Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law, they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. The wicked are not so but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. [nrsa]
The first hymn of praise, Psalm 1, is a simple message. Those who trust God with their lives are happy, blessed, and nourished. Those who do not live trusting God may be happy in the moment, but will not pass the final exam, and will perish, the righteous will live eternally with the father.
1 John 5:9-13
If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. [nrsa]
In the New Testament, 1 John 5 summarizes this simple message in the promise of Christ. To make trusting God clear, Jesus came to prepare, redeem, and save us for eternal life.
I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes, I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. [nrsa]
As simple as the message is, we do not always find it easy or automatic to trust God, so we need to know Jesus is working on our behalf, as God to help up. Jesus’s pray and blessing over the believers, followers, and disciples. We come to know God’s Holy Spirit as our guide, comfort, and power to continue trusting God.
So often, evil grabs our attention, and we respond to the brokenness rather than stand firm in the assurances.
The 11 O.Clock News, our Sunday message
Imagine if everyone tuned into their favorite source for news and information of the day, and instead of pointing to crime, corruption, despair, and brokenness of the world they spent 28 minutes reading the word of God, singing the hymns and songs of God’s faithfulness, and rallied the stories of how God has been, is, and will protect, bless, guide, and save us from all the evil of this world, and in the last 30 seconds they told one story where evil appeared to have a foot hold but God stepped in and filled the chasm for those who would trust, believe, and follow. That wouldn’t be news, we know all that, it would be boring, no business would sponsor the repetition of Good News.
We want to see the explosions, the gory details, the injustice, and the pain… (in honesty the majority tune in multiple times each day, and does it ever get better for the world’s answers? What problems have governments solved and cured? What products give us eternal hope? What sponsors offer the products that have already been purchased?
We have three scriptures that come before, from, and after Jesus that say the same message: for those who trust God, seek God’s heart, and live as God guides us, God has our back and our future. Those who do not, may look good in the moment, but will perish, are empty, and are not eternal.
Our mission is to be citizen-newscasters. Citizens of heaven, living in a sinful world, reminded, preparing, encouraging, and calling the world to know what is profoundly good, loving as God loves, genuine, beneficial, and lead to our eternal happiness and what it means to be whole.
In the final passage today, Peter looks at the gap of discipleship, the missing pieces of God’s work for the church, the gap was made by Judas, [ In summary, Judas’s story is about using the opportunities of God’s calling to serve ourselves or world’s mission OVER God’s mission, vision, and purpose. With Judas gone, the church sees the need to fill the gap, fortify the line, and return to full strength, in the leadership of being the church on God’s mission]
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus — for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was added to the eleven apostles. [nrsa]
Responding to the gap, casting lots, following God’s heart.
It has always been a curiosity that Peter’s answer of deciding how to interpret who would fill this gap, and was agreed by all others, was to cast lots, throw dice, draw straws, flip a coin. On one hand, where there are two willing, capable, and blessed persons to do one job, the answer is win-win with either choice. On the other, I have always wondered if that is how to the bishops and superintendents made appointments. “Come on, Rock Spring needs a new pair of shoes…”
However, we are called and sent, am I surely blessed to have come to be at Rock Spring these seven years and know God will bless Rock Spring for all who believe and trust God’s word and love.
Turn to your neighbor and say, the lot fell on Matthias. And turn to them again and say, “You are Matthias!”
This is where all these passage cross in our lives: The promises of the OT, the Gospel of the NT, the call upon the church, the Church in 2021 coming out of pandemic to face a world that is surely convinced that technology, science, politics, and ideologies of our own creation will save us, make us happy, and give us eternal life.
The Twelfth Man.
I draw more on the example from football rather than the 2017 movie of the same name, because we are not watching a movie, we are the ones involved in field. We are not just spectators, we are those called to step up, step in, and lead where we see the gaps, the loss, the sins, the division.
It is too easy to sit back and wait for the world to force us into action, thinking that that is our faithful part to be on-call. God’s promise to bless, to fill us with purpose, hope, joy, and life is open and calling us right now.
- When we see a problem, and say: Someone should do something about this situation, vs stepping in to serve at that moment.
- When would rather complain and blame, we are hearing our own calling to serve, lead, and follow.
- When we experience fear, injustice, greed, pain, loss, and more, we know we have drawn the straw that calls us proclaim Jesus Christ.
- While the world looks for the lowest common denominator we have the source, the answer, the power already in our tool box, purse, and backpack..
Yes, Lord, send Me. Yes, Lord, Send Me. Yes, I’m your person, You are my hope and strength. What’s next?