Monday, January 23, 2012

Sermon Delivered 1/22/2012: What Would Your Life Look Like?

Jesus said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

What would your life look like if you believed the Kingdom of God was near?

The third grade class was scheduled to take a field trip one day. All the children had dutifully turned in their permission slips. There was but one rule on the day of the trip: you must bring your own sack lunch. As the roll call was made each child answered, "Here." and afterward the teacher asked, "Did you bring your sack lunch?"

Timmy began fidgeting. In his excitement to get to school that day, he rushed out the door and forgot his sack lunch. His mom and dad were both working, and no one would be able to bring it. His lip began trembling. He knew the rule. The teacher finally called his name, and he responded, "Here," but then his tears overtook him when the teacher asked, "Did you bring your sack lunch?"

"I forgot," Timmy managed to say through his tears.

"I’m sorry, Timmy," his teacher said. "You know the rule."

The other kids in class started talking about this event as Timmy sat and sobbed. Suddenly, a little girl looked up, "Mrs. Davis, I have an extra sandwich. Timmy can have it." A little boy then said, "Mrs. Davis, my mommy packed me an extra juice box. Timmy can have it." Another student said, "Mrs. Davis, I have two bags of chips." Another, "Mrs., I have extra cookies." In a matter of moments, Timmy had a sack lunch.

What would your life look like if you believed the Kingdom of God was near?

A widow sat at home staring at the walls. Everywhere she looked there was a picture reminding her of her deceased husband. Fifty-seven years of memories dotted the walls. Six months ago, the diagnosis had come. Six rounds of chemotherapy ensued. It looked like the tumor was shrinking. It looked like they would win. But then another tumor was found. A rapid decline ensued. Hospice was called. Her husband had breathed his last breath in their bedroom. Could she even go back in there?

Worries filled her mind. "What will I do now? How can I keep this place up? Can I manage the bills? Will there be enough for me to pay the hospital bills? Should I move closer to my kids? But how can I leave all the memories?" These things and much more swirled in her brain. She knew she needed to do something, but what? Fear, worry, and sadness paralyzed her. "Lord, help me," she managed to mumble.

Seconds later the phone rang. "Barbara, this is Jane–from your church. I’m just calling to check on you. I remember what it was like when my husband passed away. I remember the hurt. I remember the worry. I remember the fear. Can I come over and sit with you?"

Barbara replied, "I would really appreciate that."

What would your life look like if you believed the Kingdom of God was near?

A young lawyer was approached by a large company. An accident had happened at one of their factories severely injuring one of their employees. They were liable for damages and for the medical bills the employee would incur, but they didn’t want to pay them. They asked this young lawyer to represent them and somehow find a way to release them from the responsibility.

The young lawyer was torn. The suit might mean a big paycheck for him, but could he represent the company and deny the injured man and the man’s family the funds he was entitled to?

The young lawyer spent hours agonizing and praying about the situation. Finally, he called the company’s representatives. "I’m sorry," the young lawyer told them. "I believe you are responsible for the damages and
injuries incurred. I cannot do what you are asking."

The company ended up paying for the man’s injuries and medical bills, and the young lawyer kept his integrity in tact.

What would your life look like if you believed the Kingdom of God was near?

A woman had lunch with her best friend one day. Each one’s lives were extremely busy. Both had successful careers. Both had children who were involved in school and sports. Both wanted the best for their kids and families. Both had aging parents who required attention. Both were concerned about the events going on in their city, state, and country.

"How can you be so relaxed about everything?" one lady said to the other. "Aren’t you worried about all the stuff they are doing up in Washington? Aren’t you worried about the tremendous debt that our country has right now? Aren’t you worried that this is going to be passed down to our children? Aren’t you worried that they will increase your taxes and keep you from being able to do everything you need to do to keep your family comfortable?"

"I might be a little worried," came the reply. "But I don’t focus too much attention on it."

"How can you do that? Isn’t that irresponsible?"

"I have other things that fill my mind."

"Oh, I see. You must be worried about your kids and your parents. I know. I worry a lot too about mine. I’m always having to schedule a parent/teacher conference to make sure my kids are doing well in school. Then it’s off to softball and baseball practice. I keep track of all their activities for their college applications and scholarship applications. And when I’m not focused on the kids, I’m worrying about mom and dad. They are getting older and I’m having to make sure their house is in good shape. I’m having to make sure they are taking their medications. I’m having to make sure they are getting their groceries and aren’t doing things that could affect their health in a major way. I can see how you don’t worry about the stuff in Washington with all the stuff you have to go through with your family as well."

"I do worry a little about them, but these things don’t consume my thoughts, and I don’t stress over them."

"What?! Are you kidding me?! How can you not? Unless, all this stuff is crowded out by your work stress. I mean, when I think about all the deadlines that I have to abide by and worry about making my boss happy as well as those employees happy, sometimes, I’m ready to throw in the towel. I’d just as soon focus on my family and my parents and maybe writing my senators and representative to get things done. But I know I can’t. We’ve got to keep the money flowing, and in this economic downturn, sometimes I worry if I will even have a job one day. I make sure I’m always at the top of my game so that they know I’m indispensable. You’ve got to be worried about your job."

"No. I don’t stress out about it either. In fact, even though I do feel pressed for time sometimes and the demands of life sometimes press in on me, I generally am happy with things. There is much I can’t control and don’t even try to. Worry won’t change it in the least. It’s out of my hands."

"But doesn’t that drive you nuts? Doesn’t it stress you out that you can’t control all this stuff? Don’t you try to be prepared for everything then? Don’t you try to cover every base and make sure you are protected?

"I already am."

"How can you say that?"

"Can I tell you the story of who I believe is in charge of things?"

What would your life look like if you believed the Kingdom of God was near? Amen.

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