Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bethany Bullet - June 17, 2014

**Your palms a sweaty, your mouth is dry, butterflies have invaded your stomach, a feeling of dread sweeps over your body…it’s a feeling many of you know, a feeling that happens when, in school, you were called upon, and you had no idea what to say, you were not ready to give an answer. 

At the time nothing is worse.  Being caught unprepared is a fear of many.  I’m sure you have had that dream, its finals week and you forgot to study for the test.  Or, you are at the office and it’s time for the big presentation to the client and you didn’t prepare. 

For me, it’s a Sunday morning, the sun is shining, the people have been gathered, and Pastor K looks at me to give the sermon, and I have not prepared.

This year our Parish theme of Ready…Set…Go has provided some great opportunities to talk about the life of faith, how we go about in this world as a follower of Jesus.  You heard the words of Jesus in our Gospel Lesson from Sunday, “Go and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19).  But in order to Go, we have to be Ready.

Back in September I spoke on the idea of being Ready as we began our Parish Theme.  Back then I talked about how the Law makes us ready to hear the Gospel message.  How the Word of God convicts us and drives us to our knees and makes us ready to hear the Good News of Jesus. 

Our text from Sunday is from 1 Peter 3:15, Peter writes, “But dedicate your lives to Christ as Lord. Always be ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it. However, make your defense with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:5)  

Always be ready…boy that is a hard thing to do isn’t it.  How can you always be ready?  Vacation Bible School is coming up in just over a week, I’m not ready.  My family leaves for vacation soon, I haven’t even thought about packing, or shopping, or anything, I’m not ready.  I will travel with our missionaries to Alaska in less than a month, I’m not ready.  My hands are beginning to sweat and I’m getting a knot in my stomach just thinking about it. 

But being ready is much more than preparing for the events of the day but being ready to tell someone about Jesus and defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it. 

Every year when we go to Alaska, the team wears a t-shirt on the trip to Anchorage that has a Bible verse on it.  I always tell the team that someone will ask you why you are going to Alaska, and perhaps what the Bible verse is on the shirt.  In that moment the team members need to be ready with an answer.

With gentleness and respect we get ready to tell them that we are going to Alaska to share Jesus while doing Vacation Bible School to some communities in the Mat-Su Valley.  Generally we get an affirming nod or encouraging words.  Often we have the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about the reason we have hope in Jesus. 
It is in these encounters that we need to be ready.  Oh, we will be ready for the kids that come to our VBS, but it is much more than that. 
Being ready is not just for those who are going off to do mission work, or those whose calling is in the work of the church.  We are ALL called to be ready. 

The disciples were ready and set to go because they spent time with the Word and the Word made flesh promised to be with them forever. 

Are you ready to answer the question when someone asks?  Are you ready to defend your confidence with gentleness and respect?

Does the thought of this give you a knot in your stomach or cause your palms to get sweaty? 

Well, you are in good company.  Sins insidious nature gets us off track, distracted, unfocused; we find ourselves spending more time in selfish tasks and not in always being ready.

At times we are the ones asking the questions.  Why is this happening to me God?  Why did the cancer come back?  Why did I lose my job?  Why are you so far from me?  Why have you not answered my prayer?  Why does it still hurt so bad? Why, God, WHY?

Our heavenly Father answers all of our questions in Jesus.  The Father’s love was made evident on that hill called Calvary and He answered the problem of sin by nailing it to a cross and destroying death forever.

We are made ready to go when we too spend time with the Word as we read, mark, and inwardly digest the Scriptures; as we are gathered here in this place to worship faithfully and hear the Word proclaimed; when we come together to be formed spiritually in study of the Word and when the Word comes once again to us as we come to the altar in communion.

On Father’s Day we see that our heavenly Father answers all those questions in His word and through the Word made flesh.  His word and encouragement will strengthen you when you need it most.  His word will affirm you in the faith.  His Word makes you ready and set to tell others.

Listen to this Love Letter from our Heavenly Father taken directly from his word:

My Child,

You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being. For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I claimed you from creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb. Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me. John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalm 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
When you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes, and I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins, and that Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10
I loved you so much that I gave up my only Son to death so you might live. John 3:16
And nothing will ever separate you from my love. Romans 8:38-39
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15
Love, Your Dad- Almighty God

On this Father’s Day, we know that our heavenly Father loves us so much and He is the one that makes us ready through Jesus.  And because of Jesus and by His Word, we can always be ready to defend our confidence in God when anyone asks us to explain it.

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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