Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.
The Church in Central New York founded and consistently fostered by the GLBTQIS community. October 31, 2018 was the 35th Anniversary in our 36th year in Ministry.
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Sermon for July 3, 1999
Pentecost 6A


The following are the Scripture readings as scheduled in the "Revised Common Lectionary," an ecumenical schedule of readings of Holy Scripture. Our sermons are based on these readings.



Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
Proper 9 (14), Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, (Year A)



24:34 So he said, "I am Abraham's servant.
24:35 The LORD has greatly blessed my master, and he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys.
24:36 And Sarah my master's wife bore a son to my master when she was old; and he has given him all that he has.
24:37 My master made me swear, saying, 'You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live;
24:38 but you shall go to my father's house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son.'
24:42 "I came today to the spring, and said, 'O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, if now you will only make successful the way I am going!
24:43 I am standing here by the spring of water; let the young woman who comes out to draw, to whom I shall say, "Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,"
24:44 and who will say to me, "Drink, and I will draw for your camels also" --let her be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master's son.'
24:45 "Before I had finished speaking in my heart, there was Rebekah coming out with her water jar on her shoulder; and she went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, 'Please let me drink.'
24:46 She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder, and said, 'Drink, and I will also water your camels.' So I drank, and she also watered the camels.
24:47 Then I asked her, 'Whose daughter are you?' She said, 'The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bore to him.' So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her arms.
24:48 Then I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to obtain the daughter of my master's kinsman for his son.
24:49 Now then, if you will deal loyally and truly with my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so that I may turn either to the right hand or to the left."
24:58 And they called Rebekah, and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" She said, "I will."
24:59 So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham's servant and his men.
24:60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, "May you, our sister, become thousands of myriads; may your offspring gain possession of the gates of their foes."
24:61 Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.
24:62 Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb.
24:63 Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming.
24:64 And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel,
24:65 and said to the servant, "Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?" The servant said, "It is my master." So she took her veil and covered herself.
24:66 And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.
24:67 Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.

Psalm 45:10-17
45:10 Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your people and your father's house,
45:11 and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him;
45:12 the people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people
45:13 with all kinds of wealth. The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;
45:14 in many-colored robes she is led to the king; behind her the virgins, her companions, follow.
45:15 With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.
45:16 In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons; you will make them princes in all the earth.
45:17 I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations; therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever.

Proper 9 (14), (Year A)

Romans 7:15-25a
7:15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.
7:17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.
7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.
7:20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
7:21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.
7:22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self,
7:23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
7:25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Proper 9 (14), Pentecost 6 (Year A)



11:16 "But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
11:17 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.'
11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon';
11:19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."
11:25 At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants;
11:26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
11:28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."


Reader: This is the Gospel of the Lord; Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.




Brother Benedict, Sermon 182

Pentecost 6A, 1999



Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67
Psalm 45:10-17
Romans 7:15-25
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

During these summer months the Lectionary often seems to be taking in vast amounts of Scripture just to progress through large sections of the Bible. These gives the preacher particular challenge to keep some continuity from week to week. If the preacher starts early, prays a lot, and is willing to step back and keep the large picture in view, the plan of God in the Word makes its way to the forefront.

You may remember during the 40 days following the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus we read about the marriage customs of ancient Israel. One thing we learned was the father of the bridegroom often sent an emissary out to find a bride for his son. Then when a suitable candidate was found, the emissary brought her to the bridegroom's father for approval. This was the subject of today's first reading. The Lectionary is developing the story of the Chosen People for our study. Today we see a servant in Abraham's household being sent to find a suitable bride for his only son, Isaac. Notice the expectant faith of Abraham and the servant. The servant expects the events to go exactly as had been indicated by the instructions of Abraham. Each miraculous event unfolds exactly as planned. The servant completely trusts the results of the testing to find God's Will and takes Rebekah back to Abraham and Isaac. She becomes Isaac's wife.

