What's Hope?

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What is Hope?

God’s answer to pain and suffering.

Transcript:

Hope is trusting in someone or something for your future.

Welcome to The Light of Christ Weekly Podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org

Our morning meditation today comes from Job chapter 19 verses 25 through 26. "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh, I shall see God." Hope is trusting in someone or something for your future. Many people trust things like money, retirement, the government, their family, romance, that they'll just find the right one for their future. But the Christian hope is to trust in God for your future. And Job is an incredible example of the hope of the people of God. Job followed God's principles.

God's principles as outlined in the book of Proverbs, lead to blessing in this life. Yet this is just a generally true statement. It's not always true that if you follow God's way that your life will be blessed outwardly. Sometimes bad things happen, horrible things happen. Things outside of our control. This is why the book of Proverbs isn't the only Wisdom Book in the Old Testament, but you also have the book of Ecclesiastes and Job. See Job, you could say, follows the Proverbs to a T, yet he suffers immeasurably. And he has everything but he loses it all in a day. He loses his business with his donkey, his oxen, his sheep are killed by lightning, Chaldeans steal his camels, a tornado takes down the housing that his children are in and kills them, and then his health is even taken away.

And as he's in this misery, his friends come. They live in a simple world, that if you follow God then things will just be good for you. And so they see Job and they see that he's suffering and therefore they say, "Well, he must have done something wrong," and Job knows that's not the case. He knows that he's trusted in God and he continues to do so. Yet what's happening to Job? God seems to be hiding His face from him. He's allowing Satan to bring ruin on him, and Job continues though, to worship God. But he also screams at God, "Why? Why? Why is this happening?" And God never gives Job the reason. He never gives him a why.

And in verse 26, Job fully expects to die. He says, "My skin is wasting away, yet in my flesh, I shall see God." Yet Job trusts in God to vindicate, justify, exonerate him. He knows that his God is more powerful, somehow, than even death. And though everything appears to be going wrong, Job will be vindicated for continuing to trust in God, even through the most incredible pain and suffering. That is Job's hope. Job is trusting in God for his future.

Job didn't have the advantage that we have, because we can look back to the greater and better Job; Jesus. An innocent and righteous man, the only truly innocent and righteous man who had everything taken from him. And as he was nailed to the cross with his skin wasting away from the lacerations received and all going dark through the pain and suffering, Jesus cried, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" The key there is he says, "My God." Jesus fully trusts in God for his future, even when all looks lost. "Into your hands," he says, "I commit my spirit." And God does vindicate him. He raises him up three days later to show that He is trustworthy, that He will not leave us nor forsake us, and that despite whatever kind of pain or suffering that we're going through, when we place our trust in God, we're placing our trust on this sure foundation. When we trust in God for our future, we can know that like Christ, He will vindicate us. He will raise us up on the last day.

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ Weekly Podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. You can find this prayer on page 622.

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil, and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Phony Faith or Genuine Trust

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Phony Faith or Genuine Trust

Do you trust me?

Faith alone saves but never faith that is alone.

Welcome to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org.

Our sermon soundbite today comes from Isaiah chapter one, verses 14 and 15. "Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me. I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood."

The prophet Isaiah speaks a hard word to the people of God warning them of phony faith. What does it mean to have genuine trust in God?

Phony faith or genuine trust? Phony faith or genuine trust? It seems that Jesus has been talking about faith a lot, doesn't it? Faith and trust in Greek are actually the same word. I like to use the word trust because I think it evokes a more accurate idea of what we're talking about here. So while faith and trust in God doesn't require a resume, it always does lead to a change in behavior. In other words, repentance.

Remember what repentance means? You're going one way, and you turn the other, right? It's a change of mind. It's a turning. It literally means turning or change of mind.

Think about it this way. I don't know if this is a true story or if it's fiction, but someone once told me that there was a man who could walk a tight rope over Niagara Falls with a wheelbarrow. He would go back and forth with this wheelbarrow, and you could see him do it. Now it's one thing to stand on one side of Niagara falls and say, "Oh yeah, I believe he can do it." But what if he comes to you with the wheel barrel and says, "Hey, hop in." Right? Then it's revealed is this a phony faith or is this a genuine trust because if you really trust that he can do it, then what will you do?

Jump in.

You will jump in, right? And so here in our Old Testament passage in Isaiah and in our New Testament passage, we see the dichotomy and the difference between phony faith and genuine trust in God. Genuine trust in God always changes behavior. It always changes behavior. The Reformers said it this way, "Faith alone saves, but never faith that is alone." In other words, God's not requiring us to bring works or a resume to God to have a relationship with him. Think about yourself, and the man who's inviting you into the wheelbarrow, does it matter what you've done in the past at that moment when he asked you to get in? No. What does matter is trust, but that trust inevitably leads to action. No resume is needed, yet trust in God always produces real change in our lives.

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer for social justice can be found on page 659.

Almighty God, you created us in your own image: Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Self Help or God's Loving Intervention?

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Self Help or God’s Loving Intervention?

What is Christianity about?

Because it's not about self-help, it's about God's loving intervention.

Welcome to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org.

What is Christianity really about anyway? Is it just another way to help ourselves, another self-help method? Are we just working on ourselves so that we can have a better resume before God? Or is it rather about God's loving intervention in our lives? Our sermon sound bite today comes from Jeremiah chapter 14, verses 20 through 21.

It's not self-help, but rather God's loving intervention. We do a curious thing as a community, something that you won't see at Rotary, something you certainly won't see in Washington DC at Congress, something you won't see in your chess club or any other community that's gathered together. You see something special here when we gather together, something really weird. And we're all going to be saying this thing together on our knees in a little bit. What do we do as a community that you don't see anywhere else? We confess how bad we are. Have you realized how weird that is? We all get together. We get on our knees and we confess how bad we are. It's far from self-help. In fact, we confess that we're so bad that we're beyond being able to help ourselves without what? God's divine loving intervention. God's loving intervention. If you engage the creed with your heart, I mean it's incredibly vulnerable. What are we saying? We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

Basically we're saying, "Jesus, remember those two simple rules you gave us for living? Well, we've completely failed to keep them." We haven't even come close. We don't only do things we shouldn't do, but we don't do the things we should be doing, which pretty much covers everything. We've totally blown it. We can't even come close. This is what the prophet Jeremiah prays as he comes to God authentically and genuinely. He says, "We acknowledge our wickedness, oh Lord, and the iniquity of our fathers. For we have sinned against you. Do not spurn us for your namesake. Do not dishonor your glorious throne. Remember and do not break your covenant with us." This is old Testament language. He's saying, "Don't forget the promises that you've made. Don't forget that time that you intervened and into the life of Abraham lovingly and made promises about how you would continue to intervene with your love to see this through." Because it's not about self-help. It's about God's loving intervention.

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the book of common prayer. This prayer can be found on page 621.

Set us free, loving Father, from the bondage of our sins and in your goodness and mercy, give us the liberty of that abundant life that you have made known to us in our savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. One God, now and forever. Amen.

Struggling with God

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Struggling with God

Understanding his will and his timing.

Transcript: Welcome to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas, at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org.

Our sermon soundbite today comes from Luke, Chapter 18, Verses 1 through 7. "And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, 'In a certain city, there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.' And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' For a while he refused. But afterward, he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. And the Lord said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to His elect who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them?'"

Now, I want to make a clarification here because often, this passage is preached improperly. It’s preached like we have to struggle with God, through prayer or fasting to get what we want. It's taught like that. And so, if I want healing or if I want this to happen in my life, maybe they're good things. But maybe they're not. Maybe they're a Lexus or a, well, Lexuses are good too, but you know what I'm saying? Maybe they're just a direct product and obvious product of my lust, but I can get it if I just pray hard enough and do the right spiritual things. That's not what he's talking about here.

First, it's a wrong view of God. God is love. We don't have to rip things that are good for us out of His hands. Why would we have to do that? If God is love, He would generously give us everything that we need. So yet, why do we struggle? The reason we struggle with God is not to rip something out of His hands that He won't give us. The reason we struggle with God is that we don't know what is good for us in this world, and we don't know God's timing.

We don't. We have a very small perspective. This is hard for us to wrap our heads around because we all think we're the center of the universe and that we have the best perspective on life. And the last person we question about anything is... ourselves.

But we have a very small perspective. And I don't like to use my family as an analogy here, but let's just say little boys in general, they like to run up and stick their fingers into what on the wall?

