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Were you Talking to Me? Yes! You Were! A sermon about God’s relationship with us!

Were You Talking To Me?
Yes, You Were Talking to Me

Isaiah 62:1-5

IHS

 May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ continue to astound you, as you realize that means God really loves YOU, He really loves You!

A More than a Bit Uncomfortable

One of the odd pleasures in my life happens on Monday Evening, as I hear the guys that I study worth gripe and complain about a term we use, to describe what we have as believers.  It is almost funny to watch their discomfort as we talk about relationships.

They struggle with the idea that God calls us into an intimate relationship with Him.  They will complain that guys don’t like to talk about relationships in general and that using the word “intimate” will shut almost every man down.

They will admit that there is no better phrase to describe what God calls us into. But they will still struggle with the phrase, and I don’t think it is just because of the words involved.

I think there is something deeper that bothers us, something that unnerves us.

Yes, it unnerves me as well! Please don’t tell the Monday night guys this, as much as I love talking about the intimate relationship God desires to have with his people, when it comes to talking about the God desiring that kind of relationship with me, my reaction is like Al Pacino’s.

Are you talking to me?  Are you talking to… ME?

Yes, the Old Testament is talking to us, about God and us, and a relationship deeper than anything we’ve ever known!

Why had the discomfort?

Hear some of the phrases from our Old Testament reading this morning,

Because I love (insert your name), I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for (insert your name again), I cannot remain silent.

How about this one,

2  The nations will see (insert your name) righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by (insert your name) glory!

It keeps going

(insert your name), new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the LORD delights in you and will claim (Insert your name) as his bride.

And finally

Then God will rejoice over (insert your name one last time) as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.

Yes, God is talking to us, these incredible words are
How comfortable are you with this?

Have to admit, it is a bit awkward for me to hear these words. I mean I love God, I love to hear about His love for me and all of His people, but it is a challenge to work through God not only loving us but desiring us, yearning for us, delighting in us. And it only gets worse when we take our us, and put in our individual names.  It is awkward, but once we get past that awkwardness, it is amazing!

I think the key is that second phrase up there, the one about the nations seeing our righteousness, about the world leaders being blinding by our glory.

It would make sense if we were that righteous, that holy, that glorious.  But I have to admit I am not.  A person who is righteous, who is holy, yes, they would certainly deserve the love of God. They would be the kind of person God would like, that he would delight in, that makes sense.

But you and I?

How righteous are we?  How much would God delight in what I did on Wednesday, or what you over there were thinking on Thursday, or on what you said to that irritating person last Monday?  What about the musicians, would God delight in everything you thought, said or did on Friday?
Really?

I think far more than the word relationship or the word intimate is our knowledge that God yearns, loves, and delights in us who do not deserve that kind of attention.  Someone else surely might, but not us.

We sin.  In our thoughts, in our words, and in what we do, and did not do.

That is why we are uncomfortable with this. We don’t deserve this kind of attention.

What if God, after all of this, realized that who He loved would struggle with faithfulness.  For that is what sin is, it is our not being faithful to God.  When we sin, it is as if we were cheating on God.  No, not as if we were cheating on God, we do cheat on God when we sin.

Unfaithful in a deep, intimate relationship with the God who loves us.

Yeah, that makes us uncomfortable.

This is Your God…


But hear God again,

1  Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.

It may seem odd for God to pray for us, you should insert the word “interceding”. He promises He isn’t going to stay passive, He says that twice!  He isn’t going to stop interceding in our lives until we are as righteous until the fact of our salvation is so glorious that no one can deny it.

That’s the love of God for you.  That is the work on the cross, and the work of the Holy Spirit every day.

God determines that He guarantees that no one can ever call us forsaken, for He will not forsake us. We will have hope, for God ensures no one can call us desolate. Instead, God tells us He will delight in us, That we are the Bride of Christ, that He has made a covenant, a promise to us that we will always be His as He marks us with His name.

Here God is giving us a new name again, this time from the Book of Revelation.

Rev 3:12 — All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

And God won’t stop working in our lives until we are victorious.

This is our God, this is the God who yearns for us, who loves us, who delights in us, Who shows that love in the work He does, making us His own.  In the work, He accomplishes in us, and through us.

That is the relationship He creates in our Baptism, that He restores through our hearing of His love and hearing that we are forgiven, that we celebrate with a foretaste of the wedding feast, that we call communion and the Lord’s Supper.

For this is our God, who works in us deeper than we even are aware of, this is the God, who yearns for His people, so much that Christ would die to make our new name a reality.

So let us celebrate!  He knows our name when making these promises, Yes, He is really talking to you when He talks of His love and delight. (and me!)

AMEN!

 

Struggling in Life? Will You Let It Be A Blessing?

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day

6  Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. 7  Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8  You love him, although you have not seen him, and you believe in him, although you do not now see him. So you rejoice with a great and glorious joy which words cannot express, 9  because you are receiving the salvation of your souls, which is the purpose of your faith in him. 1 Peter 1:6-9 (TEV)

10  “Stop fighting,” he says, “and know that I am God, supreme among the nations, supreme over the world.” 11  The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalm 46:10-11 (TEV)

70         You asked me if I had a cross to bear. And I answered, “Yes, we always have to bear the Cross.” But it is a glorious Cross, a divine seal, the authentic guarantee of our being children of God. That is why we always walk along happily with the Cross. (1)

I have been “suffering” with a head cold for about a week.  I loathe such things because I can not take medicines that would reverse the symptoms.  It’s not really suffering persay, but it is discomforting, it wrecks my normal patterns, it destroys the idea I have control.

All suffering, minor like my cold, or the real suffering people go through have that effect.  Suffering wrecks the normal nature of our world.  Even when we embrace suffering and sacrifice out of love for someone else, it can become something that robs us of our joy.

It doesn’t have to.

For in or suffering, whether forced upon us or chosen, whether great or small, can reveal something to us.  We aren’t alone.  For we get through such times knowing the presence of God.  We find out our faith is real, that it is not hollow words.  Because we find out the Lord in whom we trust, in whom we depend, in whom we have faith, is real.  And He is with us.

As we slow down, as we tire of the agitation and anxiety, we find ourselves kept in Christ, treasured by his love. We find ourselves in peace, one we can’t explain, one that is impossible, one that comes from God being our refuge, our sanctuary.

It is from that point we find our joy exploding, the love of God so overwhelming and transforming that it resonates within us, and causes others to know that joy as well.

The suffering isn’t the blessing, yet it is a source of the blessing, as it drives us to God.

Such is our life in Christ.

For we know His mercy, and His love, and His peace….

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 514-517). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Do you want a “comfortable” life or ministry?

Discussion/Devotional Thought of the Day:

 19  A teacher of the Law came to him. “Teacher,” he said, “I am ready to go with you wherever you go.” 20  Jesus answered him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lie down and rest.” 21  Another man, who was a disciple, said, “Sir, first let me go back and bury my father.” 22  “Follow me,” Jesus answered, “and let the dead bury their own dead.”      Matthew 8:19-22 (TEV)

 Copy me, my brothers, as I copy Christ himself. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (Phillips NT) 1

148    Why stoop to drink from the puddles of worldly consolations if you can satisfy your thirst with waters that spring up into life everlasting?  (1)

I am still in awe that the Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom was created everything that has been created, journeyed around thinking nothing of His own comfort.  Jesus should have been afforded every comfort, and took none, sleeping on the ground with a rock ( which He created) as His pillow, the ground as His bed. His service (we like to call it a nicer word ministry) to us was His focus, and discomfort was taken on gladly.  Because of His love for the Father, because of His love…for us.

We are not so willing to follow Him, to make His life our pattern.  We want to have the positions that are comfortable, the ministries that are peaceful and growing, and without conflict or pain.  I myself have wondered recently, what would happen if I got a call that was to a church that was a distance off, far from our families and friends.  ( If it was in upstate New Hampshire or near Boston – that’s cool – but… that’s me looking after my comfort zone again!)  Would I be willing to endure that?  Or what about another conflicted parish?    What about going back to being bi-vocational?

I take my comfort in my electronics – I am presently struggling because my smartphone is in the shop, and I was given an ancient model (circa 2007) to replace it while it is there.  Oh the indignity! Oh the suffering of dealing with a 2 inch screen  (my 6 year old thinks its so cool and retro -cute!)

How much do we look for our comfort, for our lives and not look to where Paul looked,  because he copied (as best as he could) Jesus.

How can we find our comfort, our consolation (look it up in the dictionary – cool word) in the things of this world – the homes, the cars, the safe community, when something more is there…..

Something more fulfilling, more enduring, more incredible.

Something that will leave us in awe…

Can we look to Jesus, the author, finisher, model of our faith… and take up our cross… and for His sake, for His service, for His mission… follow Him?  Can we go where He  wants us to go – not giving thought to the cost… knowing the cost of the sins of people – that they need to know has been paid?

Lord, Have mercy on us, help our perspective, help our will and desires to be copied from You, and give us your strength and power to see that happen.

Amen.

Jesus and Saint Peter, Gospel of Matthew 4.18-...

Jesus and Saint Peter, Gospel of Matthew 4.18-20 Français : Jésus et Saint Pierre, Évangile selon Matthieu 4.18-20 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 481-482). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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