Asbury United Methodist Church
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February 16, 2018

Have you ever considered that in many cases the Old Testament prophets were not exactly predicting the future as much as they were offering the case for a possibility? 

          Check out what Isaiah had to say in the 25th chapter of his vision:

          “On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.  On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.  The Lord has spoken (Isaiah 25:6-8 NIV).”

          Yes, I know!  It is not by accident that we hear echoes of John’s vision in the book of Revelation (21:4).  Both John and Isaiah are describing a probable future for us, but there is one catch.  We must repent!

          So, maybe today is a good day to revisit what it means to repent.  The other John in the Bible (John the Baptist), Jesus’ cousin said, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15 NIV)!”

          And, it is not by accident that in the book of Revelation, the other John, (John the Revelator) is quoting Isaiah, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it (Isaiah 30:15 NIV).”  (Because you have not believed.)

          Yes, I know.  This gets wild, doesn’t it?  And, it takes a blueprint to figure out which John is which John!

          But, at the end of the day both Johns and Isaiah are hanging their hats on our deep need to repent!  And, we all know the drill, if we keep doing the same things we have always done then we will get the same results that we always have!

          And, if I am not mistaken, it was Albert Einstein who said, “It is a fool who continues to do the same things but expecting a different result!”

          So, to repent means to change one’s mind.  To put a finer point on things, we must change our minds so profoundly that we see all of live radically different.

          I often say that our bodies are only vehicles that we use temporarily to haul our souls around while we are having this earthly experience.  What differentiates us from all other creatures is that we have a soul!

          Through faith, we are immortal.  The thing is, much of the time we just don’t live into this vision that God has dreamed for us.

          Let me repeat:

          “On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.”

          The disgrace is the fear of death and God promises, he will swallow up death forever.  In the process, God will wipe away the tears from all faces.

          This is wonderful news!  This news is life-changing and transforming.  But, to experience this wonderful news, we must repent, which means to change our minds. 

          To put a finer point on things, the gate to this wonderful life is a change in consciousness.

          Also, we need to view Isaiah’s comments as a sober warning.  If you and I continue to buy into culture and its business of usual stance; and, if we continue to make the same choices over and over again, then we will get the same old broken results in return.

          It pays to remember that our thoughts create our experiences.  Patricia Sun stated in a lecture some years ago, “People often say, ‘I will believe it when I see it,’ but this is backwards.  The truth is that when we first believe a thing, then we will see it.”

          When we believe that God is active in our world, we will see it.  When we believe that the Kingdom of God is near, we will see it.

          When we change our minds to believe there is enormous good in the world, we will see it and become part of this extraordinary change.

          Conversely, when we believe we are distant from God, we will see this too.  And, when we experience these times of exile of the soul, it is not God who has moved!  I will leave it to your imagination as who did!

          And yes, I know!  Life can be horrifying!  And, we can at times be forced to face things that would make angels tremble; and, in the fog of confusion it is possible to find ourselves reeling away from God.

          But…still, there is God!  God is saying, “I’ve got you!  You aren’t going anywhere!  I will not let you fall!” 

          It is a really big deal to God for us to not be afraid.  God sacrificed God’s self to prove that resurrection exists.  Today is a good day to change how we see things.

          “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it (Psalm 118:24 NIV).”



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