Monday, December 16, 2013

NOV 17 - Finding Your Place in the World and in the Word

26TH SUNDAY OF PENTECOST
17 NOV 2013
FR. PHILIP EBERHART




Do you ever wonder what God is up to?

Seems like almost constantly I'm walking around with this big question mark over my head?  I want to know what God is up to?  I want to know how I fit in with what God is up to!

Don't you?

I want to tell you this morning that God wants you to know what He's up to!  And that isn't for you necessarily, its for the world.  It's for the Kingdom of God.  God wants you to know how you fit and what He's doing, both in you and through you, for the sake of the Kingdom - for the sake of the world.

Have you ever had a week that felt like you were on the bumper car ride?  Just one collision after another?!!  Little sense of real purpose - just going through the motions.  Sometimes we feel like we're on that ride with a blindfold on!  Can you imagine?  But that's how life feels sometimes, getting 'blind-sided' from one side and then another.  Not a good feeling or experience.

How do we get off the ride - or at least get the blindfold off, so we can see where we are and what's coming?

Jesus had some things to say for us this morning in His remarks to the disciples there outside the temple.  They are caught up in the glory of the moment - sitting with the Rabbi, watching all the people go into the temple, admiring the architecture and the adornment of the temple - and Jesus says, " You know, all this that you see is going to be no more!"  "All will be thrown down!"

Jesus has their undivided attention at that moment.  And He continues to have our attention even today, as we hear these words our lives are set on edge - we want, like the disciples of old, to know "when" - "how" - "who"?  And Jesus lines out some of the "markers" of the end: wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes and famines and plagues."  But get this:  Here is what He says about them:

1.  Be careful not to be led astray.
2.  Do NOT be terrified.
3.  Use these things as an opportunity to speak for Me!

Even as Jesus is speaking to them about the end of the age, He is challenging them not to lose their focus on the work and the Word of the Kingdom.  In fact at the very end of the chapter, He reasserts this reality:  

v. 28...  Now when these things begin to take place, lift up your head, for your redemption is drawing near!
v 33 ...  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Words will never pass away!

We get caught up in watching the signs and speculating about the times we live in and Jesus is saying to us, "You will find your place in the world, even in the midst of the end times, when you find your place in the WORD."

Do not lose your focus, in these days, on the Word of God and the anchor that it provides for your soul and spirit!  When bad things are happening around us - and they are always happening around us - sometimes TO US...  When bad things are happening, find the WORD OF GOD.

I love this morning's collect - it is a road map to finding the wealth and security that is in the WORD OF GOD. Let's read it again together:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Hold up your hand.  Either hand is OK.  We're gonna use both! 

Wiggle your pinkie finger, and say,  "HEAR" ...
next finger ...     say ...   "READ"  ...
next finger ...     say ...   "MARK" ...
next finger ...     say ...   "LEARN" ...
and your thumb ... say ... "INWARDLY DIGEST" !

I love this!  Why do we need a whole "handed" approach to God's Word?  You've heard this before...

If you only "hear" you retain about 10% of what you hear.
If you add to your hearing, reading, you retain about 25 or so %.
More than double the retention - just remembering what you've heard and read!!  Wow!
If you add to your hearing & reading, marking ... what happens?Have you ever marked up a good text book?  When you mark it it is yours for keeps!  Right?  No selling it back to the bookstore! And you remember even where things are on the page - you can begin to find your way through the book a little better.  You retain better than half of what you mark.
Now add to all those, study or learning, you retain about 75% - 85%, maybe 90% of what you've heard, read, marked and learned.
But how to you really get a grip on the WORD OF GOD and make it truly yours?  Wiggle your thumb and say it again ... INWARDLY DIGEST" !!

How much is yours when its inwardly digested?   100%  and its INSIDE, where it counts.
So how do we get there?

Over and over again you've heard me stand up here and preach this...  It's good to have a friend,...   It's better to know his address!

We INWARDLY DIGEST something by eating it.  getting it inside.  Remember the cow and its cud?  That is the process that is in view here.  Memorize and Meditate on the Word of God - get it inside and let it come up for consideration.  

Throughout my ministry I've heard people say, "I just can't "hear" God speak to me!"  Have you tried this approach?  Have you listened, read, marked, studied and learned, memorized and meditated on His Word?  Because if you do these things, I will give you a personal guarantee.  Are you ready for it?

If you apply these principles you will be in a better place to hear God speak to you, day by day and moment by moment, because you will know His Voice!  And He will speak to you, day by day, moment by moment, through HIS WORD!

Now, let me bring this back around, as Jesus did in this morning's gospel:

The disciple were very interested in the signs of the times, the signs of the end as Jesus was teaching.  But Jesus brought it around to His Word - not just in them, but coming through them.

This is the promise for us this morning - If you want to know your place in the world, find your place in The Word!

Jesus winds up the list of horrific things that are going to happen at the end with these words:

This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

If we aren't supposed to prepare a defense, what are we to do then?  Hold up your hand:

Hear
Read
Mark
Learn
Inwardly Digest

May we pray:

Let's pray that collect one more time together: 

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what You would have us to do, that [through Your Word] the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in Your Word we may see light, and on Your straight path may not stumble, [for Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path]; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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