A Grieving Jesus

God’s Will When We Are Not Willing
Luke 13:31-35

Tom Barnard has written in regard to this day we call Palm Sunday:

“The crowd was clueless. They never got it right. They shouted praises. He wept. They looked for a warrior-king riding a white stallion. They got a carpenter riding a donkey. They wanted hype. They got a healer. They wanted a prophet. They got One who fulfilled prophecy. They wanted a scepter. They got a Savior. They got nothing they asked for but everything they needed. Only they never got it. They were clueless.

 

Jesus was the only One there who really knew what was happening on that first Palm Sunday.

And I add to these insightful words…

Jesus was sad that day.

Our main text for this morning is Luke 13:31-35 and I will read this passage from two translations this morning, the New International Version and The Message

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Now from the Message

Just then some Pharisees came up and said, “Run for your life! Herod’s on the hunt. He’s out to kill you!”

Jesus said, “Tell that fox that I’ve no time for him right now. Today and tomorrow I’m busy clearing out the demons and healing the sick; the third day I’m wrapping things up. Besides, it’s not proper for a prophet to come to a bad end outside Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killer of prophets,
abuser of the messengers of God!
How often I’ve longed to gather your children,
gather your children like a hen,
Her brood safe under her wings—
but you refused and turned away!
And now it’s too late: You won’t see me again
until the day you say,
‘Blessed is he
who comes in
the name of God.’”

I think we generally focus on the crowd and its excitement over Jesus coming into Jerusalem when we read this passage of scripture. I also think that we just kind of gloss over this passage moving ahead to the “good stuff” of Good Friday and the even “better stuff” of Easter Sunday and we fail to look at Jesus during this time.

I have to ask this morning, in light of the theme for this Sunday, God’s Will When We Are Not Willing,

Did Jesus smile on Palm Sunday?

Was He happy?

Maybe He was at first as He entered Jerusalem, a smile of love and concern on His face…but as we have read that smile disappeared, perhaps was not even present when confronted with the truth (By the way have we considered it a tip off as to what was going on?), “Run for your life! Herod’s on the hunt. He’s out to kill you!”

That would wipe a smile off my face! How about you?

This week, a week we call Holy Week, begins with a grieving Jesus and ends with a dead Jesus…

We see a Jesus who is “defeated”

A Jesus who wrestles just a few days later with His closest followers, alone and in prayer…

Thy will not mine be done…

Jesus is terribly sad…heartbroken…

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

For what or whom does Jesus weep today?

Does Jesus weep for us?

Does Jesus weep for families who have children who tragically die?

Does Jesus weep for those with incurable illness?

Does Jesus weep for the poor and destitute?

Does Jesus weep for those who personally deal with mental illness?

Yes He does!

There is much that breaks Jesus’ heart today, just as it did back in that time and place.

But what did Jesus really weep over Jerusalem for? Luke tells us!

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killer of prophets,
abuser of the messengers of God!

It was her lack of faith, the obedience to God’s law and direction…

The theme for this morning’s sermon is

God’s Will When We Are Not Willing

The people of Jerusalem, the people of Israel, were unwilling to trust and obey the Lord.

When the prophets came and urged the people to repent and return to God, or when they challenged the people as to their loyalty, it was often on the grounds of trusting in the Lord to save them, to deliver them or calling them out on their trust in other gods or nations as we read in places such as

Isaiah 31:1

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.

Or Habakkuk 2:18

“Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.”

This issue of trust is a key part of our faith as evidence in the following Bible verses:

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalm 20:7

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Matthew 27:43 (words that we will either read or hear later this week)

He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

1 Corinthians 13:7

It [that is love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

And then there is interesting verse from John 2:23-25

Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

I cannot but believe that Jesus entered Jerusalem, not just sad but also on edge, on a alert because, “he knew what was in each person.”

When the going gets tough, when are backs are against the wall, when we come to a genuine fork in the road of our lives…who and what do we trust?

 

If we are honest about our answer to this question, it is…

Ourselves

We trust ourselves more than anything else…

Jesus had to face this issue of trust a few days after this “triumphal entry” took place. He had to wrestle with trusting in His father’s plan and purpose…He wrestled as He prayed, “Not my will but your will be done.”

An acquaintance of mine is dealing with addiction in her life and she said to me the other day, “Jim, when I read Step 2 (which says, “Came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”) I think, “Jesus Christ is my higher power and I believe that He can help me be restored to sane living…but then I think, “It is still your problem, and like you were taught growing up, “You have to solve it, you have to fix it!”

And then she said, “That’s insane! I can’t solve this issue, I cannot fix myself, in my own strength. Jesus has to help me, Jesus has the power.”

I said to her, “It’s a trust issue, too, isn’t it?”

She said, “yes it is…”

From the pen of Justin Rostow are some questions about this issue of trust and for a few moments, I invite you to reflect on them. Take some paper and write them down if you would like and jot some answers down.

 

What experiences have shaped your attitude of trust? Is it easier to trust God or trust people?

If you were asked to take a step forward in faith this week, in what area of your life would it be?

What one thing Jesus is inviting you to trust more confidently this week?

