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YOU ARE MY BELOVED CHILD WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

12 JANUARY 1992

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalms 2:7
Isaiah 42:1-4
Malachi 1:6-11
Luke 3:21-22
2 Peter 1:12-15

Preparation Verse: (Psalms 2:7)

I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you.”

To say that someone is a Christian is to say that they are Christ-like in character, that they follow in the footsteps of Jesus, and that they have an influence upon the world around them as Jesus Christ had when He walked the earth.

To be a true Christian is to be more than just a believer.

To be a true Christian is to be a whole lot more than words.

To be a true Christian is to have God speak of us as He did of Jesus when He was baptized.

Listen to what we are told in Luke 3:21-22 –

21. Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened,

22. and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased."

The power to live this Christ-like life, and to have the Lord speak of us in this manner, comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit within us.

And if Christians are respected in the land, then the name of the Lord will also be respected.

It will be as Malachi tells us in 1:11–

11. "For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations," says the Lord of hosts.

Note carefully the words we just read; for when the name of the Lord is truly upheld and honored in the world around us, then the offerings to the Lord are in the form of the sweet smell of incense and of the thank offering of grain.

There is no need for the sin offering.

There is no need for the shedding of innocent blood to cover the soul of the guilty, for the former guilty ones will be doing what is acceptable and pleasing before the Lord.

This is the way that our community and the world should be.

But honestly look around us.

If you were in God's shoes, and looked down from heaven upon us, what would you say of us?

Move back to Malachi 1:6f and see if you wouldn't question us, as God is doing in this passage?

6. " 'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, 'How have we despised Thy name?'

Our Father so much wants to say to us, "You are My beloved child with whom I am well pleased."

He doesn't want to speak to us, and question us, as He is doing here through Malachi.

7. "You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled Thee?' In that you say, 'The table of the Lord is to be despised.'

Many so-called Christians around us are like these Hebrews.

These Christians say that they believe; yet by their very lives, they say that they do not, for they defile the atoning blood of Jesus, in that they refuse to turn away from their sins, and they continue to live as the rest of the world lives.

8. "But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick [sacrificial animals who are of little financial value to you], is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the Lord of hosts.

This is an interesting series of questions for each of us to answer from the depths of our soul.

Are we not seeking to be people-pleasers more than pleasers of the Lord?

God keeps trying to turn us back to Him, but in the meantime, He will actually speak judgment against us.

9. "But now will you not entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering [an offering not from a repentant heart, but an offering only for show] on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?" says the Lord of hosts.

10. "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you," says the Lord of hosts, "nor will I accept an offering from you."

Is what we are offering to the Lord our God acceptable to Him?

Does He say to us, "You are My beloved child with whom I am well pleased?"

Our offering should be acceptable.

And He should say this to us.

That is, if we are truly Christians.

Look around the world!

What do you see?

Do you see any real evidence that people are living Christ-like lives that accepts Jesus as the final sacrifice, and thus live in peace with the whole of creation?

Or, do you see millions of people and billions of animals being sacrificed to the gods of war and lust?

There are very few sweet smelling incense and thankful grain offerings.

In Isaiah 42:1-4, note what the prophet tells us of Jesus and of all who are truly committed servants of the Lord – those in whom He is well pleased:

1. "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;
My chosen one in whom My soul delights.
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the nations.

2. "He will not cry out or raise His voice,
Nor make His voice heard in the street.

3. "A bruised reed He will not break,
And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish;
He will faithfully bring forth justice.

4. "He will not be disheartened or crushed,
Until He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law."

The millions of people and billions of animals being sacrificed to the gods of war and lust are the bruised reeds whom our Savior would break, yet most people who consider themselves to be Christian participate in extinguishing the light of their lives.

And, where are we in all of this?

If we are truly Christians, if we are truly Christ-like, the power of the Holy Spirit will be upon us.

If we are really Christians, we will not pay back evil for evil, but will reach out a forgiving hand.

If we are really Christians, we will never talk to others of the sins of other believers who have slipped in the walk; instead we will help them walk again.

If we are really Christians, we will never throw anyone away, or give up on them; but we will continue to extend our love to them, and encourage them to be stronger.

If we are really Christians, we will not discourage the weakest and flickering lights of Christ in others, no matter what they have done; but we will help their light to become brighter, so that they may be able to see for themselves where they have gone astray.

And if we are truly pleasing to our Father, we will not become disheartened or discouraged, or crushed by the evil we see around us, even from those who should know better; for we should understand that our Father knows what is going on, and that we are His beloved children who are to bring truth and justice to the world around us, not so much by what we say, but by what we do.

I suppose the reason I mention these things in my sermon is the same reason that Peter mentioned similar things in his second epistle. Note what we are told in 2 Peter 1:12f.

12. Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.

13. And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder,

14. knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.

15. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.

We all need to be reminded of the truth of the word of God from time to time, even every week; for the cares of the world and the pressures of everyday life have a tendency to draw us away, cloud the truth, and sometimes make us want to give up.

Peter didn't give up, even when he knew he was going to be killed, shortly.

Jesus didn't give up even when He was upon the cross.

We can hold on to the truth.

We can hold on to the things that are good and kind and loving, even though from time to time we may have to be reminded.

We don't have to be like the hypocrites around us, who profess one thing and go off and do another; we can hold fast.

We can dare to be different.

We can dare to be Christ-like.

We can each be God's beloved child with whom He is well pleased.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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