LEAVING BEHIND YOUR YESTERDAYS
Psalm 86: 1-12
LUKE 5: 1-11
June 25, 2023
Yesterday, the Minders from Evangelical United Methodist Church sent me a ZIGGY comic. Mike will be headed to Kentucky with our RED BIRD team in just 2 weeks and MJ has participated in our Bible studies in the past.
Isn’t it wonderful that the activities of St. Paul’s are noticed … the mission work of St. Paul’s is embraced … and our dedication to God’s Word and Jesus’ teaching appreciated. People in other churches have noticed our Vacation Bible School program … that we have kids in worship … the unity and joy and love amongst our welcoming congregation!
Well that was merely an editorial comment of joy but it also brings into focus where I am headed today … LEAVING BEHIND YOUR YESTERDAY’s!
Church we can celebrate the 165 years of history that have happened here at St. Paul’s. We can look up at the beautiful stained-glass windows of this Sanctuary that former humans who loved St. Paul’s and I am sure also loved God gave their money so that the church could purchase the windows. We can remember how well we survived COVID but when it comes to living as a Christian, we need to hear what Simon told Jesus along that shoreline, “Because you say so, I’ll drop the nets,” and Simon Peter would then follow Jesus becoming the foundation of the early Christian church.
Our history here at St. Paul’s … things we celebrate and can even see are worthy of our thanks to prior generations and if we were part of past or recent success stories we can smile and pat ourselves on the back as we note the history but we are here in the year 2023 with a future in front of us that can only be taken on … if we leave behind our yesterday’s, learning from them, celebrating the good, and then as they said on Star Trek, BOLDLY GO WHERE NO ONE HAS GONE BEFORE. Into the future with all of its unknown realities and events impacting our lives.
Not a single one of us knows what Monday June 26th will bring to us. What events that occur tomorrow may be recorded in history books long after those 24 hours are over. We can’t even predict what our favorite sports teams will do but the one truth … the one reality … the one absolute joy we should have assurance of as we venture into our tomorrow’s is a joy in the Lord! We should pay attention to what David wrote in today’s Psalm, “I will glorify Your name forever! My Lord, my God!”
As you have heard me quote him so many times, Paul in two of his letters and I am sure in many of his sermons told the early Christians in Philippi and in Thessa-lo-niki “REJOICE in the LORD … REJOICE ALWAYS!!” He emphasized in his words, “AGAIN I SAY BE GLAD!”
Actively being joyful in the Lord should not merely be historical thoughts friends something you did once or twice in church … those are not to be limited personal activities that you only utilize during certain holiday traditions that occur in the church … the psalmist and Paul and even me are declaring that the message of faith of joy needs to be embraced is to be included each day in connection with God … our personal and unique relationship with the Holy leaving behind any joy you expressed in the Lord during your yesterdays and taking your joy in faith into your tomorrow’s!
So, the comic that the Minders sent me had this message from ZIGGY, “There is no FUTURE spending your PRESENT living in YOUR past.” They did not know my message for today but there it was … clear as day … a message that we as people of faith need to remember and embrace … “THERE IS NO FUTURE spending your PRESENT living in YOUR past.”
I have mentioned periodically the disservice to the teachings of Jesus Christ that many Christian leaders and Christian rally coordinators do by attempting to get massive altar calls at their services. I have been with some of these folks who excitedly have told me, “Dave, I got 30 people to come to know the Lord today.” “Dave, you should have seen them as they prayed with me.” On one occasion I was in a “mood,” so I asked the preacher at a homeless food program who was so happy in telling me that more than a dozen homeless people came forward after her message and before the meal was served how she knew that those people had come to know the Lord. She looked at me quizzically and said … “They came forward didn’t they?”
I did not have the heart to tell her that my homeless friend John had told me that the folks in Atlantic City living on the street knew they would not be fed unless a certain number came forward during altar calls so they decided in advance whose day it would be. She thought a raised hand … a walk up an aisle made someone a Christian but friends it takes faith and belief and change to do that.
A moment in time that so many have been told was the secret to connecting with God … never knowing that faith requires belief and change. People of faith embrace David’s words in today’s Psalm, “I am faithful … I am Your servant, Lord … I cry out to You all day long … I offer my life to You … there is nothing that can compare to Your works … You are God, teach me Your way so that I can walk in Your truth … make my heart focused on honoring Your name … I give thanks to You my Lord, my God.”