The psalm today is about the royal wedding. Now, lets see, what royal wedding might that be referring to? That is correct, The Marriage Feast Of The Lamb at the conclusion of the Church Age. The royal wedding is when God tells Jesus it is time to go and retrieve the Bride, the Church. So, once again this weekend we see an example of a biblical TYPE. The going and finding the bride for Isaac is parallel to the Holy Spirit working as the emissary for Jesus the bridegroom and taking us heart by heart to God for approval, which God has extended to all who call upon the Name of Jesus for salvation. Of course one question we ask ourselves is how do we individually and collectively measure up as candidates to be the Bride of Christ? This brings us to the second reading.

Last week we discussed the origins of evil. We made it clear that God did not create evil, nor did God introduce sin into the world. Once humanity had opted for evil, the god of this world, Satan, went to work to cause what he still believes will be an eternal rebellion. Satan clearly desires to rule the universe and to dispose of God. Perhaps that sounds ridiculous to you. It should, for never is the creature greater than its creator. However, we must remember that Satan's entire being is deception, lies, and untruth.

Perhaps you dislike hearing us present Satan as the god of this world. First, notice we are spelling god with a small 'g'. By this we mean Satan has only the authority that is given him by his volunteers, those who pledge allegiance to Satan and shut down the influence on their lives of the Holy Spirit. Shocking as it sounds, we are given authority by God to push God aside in our eternal destiny and tell God to go away, that we choose to be spouses of Satan, rather than God. We must see and admit that the Christian Scriptures also give this teaching.

This word in the Greek Scriptures that is translated as god, prince, ruler of this world is:

G758

archoôn

ar'-khone

Present participle of G757; a first (in rank or power):-chief (ruler), magistrate, prince, ruler.

Many of us were not told Satan is the god of this world, even though it is in the Bible. Not telling all the truth is the same as lying to us. No wonder we have walked around so confused for so many years trying to understand how there could be so much evil in the world when we were being taught Jesus was king of the world! Jesus is NOT KING of this world system!!! In His own words, He said:

John 18:36-37: Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." 37Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?"

Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.

John 14:30; 29"And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me."

John 16:11; 11"… of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."

2 Corinthians 4:4 4 "In whom the godG2316 of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, …" In this case the Greek Word for "god" is: G2316

theos

theh'-os

Of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with G3588) the supreme Divinity;

figuratively a magistrate; by Hebraism very:-X exceeding, God, god [-ly, - ward].

The usage of "theos" for "god of this world" is an unmistakable word of great power and authority to show Satan's place in the sinful world system we are so familiar with.

Satan is also known in Scripture as the "prince of the power of the air…" in Ephesians 2:2. "Prince" is a translation of the same Greek Word # 758, archon.

The notes in my New Scofield Reference Bible at Revelation 20:10 also indicate; "To him, under God, was committed upon earth the power of death." Hebrews 2:14 14" Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."

Satan still has access to God and he uses this to be our accuser before God, ever believing he will convince god that this clay creation of humanity will ultimately reject God. Revelation 12: 10; 10"Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down."

Keep in mind, John is seeing what will happen in the FUTURE! Therefore, Satan is currently accusing us before God!

The fact that so many so-called Christian institutions and so-called churches do not teach the people about the realities and the workings of Satan in our modern world clearly shows the great deception of the Garden of Eden is alive and well.

Now we are ready to look at the second reading again. Please open your NRSV's to page 157 of your Christian Testament, Romans 7:15-25. To be honest with you, I wonder if this text hasn't be manipulated over the years to fit denominational dogma. I say this because Paul seems to be indicating a sense of powerlessness over sin. He writes: "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it…." I wonder if Paul was teaching what life is like without the Holy Spirit for the natural man.

We are never helpless to the power of sin if the Trinity live within us. "You are of God, little children, and you have overcome them, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4) I have taught many lessons on the reality of the entire Trinity making their home within us. If a person gives their heart and soul over to the Holy Spirit then they become a "temple" a "house" an "earthen vessel of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:19 19Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

23 John 14:23 "Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."

John 15:4-7 4Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

Every week at Ray Of Hope Church we proclaim the words of Jesus that give a very strong testimony to our belief in His tremendous power; John 14:12-14 "Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to God. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that God may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it."

Some of you aren't going to like what I am about to point out, but perhaps Paul had not heard these promises of Christ, since Paul did not have the privilege of following Jesus in the flesh. According to my New Scofield Reference Bible, page 1267, the Gospel of John was written between 85-90 A.D. The Book of Romans, according to the New Scofield Reference Bible was written between 57-58 A.D. Perhaps, and I am saying PERHAPS Paul didn't personally understand the power of Christ living physically within us considering the words of Jesus actually weren't written down by John for about 28 years after the Book of Romans. Think about 28 years. I mean really imagine 28 years ago in all of your lives and grasp what I am saying.

The Holy Spirit is our teacher. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate.

John 16:12-13 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come."

Many times I have said that I believe we absolutely should not stand in awe of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit is there to guide and teach us. So what can we learn from these words of Jesus?

We learn that indeed Christ in us is stronger than Satan in the world. We learn that Christ in us makes no room for Satan to be in us. Jesus said, a house divided against itself cannot stand. We learn that the Holy Spirit making our beings the very temple of the Holy Spirit means divinity is in us and therefore Christ is working through us from inside to influence the world outside around us.

Our community feels very powerless in the face of the constant oppression of homophobia and all the other phobias thrown at us. It does feel disempowering. If you have seen the movie "Philadelphia," you are familiar with the scene where homophobia is so strong in the courtroom that it weakens the defendant who is battling homophobia in the corporate world, that he collapses during the trial. Every time we hear the word 'faggot,' 'fem,' etc., we feel a powerful blow to our emotional stability. Every time we read of another church authority that has made a decision against gay people in the Christian Church, we feel that same attack of weakness come over us. What these experiences amount to is evil accosting our well being. Those who do not know the Holy Spirit, and the power available to fight evil, feel defeated and used and overcome by such experiences. Those who do know the power of the Holy Spirit do not realize we do not have to be victimized like this. The Holy Spirit is powerful and certainly able to overcome the influence of evil in our lives.

Jesus demonstrated authority over evil many times in the Scripture and then assured us that we would be able to do the same things he did. This is why I question Paul's statements in today's second reading.

We live in a society that wants to portray everyone as a victim of something, someone, or circumstances. Unfortunately there is an entire profession that depends on our remaining victims. Unfortunately some professionals in that area do not teach people how to move beyond being a victim to recovery and redemption. Some professionals actually espouse a theory that says once a person has been a victim they see the rest of their lives through the eyes of their victim status.

Jesus disagrees with that approach. If that were His approach, then He would have never come to earth to show us the power of redemption over damnation, resurrection over death. We were victims of sin. Sin ruled over our lives producing death. We all came out of DEATHSTYLES! Last week we learned that we were all enslaved to sin, which leads to death, until we accepted Jesus Christ into our lives as Sovereign.

Christ doesn't work on just our lives after death, Christ wants to redeem our lives on a daily basis, our daily problems, our usual struggles. The power to overcome evil is within us and any of us can get out of our deathstyles if we choose to. The choice, the responsibility is ours.

Flip Wilson used to be known for saying, "The devil made me do it," and all of America laughed. Well, Flip, I hope that wasn't really true for you. We realize that with Christ in us, the devil can't MAKE us do anything. However, (Phil. 4:13) "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Let's say that together: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Let's say it again: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." What things? "All things!" Say it again; "All things!"

So let us move on then, in the power of CHRIST, Christ within us. In that way we will learn how to exercise the power of Christ over satan in our lives and stop the victimization that satan has over the un-reborn life. Praise God for the power of Christ in us.

We go forth in the Name of Christ.



TOTUS TUUS! Totally Yours, Lord Jesus Christ.


May Almighty God bless all of us, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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