LaSalle was an American brand of luxury automobiles manufactured and marketed by General Motors’ Cadillac division from 1927 through 1940. Built by Cadillac, to its high standards, the LaSalle soon emerged as a trend-setting automobile. In 1939 a new LaSalle was priced $1,000 less than the least expensive Cadillac, its mission was not to fill a price gap, but to keep the luxury car division out of the red. This was quite a car, for its time. In fact the LaSalle became known as the “poor man’s Cadillac.”
I want to share a story about a very particular LaSalle and the new life it received.
A gentleman I am very close to, so close I call him my older brother, has a love for old cars. He became involved in the rescue and restoration of a 1939 LaSalle Opera Coupe in 1983. He found this car forgotten in a shed outside of Creston, Iowa. It is apparent that this car had had seen better days, and hopefully it would again. With some effort the LaSalle was loaded on a flatbed and taken to Maryville, where the real fun began.
Bill’s story begins, “In first observation the body seemed to be sound, little rust. The interior was another situation; the upholstery was completely gone with some pieces of the original fabric left. The gauges and dash were in need of complete renovation and or replacement. This was in the days before the internet and email and all of this wonderful stuff that we take for granted today. So, what resulted were many letters, phone calls and much research in to what the interior of the car had been in 1939. Thanks to Hemmings Motor News and other publications the process of collecting parts and restoration services came together. When I finally found the proper pattern of material for the seat covers and the door panels, head liner, the car was loaded on another flat bed and taken to Saint Joseph for the upholstery to be completed. While this was being accomplished the engine was being overhauled and necessary parts collected for final assembly.
Some of the more unique occurrences were in restoring the dash, there was a special pattern that was used in Cadillac/LaSalle in the 1930’s and the dash had to be sent to Maine to be restored, the radio had to be sent to California to be repaired and restored.
So, was the car restored? Yes, in 1986, and during its time with me won many car shows and even became a “daily driver” on occasion. In 1987 it was honored with being one of the months in a nationwide antique car calendar.”
I have ridden in this car many times, with Bill and as he says, “It was a labor of love.” Bill says it taught him “patience, understanding, the ability to accept things the way they are.”
This car was built as a 1939 LaSalle. As it sat rusting in an old shed, it was a 1939 LaSalle. When it received new life and a chance to be great again it was still a 1939 LaSalle.
It is quite a story to hear of something receiving a new life. To be restored to that like new condition. You will notice I did not say restored to new, because with its age it is not knew. Restored to, like new condition.
I want you to view this sermon as an opportunity to restore and renew your life.
When I was in college, I took a class on Philosophy, and in that class the teacher asked me how do you, live your life? I answered him by saying I live my life by faith.
He said to me living by faith is very dangerous and foolish. When you live by faith, you open yourself up to be a victim of the unknown.
My teacher asked if I look at the floor when I woke up this morning. I said no. He said how did you know it was there? I said it was there when I went to bed my faith says it would be there when I got up.
He asked what if the Great Creator decided to do away with floors while you where sleeping if you do not look for the floor you could fall into the abyss.
So living by faith is foolish.
You see I am a child of the Great Creator, and I have faith he is always there to protect me. Like a true father, if he decided to do away with floors, he would have told me a prepared me for it.
LIFE stands for Living In Faith Everyday. You see life and faith go hand in hand. It is important that before you can have a renewed life you must have a renewed Faith.
For some of you here today it will be an opportunity to “make new again” your faith.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, so we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
For others here today, it will be an opportunity to once again take up again your faith that maybe you have let rust and fade.
Hebrews 6:6 says, and who have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
For some of you it will be an opportunity to reaffirm your faith. 2 Timothy says which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.
To renew your faith involves two things, your faith and the faith. They are two different things.
So, what is your faith? Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Faith is recognizing that you have no control, that what will be, will be and that there is a greater power.
So, what is the faith? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
The word translated as “faith” in the New Testament is the Greek word pístis which can also be translated “belief”. It is root of the word pisteuo, which means to have faith in, upon, or with respect to a person or thing; to credit or to entrust or to believe, commit and put in trust with.
What is a difference between faith and belief? The words “faith” and “belief” are similar words. According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, faith as a belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving commitment to his will for one’s life. Nelson also says belief is to place one’s trust in God. There is a country song that says, you got to stand for something, or you will fall for anything.
I tell you if we don’t stand for the faith, we will fall!
Some of you today may have fallen, not away from God but away from the faith. Maybe it is time to renew that faith like renewing an old car.
When we renew our faith, we are not changing who we are. The 1939 LaSalle was always a 1939 LaSalle even when it was at its worst it was still a 1939 LaSalle.
It only required some repair and buff and polish to restore what it already was. Just as in restoring an old car you must follow steps when you renew, buff and polish your faith.
Step One; Part 1: You must understand God is the object of your faith.
