2nd Sunday of Epiphany – Sermon 123

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

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



What’s God’s will for our lives? – you’ve asked it – I’ve asked it – we’ve all asked it –

It’s a question that either bothers us – or blesses us

As Christians we believe God has a purpose for everyone of us – but we don’t always know what it is

We know we are going to heaven – but we don’t know the route or the stops on the way

So – How are we going to find out?
Is there anything we can do to improve our communication with God?

How do we know we are receiving the message God wants us to hear – and responding in the way He wants us to act?

Point 1     God is calling us


Throughout the OT there are many different stories of how God speaks to His people – through visions – dreams – objects – animals – clouds – fire – but most are – through His word –

In our first reading we have the story of Samuel’s Call –

For Samuel it’s a new experience-

as a boy – he worked in the Temple under Eli

Three times Samuel ran to Eli – after he had heard his name being called out – to ask what the priest needed –

But – it was not until the third visit – that Eli realized whose voice it was – and told him to go back and reply with the words –

‘Speak Lord – your servant is listening’

In those days – we’re told – the word of the Lord was rarely heard – but it wasn’t because God wasn’t speaking – it was because no one was listening – it took Eli three attempts – to understand what was happening –

Like Eli – we too are not good at listening to God – we listen to what we want to hear – and then switch off when there’s something we don’t want to hear – or when the hearing becomes difficult –

Indeed some of us – prefer to be speaking – or doing – or watching – than listening –

But thankfully – God – is constantly seeking us out – so we can have a heart to heart with Him – and wants us – to get beyond the business and clatter of our lives –

So He’s provided us with some hearing aids!

The Bible – so we can get to Know Jesus – and His Spirit – and know what to expect

He wants us to pray – not only speaking – but include some quiet times – so we can really listen for His words – Jesus did a lot of listening

He wants us to be open – to the guidance and encouragement of other Christians – Sometimes – like Samuel – it can take a third party to help us recognize God’s call – they – can see – what He is saying to us – more clearly than we can ourselves

And if we are called – but it doesn’t work out – we shouldn’t worry –

Many people believe themselves to be called to something – when its obvious to others – that they’re mistaken – equally there are those – who appear to be called by God – but who cannot – or will not believe it –

Samuel’s story – reminds us that even the greatest of Spiritual leaders – are by no means certain – when God is speaking to them –

God wants us to tune in – not tune out!

Many of us spend out lives looking for Jesus – as if He was a small light in the distance – we need to get Him close to us – so we can bathe in His presence –

The closer we are to God – the more certain we will be that we will be led on the right path –

Which brings us to our Gospel reading – and Jesus’ first encounter with His disciples-


Point 2     He has a purpose —


As Ian reminded us last week – the beginning of Jesus’ ministry doesn’t happen in the Temple like Samuel – but in the wilderness – after being baptized by a prophet – who dresses in animal skins – and eats locus –

Jesus meets Philip

And when Philip realized who was speaking to Him – he goes to find and tell Nathaneal – a friend who was knowledgable in the OT –

‘We have found the man who Moses wrote about in the Law, the man foretold by the prophets; it is Jesus son of Joseph form Nazareth’

But Nathaneal was skeptical –

Nazareth? – can anything good come from Nazareth?

He knew there were no prophecies connected with Nazareth – its not known for its great minds – or abilities – nothing special was ever expected – to come from there – and certainly not the Messiah –

But Philip doesn’t argue – instead he invites him to find out for himself – he invites him – to ‘come and see’ –

Our most effective witness for Jesus – is a simple invitation to ‘come and see!

Our family- our friends and neighbours – need hope and spiritual guidance – through Jesus – and we need to play our part in inviting them to that source of hope – Jesus Christ –

If just a few of us are willing to tell – then we will have a small fire – if everyone in here shares – then we have a mighty blaze –

As Nathaniel takes his first steps towards the meeting – he finds Jesus coming towards him – he soon realizes that Jesus knows things about him that no one else could –

Jesus knows our hearts – our honesty – our secrets – He sees the real person behind the mask – whether we are sitting under the Fig tree – or plopped in front of the television –

Someone once said that our lives are not measured by the number of breaths we take – but by the moments that take our breath away – When we let Jesus touch our lives – that is certainly such a moment –

When God calls on us – we asks us to make a choice – like the disciples – to follow His ways – or follow our own –

Imagine we had to choose between two doors – behind door one – we have the complete will of God – and behind door two – we have life the way we would like it to be

The struggle for most of us – is not whether we would choose to follow God – but whether we would choose to follow God completely – the fear of full surrender holds us back –

Jesus tells us not to be afraid – but to take that door towards Him –

Sometimes – when we open a door – we find ourselves in God’s waiting room – waiting for an answer to prayer – waiting to be used – while we are waiting – we need to make sure we prepared – for when He calls back – so we will be ready – like Samuel – to say – ‘ Speak Lord – your servant is listening!

Jesus tells Nathaneal that as His disciple he will party to much greater things – he will even see the door to heaven – and to God Himself – open wide
‘and God’s Angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man’



Point 3 –    


In our NT lesson we too see a picture of heaven – through John’s vision – rich in biblical imagery – its like an impressionist portrait – giving us a look behind the scenes – at what is going on –

We see that – God has a scroll – a plan – for His world – which is complete – and ready to be carried out

At first – there is great distress – because no one can be found that is worthy enough – to break the seal – and open the scroll –

Only when the Lion from the House of Judah – comes forward – with marks of the sacrificial Lamb – is someone found – that is worthy to carry out the task –

The central figure in C.S.Lewis’ – the Lion, the witch and the wardrobe – is Aslan the Lion – the ruler of Narnia – He saves Narnia – from perpetual darkness – by sacrificing his life – he becomes the sacrificial lamb – who takes away the curse – of the white witch – and so defeats the foe

Jesus is our King – who came into our world – to become – the sacrifical Lamb – to take away the curse of our sins – on the cross – so we can be forgiven and our relationship with God restored – Through His sacrificial death – Jesus – bought for God, people of every tribe, language, nation and race’ – and became the way to salvation for the whole world –


So the answers to all our questions are found from one source – Jesus Christ –

God calls us by name – through Jesus – and – its Jesus who He wants us to listen and respond to – and to follow in His ways –

At times we may have doubts – but we know that with Jesus in charge – we will be brought safely to Heaven –

Great things do come from the most unlikiest places – Jesus knows it – and He wants us to discover it too –

We are called to respond as Samuel did – ‘Speak Lord your servant is listening’ – and then – ‘come and see’

 prayer to finish

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit