Well, I hope you are all plugged in and ready to be re charged again… You know I took away 3 things from Steve’s talk last week,
Firstly, I think I fall into the category of not being a morning person, as no matter how good my intentions are, the ability to stay in bed is sometimes way too hard to overcome and push through to rise out of bed and pray, which tells me, on my own, I’m not good enough and never will be good enough, no matter my deeds.
Secondly, Coming to church and hearing Gods word, the Good news is recharging for our daily lives whether we are currently on a high or a low, battling conflict and or in times of darkness.
And third, Steve made a lovely little trinity reference when speaking of JOY… Did you hear it. Where you listening?… was your charger plugged in… He said, JOY… You can hear it. You can see it. You can feel it. Ladies and gentlemen, 3 in one. The trinity, the father, the son, the holy spirit. God. Three in one.
After last week listening about recharging our faith, I feel it is important to mention that Sunday Church is not the only recharging outlet we have in our lives. We have available outlets in our homes. Our Beds, lounge rooms… I even have one in my toilet. The home of my daily devotional. The toilet is 99.9% of the time, the first stop of my day, where I sit down by myself quiet.
Thinking about recharging, it got me thinking about how to get the best recharge, and the joy, peace and comfort it can bring, this led me back to Nige’s talk the previous week on the Baptism of Jesus and the accompanying scripture of, Matthew 3:13-17. In particular 16, when Jesus had just been baptized and the heavens opened and the spirit of God like a dove descended down from heaven and landed on him with Gods voice saying, “This is my son whom I love: with him I am well pleased”. But what else can this pivotal moment in history offer us.
I turned to the accompanying scripture of Luke the Doctor, further insight and important instruction is provided. In Luke 9.35, the word states, and, remembering the word is God. “This is my son. Who I have chosen, Listen to him”.
The next chapter of the bible being (Matthew 4) tells us of the spirt leading Jesus into the wild to be tested, the word tells us, this testing was pre-arrange/organised. It would be the first strike, first punch, of the devil. Literally, What he had been waiting for, for so long, he would have been enthusiastically thinking about and planning it.
This would be the only real shot the devil had, one on one with Jesus, he would not waste it. This was game time. It wasn’t a hap hazard, I’ll put a line here to start the game like in boxes, or as simple as a kick-off in football. It was a pre-meditated and well thought out and approved strike that the devil would have believed to be an effective and challenging temptation only striking after Jesus he had been 40 days and nights in the wild fasting and hungry, with no physical energy, a point where he believed was the best time to enter and he did, telling Jesus to turn stone into bread so he could eat. However, Jesus replied, It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
It was a simple response and one that the devil had not thought of. Yet it was a powerful counterstrike ending the first round and paving the way to victory.
So what did Jesus mean by this?
how do we take in the word?
We listen. How do we recharge, we listen to the word. Like instructed. As the word nourishes us and enriches us, it recharges us. It grows in us.
Listening is so crucial God again speaks it in Matthew 17:5, in the transfiguration story where, Jesus, Peter, James and John were on top of a high mountain. And Jesus transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and his clothes turned as white as light. And Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Jesus.
Peter a gasp begun to speak, offering to give them privacy, however, as he was speaking, God interrupted, “This is my son, whom I love and am well pleased. Listen to him”. Peter and the disciples immediately coward, fell down to the ground. Can you see the authority of God?
This re intensifies the power and importance of listening.
God help the kids when leesh asks them a third time to get off their Ipads for dinner. Although they don’t fall down to the ground terrified. They move terrifyingly quick to the table with serious faces on.
You See, recharging is not going somewhere. or simply watching something. To effectively recharge we must Listen. Listen to the word of God. After all, john 1:1, In the beginning, was the word, and the word was with god and the word was God.
However, for us to listen, some one must first call out.
The prophets, prophesied so they could be heard and people would listen. The prophet Isiah in our first reading today 9:1-4. Called out, he called out during a time of oppression with only gloom and darkness in the foreseeable future, hoping that people would hear of the hope and the light to come.
He used the gloom and past oppressions of the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali to show hope in that how that gloom would one day turn to honour and glory in the future, as these lands would become to be known as galilee, the area north east of Israel and the starting point of Jesus ministry.
Galilee in Jesus day was the most fertile land in Palestine and the most populated as it was on a trade route with a multicultural society open to new ideas.
Did you know, Alexander the Great actually marched through the area a few hundred years earlier, he conquered Judea around 332BC. His visit and world domination at the time brought the Greek language, and radically different ideas of religion to the region increasing it’s openness to change. However as such it also became distant from Israel and the region was frowned upon by the pharisees due to the Gentile’s (person who is not Jewish) and Pagan influences.
What a fantastic area to call out and introduce Jesus and proclaim the Good News. It was a fertile field of people open to teachings, happy to listen with the location being accessible to all parts of the known world. Is there any wonder why God chose here, for Jesus to start his ministry? To ignite his light in our world.
This is what Isiah hints too in turning a land of gloom into a land of light. Verse 2, on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. A light shining to attract and offer hope to former, non and current believers. In other words, all people of the world.
This light Is Jesus and the starting point of Gods plan to save us from the darkness and ourselves through his love and grace.
Let’s look at this moment in time. As we revisit our second reading. We now know the importance of listening (God Specifically tells us this) and we know for us to listen, someone has to call out.
Guys, who calls out. Jesus! the first recorded words of Jesus ministry found in Matthew 4:17 before he had his disciples, he called out “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven has come.” In Mark it’s further emphasised, “the time has come. The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news”.
He called out repent.
Repent to me used to be a scary word. A church word that I found off putting and confronting to be honest. I presume it was because the way I heard it in movies when kings or priests would yell it out loudly in the face of persons, sick, possessed or captured, generally the down and out hero who had the audience barracking for him.
However, I have recently discovered, the Word Repent simply means, to feel or express sincere (honest) regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin. More plainly, To be very sorry for something bad you have done in the past and wish that you had not done it. (Cambridge Dictionary). Is this something we have not all felt before, Christian or not.
Biblically Speaking, repent is to turn from evil and turn to good. A change of mind, that naturally results in a change of action. Turn towards God for help. Recognising him as our lord and saviour who loves us and wants to provide for us.
So Jesus, uses his first words of his ministry to call out to us. So we could listen and turn towards him for guidance, love, peace, comfort, strength, hope. I could go on as all goodness is God. Jesus therefore became a light. A light in a world of darkness with a prince, the devil, the ruler of the world present and still present today, seen in John 14:30, Encouraging, tempting, hate, Jealously, Self-glorification. Everything that is not love.
Jesus lived and is a light for us today. He wants us to listen to his call, change our direction towards him. Without light, darkness takes over. However, darkness must give way to light and Light will always win. Think on this, as we continue on, John 1:10, He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him.
Is that not true today?
However, Simon later to be called peter and his brother Andrew heard his call and so did, James and his brother John on the shores of Galilee. They, as I have mentioned previously, responded to his calling with action. They dropped their nets leaving everything behind, and followed Jesus.
The followed to Listen, watch and be witnesses to the Miracles and goodness that flow from Christ. We hear, once the disciples left with Jesus in Mathew 4:23, Jesus went through out Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness amongst the people. Jesus continued to call out to the people, so they could listen and change their direction towards him, the Kingdom of God.
These early disciples later used what they witnessed and heard from listening to Jesus, to call out to the world and US.
God is calling us to him. Are you listening?
The recent bush fires in out Country and nearby Forster were sole destroying, homes and lives lost. The land once the fire had gone through was left black, dead, desolate, appearing to have no life. However, a few weeks later and we see, in this picture supplied by our favourite neighbourhood postman Dave, (make sure you call out to him next time you see him). We see glory in a land which was once and very recently full of gloom and darkness. The bright green of the palm reminds me of a light in a dark world. A light of Life, a light of love. The light of God calling out, all is well, I’m here, darkness cannot defeat me. Turn to me.
Is our world not like the mountain ranges to our west. Some of the trees, well a fare few of them actually have gone brown. You can see it with your own eye. They are crying out for something they cannot see. Underground they are searching and seeking for a source of peace and comfort in darkness with no light to guide them. Like our world.
1 Corinthians 1:18. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but for us who are saved, it is the power of God.
For those that do not listen, death is a reality, no matter how far they search or yell out. Like those trees need water, we need the Holy spirit.
For us, who are able listen to the words of scripture, God’s grace and love is given. And with this grace and love comes responsibility. It is not to be kept and locked away as a secret. It is to be shared with Joy and called out with praise. As you never know who is listening or watching.
The best way we can do this, is actively listening to the callings of God, through the words of the bible, whilst recharging ourselves, increasing our wisdom and humbly praising God through our actions.
Just before I finish
Over Christmas, my beautiful, mother In law commented to me about the obvious love Aleesha and I share together and how as a family you can see the love between us all. She even mentioned the joy and happiness she gets from watching us. I didn’t even know she had been watching, let alone what we had been doing over the last 2 days. But I replied instinctively, That’s God in our lives mum. She smiled and nodded. I hope she listened to the call of God that day. Look what I bring.
If you only remember three things from toady, let it be
God is calling you.
Listen to him
Change direction towards him, let him be your focus
There is a wonderful psalm, psalm 27 that highlights beautifully the greatness of God. And yes, with the talents of Rich, We’re are going to sing it.
May the grace of the lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit