Psalms….. There are Psalms that are appropriate for just about every emotion we might be feeling. I am beginning prep for a sermon and one of the lectionary readings is Psalm 47. It is one a praise and thanksgiving! Last time I preached was about doubting Thomas. I preached about not doubting our identity in Christ. Yea, I looked for the positive. It is kind of what I do sometimes, okay, usually.
This sermon is going to be on Ascension Sunday. Warning…. it is going to be an optimistic upbeat sermon, at least it will end that way. Psalm 47 is one of my texts to draw from for that message. It is one of praise. The texts from Luke and Acts assure us of the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell all believers.
I love books! Just ask my husband. I love books of all kinds: cookbooks, craft books, gardening books, theology books, novels, you name it. I also love books with more than one volume or series. When a book is really good, I never want it to end. Among the most popular serial books are The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Outlander, and Hank the Cow Dog. They are among the most popular series of books ever written. Okay, Hank the Cow Dog may not be a classic, but we loved it and the others are. Oh, and a Voice in the Wind, so good.
Today we spend time reading from a two-part work in the New Testament: the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles, sometime referred to as Luke-Acts. Luke, thought to be a physician, was a science-minded, detailed fella that wrote his works for someone named Theophilus. Some scholars think that Theophilus was an individual, perhaps a patron of Luke, or a government official, or perhaps we need to look more closely at his name. Theophilus literally means ‘Loved of God,” theo = God, Philus, (loved of). Perhaps this was the very brilliant Luke’s way of reaching more people.
Enlarge Your Tent? Is this something we are really called to do? It all depends on what our vision of our tent is. If we look at our tent as our possessions, then no! We are not called to increase our possessions in a way that makes us focus on our material worth. Our possessions become our idol, even our god.
I just completed a Christian leadership course through Revelation Wellness® called Launch. It is for the Revelation Wellness® certified fitness instructors who want more, who want to learn how to be leader with Jesus Christ as our foundation. It begins with a vision, mission, and core values. These are undergirded with the pillars on which all of these rest. The first of these pillars is “God first. God only.”
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Do you ever feel parched? Not just parched from a thirst that a cool glass of water can relieve, but parched in your soul. You feel weary, worn out, out of what we call “oomph” around my house. You are tired, unenthused about anything, perhaps discouraged? When I read the words “scorched earth” in this verse from Isaiah, these are the feelings that are brought to mind.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
What might your needs be in a sun-scorched land? Water to wet your mouth and shelter from the sun come immediately to mind. Can’t you just feel the sun beating down on you? It’s hot and you are weary from your travels. No air-conditioning, no shade, hot, hot, hot.
Our daughter was born in Connecticut in October of 1995. By then it was lovely and cool outside, but that summer was one of the hottest Connecticut had on record. Navy base housing did not have air conditioning. I will admit to being spoiled by AC. My parents installed AC in the house the year I was born. That was another scorcher, or so I hear. At any rate, it was hot and I was pregnant, and I was hot. Did I mention it was hot? There were a couple of nights I sat in a cool tub just to have a little relief. One night I even told my husband I was taking our son, just a baby himself, to a hotel and we were going to cool off. I didn’t really go, but I was desperate.
The heat concerns of that summer cannot really compare to what Isaiah is talking about here. It wasn’t really a scorched earth summer. He was talking about a scorched earth season of the soul. Have you felt that way? Chances are you have and may not have put this description to it, but the feelings most likely were there. Drained, exhausted, empty, devoid of any (wait for the technical word), as I said earlier, oomph!
What do we do when we feel as though our lives are in a season in the desert? We turn our hearts and our attention to the One who loved us first, loves us now, and always will. We turn our heart to God!
What if you are so frustrated and empty and feel that God does not even notice you anymore? Turn your eyes upon Jesus! You may say that is easier said than done. I can understand why you might feel that way. It is at this time we need, more than ever, to turn our eyes and heart to Our Creator. God chose to create us in His image. We were chosen, put here by God because He desired us to be. He simply desires us to be. Not be here, do this job, do this task, do anything. He chose us to be. A human being, not a human doing. Rest in that thought for a moment. We are here simply because God chose us to be.
He doesn’t need us to do a job for Him. The Creator of everything doesn’t need us. But He chose to create us. We are chosen by God for a unique and magnificent purpose. That purpose is to be in relationship with God. We bring God glory by being.
Now once we realize the gift of life that God has given us in Christ Jesus, a gift given freely by grace, we are transformed. We are a new creation. Not only did God give us life on earth, He sent Jesus that we might have life eternal with Him in heaven forever. We are transformed into someone who desires to do. We each are given gifts and talents to pursue the plans God has for us. We seek to live in God’s will, fulfilling His plan for us. That transformation leads us to share God with others in countless ways that reflect the gifts given to us.
This verse of Isaiah tells us that this life may at times feel like we live in a sun-scorched land, but we will be strengthened, like a well-watered garden, a spring whose waters never fail. How incredibly refreshing. Not just to cool us, but a refreshment that only comes from the living water of Jesus Christ. We are refreshed from within with the generous gift of the Holy Spirit filling us as a spring.
Try to imagine the most lush garden you can. See in your mind’s eye the life all around you. Healthy, robust, and at the same time tranquil and soothing. Feel the freshness, the palpable rejuvenation from being completely refreshed. The temperature is perfect. The humidity is perfect. The sounds of water running are relaxing. This never ending spring flows within us in the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is the gift of God, a well of love and refreshment that never runs dry. We will go through valleys. We will suffer loss and experience difficult times, but God, the God who created us to be in relationship with Him, will never leave nor fore sake us.
We are given gifts and talents for fulfilling our God-given purpose. But sometimes, we merely need to spend time being in God’s presence, being that well-watered garden, and rejuvenating from that spring whose waters never run dry.
We are so excited to introduce our upcoming “The Life of Christ in Art: The Annunciation”. This is the first in a series of programs tracing the life of Jesus from the Annunciation to the Ascension. Here is a quick introduction:
Coming March 1, 2021!
The full course includes an in-depth Bible Study of Luke 1:26-38, 20+ artworks, an insight into the lives of the artists, and so much more. We hope you will join us.