Tag Archives: trust in God

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 23

Track 1: May the Voice of His Praise Be Heard

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
Psalm 66:1-11
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

In today’s Gospel reading we have the healing miracle of the ten lepers:

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.

Jesus healed all the lepers, but one of them returned in joy to give thanks. Not only that, but he honored Jesus, recognizing him as the source of his healing:

Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Healing can be an instant miracle, even today, by the name of Jesus, Not all miracles are instantaneous. Through our illnesses, we can often better understand the love and care that God provides us.

The greater healing is being open to worship the Great Physician, the Great I AM. The psalmist wrote:

Come now and see the works of God,

how wonderful he is in his doing toward all people.

He turned the sea into dry land,
so that they went through the water on foot,
and there we rejoiced in him.

In his might he rules for ever;
his eyes keep watch over the nations;
let no rebel rise up against him.

Bless our God, you peoples;
make the voice of his praise to be heard;

Who holds our souls in life,
and will not allow our feet to slip. (Psalm 66:1-8)a

We have much to be thankful for. Jesus has saved our souls on the cross. The Apostle Paul reminds us:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful–
for he cannot deny himself.

Entering the kingdom of God is, perhaps, the greatest healing. His kingdom is a place of great joy. The Apostle Paul wrote:

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.   (Romans 14:17)

How freely do we worship and thank God for all that he has sone? If we are going through difficult circumstances, are we able to offer God a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving? We are blessed when we do and God so loves our praise. The psalmist wrote:

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
    I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.   (Psalm 9:1-2)

 

Track 2: Believing and Trusting

2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
Psalm 111
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

Most of us probably remember the account of Naaman of the Old Testament. He was the commander of the army of the king of Aram,   He was in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram.

Naaman, unfortunately, had leprosy.. A young girl captive from the land of Israel, who served Naaman’s wife said that there was prophet in Samaria who could cure him of his leprosy. Naaman told his king who said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”  (2 Kings 5:5)

Reading from 2 Kings:

Naaman went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.   (2 Kings 5:6-10)

Naaman was not prepared for this response from Elisha. The prophet did not greet him properly, or acknowledge his highly esteemed position he enjoyed in his own country:

Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage.    (2 Kings 5:11-12)

Fortunately, the wisdom of his servants prevailed:

His servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, `Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.   (2 Kings 5:13-14)

Naaman almost lost his healing because he did not understand the greatness of God. God is our healer and not any human who may be used as an intermediary. Moreover. whatever standards which we expect God to accord us is immaterial. God has his own standards that we should meet. Do we tell God that “my rivers are better than yours?”

Proverbs warns:

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but wisdom is with the humble.   (Proverbs 11:2)

When it comes to healing, we leave everything in the hands of God. He is sovereign. We need to listen carefully to him and obey his commandments and directions. The real healing is believing in and trusting God, regardless of our circumstances or expectations.

Jesus purchased our salvation and healing on a cruel cross. Surely we must understand that we also have a cross to bare? The Apostle Paul wrote:

The saying is sure:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful–
for he cannot deny himself.   (2 Timothy 2:11-13)

We must simply believe, obey, and follow our Lord. There will be persecution for free disciples. We will have a cross to bear.But Jesus reminds us:

I have said this to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution, but take courage: I have conquered the world!”   (John 16:33)

Leave a comment

Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year C

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 21

Track 1: A Future with Hope

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Luke 16:19-31

The Prophet Jeremiah was experiencing turbulent times:

At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him.   (Jeremiah 32:2-3)

The future did not look bright. Jerusalem would be destroyed and a remnant would be carried off to captivity in Babylon. How could anyone be optimistic about the future of Judah? But  God spoke to Jeremiah:

Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came to me: Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.” Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.   (Jeremiah 32:6-8)

Jeremiah went to great length to protect his purchase:

I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.   (Jeremiah 32:11-15)

God told Jeremiah that, even though he was seeing destruction all around him, he would have a future. Jerusalem would have a future. God was going to protect Jeremiah through all of it. The psalmist wrote:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,
abides under the shadow of the Almighty.

