Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
13 JANUARY 1991
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verse: (Ephesians 5:14)
For this reason it says,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
Our true awakening comes when we begin to realize that we are not in control of our own destiny.
Sure, we make decisions on our own and plan many things; but unless we formulate these decisions and actions upon the truths of God, they are destined to failure.
Our awakening comes when we turn our lives over to God and receive His Spirit as our strength and guiding force.
With all the problems in the world today, it is quite easy to fall into the
trap of giving up or of doing something rash out of our anger, frustration, or
The prophets of old not only saw all the problems of their day, but also were given the visions of what would take place in the future, and it bothered them greatly; yet at the same time, it gave them comfort, for they knew that God was in control.
Turn with me in your Bibles to Isaiah 35:1-6, and hear the grace of God coming forth to awaken and strengthen us in our times of need.
1. The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus
2. It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
The majesty of our God.
We are to look to the future promises of God and receive the perfect love of God, so that all our fears would vanish.
And we are to encourage others, just as the words of the prophet tell us:
3. Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
4. Say to those with anxious heart,
"Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you."
If we ourselves are awakened, then we will believe these things and encourage others to believe that a miracle will take place, also.
5. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
6. Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy.
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
And streams in the Arabah.
When we give our life over to the will of God, our spiritual blindness is removed, we begin to hear and speak of the wonders of our Lord, and we walk with the firmness and assurance of one who is fully awake and knows where they are going. We will never again be in want or be fearful.
John the Baptist was one of those who came forth to tell the truth and awaken the people; but even though many came out to him and thought him to be great, or even the Messiah, he never took the glory for himself, but gave it to the Lord.
Listen to what we are told in Mark 1:7-8:
7. And he was preaching, and saying, "After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.
8. "I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
John is telling us that all he can do is call us into repentance so that we might be awakened as he has been, not through his actions or through our own actions, but through our faith in Jesus Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Then something very curious happened. Note what we are told in verses 9-11:
9. And it came about in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
10. And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;
11. and a voice came out of the heavens: "Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased."
As we discussed before, even Jesus had to learn.
He had to be obedient to the teachings of His Father, both earthly and heavenly.
He was born of God, yet He was still a man – a man who had grown up from a little infant, just like us.
But unlike us, He obeyed His Father all the time.
Thus, His Father was well pleased with Him, for He did it of His own free will, and He did it for thirty years.
The full power of Deity was not yet in Him, for He had to learn. Before He was ready for His ministry, He had to be awakened to all of the things of His Father.
Then, and only then, did the full awakening and power of Deity descend upon Him and remain with Him in the person of the Holy Spirit.
As John said, Jesus will awaken us in the same way, if we are willing to be conformed.
Why do so many fear this change?
They are not yet perfected in love.
And the tragedy of it is that they even fear this perfect love.
God created us to be perfect, to be filled with His love, so that His Spirit would flow through us and that we would be with Him forever in the paradise of His creation.
This means that we would live in a loving relationship with God, and with every other human, and animal, and the rest f God's creation, and no one would cause any harm to befall another.
But we became impatient. We didn't want to wait for the time of our maturing, when we would be able to receive the full awakening and anointing of the Holy Spirit.
We thought we knew better and could speed things along.
Let me give you an example.
I prepare my sermons on a computer, but the computer by itself can do nothing. It will function, but it won't produce anything unless a program is installed in its memory banks.
Then someone has to give it instructions for it to utilize its program or programs.
It doesn't all happen at once; it takes time.
And if a computer "refuses" to accept its programs, its function is useless and will bring no profit to its maker.
Even all of creation had to be awakened after God created it, and it took time for it to have all of its "programs" installed.
Note what we are told in Genesis 1:1-5:
1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
From the great recesses of the mind of God, He created all things; but they were not yet in their finished state.
They were as the plans and specifications of an architect. They contained the entire building, but until the building is actually built, the plans are of little or no value to anyone.
So it was with all of creation, and so it is with us.
