Tag Archives: kingdom of God

Labor Day

pottery1The Dignity of Work 

Ecclesiasticus 38:27-32a
Psalm 107:1-9 or Psalm 90:1-2, 16-17
1 Corinthians 3:10-14
Matthew 6:19-24

God is our creator. He is the master craftsman of the universe. We are made in his image. Thus, a large part of our life on earth is the discovery of the God-given talent and creativity which he has placed within us, This discovery gives us joy but also contributes to the wellbeing of others.

King Solomon wrote about the skills of the potter:

He molds the clay with his arm and makes it pliable with his feet; he sets his heart to finish the glazing, and he takes care in firing the kiln. All these rely on their hands, and all are skillful in their own work. Without them no city can be inhabited, and wherever they live, they will not go hungry.   (Ecclesiasticus 38:29-32)

We are familiar with King Solomon. He was the wisest and the most wealthy ruler of his time, or perhaps any time. Yet, Solomon found that all that material wealth was “vanity and striving after wind.” It did not satisfy. Again he wrote:

So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them? (Ecclesiastes 3:22)

This Labor Day let us pause and rest. But let us also enjoy and appreciate our work and that of others. Any type of work is honorable. If we are still on the discovery to find our God-given vocation, we should not give us. God is with us. The psalmist wrote:

May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us; prosper the work of our hands; prosper our handiwork.   (Psalm 90:17)

There is great dignity in any kind of work. All work if for the betterment of society. To not work is a drag on society and on others. The Ap0stle Paul warned:

For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.   (2 Thessalonians 3:7-11)

While on the earth Jesus never stopped working:

“My Father is still working, and I also am working.”   (John 5:17)
We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”   (John 9:4-5)
We need to follow his example. Soon the darkness will come upon us. We want to be working up to that day in the Kingdom of God. Then we will be prepared to work for him in his millennial reign.
Today, let us pause and give thanks for all our workers and citizen saints who keep us going. Let us also pray for better days ahead.
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Filed under homily, Jesus, Labor Day, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year A

Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Lent

An Everlasting Kingdom

We live in a very temporary world that is quickly fading away. The danger in this world is to worship the things that merely hint at the glory and majesty of God rather than God himself. The Psalmist wrote:

All your works praise you, O Lord,
and your faithful servants bless you.

They make known the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your power;

That the peoples may know of your power
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;
your dominion endures throughout all ages.   (Psalm 145:10–13)

Jesus said that we must be prepared for an eternal kingdom that does not fade away::

Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.   (John 5:25-29)

God is still calling his people. He wants to offer us an eternal kingdom guaranteed by his Son. Do we hear this voice?

saying to the prisoners, “Come out,”
    to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”
They shall feed along the ways,
    on all the bare heights shall be their pasture;
10 they shall not hunger or thirst,
    neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
    and by springs of water will guide them.   (Isaiah 49:9–10)

Now is the time to answer God’s call. Let us come out of the darkness of this world and enter into his glorious kingdom and light.

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First Sunday in Lent, Year A

Temptation in the Wilderness

As we begin the Season of Lent let us reexamine the wilderness experience that all Christian go through. Even Jesus was not an exception. We read in Matthew:

After Jesus was baptized, he was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”  (Matthew 4;1-4)

Regrettably, for many of us, we are far too concerned about nourishment that it is only temporary at best. Without the Word of God we are spiritually impoverished in this life and in the life to come we are undone.

Now let us examine a tricky item;

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”  (Matthew 4;5-7)

We have an American Church that is obsessed with displays of signs and wonders, but there is little evidence of repentance, healing, and deliverance. People seem to be willing to settle for the spectacular over the significant. Satan specializes in counterfeit signs and wonders.

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.  (Matthew 24:23-25)

And now for perhaps the greatest temptation that Jesus faced from Satan:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'”  (Matthew 4:8-10)

Satan offered Jesus a shortcut. He could gain a “kingdom” without any sacrifice. He could complete His ministry without a cross. This is the Christianity that many American churches are offering today. Jesus has borne our sins on the cross for us, but he has said that we must take up our own cross. He has remitted all your sins on the cross when we accept what he has done for us. Are we now able to sin anew without any guilt?

We are on a journey. He is the way. We are to follow him. One of the ways of doing that is through a continual confession of our sins. The psalmist wrote:

Happy are they to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,
and in whose spirit there is no guile!
While I held my tongue, my bones withered away,
because of my groaning all day long.
For your hand was heavy upon me day and night;
my moisture was dried up as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and did not conceal my guilt.
I said,” I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.”
Then you forgave me the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:2-6)

Lent helps us to come to grips with our sin, not to make us sad all the time. Rather, this season is an invitation to righteousness, peace, and joy in the Kingdom of God.

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