He shall say to the Lord,
“You are my refuge and my stronghold,
my God in whom I put my trust.”

You shall not be afraid of any terror by night,
nor of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the plague that stalks in the darkness,
nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.

Because he is bound to me in love,
therefore will I deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my Name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I am with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and bring him to honor.

With long life will I satisfy him,
and show him my salvation.   (:1-2,5-6, 14-16)

When we are bound to God in love, He will protect us from all harm. God is our shelter, He is our refuge and stronghold, in whom I put my trust.

Times are difficult now for many of us. But our future is bright when we put our trust in him

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.   (Jeremiah 29:11-12)

 

 

Track 2: The Rich Man and Lazarus

Amos 6:1a,4-7
Psalm 146
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Luke 16:19-31

God spoke through the Prophet Amos:

Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria.

Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
and lounge on their couches,

and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the stall;

who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
and like David improvise on instruments of music;

who drink wine from bowls,
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!   (Amos 6:1,4-6)

It was not just that certain people were rich. They did not care about the welfare of others, Jesus told a parable to illustrate this point:

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’   (Luke 16:19-26)

The rich man did not care about Lazarus. He did nothing to help him, although he was well aware of this poor man’s condition. The price the rich man paid was very high. He was now in Hades. He called out for some relief from his suffering. No relief was possible. So be began to think of others:

He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers– that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”   (Luke 16:27-31)

When Jesus rose from the dead, did all Jerusalem repent? No. The minds and hearts of the people had been so warped by false teaching. False piety. Even when there was hope that things could improve for their great benefit, they were stuck in a world that the rulers said was better. They lied and they knew they lied, but they did not want to lose control. The psalmist wrote:

Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth,
for there is no help in them.

When they breathe their last, they return to earth,
and in that day their thoughts perish.

Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!
whose hope is in the Lord their God;

Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps his promise for ever;

Who gives justice to those who are oppressed,
and food to those who hunger.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

The Lord loves the righteous;
the Lord cares for the stranger;
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.   (Psalm 146:4-8)

Which of the two worlds do we want to believe in? Which of the two worlds do we want to live in? One is very controlled, but oppressive. We must create our own happiness in some way, even when what we do has little thought about the feelings and needs of others.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:

Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.   (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

Then there is the other world, a happy one. Again: “Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”

We have a Savior who died, but who rose from the dead and made all things new. Do we believe in this world? Do we want to live in this world? In this world we feel the love of God so strongly that we want to share his love with everyone

Of course, the enemies of Christ want to drag us back into their dark world. One of the primary ways is through financial wealth. Wealth is not necessarily bad. It may come on its own. Paul writes Timothy?

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.   (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

If we are missing something in our hearts, Go0d will fill them with his love and presence. We do not need to seek anything but him. Nothing else will ever satisfy us except him. All we need to do is turn to him.

When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.   (Jeremiah 29:13)

Leave a comment

Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year C

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 18

Track 1: The Potter’s House

Jeremiah 18:1-11
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17
Philemon 1-21
Luke 14:25-33

We have all been created in the image of God, but are all not to be the same. God has given us various gifts and talents. He has a distinct vision and purpose for each of us. He is a God of variety.

Today, let us look at God as a potter. We have this analogy in today’s reading from Jeremiah:

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.   (Jeremiah 18:1-4)

The psalmist wrote:

Lord, you have searched me out and known me;
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Indeed, there is not a word on my lips,
but you, O Lord, know it altogether.

You press upon me behind and before
and lay your hand upon me.   (Psalm 139:1-4)

We are given a picture of God shaping us as a potter would has clay. The potter has expectations. God had expectations for Israel. but Israel had gone its own way. Again, reading from Jeremiah:

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.   (Jeremiah 18:5-6)

Some times the potter has to brake the vessel he is working in order to reshape it into what he desires for it. This can be traumatic for those of us who refuse to trust God and work together with him.

