Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Righteous Service and Silence"

Amos 8:1-12,Psalm 52,Colossians 1:15-28,Luke 10:38-42

July 18, 2007

by James Greene

 

In todayís sermon we will illustrate and discus righteous service and silence of those who put their trust in God.We see in the texts the dynamics of who we are and whose we are in our service and our silence.

 

In Amos we see again, Godís irony in a concrete interpretation by the prophet on the question when God asks Amos ďwhat does he seeĖ ďA basket of fruitĒ.He is truly an Aggie at heart.It is like the old question: ďWho is buried in Grantís TombYet God turns it into an allegory upon the nation of Israel.

 

Amosí prophetic call ďon that Day, declares the Sovereign LordĒ paints a picture of the suffering of the people, in their actions.They were ďdoing away with the poor, buying the poor with silver, and selling the sweepings with the wheat.Amos is an illustration of a culture that has lost its moral center and its values.

It reminds me of Upton Sinclairís bookThe Jungle, where nothing was wasted in the Chicago slaughterhouses of the 1920ís.The spoiled meat was mixed with, sawdust and the good meat to be processed in the sausage.People were expendable and were thrown away when no longer productive.It illustrates a society where the people are bought and sold, like the goods they produce.Even today we are like the times of Amos in 750 BC.It all is about the question: Will you serve with righteousness, will you speak, or be silent. Will there be accountability to righteousness?

 

†††††††††† We face the same problems today.†† Just as in Amosí day, the Lord doesnít forget how the powerful oppress the poor.We know that someday, Justice will be accomplished.

 

†††††††††† Iíve seen the work place, where people are bought for a pair of shoes.A company only hires temporary workers, with the promise that if they perform, they will be allowed to be become full time employees.After 1 year, are released back to the temporary agency, and a group of new people are brought in to work.This way, the company will only pay minimum wage. There is a strict attendance policy.The people have no medical benefits. They cannot be sick.The people canít participate in the company 401K Plan.There is no hope for the people to rise above their condition.They are used and discarded just like the pair of sandals.

 

In the prophesy of Amos, Justice will be served up to Israel.Like today, there is a famine and drought of Godís Word in the land.We see this with the removal of, and even the mention of, God in our schools and our culture.

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Like being patriotic in the Ď70ís, it is politically incorrect to mention God, and Godís standards for our culture.Praying in public, like a restaurant, places us outside of the modern culture.There is a drying up of the Words of the Lord in our culture, like that of ancient Israel.We forget that we are called to serve in righteousness, and that we are accountable to Godís standard.

 

In Psalm 52, the statement before the psalm: ďDavid has come to the house of Ahimelech.Ē is referring to when David was fleeing from Saul.He went to the priest Ahimelech and with misleading intentions asked Ahimelech for Goliathís sword, and one of the oracles of Yahweh.Doeg (one of Saulís chief herdsman) reported this helping David to Saul.Saul then ordered the death of the priest, but the guards refused to kill the unarmed men.Saulís servant Doeg executes 85 defenseless priests, eliminating the house of Ahimelech.Doeg is serving the wrong power.He forgot the commandments of God to love his neighbor.This is illustrated in the Psalm.

Example - Unrighteous Service

We see the mighty man who boasts about evil, and plot destruction with deceptive talk.We see, how they love evil, falsehood, and harmful words.They have forgotten the standard of behavior for the people of God.They have forgotten there is accountability for who they serve and how they served Godís people.

 

I have seen managers that brag and boast, how they terminated people and forced them out of a company. They would discuss how they set people up to fail, just so they could demote them, or get rid of them, just because they had the power to do it.††

They forgot, there is a standard, and that their power was not a measure of their success.

They forgot that their position- required their responsibility.

They forgot that they were to serve Godís people.

They thought, Godís people should be served Ďwell doneí, instead of with a heart of compassion and tenderness.

All of this waste was done because of one person, (like a Saul), or one organization, (like a Chief herdsman) that had the power to do it.

But also in the Psalm we see faith in Godís justice: that ďsurely God will bring you downĒ to the man who did not make God his stronghold.The phrase ďtear you from your tentĒ is not only a physical description of bringing them to justice, but also

the illusion of pulling your soul, out of your mortal body.

