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 March 31, April 1, 2001
The Fifth Weekend of Lent, Year C


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.

Isaiah 43:16-21
Lent 5C March 31, April 1, 2001

16 Thus says the LORD,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings out chariot and horse
, army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild animals will honor me
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21 the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

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

Psalm 26

1 1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
The LORD has done great things for them.
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
5 May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.

Lent 5C March 31, April 1, 2001
Philippians 3:4b-14

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Pressing toward the Goal 12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;£ but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

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

John 12:1-8
Lent 5C March 31, April 1, 2001

1Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them£ with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii£ and the money given to the poor? 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, Leave her alone. She bought it£ so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.

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

Brother Benedict,

Sermon for Lent 5C: The People Made To Declare God's Praises..
Lent 5C 2001

Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126
Philippians 3:4b-14
John 12:1-8

In the first reading of Scripture today, God says; "I am about to do a new thing." (Isaiah 43:19) God promises "water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise." (Isaiah 43:20-21) In the second reading Paul says he has forgotten what was behind him, a life of useless religious perfectionism and full of persecutions and murder of the Christians, in order that he may press on to do God's Will and to the prize of being called to Christ in Heaven. (Phil. 3:13-14)

In the Gospel Jesus tells Judas to not judge Mary for her decision to anoint his feet with very costly oil rather than turning the oil into revenue for the poor. For Jesus knew Mary had experience conversion after the resurrection of Lazarus and Jesus also knew Judas was still enslaved to his sins of stealing and lying, etc.

What is the common theme of these readings? It is in fact the "New Thing" God is doing. Exactly what is the "New Thing" of Isaiah 43:19 or the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31, Hebrews 5:9 or the "New House" of Hebrews 3:3-6? Paul explains it in Philippians 3:9 saying salvation in God is not something we humanly can achieve or earn, rather it "comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith."

You may wonder why we constantly talk about salvation here at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ? It is not a fear of Hell! We are not trying to scare people into Heaven. We are trying to get people to desire with all their hearts to re-align their lives to God's desire, God's plan for all human beings. How do we know God's plan for humans? The answer is all throughout the Bible, but it is for sure in today's first reading - God has made us to be "the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise." (Isaiah 43:21)

The reason people do not make being the people God formed to declare God's praises, their life goal is the average person is bound to sin. Sin, the reign of sin in our world, enslaves the average person, not daily sins and failings for those are subject to God's mercy and forgiveness for God's people. Two weeks ago I explained sin is the GAP that presently exists between the ways of the collective human community - (self centered-ness, human goals, in a constant attempt to make man's world a better place for man and for man's will) and God's universal plan which is God- centered. Contrary to all human wisdom and human education, we are made to be centered on God, centered on God's ways, to do God's Will forever.

If hearing we are to live for God's praises makes you unhappy or sad or disappointed, then this is the clearest indicator it is time to change the entire way one thinks. Listen to these verses that clearly say we are created for God's pleasure and God's praises, and these are only a sampling of the many I found:

Rev. 4: 11Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Notice it says for Thy PLEASURE. It is from the Stong's Concordance Greek word:G2307
theleôma (this is an English pronounciation guide only, not Greek letters since I couldn't get them to print in this program) thel'-ay-mah
From the prolonged form of G2309; a determination (properly the thing), that is, (actively) choice (specifically purpose, decree; abstractly volition) or (passively) inclination:-desire, pleasure, will.

Therefore the NRSV translates it: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

I think this weakens the beauty of the verse. It is much more effective to show we were created for God's pleasure.

Jeremiah 13:11For as the loincloth clings to one's loins, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the LORD, in order that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. But they would not listen.

Exodus 19:6 Indeed, the whole earth is mine, 6but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites."

Deut 7:6For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

Lev. 11:44 44For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.

Deut. 14:1, 2 "You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead. 2For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Deut 26:17, 18 17Today you have proclaimed the LORD to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. 18Also today the LORD has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, 19and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the LORD your God, just as He has spoken."

1 Peter 2:4and 5Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Rev. 5:9, 10And they sang a new song, saying:
"You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made ?us kings? and priests to our God;
And ?we shall reign on the earth."

