Sunday, August 7, 2016

Creation and Response

Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son.  When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited.  But they all refused to come!  “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared.  The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready.  Come to the banquet!’  But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business.  Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.  “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town.  And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor.  Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’  So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.  “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding.  ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’  But the man had no reply.  Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  “For many are called, but few are chosen.”   Matthew 22:1-14(NLT)

A question posed to me a few weeks ago:
·       When church attendance and giving is way down and…
·       Getting anybody to do anything is like pulling hen’s teeth, and…
·       Worship is flat and it seems God is silent…
·       And people are finding fault with lots of stuff from the conference to the kinds of songs we sing, the way the pastor parts his hair, and just about everything else…what’s going on?
Several words are used to describe the answer, apathy, indifference, spiritual backsliding…there are many more, but you get the idea.
My thoughts immediately turn to…what if it’s true?  What if the church(es) I serve are like that; what if I’m like that?
Well, if so, there are only three possibilities:
1.    Disobedience – we know what is right and choose wrong.
2.    Evil – we like choosing wrong.
3.    Faulty Faith – either we were never saved in the first place, or we’re backslidden to the point of can’t even see our sin.
Now, none of those diagnoses is anything short of terminal if left unchecked; all three lead to death.  Listen to the apostle James:
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.  These desires give birth to sinful actions.  And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.  James 1:14-15(NLT)
But there is also good news; for those who recognize and admit that there is something wrong there is God’s ever-present invitation to set things right:
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14(NLT)
There are always three things at stake every single moment of every day in the life of individual believers and the church at large:  heart, mission, and chastisement.
For those who refuse to even entertain that it might be true, your heart will always be in this condition.  And your mission will go begging.  And God’s chastisement (woodshed, if you will) will be your constant companion.
For those who will recognize and cooperate with God, there is an opportunity to repent, revive and reset the compass of your life to the North Star of God’s Kingdom – Jesus.
And if it is the spirit of apathy that has taken over, things will change; you will see the Great Savior as He in whose presence you will never be bored, and can never be apathetic!
Consider Jesus, the…


Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.  Colossians 1:15-16a(NLT)
The Bible says God created.  Essentially the word means ex-nihilo, or created out of nothing.  When we “create” we take what God has already made, and we rearrange it.  Before God got started there was nothing to rearrange. 
There is nothing boring about this – every particle of every mountain, star and supernova was hand crafted by JHWH.  Every breath you’ve ever taken in your entire life is provided by God.
I have stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe – all magnificent parts of the creation.
I have watched babies taking their first breath, and old people breathing their last.  I have watched at night from a mountain in Vietnam as soldiers on both sides fired weapons to kill each other so they could possess more of this creation.
But no matter what…it is all His creation; He made it.
Jesus is Creator, and…


He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.  Colossians 1:17(NLT)
Something left to itself will tend to come unglued.  You make a wonderful salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, cheese and olives and leave it on the counter for a week.  It will go from a tasty lunch to smelly garbage.  Start a nuclear reactor to make electricity and don’t watch over it, you’ll wind up with another Chernobyl killing field that won’t be habitable for 200 years.
The universe that operates by those principles was created by a God of principles who sustains our life; it is He who holds us together!
This ball of earth upon which we walk, have families, cry, and laugh for threescore and ten is just 93 million miles from the sun; it takes a mere 7 minutes for a light ray leaving the sun, travelling at 186,000 miles per second, to reach your backyard,.  But if you want to reach the next closest star, Proxima Centauri, you have to go that fast for 3½ years.  That’s more miles than Elizabeth’s got on her Jeep!
Go with me a little farther out from our local galaxy, the Milky Way; go all the way to our closest neighbor galaxy, Andromeda.  It’s a little farther than I came to church this morning…2½ million years away, travelling at the speed of light!  The number of miles is 21 (followed by 18 zeroes…I have no number like that in my head.).  That’s just the closest one.  If you add up all the galaxies the scientists say are out there, the number is a hundred million billion.  The time it would take to circle the universe is longer than even one of my sermons!
Now, if you’re holding at least a little idea of how big is our little playground called the universe, try considering what it takes to hold it all together.  God told Isaiah how it’s done:
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span…?  Isaiah 40:12a(KJV)
Do you know what the “span” is?  It’s the distance between the tip of the thumb and pinky fingers.  God holds the whole thing in his hand!
Jesus is Creator, Sustainer, and…


Everything was created through him and for him.  Colossians 1:16b(NLT)
Simple statement here – Jesus created it all, holds it all together all the time, and, because He owns it all, it is all going back to Him.  And it will be a time of His choosing, and there will be no objections or say in the matter.
In short – He is a Sovereign God, this Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
On that day,
·       All his enemies will be destroyed with a single word
·       All his creation will respond to Him in worship
·       All knees will bow in reverence
·       All tongues will confess that He is Lord
·       All worship, glory and honor will be His forever without end!
Scripture tells us he will arrange two groups of people in front of God’s great white throne – sheep on the right and goats on the left.  And here’s what will happen when the Lord of Hosts opens His words of judgment:
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing.  I was sick, and you cared for me.  I was in prison, and you visited me.’  “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?  Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality?  Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’  “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.  For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me.  I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home.  I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing.  I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’  “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’  “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’  “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”   Matthew 25:31-46(NLT)
If you have experienced perhaps a growing sense of apathy, or boredom in serving Jesus, it’s time to get dead-serious about what kind of God it is that you’re serving…
This time is coming, my friends, and Jesus will gather up his own.  And he will call all creation to the feast, but some will be unable to respond, because they have been too busy yawning to serve Him here – they will be unwelcome there!
I don’t want to be with the goats; and I don’t want to see you there either!
·       I suggest you take a new look at He who created you and everything you can see, and gives you every breath you’re even breathing right at this moment.  He gives it and He can take it away!
·       I suggest you re-evaluate your commitment to His Lordship and His church, and your place of service in that church
·       I then suggest you recommit yourself to Him and set about making good on that commitment.
·       You can begin all of that at this table this morning!

[i] Title image:  William Blake [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

No comments:

Post a Comment