First Corinthians 10: 1-13
ACTS 9: 1-6
March 24, 2019
Have you ever been lost? Have you ever been really lost? Have you ever lost your way because of who or what you relied on only to later discover that there was a better way? Truly a better way?
This morning I am hoping to get each of us to again consider our ROAD TRIP for life. A journey that has only a limited number of days, weeks, years … and when you get down to it a journey that is just a collection of minutes. They say time flies … time my friends. Harvey MacKay who has written books to inspire people towards success in the work place has said, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, YOU CAN NEVER GET IT BACK.”
We’re all here in church today or watching a church service online. I would hope … I definitely would hope that we believe in the simple words, “God will supply a way out so that you can endure …” Paul wrote those words to the church in Corinth. Paul whose life was wrapped up in pretty much doing everything counter to what God wanted … whose life and his position in life allowed him during the time when he was known as Saul to hear the declaration of Jesus say “Saul, Saul … why are you harassing me” because Saul was doing everything opposite of Jesus’ teaching not necessarily through his words but definitely through his actions. Paul’s words to the church in Corinth talk about God supplying the way out for those who are transformed through Christ … the power of God to help humans make a U-TURN from worshiping false gods that have become the priorities for some … a U-TURN from testing Jesus Christ by not following what Jesus taught or even taking the time to learn what Jesus taught … even a U-TURN from grumbling and complaining when God wants us to be rejoicing in the Lord … “God will supply … “ friends, God has supplied the solution.
A journey of life … I continue to be in prayer for my high school classmate who is right now protected from the intense pain of cancer by high doses of medication and whose breathing is supported by machinery … she and I have had past conversations about faith and about living the right way but I can’t help but consider that Harvey MacKay quote … Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, YOU CAN NEVER GET IT BACK.” Because I don’t know … I’m worried that perhaps there are some important decisions she needed to make but she won’t get the chance to make them now.
Now, in my life’s journey there have been more than one occasion when the turns I took were the wrong ones; I should have made quick U-TURN’s. Now, one of the most memorable ones had me following a pathway that modern technology had insisted was the right one; the way of the world. I am sure that most of us here have relied on the world for our guidance from time-to-time … we all know people who will just follow the crowd even when the crowd has a destination that will not be good for anyone.
So, my journey was on a trip to the RED BIRD MISSION in Kentucky. I was the driver of the van … it seems like I am always the drive of the van because I don’t mind driving and I have this amazing ability to drive safely while I sleep. This trip to RED BIRD was planned shortly after I had discovered that road maps were no longer needed to plot out the highways that one needed to drive along to reach a destination … technology had brought humanity the GPS that somehow allows every vehicle to beam a signal to some satellite high up above us and then that satellite beams a signal back down telling us exactly where we should go and where we are in the accented language of our choice … I have always chosen Katie, an Australian accented voice, as my guide.
Now friends … I wanted to be on the shortest route to RED BIRD because after all … the RED BIRD mission is more than 600 miles from here … a journey of more than 11 hours if you add in meal stops and potty breaks, which are necessary when traveling with teenagers … as for myself I would just say hold it we will be there soon … but nonetheless 11 hours of driving in the city and the mountains.
Let me remind you … I knew basically how to get to Red Bird; I’d been there before. Riding in my van along with 10 or so teenagers were a couple of Red Bird veterans who also basically knew how to get to Red Bird.
But, I happily announced that the world had given me an answer … the world had provided me a GPS mapping route designed to make this trip the most direct with the fewest miles on the road ever. The trip was uneventful … through DC … through Virginia … familiar sights … but as we reached a location in the state of Kentucky I made a sharp right turn that had my friend who was riding shotgun in the front passenger seat go “WHERE ARE YOU GOING.” I said, “don’t worry … my GPS has found us a shorter route.”
After about a mile on this narrow two lane mountain road we suddenly were on a one and a half lane mountain road … with the mountain on one side and death on the other but I kept my foot on the gas pedal smiling knowing I had found the best route that the world could provide … the shortest route … and then the road narrowed … I was driving an old Ford 15 passenger van whose steering column did not associate well with the steering wheel … there was about six inches of play in the wheel before the wheels responded … and as we moved along this winding mountain road it had pretty much become a two way one lane mountain road with my friend on the right saying “DAVE … PASTOR DAVE … you have about six inches to the edge here on the right“ well I was looking at the mountain’s rock that was about 2 feet to my left and thinking what if a car or worse what if a truck was around the next bend heading my way?” We slowly inched our way up the mountain … the teens were still rocking and rolling … David Lewis suggested that the kids lean one way in the back so I am screaming SIT STILL as I tried to find the right place in the steering wheel to guide the van from New Jersey.
