GOD HELP ME TO CHOOSE HOPE AND JOY
1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-21
There are lots of things out there trying to steal our joy and our hope. If we listen to the news so much that it affects the way we live, we are failing to see what God intended for us. In the first letter Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he is pointing out to the church that they have gotten way off track. They are allowing themselves to get distracted in ways that are not good for anyone, so God is having Paul sound the warning to regroup before it is too late. The verses we read this morning tells a very honest, yet blunt, story. Either what we believe is true or we are fools and liars. We are wasting our time and trying to encourage others to follow something that is not true. In Corinth he was basically telling them you must decide because what you have been told is, in fact, true so either start living a life that reflects that truth or forget it.
That is where we as the church in America are as well. Do we really believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world? Do we really believe God is capable of doing anything he wants in the world he created or not? The church must decide; you and I must decide. In many ways this message is for me maybe more than anyone else. I have frustrated myself because I have listened more to man than to God too much of this year. It seems to only be getting worse. Between the battles over the elections this year and the ongoing talk and actions about the Coronavirus, it is easy to be disillusioned about the future. We all have choices in life to make. What to believe and who or what to put our trust in, but those choices can change our lives in drastic ways.
I may come across this morning as angry as well as frustrated and it is true I am. I am sorry for having this kind of tone, but the anger and frustration I have is not with anyone but myself. I said earlier we all have choices to make and that is true about a variety of things. The choice I am talking about this morning is whether I am going to put my faith and trust in God or put my trust and faith in President Trump, Joe Biden, J. B. Pritzker, the scientist or you name it. This is the choice I must make at this time in my life right now. Do I believe there is a God is the first question I must answer. Then if I answer yes, do I believe in the God of the Bible, and how much am I willing to trust God for? Is God the God of Daniel, of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the God of David? Or is the God I believe today not that strong or that powerful anymore? As I am admitting to you this morning this is the question I am asking myself, what do you believe? How much trust are you willing to put in God?
I believe the church is getting closer and closer to a crossroad, maybe we are already there. Jesus warned us this day is coming. In John 16 he was telling the disciples about the fact he was going to be killed, knowing this could destroy their hope and faith in God. He warned them in advance and said these words in the 33rd verse. “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.” I believe our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is saying the same thing to us today. “In this world you WILL have trouble but be of good cheer I have overcome this world.” Do I believe it? Do you believe it? This is the most important decision we must reaffirm to God and ourselves right now. At least that is the case with me.
Paul was being very blunt with a disobedient church in Corinth in what we started off reading this morning. He made it clear that if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. He is basically saying if we do not believe God can change our lives, not only while we are here on earth but, in fact, for eternity, we are wasting our time.
So, what am I saying? Where is this going? I am here this morning saying God forgive me. I am not where I should be but by the power of your Holy Spirit I pray you will transform me and use me in whatever way you can to bring glory to you and draw others to your eternal kingdom. I agree with the father in Mark 9:24 who said, “I do believe, help me with my unbelief.”
Going back again to our original scripture for today, after Paul said we should be pitied if we are believing a lie, Paul said in the 20th verse, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.” The God who was able to raise Jesus from the dead is more than able to change my life and the life of anyone who believes. I must make a decision to quit listening to the garbage that is there wanting to steal my hope and joy. I must also understand Satan is at the center of it all. Maybe all of you are able to keep the distractions of this world out. Maybe the Lord had me share this with you this morning so you can help me stay accountable, but if anyone else out there agrees you are not as full of faith, hope, trust and joy as God intended, will you join with me? I choose to stand with God and his word. We live in a world and a nation that, as much as ever, needs the hope and joy only a relationship with Jesus Christ can bring. I choose to put my faith, my trust, my hope in Jesus Christ. When Joshua was faced with a people that were going the wrong direction, he issued this challenge to God’s people as well as this personal declaration in Joshua 24:15. He says, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” As we have the gods of this world distracting us on so many levels, what will we do? Will I allow the politicians, the news networks, the “experts” to shape what I believe, or will I work harder than ever to allow God to lead me? The choice is up to me and it is up to anyone else that feels the same way I do. I choose to agree with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
We collected $570 for The Lord’s Storehouse Thanksgiving baskets. Thank you to all!
The women are taking candy orders until December 1. $3.50 per half pound bag. The flier was emailed out last week and is on our web pages as well as being posted around town. Call Nancy Fansler or Chelle Shively to order.
If you want to purchase a poinsettia for December, please call Shirley Wright by November 25 and tell her how many you want. Price is unknown at this time.
Stacie and Carol will be working on updating our church directory. Please turn in your form by the end of the year. Even if there is no change, write your name at the top and say “no change.”
Carol & Glen will be doing the sanctuary decorating this year.
There is Mexican vanilla available for purchase for $5 per bottle. If it is not on a table in the fellowship hall, it is in the cupboard in the storage room. Leave your $5 in the box please. Carol will set it out on a table the next time she is at church. These proceeds will go to women’s fellowship.
Three college care packages were packed on behalf of women’s fellowship for Sadie Sawyer, Jordan Wright, and Michelle Wright.
Women, remember to have your prayer partner gifts here by Dec. 13. There will be decorated tables and places to place your gift by Dec. 6. Please label the outside with the recipient’s name so it will be easy to see.
Since we are not meeting in person right now, remember that we still value your offerings. They may be placed in the locked wooden box at the back of the sanctuary or mailed to PO Box 45, Cerro Gordo. Thank you for giving! It helps further our work in this community and beyond.