Fifth Sunday after Trinity – Sermon 215

5th Sunday after Trinity

Holy Communion 10am CW

8th July 2012

Bible References :

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Prayer to Start

 

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

“Oh mortal stand up on your feet

And I will speak with you

And when He spoke to me

A Spirit entered me and set me on my feet”

 

Standing up and speaking about God – and the difference He makes to people’s lives is never an easy thing – most of us would prefer – to leave it to someone who has been trained.

 

But as Christians and followers of Jesus – it’s something we are all called to do –

 

So how are we going to manage it – how are we going to speak out for God?

 

Let’s see if our readings can help

 

Point 1        Ezekiel

 

Our OT lesson records the call of the prophet Ezekiel – the name Ezekiel means – God is strong – or strengthens –

 

Ezekiel lived during the Babylonian exile – one of the most difficult times in Judah’s history –

The people of Judah had been removed from their promised land – to live as prisoners is an oppressors country –

 

Ezekiel was called by God to speak His word to them – to an ‘impudent and stubborn’ people – who continually rebel against God

 

It was a difficult ministry to take on – but if Ezekiel agreed to it – God would send His Spirit to direct him –

 

The Spirit will speak to him – and tell him what to say

 

And when Ezekiel was to speak – he was to begin with the words – ‘Thus says the Lord God’ – or in the REB translation: – ‘This word of the Lord came to me’ – which became his trademark beginning for Ezekiel’s sayings in the Bible –

 

Ezekiel was warned not to conform to the morality of the people around him – as God’s voice – he was expected to teach and preach faithfully –

 

God is faithful – and He expects faithfulness from his people –

 

The Holy Spirit would in turn – raise Ezekiel up as a prophet – ‘Whether they hear or refuse to hear – they will know that there has been a prophet amongst them –

 

In the years to come – guided by the Spirit – Ezekiel would develop an uncompromising approach – in his ministry –

 

He would see amazing visions and act them out in his sermons – preach judgment on Israel and the surrounding nations – teach about individual responsibility – the sovereignty of God – and in his latter years – of hope – of a new Jerusalem raising from the ruins –

 

For Ezekiel – God was inescapably close and real and demanded complete obedience – he felt utterly weak and inadequate before Him –

 

In order to speak out – then – like Ezekiel – we too must allow the Holy Spirit to speak to and to lead us – in what we say and what we do –

 

Let God direct us to those He wishes His message to reach – trust and obey – and allow the Holy Spirit – to guide us completely –

 

Point 2        Paul

 

Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church – talks about a vision and a thorn –

 

The vision is used to illustrate – that talking about experiences that put people in awe of you – is not the way forward –

 

Other teachers in Corinth at the time – placed great emphasis on their visions and the revelations – their transportations – or out of body experiences-

Whether they wet true of not – as Paul says – only God knows – but in any case they would not be allowed to speak of them –

 

Wonderful and uplifting they may well be – but they are not given to people to make them feel special –

 

What is needed is ordinary language – that would enable others to be built up in faith –

 

The thorn in the flesh – was to Paul a weakness – that enabled him to become strong –

 

There has been endless speculation about what it might have been – a recurrent disease – a persecution – a stammer?

 

Paul had prayed hard and long for God to take it away – but God said no –

 

Because – this thorn was there to keep Paul’s feet on the ground – stop him from becoming too elated –  about himself  – and what he was doing –

The thorn was there to remind him that – our weakness – can be a source of strength –

 

That we are strongest when our dependence on God is strongest –

 

I am all you need says God – my Grace is sufficient for you –

 

So Paul teaches us that God will use what we have and what we are to help transform others  –  and to spread His word and love to all – We must be selective in what we say – use plain speaking – and only use those things that enable others to be built up in faith –

 

Point 3        Jesus and His disciples

 

Most preachers can remember the first time they stood up and preached –

 

Mine was here – 6.30pm evensong – Pauline was present –  and a few friendly faces who gave me a lot of help and support –

 

 

But when Jesus – came to His home town –  and began to teach in the synagogue  – to the people that He knew – He received quite a different response –

 

At first they marveled at His wisdom – but then began to mock –  and challenge Him – they’d heard what Jesus had done in Capernaum and the lakeshore and wanted Him to do the same back home where everybody knew Him –

 

Isn’t this the Carpenter – the son of Mary?

 

But their reaction was more than just putting the local boy made good – in his place – it was His message that was making them react – this way

 

Jesus had come to tell them that the Kingdom of God is here – amongst them – and it was time for them to repent and change their ways –

 

But the kind of Kingdom Jesus was talking about – was not what – his contemporaries wanted to hear

 

So the people of Nazareth – dismissed Jesus’ message – using an age old – excuse for rejecting Him – Oh He’s just the local handyman – what does He know?

 

But their unbelief was enough to prevent Jesus healing – as He did in Galilee – Lack of faith – it seems hinders Jesus’ power to heal –

 

Jesus went on teaching in the villages – and sent His disciples out –  to spread the message to anyone who would listen –

 

He warned them – that some places – like Nazareth – wouldn’t welcome them but this was something the twelve would have to deal with – and Jesus gave them a symbolic action to perform – should the situation arise –

 

It was what was needed to get the message spread quickly – Jesus would have only three years – before His earthly ministry – reached its climax – in His death on the cross – and His resurrection –

 

So there was no time to waste – if they were refused – they must move on to the next village – and woe those who have missed their chance –

 

During the time that Jesus walked on this earth – there were many who wanted Him to jump through hoops and perform for them – to say the right things in the right way – but He responded only to the will of God –

 

Jesus endured great suffering and humiliation – on our behalf  – so that our sins  – can be forgiven –  and our relationship  with God restored – Jesus is the only way to God – He brings us the truth about God –  and leads us to salvation with Him –

 

To be a true disciple we too have to follow Him  –  and do what Jesus tells us to do  –  we must not let the world get us down – but serve Him with all our heart with all our soul and with all our mind  –  and keep working for Him –

 

Conclusions                   what about us

 

So how does all this help our ability to speak out for Jesus?

 

We our teachings remind us of the things that we need to focus on –

 

To be faithful – and respond to God’s call – and to ask for the power to speak – the words will be given to us by the Holy Spirit –

 

To speak plainly and simply and aim to bring – others to faith – the more we let go – and thrust in God – the stronger we will be-

 

We must deliver the truth about Jesus and His Gospel message – regardless of the belief of our hearers  – if they refuse to listen v-  we have to take it to others  –  we must believe in His love and healing power –

 

Two weeks ago Pauline and I were in Llandudno at the Annual General Meeting of the Mothers’ Union – Reg Bailey our Chief Executive interviewed three extraordinary ladies who had done a lot of work to promote the charity – He challenged each one to say   what they would tell someone in two minutes  – [the time it takes to go in a lift] – about the Mothers’ Union

 

Could we do the same about Jesus? Can we tell someone in the time it takes to drink coffee – what Jesus means to us – and could do for them?

 

Jesus challenges us to stand up and speak about Him – and God’s kingdom – He will provide the resources for us to succeed – we just need to believe and trust Him – and have faith in what He gives –

 

‘My Grace is sufficient for you’ says God – Let’s hold Him to is – and use it –

 

Prayer to finish

 

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit –            AMEN