Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bethany Bullet - October 23, 2012

Whether it is the Caterpillar from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or lyrics from rock legend Roger Daltrey, I am sure you have at one time or another asked the same question, “Who are you?”  Today as we focus on our Parish Theme, “An Invitation to a Holy Conversation,” we think about that initial word from God and how we might respond to our heavenly Father who calls us by name and desires to have a conversation with us, His dear children. 

The Apostle Paul is quite possibly the most famous person in the New Testament behind Jesus himself.  In our text today from Acts we see Paul, addressed by his Hebrew name Saul, who is on his way to Damascus looking to murder those who were followers Jesus of Nazareth. 

“Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him, he fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul…’” (Acts 9:3b-4a)

It would be easy to say that Jesus was trying to get Saul’s attention, with the flashing light and sudden blindness and all.  Perhaps in your mind as you read this text you hear a stern voice calling out, “SAUL!  SAUL!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING!” 

I’m not so convinced.  This is not the first time in Scripture that we hear Jesus use a name twice. 

Jesus at the home of His good friends says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed” (Luke 10:41-42) surely not words of chastisement.

Or His words addressed to the city, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” (Luke 13:34)

On the night of His betrayal Jesus’ words to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.” (Luke 22:31)

In love, Jesus gets Saul’s attention and he responds, “Who are you?” (Acts 9:5)

Ananias is quite possible one of the least known people in the New Testament, but in our text today he too hears words from the Lord, “The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!” (Acts 9:10b).  His response? “Yes, Lord.” (Acts 9:10c)

You see, the Lord desires to be in communion with His children and to do so, He engages in communication with us.  He invites us to talk to Him.  He calls His children by name to speak tenderly to their heavenly Father.

In our text we have two men with drastically different demeanors and God calls them by name.  

  1. Saul responds with an inquiry as to Jesus identity.
  2. Ananias responds with certainty as to God’s sovereignty.

The Lord’s loving invitation comes to you and to me as well.  He invites us to a Holy Conversation.  He longs for you to know His identity and to bow before His sovereignty. 

Like Paul, all too often we get the order mixed up.  Paul knew that God was in charge.  He knew the Scriptures, he knew God as one who tells people what to do, not as one who TALKS WITH and LISTENS TO us.

But ORDER MATTERS - Until you know the Lord Jesus as the God of grace and mercy it does you no good to know Him as the Ruler of heaven and earth.

You see, this conversation is initiated by God and for many it comes as His name was spoken over us in the waters of baptism.  At that moment, you became a child of God, your name was engraved on the palm of His hands, and a relationship was formed. 

God has called your name and desires you to be in conversation with Him. He invites his children to talk, to ask, and even to complain and lament. The conversation of prayer can take many forms but first and foremost our Father desires His children to know Him.

·         It’s not just a personal relationship, but a person!
·         It’s not an, it or a something, but a WHO!

On the road to Damascus, Saul had a real encounter with the living and resurrected Lord; it was not something that was made up, or in his head. The person of Jesus Christ came to Saul and said, “I am Jesus.” (Acts 9:5b)

That same Lord comes to you today and desires to have a conversation with you.  He comes to you in word and in wine and his wish is to be welcomed and that words flow as you have a holy conversation with Him, the living resurrected Lord, your Heavenly Father.

It should blow your mind that we too can have a conversation with the one whose words formed all of creation.  Our Father calls His children to proclaim His identity as Savior of the world, and bow before His sovereignty as King of Kings. 

The late Dr. S.M. Lockeridge once gave a sermon where he said:

“My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love.

He's enduringly strong.
He's entirely sincere.
He's eternally steadfast.
He's immortally graceful.
He's imperially powerful.
He's impartially merciful.

He's God's Son.
He's the sinner's savior.
He's unparalleled.
He's the loftiest idea in literature.
He's the highest personality in philosophy.
He's the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
He’s the only one qualified to be an all sufficient savior. 
That's my King.

He supplies strength for the weak.
He's available for the tempted and the tried.
He sympathizes and He saves.
He heals the sick.
He cleanses the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharges debtors.
He delivers the captives.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek.
That's my King.

My King is the key to knowledge.
He's the wellspring of wisdom.
He's the doorway of deliverance.
He's the pathway of peace.
He's the roadway of righteousness.
He's the highway of holiness.
He's the gateway of glory.

His light is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His Word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
That’s my King.

You can't get Him out of your mind.
You can't get Him off of your hands.
You can't outlive Him and you can't live without Him.
The Pharisees couldn't stand Him,
but they found out they couldn't stop Him.
 Pilate couldn't find any fault in Him.
Herod couldn't kill Him.
Death couldn't handle Him and the grave couldn't hold Him. That's my King.

It’s that King who desires to have a holy conversation with you!  The question, “Who are you?” has been answered.  May we not be like Saul’s companions that day who stood there speechless, may we be like Ananias and answer, “Yes Lord!” and answer the invitation and engage our father in prayer.

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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