The poignant message of David is a call to each of us amongst the faithful that to walk in the Light of Christ … to live as a person of faith … it takes more than anything we have done in the past or perhaps we have never even actively changed from who we once were into someone who is ready to embrace a life as a Christian. And, friends living a life as a Christian is not a life of dullness, it is not a life of disconnection from friends and family, it is not a life of isolation, and you don’t have to be a “holy roller!” A life of faith is one of absolute joy … total peace … relief from fear … and an assurance or hope for where our life journeys will take us! A life of faith has us focused on the teaching of Jesus Christ … loving God and all of our neighbors.
God is waiting … God loves every single human being … Paul reminds us, a reminder we might need after reading some of the recent news stories … that in God’s eyes, God’s heart, and through God’s love “You are ALL God’s children … there is neither Jew nor Greek there is neither slave nor free NOR IS THERE male nor female for YOU ARE ALL ONE in Christ Jesus.” Another reason for joy and celebration because even as the world tries to separate humans into categories or put down segments of the population for their own power or enrichment … God’s lesson for humanity is clearly that we are all equal to take on God’s love even though we are all equally unworthy because we are ALL sinners; we only have to have FAITH in Christ Jesus. Once we have faith God does not limit nor restrict the possibilities of what each of us can do for God during our time here on earth … but we need to leave those yesterdays of ours behind us ready and excited to take on new challenges that await.
Last week, one of Don’s Scripture lessons was the Twenty Third Psalm … I always talk about how that familiar Scripture passage that many still know by heart is about living our lives … living in faith so I suggest you read it a few times each week. I suggest you use your BIBLE APP on your phone … you do keep the Bible on your phone, your tablets, and computers, right? And, your kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces … have you checked their phones for the Bible? Anyhow, I suggest you read the Twenty Third Psalm several times a week using different translations and just let the words sink in …
Eugene Peterson’s THE MESSAGE translation begins with, “God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.”
“I DO NOT NEED A THING …” friends, have you made that choice and today and tomorrow and the next day are already aligned with God’s love? Does God let you catch your breath … note, God is not telling a person of faith to reflect on their accomplishments nor their church’s accomplishments nor past events or history in their lives … the Scripture lesson says GOD … MY SHEPHERD … SEND ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!
Jesus, we heard was preaching God’s Word along the shoreline of LAKE GENNESARET, which we also call the Sea of Galilee. Luke does not capture for us what message Jesus was teaching that day … but Jesus in his loving voice that caused people to stop and listen was doing what God had sent Him to earth to do … teach humanity what God’s expectations are and that God loves all of us.
Luke is not clear as to whether those on the two boats sitting by the lake heard every word Jesus spoke but clearly they heard Him. Wouldn’t it be cool to get into Mr. Peabody’s WAY BACK MACHINE with Peabody and Sherman and return to that day along the waterfront. I wonder if Jesus was preaching from today’s PSALM?
Jesus knew the Scripture … “My Lord God … there is no one like You! Save Your servant who trusts in YOU – You! Guard my life because I am faithful …”
Maybe that was the verse that struck home with Simon because Simon allowed Jesus onto his boat after the message. Andrew and Simon went out and caught fish … a sizeable cash profit for the fishermen … Zebedee’s boys saw the catch too. BIG MONEY … but they had heard Jesus.
“Guard my life Lord … There is no one like You.” And, when many humans might start thinking about making more money …. When Jesus said, “DO NOT BE AFRAID … from now on you will be fishing for people.” Any, they left their yesterday’s behind … they left their huge catch behind … they knew that when you walk with Jesus you leave your yesterday’s behind because God is guarding our lives and has a plan … a plan filled with joy even when dark moments happen rejoicing will be coming in the morning!
So friends, are you ready to leave your yesterdays behind? Are you ready to help with Vacation Bible School THIS YEAR not saying you did it once. Are you ready to consider RED BIRD 2023? Take on a leadership role at church? Invite someone to church or their kids to VBS. The 23rd Psalm concludes in THE MESSAGE with these words: “Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.” Get back in the house of God … let the Lord’s love catch up with you so that your tomorrow’s are full of joy in the Lord … always REJOICE! AMEN