In Corinthians 5:1 Paul describes the mortal body as a tent, we see how graphicly, this illustrates how the end of the wicked will come upon them.††

†††††††††† The Psalmist trusts in Godís unfailing love and will praise Him forever.He will praise God in the presence of his saints.He serves The Lord, in his actions and faith.

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†††††††††† As the people of God we are called to righteous service.We must reflect the qualities of Godís character, and the Christ we follow.We are called to speak out and not be silent, for the weak, the needy, and those being oppressed.

 

†††††††††† In Colossians, is the description of the supremacy of Christ.It illustrates of how he is the first and the last of all creation.He is the image of the invisible God, and the first born of all creation.He is the living example of what is to be in Godís will and to be Godís standard for all people.He has supremacy over all kingdoms, powers, rulers, heaven and earth; of everything visible and invisible.He is the head of the body Ė the Church.He is the first born from the dead.The first to rise, that he may have rule over all creation.Christ has come as the one who reconciles this willful and sinful world to God.It is through his death, that He is able to present all of us holy in the sight of God.He is the full expression of what it is to be in God.The expression of this text, is seen as, the outline for the Nicene Creed.It is the outline of our call to righteous service.

 

††††††††† Paul reminds us of the awesomeness of God, so that we remember, who we are Ėpart of the creation, and whose we are Ė (a Child) - of the God of the universe.It is also our call to serve in righteousness, as Godís example and Godís work in the world.†† It is in Christ working through us in service to those around us in righteousness:

the church, the stranger, and the neighbor.We are to be the example to all (of what it is) to be in, and serve in, Godís Will.

 

In Luke, Jesus is at the house of Martha, with Mary in Bethany. Martha is distracted.She has opened her house willingly, to serve Jesus and the Disciples as they were on their way to Jerusalem.In her effort to prepare the meal, she becomes upset with the lack of help from Mary.In her urge to be the host in righteous service, she has forgotten that silence and hearing Godís teaching, is also part of that service.In todayís world, in the effort to control our lives, we allow the business of our lives to insulate us from doing the better thing.We lose focus and we compare the service we are doing with what those around us are doing.It becomes a focus of works righteousness, and we forget about the real purpose of our service to the Lord.We end up letting many good things take priority over the best things, because we have focused on only one part of the equation.Our service is, in reality, a righteous prayer to God.It is about being in service to those around us, and not trying to serve so that we are in control of those around us.

Marthaís anxiety over chores causes her to miss the most important thing: the silence in listening and fellowship with the Lord.She tries to give Christ orders to make her sister help in her service.Jesus, in his love, demonstrates that both the service and the silence are important for us.

Maryís tranquil actions of listening, is part of her worship of the Lord.She has taken time to be still and be silent, before the Lord, to hear what he is saying.

 

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She has stopped in her silence to focus and to listen.Jesus has come teaching all.He is open to all.This example of Martha and Mary is about spending our time, both in righteous service of doing, and in the righteous silence of listening.Both actions are important, but hearing Him part is better.

 

Our righteous service in our work is to reflect the character of our creator.

Just as Amos points out that we are called to righteous service, and there is a standard of behavior that is required of Godís people.We are called to live into that standard.We are called to be the shield for the weak, the needy, and the poor.We are to stand up to defend them, and not use them like products.God requires that of us, and our society, as the people of God.In our service to and for each other, we are called tolove one another.In our society today there is a famine and a drought of The Word of God, and Godís standard.

Psalm 52 points out that we are called to the righteous standard in our service.We are to make God our stronghold, and trust in truth , in goodness, and guard our words, because we serve a righteous God.

 

 

In our work and our faith we are both working for and listening to the Lord.Sometimes before we can serve or do, we must take the time to listen and hear what God is saying.Silence before God prepares us for the work to serve God, and Godís people.It is in our focus upon God that we do not loose sight of Godís standard of how we are to love one another.It is in silence that we may hear what Jesus is teaching and he calls us into righteous service so that we may fulfill the Will of the creatorÖ††

 

†††††††††† In the Name of Ö††† the Father,†† the Son,†† and the Holy Spirit.Amen

 

 

 

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