Sockets. Electrical sockets. I don't know why. They just want to stick their finger in there, or they somehow get a fork and they want to jam it in there. And you stop them. And what do they do? Do they turn around and thank you?

They scream bloody murder. "Daddy!!!!” “AHHHH!” And that's what they're saying. "I want to do this. You're infringing on my rights and what's good for me."

I'm like, "No, you have a bad sense of timing, child. When you're 17 or 18, I'll send you to vocational school where you can learn to be an electrician, and then you can work with outlets for the rest of your life, but now is not the time."

That's us though, with our Father. We know very little and He knows all. God is love, He loves you. He's not keeping anything back from you. And when it seems that He is, it's just a matter of time. Whether it's not in this life, in the next, He will make good on all of His promises to you because He is a loving God.

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer for submission to God's will can be found on page 673.

Oh, Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul. I adore you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do. Give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that you desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know your will. Amen.

True Christian Love

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True Christian Love

What does it mean to love?

Transcript: Welcome to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at http://www.lightofchristgeorgetown.org.

Our sermon soundbite today comes from the First Book of Homilies, a collection of 12 sermons published in England by Archbishop Cranmer in 1547. Cranmer published the homilies during a time when the level of spiritual ignorance in the church was astounding. Before the reformation, all services were conducted entirely in Latin. And because of this, among other reasons, the clergy lacked the education and experience necessary to write solid and edifying sermons for their congregations. The homilies were written by bishops and scholars in the church to fill this pressing need. They were appointed to be read every Sunday in order to instruct both the clergy and laity in the basic doctrines and practices of the Christian faith, as illuminated by the recent reformation sweeping through the western world. The sermon soundbite today comes from the homily on true Christian love and is read by Mark, a lay leader at Light of Christ.

“True Christian Love.” Of all the things that should be taught to Christians, there is nothing more necessary to be daily spoken of than the issue of love. Included in the topic of love are all the righteous works that are part of it, along with the fact that the decay of love is the ruin of the world, the banishment of virtue, and the cause of all evil. It seems that almost every person creates and lives out his own definition of love, no matter how detestable his life toward God and man, while in his own mind, he persuades himself that he has great love toward others. Therefore, you will hear in this sermon a true and plain description of love, not the kind imagined in man's mind, but the one from the actual words and example of our savior, Jesus Christ. Using this true description of love, every man can examine himself compared to it and see clearly whether or not he is living according to it.

Loving God requires all of our heart, all of our life, and all of our powers and strength. Loving with all our heart means that we set our heart's mind to believe his word, to trust in him, and to esteem him above all other things that we love in heaven or on earth. Loving with all our life means that our highest joy and delight is toward him and his honor, and then our whole life is dedicated to his service, even to the point of death. It means we must be willing to forsake all other things rather than him. As Christ says in Matthew 10:37, "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Loving with all our powers and strength means that we should pursue keeping God's commandments with our hands and feet, with our eyes and ears, with our mouths and tongues, and with all our powers of both body and soul.

This is the first and principal part of love, but not the entirety. Love also includes care for every person, good or evil, friend or foe, to have goodwill toward all, and to treat them well both in word and in our outward acts and deeds. Christ not only taught this himself, but he also lived this out as an example for us. Regarding the love of God, Christ instructed a doctor of the law who asked him which was the chief commandment in the law? In Matthew 22:37 Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

Christ also taught concerning the love we should have among ourselves in Matthew chapter 5 in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, "You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven, for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" These are the very words of Christ himself regarding loving our neighbor.

The Pharisees, with their poisonous traditions and false interpretations, had corrupted and nearly stopped up the pure well of God's living word, teaching instead that love only pertained to a person's friends and that it was sufficient for a person to love those who loved him and to hate his enemies. However, Christ opened up this well again, clearing and scouring it by giving a clear interpretation of his law of love, that we should love every person, both friend and enemy. And by reminding us of the reward we will receive if we do so, and the loss we will suffer if we do not. What greater thing could we wish for them to be considered as and taken as our eternal heavenly father's children?

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer for Preparation for Personal Prayer can be found on page 675.

Holy Spirit, breath of God and fire of love, I cannot pray without your aid: Kindle in me the fire of your love, and illumine me with your light; that with a steadfast will and holy thoughts I may approach the Father in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who reigns with you and the Father in eternal union. Amen.