Stewardship Resource

Everyone is Searching for You

Sermon  Sermon
  • Author: Pastor Jon R. Lee is a pastor at King of Glory Lutheran Church, Dallas, Tex.
  • Updated: 07/10/2008
  • Copyright: Jon Lee

The United Way campaign realized that they had not received a donation from one of their very successful businessmen. They actually did a little research on him and discovered that he made a half million dollars a year and yet he did not give a penny to charity. So they sent some young fellow off to see him. The young man told him what their research had revealed and asked if he wouldn't like to give something back to the community.

The businessman replied by saying, "Well did your research show that my mother is dying from a long illness and has medical bills several times her income?"

"Well," the young man said, "No. It didn't reveal that."


Everyone is Searching for You

The United Way campaign realized that they had not received a donation front one of their very successful businessmen. They actually did a little research on him and discovered that he made a half million dollars a year and yet he did not give a penny to charity. So they sent some young fellow off to see him. The young man told him what their research had revealed and asked if he wouldn't like to give something back to the community.

The businessman replied by saying, "Well did your research show that my mother is dying from a long illness and has medical bills several times her income?"

"Well," the young man said, "No. It didn't reveal that."

"Well, did your research reveal that my brother is a disabled veteran? He's blind and confined to a wheelchair."

At this point the young man began to stammer and was wishing he were out of there. But the businessman went on and said, "Did it reveal that my sister's husband died in a traffic accident and left her penniless with three children?"

The young fellow wished he were never there at all but the businessman kept going, "So, if I don't give any money to them, why should I give to you?"

It's a matter of the human heart. It's always a matter of the heart.

The Bible is full of stories of God who changes the hearts of people. It is the greatest transformation of all. And in chapter 40 of Isaiah, we hear again this magnificent story.

Just for a moment, in order to hear the words, try to imagine what it must have been Like to have been a Hebrew at that particular time in history. You would know well the story about how God had brought the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt into the Promised Land. God had made a covenant with God's people and over the years the city had grown - Jerusalem was now a beautiful walled city and the Temple of Solomon was a magnificent temple. All a sign of God's faithfulness.

And then the unimaginable happened. It was the year 586 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded and not only knocked down their walls and destroyed their city, but he destroyed the temple as well. The temple was the one sure sign of God's continued love and presence. On top of that, God's chosen ones were forced to leave their city. It was a forced march - until they came to a land called Babylon - a foreign, pagan land. And there as the Scriptures tell us, the people wept beside the waters of Babylon.

They were a despairing people; they had lost everything. There was no hope. For what could ever possibly deliver them now from Nebuchadnezzar and this powerful Babylonian Empire? Into this hopeless situation comes the voice of the prophet. "Have you not known, have you not heard, do you not understand? Why are you so despairing? Why do you say your way is hidden from the Lord?"

Have you and I not made the same lament? Like when the bottom drops out of our lives. We may not have been through an experience like Israel where our city was destroyed and we were placed in a forced march but we know what it's like to lose. We know when the bottom of life drops out, and we feel abandoned by God.

Maybe it's the loss of a job. Or maybe as a teenager a boyfriend or a girlfriend says they want to end the relationship. Or maybe it's when a marriage falls apart. Or we lose our health and the doctors aren't quite sure what's happening to our bodies. Or maybe it's when we suffer the death of a loved one. Or it's simply some morning we start waking up and can't find any good reason to get up because we are depressed and we don't find any meaning in it at all.

We know what it's like when our ways are hidden from the Lord. But the prophet says, Have you not known, have you not heard, have you not understood? The Lord is everlasting. The prophet was announcing there is a new power in town. The Babylonian Empire, for all of its power, was now answerable to the One before Whom all the powers stand.

And, yes, there are rulers like Nebuchadnezzar, but before God, before the Holy One of Israel, even kings are like a little seedling planted. God merely breathes and he withers. The winds blow him away. Have you not heard, do you not know the Lord is the Everlasting God; He will not faint nor grow weary.

God has not forgotten you. It's not a matter, the prophet says, of being young again. Oh, how we wish we were young and youthful again. But the prophet says even youths will faint and be weary and the young will fall exhausted. But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings of eagles, they shall run and not be weary. Those who wait for the Lord shall walk and not faint.

That's a critical word, that word "wait." This is not about waiting around, killing time, being passive. That's not the meaning here. To "wait for the Lord" is to wait on tiptoe, in the greatest expectancy of the Lord's coming. There is more to life than we can see or imagine.

I caught a picture of that the other day. It was just before dinner and I was playing with our granddaughter when we heard the garage door opening. We heard the car drive in and the motor shut off. And at that sound our little granddaughter's cars perked up. She stood up and faced the door. This was no passive waiting. She was waiting for her father to open the door and she was ready to rush into his arms. That's the kind of waiting we have every right to do. On tiptoe and with utter confidence we wait for the Lord.

Those who wait for the Lord shall have their strength renewed. That expectancy of waiting for the Lord is what changes the hearts of people. To know there is a greater power in this world than any problem or any challenge we face.

In the Gospel this morning we heard the story of Jesus' healing Simon's mother-in-law. Mark, with his economy of words, says Jesus came in the house and He took her by the hand and He lifted her up. The fever left and she began to serve them. Isn't that beautiful? He took her by the hand, lifted her up. The fever left and she began to serve them. Isn't that the way life is? Christ heals us, lifts us up so that we can go and love and be about the work that He calls us to do.

That's why we are talking about Vision 2000, what we are called to do this coming year. I'm looking out there and seeing that freshly dug hole which  is going to be a magnificent building for us in 13 months. Why did we make such a commitment?

We want to learn and grow so that we understand more clearly what it means to be His disciples.

This building will be for our children, our teenagers and our adults so that together we walk the journey of discipleship. We've never had much space for adults and we are the weaker for it. But by the grace of God we are going to grow as disciples when we have adults studying His word and thinking through the implications for our lives.

And, of course, we are beginning to consider how this magnificent building will be used to serve our community.

We've got lots of thoughts about serving the community - from child care, to elder care, to after-school care, to "English as a second language," to computer programming, to basketball leagues for grade school children, to you name it. But it will be used to serve the community. Why? So that people can catch the glimpse of God's kingdom. So that people can see a little sign of God's redeeming reconciling love in the world as it is evidenced in this congregation called King of Glory.

The disciples came to Jesus and said, "Jesus, everyone is looking for you." And that's still true. People are still looking for Jesus. That may not be the words they use but people are looking for some sign of God's presence, some sign of transcendence. They are looking for some people who dare believe in more than they can see, who dare believe and live as if this world is bathed in the love of God. They are looking for people who trust a gracious giving God and are learning to live in the joy and confidence of God's abundance. They are looking for people who are living on tiptoe, anticipating that God's kingdom indeed is breaking in.

We have a wonderful year ahead of us. It's going to be a challenge and there will be inconveniences. As you read the "VISION 2000" brochure sent to your home you'll see it's going to be a stretch. And you and I know it's going to take some increase in giving. But I am confident about it. And here's why:

Last year as we went through the Capital Campaign and we had this fantastic challenge in front of us, it was like "How are we ever going to raise 5 million dollars?"

But as you know, by the grace of God working in us, it happened. We began to see that God had already given the money. God had simply distributed it among all of us and we just had to open our eyes, our hearts, our bank accounts and wallets. We joined together in prayer and we prayed that God would give us the courage to see ourselves as tilled with God's rich blessings. And look what happened.

It's the same reality, the same God-given abundance for the annual fund. It is the same spirit that is at work, changing our hearts, taking away our fear. Last Sunday we heard the story of Jesus casting out demons. One of the demons whispers in our ears, "you don't have enough, you're poor, money is scarce, better hang on to what little you have." Christ continues to cast out demons and empowers us to become generous people reflecting His extravagance.

I know some of you have been growing as givers through the years and you are experiencing the joy of sharing. My prayer for the entire congregation is that we would experience the joy of realizing we are a gifted people and therefore can become an amazingly generous people.

This coming week I ask you to go home and read over our Vision 2000 brochure. Spend this week in prayer. Wait on the Lord. Ask God what a faithful response would look like for you.

The challenge is great. We'll come together next week, offering our praises and our gifts as a sign of our trust in God's abundance.

God's peace and strength be with you.

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