Luke 4.18-19 (CEB)
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.
Learning to listen is a task that we think would come easy enough, but as with most things it takes a great deal of discipline to get better at it. A large part of the ministry we are all called to is one of listening, specifically, listening for where God is moving in our lives. Listening for the small still voice of God, who, as VBS reminds us this week, has the power to provide grace upon grace; listening for the transformation of lives of those who have encountered the risen Christ Jesus by his love; listening for the Holy Spirit’s movement that inspires, empowers, and ultimately moves us if we allow it to share the freedom we have found.
Ultimately, learning to listen means that we have to put aside many things. We have to put aside our assumptions; the things we believe are true without proof or firsthand knowledge. We have to put aside social, racial, national, or religious differences as automatic ways to distance ourselves from one another and to keep ourselves insulated from learning something from each other.
Jesus shows us time and again what it means to listen to God and live in this world positively and hopefully. Some of the things he did got him into trouble because he chose to cross the barriers that were present at the time and in some ways still present today.
So today I am inviting us to take a page from Jesus’ play book and look for ways that we too can seek the transformation of the world by ways of the kingdom of God.
Grace and peace,
I Corinthians 12.7 (RSV)
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
We have choices to make when it comes to what we do with almost every part of our lives. From what to watch on television to what detergent we use in the washing machine we all have preferences and choices to be made.
Sunday we thought with Samuel about what it means for us to get what we have asked for. The intended consequence was that the people of Israel would have a physical king that would lead them. The unintended consequences turned out to be how that was all going to happen with the king using the people’s resources (not his own) to wage war and to live. And it was up to Samuel to help the people see even when they were not ready to understand that in asking for this they were rejecting God’s leadership.
There is much more to the story of Samuel, as we will hear more about the story of his anointing of the next king. Learning to hear from God who is to be THE one, the next king, sup-poses that 1) God wants to be known 2) God is at work in the lives of individuals and communities, and 3) our abilities to perceive God at work are limited.
Sunday we will hear more about who is to be the next king and how he is chosen and how we might discern God’s leading us individually and communally.
Grace and peace,
Joshua 24:15 (RSV)
“And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
This classic text reminds us that we have a choice in who we will serve. And not only that, we make that choice every day. Today, in our world and culture, we know that we have any number of things that we can choose to do with our lives and time. And sometimes we find ourselves doing something that is good, but our attitude about it is sour.
So another truth is named, we are a mix of good intentions and sometimes poor feelings about the decisions we have made. It is not always easy, but I think it wise, from time to time, to name these things and acknowledge how our faith is lived out daily. Yet the beauty of our faith is that God is at work within us as God is shaping us and changing us even as we are turning to God.
Our naming God as our God and choosing to surrender and follow in the way of Jesus Christ becomes new every time we choose to serve the Lord. And I promise there will be days or seasons of our lives that it will be hard to choose what and where Jesus will invite us to be. Yet, our choosing to go where Jesus is already moving will have us asking honest questions of how we choose to meet the needs of others by our own unique gifted-ness.
Sunday we will hear from I Samuel about the people clamoring for a King just like everyone else.
See you on Sunday!
Grace and peace, Rev. Brian
Husband, father, minister, child of God, follower of Jesus Christ writing in the context of La Porte Community Church