Psalm 43: 1-11
EPHESIANS 2: 1-14 & 19-22


Ever since I was a boy I have been told that I had better be ready … now, there are some who go way overboard with the get ready realities but at the end of this beautiful summer day I will pause to ask if you ARE READY for the SHOW.  As Ed Sullivan repeated over and over again THE REALLY BIG SHOW … are you prepared?

Paul reminds the church in Ephesus … it wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin … he told them that they let the world tell them how to live.

It’s kind of remarkable that here in the year 2018, more and more people are allowing the world to direct their lives regardless of whether you fall on the right or left in American politics … it’s all about your political stance and we quickly bow to those earthly gods.  Mired in sins … my God that’s this world LORD HAVE MERCY ON OUR VERY SOULS!

It’s absolutely true that when I die and I am laid to rest I want to go to the place that is the best.  Having run from God earlier in my life I do know the difference between having that assurance of an eternity that’s the best.  God really impacts the people we are when … when we give ourselves up to God.  When we really know because we sense His Spirit here … it’s not just that we going up to the spirit in the sky but it’s the reality that we have Jesus here … a friend in Jesus.

And, that friends is tonight’s message … YOU GOTTA HAVE A FRIEND in JESUS.  Now, in Paul’s letter we are told that is what God wants to.  That’s such an incredible reality that the Creator; the Holy God of All … when you believe in Jesus; when I believe in Jesus; when that homeless guy on Philly’s streets believes in Jesus that God has us where he wants us and from that moment on God is ready to shower grace and kindness onto us in Christ Jesus.

Life’s stage … life’s showcase … your reality sh0w and mine can be endorsed by the Highest Power … the best review ever; even better than Craig LeBan’s four star reviews in the Inquirer.  But are you ready?

It’s not on us … we heard in the Scripture reading … God does the making and God does the saving … He creates each of us by Christ Jesus … to join in the work God does; the good work … the faith work … the calculator that really does determine whether the faith we claim is real … not that we are saved by any works or attitudes we showcase here on earth because it is in God’s grace that we are saved …

But, are you prepared for the show?  What would you tell Jesus tonight if you were called home to God unexpectedly?  Bart Millard posed that challenge in his song ‘I Can Only Imagine’ … “surrounded by Your glory what will my heart feel … will I dance for you Jesus or in awe be still will I stand or fall on my knees?  Sing Hallelujah’s or will I be able to speak at all I can only imagine.”

But, good Christians at THE RIVER … do you know Jesus in your life.  Because the show we act out in life can be one that’s right up there with the best works of fiction or it can be the vivid factual drama with the key figure being the Son of God who died on a cross for our sins.

All of you know how strongly I am pushing to get more than 100 children in Vacation Bible School … well more than ever I am worried about the future of our streets, our neighborhoods, our nation and the value of God to the humanity around us.  It used to be so easy because everyone went to church but now everyone hates.

David in tonight’s psalm talks a lot about God and David’s relationship with the Almighty.  David was a pretty horrendous sinner … if you wondered if violating the Ten Commandments was a reason for damnation then David whose heritage Jesus shared pretty much deserved it but God is a forgiving God … David knew and he took on life’s reality by blessing God at every chance he got … he lived and breathed God.

David teaches us that God meets us more than halfway … God frees us from our anxious fears … he pleads with those in worship; remember the psalms were not written for God’s enemies … God’s psalms were written for people who had made it into the temple; into the church; who were wearing the label believer just like we are tonight.

OPEN YOUR MOUTH … and TASTE … OPEN YOUR EYES and SEE … How Good God is; blessed are you who run to God.

In the most famous example of a human rushing to God albeit in the shadows of the night … Nicodemus comes to Jesus and he was desperate to experience God.

And, there was Jesus telling him how to get prepared for the show that God wants us in … You must be born again; you must be turned around from the world’s control and relax accepting God’s love; God’s grace … be a seeker of God who worships God and allows worship to open doors to God’s goodness.

To those who get wrapped up in damnation and judgment that isn’t God’s thing … Jesus was sent to save humanity not condemn it but friends … I need to ask; and perhaps I. Don’t ask enough … have you experienced that life changing moment in your life?  Have you shaken the world’s horrors out of your soul and let the Holy Spirit of God in?

Since 1969 Christians and non-Christians have been singing Norman Greenbaum’s hit song … SPIRIT IN THE SKY.  I still remember the shock I felt when tuning in to WKBW 1520 AM with 50,000 watts of power that were rocking America’s East Coast right out of Buffalo NY … the Beatles … Stones … WHO … and suddenly Prepare yourself you know it’s a must; gotta have a friend in Jesus.  WAIT … on the radio … this guy is singing about Jesus; salvation; a personal relationship with the Son of the Creator and that Jesus is going to recommend us to the Spirit in the sky.

I was so wowed by that .. I was mesmerized and rushed to tell mom and dad that this “heathen” radio station that I kept on while doing my homework and under the sheets at night was telling people who to become a Christian.  My dad didn’t want to listen to KB radio so I went out and bought the 45; you do remember 45’s don’t you?  Well dad was amazed … Jesus as our friend … wow!  This songwriter and singer was telling millions that to get to eternity they needed Jesus and he was doing it in his way.

But, isn’t that what people of faith do … use what we have to tell people how to become a Christian.  To tell others we are not longer wandering around lost but we have connected with God.  That our lives are different because we have heard God’s Word and we’re ready for life’s daily show not to live it like everyone else but to live with God’s completeness … that God is there when we call out … that God’s love is what makes us break out in smiles towards strangers and to embrace the hurting when no one else will.

So here we are at the River.  I have often said since coming here that I can really sense God in this place … in the sunset; in the water … so pause and look out there or up into the sky … wherever you want to see God right now and give God your warmest smile just as David suggests.  Quietly or loudly give a THANK YOU GOD for God’s love if you have been changed through Jesus.

Prepare yourself you know it’s a must GOTTA HAVE A FRIEND IN JESUS … so you know that when you die … you’ll be going to the place that’s the best for eternal rest!

Let’s talk if you don’t have the Jesus connection in your heart because I sure want you to know Jesus up close and personal.




© 2017- St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