A NEW AGE
Jeremiah 1: 4-10
LUKE 13: 10-17
August 23, 2020 in the morning
It is always so special to see his smile and his twinkling blue eyes that almost speak to you. He is always looking at his environment as if he is plotting his next discovery adventure. That’s the joy that this grandfather, his Babu, has with a grandson Dax’s age. He’s on the verge of walking and formulating words … his next new age is about to arrive and all too quickly he will be running and speaking and defining to the world what he has found. But on this Friday I just enjoyed sensing the nuances of change that continue to mold this beautiful child into the person he will become over time.
But, this week also has been all about celebrating the birthday of my oldest daughter Megan. Humanity has established the calendar day of our birth as a day to celebrate our existence while also noting for us the changing of time; the advancing of years. In essence with each official birthdate a new age begins and now Megan is actually closer to 40 than to 30, which is frightening to her 31 year old dad. Megan made sure we stretched out her birthday over 3 days and who knows she may be continuing the celebrations today. A special thank you from all the Delaney’s but especially from Megan for the many cards that were sent in love for my loving hugging beautiful daughter.
Today, I want us to consider the new age that is in front of us and how we will utilize the time that lies ahead. You have often heard me make the statement that if you wanted to have bacon for breakfast but you had sausage it’s too late to change your breakfast meat. Paul writes to the church in Philippi, “It’s not that I’ve reached the goal of being found in Christ or have already been perfected but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Jesus Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. I do this one thing … I forget about the things behind me and reach out for things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.”
It is easy to slip into the mindset of always focusing on our yesterdays … heck some day’s its hard to let go of what happened yesterday or earlier today but when we wrap ourselves up in the what might have been … the why did he say/she say that to me … I deserved better or I was a star back then. Can’t we have the good times once more that in the fog of today somehow seem better but perhaps really weren’t. Truthfully we can only go forward there are no time machines to take us back other than history books and documentaries. When our frustration, our anger, and even our glory is tied to something that is now in the history books of our lives we are doing nothing good for ourselves nor for the true call of God to and for people of faith. God’s call to Christians …. God’s directive to those who claim to follow the Son of God has clearly been stated by Jesus and it is to “love all of our neighbors and then to go into the world we live in to make disciples for Jesus Christ.” … the call to believers is “to do justice, embrace faithful love for all, and walk humbly with our God!”
Friends … FORGET ABOUT THE THINGS BEHIND and REACH OUT FOR THE THINGS AHEAD! IT IS A NEW AGE beginning right now; in this very moment of worship. And, my challenge to you on this Sunday morning is personal and only you can answer it but in these challenging times we are living through … in these days of pandemic that continue to reflect the programming of Rod Serling more than at any other time in our lifetimes … IS THE GOAL OF YOUR LIFE; are the every breathing moments of your existence directly related to your personal pursuit of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus? Are you trying to fit into this world or are you seeking to be perfected through God’s grace and love in Jesus? Are you investing just a few moments every single day to read words that Jesus spoke by opening up the Gospels? What new age that is starting now … will your life reflect when these days, hours and moments ahead are recorded into your history?
Are you focused in on discovery of the Holy? Are you reading the Gospels every day? Are Jesus’ directives more important to you, more life changing for you, and the essential focus of the words coming from your lips and in those that you share on social media more than your thoughts, comments and attacks about the two national conventions happening this month in our nation? Are you in a race to live for Jesus focused on what is to come? Or are you focused on succumbing to the world of who said what and when? Are you living for the Kingdom or seeking to be a servant of the world enslaved by its rhetoric and anxiously awaiting the next directive that you can post to attack others and to raise up your selected human tribe? Striving to be contradictory in the hope of achieving personal power and control rather than embracing of God’s love?
I truly believe that God is actively engaged in calling out to all of us. This morning we heard God’s call to a child named Jeremiah. God declaring that God knew Jeremiah … friends, God .. the God who created the universe and the God reflected in every single human being you and I see each day … God knows you. And, God knows me. God knows who we really are not the people who frequently mask up to pretend we are someone different for the sake of image or of fitting in. God knows when we dismiss God’s directives and cheer on the world views that counter Jesus … God knows.
Although God spoke directly to the prophet because God’s plan for Jeremiah’s upcoming “new age” was for this boy to become a spokesperson for God. God will speak to us in many different ways but each day … each new beginning of a new age for us has God reaching out.
Jeremiah was afraid of the new age because in living a new age for God the world would not be happy with Jeremiah … friends, Jeremiah was afraid because he didn’t think he could take on the task that God was putting before him. He tried to be dismissive of God by saying “I don’t know how to speak; I am only a child” but God is bigger than human excuses … God is more powerful than human rules … God controls our eternity and God IS calling you and me to step forward into a new age opportunity to live differently from the world … to challenge the world … to raise up Jesus Christ while clearly noting that the world’s priorities … the world’s divisions and those who divide are not in the light God intends … we are called to make that light shine in our words and actions!