It is just as we are told in verse 2:
2. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
The earth was still asleep, and the Holy Spirit was beginning to awaken it.
It’s like buying a new computer. You begin by unpacking it, and then you connect the wires; but it won't begin to function until you plug it in and turn on the switch.
And thus it is with us, and thus it was with the earth.
3. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
God turned on the light to awaken the earth.
It’s just as the darkness of a computer display screen is changed from
darkness to light when the switch is turned on.
It's the same with us as we are being born. We were the same baby moments before our birth as we were immediately following our birth.
The only difference was that after our birth we were turned on, as the breath of life entered our lungs.
Note what God said of the earth when He awakened it:
4. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
5. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
The earth was awakened, but it still needed a lot more programming before it would be ready to perform all the functions that God desired it to do.
And the same is true of us.
Like a computer, before it can properly utilize its many and varied programs, it must first have its master, or start-up, program installed.
Our master program is the Word of God, as interpreted by the Holy Spirit.
Without both of these programs installed within us, we cannot properly and fully function.
As the two programs come together, note what happens with this awakening, as Paul and some Ephesian men discovered and as recorded in Acts 19:1-7.
1. And it came about while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples,
2. and he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."
3. And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism."
4. And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was corning after him, that is, in Jesus."
5. And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
7. And there were in all about twelve men.
These men didn't babble some unintelligible language that couldn't be understood. They spoke forth in a known language, other than their own, as an expression of God's grace upon them; and they may not have ever done it again.
The key is in their prophesying. They expressed the true meaning of the Word of God, for it was now the Holy Spirit that was giving them the interpretation.
They had become fully awakened, but not yet fully perfected.
As human beings, one of our problems is that we expect immediate and complete results. This may work with some things, but not with our spiritual growth.
We do not grow towards perfection unless we are fully awakened, for we cannot hear the urgings of the Holy Spirit.
Now, there is much going on around the world and many lives are being affected.
Millions of humans and billions of animals suffer and die needlessly every year.
Are we awakened enough to see it for what it is?
Let's see, as we read Psalm 2:
1. Why are the nations in an uproar,
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2. The kings of the earth take their stand,
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His anointed:
What has the Holy Spirit spoken to your soul?
Are the wars in our world against other people or are they really against the Lord?
And humans are also making war against the animals. Is is for the glory
of God, or for the selfish desires of human beings?
And what about all the plans that are being devised by the leaders of our world? Are they constructive or just vain things?
If these plans are vain things and the wars are really against the Lord, then
what are we to do as awakened believers and followers of Jesus Christ?
3. "Let us tear their fetters apart,
And cast away their cords from us! "
If what is being done is wrong, then we are to separate the right from the wrong and cut the evil ties that bind us to evil ways and cast them away.
If people who are leaders of other people bind themselves to Satan and his ways, it does not mean that we have to go along with them.
We are to separate ourselves from them.
What does God think about all of this? Note verses 4-6:
4. He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5. Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury:
6. "But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain."
God is telling us that He is still in control; and even more than that, He is
telling us that He has already installed His King, His Son Jesus Christ, as our
If we are truly awake, then we should be listening to our Righteous King and following His lead.
We should not be following worldly leaders who follow Satan.
We should only be following world leaders who themselves are following Jesus Christ or His teachings, and hopefully both.
For this is what it means to be a joint heir with Jesus Christ.
Will God look down upon us and speak to us the words He spoke to His Son,
written in verses 7-8, and will we let Him take the appropriate action of verse
7. "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, 'Thou art My Son,
Today I have begotten Thee.
8. 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.
9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron,
Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware.' "
If our leaders are awakened to the voice of the Lord, but by going along with their evil ways we do not encourage them, then they may respond to the words of our remaining three verses:
10. Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11. Worship the Lord with reverence,
And rejoice with trembling.
12. Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
I guess the final question we must ask ourselves is: "Where do we take our refuge?"
I pray it is in the Lord our God!