Psalm 46: 1-7 & 10-11
JOHN 8: 25-30

November 20, 2022 IN THE MORNING

All of my life I have loved discovering the words and phrases of others that carry deep meaning or bring trivial joy. My reading choices cover a wide range of novels, works of non-fiction, poetry, plays, and lyrics. I have had many collections of quotes that I just flip through and enjoy. Quotes …. Words …. Phrases with meaning … Feel good combinations of letters that originated with another human being. I’d like to think that some of my words might have brought joy or deep meaning through the years to those who have heard them or read them.

Without the written and/or spoken word frankly we’d have nothing in our world. If it wasn’t for those early people of faith who told the stories of God around campfires and on mornings of scrambled eggs we wouldn’t have our Scriptures because the stories of faith existed long before printing presses. If special men like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John had chosen NOT to create written records of the life and times of Jesus Christ we wouldn’t have His Words … you and I would not have our guidelines for living life that emanate with God if someone had not provided the Jesus quotes that fill our Gospels.

We might not even understand that we are to love God and love all of our neighbors and that those two commands are rules for living life that extend before and beyond any other rules that humans might want to consider or mandate. Yes, if not for words we have read or others have read to us we’d be lost.

Words … connected into sentences … bringing meaning to life; your life and mine. Words help us GET READY for our today’s and tomorrow’s … at least words of faith do … since words from all too many humans are designed to bring us down but the words of Scripture … if there is an essential that we have to be thankful for as we approach this Thanksgiving it is that we can pick up our phones, sit down in our kitchen, go into our studies, or as Bono told that reporter … we can have our Bibles ALWAYS on our night stands to go back to time and time again.

Church, ARE YOU READY for the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and perhaps even years that are waiting for you. We know that we may lose friends today, tomorrow or the next day and only hope that they were ready but what the heck it’s Thanksgiving week and many of us have free turkeys … we have warm homes … there will be plenty of sports to watch and even another Macy’s Day Parade with the balloons floating along New York City’s Avenues. If we are missing food we can come to awesome food pantries established by the faithful such as this church provides. And, then the fun of shopping begins late Thanksgiving afternoon and definitely on BLACK FRIDAY woohoo … life’s essential activities.

But, are you ready? Are you a thanksgiving activist? A thanksgiving activist is someone who is quick to say THANK YOU … first to God; always to God .. every day to God … remember the admonition about praying without ceasing … you can find it not once but twice in the Bible or Bibles you own or on your Bible app that I know you have on your phone and that you have helped all of the young people in your life put on theirs.

Well how about giving thanks without ceasing … a habit packed with joy as you join the call from God’s Word for every other living thing in the world, in addition to yourself, to PRAISE THE LORD ALWAYS; yes …. Praise and thank the Lord God!!! Every day! With joy … REJOICE in the LORD ALWAYS … actually that phrase is in the Bible twice not just once perhaps a subtle reminder about who we are supposed to be … we are to be thanksgiving people … thanking and loving our neighbors rather than putting them down and complaining about them.

By the way, WHO ARE YOU? This morning, how would you answer that question if a group of people surrounded you and one stepped up and asked you to respond. They asked Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am EXACTLY who I have claimed to be from the beginning.”

Are you EXACTLY who you claim to be to the world you live in? The person you claim to be while you are in church or worshipping online? Reflective of the beginning of your faith life in Jesus Christ … using your words to empower those who are hurting and to reflect your personal love for all human beings in your words and actions that are built upon a faith where you love God, the Creator of the universe, with all of your hearts, souls, and minds.

IS THAT YOU … is that your claim to fame amongst family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and those who have gotten to know you … A PERSON of FAITH EXACTLY.

Well, if you are then you truly have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season don’t you? You have discovered the truth of Jesus Christ and you are focused on His words from Scripture because you know … you believe … you share with your human circle in life the words of Jesus that come from God. You heard again this morning Jesus say, “I have many things to say in judgment concerning you. The One who sent me is true and what I have heard from Him I tell the world.” Uh, I am guessing Jesus is referring to Matthew 25 and other areas where He is quoted clearly saying what it takes to have eternal life in heaven with God, with Christ, and with the saints of the church.

