Consecrated

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Sunday 25 June 2017, St John the Evangelist, Hook

Jeremiah 20.7-13; Rom 6.1b-11; Matt 10.24-39

Take my life and let it be,
Consecrated, Lord, to thee,
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise

Frances Ridley-Havergal

 

 

Next Saturday, Mark will offer himself to the Lord and the church, to serve as a priest. The service is at Winchester Cathedral, and you are all invited. Wonderful. But what Mark is doing is actually the same that all of us here in one sense. We talk about the priesthood of all believers, it means that we as Jesus’ followers are all, every one of us, set apart for God, for good, to serve him in our fractured world. Wow, quite a calling. Total Commitment.

So this morning, I am personally challenged by all three of our Bible readings. I think that the Lord is speaking to us. Let’s really focus for ten minutes and let him open our eyes. Are you up for that? Let’s open our Bibles.

 

Gospel- Matthew 10.24-29

Jesus is speaking to his core team. It is in the middle of section.

V26. Do not be afraid of wolves. Those who are like wolves in persecuting, betraying and challenging you as a disciple of Jesus. V26. Everything will be made known one day.

V30. Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. God knows the details.

V32-33. Whoever acknowledges Jesus before others, Jesus will acknowledge before his Father in heaven. We own him, he owns us, on the Jesus team.

 

V34. Do not suppose I have come to bring peace… but a sword.

Oops – not what we expect of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. What does he mean?

Peace between us and God – yes.

Peace between one and another – yes – ‘Reconciliation’

But following Jesus may will mean that some close family reject the message and reject us

Jesus is telling it as it is. Some here will know what he is talking about. We pray for you.

 

V38. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Total Commitment. V39. Whoever finds their life will lose it. Whoever loses their life for Jesus’ sake, will find it. In our therapeutic, culture of self-fulfilment, self-assertion, self-actualisation.

This is a huge challenge to our thinking.

 

What does it cost me to follow the Lord Jesus?

V39. Whoever finds their life will lose it. Whoever loses their life for Jesus’ sake, will find it.

It I also a great JOY. That in Jesus we shall FIND life. Jesus has promised. I come back to that later. Jesus is asking his 12 and is asking us for total commitment the offering of our Life.

 

Romans 6 v 1-11

This is about Grace, God’s undeserved gift, of new life. And it is about living differently because of God’s gift. V6. Slavery. No longer be slaves to sin.

 

Ten days ago I was in a retreat house in the middle of Leicestershire and lots of sheep. I was learning, being taught how to care for the most vulnerable people in our community.
At one point, after much chatting, reading, reflections, I had an amazing conversation with a Chaplain who works in hospitals and prisons. A Christian with astonishing gentleness, compassion and insight. He explained to me the cycle that people get into which is like slavery – forms of addiction vary, I wonder if we can think of them?

Drugs, shopping, drink, gossip

He spoke so movingly about helping people come from this repeating cycle of addiction that is breaking their lives.

The cycle begins:

People do something – they feel terrible, feel remorse, sorrow, shame – but then, blame someone else, excuse self – and find themselves then repeating the action that made them remorseful, again

 

To break out of the cycle – the person needs to respond to the remorse, sorrow, but taking responsibility for their action. I chose to do that. I said that. I did that.

Then there is a chance that they can put a brake on the addiction – and come out of the cycle

 

Romans 6 v 1

What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase?

By no means! God has given us a new life, undeserved, astonishing new start! Don’t go back. We’re all in this addictive cycle over something … round and round … trying to make ourselves feel better:

a bit more moaning about others - another pint - another new pair of shoes

It doesn’t work! Jesus’ life is freedom from this cycle and recycle. Jesus wants us to be set free – what is it for you?

 

Jeremiah 20 v 7-13

Finally, Jeremiah. Angry Jeremiah. Gosh, called from before his was born, to speak the words God gave him, to warn the people of the danger of doing their own way. Political upheaval, we know about that! 40 years of ministry. One good king, two bad kings, one weak king. And almost all of the people deported from homeland to Babylon.  God asked him to speak the truth. In this reading, Jeremiah has done what God asked, the prophecies have come true, and the people have resisted him. Jeremiah has been rejected and has suffered.

So is this completely the opposite of what we have just said about new spiritual life?

We have to go back to where we started. Jesus asks us to take up our cross. He gives us freedom, new life, someone who will watch over us, a new start, a breakthrough. But Jesus never promised it would be easy to be a disciple. We are offered:

  • Freedom from slavery to sin
  • Choose to live in love and grace

Come out of that cycle. We may need help. Are we willing:

  • To count the cost?
  • Choose Jesus?
  • Do as he asks?
  • Rely on him for comfort and protection?

 

To finish, let us sing the song of commitment to Jesus and his new life:

 

‘Take my life and let it be’ as a congregation – red hymn books

 

Marion de Quidt, notes from sermon, 25 June 2017