Sermon for 7th Sunday in Easter – 05/29/2022
Psalm 97; Acts 16:16-34; Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21; John 17:20-26
The promise of God’s protection, blessing, and you resides with those who “love the Lord.” To love Him is more than emotion, it is a commitment to a close and personal relationship with out God. We don’t become perfect by accepting Him into our life, but He has provided us to maintain a relationship with Him and it is through true repentance and a desire not to sin. This is our psalm concerning our relationship with our God, through His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and it addresses our commitment to our relationship with the Trinitarian God.
In the reading from Acts this morning, we read the story about Saul and his commitment to God as a Jew; it touches on his upcoming and education as a Jew, which was significant, but it also addresses his personal commitment to the persecution and elimination of those who believed in the Way, which was what people called each other before becoming Christians. It also addressed being at the stoning of Stephen, the first deacon of the church, and that he stood there and watched him being stoned to death, while Stephen asked God to forgive those who sought his life. Saul even held the clothes of those stoning Stephen, and I do not know for sure, but I suspect Stephen’s pleas to God for forgiveness of those who were taking his life and I think it was a stepping stone to the day that Jesus sought out Saul on the road to Damascus and turned his world upside down and he became Paul, one of the most prolific writers in the New Testament and faithful servants of Jesus. As Saul watched Stephen’s death, Stephen cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. Was this a preview of what Jesus was to say on the cross? I can’t imagine anyone witnessing this horrific act and not be moved, by Stephen’s last words.
From Revelations this morning, we hear that the throne of God and of the Lamb speaks of the unchallenged sovereignty of God in the Holy City to come, known as the New Jerusalem. The leaves of the tree of life in the new Jerusalem are for the healing of the nations. The healing ministry of the golden city will be adequate for every human hurt.
Worship and service are closely related. “his servants will serve him” could easily be translated as “His servants will worship him.” The messenger of God declared the revelations to be true and coming from God. Christ declared He would appear soon. Those who follow His revelations in the Bible are fortunate, for Christ is to appear to bring about all things. The sense of urgency in this comment, and Christ’s subsequent delay, leaves readers aware that the Lord of life wants His children alert at all times and that time is different in God’s mind and also His plans. How fitting that the last chapter of Revelation should draw the Inspired Scriptures to conclusion with a triple promise of Christ’s return! Blessedness and reward attach to His coming. The record of God’s redemptive revelation leaves the reader with the ringing announcement of he long hope for return of Jesus! Believers are not to worship supernatural beings, for no spiritual being in heaven can take the place of God alone. Repentance will no longer be necessary, for upon entering the kingdom of heaven, we are to be like God; therefore no need to repent. The holy will continue to be holy. Therefore the church lives in expectancy. Jesus is coming soon. The Spirit joins the church (the bride) in praying to Jesus to come.
The last two verses in the Bible are prayers. The Christian church lives with the expectant prayer that the great hopes of Revelation will come to pass soon. The Bible last words bless God’s people of all ages with Christ’s grace. God’s people are the saints. God’s grace rests on us while we wait for God’s final victory.
In our Gospel this morning, we hear of the Virgin Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth and her husband the priest, Zechariah. As she enters the home, Elizabeth is @ six months pregnant and hearing the voice of Mary, Elizabeth’s baby jumped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth proclaimed in a loud voice: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” “May said what am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” “Blesses she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”Verses 46-55 are called “Mary’s Song, and it explains so much to us. Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generation will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—-holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.’
Mary spoke prophetically through her Son of the blessings under the reign of her Son. The poor will be lifted up, and the hungry will be satisfied with good things. Jesus lived out this type of ministry. Christ’s disciples follow His example in meeting the needs of the poor and hungry, and we as His believing followers are to do no less. We are to go out into the world to seek out the needs of those in our communities, and to bring those needs to the church and church ought to be working to meet those needs, whatever they may be.
I regularly meet with meet at the city and some county groups, to see what the major needs are in relationship to the people. Schools are usually on the top of the list, then come food and clothing, housing, and of course these needs kind of rotate as top needs throughout the year. There are others: Abuse Centers for woman and children, family violence, and crime, and the list goes on an on. The people appreciate everything that they received and quite often will bless us for our efforts, but we need more and more people involved from the churches, to take on these efforts, because we all need a break at times, but the needs continue to go on. What has God called you to do? Have you felt His nudge towards something you could help with? I bet you have and it will continue until you decide to get involved. God loves His children, but he really blesses us for the work we do outside of the church or in concert with the church. One day soon you will hear someone say we need help with this or that, and if you stand up and say, “I can help.” Look out, for God will use you in a mighty way, to move that need to new heights. The point is, don’t ask Him to help you get involved, if you don’t want to do anything, because He will call upon you in a special way and you must respond, “I am ready.” Amen