Many people of faith sense God’s call … many have heard the whispers and sensed the Holy nudges from God’s Spirit. When you read God’s Word regularly as believers are called to do … when you dig into the directives for living life that Jesus enunciates in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts … when you pray more than a cursory prayer but open yourself up to a conversation with God that is heart felt and full of love of God and even when you listen to music of faith or go out on discovery journeys into the beauty of nature that God has entrusted to human kind to protect and preserve … when you invest your life in God’s priorities … you will sense God’s call back to you.
The new age opportunities for you are not necessarily going to be difficult or costly but they might be. You may be the teacher, the church leader, the one who prepares meals for those who mourn. You may be called to be the peacemaker telling those who spew evil dark and hurtful words to hush and to discover God and Christ. But, the truth is … you and I just like Jeremiah will have God’s assurance when we fear the world … when we fear our non-believing friends and neighbors thinking that they might now want to associate with someone who believes in justice and in love for all people … when we are afraid of what might happen to us … God will declare as God has declared to the saints throughout all time … “DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THEM! Because I am with you to rescue you declares the Lord!”
Friends, you have chosen to be in worship this morning … you and I are here today in these moments that I believe God is attempting to use as molding moments for our tomorrow’s in the new age. The ultimate potter is hoping to mold us and change us. To inspire us and encourage us. And, yes to challenge us to be people of faith … people who believe … people who change if necessary … and people who will use our coming days for the Kingdom’s purpose not for the purpose of an earthly king.
DO NOT BE AFRAID of THEM! The Lord declares … as we move into our personal new age we have heard the prophet make the declaration this morning knowing that John also teaches that there is “no fear in God’s perfect love.” But, friends God also tells Jeremiah and through the prophet is telling us … “Where I send you, you must go. What I tell you, you must say.”
Consider for a moment where God fits into your life … we have our histories and I can tell you tales of Vacation Bible School moments of discovery with Greg Lewis and Lynn Heckel who were teen leaders back then and whose names I still remember but I can also tell you about how I lost my faith. I can celebrate kids I have confirmed and baptized but how does that impact today and tomorrow. FORGET ABOUT THE THINGS BEHIND and REACH OUT FOR THE THINGS AHEAD!
Where is God fitting in today? How are you planning to enter the new age of your tomorrows? Do you have Jesus Christ in your hearts because when you do … if you do … if you have the assuredness of salvation and an eternity in heaven then you will understand Scripture’s truth that faith without actions is dead. How can anyone believe something but then hide it, deny it, and never share it? You talk about your favorite teams … you talk about the stars of entertainment … you know your politicians but God, Jesus?
We all know many people whose words and actions showcase that they are concerned with their personal stuff. In these difficult times we have some even telling us that the truths we know can’t be true because somehow they have been gifted with more inside information that even those who know don’t know. Such bizarre moments where aliens and dragons and sleep induced moments are held up as valid. But, where is Jesus … where is the Son of God?
So, the challenge of the new age falls on those of us who believe. How will we live for today and for tomorrow. Where does God rank in our priorities … are we sharing Jesus teaching or in the midst of the storms of life do we prefer being focused on drowning. If the people of Jesus aren’t showing the world how to be rescued then who will?
Reverend Joseph Martin who delivered the benediction this week on national television shared focused his prayer on the dignity of human life. He said, “It was essential; very important for me to present the consistent ethic of life … every life is sacred and all people are loved.”
So, on Friday after playing with Dax in his mobile fire engine that includes a hose that shoots water my girls grabbed super soakers and charged out of the house chasing their dad with joy and love soaking me because I had no squirt gun to shoot back at them. We laughed … we loved … we connected with old age memories but in that new age moment with my grandson getting some of the water spray intended for me we shared a moment of loving each other, loving life and knowing that we can make our tomorrow’s better with smiles, love and … well the rest will be up to Colleen, Megan, Dax, and me but that soaking time of fun is now history and our tomorrow’s are in front of us.
And, friends … Jesus was told he couldn’t heal on a Sabbath day and that should be done on one of the other six days. Are you living a life where you can only life for God on the Sabbath and reserving the other days for the world because that’s what the world expects? When Jesus had put his opponents to shame we read that the crowd rejoiced.
Just remember that when one person turns their life around for God and Christ heaven rejoices … so it’s a new age dawning … are you ready to step up for God and creating some crowd celebration in heaven by being the one whose life focused on Christ brings someone else into the Kingdom … that’s our calling … today, tomorrow and in the days to come. You get to choose how to write the future histories of your life by how you live in your NEW AGE.