As we go through this week

Let’s slow down and walk through it…I know that we want to get to next Sunday to celebrate Christ’s resurrection…

 

 

But we have to go through betrayal, suffering, and death before we do… because if Jesus did not, there is no Easter celebration…

Sometimes, at the conclusion of a committal service I say these words

 

 

Help us Father to walk by faith and not by sight, with our trust in Him who said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

Thanks be to God for two things…a trustworthy God and savior and that Jesus has those keys in His hands!

Amen!

 

(Questions and sermon theme by Justin Rossow. © 2018 Creative Communications for the Parish, a division of Bayard, Inc., 1564 Fencorp Dr., Fenton, MO 63026. 800-325-9414. http://www.creativecommunications.com. All rights reserved.)

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Pay Attention

During this week prior to Holy Week, I will be posting each of my five Lenten sermons today through Saturday and again this year, I used some Lenten resources from Creative Communications for the Parish. This year’s material was title Thy Will be Done. I hope that you will enjoy these messages as a prelude to Holy Week and Easter.

Jim

God’s Will and My Response

Acts 16:6-10, 13-15,

“Pay attention!”

 

When was the last time you uttered those words to your children, grandchildren, a friend, a spouse (a variation of which is “You’re not paying attention to me!), or even yourself?

 

Award winning critic and The New Republic magazine contributing editor, Michelle Dean said this about paying attention in the context of writing,

“What a writer is supposed to do is pay attention. A good novelist pays attention to his characters. A good biographer pays attention to the documents before her. A good critic pays close attention to the thing she’s brought to evaluate.”

 

And, in our context of this Lenten season and our Lenten series, I say

 “As followers of Jesus, as disciples, we are to also pay attention.”

 

But pay attention to what?

 

Our main text for this morning is Acts 16:6-10, 13-15

 

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

 

And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her house-hold as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

 

Paul was paying attention to the Lord!

 

Note verses 9 and 10

 

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

He had been prohibited by God from going another direction to preach the gospel. Why that is, only God knows! And I have no doubt that Paul was wondering what was going on and was praying, along with his group, to discern where the Lord wanted him to go next!

 

So he was paying attention:

 

He was paying attention to God!

So what are we, as believers, as members of this church, paying attention to these days?

 

One of the things we pay attention to are programs…

 

Listen to what the staff at Gravity Leadership says about programs…

Copyright by Gravity Leadership
Copyright by Gravity Leadership

 

 

Lydia was paying attention, too!

 

“It was here in Philippi that I discovered the Hebrew religion. The gods I grew up with were every bit as foul as human beings. You bribed them with offerings and hoped they didn’t bother you. Best thing was to stay out of their way and hope that they stayed out of yours.

 

About 20 of us in Philippi worship the Hebrew God, but because most of us are women, we didn’t have the quorum needed for a synagogue. In such a case, it was traditional for us to meet to worship near a river or creek—convenient for ritual washing and other ceremonies…

 

He [that is Paul] had a message about a Jew named Jesus, which at first didn’t mean much to me. But before he told us his message, he listened. He listened!

 

That got my attention, you know. Not many people listened to me. Maybe because I’m a woman, or maybe because everywhere I go, I’m different. You’d think it would make them curious: “How in the world did you get here, Lydia?” But no one, especially the men, ever asked. Some ignored me. Others tried to impress me by talking about themselves. But not talking about my past made me feel more out of place, even less at home, less accepted.

(Dramatic dialog by Justin Rossow. © 2018 Creative Communications for the Parish, a division of Bayard, Inc., 1564 Fencorp Dr., Fenton, MO 63026. 800-325-9414. http://www.creativecommunications.com.)

 

 

But to what and for what?

 

They are looking for meaning, they are looking for hope, they are looking for love, they are looking for validation – that they count as people and so they look many places and to many people for that…

Including here!

 

When you scroll through your favorite social media app, what are you looking for?

I suggest that we are looking for the same thing that I just mentioned hope, validation, love, meaning, as we do face to face!

 

Is it found there?

 

Lydia was looking for two things…

A relationship and truth

 

She was finding a relationship with the other women she worshiped with…

 

But she needed to have and experience a truth on which the basis of healthy and true relationships could be formed… love, hope, respect, validation

 

Paul was paying attention, he listened, to the Lord and Lydia…

 

And brought Jesus into the discussion and relationship…

What are we paying attention to these days as this church?

 

Let me suggest a few things

Programs (Is there going to be a Sunday School for kids anymore? Why has the Bible Study moved to Thursday afternoon? Is there going to be VBS this year?)

 

Numbers (I see we didn’t get enough in the offering last week…Why aren’t people coming here? Where is so and so?)

 

What do we need to pay attention to?

 

The Lord…

 

People…

 

We need to pay attention to relationships…

 

They are the most basic and important avenues of mission and discipleship we have!

 

They require us to pay attention and listen…to the Lord and to people.

Who is one person you can pay attention to this week and share the hope of Christ?

 

Someone paid attention to us and was listening to the Lord to help us come to faith.

 

Thanks be to God for a God who pays attention…let us pay attention to Him!

 

Amen

 

 

How Do You See Jesus?

During this week prior to Holy Week, I will be posting each of my five Lenten sermons today through Saturday and again this year, I used some Lenten resources from Creative Communications for the Parish. This year’s material was title Thy Will be Done. I hope that you will enjoy these messages as a prelude to Holy Week and Easter.

Jim

How do you view the world these days? I recently asked about a dozen of us to take the following quiz “How do you see the world?” At the website playbuzz.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the result of the quiz:

1 person did not get a response back!

3 people said they saw the world through the eyes of a fighter

1 person said they saw the world through worried eyes

1 person said they saw the world through rose colored eyes

Definitely not a scientific survey!

As we process Paul’s statement to us this morning I would have us consider the following question:

 

 

 

 

 

Are you more open or more closed to new people or new perspectives? How quick are you to admit you are wrong? Is this a strength of yours, or a weakness, or both?

 

What about Paul? Was he open to new perspectives?

 

No, he was not…

 

Not all new perspectives are right. But some are.

 

And one of the biggest perspectives that had to change as the early Christian church began to exist and operate was that non-Jews, Gentles, could become Christian without all of the rituals the Jewish Christians practice.

 

But even more important to our story today, there had to be a change in a man’s life that God would use to spread the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles and who would find that Jesus Christ, that “blaspheming Galilean, God’s irritant,” was the Messiah and would lead Paul on a journey around the Mediterranean world of that day to proclaim the message of forgiveness in Christ.

 

Our text for this morning begins with Acts 7:54-60

 

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together[a] at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

 

The battle, the argument between Jesus’ followers and the Pharisees continues to occur and it turns violent. Stephen, selected to be part of a group to provide food for widows in a fair and equitable manner, was arrested because his message about Christ and his clear life witness became an irritant to the Pharisees. Then, he has the opportunity to deliver a powerful sermon in the present of his opposition and it causes them to turn on Stephen and kill him. And a man named Saul, watched it all.

 

And this man Saul, decides that these people needed to be arrested and dealt with and so we read in the opening verses of Acts 8 what happened next:

 

And Saul approved of his execution.

 

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

 

He is angry!

 

Who are these people? They are teaching things that are wrong! We need to get them off the streets!

 

And so, for how long we don’t know, Saul goes from place to place, doing what he thinks is God’s work. Then, while on his way to Damascus, he has an unforgettable encounter.

 

We read in Acts 9:3-9 what happens:

 

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.  Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

How many of us have encountered God in this way?

 

This was Saul, soon to be named Paul, conversion experience. From this point forward Paul ceased persecuting Christians and began a process by which he was led by God to travel throughout the countries of what is now Turkey, Greece, and at the end of his work, Italy.

 

I say process because he says in Galatians 1:17, one of the many letters he wrote to local churches in his ministry: I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. In other words, Paul spent some time, how much we really don’t know, working, living, being discipled, before he started his first missionary journey.

 

But the change in Paul was profound.

 

His worldview changed. He looked at Jesus differently. He looked at Christians differently. He looked at the world differently.

 

 

 

 

 

How do you look at Jesus today? Who is He to you?

 

In Matthew 16, Jesus’ asks the disciples, the twelve men He picked to follow Him around for three years this same question: (verses 13 to 16)

 

“…he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

Paul did not accept that answer and there is a very good possibility, according to some reliable sources, that Paul could personally have heard Jesus and rejected His claims to be the Messiah.

 

In June 2003 Joan Ball was a woman with a career, a husband and three kids and avowed atheist, who attended church (she even was a substitute Sunday School teacher at times!) But on this June Sunday morning as she heard two adults publicly affirm their membership in the church, she felt like she was having a heart attack.

 

Quickly she hustled out of church and into her SUV… I’ll let her tell the rest

 

“The minute I found myself in the privacy of the car, a wave of intense emotion came over me. It was like a dam had broken, a flood of pent-up pressure released behind it in the form of sobbing and hysterical crying. Somewhere in the midst of all this, the pain in my chest lifted and there I was – generally a model of rigid self-control and modern accomplishment – crying ugly and repeating over and over again, “It is all true, all of it, it is all true.”

 

 

 

 

 

In that moment I knew that I was not having a heart attack. Instead, despite lifelong skepticism and outright animosity toward traditional religion, without asking or seeking, this skeptical atheist turned churchgoing agnostic had somehow been struck Christian.”

 

Do you remember when you came to the realization, maybe not like Joan did, when the Holy Spirit showed up and you had a realization that you needed Jesus Christ and the forgiveness He offers us, the forgiveness that we celebrate on Easter Sunday?

 

In a moment, we are going to sing Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, a great song to end this service. That is what Paul had to do. That is what Joan had to do. That is what I had to do…

 

Get my eyes off of myself and on to Jesus who, as the Bible says,

 

 

is “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV)

 

But I want to end with this song, the one we sang last Sunday…

 

Just as I am

 

There is one verse of that song that I think is so appropriate to contemporary life…

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

 

There is a lot of skepticism today about “religion,” “faith,” “Jesus freaks…” etc

 

People look at the church and don’t have great opinions about her.

 

And, friends, they have many valid points!

 

Paul felt the same way…

 

So did Joan…

 

Maybe many of us did and do as well…

 

I say this morning

 

Come!

 

If you are thinking, “I would like to try believing in Jesus and see if He can help me live my life better,”

 

COME!

 

If you are thinking, “I use to follow Jesus and I have turned away and no one knows that but me, and I am re-thinking that decision and I would like to come back to Him…”

 

COME!

 

We come to Jesus as we are…just as I am!

 

As we sing to conclude this morning, I invite you to come and kneel, or stand at the altar as indication of your desire to start or re-start or re-fresh your relationship with Jesus Christ…

 

Come!

 

Amen

More than a Role

During this week prior to Holy Week, I will be posting each of my five Lenten sermons today through Saturday and again this year, I used some Lenten resources from Creative Communications for the Parish. This year’s material was title Thy Will be Done. I hope that you will enjoy these messages as a prelude to Holy Week and Easter.

Jim

God’s Will and My Identity: Mary
Mark 3:31-35

I begin this morning with this question:

Who am I?

 

Take a piece of paper a minute to answer this question for yourself and then I will have a few questions for you to respond to by raising your hand.

How many gave at least one answer related to your personality such as outgoing, caring, etc?

How many gave at least one answer related to what you do or did for a living?

How many gave at least one answer related to the roles you have, husband, wife, mother, father, etc?

How many of you gave the answer, A child of God?

Who Was Mary, the mother of Jesus?

Mary, the mother of Jesus, has been the focus of debate, disagreement, and admiration in our faith for centuries. To some, she is a Saint. To others, she is simply the mother of Jesus and her son is more important than she is.

But today, we meet with Mary and hear what she has to say about God’s will and our identity.

Mary dialogue

I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.

And speaking of word, in His final hours with the disciples, Jesus, in His prayer with them in the Upper Room, as noted in John 17:17 which says:

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

I am currently reading Discipleship that Fits by Bobby Harrington and Alex Absalom and in it they say this:

The journey toward truth starts with becoming a follower of Jesus. We misunderstand discipleship if we focus on the forensic pursuit of truth in such a way that we forget that it is all about a friendship with Jesus. Being a friend of God is the basis of understanding the secrets of the kingdom of God (see Matt. 13:11).

Dallas Willard comments, “If I am Jesus’ disciple that means I am with him to learn from him how to be like him.”

Are we forensic in our pursuit of truth? In other words, do we approach truth, the truth of scripture like a debater would or do we approach the truth of scripture as a friend, a follower of Jesus?

We have a more than a role to play. We have an identity to embrace!

We are to be a redeemed, forgiven, sanctified, always growing CHILD OF GOD!

In our main text for this morning, Mark 3:31-35, we read this

And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Who ever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

I really believe that this passage troubles many today. I think that it challenges some very deeply held values and beliefs about where our true identity lies.

Mary had a role to play in the coming of Jesus to earth. A very important role- his mother.

Family is important and we are obedient to scripture when we honor our parents and raise our children and grandchildren to follow the Lord.

But there is a deeper, higher loyalty which Jesus gets at here. It is more than a role, it is a relationship:

“Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

I wonder what Mary thought when she heard those words?

The dramatic dialogue gets at the tension she could have felt when those words were spoken:

I remember, once, early on, I went to put my foot down. He had been saying some pretty un-believable things. And rumors of miracles had gotten the whole neighborhood in an uproar. Joseph had been gone about 12 years by then, so the rest of us went to bring Jesus home and talk some sense into him. I knew he was supposed to do something special, but it wasn’t sup-posed to look like this.

Do you know what he said?… we were told that Jesus claimed a different family: anyone who hears the Word of God and lives it out, they were supposed to be his mother and father and brothers.

I tell you! I never! After all I had given up for him! After all we had suffered to save his life and give him a future! I was spitting mad all the way home!

But then I went to pray that night, like always. And I had to say again,…“Let it be to me according to your word …”

(© Segment from Lenten Series: Thy Will Be Done: God’s Will and My Identity by Justin Rossow. © 2018 Creative Communications for the Parish, a division of Bayard, Inc., 1564 Fencorp Dr., Fenton, MO 63026.)

Didn’t God want Mary to play more than a role? Didn’t He want Mary to be one of His obedient children?

Doesn’t God want us to play more than a role? Doesn’t God want our identity to be in Him as His child?

As we prepare for communion, I remind us that what is important to the Lord is our loving and willing commitment to Him as one of His forgiven children.

Jesus is interested in us…as we are…not as we can do. Yes, action is important. Showing our faith is necessary. But our role is not one of performance but one of love and commitment.

Are you willing, willing, to say, as Mary did

“Let it be to me according to your word …” “Your will be done…”

No matter what has to change, no matter where those you love go in life, no matter what happens to you as the years go by, no matter how strong the doubt gets or the disappointments come?

Mary serves as a role model of willing love and service.

Let us do the same. But let us also remember that we are a child of God!

Let us prepare for communion.

 

 

 

 

 

Amen

When God Says ‘No’

During this week prior to Holy Week, I will be posting each of my five Lenten sermons today through Saturday and again this year, I used some Lenten resources from Creative Communications for the Parish. This year’s material was title Thy Will be Done. I hope that you will enjoy these messages as a prelude to Holy Week and Easter.

Jim

God’s Will and My Dreams: David

2 Samuel 7:4-29 (Selected)

 

I open this morning with this question:

 

Would you rather be in charge of building a house, planning an international trip, or directing a play? Why did you choose the answer you did?

Some of us are planners.

We delight in planning and organizing a project…be it a house, a trip, or a play.

And we have great joy when it turns out well.

 

Some of us are dreamers.

We see the big picture. We have a vision for something that no one else has. And we have the desire to see something happen with that vision.

