Posts Tagged “Vicar Karen Ressel”

by Guest Blogger Vicar Karen Ressel

Introduction (by Sandy)
My last two blogs were about (1) listening to God’s voice and (2) speaking life into the dry bones of our lives. I realize that the last message may be a bit unusual for some of you. Applying the prophetic message God gave Ezekiel for the people of Israel to our lives may seem like I’m taking Scripture out of its time and hammering it into 2013. What I actually did was take the principles from the prophetic word, trusted that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and applied those principles to my life today. God told Ezekiel to speak life into the dry bones that represented the nation of Israel. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper that we can listen for God’s voice and then speak His life-giving Words into the dry areas of our lives.

I recently read a sermon that reassured me that God wants to speak life into our lives. It is the perfect blog to follow my short series on listening for God’s voice and speaking His word into our lives.

God’s Heart is to Give You the Kingdom (Believe It, Speak It into Your Life)
by Guest Blogger Vicar Karen Ressel

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
Luke 12:32(NIV)

The first phrase in our key verse is not meant as a command – “DO NOT be afraid.” Rather, it’s meant as an assurance, “Do not be afraid…” As an assurance, it’s spoken gently and with compassion. These are the words of Jesus.

Why should we not be afraid? Because Jesus tells us that it is “God’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It is God’s gracious decision. It is God’s gracious action to show you divine favor.

Folks, this is the promise that God makes to each one of us. The promise that is manifested in the sending of Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, to live among us! Christ is the enfleshed divine promise. We are the unsuspecting benefactors of God’s grace! Pure promise! Pure, divine, beyond our understanding grace!

The Greek word translated here as “pleasure” is the same word that appears earlier in Luke’s gospel when Jesus is baptized (21:22). Remember the voice from heaven? “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” We aren’t talking about any kind of human understanding of pleasure; we are talking about divine favor.

It is God’s intention, plan, and delight to give you the kingdom! I want you to focus on the Godly reality that it is God’s desire to give you all good things. Say it out loud –“It is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom!” One more time: “It is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom!”

Perhaps you find yourself thinking, “Easy for you to say Vicar, I can’t” or “sounds good, but.” I understand. But before anything like it starts to squeeze into your mind I want you to say to yourself, “It is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom!”

I know that our lives are filled with demands, some big, some small. The demand to accumulate things in exchange for a false sense of security, like the rich man who felt a need to build bigger barns. The demand to prove our worth, day in and day out.

I think the root these things is fear. The climate of fear permeates our lives through the media and in our conversations. Advertisers prey on our fear in hopes of selling us something to make the fear go away. Fear of not having what we need to live, food, clothing, shelter; fear of violence, from domestic abuse to terrorism and everything in between; fear of not measuring up to the demands of our culture, are we beautiful enough? Handsome enough? Are we smart enough to compete in the job market?

The climate of fear chokes us; it makes us clench our fists and hold onto what is ours at all costs. We become isolated. It breeds a feeling of scarcity.

God’s reality is that He wants us to have…and enjoy…and share abundant life. Our human perception of that Godly reality becomes corrupted by sin. Abundant life becomes measured by our things, by our status, by how much power we are able to exert over other people.

When fear is absent from our lives and we can grasp God’s reality, we may actually be able to imagine treasures beyond self-driven determination … self-assessed success … and self-obsessed security.

Being ready for Jesus’ second coming is less about any actual time and place…Being ready for Jesus’ second coming is about imagining Jesus’ activity in the world.

Today I want to ask you to imagine, imagine what it would be like to live your life without worry…or anxiety…or distraction. If worry or anxiety, or distraction comes into mind, I want you to shift your focus, shift it to Jesus words; “It is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom!” With that thought as our foundation we are able to live from that Godly reality of abundant life rather than
from the fear that blocks us from trusting God’s promise.

God wants us to live free from worry…to keep our priorities straight…not to be consumed by greed, or love of those things that don’t bring real happiness, those things that don’t bring us life. God wants us to have and enjoy and share the abundant life that comes from authentic community and right relationship with God and each other. Did you catch that? God wants us to have…and enjoy…and share abundant life.

What if every morning, before your feet hit the floor, you said to yourself, “It is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom!” How might that change the way that you approach your day? Our response to God’s gift of an authentically abundant life is to live a life shaped by trust in God’s gracious provision. When we live from the reality of God’s promise, we become free to share the promise with others, and to participate in God’s mission here on earth, without fear and anxiety.

Jesus creates faith by announcing a promise, “It is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom!” Promises create a shared expectation about the future and bind together the giver and receiver of the promise in that shared anticipation. Promises create relationship…Promises create hope…Promises create faith; faith that frees us to be generous; faith that enables us to leave anxiety behind; faith that creates in us confidence about a future secured, NOT by human endeavor or achievement, but by God alone.

In the reading from Genesis today, Abram is told that he will have descendants as abundant as the stars. This is a promise to Abram of a future reality, which then shapes his present reality. Abram’s response to God is to live into that promise. The promise and the possibility of the promise are held together in the midst of impossibility. Really, think about that, can you count the stars? It is impossible. And yet Abram doesn’t question, or examine the promise, he acknowledges it and then…he…lives…into it.

It is like that with the kingdom of God too. The kingdom is here, but at the same time it seems impossible. Can the kingdom of God really exist here and now? The promise is about a future reality. The promise of God to give us the kingdom, all good things, is a future reality, which shapes our present reality. Because of Christ’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection we understand God’s kingdom to be with us in this present time. Christ has already reconciled us with God.

Jesus’ words, “do not be afraid,” are grounded in God’s faithfulness, a faithfulness that extends to the entirety of God’s creation. Can we respond to God’s promise and live into it? That is really the question to ask ourselves this morning. Can we believe the impossible promise for no other reason than God is a faithful promise-keeper? Can we trust our lives to God and just live into God’s promise like Abram did?

It will require us to change our perception. When you wake up in the morning, say “It is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom!” Before you close your eyes at night, say “It is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom!” And during the day, when you are feeling those fears, anxieties, or distractions creep into your consciousness, say to yourself, “It is God’s good pleasure to give me the kingdom!”

Living without fear and knowing the source of your treasure—that is your God-given identity, your Godly-worth—makes it possible to be prepared. It is a part of the pattern of discipleship; it is part of participating in God’s kingdom here and now. God wants to give us the kingdom and all good things…not eventually but right now, right here.

God promised Abram descendants as abundant as the stars, an authentically abundant life. Abram heard that promise. Abram believed and trusted God. Abram lived into God’s promise.

This morning you heard God’s promise, to you, for an authentically abundant life. Trust and believe that promise, and you will find yourself living into an authentically abundant life.

After all, it is God’s desire for you to have…and enjoy…and share an authentically abundant life.

Thanks be to God!

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