Homily – St Francis What’s next!

July 20th, 2020 by admin-su



St Francis What’s next! Trinity 6   Romans 8:12-25

We are back! Praise God, for those who are able or wish to join together in services in Church buildings.

Today’s Psalm speaks so clearly of how we might think at this exciting time. Psalm 86.11 (NLT)
“Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honour you! Amen.
And that is what we do this day. Honour our God.

While our Gospel reading recounts the wonderful parable of the wheat and the weeds, I would like to focus our thinking this m Paul’s letter to the Romans Chp 8

We may not be as familiar with it but most of us I am sure will be familiar with one phrase from this passage.

Paul says
“You have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Sprit when he adopted you as his own children, Now we call him, Abba, Father,” (Rom 8.15) (from the NTL New Living Translation)

This whole section of the Letter is talking about life in the Sprit which even some Christians pay small attention to especially when life seems overwhelming, we can neglect the power and the grace that is given to us through God the Holy Spirit. And when things are going well, we too can forget the third person of the almighty Trinity and consciously or not rely on our own strength and wisdom.
So Paul reminds us
“We have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.
So instead of living in our own strength and wisdom that can hove us governed or lead by our basic human nature, which Paul addresses as our ‘sinful nature, we can, and should , be governed by God’s Holy Spirit within us.

It is of course, like most things in life, our choice.
We can choose to let the Holy Spirit guide us through life or we can (and sometimes do) choose to take the path of least resistance, the easy path, and the path of instant pleasure whatever that may be, the path of sin.

A message we don’t often like being reminded of.

If we were to look at the message version of the bible, it is very clear,
“The resurrection life you have received from God is to a timid grave-tending life, it’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, ‘What’s next papa? (Rom 8:15)
You can hear the excitement, the expectation that God always has something new for us.

Throughout this whole period of the Corona Virus and its effect on us, there must have been many times when people (including us) have heaved a heavy sigh and groaned something like
Oh” God whatever next?
It has just been one thing after another and it seemingly never stopped.

In times of great challenge and difficulty people find all sorts of reasons to blame the current situation on. (And I have even heard some over these months) have put the blame firmly at the foot of God,

While others say it is satan at work and the is held responsible.
While that may be the thinking of some, while I Believe Satan is certainly taking full advantage of this situation to cause as much chaos to people he can, I don’t think we can attribute it to him.

Just as for those who attribute it to God’s doing, I doubt that is God’s punishment on a wayward world as some will claim.

Lockdown will have produced panic, frustration, short tempers, and a whole host of other things that the devil will use to drag people into sin, we all watched as people buying, punched and shoved other in the frantic hurry to grab things they wanted or needed. And the atrocious behaviour of the many whom as lockdown is lifting, we get daily reports of stabbings, of attacks on innocent people, of car rage, of hooliganism, you name it we are hearing of it, and I believe satan is right there laughing with glee.  Be alert and of a sober mind, your enemy the devil Prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8)

So we can’t blame the devil when it was one of us perhaps doing the punching r shoving:

WE chose that course of action very constraint, as I other areas of our lives, computer hacking, free reign on our sexual practices, speaking untruths to get the upper hand, aggressive behaviour to make us feel more powerful or in control of another.

These are all things we chose or refuse.

We chose our course of action over constraint, but I don’t doubt the devil nudges us, sometimes hacking into our weaknesses to make wrong choices.

But while we watched people punching and shoving, and taking advantage of the more vulnerable in our societies,
we also witnessed the exact opposite , People going out of their way to help some get much needed things; often giving up their own items to someone more in need.

You can be sure that the devil cringes when he watches acts of love and kindness, because the person was choosing to be guided by good, by the Holy Spirit, rather in their basic sinful nature.

Whether we groan Oh God, what next?”
Or whether we exclaim excitedly what’s next Lord!” depends entirely on what we let control our lives, is it our Sinful nature or is it the Holy Spirit?

Let’s remember one thing. God never promised that his people would live troubled free lives.
What he does promise the person of faith is that He will be with us when we encounter trouble in our lives.
We hear this through the Prophet Isaiah

When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end – Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savour (Isaiah 43:2 The message version)

Even Jesus alludes to this I his parable of houses built on sand or rock (Mtt7:24-27)
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

People who build their lives on the rock of Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit don’t avoid problems but he anchors them I their problems.
Is worth choosing to let our lives be guided by the Spirit?
According to St Paul it is, reckons so,
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Present Suffering and Future Glory
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[c] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

It’s all down to our choice, the opening sentence Psalm 86.11 asked God to grant us purity of heart. One of my favourite hymns Purify m heart, let me be as gold and precious silver’ with the chorus that says
My heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for you, Lord; I choose to be holy….

We have a choice of serving our sinful nature (death) or serving God though his Holy Spirit (life).
Every day we could ask ourselves,

Which do we choose?
Which do I choose?
Let’s choose a holy life. And then ask What’s next Lord?