 

We need planners who can put the dreams into action and help make them happen.

 

But what happens when the dream cannot be fulfilled, cannot be made to happen? What then?

 

What happens when God tells us ‘no’ to our dreams because it is not within His plans and purposes?

 

This morning, we take time with the Old Testament prophet Nathan who had to tell King David that his dream to build a temple in which to worship God would not be realized in his lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David had a dream, a big dream. We read about it in the opening verses of 2 Samuel 7

 

Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.”  And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”

 

How many here this morning have or have had a cedar chest? The smell is, for some, a wonderful smell, and it is known to keep bugs and moths out of valued clothing when they are stored in a cedar chest.

 

Cedar wood, found primarily in the Pacific Northwest in our part of the world, is known for its ability to resist rot, insects, and stress related to temperature and in Biblical times to have a house made of cedar was considered to have a house of high quality and luxurious.

 

In our text, David lived in a house made of cedar. He was also no longer at war. He, and Israel were at peace.

 

But David realized that while he lived in a magnificent home, the ark of the covenant, central to Israel’s worship, and which contained the ten commandments, resided in a tent.

 

“See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.”

 

We can see where he is going with this statement, can’t we?

 

“I have this great place to live in but the center of worship for my God, our God, who has delivered us from slavery in Egypt and from our enemies, is a mere tent. This is not right!”

 

Why should I dwell in such a wonderful place and the ark of God still dwells in a tent!”

 

What does this say about David?

 

It says to me a couple of things:

David was thinking about God and God’s blessings.

 

David was thinking about honoring God for His faithfulness to him and Israel.

 

This is in contrast to the man whom Jesus spoke of in the story about the foolish rich man in Luke 12 who said in verses 18 and 19:

 

‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’

 

But Jesus pointed out this stark truth:

 

But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

 

This is not David. He is not thinking about himself at this point. He is thinking about God!

 

But, there is a question that must be asked as we take in the entire passage and we need to ask it here.

 

Why did God tell Nathan to tell David, “No you are not building me a temple! Your son will do that!”

 

Why did God stop David from his dream of building a temple?

 

We find the reason in 1 Chronicles 28:1-6:

 

David assembled at Jerusalem all the officials of Israel, the officials of the tribes, the officers of the divisions that served the king, the commanders of thousands, the commanders of hundreds, the stewards of all the property and livestock of the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the mighty men and all the seasoned warriors.

 

Then King David rose to his feet and said: “Hear me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD and for the footstool of our God, and I made preparations for building. But God said to me, ‘You may not build a house for my name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.’

 

Yet the LORD God of Israel chose me from all my father’s house to be king over Israel forever. For he chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father’s house, and among my father’s sons he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel.

 

And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.

 

He said to me, ‘It is Solomon your son who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.

 

If you were David…what would you have done in response to God’s command to not build Him a place of worship?

 

We need to be careful how quickly we answer…

 

Let’s think about this for a moment:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah expectations…hard to clearly define sometimes but yet when reality bumps up against them, we know it!

 

Disappointment raises up its ugly head. Resentments begin to form. Bitterness starts to appear.

 

(Could David have experienced these things?)

 

One of the bitterest disappointments in my life came as I prepared to graduate from seminary. I was looking for a place to serve and found out that a position at the college church where I had gone, during college, was open and I wanted so badly to go there.

 

Instead, it went to a High School classmate, who was also a seminary classmate and I remember that the pastor, one of my spiritual mentors, said to me, “We are looking for a CE person and you are a youth ministry person and so and so is looking at you.”

That hurt deeply…for a long time. But as the years have passed, that resentment and bitterness, rooted in an unfulfilled expectation, have gone as I let it go… and keep letting it go.

 

 

 

 

 

God sometimes says “no” to us so that He can later say “yes” to something else for us that is for our greater benefit and His good will and purposes.

 

I think this holds true in David’s life as we read in the 1 Chronicles passage: verses 4 and 5

 

Yet the LORD God of Israel chose me from all my father’s house to be king over Israel forever. For he chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father’s house, and among my father’s sons he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel.  And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.

 

God’s plans, God’s dreams are beyond David’s lifetime. And they are also beyond ours as well.

 

The death of a dream or dreams, is a very painful thing.

 

We dream of health throughout our lives, but cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and the like come into our bodies and we suffer.

 

We dream of a great marriage, but selfishness, addiction, disappointment, other goals interfere and we find ourselves signing divorce papers.

 

We dream of an enjoyable job but our company is sold, the economy tanks, our boss is fired and new one, who does not like us is selected and we are in the unemployment line.

 

Do we give up? Do we succumb to bitterness, resentment? Do we give up on God?

 

We can, we do, if we are honest. Sometimes we quit believing long before we realize that we have…in others, in God, in ourselves. We quit trusting in others, in God, in ourselves.

 

And we are miserable…

 

Does God turn His back on us?

 

NO!

 

Just ask the prodigal son!

 

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him…

 

God wants us to dream.

 

I think that He wants to dream to benefit humanity.

 

I like the story of George Washington Carver, the legendary African-American scientist whose scientific endeavors developed 300 products from the peanut, and 118 from the sweet potato which included printers ink, shaving cream, plastics, adhesives and much more. The story is told that he would talk to God and God would answer him.

 

“George Washington Carver, what do you have?” “A sweet potato, Lord.” “What can you do with it?” “I can bake it, fry it, boil, or even mash it, Lord. “But what else, George Washington Carver?”

 

Carver once wrote, “I am not interested in science or anything else that leaves God out of it.”

 

And there is the key!

 

Thy Will…not my dreams, be done

 

What about us this morning?

 

Here is a final question, a takeaway if you will, that you have to figure out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks be to God for His great plans for us, including and especially, His great plan of salvation!

 

Amen

What’s Your Excuse?

During this week prior to Holy Week, I will be posting each of my five Lenten sermons today through Saturday and again this year, I used some Lenten resources from Creative Communications for the Parish. This year’s material was title Thy Will be Done. I hope that you will enjoy these messages as a prelude to Holy Week and Easter.

Jim

God’s Will and My Inadequacy
Exodus 3 and 4 (selected)

I begin this morning with some questions, that I will ask you to raise your hand on to signal your answer. Some of these are from the website conversationstartersworld.com and youthworkinit.com They are “would you rather” questions.

Would you rather have an easy job working for someone else or work for yourself but work incredibly hard?

Would you rather live without the internet or live without AC and heating?

Would you rather lose all of your money and valuables or all of the pictures you have ever taken?

Would you rather be famous when you are alive and forgotten when you die or unknown when you are alive but famous after you die?

Would you rather be the life of the party and the funniest person your friends know but suffer from depression or be happy and content but people think you are boring and unfunny?

Or how about these questions…

Would you rather have seen the Red Sea being parted or Jesus walking on water?

Would you rather spend one hour in heaven or one week with Jesus on Earth?

Would you rather be able to feed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish or heal someone’s blindness?

Finally, would you rather have dinner with Paul or with Moses?

Well, we have meet with Moses today and we will meet with Paul next month!

Oh, one more question:

Would Moses rather have had two teeth pulled or speak face to face with Pharaoh?

As we continue in our Lenten series “Your will be done,” we go to Exodus chapters 3 and 4 and we meet up with Moses this week. I am reading selective verses from these two chapters:

God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?… Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

Last week we began our Lenten journey with Abraham and Isaac and the very important component of trust was highlighted as God’s promise to Abraham to become the father of a great nation was tested when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, who was the beginning of that great nation, and for whom Abraham had waited for a long time.

Today, we take some time with Moses who used his inadequacies as an excuse to not do what God asked him to do – namely, lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Excuses. We all have excuses. Some are legitimate and some are not. We all use excuses and when I googled the statement “excuses people use to not serve God” I got 4.6 MILLION hits, or places to read on the internet, in .43 seconds that featured something having to do with excuses people use to not serve God!

Pastor Ron Edmonson, in an article on his website that was published in 2016, offers seven excuses he says for Not Doing What We Know God has Called Us To Do:

I can’t!
Edmonson says, “Your excuse is you don’t have what it takes. And, the sad part of this excuse – this also means you aren’t trusting God to provide what you lack.. If God calls you to it – you can do it because whatever you lack He will supply . (Gideon would love to weigh in on this excuse. Judges 6)
I don’t know how!
The task seems overwhelming and you may be too proud to ask for help…If you trace its roots – this excuse is often fueled by either laziness, apathy or fear. (Do you think Noah knew how to build a boat the size of an ark? See Genesis 6)
I don’t have time!
God calls for obedience now, but you’re preoccupied. What it really means is…I have my agenda and God’s agenda – and there is no time left in my agenda. (See how Jesus liked this excuse in Luke 9:57-62)
I’m all alone!
Leading out by faith feels this way sometimes, doesn’t it? Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to being obedient to God’s call…(Remember, Elijah thought He was alone – and he found out otherwise. 1 Kings 19)
I’m afraid!
And, the reality of this excuse is you can choose to let fear control you… Fear is simply an emotion and it’s a powerful, often motivating excuse…our mind is capable and skilled at quickly creating worst-case-scenarios. But, know this. Trusting God, even when you’re afraid to do so, always produces God-appointed and God-sized victories. In fact, you can’t possibly get to the victory until you face the fear. (Could we learn anything here from Esther? Esther 3)
I can’t afford it!
You’re afraid the dream will be more expensive than the provision of God…(Tell this excuse to the widow in 1 Kings 17 or the disciples who picked up 12 baskets of leftover bread in Matthew 14)
I won’t!
This may be the boldest excuse. With this excuse you simply refuse. You may disguise it lots of ways, but the fact is you’re doing things your way – instead of God’s way…(How did this excuse work for Jonah?)
As we go through our main text for this morning, we are going to ask ourselves
I can’t!

And as we do this, I am asking us to pay attention to two passages from our main text for this morning by noting three things:

God’s will for Moses as part of God’s mission
Moses’ excuse
God’s provision

Ready? Here we go!

Exodus 3:10 out of the English Standard Version states God’s will for Moses as part of God’s mission.
“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

It is a mission of deliverance God is sending Moses on. God has heard the cry of the Israelites, through whom He would work and ultimately live with, to make possible the salvation of all humanity.

We are on the same mission. God calls us to go and make disciples, to go and help people come to faith in Christ and then live for Christ. We are called to help others come out of the bondage and slavery of sin.

But what was Moses’ excuse? (Exodus 3:11)

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
This is an excuse about our identity, about who we belong to, about who we are truly created to be, and about our past, our personal history having a hold on us. It is about our limitations.

Who am I?
Who me. God?
I am not good enough…I am not smart enough…I am not this enough or that enough!
I have problems. I have issues. I have health issues. I have mental health issues.
How can God use me?

40 years ago at this time, I was an intern at a church outside Washington DC. I would go make visits with the pastor and after those visits, I would often think, “How can he ask people those questions! I could never do that! I could never ask them about their faith in Christ or whether they had a faith in Christ!” And when I returned to college that fall, I said to my major professor and the professor who certified my credits for that internship, “I will NEVER become a pastor!”
I couldn’t do that!

In my own strength.

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

“Who am I that I can talk to these people about faith and Christ and the hope we have in Him?”

But in God’s strength God’s provision, I could! I have!

He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

I will be with you Moses and you will know that I was with you when one day, one day you shall serve me here on this mountain.

God is with us as we step out in faith to serve Him! He gives us the ability, one step, one moment at a time, to serve Him. We don’t do it in our strength, we can’t!

I couldn’t ask those questions! I couldn’t talk to those people about Jesus and faith! In my own strength.
God’s will for Moses was to be part of God’s plan of deliverance…for both the Israelites AND, I truly, truly believe Moses!

And speaking of talking, this brings me to the second time Moses expresses his inability to do what the Lord is asking of Him to do.

In Exodus 4:10 we read “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

What’s Moses’ excuse?

I don’t have the ability to do that!

One of the biggest excuses I have heard over the years as I have asked people to consider serving God in a specific way is this one:

“I can’t speak in front of people, I stumble over my words! Please don’t ask me to say anything in front of people!”
How many people are you going to talk to if what I ask you is to be part of a prayer ministry where you take time to pray at home…alone?

Two, the person who calls (these days it would probably be a text) and gives you who and what to pray for and God….to whom you pray.

Where did we get this idea that all ministry is, is always taking in front of people?

Moses said, “I can’t do that God!”

What does the Lord say He will do for Moses? Exodus 4:11-12

“Who has made man’s mouth?…Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

There is more to making the Great Commission happen than just talking. I believe that in today’s society, action is very important. People want to see Christianity in action, in a positive way, not just hear the talk.

This life of faith, requires us to be willing to say and do what God asks of us to say and do. It is about the life that we can have through Jesus Christ now not just later on. But we do so in the strength and power of God, not our own strength and power.

But there is one other thing that Moses, and all of us, deal with. And I think that it is truly behind everything excuse Moses throws up to God as an excuse for not doing what the Lord wants him to do.

His past.

In a fit of anger, Moses, YEARS ago, murdered someone…and it was found out and Moses fled and wandered for 40 years. 40 YEARS!

It was his greatest limitation, excuse. It cast a shadow over his life.

But the Lord, had a plan and purpose for Moses. He did not want Moses to stay where he was. Neither does the Lord want each of us, nor us as this congregation, to stay where we are. I am thinking more than geographically. I am thinking personally, congregationally, spiritually.

God has more for us to do! It may be one thing but that one thing is very important and God wants US to do it!
Moses reluctantly went back to Egypt. And though him, God brought a group of people, a new nation, out slavery and bondage. Moses still had issues, okay, he had flaws, character defects, as he lead the people out of Egypt and toward the land they had been promised. So Moses was not perfect. Neither are we.

But God still has a place for us in His church and His mission.

This story is a story about trust…Moses had to learn about trust…he had to learn to trust the Lord and he had to learn to trust himself.

What is your excuse for not trusting the Lord?

Not your biggest one, but the basic one? The one you have hidden, perhaps for years?

Which of these excuses did Moses use?

I think all of them.

There are pastors and missionaries and Christians around this world, who have a past. And there are also some who deal with limitations that society says are not acceptable.

They are recovering addicts and alcoholics.

They are former felons whose records will following them until the day they die. They stole, they dealt in drugs or other contraband, they hurt people, even committing murder.

Some had an abortion. A regret and pain they carry with themselves every day.

And some deal with some mental illness, from mild cases to severe cases.

God is not done using them. Maybe they have some limitations, physical, mental, emotional, and yes in some cases legal, that keep them from doing a lot of things. But God still has something, one thing, for them to do.

There is no such thing as a perfect church. Why? Look around this morning.

Thanks be to God for His great grace that helps us overcome our limitations and the fear that comes with them.
Amen

http://ronedmondson.com/2016/03/7-best-excuses-we-make.html

(Quotes from Character Dialogues by Justin Rossow. © 2018 Creative Communications for the Parish, a division of Bayard, Inc., 1564 Fencorp Dr., Fenton, MO 63026. 800-325-9414. http://www.creativecommunications.com.)

 

Who do you trust?

During this week prior to Holy Week, I will be posting each of my five Lenten sermons today through Saturday and again this year, I used some Lenten resources from Creative Communications for the Parish. This year’s material was title Thy Will be Done. I hope that you will enjoy these messages as a prelude to Holy Week and Easter.

Jim

Who Do You Trust?

(God’s Will and God’s Promise:Abram and Isaac)

Hebrews 11:8-19

The Gallup Organization conducts an annual poll asking people what institutions they have confidence it and here is a graphic of the differences between the 2016 and 2017 polls (2018 poll has yet to be taken.)

 

 

 

 

 

The Military was number one with 72% of those surveyed having confidence in the military

Small Business was number two with 70%

Police was number three with 57%

The Church/Organized Religion was fourth with 41%

And the US Supreme Court was fifth with 40%

It will be interesting to see what the poll this year indicates.

How would you answer if you were called and asked who do you have the most confidence it?

Would any of us say Jesus Christ or would we indicate one of these categories?

Who do you trust the most these days?

A few weeks ago, I was asked to explain what Lent was to some of the kids here at church. I didn’t do a very good job as the puzzled looks on their faces indicated they had no idea what I was talking about.

This word Lent is familiar to some of us in this room this morning as we grew up in a church and faith tradition that celebrated Lent, Advent, Epiphany, and a host of other seasons of the Christian calendar. The rest of us heard little about Lent other than from perhaps our Catholic friends who ate a lot of fish.

Let me offer this simple definition of Lent for us this year:

 

 

 

 

 

Lent is a season of reflection when we take time to look at our lives in light of Christ’s death and resurrection and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us and shine the light of God’s grace and hope in and on us.

And I still like what Joan Chittister has to say about Lent:

 

 

 

 

 

Lent requires me, as a Christian, to stop for a while, to reflect again on what is going on in me. I am challenged again to decide whether I, myself, do truly believe that Jesus is the Christ – and if I believe, whether I will live accordingly when I can no longer hear the song of angels in my life and the star of Bethlehem has grown dim for me. Lent is not a ritual. It is time given to think seriously about who Jesus is for us, to renew our faith from the inside out.

It is not a time to be morbid, nor dark, nor depressed, although we may experience these moments as we go through this season.

It is time to think about, think through what we believe in, IF we believe in Jesus Christ and if we do, what is it that we need to “give up” to fully follow the Lord.

So as we go through this season of Lent, I would encourage us to pray a modified version of the prayer that I shared with you last fall, a prayer that I think the Lord wants to answer.

 

 

 

 

 

I use the word obediently here because the theme for this year’s Lenten series is Thy will be done. It reflects the challenge which Jesus faced as the time neared for His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. All four of the gospel accounts (the first four books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) include the story of Jesus’ agonizing prayer as the final minutes of His freedom faded away.

Three times, alone, in an agony that is hard to understand, Jesus prays, …”not as I will, but as you will.” In other words, “If there is any other way to redeem the human race other than this way, Father God, please make it happen. Otherwise, if this is Your way, the Only Way, then I will do what I must do.”

To me the prayer that Jesus prayed in these moments is the hardest prayer to pray. To pray God’s will be done, for God’s purpose and plan, to be done is very, very hard because it requires of us the willingness to surrender our plans and purposes our hopes and dreams and in some cases our very lives, and embrace God’s plans and purposes.

And in the stories that we will hear these next several weeks, we will see how God’s will is a good thing, not a bad thing. A hard thing at times, yes, yes it is. But ultimately, it is the right thing, the liberating thing, the life giving thing to do.

And a key attitude we also need to have in this process of praying, and living, out this prayer, “Your will, not my will, be done,” is the issue of trust.

Trust is a part of the people we will take time to study over the next several weeks.

There is Moses – whose felt inadequacies to lead, whose forty years on the run as a fugitive murderer, caused him to not just trust himself but to trust this God who has revealed himself to Moses.

There is Mary – who is told that she will give birth to a boy, who is the Messiah, who will save His people from their sins, in an incredible way different than normal conception. Her trust is deep and immediate.

There is David – chosen to be the second king of Israel even as the first king of Israel seeks to kill him. A renown warrior and a beloved leader, he takes a man’s life as a cover up to taking that same man’s wife and being confronted by a prophet. Trust seems to come and go in David’s life.

And we find this issue of trust in the story of Abraham and Issac.

We have heard our main text for this morning, Hebrews 11:8-19 and I will simply refer to various verses and phrases in this passage throughout the rest of this message. But do you recall what Isaac said in his monologue this morning?

What I saw in his eyes at that moment took away my doubts. What I saw wasn’t fear on his face, or at least, it wasn’t only fear. I also saw love. I saw pride. But above all, I saw trust…

 

Trust is vital to faith – in God or in people. Trust is required to believe in, to have faith in.

Our main text for this morning says…

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”

I think that one of the things that Sister Joan hints at in her comments I just read is trust:

I am challenged again to decide whether I, myself, do truly believe that Jesus is the Christ – and if I believe, whether I will live accordingly when I can no longer hear the song of angels in my life and the star of Bethlehem has grown dim for me.

As we begin this season of Lent I ask myself and I ask all of us:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I conclude with Genesis 22:5

He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

It is what Abraham says to his servants before only he and Isaac head up to the place of sacrifice. It is a statement of trust in God…study it for a moment…and when you think you get why it is a statement of trust in God, raise your hand, and if possible, keep it raised.

Here it is…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let us choose to say “thy will be done” as our confirmation of our trust in the Lord.

Amen

 

(Quotes from Character Dialogues by Justin Rossow. © 2018 Creative Communications for the Parish, a division of Bayard, Inc., 1564 Fencorp Dr., Fenton, MO 63026. 800-325-9414. http://www.creativecommunications.com.)