Give Control of Your Life to God
Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23
Gwen and I don’t watch much TV these days…seems like we are working a lot of hours
Our one guilty television pleasure lately has been The Voice
Guilty when the lyrics to a song go a bit too far…new songs and old songs
Y’all have caught yourselves singing along…and then realize what you have really been singing all these years…been there plenty of times
On last Tuesday’s episode, which we watched Thursday night, I was actually a bit upset
A young man comes on…talks about his love of music…how he just graduated high school
College is on hold because he wants to try the music business’
Parents were once in a Christian rock band and are worship leaders…showed the family praying before he went onto The Voice stage
What did he sing? "We should take this back to my place…That's what she said right to my face…I've been thinking 'bout it all day…And I hope you feel the same way, yeah”
I remember thinking…Did this really just happen?
A Christian family praying over a performance of “Slow Hands”?
And this week’s readings are all over this incident, big time…Let’s start with Matthew 22
Why would people, invited to a wedding feast, not attend?
Have you ever been invited to a wedding, or other formal occasion, and not attended?
Sometimes it’s just too far away…
Sometimes you feel you don’t know the people well enough…
Sometimes you just don’t want to go…
And sometimes you have something else to do that is more important to you…be honest…come on
It’s these last two categories…the don’t want to’s and the more important’s that we need to address
But we are going to ask a different question…
Why do so many who have been invited, and been invited repeatedly, not show up to keep holy the Lord’s day, repeatedly?
Yes, I insist that God invites us repeatedly
You know that pang of guilt when you take a Sunday off? I know you do! That’s the Holy Spirit…inviting you back!
And some of us continually reject him on Sunday…and Monday…and Tuesday…and, you get the point
Why? We are either too engrossed in other stuff, or have just given up caring
Just like those who neglected, or chose, not to attend the wedding feast
Mind you, it was just the good part…the feast, they did not attend
Lots of people feel no guilt about not attending the ceremony part
Jesus then reminds us of something that is pretty important…in verse 14… “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Right away we want to know what the choosing criteria are, right?
I can tell you one thing with a high degree of certainty…singing “We should take this back to my place” after praying on national TV is not among the criteria
A good starting place for criteria would be today’s reading from Philippians 4
Paul tells us in verse 8…NIV version… “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
We are told to think about that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy…hard to argue with such a list
Many of us believe that it is that which we put into our own minds, what we think about, what we watch, what we read, what we listen to, that is manifested in our actions
If we program our minds with Christ-like thoughts via, among other means, prayer…then right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy actions will result. It’s cause and effect.
And is we do such things, Paul tells us there is more reward for us
Verses 6 & 7…again, from the NIV… “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
If we think about the right things…if we, via prayer and petition, or supplication, which is asking for something humble…present our requests to God…the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds
Is this not something that we want? Isn’t this why you are here every Sunday?
Paul would tell us to consider what we are feeding our minds
Via TV…and Internet…and from books…and via conversations with others...some of those containing some gossip-y stuff…and from movies and from music
Paul tells us in verse 9… “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
If we can be more Paul-like, or more maybe Jesus-like, the peace of God will be with you
And while we are trying to act like biblical figures, maybe we should consider being more Moses-like, too
Moses’ supplications were a very good thing for God’s people, for God was set to strike them down
Remember, last week he laid down the big ten, The Ten Commandments, for them
And here they are, having Aaron turning gold jewelry into a golden calf to worship to
And that Aaron, a handy guy, cause he built an altar for that golden calf the next day
God even called his people “stiff-necked”
Now, I’m a city boy, and no one ever called me stiff-necked, although I do confess to being stiff necked a time or two…he means stubborn…resisting the tug on the rope that directs an animal
Shauna Hannan of working preacher.com points out that Moses’ bold and effective plan had three components
First, Moses had to turn God from the fierce wrath he felt toward his people, again
He reminded God that he brought these people out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand
Guess Moses had heard that flattery will get you everywhere!
Second, he needed to change God’s mind…not some mortal, nor some five-year old…but God’s mind
Said that the Egyptians would only make fun of him…for leading his people out only to kill them
Finally, he had to convince God not to bring disaster on his people…and he did this by reminding God that he had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Israel that he would make their descendent as numerous as the stars…and would give these descendants the land he had promised them…to be their forever inheritance
And God relented…and Moses went down the mountain to straighten things out
In summary…don’t be stiff-necked…quit filling your head with trashy stuff…and do not worry about anything…give control of your life to God
And you will not only be invited to the wedding, but you will feel compelled to actually attend! AMEN