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IT IS TIME THAT WE, TOO, SHOULD BE TRANSFORMED

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

AND

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

21 FEBRUARY 1993

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Exodus 24:12-18
Isaiah 11:9
Matthew 17:1-8
Philippians 2:12-16
1 John 4:18

Over the past several weeks, we have been looking at ways to see the light beyond the darkness, to see beyond the problems that we encounter, and to love even when there appears to be no love.

Now, today, it's time for us to enter this marvelous light.

And remember, that only fear can prevent us from entering, and fear is the opposite of the love we have been striving to live; for as we are told in 1 John 4:18,

18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

So let's go along with Joshua, Peter, James, and John as they enter this glorious light of God.

Our journey today begins in Exodus 24:12-18.

12. Now the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandments which I have written for their instruction.”

13. So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.

Probably none of us are as Moses, who spoke face to face with the Lord, but all of us should be as Joshua, a servant of the Lord.

Each of us really knows who we are, and the sins that we still carry around with us, and the fact that sin cannot exist in the presence of God, unless it is covered.

Now, with this in mind, consider what you would feel and do if requested by God, or a Moses, to climb up upon a mountain and enter the glory of God.

Would you be fearful?

I pray that you would have some fear, for all of us have sinned; but that you would still be willing to go, because you have truly repented of your sins and want to be transformed into the person God desires you to become.

But what did Moses say to the others?

14. But to the elders he said, "Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a legal matter, let him approach them."

15. Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.

16. And the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.

Note carefully that Moses and Joshua didn't rush into the presence of God, even though God had called them.

For six days they waited outside the cloud, most likely in prayer, cleansing themselves of their sins and preparing themselves to be transformed.

And to Moses and Joshua, the presence or glory of the Lord was simply as a cloud.

But what did the others who remained behind perceive?

17. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top.

When we have hardness in our heart, the Lord our God appears as a vengeful, wrathful God who sends people to hell.

We cannot see His love and compassion for us, because we have very little or no love and compassion in ourselves.

But to those of us who have His love and compassion in us, His presence is simply as a cloud.

As a pilot, I fly in and out of clouds all the time, without giving them much thought.

But should a severe thunderstorm appear before me, with all its consuming power, or the cloud of an erupting volcano, I would not enter it, for I know I am not equipped to enter it.

The more unrepented sin we have within us, and the harder our heart, the more the soft, bright, and gentle cloud of the glory of the Lord looks like something else; and we fear entering it.

Such fear is real, and it should be; for to enter the presence of the Lord with an arrogant heart will most likely consume us.

So, what do we see upon the mountain?

Are we prepared to enter it, as are Moses and Joshua?

18. And Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

And in this transformed state, they needed no food or drink for the entire forty days.

We are presented with a similar picture of entering the presence of the Lord in Matthew 17:1-8, but with some subtle differences.

Let's take a look at these verses, and remember to put yourself with the disciples.

1. And six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves.

2. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

3. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

To enter the presence of the Lord does take some effort on our part.

We can tap into His grace simply by believing; but to be transformed, or transfigured, requires our effort, symbolized by having to climb the high mountain.

This is what Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12-16. Keep your finger or a marker here in Matthew 17, and turn to Philippians 2.

12. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

13. for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

14. Do all things without grumbling or disputing;

15. that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

16. holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

Some people do "church work," and they are very busy at it; but that can be running and toiling in vain, if it is not coupled with the word of life.

When the whole word of life, the word of God, is part of our very nature, we will always climb the correct mountain; for the signposts leading to His holy mountain are contained in His word.

Otherwise, we go in all sorts of directions, following the children of this world.

If we don't read and study God's word and learn how to really apply it to everything we do and say, then, we should have real fear.

If we find ourselves grumbling and disputing, we are going in the wrong direction.

Upon God's holy mountain there is peace and love. There is no more pain or suffering. There is no more hurting or destroying, for those who are upon this mountain are filled with the knowledge of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:9)

9. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,

For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

As the waters cover the sea.

From this verse, we can also discern that the reason we have so much strife in the world, the reason we hurt and destroy our fellow human beings, the animals and the environment, is, for the most part, that we lack the knowledge of the Lord.

And, this lack of the lack of the knowledge of the Lord tells us a lot about our sinful human nature.

Now, with this in mind, let's go back to Matthew 17:4, and pick up where we left off.

4. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

Peter is making the same mistake that many of us make. He is suggesting that he do more "church work."

"Church work" does not bring about any spiritual change.

It does not fill us with the knowledge of the Lord.

When we are in the presence of God, it is best to be quiet, and absorb all that we can; that we continue to be transformed into the being God wants us to be.

Note what happened:

5. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"

6. And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid.

They have cause to be afraid, for their love is not fully perfected; they are not fully listening to what the Lord is telling them. They are trying to substitute busywork for obedience.

But Jesus shows them true love and compassion.

7. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid."

8. And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus Himself alone.

Because of their lack of real spiritual preparedness and the Lord's subsequent correction, coupled with their fear, they lost much of the blessing. They only saw the beginning of what took place.

All of the glory of God is around us, but we must first climb above all of the corruption around us in order to be able to see it.

How do we do this?

For starters, by asking ourselves a few questions, and then by changing our lives accordingly.

Is anything I'm doing hurting God or going against His will?

If the answer is yes, we do not wholly love the Lord our God. Then we must resolve to change our ways.

Then ask, how about myself? Am I doing anything to hurt my health? Do I eat things that are bad for me? Do I have habits that, likewise, affect my health?

If the answer is yes, we don't wholly love ourselves, and we need to change something.

And then finally, ask, do I do anything that hurts my neighbors and the other beings that inhabit this earth, or affects their way of life adversely, or do I pay others to do it for me?

If the answer is yes, we don't fully love them either; and then we also must change our way of life as it relates to others.

As we mature, we will learn that all of God's creation works together, and we cannot hurt or destroy anyone or anything.

This is being perfected in love.

This is experiencing transformation.

I truly believe that now is the time for all of us to be transformed.

Amen?

Amen!

Your Comments are welcome

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