We Get One Journey and That’s It

Joshua 24: 14-18
LUKE 6: 17-26

February 13, 2022

So now … REVERE the LORD … Serve the Lord honestly and faithfully putting aside the gods that others served.”

When you consider your journey along life’s many pathways and byways … friends … are you considering God? Are you focusing on the Almighty … Lord of Lords … God above all other gods including being above this evening’s Super Bowl half time entertainers? And, even above Joe Burrow? Do you tell your friends as Joshua did that you reject the gods of your neighbors and friends and that you and your family serve the Lord?

Of course we don’t focus on human beings nor their activities to guide our daily plans do we? Of course not … well if we are employed we listen to our employers, if we are parents we listen to our kids, if we are sports fans then we create Man Caves filled with tributes to those warriors whose lives we hope our children emulate. By the way have you ever heard of a Man Disciples Cave reminding family and friends of people of faith? Nah …

And, of course many of us now have our AI devices so we only have to ask Alexa or Google or Siri for directions on everything from how long do you boil an egg to make sure its hard boiled to provide me with some serenity music.

Just a few weeks ago, my Alexa when I asked her to set a morning alarm asked me whether I would like her to provide me with some words of mediation when she woke me up. Wow … that was sure nice of her and that meant I didn’t even have to consider thinking what I needed as my eyes opened because my device was going to do that for me at no charge … just because … just because Alexa seems to like me although she does seem determined to not always answer my questions.

So who or what guides you along each day’s journey? I think most of us realize … especially as we get older … that we only get one trip here on earth. There is no Mr. Peabody for any of us to ask whether he could help us to go back in time using his famous WAY BACK machine from the Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. My yesterday when I had to turn around and drive half way back to Smithville at night because I forgot to bring my hearing aid charger with me when I left to head here to West Deptford could not be changed … it was part of the day; part of the night; and part of my life’s journey. And, perhaps a sign of aging that I would forget it … big time frustration!

As the offertory, Charlie is singing Godspell’s most popular song. ‘Day by Day.’ It’s easy to sing lines offer a perspective of faith that I consider an essential formula for you and me IF … and again, I always throw this IF word in when I state what I believe we all need to be part of.

The lyrics of Day by Day offer an essential formula IF we want to renew our faith and be part of the revival of the church of Jesus Christ now … just as we pray in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come on earth as it is in heaven,” because you and I and every other person of faith needs to look over our roadmap from God or listen to the GPS whom we refer to as the Holy Spirit or GOD’s PRESENT SPIRIT so that we can do our part … using our abilities, the people we each know, our breath of life every day for the Lord God who created the universe. As we heard from Joshua, we should be … “serving the Lord honestly and faithfully. The Lord God has protected us the whole way we’ve gone.

And, friends … all God is asking from us is to believe .. to follow Jesus Christ as our Savior … to listen to the Holy Spirit’s nudging when we head off course so that we follow the map of life God has set out. I know many of you love the clarity that Jeremiah teaches … the prophet’s assurance from God, “I know the plans I have in mind for you, DECLARES the LORD. They are plans for peace not disaster. To give you a future filled with hope. When you search with me with ALL of YOUR HEART, you will find me.” But, we have a role in making that happen, don’t we?

Life’s journey … oh so short … but the God of Creation has a plan not just for the high and mighty but for everyone. However, we need to get on the right road … we need to get an oil check and tires set at the right pressure level … our windshield’s need to be clean and clear and we need to determine with all of our hearts that God matters … that an eternal life with God is of value and that bowing to worldly gods should never ever be our life style.

So, where does it begin this revival of faith? How can each of us discover or rediscover the pathway that matters … well, you have heard me repeat endlessly it seems Paul’s reminder that we can’t change the past. We can’t look backwards … but we can refocus on what is in front of us. Paul wrote, “It’s not that I have already reached the goal 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 the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. All of us should think this way.”

Jesus, my friends, God’s loving gift to us … came to provide a clear pathway for each human being. Jesus from the moment of our birth has been reaching out to us in various ways and as people who call ourselves Christians we get that connection but we now need to be focused on grabbing hold of Christ to be rescued … it’s for our renewal … for the revival of our responsibility to make new disciples for Jesus Christ while caring for the hurting in our world … so perhaps today, or it might have been last Sunday, or the turning of the calendar to 2022 you are sensing God’s call to you to return your focus in your journey of life to your faith connection in this ONE JOURNEY we get … if we don’t well then that’s it there is no asking for a doever after we breathe our last breath …

And, so today what I want each of us focused on is perhaps a relatively simple process but it means that perhaps we say no to our Alexa devices’ mediation programs and rather ask Alexa to play some Gospel music or praise songs of faith or perhaps that our AI devices read from God’s Word because Alexa and Google and Siri can do that too.

[1]Day by day … day by day. Oh Dear Lord, three things I pray. To see thee more clearly. Love thee more dearly. Follow thee more nearly. Day by Day.” The song merely repeats those lyrics but in the musical the entire group of disciples start to join in singing it, clapping their hands, dancing, and reconsidering Jesus who is in their midst. There is a sense of change … prepare ye the way of the Lord!

Well, today on this 13th day of February … a day when the American public and the American media and most of us are focused on a group of millionaires playing a game to get a silver trophy calling it SUPER SUNDAY … SUPER BOWL SUNDAY … there are thousands of homeless on the streets of Los Angeles who could be housed if we focused those moneys on following Jesus’ call more nearly … or perhaps the hungry could be fed …

On Super Bowl Sunday there will be thousands of individuals and perhaps some of you betting on the outcome of the coin toss hoping to win hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Our airwaves are inundated with opportunities to gamble away our money and a significant percentage of those we call leaders are quick to hide away the truth about the hurt some of our neighbors have felt throughout their lives. A significant percentage of our leaders excitedly attempt to cast neighbor versus neighbor always rejecting compromise so they can seem more powerful even if the failure to work together harms some of our neighbors … OH DEAR LORD THREE THINGS I PRAY

To think we once condemned gambling … we once considered church a vital element of our lives … children and families used to find value in kids learning about Jesus and God’s love … DAY BY DAY …. FOLLOW THEE MORE NEARLY …

Imagine being on that mountainside overlooking the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. It is a beautiful corner of God’s world and on a sun-filled day with flowers blooming one’s spirit definitely can be lifted but on that day it was the Son of God who made it a beautiful day. People realized that being with Jesus was essential and we read that they came from all over and they came to be healed from their diseases and those bothered by unclean spirits came too.

The Son of God delivered one of the most important messages of history; Matthew provides the context and messages that perhaps some of today’s population bothered by unclean spirits need to hear … DAY BY DAY OH DEAR LORD …

THREE THINGS just THREE THINGS … only one journey and that’s it … OH GOD to see you more clearly!!! PLEASE!!!! To love you more dearly!!!! And to follow YOU more nearly!!

Jesus power was going out from Him and He was healing everyone. Jesus reminded the crowd, “Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn you as evil because of the HUMAN ONE. Rejoice when that happens! Leap for joy because you have a great reward in heaven. Their ancestors did the same thing to the prophets.”

Following Jesus might not be the most popular choice on earth friends … to pick up your cross and follow Him as Your Lord and Savior might mean some folks are going to challenge you for leaving behind the world’s chanting crowds but then again it was the Pharisee-inspired crowd that shouted CRUCIFY HIM CRUCIFY HIM towards the Son of God … so many in the world can’t understand the concept of loving every neighbor and of caring for the poor and broken … of welcoming all with equal love … so they choose to condemn but we get one journey and that’s it ! So who are you going to side with? How are you going to live your life? DAY BY DAY?

Immediately after teaching the Beatitudes, which we read here today, Jesus continued his sermon by declaring “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead they put it on top of a lampstand and it shines on all who are in the house. Let your light shine before people so that they can see the good things …. And praise your Father who is in heaven!”

DAY BY DAY … three things I pray … to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly and follow you more nearly in this life’s journey … DAY BY DAY “and as for my family and I … we will serve the Lord the best we can!” AMEN

[1] Day by Day, Songwriters John Michael Tebelak & Stephen Lawrence Schwartz, GODSPELL

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