14th Sunday of Pentecost
August 26, 2018
Fr. Philip Eberhart
Choose You This Day: Willingness - Availability - Obedience !!
I want to thank you for the invitation to share here at St. Peter's this morning. One of the dangers of guest preachers, ... well, any preacher ... is the temptation to be profound. It usually leads to a need to be at the preacher's 12-step group: On And On Anon! Right, Fr. Edward?
And I'm not naturally profound, like Fr. Ed. So I have to work at it, which often turns out to be a bad thing, time wise. So instead, this morning I'm going to opt for short and sweet. And maybe, by grace, profound.
A few months ago I had the great privilege of going to Jerusalem for the GAFCON meetings, which were some of the most beautiful and deeply meaningful worship times I've ever encountered - singing some of the great hymns of the faith with 2000 Anglicans from around the world. It was as close to heaven as I'm probably going to get on this side! Every tribe, tongue, nation and people. There was no division, no strife - only joy and grace in our midst as we worshiped there.
Friends, I can tell you that what God is doing around the world is staggering, in every denomination and corner of the globe, Aslan is on the move!! My prayer for decades has been, Lord, don't pass us by! Don't pass us by in the west ... in the US. Come and do here what you are doing everywhere else. But we are a special challenge for God!
But God is used to challenges!! Look at your OT reading.
I had the opportunity to stand on Mt. Gerazim in Israel, just before coming home, just above modern day, Nablus, the site of ancient Shekem! The very valley where Joshua gathered the people and preached the sermon we read earlier:
15 And if it is
evil in your eyes to serve the Lord,
choose this day whom you will serve,
whether the gods your fathers served in
the region beyond the River, or the gods
of the Amorites in whose land you
dwell. But as for me and my house, we
will serve the Lord.”
Every day we need to heed the warning that Joshua gave the people that day and like he and his house, we must "choose" to serve the Lord.
We live in a culture here in the west which is growing more and more anti-God. We pray and we worry - sometimes we worry our prayers - have you ever done that? But it says to pray your worries. That means that we have to leave them at the Altar. Leave them in the hands of God.
That's another sermon though.
Choose you this day whom you will serve.
Every morning, the psalmist and the prophet say, "His mercies are new."
Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God My Father - There is no shadow of turning with Thee -
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not - As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.
sing it with me...
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Every morning we need to check in with Father.
Whether its a formal prayer time or just a self check, before your coffee or OJ. Here's my suggestion:
Good Morning, Lord! (It's better than Good Lord it's morning!)
Good morning, Lord. It's me again. Just checking in. Lord, I believe today, will you help my unbelief? Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the Joy of my Salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me" (Ps 51)
After I check my pulse in the morning to see if I'm still alive, I check in with Father. And then I check my willingness.
Am I willing to be HIS today? And not just that am I willing to do HIS WILL today? Jesus said, "Not my will, but Thine, O Lord." Mary said, "Be it unto me, according to Thy Word." Joshua, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Are you willing?
And so we set out each day with a willing spirit, a willing heart, to be HIS and to be HIS Ambassador! Ambassadors of RECONCILIATION, of MERCY, of GOD'S UNFAILING LOVE! Paul says that "God is making HIS plea through us: Be reconciled to God."
Have you ever experienced ... Ambassadorship?
It's a 24/7 gig. You live your life in the Embassy.
A little piece of the home country in the country you are an Ambassador to! Wherever you go, you're The Ambassador. You're going on state business. The King's or President's business.
Does that set your daily life in a bit different light?
So if you're an ambassador, and it's a 24/7 deal, are you up for that? Are you ... available... for that? See that's the second thing.
Joshua told the people, after warning them and hearing their confession of faith and determination, he told them to "incline their hearts!"
Incline your heart - means to lean into the presence of God - become willing and make yourself available - to Him and His purpose today.
His purpose in this moment - in this Divine Appointment?
Ever have one of those moments where you say to yourself, "Hmmm, this isn't an accident! I can see some Divine fingerprints here!" Some call them coincidence - I call them God Incidents - Divine Appointments. And they come because we make ourselves AVAILABLE to GOD.
Anyone here a little shy? Not sure I can actually be an Ambassador! Speak on God's behalf? That's kind of scary. Let's think for a moment about the word, availability. Two words really - avail & ability. It's an incarnational word! It's a partnership word. AVAIL means to make yourself present - to present yourself. Who are you presenting yourself to in this instance. GOD!
But what about my ability? I'm fearful, unbelieving, shy, unsure of my faith, "how can God use me?" To AVAIL means I give myself to HIM even when I'm seeing myself as having nothing. In fact, that is the way He wants it. Because the ABILITY is HIS, not yours!! This is the Incarnation in practice - this is full partnership with God in His mission! Just remember that Avail-ability has those two parts - and that is the key. You AVAIL yourself to GOD'S ABILITY!
And finally, let's land this plane...
When your eyes are opened and you see God's hand and His fingerprints on an appointment; when you hear Him speaking a word of scripture to encourage another person; when you feel or see a need in another; (at REZ, we say, "if you see a need, you're in the game!); when you are able to reach out in love to another; when its your turn to play ... get in the game!
JUST DO IT! Be Obedient!
Step out of the boat! Get out of your comfort zone! Live the life of an Ambassador for God.
Sometimes simple is profound.
Willingness... Check in each day. Here Am I, Send me!
Availability ... Lord I avail myself to Your ability. Apart from You, I can do nothing! But with You, all things are possible!
Obedience ... Whatsoever thy hand findeth to DO, DO IT with all thy might!
You, each and every one of you, are an Ambassador of Christ, in this community, in your family, in your workplace, on your vacation, everywhere you go, everyday of your life, every moment of every day.
"When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, You will receive power to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8)
Be willing, be available, be obedient to God.
Let me pray for you all.
Lord Jesus Christ, You stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross, that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace; So clothe us with Your Spirit, that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you, to the knowledge and love of You, for the honor of your Name.