Do we want to become the vessel God has in mind of us? Do we want to become the best we can be? Maybe we might want a different life that  would not be pleasing to God.

In today’s Gospel reading we have this radical statement of Jesus:

Now large crowds were traveling with Jesus; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.   (Luke 14:25-33)

Clearly, Jesus is using hyperbola to make his point. What is his point? In order for us to accept the life he has for us we must be will to give up the old life which did not include him. But his new life for us is not without costs. Are we willing to put ourselves in his hands regardless of the costs? Do the rewards of true discipleship outweigh the costs.

Jesus said:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.   (John 10:10)

Satan has a counterfeit life for us, but it ultimately leads to destruction.

What about hating ones family? Sometimes family can place expectations on us that really do not match our interests and gifts. We remember there was a time when the family of Jesus wanted him to abandon his ministry and come home. To truly become who we are and what God meant us to be, we must follow his leadings more than anyone else, no matter who they are.

The good news is that God wants the very best for us:

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.   (Jeremiah 29:11)

How can we assist God as he carries out his plan for us? How do we become the vessel he intends for us? I am reminded of this old hymn:

Have Thine own way LordHave Thine own wayThou art the potter I am the clayMold me and make me after Thy willWhile I am waiting yielded and still

We need to remember the potter’s house.

 

Track 2: Choose Life

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Psalm 1
Philemon 1-21
Luke 14:25-33

It has been said that our lives are determined by a series of choices that we make. Perhaps this is true, at least in part. There is an underlying choice, however, which influences all of those choices.

The nation of Israel was facing a choice. Israel was, at last, prepared to enter into the promised land. Mose called all the people together before him:

Moses said to all Israel the words which the Lord commanded him, “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”   (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)

What lay ahead of Israel was either blessings or curses. It all depended on whom they would worship and serve. Would that be the God who rescued them from slavery from Egypt or some false god Satan designed to lead them astray. It was a life or death situation for them. Moses implored them to choose life.

In today’s Gospel reading we have this stark saying of Jesus:

“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.   (Luke 14:26-27)

In some ways he seems to echo Moses. What is Jesus saying? Clearly, he is using hyperbola. Jesus is saying that who we love the most will determine our destiny. We are facing a life and death situation, as was Israel. Whom will we serve? Whom or what will we worship? One choice leads to an abundant life. Jesus said:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.   (John 10:10)

(This has little to do with the so called prosperity gospel. Rather it is about experiencing a taste of God’s kingdom on earth: righteousness, peace, and joy.)

The other choice leads to a mere existence which soon passes away. The psalmist wrote:

Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

Their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and they meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;
everything they do shall prosper.

It is not so with the wicked;
they are like chaff which the wind blows away.  (Psalm 1:1-4)

We experience many choices in our lives. How we face them will depend on the choice we made concerning Jesus. He will determine our direction and ultimate destination. We remember this well known question from his disciple Thomas:

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.   (John 14:5-6)

Jesus has already made the most difficult choice that anyone could make. He chose to die on a cruel cross to wash away all our sins. What is the choice we make for him?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year C

Third Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 8

Track 1: Called up Higher

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Galatians 5:1,13-25
Luke 9:51-62

The day the disciples feared had come. Their leader and teacher would be leaving them. In the case of Elijah, his departure would bring about a great test of faith for Elisha. Elijah had prepared his disciple for this time, but his greater concern was answering the call from God to a higher ministry.

When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.   (2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-8)

Notice that Elijah, at this point, did not encourage Elisha to follow him. It was up to Elisha to determine what  was going on. By faith, Elisha knew that his teacher was departing, but he was not sure what that would mean. He would not allow Elijah to depart without his blessing.

The company of prophets was full of skeptics and unbelievers. At this point, God separated Elijah and Elisha from them:

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.   (2 Kings 2:6-8)

Elisha had proven himself by his loyalty and belief:

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.   (2 Kings 2:9-12)

Elisha no longer had Elijah. He now  needed to rely solely on God alone. On the other hand, the company of prophets dud bit believe Elisha’s account of what happened. They insisted on sending out search parties to look for him.

As disciples, if we seek the truths of God, we must be open to seeing and believing the Acts that God is doing, no matter how strange to us they may seem.

Elijah was translated directly to heaven. From there he still inspired and taught the prophets of God. John the Baptist was a prime example. The father of John the Baptist was given this prophecy by an angle of the Lord:

You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”   (Luke 1:24-27)

Jesus had often spoked to his disciples about his departure from this world, but they did not understand him. His earthly ministry was coming  to a close. Now he needed to concentrate more on the heavenly calling of his ministry: his cross, resurrection, and bodily ascension into heaven. Reading from Luke:

When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.   (Luke 9:51-56)

Jesus’ face was set toward Jerusalem. Nothing was going to deter him from what he must do, not even concerns from his disciples. The disciples of Jesus would soon have to learn a new way to understand their calling:

The Prophet Jeremiah wrote about this:

This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.   (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

Jesus explained as he was departing this world:

I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.   (John 14:25-26)

The Apostle Paul writes about the new disciple that is led directly by God through his Spirit:

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.   (Galatians 5:16-25)

Are we part of the new disciples who are lead by God alone? It is not to have a mentor, but mentor’s can fail us. We need a direct relationship with God. As Elisha, we need to be open to God. As the disciples of Jesus, we need to understand that Jesus is still with us in the Holy Spirit. All we need do is the exercise our faith and believe in what God is doing today. When our work is done we will be called up on high. All of us have a high calling. It begins not in the future. It starts now.

 

Track 2: Do Not Look Back

1 Kings 19:15-16,19-21
Psalm 16
Galatians 5:1,13-25
Luke 9:51-62

In today’s Old Testament reading we have the example of a calling of God to Elisha. It was made through the Prophet Elijah. What is remarkable is that Elisha realized the great sacrifice he would be making, but was willing to drop what he was doing ahd join Elijah almost immediately:

So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.   (1 Kings 19:19-21)

This was true of the disciples of Jesus as well. They left everything to follow him. The disciples would soon discover that their commitment to Jesus would be tested along the way.

Jesus called others to follow him as well. Some of them professed that they were willing to do so, but not immediately:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:57-62)

The initial test of discipleship is soon followed by another test. There is a second test. When things become difficult, are disciples willing to follow through on their commitment? Some of Jesus’ disciples did leave him.

Jesus said:

“If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit them if they gain the whole world but lose or forfeit themselves? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.   (Luke 9:23-26)

Persecution is what turns many away. Persecution is part of our calling. Jesus said:

I have said this to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution, but take courage: I have conquered the world!   (John 16:33)

How many of us are willing to pass the second test today? It is clear that many Christians have fallen away. Some have looked back to former times when things were better. Though prosperity is preached in many churches, it often fails to become a reality. Jesus did not declare that all his disciples would be wealthy:

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”   ()

If we are to become true disciples, with staying power, perhaps we need to look at other ways in winch God may bless us. The psalmist wrote:

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
my heart teaches me, night after night.

I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.

My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.

For you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor let your holy one see the Pit.

You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.   (Psalm 16:7-11)

To see this kind of blessing, we need to look ahead, by faith, and not back to the past. The Apostle Paul wrote that the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, ahd joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

God has so much to give us and show us. But he has not forgotten about our daily needs. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the gentiles who seek all these things, and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.   (Matthew 6:31-33)

The children of Israel complained in the wilderness:

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and ate our fill of bread, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Many in this generation never entered God’s rest. Is that to be us?  Will we look back and missed what God has for us? The Apostle Paul wrote:

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have laid hold of it, but one thing I have laid hold of: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal, toward the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.   (Philippians 3:12-14)

Leave a comment

Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year C