"Who's In Charge Here?"
By Rev. James A. Splitt
Sermon August 16, 1998
Hebrews 11:29-12:2  Luke 12:49-56

What use is a horoscope?  Or a fortune cookie?  What benefit will we get from Taro Cards or having our palm read?  If we call 1-800-psychic will we learn the truth, know what to do next, how to succeed?

If our expenses exceed our income, and we steadily increase our debt will we know what corrective measure to do and be able to accomplish it before it is to late?  If we are steadily gaining weight and enjoying a diet that is excessive in fat, do we acknowledge the risk and make choices that will improve our health, before it is too late.  If we find ourselves creating more and more distance with our spouse, do we recognize this pattern as similar to others who end up in divorce ... do we share a love with our spouse that will invite more creative and loving intimacy, before it is too late. 

If we neglect our faith and find excuses to avoid prayer, worship, or the study of God's word, and caring for others in the name of Christ, do we even realize or understand the consequences God has in store for us.  Or can we be born again into a new life with Christ, before it is too late?  Jesus spoke to the multitudes with concern and warning because they seemed so foolish as to disregard very basic religious teachings.

He also said to the multitudes, " When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, 'a shower is coming'; and so it happens.  And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, 'There will be scorching heat'; and it happens.  YOU HYPOCRITES!  You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Clouds from the west meant that a storm was brewing.  The Mediterranean Sea was to the west.  Rain was a certainty.   We know how water from the Ocean can become water vapor in the air through evaporation.  On the other hand, when the winds stir up from the arid desert region of the south and east,
hot scorching winds are easily predictable. 

How do we measure the foolishness of humanity, when we ignore the signs? When we make choices that fail to heed the warning signs, how are we to explain our own irresponsibility,  or ignorance?

One of my favorite expressions about change is:  We can make changes in our life for better in one of two ways:  by wisdom or suffering, take your pick.  The course of wisdom, relies on spiritual discernment of God's will.   Suffering comes to us when we stay on a collision course with disaster.  By our own behavior, we plant the seeds for misery and suffering.  If we are able, before it is too late, we may come to our senses and make a dramatic change, born again to see our life in the eyes of our creator God.  What will it take for us to turn our lives around and live according to God's plan for us?

WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?  Are we doing the life journey thing on our own ... or are we totally conscious, totally ready, totally accepting, of our life journey belonging to God?  When we recognize ourselves as spiritual beings, we become enlightened to the power and authority of God.  It is this power and authority that has charge over our lives, whether we recognize it or not.  It is Christ's statement in this text that is said with the hope that we will recognize it and not live as hypocrites .

Recognition of God's authority comes through prayer, qualities of
spirituality, and acts of faith. 

First, recognition of God's authority comes through prayer.  If we know how to pray, we have a great advantage in life.  Prayer is the most important life skill we can learn.  What is it about prayer that is so embarrassing to people?  Even God talk can be embarrassing.  Why is that?  If we want to recognize God's authority in our life, prayer opens our eyes.  Why are we so embarrassed about prayer or so uncomfortable with praying and talking to God .... or talking about God with others?  Prayer is embarrassing, just as God talk is uncomfortable because it is often discredited and misunderstood. 

The Bible says, "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner." (Mark 12:10).  The cornerstone is the most important stone, it is the stone that supports the entire structure.  The right understanding of God and of prayer can become the cornerstone upon which our entire live and work are founded, stabilized, established, and can give us a great sense of assurance and effectiveness.  Once we come to understand the principles which underlie effective prayer, then the "stone" that has been rejected will become the "head of the corner".  Prayer is contemplative discernment of God's presence. Prayer is heart to heart God talk.  Prayer is intentional spiritual worship.  The Bible speaks of ceaseless prayer.  We endeavor to continuously see everyone and everything in the context of divine reality.

To see God, we are to be still, in prayer.  In prayer truth is revealed and we are able to understand the signs of God which lead us in pathways of righteousness.  Invite yourself to a prayerful way of life.

Secondly we recognize God's authority in our lives through the qualities of spirituality.  More and more people are seeking out spiritual mentors, spiritual directors.  Spiritual formation is guidance in the qualities of spirituality.  These are very basic concepts that are a part of our divine reality.  Kindness ... love ... patience ... honesty.  Paul calls these the gifts of the spirit. 

We are guided to make spiritual qualities a part of every aspect of our life.  We recognize God's authority in our life when we separate ourselves from destructive sinful behavior.  Spiritual qualities can be trusted. 

Today, children live in defiance of adult authority because it cannot be trusted.  I heard a comment made on the radio yesterday from a woman speaking about the alleged Clinton affair.   A person who betrays his family will also betray his country.  When we are not living lives on the highest level of spirituality, our children will have no faith in us.  We are no longer believable.  The children of our culture today, rebel and reject the authority of adults collectively because there is an absence of truth in conduct and behavior.  To recognize the power of God, we are best served by seeking the spiritual qualities of God's righteousness. 

Jesus talks about families being divided, parents and children against each other.  It stands to reason, the Christ invites us to choose spiritual qualities in our life.  When that doesn't happen, dissension takes over, defiance and conflict manifest.  Relationship break a part when love is absent.  The presence of Christ love is revealed when God is in charge!

Thirdly we recognize God's authority through faith.  Paul gives the testimony that is captured in the wonderful image of "a cloud of witnesses."  We have heroes of faith.  Moses was a hero of faith.  Abraham was a hero of faith.  Esther was a hero of faith.  Ruth was a hero of faith.  David was a hero.  Joseph was a hero.  Rahab was a hero.  They were all heroes because of their faith in God.  Through their faith they recognized and affirmed God's authority and set for us an example of how we too might be heroes of faith.

Since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, heroes of faith ... we can free ourselves from the bondage of sin.  Paul says ....

"lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God!"

We are called to stand apart from the rest of the world.  We are called into a live of obedience to God, a God who calls us to love one another.  We are no longer to live by dictates of our own, or by the dictates of others.  God's authority is the only authority that governs our life.

We recognize that God is in charge, when we pray without ceasing, choose spiritual qualities to live by, and have faith in the resurrected Christ.  Amen!