Where Would You Rather Be?
Ephesians 3: 14-21
JOHN 6: 1-21
“This is why I kneel before the Father … Glory to God who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by His power at work within us.”
Why do you kneel before God? And, did you catch Paul’s phrasing? Right before Paul writes to the church in Ephesus stating “Glory to God in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and always Amen.” Did you notice when Kathy read the Scriptures … did the phrase leap out at you when I read those few words?
I will make you think about it for a moment or two or if you carried your Bible with you today to church, which is something that past generations did every Sunday long before pew Bibles were made available followed by our modern technology that allows you to follow God’s Word in a very visible and easily accessible way.
Before I come back to that phrase … those words … I want to ask each of you to consider where would you rather be right now? On a Sunday morning … on this Sunday morning that we pause for individual prayers of healing but then again on any Sunday morning because you have a choice. We have a choice. In one month there will be evidence of the choices made by those who attend this church shown by the numbers of children in Vacation Bible School.
When the storms in life hit … the difficult moments; when your body aches or your mind tears you apart in ways that no friend or family member can see but you want to scream because of the inner sadness or confusion … where but in the arms of Jesus Christ would you want to be?
Imagine the total surprise of those who saw the disciples boat come ashore the night after the violent storm. I guess you need to continue reading from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel to hear the story but let me tell you they knew Jesus wasn’t on the boat when it went out into the Sea of Galilee that night but those paying close attention … those who had pulled out their phones to get a quick pic for their Instagrams and Facebooks before the disciples went to sea could count 1, 2, 3, 4, … wait there was a 13th individual stepping out of the boat but look there were only the 12 in the picture as the boat went to Sea.
Who would you have wanted walking across the waters in the midst of the storm other than Jesus Christ? Who do you need in your life more than Jesus the Christ? Who do you want in your life more … and yes, more … than any other but Jesus the Christ? And, do you call Him Lord, Master, and Savior or do you hold those honors and that respect for just your times of need when the world can’t see you or know of your faith?
“The water was getting rough … the wind had driven them out for about 3 or 4 miles.” The storm had control of their small boat and if the boat went down their lives would be gone too. Then they saw Jesus walking on the water … His words simply reported by John, the youngest disciple, “I AM. Don’t be afraid.”
So, this morning are you ready to stand up to declare that you have heard Jesus say I am … is Jesus in your heart? Where would you rather be today than in church? Where would you rather be investing your moments than in God’s Word? And, where would you rather be than in showcasing to your world … not on tv nor in the front of the church … not standing in front of thousands but in telling friends with kids about Vacation Bible School where they can understand that Jesus is the I AM and they no longer have to be afraid.
There are many individuals whom I look up to for how they have inspired me and challenged me to step up in my life. Some are people I know personally and others are those whose lives I have heard about, read about, and whose words I have read or heard. Once in a while one of those strangers I am able to see in person or to somehow sense a stronger connection.
There is a man just a couple of years younger than me who goes to church with some of my friends. He and his wife have tremendous faith; his two girls are strong Christians and his youngest even wrote a book when she was a young teen about her faith in Jesus Christ. This couple Jim and Jill are well known. Like her daughter, Jill has written books about her faith and Jim actually wrote a book but it was about his work more than a book on faith. Their first child was a boy named Hunter. This family has a lot of money by the way … Hunter was born with leukodystrophy on Valentine’s Day in 1997, which is also Jim’s birthday. That is a death sentence for a child … guaranteed with the life expectation of 3-4 years. Hunter lived to be 8.
Jim and Jill very publicly gave thanks to God for Hunter … they lifted up Jesus as their Savior acknowledging that Hunter was in God’s hands and that they were blessed to have this little boy. Hunter died … but God also gave them Erin and Camryn.
Over the years, Jim has received many national honors and awards. He has been honored as one of the best in his profession. But on June 3rd 2013 Jim announced that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his jaw. Friends at the church told me about their healing service that was as much for the spirit and souls of friends and family as it was for Jim. Surgery was performed and it was announced that Jim was cancer free. But a few months later the cancer was back but this time it looked like a death sentence; it was one of “those cancers” but Jim was ready to meet his God. Once again after treatment a miracle … cancer free. In March of this year, the cancer came back and really whacked Jim. His entire jaw was removed and replaced with bone from his femur. His teeth were all gone. But the night before the most invasive surgery was done on his jaw Jim flew up to Wisconsin to speak before an audience of teenagers … about Jesus Christ. Surgery the next day … in New York City but testifying about his faith was important. He might never get the chance again.
Jim and Jill and the girls journey continues … the 2018 version of cancer has Jim testifying about his personal relationship with Jesus and that he is ready if God called him home to see his boy Hunter again. Jim this year was named the recipient of an international award given to one person in his profession each year for Perseverance. Two days before the ESPY awards the family announced that Jim was feeling some unusual pain and needed more cancer treatment. They admitted they were scared.
But Jim Kelly, Hall of Fame Quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, was not about to say no I can’t go on national television to receive this award. He needed to stand up. Even if his voice was not the voice that once called out plays in four Super Bowls. We are going to share the conclusion of his speech. Remember this man in June had his jaw replaced with bone from his leg. That he was headed to the hospital after the Awards program. Earlier in this speech he told the audience he lives by the four F’s. They are Faith, Family, Friends, and Fun. He laughed saying at one point in his life the Fun was probably the first F but that his Faith is first now. He thanked, as Jim would say, “The Good Lord for His blessings.” Let’s hear what Jim Kelly told the world just a few weeks ago on the world stage standing with Erin and Camryn: <<PLAY THE VIDEO>> https://youtu.be/Z2Zo6HmeyYg
So, I asked earlier if you paid attention to today’s Scripture reading from Ephesians. I will share it again with you, “Glory to God who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by His power at work within us.”
God my friends is able to do far beyond all that we can ask by God’s power at work WITHIN US. We are the light of Jesus Christ in the world … We are the ones to take on the challenges to make a difference. Jim Kelly challenged us “Make a difference today for someone who is fighting for his tomorrow.” Kids not in church … kids not planning on Vacation Bible School … you can be a difference maker putting a smile on the face of someone else … someone not having a good day. Your smile … “never give up.”
At the bottom of the website for the non-profit Jim and Jill have established in honor of Hunter they have posted the words of the prophet who was telling the words God had intended believers to hear, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jesus Christ will be with us for our stormy days and nights. Jesus declares “I AM DO NOT BE AFRAID.” So, on this “healing Sunday” where would you rather be than here in church … than living in the arms of God by putting faith first, Jesus first, God first and letting God’s plans impact those around you.
By the way … earlier this week Jill tweeted … Jim is cancer free. ALL THANKS BE TO GOD.
Watch a video of today’s worship service: