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Sermon 9/11/05 - Listen to Him
Isaiah 1:

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Listen to Him

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord the Lord has spoken: ‘I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me’” (Isaiah 1:2)

We are blessed by the prayer requests, comments, and questions sent to Friday Study Ministries, the First Church On The Net, and we receive jokes for the “Humor” section.  Here’s a “Humor” item that was recently received:

Two pastors met at their 30th college reunion.  One of them seemed relatively young and vibrant, while the other looked old and worn out.  The younger looking pastor asked his classmate, ‘Have you been ill?’  ‘No,’ replied the older-looking pastor, ‘It's the counseling; it really bothers me. It's hard to listen and it exhausts me. Is it a problem for you?’  The younger-looking man responded, ‘Who listens?’

A few days ago, while visiting my mother at the skilled-nursing facility in which she resides, we met another visitor to the home, a lady, while we stopped for a moment in the lobby.  The lady looked like she was in her early 80’s, and she complained about her apartment, remarking that “this is now the SECOND apartment complex that I’ve lived in that is filled with noisy young people!” and she continued… “the managers don’t listen to my complaints.”  There was more, for she was rapidly telling us about many concerns.

I made the mistake of suggesting that an “assisted living facility” might work because they would be more aware of her needs.  I was about to tell her about a place we know that is very nice, with units not unlike small, luxury apartments, but then noticed the deep frown on her face as she announced that she would “NEVER go into a place like that!”  Oops.  The subject was changed and we parted company.  She wanted to tell her story, but didn’t want to listen to any thought that suggested she might be getting little older.

In the conversation with her, it became apparent that, even though she’s probably over 80, she does not particularly like to associate with “old” people and does not want to live anywhere near them.  Like so many, she doesn’t want to even THINK about the end of life, though it is apparent that God, our Creator, has allowed our existence to be limited on this earth.  Denying that part of reality does not make it different.  We do get older and refusing to think about it actually gets in the way of the resources we need.

Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi a couple of weeks ago, and much like the aftermath of the tsunami that destroyed so many homes and lives in Southeast Asia a year ago, some are angry at God because of it.  It is now said that 10,000 may have died as a result of Hurricane Katrina.  Uncounted multitudes are homeless and filled with grief.  Some say that God has nothing to do with such things, but others think He does, and you know, we really DO know very little about the reasons behind the great (and the small) cataclysms that have filled this planet since the beginning.  For all we know, we are a primary cause of natural disasters ourselves by pumping vast amounts of oil out of the ground and taking other actions that affect this planet in ways we do not expect.  Certainly the radiation that has gone into the atmosphere and oceans, along with the chemicals that we spray and the garbage we dump, HAVE lasting effects.  We need help, not anger, and the Lord is who we need.

We should not ignore the Lord.  Pretending He’s not there doesn’t change the fact that He does exist.  We should also be less inclined to blame God.  Getting to know Him should be our concern.  The truth of His existence and His intentions will likely NOT be shown by a debate about whether He exists or not, and unfortunately for those who do not believe, ALL shall see Him Face-to-face.  At that point, the debate will be over.  What matters is HIM, and He is the One who decides our lives for all eternity.  The only issue when you see Him will be – did you PLEASE Him with the life that He loaned to you for a time?

Notice in our Scripture for today that God has “nourished and brought up children.”  He has nourished you and is continuing to do so.  If you can take a breath into your lungs, He is the Author and Enabler of your ability to breathe.  Can you eat?  It is because of Him.  Are you able to communicate in some manner?  He is the One who has made you able to speak and He also lets your listener understand what you say.  Are you UN-able to do some or all of those things.  Then He is nourishing you by giving you something even higher than breath, food and communication – He is allowing you the gift of having faith in Him, even when your life right now is not the way you might want it to be.

In various places on the Internet (such as, a story is told about former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who endured long receiving lines at the White House, and felt that no one really listened to what he said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try out an idea. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests answered with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It was not until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were heard. It is reported that the ambassador paused, but then leaned over to the president and responded, “I'm sure she had it coming.”

FINALLY, an ambassador perceived Roosevelt’s words, but the only one who heard was somebody who misunderstood the president’s intent.  In today’s Scripture, Almighty God laments, “they have rebelled against Me,” a statement which was directed toward Israel, but it also applies to the church, and if you think about it, everybody else on earth as well.  We rebel against the Lord by refusing to believe He is even there, misinterpreting His intentions when we do believe, and by not listening to Him, whether we fully believe or not.

LISTEN to the Lord.  Listen with your heart and know that He has good intentions for you.  He is your Creator and He loves you without limit.  It is important that you listen intelligently for He created your mind as well as your feelings.  He does speak to your heart and He also has given You His written Word, so you may prayerfully look and understand.  Don’t be like the pastor who felt it was stressful to listen.  Don’t be like the ambassador who listened, but did not really think about what he heard.  LISTEN to the Lord.  Let’s pray:

Father, teach us to prayerfully listen, not only with our intellect, but also from the heart.  Enable us to understand, and let us trust in You.  Help the victims, donors and workers in relation to Hurricane Katrina.  Help the older people among us who don’t know what to do next.  Bring Your peace to all who suffer and those who are afraid.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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