God is your father, the creator, he is holy, just, and fair, but his most outstanding quality is love. Friends, like I said before he is a father of love who cares for his children above all. I can tell you that you can rest and have faith, that if our father the great creator decided to do away with floors believe me he would let you know. You can rest in faith that he is there for you in all things.
Step One; Part 2, Jesus is lord; he died for you so that you could escape a sinner’s death and suffering.
Why did he do this? To protect, you and me, from God’s wrath for our sin.
God sent his Son into the world as the only means of saving sinners and reconciling all people. Only by the reconciliation of his people will they love and enjoy each other. There was no escape from the curse of God’s law. It was just; we were guilty. There was only one way to be free: someone must pay the penalty. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). To give eternal life, a new life, to all who believe in Him. Jesus made it plain that rejecting the eternal life he offered would result in the misery of eternity in hell: “Whoever does not believe is condemned already the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:18).
Step One; Part 3, The Holy Spirit is your helper, who leads, encourages and intercedes for you. The Holy Spirit wants to live in your hearts. He wants to speak to you through the Bible. The Holy Spirit wants to empower you, and help you use that power to fight against the flesh with its passions and desires? So that each day you can live a life renewed.
Step Two: The Bible is the standard of your faith. It is the inspired, living word of God the father. It is, complete, sound and without error or fault in all its teaching. Its manuscripts do not say anything that is contrary to fact.
Step Three: Salvation is the result of your faith. Salvation is totally of God and is the result of nothing that you have done. The Bible makes it clear that salvation is by grace alone. Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. It is not from yourself or anything you’ve done, but the gift of God.” Salvation, therefore, is a free gift of grace from God. When you accept the gift of salvation, you are said to be made acceptable before God, restored to be like new. Salvation is by death. The death of our sins and failures into the renewed life with Christ, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who paid the price we all owed for our sins.
Step Four: Worship is the expression of your faith. True worship is valuing and treasuring God above all things, we worship. God is the center of our worship. Worship must come from the heart, not the lips. Matthew 15:8-9 says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” We must worship in spirit and spirit comes from the heart. We have been teaching on the body these past months, and we know the heart is the center of individual life. Reggie spoke on this Sunday night. The condition and the tone of the heart will communicate to all around it where the body is in life. I am sure we all hope to walk away with a renewed faith today. Some of you may be just too tired and the thought of a renewed faith is just too hard. Your daily walk as Christians begins, continues, and ends in faith. Just as the beginning a year, month or week starts with the first day. At the beginning of the year, month or week, you are all excited at the prospects of a fresh start. You set goals and resolutions and promise to be more organized, more involved and more productive. But as the days goes along, you have forgotten those goals or you have become tired of trying. Maybe you aren’t seeing the progress you want to see. Maybe your prayers don’t seem to be answered. Maybe you are just rundown, just like an old car.
If God doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers and your faith is nowhere to be seen I tell you all I know for a fact that God is still with you and still listening.
Maybe like a rusty old car, God is preparing you to be restored. Just as Roger said, last night about preparing and renewing our minds, God might be preparing you for renewal.
There is a commercial for an auto restoration place in St Joseph that says in their ad, “They turned my Ford Fiesta into a BMW.” WOW! Two completely different car companies from different parts of the world.
Well that is not how it works, that 1939 LaSalle was restored back into a 1939 LaSalle.
When God restores your faith, he is not going to turn you into anyone else but you. Only a more buffed and polished you.
You may have abandoned your faith but God has not abandoned his faith in you.
In fact, He wants to restore your faith and make you like new from this moment on.
Jesus told a parable of the prodigal son. In it, Jesus told about a young man who wanted to be completely independent and live his own life. He turned his back on his family, and went as far away as he could get. He was convinced he didn’t need anyone else telling him how to live and for a time it looked like he was right. But then a famine hit and his money ran out. Only when he hit bottom did he wake up and realize his foolishness.
Kind of like an old car, setting in an old shed, rusty, ragged and without hope or faith.
His only choice was either to die or return home for a renewed life. He returned home and his father ran to greet him and welcome him back into the family. He said, “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again” His life now renewed.
I remember how excited Bill was when his car came home finished and renewed. Just as the father in this parable never lost his love nor gave up on his son. Or as Bill looked at a rusty piece of junk and saw a prize.
God has never lost his love or given up on us. The proof is that Jesus Christ gave His life for our salvation.
As Reggie spoke, don’t let your pride, or your thought that you are just too rusty to be fixed, or anything else, keep you from renewing your faith. By faith put your life and your future into Christ’s hands, to be rebuilt and renewed into a shiny new you.
A shiny new you, he will not make you into a Rick, Reggie, Roger, Andy, or anyone one else different. God created you just as you are, but over time we all wear down. Laziness and the rusting of our faith places us away from God and his grace, we feel forgotten like we are parked in and old shed some place.
God has not forgotten you and sees the beaten down, rusty you for who you are.
Take today to let God pull you from that shed and with some buff and polish bring you back into that like new luster.
Let’s all renew our faith today, myself included, so that we can stand shiny and restored.