November 13, 2022
Isaiah 65: 17-25
Let’s take a deep breath and open our hearts, mind, soul and spirit to receive the message that God has for us this morning. Let’s focus our thoughts on the mystic presence of the Holy One. Let us pray: Lord God, Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit, please let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all of our hearts, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our Strength, our Rock and our Redeemer. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Why do astrophysicists, astronomers and cosmologists keep searching for extraterrestrial life in the universe? SETI, and the SETI Institute, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, has been in existence since 1985. But why does it continue to exist, since we have had very little success in finding life beyond our planet Earth. Well, I think that part of the reason lies in our Lord God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our God is a God of creation, and nothing can come between our God and God’s command to “be fruitful, and multiply.” And this command extends not only to our planet Earth, but to the entire universe, as well. Life will always find a way to happen, and will not be excluded in any way, shape or form. Thus, scientists know they will find extraterrestrial life, it’s just a matter of where and when. And if you would indulge me for just a minute, it may be God’s plan for us to take the message of New Life in Jesus Christ to not only the whole world, but to the entire universe, as well. Think about the possibilities! So, this is my hope and my prayer; that as a church family, we begin right here to share with each other the New Life, as well as the faith, hope, love, and God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness through the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
God speaks to us today through the prophet Isaiah, telling us that all will become new; that all will be well, and that all is well. New Life will be the new order in the new age, and it’s crucially important to have the faith to walk the walk through all the doors that God opens for us, because God IS opening doors, and we need to have the faith to walk through the doors that God is opening. God speaks to us, in Isaiah 65:17, saying, "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered, nor will they come to mind." This scripture is mirrored in the New Testament in Revelation 21, where God says through the Apostle John, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no longer any sea. And I John, saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” And Jesus said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
We’re always looking for something new, aren’t we. In fact, we think we need newness in the worst possible way. And, out of that desire for newness, we try to validate ourselves by being mass consumers in a consumer driven society. So, we look for the gratification that our minds, soul, body and spirit hungers for by buying material things in a material world. Friends, IF we think that buying material things will satisfy our spiritual hunger, I’d say we’re all barking up the wrong tree. Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to be successful, and God enables us to acquire the daily bread that we need to live well. But God doesn’t want our desire for THINGS to become what we worship and an end in itself!
We might think that a new congressional makeup in Washington, D.C., will change our world into something that we can hope to survive in, so we say, "Drain the swamp," and elect candidates who promise to bring about radical change, but then don’t. We know that the old solutions, the old strategies, and the old programs that worked in the past have not changed much of anything. We want change but may be fearful of embracing the kinds of changes that we need to bring about the new life that God is speaking about in Isaiah. We want things to change; we want new people to come to our church and experience the love that we have to offer them when they do come. So, I would say that instead of acquiring mass quantities of material goods, we need to pray and prepare for Godly, spiritual newness, which equates to radical rebirth, and then plant the seeds for new life here at First Christian. Then pray that the Holy Spirit will work to germinate those seeds and make it all happen. And you know what; the Holy Spirit WILL make it all happen!
New life means a change in our old thinking. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can believe in our redemption, and in fact our resurrection, as well. Thus, we can freely live and act freely in present time, because we have the knowledge that we are already living in eternity; for with God, all are alive in Christ Jesus! This is a tremendously freeing thought; that we can live and act with the freedom of knowing that our lives transcend death, and we are new creatures in Christ. Verse 18 in Isaiah reads: "…be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, And her people for gladness." In the Hebrew, the name Jerusalem means "foundation of peace." God created Jerusalem out of the love that God has for all people, for peaceful rejoicing, in the peace that only God can provide. As God's people, we hear God calling us to rejoice, when He says in verse 19 and 20, "I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying." "No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred, And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be thought accursed."
Isaiah continues: "they shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. "They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands.” God, again speaks to us through Isaiah when He says, in verse 23: "They shall not labor in vain, Or bear children for calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, And their descendants with them." Praying for each of the families here, our children, and our children's children, brings God’s blessings back to us.
Then, in verse 24, God gives each of us an astounding promise, when God says, "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear." This astounding verse speaks to us of redemption and deliverance and new life. And because we know that we are radically redeemed, we can work for the things in life that cannot be seen or touched, that are important in life: like justice, equality, liberty, and freedom: and just doing the right thing, and taking the high road, because the Resurrection of Jesus Christ assures our salvation and our deliverance. Having the faith that God will not leave the world the way it is frees us to be God's people, who can then boldly light candles that beam brightness into the present darkness of this sinful age and know that the darkness of sin will always be overcome by the light of Jesus Christ! Always!!
With God’s blessing, prayer, persistence, and the planting of the seeds of the Holy Spirit, that determination will win out. "Before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear." Before we call, God hears and answers our need for justice, freedom, liberty, and the quest for equality that cannot ever be taken for granted. God will bless these ideals if we bring them to God in prayer and then act on God’s promises. Psalm 139: 12 reads: "Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee." This is the light of new life that Isaiah, and Jesus are talking about.
Isaiah concludes his vision of new life by saying, "The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain," says the LORD." This is the new life, where all of us live in spiritual harmony with each other, and God blesses and loves each one of us, because God is love. This verse says to me that Love will always find a way, and I am reminded that Jesus said, "I AM the Way."
With God, all things are possible. God is telling us to remember Him, and to call on Him before we call on the government. Governments will always disappoint, but God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, will not. I go back to one of my favorite scriptures to underscore this point: Malachi 3:10, which reads, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says the LORD Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven, and pour out so much blessing upon you that you will not have room enough to receive it." If we will simply have the faith to ask God, God will always respond generously.
Jesus said, “Behold, I make all things new!” God is telling us to step out on faith, and to boldly walk through the doors that God opens to us. Keep coming to church and invite your friends and neighbors! By faithfully walking through the doors that God opens for us, we will enter into the new life that God has prepared for each one of us. So, let’s walk the walk, in faith, through those doors and find the new life that waits for us on the other side. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." Jesus also said, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Amen? Amen!
Rev. Jan Ekstedt