Tag Archives: tests

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 14

Track 1: Be Dressed for Action

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Luke 12:32-40

In today’s Gospel we read:

“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.   (Luke 12:35-38)

How do we interpret his remarks today. Surely Jesus is warning us to keep our lamps lit. That would mean that we are to keep the fullness of the Spirit of God in our hearts. Are ww living in the end times? We have been since the beginning of the Church. But does this mean the rapture of the Church is immanent and we need to be living holy lives in preparation?

Before his ascension, the disciples of Jesus were concerned about the timing of end times events. They asked Jesus:

“Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”   (Acts 1:6-8)

Jesus was more concerned about saving lost souls. He said: “Be dressed for action.” Our lamps should be lit for more than the rapture. He would give his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit so that they might be effective witnesses to his resurrection.

God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah:

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your doings
from before my eyes;

cease to do evil,
learn to do good;

seek justice,
rescue the oppressed,

defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.   (Isaiah 1:16-17)

We are to be clean, and we are to learn to do good. Jesus washes us in his blood. He also calls us to be evangelists. For this we need to be dressed for action, The Apostle Paul wrote:.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power; put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, for our struggle is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.[Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on the evil day and, having prevailed against everything, to stand firm. Stand, therefore, and belt your waist with truth and put on the breastplate of righteousness and lace up your sandals in preparation for the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.   (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Let us be dressed for action. And may our actions help win souls for the kingdom of God.

 

Track 2: The Faith of Abraham

Genesis 15:1-6
Psalm 33:12-22
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Luke 12:32-40

We are saved by the grace of God through the saving acts of our Lord Jesus Christ. He must not underestimate the importance of faith, however. The Apostle Paul wrote:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.   (Ephesians 2:8-9)

To fully understand the importance of faith to our Christian walk we need to examine the faith of Abraham. Our faith stands on the foundation of his faith. His faith was tested by God. Again Paul wrote:

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.   (Romans 4:18-24)

God put Abraham to severe test:

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.   (Hebrews 11:17-19) 

Abraham passed the test because Abraham believed God. He did hot focus on the circumstance that surrounded him. He held onto the Word and promises of.of God. In our lives we are tested. The enemy brings us circumstanced to make us doubt God’s word. We may wonder if God still loves us, if he is still with us. If we are not careful, we may begin to blame our troubles on God.

But God is still with us.  He does still love us.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”   (John 3:16)

The psalmist wrote:

Our soul waits for the Lord;
    he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him
    because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
    even as we hope in you.   (Psalm 33:20-22)

In the Book of James we read:

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.   (James 1:2-4)
Jesus said:
“In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”   (John 16:33)

Abraham would not be distracted by circumstances. He lived by a faith that manifested in obedience to God:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.   (Hebrews 11:8-10)

We have many distractions today. We are going through difficult trials. We need the faith Abraham. We need his courage and dedication to God. As Abraham, let us understand that God is with us, Emanuel. He will never leave us or forsake us. Do we believe God? Then, praise the Lord. We, too, are children of Abraham.

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Second Sunday of Easter

Seeing the God of Love

Jesus appeared, after his resurrection, to his disciples as they had gathered in one place. Although Jesus had taught them what would take place, they were still shocked. Thomas, who was missing, was no less prepared:

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”   (John 20:24-25)

We have heard the expression “seeing is believing.” Now let us explore “believing is seeing.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”   (John 20:26-29)

Today, God is calling us to see him. Thomas saw Jesus everyday of his earthly ministry, but did he really see Jesus? Did he understand the person and ministry of Jesus? When he saw the risen Lord, something changed for him. He declared: “My Lord and my God!” He could see, for the first time, the whole nature of Jesus.

Job was a man described by God as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and turns away from evil.” He was blessed by God in so many ways. But when those blessings were removed he began to question God, as many of us probably would have under similar circumstances.

Job’s questioning eventually turned into a dialogue with God. Job’s attitude toward God changed. He said:

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
    but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
    and repent in dust and ashes.”   (Job 42:5-6)

Seeing God is understanding the nature of God, the character of God. Is God good? Is he good when difficulties come our way?” Job said:

Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me,
    and what I dread befalls me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
    I have no rest; but trouble comes.”   (Job 3:25-26)

Difficulties did come Job’s way. He feared that they might, even when he was blessed. He equated the blessings with God. But he did not know the God who holds us in his loving arms? What changed with Job? Job knew the God who blesses. Now he wanted to be the one who blesses God. He said:

For I know that my Redeemer[a] lives,
    and that at the last he[b] will stand upon the earth;[c]
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    then in[d] my flesh I shall see God,   (Job 19:25-26)

The psalmist wrote:

The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.   (Psalm 118:14)

“You are my God, and I will thank you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.”

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his mercy endures for ever.   (Psalm 118:28-29)

God is good. He loves us all. We know that through his Son.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.   (John 3:16)
He may test us. But he is the God who passes the test for us when we put our trust in him. He is there for us each day. He will never leave us or forsake us. From Lamentations we read:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”   (Lamentations 3:22-24)
Thomas and Job knew about God, but then they saw God. Who is the God that we see today?

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