A sermon I will preach Sunday. Any feedback is appreciated.
Don't Speak Until Spoken To|
Isa 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25
There is a universal message that transcends all cultural creation. What word can we trust? There are all kinds of messages that arise from cultural mediums that offer satisfaction that can be found no where else. The flood of panaceas include food, drugs, programs to lose weight, places to go and visit and various programs on television that we can not do without. We often forget that God is the creator of the word. The flower fades and grass withers, but the Word of God endures forever. It can be too easy to think of a unreliable replacement.
In the stages of infancy, youth and older age we encounter decisions about what is really needed in life. The parent listens to the infant child and finds out the importance of feeding, comfort and change. The youth seeks a clear sense of identity in the barrage of media distractions. They do not want to be who they are not or feel like they need to please everyone. They offer a window into what it means to be real. As we age we raise up a vision about what it means to have a good life. In preparing to meet God we determine to listen for God, rather than fall victim to the many other influences that may get in the way. The Word begins with my name being called and end with me calling to God.
I. The Old Testament offers testimony about what it means to be God's messenger. This is the perspective that Isaiah offers in chapter 40:1-8. People wanted to know God's will which meant attending to God's law in hopes of being blessed. God's messenger speaks and we are called to listen. As Isaiah says grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of God endures forever.
A. The foundation for the messenger quest arises out of the creation story in Genesis. There is nothing, before God decides to utter a word that leads to life. With the utterance of a word the celebration of creation takes place. As God gives life creation speaks back with all it's wonder and majesty. God creates on five days plants, animals oceans, land and the firmament up above with stars and moon looking down at us from above. On the sixth day Man and woman are created and God says in so many words "Hey now this is cool what is not to like". The world's creation is good. The icing on the cake was having a man and woman to enjoy it all. The man gave names to everything God had with made. Dominion was shared as long as they listened to God's voice and made it their own. Along came a serpent who claimed he knew God better than Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve decided they knew more than God and from that time on man has struggled with letting God be God as if they know better.
B. Balaam was a prophet with a mission. He was sent to tell Barak God's Word (at least this was his intent.) Barak waved all manner of riches at Balaam in order to candy coat and control for himself the future destiny of his nation. God goes from being the ruler to an object that can be changed and manipulated. To reenforce this understanding Barak sends messengers to go with Balaam even after told Balaam not to do this. On the way to see Barak, Balaam is faced with a wake up call of his own. Balaam know that he is in the wrong. He is riding his ass and the donkey refuses to go. The donkey is beaten three times with Balaam sitting on top of the donkey after the third time. Balaam is angry thinking the donkey nothing but a dumb animal. The donkey speaks back that Balaam asking why are you beating me? God opens Balaams's eyes and he sees an angel with sword in hand. He realizes the donkey was sent by God to protect him. Balaam is faced with a need to get off his donkey and do something to keep him and his donkey out of harms way. Open the hand to receive God's riches rather than beat up the messenger who in this story is the donkey.
C. Elijah's experience speaks about what it is like to get a message from God. He is running from Jezebel in despair, because she wants him dead. He wonders if he should just die. After all he can not do it all by himself. Elijah is in hiding. Rain has taken place after he has placed water over stones in demonstration to false prophets who the true God is. In Elijah's mind God is yelling people like Jezebel will never listen. What will it take for them to attend to God. Who or what would it take to deliver Elijah and people like him.. Along comes various manifestations. There is an earthquake, fire and a mighty wind. The presence of God is experienced in the still small voice. God does not need a loud voice or calamity to communicate. God is God a still small voice will do. It does no good to look for loud noises. It is in the silence we can hear the message that we are loved and help is on the way. The Word that Isaiah talks about is more like a whisper. God has a secret to tell about His love. Who wants to listen? God says there is more work to be done, he is not alone!!
II. In the Gospels there are many examples of the need to attend to God's voice message. Jesus is the message that God sends. He is a reminder of God's presence in the here and now forever. A father who is recently divorced give a cell phone to his daughter so they can stay in touch. God offer Jesus the Word made flesh, so that people can be reconnected. The only question that needs answering is what do we do with this voice? What will we sacrifice and what will we learn?
A. In Luke Chapter two we read of a priest named Zechariah who was confronted by an angel. He and his wife were up in years and the angel came to give good news about the birth of a son. Priest's have always been known for knowing how to sacrifice. It is in their sacrifice that people know forgiveness and healing. Zechariah is confronted with what it means to know the free gift of mercy God offers. He refused to believe his son would be born and is struck silent. When the baby is born there is a celebration of praise. God opens his mouth and not he can call his son John a voice in the wilderness preparing the way for the coming of the Lord. In Isaiah the celebration of a new witness is offered. The Word lasts forever and through the message (Jesus) will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
B. Peter walks on water and takes a leadership role in helping others know what it means to focus one's attention on the only voice that matters. Peter is ofen prone to speaking before being spoken to. "No one will hurt you Jesus, I will protect you with my life. On the surface it sounds like something any of us would say. Jesus words speak louder "get behind me Satan", "you will deny me three times before the cock crows". The Word of Jesus comes to pass and soon after the MESSAGE that God sends is rejected. God says through the person of Jesus, "Father forgive then for they know not what they do". We see once again it is best not to speak until spoken to, even as he is restored. Do you love me Peter, feed my sheep. The message is one of mercy and grace. No word or action or word from is enough to lead us to be saved.
C. Jesus comes to let everyone hear God speak. He says in the temple that he is the one that prophets spoke of. He healed the sick, accepted the outcast and spoke good news to the poor. People crucified the message. There were forces that thought putting Jesus to death would keep his message from spreading beyond the Jewish and Roman empire Jesus says at the end of Luke "wait for the Holy Spirit" They are waiting for a special guest who will energize the world as it has never been energized before. Guess Who is being invited to dinner table of salvation.
III. The living letters offer the Holy Spirit's perspective. God's messages of an enduring word is spoken of in the first book of Peter. "Word" in the Greek refers to an utterance not something passive. God wants to talk with us though the spirit. In putting Jesus to death there is more potential to hear God's message than ever before. As it says in Peter the Word endures, because the Spirit of God is eternal and able to raise from the dead.
A. The message of Paul to the Jews in Romans 9 confront us with our own responses to the wayward sons, in this case the people of Israel. Paul weeps and expresses grief that anyone might miss out on the blessing God has prepared since before the creation of the world. He would even take their place. The Jews are ever wanting to do something to win God's favor.
There are people that complain that God chooses who to harden and elect. The message from Paul is crystal clear. God has a choice, just as we do. The issue of election has more to do with the God's work and word define who we are and will be. This is the main issue that Israel is dealing with.
B. The message to Cornelius is one listening attentively to hear who God will invite. God sees in others what they do not see in themselves. Peter is told to meet Cornelius and sees in a dream clean and unclean animals falling from the sky. He is told to eat and Peter responds that the law says that he can not eat unclean animals. Peter is faced with accepting a Gentile seeker as had never been done before. This is not the first time that he has been corrected and made to partake of God's word rather than what he considers the more clean word that he has to offer. Cornelius receives the Holy Spirit gift of speaking in tongues! After that he and his family are baptized. God shares in this that blessing God does not play favorites. Don't speak until spoken to.
C.The book of Revelation shares to a persecuted people a Word that will lead to victory. As it says in chapter 20, there will come a time of no suffering. Tears are wiped from our eyes. We entrust all of who we are including our tears to the ruler of the universe. The Words in the book are not to be added to or subtracted from. Victory is assured to those who commit to listen rather than speak. God is sick and tired of us being sick and tired. We are told in the gospels Jesus makes the burden light. We dip into the well of God's work because we want to be well today!! We seek to be God's word and work. Jesus says that not all who say Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of God. We are called to follow Jesus and find out what it means to minister to the least of these.
We come to a juncture in the road. We can either see out a message from God or be lead astray by any number of other voices, knowing chaos, potential death and betrayal. We are invited to a different place and way of being. The word is clear not every one who says Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of God. We are told over and over to follow Jesus, doing to the least of these as we would do it to Jesus. There are no magical words we can say or works we can do that will get us into heaven. Don't speak until you are spoken to. The eternal word lasts Forever. Come in accordance with the message. Don't speak, listen for the Spirit's voice and come forward.
#2. A further look at Listening to God's voice
ID #819033 entered on June 8, 2014 at 1:29am
#1. The Living Dead
ID #815814 entered on May 4, 2014 at 8:09pm