Do you get that Jesus is providing you and I with insight into what God expects as essential elements of the loving relationship we are to have with God. Do you get energized studying the Bible because you know that your understanding of God’s Word and God’s teaching is the essential GET READY for your days and mine even exceeding the value of a good two or three or maybe even four cups of coffee.

The psalmist proclaimed, “God is our refuge … a help in times of great trouble. We won’t be afraid when the world falls apart.” The way we get ready to deal with life’s challenges … the way we compensate when the world is unfair; at least unfair in our minds … our solution for the crisis-focused voices beyond the church walls … God. Clear and evident … GOD and JESUS CHRIST.

Some of you might be aware that I come from Buffalo New York. And, many of you might have noted that the weather the last few days in and around Buffalo has been rather interesting. I have heard people here in South Jersey panicking because Buffalo had a little snow … I have read stories of total shock except I haven’t heard those phrases and words from my friends who are up in the snow. John, who lives next door to our house this morning said “We only had 20 inches total … I am taking the kids out to play.” Gale and Mike’s snowblower broke down, they had slightly more than 36 inches and she said, “The neighbors pitched in to clear the snow and then they were having a party together.” Dale, my good friend since college just laughed … “Dave, it’s not bad. We know how to enjoy it.”

I have started to post quotes or words of wisdom on my Instagram every day. Or at least that’s the goal. And, today’s quote is “Perseverance comes from attitude … it’s a personal choice.”

Now, I posted that for my friends and family members in Buffalo but truthfully it is a quote presenting a faith challenge that perhaps may serve as an answer to the question of whether or not you are ready to move forward in life with God. PERSEVERANCE comes from ATTITUDE.

So, in this season of Thanksgiving with Advent and Christmas and a New Year around the corner … is your personal choice in life to hold tightly onto God and Jesus Christ. To actually do as the words suggest persevere with an attitude built on your gratitude of faith in God? I cannot make the decision for you … I cannot make the decision for Megan or Colleen or even my grandson, Dax. I can only make the decision for Dave Delaney because you see preparing each day … getting ready for life … is always done in a uniquely individual way even with identical twins. No one can force you to become them and you cannot morph into one of the awesome saints of God who has come before you.

Today as we start this Thanksgiving week my admonition to each of you and to me is to focus on getting ready to live as a child of God.

In their song, Get Ready, Rare Earth sings the lyrics that I can imagine God singing, “I’m bringing you a love that’s true … GET READY; GET READY; GET READY” but those lyrics are followed by ahh’s … not quite assurance that the one hearing the song is paying attention.

We live in the time when the Son of God, Jesus Christ has already been lifted up to heaven after surviving the cross … rising from the tomb, HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>, coming back to teach us for 40 days more before ascending into heaven.

So, church did you hear Jesus say “When the Human One is lifted up then you will know who I Am?” Do you know … do you accept … do you believe … do you declare to the world that Jesus is your Savior … that God is God … God, your refuge and strength because you can’t make God the person on the other side of the church’s refuge and strength because you don’t know if they are ready or have ever been ready but this is you and it’s personal and it’s essential! Of course, you can and should invite others to discover God’s love .. God’s reality so they too can be ready.

Jesus said, “HE who sent me is with me … HE doesn’t leave me because I ALWAYS DO what makes Him happy.” Seems interesting in talking about Himself, I am pretty sure Jesus was talking about us too. When we make God happy …. God is our refuge and our strength but we have to be ready. So, are you ready this morning?

Bono who sings before stadiums packed with fans along with his band U2 … has always declared his faith. I wear this ONE bracelet that comes from his foundation as a reminder of our ONE God. Bono who could have answered a reporter anyway he chose when asked WHO ARE YOU and what book are you reading told the world THE BIBLE is NEVER OFF MY NIGHTSTAND … I go BACK to it again and again. Some days I read it and other days it reads me.”

Are you getting ready … be thankful it’s a time for thanksgiving … it all comes down to your personal choice …. I hope your choice is to persevere in your faith walk! AMEN

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