- Open My Eyes, that I May See
- I Give All To You
- I Surrender All
- Our Scriptures today come from Isaiah, Psalms, and Matthew 25.I’m beginning a series on Matthew 25.Our Opening Scripture comes from Isaiah 58:1-11.“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.Another reading from the Old Testament:Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.And finally the passage we’ll be focusing on today from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verse 31-46:“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”OUR MISSION (Part 1)Several months ago our presbytery challenged all of our churches to consider becoming Matthew 25 churches. As our session considered this we determined that in many ways we were already doing. The website reads:“We aim to help multiply this loving commitment to radical and fearless discipleship by partnering with mid councils and congregations to help them embrace one or more of these three focuses:Building congregational vitality by challenging people and congregations to deepen their faith and get actively and joyfully engaged with their community and the world.Dismantling structural racism by advocating and acting to break down the systems, practices and thinking that underlie discrimination, bias, prejudice and oppression of people of color.Eradicating systemic poverty by working to change laws, policies, plans and structures in our society that perpetuate economic exploitation of people who are poor.OUR MISSION (Part 1)In the past year we have seen so much division in our country along socio-economic, racial-ethnic, political and other lines. It seems to me if there was a way to divide people, to put one against another, we as the sinners we are found it.As your pastor, I want us to move away from what divides us and towards what unites us and that is the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s focus on his words to us today.We read in our Gospel passage today of Jesus return for judgment and in v. 33 He separates the sheep from the goats. He then says to his sheep (those on his right) in vs. 34,Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.adding,For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’To those on his left he says,“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.adding,For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’This passage is often used to preach social justice, and the task we are all charged with as Christians to care for those in need, to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and visit the sick and those in prison. And it is true, we should be doing these things.Yet, note the question they both have:Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’andThen they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’Isn’t it ironic that they both ask the same question?It’s a good question. And Jesus answer is solid - to the righteous he will say:And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’And to the cursed he will say:Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’The Question:Why would the righteous not know they’d done these things?Jesus is clearly saying we are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and in-prisoned - but the righteous who had done these things didn’t even know they had done them.This is why we cannot preach social justice as an end in itself. Something is still missing. But what?Perhaps the answer comes to us in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says:On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’The fact is that we can do all sorts of good things, even what would be considered doing good things in God’s name, but unless it flows from a knowledge and relationship with our Lord it is nothing.If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.Why would the righteous not know they’d done these things?Because they flowed from their relationship with the Holy God. As people created in the image of God, connected to their creator God, these actions naturally were a part of who they were, they were unconscious of their service.In closing, I want to read from the May 12th entry in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers:
When we begin to form a habit we are conscious of it. There are times when we are conscious of becoming virtuous and patient and godly, but it is only a stage; if we stop there we shall get the strut of the spiritual prig. The right thing to do with habits is to lose them in the life of the Lord, until every habit is so practised that there is no conscious habit at all. Our spiritual life continually resolves into introspection because there are some qualities we have not added as yet. Ultimately the relationship is to be a completely simple one.
Your god may be your little Christian habit, the habit of prayer at stated times, or the habit of Bible reading. Watch how your Father will upset those times if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes—‘I can’t do that just now, I am praying; it is my hour with God.’ No, it is your hour with your habit. There is a quality that is lacking in you. Recognize the defect, and then look for the opportunity of exercising yourself along the line of the quality to be added.
Love means that there is no habit visible, you have come to the place where the habit is lost, and by practice you do the thing unconsciously. If you are consciously holy, there are certain things you imagine you cannot do, certain relationships in which you are far from simple; that means there is something to be added. The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere. Is there anywhere where you are not at home with God? Let God press through in that particular circumstance until you gain Him, and life becomes the simple life of a child.Living as part of a Matthew 25 church, let each of usBe holy, because God is holy.Love because God is love.Serve because Jesus came to serve.It all flows first from our relationship with God.AMENLet’s pray.OUR MISSION (Part 1)
1 Corinthians 13:1–3ESV
- In Remembrance
- There Is A Savior
- I Have Decided To Follow Jesus
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