GOOD NEWS BROADCAST
July 11, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Seek the Lord, Yahweh Elohim, while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55.6)
Yes, that is what it says: “Seek the Lord, Yahweh Elohim, WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND. Call on Him WHILE HE IS NEAR.” I know I am not the only one who “listens” to the Word. I don’t mean, necessarily, to literally play recordings of scripture and listen that way; but it is good, too. I am speaking of actually slowing down and letting the Word speak. When I was a speech and communications teacher, I had students who would come up to me during their writing assignment, hand me their rough draft and ask “How does this sound?” I would always respond in the same way for each student, “I don’t know, I haven’t heard it yet. Read it to me.” With a quizzical look on their face, as if to non-verbally say “You are so stupid,” they begin to read what they wrote out loud so I could hear it. It really wasn’t a hearing exercise for me as much as it was to get them to actually hear what they wrote. It was probably the first time they actually paid attention to the words they put down on paper. It wouldn’t take long before they stopped reading. The great majority of those readers would look at me with a certain sadness and say “I’ll be back, that sounded terrible.” How did they know? Because good reading is generated by good writing. Good writing is generated by good listening. Good listening is generated by hearing good written works that cause the hearer to pay attention. Such modelling leaves an indelible etch in the brain that serves as a proof reader in default. They know what the expectation is and can generally determine for themselves then the answer to their question “How does this sound?”
Of course, the question itself was not literally asking how did their writing fit my ear. What they wanted to know, and rightly so, was what did my brain think of their work. It wasn’t so much “how does this sound” but “how sound,or solid, is the message I am trying to communicate.” As it pertained to the class, what they wanted to know was “does it make the grade?” Those who were serious students failed themselves immediately knowing what the expectation was. They returned to the “sounding board” of their own minds and started to edit and rewrite. I think Paul said it this way, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the spoken Word of God.” (Romans 10.17) We hear the words of Paul as they were written for future reference. His works became the rubric of expectation for true discipleship and the understanding of God’s Word for the living out of our salvation. Yes, you heard that right. Paul had no intention of writing his letters to the various communities of faith in Christ so they would be saved. He knew, as we should, that only Jesus saves. It is through Him that we have our salvation and Him alone. He is that “way, truth and life” we desire which has Heaven as its ultimate goal and “final” destination. Paul’s written works were the measures of what it means to be saved in an “out loud” version. It is the “sound” of salvation in the world. As a contemporary Christian song declares “this is what it sounds like, this is what it feels like, this is what it looks like.” We can easily get caught up into the rhythm of the music and the message. It is what we truly long for.
So, let’s go back and re-hear today’s verse and let it “speak truth” to us. “Seek God WHILE He MAY be found. Call on Him WHILE He IS near.” Is there not a hint of challenge and truth in that verse we, and others, need to grasp? The key word in my “reading” of it becomes WHILE. It sounds to me as if there is a time when God will not be found or that the time for seeking will have come to an end. It also sounds to me as if there is a time when God will not be near or rather that the comfort of His presence will come to an end. Not that His presence will become distant but that His comforting presence will change to a different kind of presence. Equally so, that those who do not seek healing and truth and hope in the nearness of God will actually come to a time when the nearness of God will not offer what they are looking for. Consider Jesus’ prayer in the Garden following the Passover meal with His disciples and preceding His arrest at the hand of His betrayers. In His prayer, He sought the nearness of God in a most certain time of trouble. He gazed up at the “strong tower” of God for comfort, strength and wisdom. It was, in a manner of speaking, asking God “How does this sound?” No sooner had He uttered the words “Father, this cup is too hard. If it is possible, please take it away from me.” that he stopped for a rewrite. Seriously, Jesus said these words out loud in all the anguish His earthly life could experience and express. We know He said it because it was remembered by the disciples as they wrote their gospel stories. They were not mind readers. Even if they did not hear it directly from Jesus, they most certainly heard it from the Holy Spirit as He taught them all that Jesus had said and commanded. The Holy Spirit did not give them a written transcript of the evening any more than Jesus had given a written agenda with the invitation to come to dinner that evening. You know, one that would say “Meet and greet at 4:00 p.m. Cocktails at 4:30 p.m. Dinner at 5:00 p.m. Keynote at 7:00 p.m. Walk in the Garden for prayer at 10:00 p.m. Betrayal and Arrest at 2:00 a.m.” Didn’t happen. The disciples “heard” the words and the felt the experiences in real time. All those experiences lead to their moment of salvation when Jesus died on the cross. Why did He die on the cross? Because in that Garden prayer Jesus confessed and professed the moment of truth when the presence and nearness of God changed. No sooner had Jesus said, “Hey Dad, let’s do this a different way, okay?” than He said “Wow, that didn’t sound right, did it? How about Not My will but Yours be done.” Jesus understood the level of expectation. Jesus knew why He was on earth and in the world. Jesus knew He was not of the world and had to put away worldly thinking. Jesus spoke as He was spoken to: with Kingdom thinking. In that moment, things really changed.
And in these moments of our lives, things are really changing. We must confront and deal with the reality that the “presence of God” we are seeking and that which the world is seeking, either intentionally or unintentionally, is going to change. It may change for just an instant but it will change things for us forever; for better for some and for worse for others. We are still granted, in the Age of the Church, the opportunity to know the goodness, kindness, mercy and grace of God which can comfort the troubled souls and spirits of humanity. We are given this time remaining until that Day of the Lord to call on God and know He will hear us, listen to us and respond with wisdom and favor. But, we also must embrace the truth, as much as we may not like to “hear” it, that we will not always have that nearness and that closeness while on earth. Jesus said, “On that day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Lord, Lord, I will not know some of you and I will not hear some of you.” What a terrible day that will be when the FINAL WORD is spoken because some of us will utter “our words and not His.” His Word will shake both Heaven and earth. All will be silent and the hollowness of it will echo in every corner of God’s presence. The very words on the cross uttered in closing by Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of God, our Christ and Savior of the world will be repeated but with a far different meaning. He will say “It is finished. It is done.” With that, all the called of earth shall gather on that far and distant shore and the glory of the Lord shall be no more on earth as it is in Heaven. It will not be Jesus who will breathe His last but those who didn’t care what His word or their word actually sounded like. Oh, to be on that distant shore. Oh, how I pray that many will ask now “How does my life’s message sound?” and turn to edit and rewrite by the grace of God in Christ the rest of their story. They will do so by faith which comes by hearing the preaching of the Word, the gospel of Jesus Christ in us and through us. Mighty ones of God, speak what has been written on your hearts and in your minds; speak so that the world may hear while it can and respond while it is able.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Father, thank You for making us and giving us meaning and purpose. We are set within the full scope of Your creation. We exist because of Your desire to be God full of love, full of hope and full of faith. We pray to live “not my will but Yours be done.” May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You and heard by those we will meet today on the road of life. We ask this through Jesus our Christ in whose name we live, serve and pray. AMEN.