Summary: This sermon focus on Jesus' call to Radical Obedience. An obedience that leads us to enjoy the discipleship and being able to be a positive witness for Him in our world.
Theme: Radical Obedience
This sermon focus on Jesus' call to Radical Obedience. An obedience that leads us to enjoy the discipleship and being able to be a positive witness for Him in our world.
Grace and peace from God our Father and from Our Savior and Lord - Jesus Christ!
It is interesting how our lives are affected by certain key events that happened during our childhood, our growing up years and while we are raising our families.
For example, both my parents were born in the early 1930's in Eastern Kentucky. It was a time filled with adversity and hardship. The depression that plummeted the nation in 1929 had already had more than 10 year head start in the Eastern Kentucky region.
+At the turn of the century (1900) the state of Kentucky was ranked first among Southern states in per capita income. Over the next generation that changed drastically for by 1940 the state was ranked last in per capita income in the nation.
+ The lumber industry quickly began to fade out after the end of WW I causing many lumber mills to close and hundreds of mill workers to be unemployed.
+The only two other major regional employers, textiles and coal were struggling because of over production, low wages and rising unemployment. Increasing numbers of everyday Americans could no longer afford to buy large quantities of coal or clothes. The very goods that Eastern Kentuckians could provide the nation were no longer in great demand.
+Fifty years of environmental abuse had exhausted the majority of the family farm land. It increasingly became more difficult to grow such everyday staples as beans, corn and potatoes in the family garden and almost impossible to grow a good crop of tobacco. It would be another 15 - 20 years before commercial fertilizers would be easily assessable.
+By the mid 1930's some of the counties in the region were experiencing unemployment as high as 80%.
+Over 30% of the people could not read or write bringing in even more hardship and poverty. Public education was almost non-existent and books of any sort were in short supply.
All of those things affected how my parents and how many other people viewed life in general. It affected how they looked at things. It affected what they thought was important in life. Everything they would do later in life was filtered through those difficult years.
By the time I came into the world things had radically changed in Eastern Kentucky. With the advent of WW II the nation desperately needed the coal, the crude oil and the timber that was plentiful in Eastern Kentucky, It needed the cheap labor that was available as well.
President Roosevelt's New Deal brought further positive changes as well. Millions of dollars were invested in building roads, schools, hospitals and factories. Everyday life was radically transformed. While one would have to say we were never rich, the truth is, we who grew up in the 1960's in Eastern Kentucky enjoyed good schools, wonderful teachers and were blessed with a life that progressively got better each and every year. We truly were experiencing the goodness and greatness of the American Dream. Things were not perfect but they were a lot better than they had been for past 40 - 50 years or more.
All of those positive changes affected the way we looked at life as well. Where hardships had affected our parents' mindsets the continual economic, social and educational advancements affected our generation. We came to believe that with hard work, unity and time we could achieve almost anything.
The people that lived during Jesus' time knew what it mean to be greatly affected by what was going on around them as well. They had been adversely affected by the Roman Government. They had watched as the Romans had invaded and taken over their beloved land and ruled over them with an Iron Fist. They had endured the hardships that had come with higher taxes, less freedoms and being treated at times as if they were less than human.
However, many believed that a New Day was just on the Horizon. They believed that the time was ripe for God, the Good God of Creation to come and bring justice, peace and freedom for Israel. The time was right for God to make all things new. They believed that the day of the LORD was at hand when God would punish all those who were evil and a new age of prosperity would be ushered in for those who were living righteously. It was a time of great anxiety and expectation at the same time.
There was a lot of talk about what they labeled THIS PRESENT AGE and the AGE TO COME. This Present Age was their time - a time filled with sin and injustice, lying, oppression and immorality. Good people suffered while evil people prospered and got away with all kinds of sins. But in the Age to Come all that would be altered. God would take charge and things would radically change.