January 20, 2008

"Every Day God: Enables"

(1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn


INTRODUCTION:

I remember reading a book of letters from children to their pastor. One of them read: "Dear Preacher, I'd like to bring my dog to church on Sunday. She is only a mutt, but she is a good Christian. Love, Sissy. PS I'm sorry I can't leave more money in the offering plate on Sunday, but my Daddy won't give me a raise in my allowance. Maybe you could give a sermon about a raise in my allowance. It would help the church get more money."

I like that little girl. I'll bet she's going someplace in her life. Not only was she concerned about her dog but she also wanted to enable her church to get more money.

We've been talking about our Every Day God and how God helps us keep our Christian Edge, how God helps us keep sharp in living out this Called and Sent life of Discipleship and making Disciples.

We've Talked about how God works in our lives and empowers our lives through the Holy Spirit, reminding us that we are the beloved sons and daughters of God in whom God is well pleased.

We've talked about how we are a Called and Sent people, called into a relationship with Jesus and Sent to share the Good News and how God Equips us with the tools for that mission through giving us A Holy Heart, A Holy Boldness, and Holy Words.

Today we're going to talk about how God Enables us to live as Disciples. Obviously being a Disciple is a full time job and to say that I'm going to teach you everything there is to know about being a Disciple would be a little ludicrous, but there are a couple of more tools in the tool box which God has for us to use. Maybe these are more like blueprints.

Let's look at the passage from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, I think it speaks to God's enabling Spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (NRSV)

[18] For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

[19] For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

[20] Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

[21] For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.

[22] For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom,

[23] but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

[24] but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God.

[25] For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

[26] Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

[27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

[28] God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are,

[29] so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

[30] He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

[31] in order that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

This passage reminds us that while our message might seem foolish to some, it IS the wisdom of God and Every Day God is the source of [our] life in Christ Jesus. As the source of our life, Every Day God Enables us live as Disciples.


I. ENABLES US TO PRACTICE:

A. First, Every Day God Enables Us To Practice our faith. Now I'm not talking about the kick the tires, check the shocks, start the engine and let's go for a test drive kind of practice. I'm talking about the kind of practice that athletes do to get ready for the big game; the kind of practice that accomplished musicians do to hone and strengthen their skills. The kind of practice that conditions us, heart, soul, mind and strength, as we seek to serve God Every Day. The kind of practice that Enables us to live in this world but not of this world. And that's hard to do without the help of God..

B. How many of you have watched the new TV series "Chuck"? Basic idea is a young man who works for Buy More (a Best Buy type store) has an old college friend and enemy send him an email with an attachment which he opens. It just happens to be all the information from a sophisticated government experimental computer where all the information is store in the pixels of digital images. It's called the intersect. The speed of the pictures being displayed pulls Chuck into a trance like state where all the information of the intersect becomes stored in his brain. The only problem is, he can't access it like the info on a computer. Instead, stuff comes to him in flashes.

So, now he's one of the most valuable people on the planet and two agencies are working with him. He's basically become a spy whose cover is his real life. Every week, life and being a spy collide. In one scene Chuck talks to his partner about it. He says: "I'm getting way to comfortable lying and sneaking around all this spy stuff, okay. I'm starting to feel that that is my real life."

His partner says: "It's all to be expected. It's an existential spy crisis of sorts."

Chuck says: "It used be all compartmentalized, you know, Chuck World and Spy World. But when I watched those ambulance doors close and my sister was behind them with that sweaty nuclear spy freak, my worlds collided."

It's hard to live in this world and not be a part of it. We're surrounded by it. I struggle with it all the time. But what God helps us remember is that this is all temporary. That sounds foolish to some, but we're only here for a short time compared to spending eternity with Christ. Scripture says Jesus is preparing that place for us right now, so that where He is we can be also.

That's God's desire for us. So, Every Day, God Enables us to Practice our faith so that we CAN live in this world but not of it.


II. ENABLES US TO PERSEVERE:

A. Second, Every Day God Enables Us To Persevere. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I've overcome the world."

Jesus knew that we would face adversity in life. It's a part of life. There are times when adversity strikes all of us.

Bobby Bowden, of Florida State University, is the All time Winningest Football Coach in a Major University. His team took Two National Championships in 1993 and 1999. Bobby Bowden says: "When everything else is equal on a football team and the team your playing, it's usually which team has got the best leadership. You know? You simply are not gonna win all the time. You're gonna lose some, you know it? And to me, a coach's success, somebody says: "What do you have to do to be a successful coach?" I say, "You gotta get over the bad times."

"If you never had adversity you ain't gonna be nothing. You have got to have adversity to build your character and find out how tough you are and find out how good your judgment is."

"You're gonna have adversity, you know? There's gonna be times where you'll think you do not more deserve to be a football coach than the man in the moon. But you've got to overcome it. You've got to fight your way through it. You can't listen to outside opinion."

B. In a very real sense Bobby Bowden is right. He recognizes what Jesus said: "In this life you will have trouble." But in the midst of those troubles we can't listen to the outside opinion of the world. We have to call on the one who overcame the world. We have to listen to the guiding of the Holy Spirit.

And when we do, our Every Day God Enables Us To Persevere and walk with the One who has overcome every kind of adversity, Jesus


III. ENABLES US TO PRAISE:

A. Third, Every Day God Enables Us To Praise. When we are strengthened and enabled to Practice our Faith, when we're strengthened and enabled to Persevere and overcome adversity our hearts want to sing, they want to give thanks, they want to rejoice. And we do that by Praising God. Every Day God Enables to Praise.

B. There's a great African-American spiritual titled "Ain't Got Time To Die." It was written by Hall Johnson and the words are filled with so much joy:


"Been so busy praising my Jesus,
Been so busy working for the Kingdom,
Been so busy serving my Master
Ain't got time to die.
If I don't praise him,
If I don't serve him,
The rocks gonna cry out
Glory and honor, glory and honor
Ain't got time to die."

I just love those words, "I'm so busy praising and serving Jesus that I ain't got time to die." That's exactly how we feel what we are called to do when we've overcome adversity. And Every Day God Enables us to Praise Him.


III. ENABLES US TO PROCLAIM:

Once we Practice our faith, Persevere through the adversities of life and begin sing Praise to God. Our Every Day God Enables Us To Proclaim. That's our first Call remember, to Go and Tell and make Disciples. And when God has walked with us and strengthened us Every Day, we not only want to Praise God, we want to share the good stuff that's been happening in our lives because of God.

Rev. Wayne Brouwer says when he was pastor in his first congregation he sat in the home of one of his members and the husband said to him, "You're more evangelical than we are."

Rev. Brouwer was stunned for a moment, wondering what the man could mean. So he asked.

"Well," Well, said the man, "we like to keep our faith to ourselves." (1)

The way I understand Scripture that's not an option. We are a Called and Sent People. It's not something we can keep to ourselves. Jesus didn't die on the cross so we could keep it a secret. The message that changed our lives, never would have survived into the 21st century if someone back then hadn't been willing to Proclaim it.

Besides, when you've got good news, you want to share it. When you get a new car, you want to drive it. If you buy a new 56 inch High Definition LCD or Plasma TV, you invite people over so they can see it. You want to share it.

It should be no different in our daily Discipleship. When you've got good news and God has gotten you through a tough time, you just naturally want to share that good news with somebody. And Our Every Day God Enables Us To Proclaim that Good News.


CONCLUSION:

William Sloan Coffin, former CIA agent and long time pastor of Riverside Church in New York City said: "We have learned to soar through the air like birds, to swim through the seas like fish, to soar through space like comets. Now it is high time we learned to walk the earth as the children of our God."

Our Every Day God Enables Us To Practice our faith; Persevere in hard time; Praise God for God's care and strength. And Our Every Day God Enables us to Proclaim the Good News.

Our message might seem foolish to some, but it IS the wisdom of God and Every Day God is the source of [our] life in Christ Jesus. As the source of our life, Every Day God Enables us live as God's Disciples. All we have to do, once again, is let ourselves be used by God.

Will you do that? Will pledge to open your heart, soul, mind and strength so God can use you and enable you to be a tool in God's toolbox? All it takes is faith and trust in God. That's the challenge. Are you up to it?

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

______________________________

Bibliography

1. "Promiscuous Preaching" by Wayne Brouwer, Preaching, May/June 2000, p. 40.

2.

3.

4.

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