Sermon Notes - March 1, 2019
Sermon Notes - April 15, 2019

Hard Ears Christians

Mark 9:2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them.

The celebration of the Transfiguration of Jesus seems both a fitting climax and a creative bridge into the season of Lent. For it climaxes the whole concept the revelation of the unique power and awesome presence of God embodied in the person of Jesus. Jesus is now fully revealed and established as the one whom all the prophets proclaimed would come and set God’s people free. Yet this freedom is not limited to political or socio/economic power; at it’s very heart it is about allowing the power of God to be present in our lives. The freedom to live out one’s fullness lies central to the eternal quest of each of us. I often wonder how the world would have been if the crime of slavery had not been committed.  I wonder how African peoples might have developed without chains around their feet (both literal and figurative) and how the rest of the world would see us without the blinding misconceptions developed because of the collective slave experience. 

What would life be like if we are able to look at ourselves and experience the full freedom from the pains and chains of sin and brokenness?  What would life be like if we awake without the chains of fears, guilt and shame of our past, our present addictions and mental struggles? What if? Lent is a time in which we are called to invest in the joys  of self-discovery. For in so doing we would be able to witness the power of God at work within us. Jesus came to transform the world one soul at a time beginning with me. I have come that you may have life and have it in full abundance. (John 10:10) Or as St Paul shares “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2.

My friends one of the most difficult and sometimes frightening experiences can be spending time with ourselves. We run and hide from it because we are either ashamed or fearful of what we may discover. We fill our time with gadgets, social media and other forms of distractions as we seek to drown out the call from Jesus to come away with him for a little while. We enter or stay in some relationships because of the fear of what we may discover if we are alone. Come and find your true freedom. Sunday worship is a weekly invitation to come away with Jesus for self-discovery, an invitation many turn down using some very creative excuses. Many are not aware that worship at its very heart is a public conversation between you and your God. If we only trust God a bit more we would accept that the plans He has in store for us are for good, fulfillment and even abundance. “ For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.” Jer. 29:11

Christian friends I am discovering how valuable and important to know who and what has shaped us into who we are today. Many of us respond to situations in our lives sometimes not being fully aware of why we do what we do. We would say “I am not sure what I was thinking I just reacted”. Many of the things we cling to and struggle to gain are often outside our fullest understanding thus we find ourselves easily becoming passengers in our own story. Like Peter in Mark 9:6 “He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.” The disciples were shouting out of fear because they did not fully understand the spiritual realm in which they were invited to participate by Jesus. Many a Sunday we are invited to participate in a similar experience but out of fear or misunderstanding we would respond inappropriately. We are afraid to let go and let God take control. We are afraid to put “our all on the altar”. Can you manage yourself better than the one who creates the sun and the moon and the stars? Can you manage yourself better than the one who keeps and sustains the universe? Humanity is still discovering the wonders of the creation. Humanity is discovering new things about how the human body functions. There was a time the common thought was that we only use 10% of our brain power. Now we are learning that is not true we actually use 100% of our brain and that it represents three percent of the body’s weight and uses 20 percent of the body’s energy. This knowledge comes only through study and discovery.

Can you imagine what the disciples conversation would have been if God did not shout at them over their fears and say be quiet and listen. They would of have only 10% of the fullest possible experience of the Transfiguration. “O Jesus wasted our time going up that mountain, we could be better off doing something else. I might be better of home sleeping. Why did he have to drag us all the way up there for some free show”. In other words, the normal human response to divine actions can be much greater if we are willing to listen to the voice of God. Thus, God had to gather them collectively and say will you just listen to Jesus. My friends never you dare put a period where God places a comma. Sometimes the struggles of life may be painful and even overwhelming at times. In life things fall apart, injustices seem to prevail, but the love of God is forever present. God makes a way where there is no way. Where we see ending God sees fresh starts and new beginnings. And the one seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new!” Rev.21:5 is not an end of time promise but one for when we get to our end then God begins.

My friends, Jesus boldly declared in John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. Or in Mark 7:14 He pleads “Listen to me all of you and understand this …”  In order to be a good follower of Jesus we must be willing to listen for and to his voice. This is not about us telling Jesus what we want to hear but allowing Him to shape our response to the world. We got called out of this world in order to save it. “ He is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” (2Timothy 1:9) We are called out not just to save ourselves but for the purpose of God. 

The ultimate question one may ask is “What is the purpose for which God has saved you?” The response if you listen keenly may sound just like the one given to Elijah. It is for a time like this you have been saved. Now is the time where everyone is called to be seeking the ways of God in order to walk faithfully into his divine purpose. Now is the time for us to be gathering around to build this church for the honor and glory and works of God. Why did God place his breath in you? Why has God kept you alive when others have passed on? Why has God bought you here at this period in your life? What is God expecting of you? Why has God place your husband or wife in your life at this time? What is God hoping to do by entrusting these children to our care? Why has God bought you here to this church at this time? Look beyond the people, places and things, listen a bit more carefully, pray a bit more deeply, offer yourself more generously and you will discover the same truths that these are the questions that each of us must face and respond. The ultimate questions on the worth and value of our lives may not be how great you were as a parent, a worker, a server or a runner but how well were you as a listener to the voice of Jesus. The disciples could have missed it all if they were not willing to stop and listen to the voice of God. Are you willing to risk losing it all because of being hard ears? Tune in to the voice of God and see what wonders you discover about yourself.