Isaiah 40: 21-31
MARK 1: 29-39
“I shall pass through the world but once: any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now, let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.”
I lost a friend this week … Mark Turner. He was the guitar player at my last church when I formed its first praise team during my ministry. Mark was 42 years old. Those words were on his prayer card … but what truly mattered was that Jesus Christ was in Mark’s heart … that my friends is the SUPER NEWS of the day. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who walked this earth … who taught with a voice that countered what people were used to hearing … who challenged the religious leaders of His day who were more wrapped up in worldly power than in sensing God … Jesus who went to the cross … Jesus who rose from the tomb … Jesus who ascended into heaven … that Jesus was ultimately Mark’s Lord and Savior.
And, because of that … I know where Mark is today. Truly Mark won the championship game of life. One of the pastors at Mark’s service said that when the day our lives is over … you only take your soul with you. My friends, the SUPER NEWS is that God has given us an easy path to victory for eternity … when one of the leaders of the religiously powerful Pharisees came to the Son of God under the cover of darkness he was told
“God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
Friends … Jesus had some SUPER NEWS for Nicodemus … God has some SUPER NEWS through Jesus for us … “Whoever believes …. Is not judged but will have eternal life.”
The SUPER NEWS is something that Paul shared with the Galatians … something that is essential to share … something that we need to teach … something that we need to preach … because to proclaim the niceties of nature may make one feel good but to live as people of faith … to believe in Jesus Christ … when it is all said and done … when our souls are all that is left to us … that ultimate question falls back to what is here …
Yes, this church family will be filling rooms with cheers for the Philadelphia Eagles today. Yes … we want to be able to cheer E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES tomorrow because the world will know the SUPER NEWS that Philadelphia defeated New England but even that Super Bowl victory no matter how good it might make you feel … is nothing … absolutely nothing compared to walking into glory knowing that in this life you truly believed and lived your life as a person of faith. That I hope … that I pray … will be the heavenly news story of the day when each of you come face-to-face with the Creator of the Universe and God welcomes you home.
When you can join Paul in declaring
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And, the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. I don’t ignore the grace of God.”(Galatians 2:19-20).
The essence of church … the gathering of believers … is to reinforce and remind ourselves of God’s call … God’s teaching … church is the place where pastors strive to remind the people in the pews of the differences between the world and God’s call. It’s so easy to hear the world .. to bow down to its desires … to join with friends … and to squeeze God into just over ONE HALF OF ONE PERCENT of our breathing moments of the week. That’s what Sunday worship is … one hour out of our 167 hours of weekly breathing time … just over ONE HALF of ONE PERCENT of our time in a week … so that means we are out in the world the other NINETY NINE and 4 tenths percent of our time, which is where we hear our friends and neighbors telling us how to live life … television blasts at our faces and ears messages that range from the mundane to endorsements of violence and abhorrent sexual practices as do our movies. The constant drum beat that runs counter to Scripture is something none of us can avoid hearing so it is in here … in church that we get exposed to God’s SUPER NEWS … to God’s directives that well over 50 percent of the time run counter to the world’s view.
And, pastors who are far from perfect try to share those messages from Scripture that get people in the pews thinking and that challenge… Sunday School teachers try to mold future generations in a way that their hearts open to Jesus before they open to the concept of a college scholarship because of youth sports when the truth is only Jesus will make a difference when life is over with … singers use their voices to lift up praises to God so that those hearing the notes and listening to the words can feel the joy and peace the faith brings … Bible study teachers take adults on new journeys into God’s Holy Word that can only come from in depth discussions and work. Each individual who takes on a mission project showcases that faith without works does not exist … they make meals, they sleep on church floors, they rebuild homes, and they wrap their arms around the hurting declaring the GOOD NEWS.
All of these pastors, teachers, music teachers, and missionaries are the same as every other human being … sinners in need of Salvation … no better than anyone else … not looking to create replicas of themselves but hoping that the SUPER NEWS of Jesus Christ lifts the individuals impacted by their words and actions to a place in life where they too will begin to use their gifts and talents from God for God … that their first thought before speaking or taking an action in life is directly related to the fact that CHRIST LIVES in them … and Jesus has already taught what that kind of life is like.
Did you hear the words of the prophet that Claudia shared with us today?
“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? Wasn’t it announced to you at the beginning? Haven’t you understood since the earth was founded? GOD INHABITS the earth’s horizon … Look up at the sky and consider who created these.”
Friends, the news of the Almighty is SUPER NEWS!!! The printing presses have put together the GOOD NEWS that exceeds anything that will ever appear on the six o’clock news … it’s on the internet … it’s in the heart of believers …
Tonight at about 6:30 a truly odd shaped ball when you think about it is going to be kicked into the air. Either the kicker or the one waiting to receive the football into his arms will be a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. If the kicker is an Eagle then we want the receiver of the ball to fumble it but if the one receiving the call catches it we will be wanting to see him sprint the length of the field putting the Eagles on the scoreboard in the first seconds of the game.
Now, the odds of either of those two situations occurring are remote at best … we know the game will come down to 60 minutes of plays that have been carefully practiced over and over again during these last two weeks by the 53 men on each team. Those men have been coached over and over and over again by coaches. I am sure that at times the players say ‘just let us play’ we don’t need to be coached. Just let us run wild on the field and do our own thing … maybe the running backs would put a plan together with the tight ends and the quarterbacks would have a different plan … just let them play.
If our EAGLES were not well coached … if the EAGLES didn’t get reminded of the game plan over and over again … then their chances of winning on the field would be pretty much zero. But there is Doug Pederson … doing all he can to remind his players of the game plan. Even when they don’t want to hear the details … even when they think that their friends have a better idea … it’s the game plan that provides the pathway to victory … then it’s putting the game plan into action so that we can all celebrate SUPER NEWS when the Eagles win.
“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. God doesn’t grow tired or weary. His understanding is beyond human reach, giving power to the tired and reviving the exhausted. Youths will become tired and weary, young men will certainly stumble; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will not be tired; they will walk and not be weary.”
So, imperfect pastors will coach and teach and remind people in the pews of God’s call to people of faith by sharing Scripture lessons about the choices God wants us to make not the choices the world wants … that we are to live with Christ in us not setting Him aside once we leave church. That we have another 167 hours each week to represent Jesus in all we do, in how we live, and the stands we take in life. Just like imperfect coaches will coach and teach and remind players what to do in their 60 minutes on the field.
We only pass through this world once … God’s presence is so very clear … God’s love is truly evident and through Jesus God’s Son we have the path to live eternity in glory when we truly believe.
God sent His Son into the world to save the world …
At the end of our time here on earth only our souls will survive …
But, those with hope in the Lord … those who believe … our strength will be renewed … this morning the Table of the Lord renews us and reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love for us … sense the strength … hear the SUPER NEWS … there is no need to be tired … do not be weary … walk the path of faith with Jesus in our heart … let Christ live within you so that those who meet you discover the SUPER NEWS of God that they too are loved … and friends FLY UP ON WINGS LIKE EAGLES!
Watch a video of today’s service: