Sunday, 5 July 2015

Press On, Claim your Prize! sermon for 5th July

Isaiah 40: 28-31
Philippians 3: 10-14

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?”
In our scriptures lie many truths; many visions and inspiring words, that can offer us wisdom, insight and hope.

Last week, those of you who were in the marquee may remember me talking about Paul’s letters, and his trait of using the phrase – “And finally...” which is not always a final statement, but more often than not does highlight a particular point or insight.
So it is also with Isaiah, who uses the phrase “Have you not heard?” on more than one occasion to remind people of God’s love, mercy and compassion.

Here we hear, following “have you not heard...” that God is tireless; that God can keep going whatever the circumstances, and, that those who call on God, may find that they too are tireless, they too can find strength they did not know they had.
For to put trust and hope in God, is to tap into extraordinary strength and power.
It is a great promise!
It is our great hope.

And then also back to Philippians, this week to an earlier chapter, still with the same message, the same sense of hope and assurance that comes from knowing Jesus in our lives.

Many years ago, when I was first interviewed when I applied to go into ministry, one of the questions I was asked was if you could preach on any verse in the bible, what would it be?
I hadn’t been forewarned of the question, so I came out with one of a number of verses I knew well – “I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus” – it is a verse that has given me much strength over the years; reminding me that it is God who calls; reminding me that the strength I have comes not from anything I can do, but from the one whom I serve – God: Father, Son and Spirit. And reminding me most of all, that ultimately the prize for faithful living is beyond all, it is out of this world. It is a heavenly prize.

And finally...
Have you not heard?
Do you not know?

God – our God can overcome all things – if we are able to accept it
We can do anything; achieve everything; through God’s strength and power.

For Isaiah, it was the hope of something away in the future – he was a prophet – God gave him a vision of things to come, of possibilities, and Isaiah was charged with turning that vision into words that would stand the test of time, and bring meaning to future generations.
Thus we have the image of the eagle, rising high above; the most majestic of birds, the very word conjures up power and might in our minds; all because of Isaiah’s vision all those thousands of years ago.
We do not think of the eagle as a fragile or weak animal; we think rather of a magnificent bird of prey; indefatigable, powerful with no equal amongst the other birds.

Both Isaiah and Paul were blessed with the gift of visioning and interpreting; a gift that came straight from God; a gift that enabled them to see the world through God’s eyes – even for a short time. And through that vision to inspire others; to lead, to guide, to chastise and admonish if necessary, but to move those who listened, those who read – those who still read from where they were, to where they could be.

That is exciting news!
Have you not heard?
God calls us!
Press on then... press on and win the prize that God calls you to.
For with God – everything is possible!

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