Sermon – 06/21/2020
Psalm 86:1-10; Jeremiah 20:7-13; Romans 6:1-11; Matthew 10:24-39
Once when I was a teenager, I was asked by teacher who led our debate team to join, well actually he just welcomed me onto the team. I was taken aback, as I had not sought to be on the debate team, but the honor to be asked seemed nice enough until the next day when he presented me with the subject I would be talking in favor of at the following weeks debate. It was as a proponent of the use of LSD!
I went back to him and said I’m not in favor, but he said I heard you talking in the hallway the other day on a subject that I know you are not in favor of and you did so as if you were, as it affected people that you care about and you spoke with a fervor that not many choose to mention, much less talk about. The subject was on those with mental illness. The discussion was on behalf of a couple of guys in our school that had challenges, but were not stupid or unable to do the work, it just took them a little more time than others. The individual I was talking with regularly go one of these guys to do his homework and I stood up for them. So I took my assignment and delivered it after researching the drug, using as my subject matter expert, Timothy Leary, who had once been a well respected psychologist and strong proponent of the use of psychedelic drugs, primarily LSD. He lost his credibility and standing as a psychologist and his job at Harvard to his use and propagation of drugs with his students and research subjects.
As I read the Scripture from Jeremiah, I couldn’t help but understand his situation. The message God had called him to proclaim, was not an easy message to deliver, as he could hear people whispering about him everywhere he went; yet, the message was so important, he could not hold it within him, no matter how much he tried to! “Oh Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So, the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.” Although Jeremiah had these feelings, and I’m sure you and I would have also, he was obedient to the Lord’s call to proclaim God’s message. Verse 13 sums up God’s promise, “Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.”
In Romans, Paul points out that Jesus’ victory over sin gives victory over death, including the immediate victory over spiritual death and the victory over physical death. Eternal life is therefore granted Immediately and resurrection in the future. Grace that saves us is not a license to sin or live in any manner we deem to live. The grace that frees us from sin is also the resource to live a lift of obedient love to the call of God. The spiritual nature of people is transformed through the death and resurrection of Jesus, who offers us eternal life. Accepting Him, we die to the power of sin in our lives, letting His power control our choices. We will live life transformed by His grace and we are to share the message of salvation with all we come into contact with. Like Jesus, we must face physical death. His resurrection promises us victory over death’s power. Our spiritual death transforms us as it did Jesus. Upon His return, we all will be raised, though those who reject Him will not be in the Kingdom.
So we have three solid examples of proclamation, that is not always easy to present to others, especially if we do not know them. We have been assured by God that our proclamations are backed up by Him, that we need have no fear; by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are under His grace, and that we also commit ourselves to a life-style change by turning away from sin and turning to Christ; and God knows our every need and will at the right time and moment, fulfill those needs. In our open and honest acceptance of God through Christ, we are making a public statement to all people around us, that sin no longer guides our lives; instead, the Holy Spirit is our guide. Amen.
In Matthew, we are taught that proclamation or proclaiming the Word is backed by God. We should, therefore, have no fear in proclaiming the good news. In fact, we are taught to share the news with “all nations.” Jesus put great emphasis on the loving, faithful nature of God as Father. In His infinite wisdom, God knows our every need. His knowledge of our needs is linked to His doing something about our needs. He extends His care to the most common and insignificant appearing birds. How much more can we count on His care!
Final judgment will depend on Jesus’ word to the Father concerning each person. Total allegiance to Him and commitment to His way of life are the criteria for judgment. Those who acknowledge Christ before others will be acknowledged by Him to the Father. Jesus expects disciples to make their faith a matter of public knowledge.
Beloved, not everyone will accept Jesus’ message, for the gospel runs at cross purposes with the values and vision of the world we live in. Thus, in some cases it will cause conflict. It’s call reverses worldly priorities so that God takes first place even before family relationships. Jesus did not intend to cause conflict, but the natural reaction of the unbeliever is to oppose all who live out Christ’s message.