Summary: We keep putting off until "later" embracing the marks of discipleship -- prayer, Bible study, tithing...
(The pastor takes a bag of rice, and carefully counts out aloud ten measures of the rice placing each measure into a pot. Then taking back a single measure from the pot of rice, places that single measure on the Lord’s Table. The pot stays on the pulpit as the pastor reads the New Testament from Matthew’s Gospel. After the reading, the sermon begins...).
I bet you think I’m going to explain this pot of rice on the pulpit. Well, maybe later. First I’ve got something else to tell you -- I’m going to Hawaii!
I don’t know when! But “someday.”
It may be ten years from now. Or it may be next year. All I really know for sure is that I’m NOT going this year. Sad but true. Right now, I don’t have the time to go. I don’t have the money. I’ve got a son who is still in college who still needs my support. There are all sorts of reasons why I can’t go this year.
Someday I am definitely going to Hawaii – as soon as I get the time. As soon as I get the money!
And if it works out, I hope I can afford to take my wife with me!
Now I know you have a wish list of things like that you want to do in your life.
There are places you want to go.
There are things you want to do.
What happens when the things we put off in our lives are the things God wants us to do?
Have you ever had that experience? I bet you have. God is calling you to do something and your response is to say, “I’ll be glad to do that, Lord. Later.”
We must learn to do that as children.
Mom or Dad told us to clean our room, “Later.”
Mom told us to brush our teeth. “Later.”
Dad told us to cut the grass. “Later.”
The teacher told us to do our term paper. “Later.”
God tells us to love others. “Later.”
How many things has God told us to do that we keep putting off?
This is Lent. This is the season when we are supposed to really be careful about listening to the voice of God. This is the season when we are supposed to be doing some self-evaluation about our spiritual life. This is the season when we are supposed to be doing – NOW -- what God has been calling us to do.
In our New Testament Lesson, the disciples have an amazing experience. Brothers James and John, along with Peter go with Jesus to a high mountain by themselves. There, Jesus was transfigured before them. There is a physical change that takes place. His body still looks like that of Jesus, but it is transformed. The Scripture says, “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.”
Now, as you can imagine, this is a bit unsettling to Peter, James and John. But Peter gets his wits together enough to open his mouth and he begins to speak – and of course, it’s one of those times when a person who opens his mouth would have done a lot better just to keep it shut. Because what Peter says is a bit ridiculous and silly.
Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters-- one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."
Now isn’t that always the way in the church?
Something amazing happens, and the church wants to campout right there and never move forward.
I’ve been to youth conferences at Montreat – which is the Presbyterian conference center in North Carolina. Young Presbyterians gather there from all over the country and they have an absolutely incredible time. Usually on the last night the young people gather around a lake at Montreat and have a candle lighting service. They pray. They sing. Many of them give their lives to Christ. And as the candles are blown out and the large circle around the lake breaks up and everyone begins to go back to their rooms to pack for the next day’s trip home, many of them will just sit there around that lake. And they will actually say to you, “I wish I could just stay right here.”
How many of you at the end of the 40 Days of Purpose wanted to stay right where you were. Just stay in your small group. Just keep doing things like we had been doing during the 40 Days. That program, for those of you who were here in September and October, will remember it was a great experience. But we couldn’t just stay there.