Needless to say we made it … we were hours behind everyone else … we discovered after our hearts returned to a normal beat as the Red Bird staff talked to us shaking their heads… technology had given me the fewest miles … the shortest distance … but those in the know knew … never to take that mountain road. I should have known better.
Saul was on the mountain road friends … Saul was given power … Saul was given privilege … all Saul had to do was actively reject God. All Saul had to do was to basically spit at anything that Jesus taught because the world loved what Saul was doing … those in power cheered him on … those who supported those in power wanted to be like him … Saul was living a life that many around him envied.
“Hey look at that guy Saul; he fits right in with the Romans and the Pharisees! He’s rich and powerful who cares if he threatens those Christians with their message of love! They don’t matter … they are troublemakers! It’s time to lock up those men and even those women who can’t live the way of the powerful! Let’s cheer Saul on!”
Saul … had made the wrong turn in life. His road was one that was for Saul and full of hate. Saul bought into the world around him and it didn’t matter to Saul that his life was one that persecuted everything that Jesus stood for … in today’s reading the Greek is translated into the word harass.
But it wasn’t just Saul from 2000 years ago who actively persecuted what Jesus stood for … who harasses through words and actions the Son of God … in today’s world the harassers can look very much like you and me. Many attend church, most don’t … basically decent and good people who choose to join the world’s road that has them on the narrow edge afraid to go over the cliff unless they chant with the world … you may know them because they shout hate; they put down those who may be different than they are; and the last thing that they think they should do is care for the broken and hurting in the world; except for themselves. The concept of investing time in God’s Word … of having conversations with God … they are foreign to them … not enough time; can take care of themselves without involving the Creator … trying to impress the world God can wait … but then there’s my friend again … she may never communicate another word much less a sentence … I wonder what road she was on the last time her brain allowed words …
God had a plan for Saul … truthfully God has a plan for you and for me. We have all heard the words of the prophet many times in church, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, they are plans for peace not disaster, to give you a future with hope.” God on that day along the highway as SAUL travelled towards Damascus GOD STOPPED Saul in his tracks … a bright light surrounded SAUL and those with him … so powerful that he fell to the ground not knowing what was happening until he heard Jesus not saying that He loved Saul but directly asking “SAUL, SAUL … why are you harassing me?”
We know Saul was blinded by the light … we know the rest of the story … we heard some of Paul’s words today no longer Saul but transformed by making a U TURN in life with the surprise that God was still waiting for him. That Jesus was still there loving him.
So, what about you? What will it take for you if you are still preferring the world’s highways? You know the words of Jesus … you know the songs of praise … you know the difference between the world and the direction Jesus and God’s Holy Spirit want you to take but are you too busy, to concerned with fitting in, or thinking life is just fine as it is.
A voice that one once could hear over on the other side of the Delaware, Benjamin Franklin, once wrote … “You may delay, but time will not.” So as you go forward from this time of worship I need to ask you, Is your journey one that makes God happy? If you encountered Jesus along the highway would He smile and give you a thumbs up or offer a HIGH FIVE? Are you investing your time in your personal ROAD TRIP with an unknown amount of time in front of you … are you investing your time with God, are those who see and hear you sensing Jesus at work … have you made sure that God is there with you … your time is not on delay it is passing along quickly as is mine.
I know that the light of Jesus is always shining giving us a direction to turn to … I know we can all hear the words of Christ … it’s a choice … it’s a change … there are only two directions for the road of life and one is towards Jesus Christ and God. If you are not headed that way then this Lenten Season … if you have chosen the world’s direction or if you have just stopped and are looking up and down the road not quite sure which way to go then please make a U Turn towards the Light of Jesus and let yourself be surprised how God is waiting to use you.
Discover the message of Jesus … allow God’s love to lift you up in surprising ways! Sense God in ways that you have perhaps forgotten since your childhood or the moment you first had faith that you have somehow packed away … God has always been faithful and if you choose the road of life for journey here before you reach your final everlasting destination with God … then the God who created the universe … that God, ROCK of the AGES will provide you with the way out of life’s potholes; will keep you from falling over life’s cliffs and you will be able to endure all things as Jesus Christ strengthens you.
Your choice … God’s love is there for ALL but God gives you and me the choice. Friends, head to the light of Jesus, it’s the direction where you will find your future with hope. AMEN
Watch a video of today’s worship service: