WORSHIP WITH US!
8:30AM, 9:45AM in the hall, or 11AM

Location:
7150 Pines Blvd
Pembroke Pines, FL 33024
The SE corner of Pines Blvd and 72nd Ave
Across the street from Broward college South Campus lake
(954) 989-1903
tlcppines@gmail.com


Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Featured Post

Advent Meditation on Joseph

The reading for Sunday, December 17, 2017: Matthew 1:18-25 This Sunday we read about an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. We've no...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

First Glance at
Pastor Keith's
Sunday Sermon
Mark 6:14-29
July 12th 2009
So Herod marries his brother’s wife, essentially spitting on the law of God handed down from Moses that prohibited such things. For Herodias this is perhaps a step up. An even more important husband, more powerful, richer - who knows for certain? What we do know, according to scripture, is that she takes great offense at the condemnation from John the Baptist. She has a grudge against him and John finds himself arrested and thrown into prison.

No charges filed as far as we know. No lawyer involved. No judge. No trial. No sentence. Just prison with a very uncertain future. Not knowing what would happen next.

So what does he choose to do standing around in that cell?
Blame God?
Rail against God?
Curse God?
Forget God?
Learn to boost cars, pick locks and forge checks?
No.

John takes the time given to him and talks with Herod about the things that he knows.
This, of course, is not his only option.
God doesn’t make him talk to Herod. John the Baptist chooses to.
He could have just as easily chosen to sleep 23 hours a day or compose sonnets or scratch cave art on the prison walls.
He chooses to talk with Herod about God and we presume that these discussions included passionate conversation about the Messiah, the Son of God, the One whose sandals he is unworthy to untie. The long expected One. The One who will baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit while John had only baptized with water. The One for whom the heavens had ripped open and the very Spirit of God had descended as a dove.

So let me ask you a question: In his choosing to chat with Herod, is John the Baptist serving the will of God? How do we know? And does it really matter?

Our lives are full of choices, aren’t they?

Fifteen years ago I served as the Friday overnight DJ for a local church-owned radio station in our town. Before I applied for the volunteer position, I had read a story about the church, a large independent Christian church that had been around for perhaps 20 years. In the paper one week, the founding pastor told a story about the defining moment of the congregation, which he had named Open Door Chapel, a not uncommon name for like-minded churches around the country. He told about a letter that he had received from a couple in prison. They were both due to be released and were looking for a church home. They explained that they had been imprisoned in connection with the death of their child.

The pastor spoke with the Board of Elders at the church and explained that Open Door Chapel would allow this couple to join them. He reminded the Board of Elders that their name was “Open Door Chapel” and that they would be living a lie to turn these people away.

I do not know if he anticipated the uproar that this decision would cause.
When the dust settled half of the congregation had left to form a new church.
So let me ask you a question: In his choosing to allow that couple to join his congregation that ultimately led to the split of the congregation, was that pastor serving the will of God? How do we know? And does it really matter?

That it matters is perhaps the easiest of the three questions to answer since Jesus, himself, wrestled with doing the will of God. There in dark Gethsemane Jesus struggles on: his will desiring to let the cup of suffering and death pass from his lips and life and the will of God calling him to give up that life for the sake of the world. His will or God’s will? Our very lives hung in the balance that night. Serving one’s own will or God’s will mattered that night and always matters. It mattered for Jesus and it matters for you and me and for all who have taken up the cross to follow Jesus. It always matters.

The harder question to answer - The one that each of us must answer for ourselves with every choice - is simply this: “In the choice that I am making, am I serving the will of God or am I merely choosing to serve my own will?”

Let’s be honest, our will and God’s will may sometimes lead to the same choice, but that never makes them one and the same. And just in case there is some lingering question about what we mean by choices – we are not talking about paint color for the living room or what to watch on the TV tonight or cornflakes versus raisin bran here. We are talking about to love or not to love; to listen or not to listen; to help or not to help; to serve or not to serve; to share or keep; to go or to stay; to forgive, to do justice, to walk the second mile with someone.

Our will is not God’s will and in the choices that we make we must die to ourselves in order to live for Christ.
We must die to our selves, to our wants, to our selfishness, to our willfulness, so that we may live for Christ.

The problem is that our will and God’s will are not only not the same thing but often are in direct conflict with one another. If we take a quick trip back to Genesis we see this at work:
God says: Adam and Eve you may eat of anything that you want in this wonderful garden except the fruit of that one tree right there. Eat it and you shall surely die.
God’s will here is that Adam and Eve live in the garden in pure joy. And as long as they eat anything BUT the fruit of that one tree they will live.
But they have a choice, don’t they.
The wily serpent tempts Eve to eat the one fruit which is out of bounds and Eve and then Adam eat it.
Their will bought the words of the serpent hook, line and sinker - that if they ate that fruit that they would be exactly like God.

Now one example could be a mere coincidence, but the Bible is full of example: Take the people of Israel fleeing Egypt where they had been slaves: God’s will is to give them a land flowing with milk and honey for their very own and their will is instant gratification. Moses goes up the mountain to go talk with God and their will has Aaron making a golden calf. Moses? We don’t know anything about that Moses and his God. Make us a calf to worship!

Or we could turn once more to today’s Gospel.
Herodias’ daughter apparently is one fine dancer. And after the entertainment and perhaps one too many glasses of wine, Herod is prepared to give her anything up to half of his entire kingdom. So she runs to her mother who just so happens to have it in for John the Baptist and asks dear old mom what she should ask for. Anything, up to half the kingdom was in play. So Herodias suggests the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Apparently the daughter asks for exactly that – no hesitation – no questions – no problem. And next thing you know – there it is. One head on one platter.

No one is running around telling John’s disciples that John’s rather bizarre death is God’s will.
Herodias had a choice. Herod had a choice. But Herodias was bent on silencing John’s criticism and Herod was more concerned with looking good in front of his guests by fulfilling his promise to his step daughter. In that selfishness and evil where was there room for the will of God?

What about you and me?
How do we go about making our own choices?
Is it always about what is in our best interest? The best interest of our family? Is it about our prosperity; our comfort; even our safety?

Where in our decision-making do we intentionally allow room for discerning the will of God?

In order to discern the will of God we first must be open to it -
Our hearts must be fully open to God’s power and presence in our lives.

With our hearts open, we must be willing, with humble hearts, to prayerfully seek it –
To actively pursue the will of God to guide us in the choices that we face.

And that seeking should be grounded in both God’s word and God’s community.
It is in both God’s word and God’s community where our discernment is questioned, tested, nurtured, and affirmed.

Finally, as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s will, we must choose to act or not act as the case may be.

Let’s consider again:
In order to discern the will of God we first must be open to it -
Our hearts must be fully open to God’s power and presence in our lives.

With our hearts open, we must be willing, with humble hearts, to prayerfully seek it –
To actively pursue the will of God to guide us in the choices that we face.

And that seeking should be grounded in both God’s word and God’s community.
It is in both God’s word and God’s community where our discernment is questioned, tested, nurtured, and affirmed.

Finally, as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s will, we must choose to act or not act as the case may be.
Choices, friends. We face them every day.
The choices that we make can reflect our will or God's will.
Whose will would you be willing to trust you life with?
Amen.






No comments: