Sunday Scrutinization: Sobering Sermon
What I have been learning lately has been very sobering to me. When the pastor said this was going to be a sobering sermon today, I was like, “I can handle this, bring it.”
The last two years have been quite the journey for my wife and I. For myself I have been learning more about what the church is, what we should be striving to, in a more general way. I wrote some stuff on that one site in the process and got some concerned citizens, who normally wouldn’t say “boo” to me if I had the hiccups, ask me if I was okay. Just the journey I’m on my brother, just the journey. Last year was all about discovering my legalistic tendencies and the blame shifting from others to myself laid slit open and bleeding on the carpet. God revealed these things to me in the way only I could see: slow process, writing, and great friends. I learned to look at other Christians and not think that they’re doing it all wrong. My wife and I together have learned about relationships. Specifically how hard it is for us to keep, repair and most importantly build them. Tonight some people from church called us and asked if we wanted to come over. My initial reaction was, “No.” I mean seriously, I was in my “give-up” pants and everything. You just don’t call a man and expect him to change pants and come over. My wife reminded me that if we are to be able to build relationships, we have to be able to change out of our “give-up” pants once in a while.
This year we’re hitting it right off the bat. We’ve started last week on the Perspectives course. How thankful we are to have this opportunity in little old West Plains, and it seems that this is going to be the year of seeing how the Church should look like within our own selves. I feel like something is starting to rise over the horizon. That there is change a-comin’. I don’t know where from and I certainly don’t know what, but I am getting quite unsettled in my own personal… person I’d guess you’d say. The difficulty here is that I am so dissatisfied at my work. I think to myself, “Why would God use me in something big, when I can’t even content myself with the job I have?” I’ve always been the type that believes you succeed where you’re put then you’re given better. At least from God’s perspective. I changed jobs on my own often enough to try and be contented that I know God is just shaking His head at my futile attempts at self satisfaction. But then I also think, “What about the house? My kids? My desire to be in Utah again?” It’s like I’m building up excuses before anything real happens. I believe that if God calls me and my family somewhere there will be this line up of excuses as to why I can’t go, just like before we moved here.
In the Perspectives course we see that there is a blessing to be shared so that the nations, every tribe, every tongue, will share in that blessing, and it didn’t start in the New Testament, but with Genesis 12:1-3. Today’s sermon was about how God is a sending God. I’m just going to throw the verses out there he used first:
So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” ~Isaiah 6:5-8
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” ~Isaiah 61:1-3
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them,“Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” ~John 20:11-23
God is a sending God. The verses in Isaiah are obvious, but it is the verses from John that were the focus. I’ll make this brief, because I know you’re growing weary of the amount of words, and I’m starting to sound like this is going to be a downer.
The first mission Jesus sent someone on after His resurrection was Mary. She was to go and tell the disciples what she had heard. Was she successful? Of course she was. We read in another account that they don’t believe her. Just because the disciples didn’t believe did not make Mary’s mission a failure. When Jesus did show up, in a locked room full of fearful men I might add, He said peace to you, or Shalom, or more specifically “God intended it”. The disciples are afraid, locked up in their room, thinking that the last 3 years were a waste, when Jesus shows up, being killed a few days ago, and tells them all is how it was intended to be. He was showing them His hands and His side and said again, peace be to you. Then tells them as it was for Him, so it will be for them. Then He breathed on them. God’s breath brings life.
What does this mean for you? For me? To work our life just so we can upkeep our possessions? To stay where we our because of our good job? Our good home? Will I think I’m too old and untrained? Will I believe the lie that I’ve never succeeded in anything in my life so why should it start now?
Should debt stop us? Should the threat of a parent or grandparent, that it won’t happen to my children? Should we not go because we feel like we’d fail? What have we done lately to truly OBEY the Lord?
What have I done? Will I be ready? If I am called and if I am ready, will I be willing to bear through the barriers that will be thrown up to block the way? Will I recognize it all as what He intends for me? Are these all just in preparation for the excuses?
Dear God, Help me to serve you. Help me to breakthrough all barriers that would come in front of me. Help me to see the Truth. To see the Truth that would shatter the lies. Give me and my family strength to trust You. To know You enough that we would recognize Your voice when we hear it. You said we would know Your voice, let us not follow the lie. Help us to see people as you see them: in deep need of a savior, in deep need of relationship with the God of the universe. Help us to keep our appointments with learning more about You. Give us strength when we don’t want to do it anymore. Give us strength when we feel all alone. You are the creator and sustainer of all things. Sustain us through these times of growth, of challenge, of change Lord. You are my God and I will ever praise You.