live?
• Ezek 37:4-6 – Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”‘”
• Ezek 37:10-14 – 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. 11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.'”
CONCLUSION: In Col 3, the apostle references the renewal of the sinner as putting on the new self. He points them to the characteristics of the old self – what the unreclaimed looks like… Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:5-9).
But they are not that old self. God has reclaimed them from their sinful past and restored them to newness.
He tells the Colossian Christians that they have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:10-14).
This newness is accomplished through the forgiveness that is available in blood of Jesus. But you must be obedient to commands of God. Be buried with Christ into His death – rise to walk in newness of life.