Rev. 20:6Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Titus 2:13, 14 ….looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Colossians 1:15, 16 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Romans 11:34-36 "For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
35 "Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?"
36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.

Hebrews 2:10For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Psalm 103:21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.

Ephesians 1:4-6 He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

1 Cor. 6:19, 20 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? 20For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your ?body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Romans 14: 7-8 7For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.

Lev. 19:2Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

1 Peter 1:15, 16 15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Luke 6:36 36Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

The entire agenda of God is to bring us to the fullness of the eternal Kingdom as this holy people, this holy priesthood God has been trying to establish. We are created to love and serve God. This is not some weird religious agenda made up to distract people from the pleasures of life. No, in fact the agenda of evil is to distract us from God's plans, God's agenda, God's support, God's love, God's warmth, God's wisdom, God's direction, God's calling, God's leading. And sin has been so successful that nine out of ten people honestly tell me they don't know how to pray at home, they don't know how to read the Bible or where to start. Most people tell me they have little or no desire to pray. So we can see the GAP between humanity's will and God's Will is awesome.

There is no way we can change the course of the human community for sure. Governments have proven this throughout all recorded history. Each government has been over taken by a stronger one - stronger in the standards of the world - never stronger in spiritual standards.

So we are very much in a wilderness, in a desert, to use the colorful words the Bible uses to describe the world of sin. (Isaiah 43:19-21) Jesus said those enslaved to sin and evil and those who are secure in God will exist side by side in the world we live in until the Rapture. (Matthew 13: 24-30) Jesus also said we will have tribulation in our lives (John 16:33). We know all too well we will always be dealing with our personal sins and the lure of sin in the world. In all we live in a world of sin.

So how do we survive spiritually? How do we get to the end of our lives with any soul, any sanctification left at all? The glory of it is we have the Holy Spirit with us.

In fact, we have the Holy Spirit, and the real presence of Christ and God within us. This is not some secret knowledge like a Gnostic secret, because anyone can have this true and real presence of God within them. However we have the real presence of Christ within us to sustain us and maintain us in this world which is ruled by Satan himself according to Paul and Jesus. (Jn. 14:30, 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2).

What does the Holy Spirit speak to us, give to us, and provide us from within? Wisdom, knowledge, truth, fear of the Lord, peace, fortitude or stability the ability to stay, even prayer. (Isaiah 11:2-3; John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26). Yes, Paul declares the Holy Spirit even helps us to pray when we do not know how to. (Romans 8:26)

So today I call us to each adjust our life goals. Our first life goal must be to praise and honor God. We do not praise God by being "good" people, "good" citizens, etc. We praise God by making direct prayers of praise like this: "Lord, I praise you for life." "Lord, I praise you for your Holy Presence." "Lord, I praise you for summer breezes." We praise God by worship, evangelism and service in God's Church, the Body Of Christ on Earth.

There is more. Again, what is the New Thing of Isaiah 43:20? It is that we can now return to God's design individually and be formed into the people whom God is calling, God is forming for God's self to declare God's praises. John 1:12 says to those who receive Christ God gives the power to become God's children as opposed to being children of Satan ("Your father is the devil. John 8:44) (enemies of the cross Phil. 3:18)

We become children of God now through individual ascent to faith as Paul said in our second reading (Phil. 3:9). I implore you therefore today to choose God through Christ. Make the decision to become a member of the Holy Priesthood, the Chosen People, God's Holy People (1 Peter 2: 4,5,9) the people formed by God to declare God's praise.

It is never too late and never too soon to become the person God has called us to be. We must face the fact that we are not our own. We are created to glorify God. Our lives will never be happy until we make glorifying and praise god our total priority in life. Jesus told us to seek first God's Kingdom and then all our other needs will be taken care of. (Luke 12:31)

Today is the day then to press the reset button in our lives and reset our goals to become that special people living to declare God's praises. Reset your life and begin living for God this day, this hour, this very minute.

To God in Christ and the Holy Spirit be all honor and glory, world without end, Amen.

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

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