Journey of Perspective

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

For the word of God is alive and active. We invite the Holy Spirit to penetrate our thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Let us pray….

 

Faithful God, you draw near to us in our joy and in our grief, in our hope and in our despair. When we are bowed down, you raise us with your Holy Word. We turn to you now in search of your presence and instruction for faithful living.  God of compassion and love, move among us this hour.  Open our eyes, dispel our fears, and show us the real life you have to offer. We pray this in the name of the Risen One, Jesus the Christ.  Amen.
 

ENCOUNTERING SCRIPTURE        Genesis 25:19-31        The Birth and Youth of Esau and Jacob

These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.  And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.”

 

When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

 

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”

 

May God bless our understanding of this Holy Word.

 

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN# 664          “Thy Word”

 

SCRIPTURE                                       Mark 12:38-44                                    The Widow’s Offering

As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

 

He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

 

THE SERMON           “Journey of Perspective”

Our perspective comes from the way we look at the world. Some of our perspectives are formed as children as taught by our parents. Other lenses that we look through at the world get developed as we encounter the perspectives of other people: teachers, mentors, and friends.  The circumstances of life can refocus the lens that we look through and help us to adapt to know challenges that arise.

As we go through life, Jesus helps us see more clearly our perspective and how our lives are shaped by our faith and God’s Holy Word. As we continue on our faith journey, the road can smooth or a little bumpy. The path we take may be fairly straight or take a few winding turns. Any time the journey may take a surprise turn that we did not anticipate. Along the way, our faith will give us perspective, a calming presence in uncertain times, and help us readjust the course for our journey.

In Genesis, Abraham received a promise that he did not realize in his life time. The promise did not die, but Isaac carried it into the future. God’s promise would not become a reality for centuries, when Jacob’s descendants became a great nation in Egypt, 400 years after Joseph died. Therefore, I think we need to remember that our perspective on our faith journey requires a long view. God works in an eternal time frame and we often look at life in the short term.

The short term view placed Esau into a bit of a long term pickle. When he came in from hunting he was famished. Nothing mattered to him, but getting some food in his stomach, he wanted to eat NOW! He was starving to death, or at least in his immediate mind, if he did not eat now, he would die. Most likely, he could have survived for hours or days, but he wanted to deal with the present discomfort as quickly as possible. He was willing to trade his birthright, a long term investment, for a short term gain. It was a matter of perspective and Jacob took advantage of his brother’s short sighted view.

As Christians, the Lord encourages us to evaluate our life and take an extended view as we trust the Jesus us to walk with us through times of trial. Jesus invites us to reflect on our life with a view beyond the present, trusting that God has a plan, even when we don’t see God’s hand guiding us along. Recently, I’ve been regularly stating and restating a ministry mantra, “God has a plan, I just don’t know what it is right now.” Yet, I believe God will see us, through this challenging time.

In the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus provides a lesson to the Disciples on perspective. He cautions them to be aware of the scribes, those who for the sake of appearances, put on pious religious airs. They seem to be devout in prayer but their actions do not reflect a Godly attitude. They say look at me, instead of looking beyond this time and place to a spiritual power. They give expecting others to notice what they do for a good cause. Yet, in the scheme of things, their offering reflects a stingy, tight fisted and shallow gift.

Many Christians think they give large sums of money. Some gifts come with strings attached, that if I give, I want things done my way. Or a person expects special privileges or treatment based on the size of their gift. Or they believe that their gift is generous because they give more than others. Jesus is less concerned with the size of one’s gift, than with the attitude and intention of the gift. The gift that comes with ulterior motives diminishes the quality of the offering. God desires us to give proportionally to our resources.

In the other perspective, is the widow who has barely anything. She only has two small copper pennies to rub together. She represents the poorest of the poor. Yet, her faith journey allows her to generously give away all she has to live on, because she truly trusts the Lord to provide for her needs. When she doesn’t know what she will eat tonight, she is not afraid. Her perspective looks beyond the next meal to trust that her hunger pangs will be satisfied. She trusts the Lord for her immediate needs and for those in the long term.

Her strong faith gives her a long term perspective. She lives with confidence that the Lord will provide her with daily bread. She does not live with anxiety for what tomorrow hold, she knows who holds the future. Her relationship with God, gives her freedom to contribute a large portion of her resources. She gives more than the normal expectation of a tithe, 10 percent. She give is all away, trusting in the generosity of God to provide for her needs.

So as we prepare for today’s decision, I ask you to take a long view from God’s perspective. As we look ahead to next week’s pledge commitment, I ask you to reflect on your perspective of God’s blessings in your life and how do you return this blessing through your pledge of time, talent, and treasure. Our faith journey looks differently depending on our perspective of guidance for our journey. TGBTG. Amen.

  July 2017  
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