Monday, November 3, 2008

God's True Word to You

Why are you here this morning? Why did you set your clocks back one hour, get dressed, comb your hair, and maybe put on some perfume and cologne and drive or walk to church?
Did you come here for the fellowship? Did you come out of habit? Are you here because Mom or Dad made you come? Did you come hoping that I would have some words of inspiration that would help you get through the next week? Did you come to worship God?
I don’t really care why you came today. I once worked with a man who just hated it when I’d say, “I don’t care.” He believe that it implied that whatever we were talking about wasn’t important to me; it didn’t really matter in the greater scheme of things.
I do care that you are all here. It just isn’t important to me why you came. The reason being is that I know you are here because God called you to be here today. There is something here in this sanctuary, among these folks in this community of faith, that God wants you to experience today. It may be just to hear the Word read or a song sung, or to put your hand on the shoulder of a friend or to have them give you a hug. Whatever it is you are here because God desired you to be here in these pews.
So that puts the burden on me to proclaim the Word today, to preach the Message from the Bible. Friends, in the gospel lesson for today from Matthew Jesus says that we have only one Master, there is only one Father and we have only one Teacher. The greatest among us will be our servant. And so I am conflicted today. Am I the one who can teach today?
God is who I call my Father and my Master and I do look to Jesus to teach me how I should live and work. And I trust in the Holy Spirit to guide me and help interpret God’s word to me.
You all have come to church today to be fed; fed by hearing God’s word read and then to hear your pastor proclaim the Message of God’s love to you and then to be fed at his table.
Friends, I pray that the Spirit of Jesus Christ enables me to speak the words that each of you came to hear this morning. This morning God has led me to talk about hope.
I began this morning by asking, “Why are here?” I imagine that quite a number of us come to church to be filled with hope. Work can be pretty stressful. Just turning on the news raises the level of anxiety in our lives. Everyone is concerned about the economy and war and who the next leader of our nation is going to be. And the stress level keeps going up.
And so we come here for sanctuary and a word of hope, even me. So not only did you come here today for a particular reason but so did I. Sure, I know that I am expected to preach and teach but I also came to receive a word of hope from God. How He will send that Message to me I don’t know yet. I just know that I came with the expectation that God has something for me here.
We have already heard in the Psalm that God is good and his love endures forever. But what else does God want us to know? The Psalms are one of the best places to go to be taught about hope.
The psalmist says, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Hope in God because he will save you and he is your God. He also tells us to “Find rest…in God alone,” because your hope comes from him. He is your Rock and your salvation. He is your future.
Psalm 130:5, 7 “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. O Israel (First Presbyterian Church), put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.”
We are blessed when we put our hope in God when we turn to him for help as we find in Psalm 146:5. It gives God great delight when those who hold him in great reverence put their hope in his unfailing love (Psalm 147:11).
Why did you come here today? Did you come to be filled with hope? The prophet Isaiah says, “…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Friends, God gives you the stamina to keep at the work he has given you; the strength to fight against the forces of evil in the world.
Why are you here this morning? Maybe its to find out the plans God has for you. The prophet Jeremiah said, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Hope is a gift from God. In Lamentations it says, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail.”
Friends, this word I’m preaching today aren’t my words but the words of God; they are God’s true words to you. They show us that God may be beginning some new work in you or may be continuing the good work he began in you a long time ago.
You came for sanctuary. I pray that you have been filled with hope. Hope in God and hope in the future. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”
Friends, be filled with hope and pray that God will strengthen your faith in the power of his word. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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