World Communion Sunday

Joel 2: 12-17 read by Sergei Nikolaev from Moscow.

Acts 13: 1-13 read by Maria Vargas from Puerto Rico.

LUKE 22: 14-20 read by Richard Prince from Uganda.

Building My Faith; A Workout for Life Part 2

October 6, 2019

Jesus, the Son of God, who came to teach us about living and to bring salvation to humanity once said, “I am the bread of life, those who come to me shall never hunger and those who believe in me shall never thirst.”

That same Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well.  A woman who knew that tradition and the expectations of their times were such that Jews and Samaritans especially Jewish men and Samaritan women did not even speak to each other much less share water together she was told by Jesus who had asked her for a drink of water, “Whoever drinks this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst again.  The water that I shall give will become a fountain of water springing up into eternal life!”

And, in my favorite Psalm David pleaded with the Creator, “O God, You are my God!  I earnestly seek You!  My soul thirsts for You; my body longs for You … in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Church … the times we are in require nourishment from the Holy; we often lose sight of the refreshing fountain of water of Jesus because the fouled waters around us are our pools to swim in.  Are you thirsting for God?  Are you hungry for Jesus Christ’s love?

So, as we embark in this journey towards Christmas … if you are with me in accepting that people like you and me need to build our faith not with the expectations of the world but through a workout in faith then our daily nourishment … our thirst for Jesus changing power … our willingness to shout COME HOLY SPIRIT COME … not only into the church but to have that Spirit of God within each of us … requires some diet changes; some adjustments that are not for our waist lines of life … not to limit our points or cut our carbs but instead to bring us right up to the bread of life and be nourished in the love of God that comes through Jesus Christ!

I can pray Psalm 63 every single day because I thirst for God … I need Jesus … and I need to be in the right condition to accept the gift that God has given to ALL who believe through the Holy Spirit.  You took need to be hungry and thirsty and willing to take God on.

I am so appreciative of my friends Sergei, Maria, and Richard for agreeing to record God’s Word for us today from Russia, Puerto Rico, and Uganda.  Each reading, was chosen with the intent of getting you and I thinking about how we need to get fit for God.  You see, our faith walk is not unlike our daily real world existence. Most of us choose to live a life that provides nourishment and hopefully the means to have the energy we need to do our best.  Our faith life takes work, focus, and at times sacrifice to bring our goal of connecting with God into focus.

The diet plan that we truly need is the one that takes the people we are here in this world and prepares us for the longer journey of eternity.  It is the plan that connects us with the Holy and strengthens our faith from being mere words spoken in haste when we try to identify our religion as being different from others and instead becomes a reflection that others easily can describe … John and Mary … they really aren’t like the rest of us; John and Mary … they seem to have a joy we don’t have but they seem to care about everyone not just those like themselves … John and Mary care about the poor … John and Mary almost seem to live like Jesus.

We talked earlier this year about the book of James, ‘faith without actions is dead.’  That hopefully led to a spark in your thought process and your faith walk but today we have the Prophet Joel who is calling out to God’s people in a troubled time … funny how humanity seems to get ourselves into troubled times from age-to age isn’t it … the call friends is a call to us … “The Lord God declares, ‘Return to me with all your heart with fasting … Return to the Lord your God for God is gracious and compassionate and abounding in love.  Blow the trumpet … declare a Holy fast .. gather the people together.”

When I consider the need to get my waist line under control the first thought I have is to give up things like … Sunset Ice Cream and all the yummy things we call desserts.  It’s ironic that to get healthy we often consider giving up what we like best but in our faith walk the first real step is considering what we can give up in order to get the ultimate best experience anyone can have … joy and peace .. comfort and assurance … connecting with the God of Creation … the Holy … Jesus … a pathway to an eternity that’s the best.   And, yet we don’t want to give up our stuff .. we don’t want to surrender our negative words towards others we want to thrive on our personal greed … amazing isn’t i?

But, I think you are like me and really want joy, peace, and the comfort that comes from a loving relationship with our God so I am going to start with perhaps a complex and difficult step that really involves sacrifice of something you might enjoy in order to get more God and it’s right there in the Prophet Joel’s words … A HOLY FAST for you or me.  Now, I don’t have a trumpet to blow but I did bring this KAZOO with me …

The word FAST means to abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink especially as a religious observance.   But, I am going to suggest that this DIET PLAN for LIFE’s FASTING is actually an exchange program … an exchange program that you agree to … in which you give up something in order to feed on the BREAD of LIFE and drink in the FOUNTAIN of water that is eternal life.

So many people tell me … they don’t have time for Bible Study … they don’t have time to be on leadership teams … they don’t have time to bring their children to Sunday School … time, time, time but most of us eat three meals every day … some of us squeeze in a fourth meal obviously from time to time usually filled with snacks or sweet things.  If you want to be with me in this journey to get FIT FOR LIFE I want you to choose one meal time each week when you are going to give up eating food; sacrificing your meal of the morning, the noontime or the evening but then exchanging the time you would have eaten that meal … for God.  Now I know some of you scarf down your food in mere minutes and others take a long time to chew each bite but God calls God’s people to fast and we don’t or most people don’t so this plan’s simple starting point is one meal out of the week’s 21 meals and instead of eating a BIG MAC I want you to turn to the BIG GOD we have and pick up your Bible and read for 15 minutes or 30 minutes or pray for that entire meal time … focus on our God, our Jesus and pray COME HOLY SPIRIT COME so that you and I can be more open to God’s directions.

We begin to change our lives when we allow God into our week; when we prioritize God by giving up something to get God’s time.  Now, Maria read about Paul’s first mission trip and his experience with the deceitful Elymas.   Paul called him the ‘Enemy of everything that is right.’  Elymas was well accepted in Paphos, which is in Cypress.  Elymas tried to keep the proconsul from hearing God’s Word.  Paul intervened providing a lesson for the day but the truth is friends … there are many who are attempting to block you and me from God’s Word … from having a God experience … from consuming the Bread of Life and the Water that rejuvenates us thanks to Jesus Christ.   And, the truth is … far too many of us allow those human faith-blockers to succeed because we want to hear their message, be empowered by it, and at times we even feel embarrassed to point out that God’s Word, Jesus teaching, the Holy Spirit’s directions are directly counter to the expectations of those friends, family members, and leaders whom we enjoy aligning ourselves with.  If we want to get fit with God … get right with the Holy … experience the Spirit of God after we FAST we need to put on our running shoes of faith and get as far away from the words and actions of those who blindly want to bring down God’s directions for living.

Finally, Richard’s reading … it’s funny but Trista called me after she heard Richard’s recording and said ‘that’s the words of Communion.  Do you want me to put them into the Communion service?’  And, yes friends those words of Jesus are what make today so essential for our faith diet … our faith walk … and for those watching on FACEBOOK or on our website I want to encourage you to find a place to share in the Holy Meal as soon as you can … if you can’t leave home reach out to our church and we will bring the Meal to you.

Jesus said “I have eagerly desired to eat with you …” I would hope that we each eagerly and excitedly and in need of our Savior come to church when we know we can eat the bread and take the cup.  This is the ultimate food we need … the bread of life … the forgiveness of the Creator … John Wesley wished he could have Holy Communion seven times each day, do you? Jesus took the bread and shared it …. Saying “this is my body given to you; do this in remembrance of me. “ Jesus said “this cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you.”  Today, do you consider our simple meal Jesus gift? Getting you ready to become fit for God … part of your diet plan for life that matters for you?

We went to New Hope and Lambertville a few weeks ago.  As we crossed the connecting bridge Donna looked down into the water and said look at all the fish.  And, there swimming in this river that once was dead with pollution from mankind were chad and other fish too numerous to count in all sizes.  It took tough environmental laws to clean up a river that once had been filled with poison created by man.  Now life is thriving!

Today, I want you to consider whether you want to drink in the poisonous realities that humanity puts on our table of life each day or whether today on this World Communion Sunday you are ready to join me in trying to get fit for God … getting ourselves stronger in faith so that as we go into the world we will go representing Jesus the Son of God directed by God’s Holy Spirit and acknowledging God in what we do.

The Lord God declares, ‘Return to me with all your heart with fasting … Return to the Lord your God! For God is gracious and compassionate and abounding in love.  Blow the trumpet … declare a Holy fast .. gather the people together.” And, then hear Jesus declare “Go into the world; you will receive the Holy Spirit and be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Moscow, in Ponce, in Kampala, in West Deptford, and in all the world.  And, they will know you are my followers by your love!” 






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