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BEING A LIVING SOUL FOR GOD

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

25 MAY 1997

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Genesis 2:7
Psalm 23:3-4
          42:1
          62: 1-2
          63:1, 5, and 8

The other night I was at a Town Planning Board meeting, which began with the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag.

Everyone stood up; we put our right hands over our hearts; we said all the words; we acknowledged that we are one nation under God; and then the chairman and everyone else sat down.

There was no prayer for God's leading and guidance, or even to acknowledge His presence, or to thank Him.

It was business as usual, and my soul ached.

We certainly didn't seem to be part of that one nation under God that we had just said in the words of the pledge.

Without God, there can't be any lasting nation or flag.

I couldn't help but think: what good does it do to give a pledge of allegiance to a flag made by people, if we aren't willing to give our pledge of allegiance to our God who made us all?

We were making an idol of our flag; for in a way, we were worshipping it, a man-made thing, and not our God from whom all things come.

And my soul ached.

Have we forgotten who we are under God?

Have we forgotten how God lovingly made us (Genesis 2:7)?

7. Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [soul].

We're living souls!

We're living, breathing, thinking, functioning souls, because of the loving desire of our heavenly Father.

Then why don't we really acknowledge Him in every thing that we do?

How easy it would have been, following the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag, for the chairman or someone else on the board to have prayed:

Lord God, we thank you for our nation, and our community, and all that You have given us. Help us to be good stewards of your creation. Please give us the wisdom to make the proper decisions tonight. Amen.

But no one prayed, and my soul ached.

Our society is becoming harder and harder.

We seem to have thrown away many of our moral standards and ethics.

There seems to be a game being played in which far too many people participate, a game in which people try to see how much they can get away with.

How can this be happening in a nation that is supposedly under God?

It is happening to us the same way it happened to the Israel we read about in the Hebrew Testament.

They increasingly lost their true acknowledgement of God.

They're hearts turned away from God, just as we are doing in this nation, today.

At least if we acknowledge God openly, we reinforce the thought of His presence in the minds of others.

But, alas. We aren't even doing this; and my soul aches.

The United Nations says that they are expecting 20-25,000,000 displaced peoples and refugees to be in various places in the world this year.

Sure, some of these conditions may be due to natural disasters; but by far, the majority is the result of wars from within nations.

And there are some people, in our own country, who would like to see the same thing happen here.

And as a result, my soul aches, as I pray your soul does, too.

We are indeed walking through the valley of the shadow of death, but I wonder how many people are really aware of it?

But in the words of David, "I fear no evil; for Thou art with me."

And why is this?

It's because of what David says in the previous verse in Psalm 23:

3. He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.

And this is the key to why it's so important to continually acknowledge God's presence and pray; for He restores our souls.

He also guides us in the paths of righteousness for His glory, that others would acknowledge Him, too.

This is what it really means to be a living soul for God.

We cannot allow the evil and indifferent ways of this world to distress our souls to the point of despair; we must learn to reach out to the Lord, and let Him restore us.

And in this restoration we are able to see beyond all the problems around us to the glory of God.

When our hearts and souls ache, we need to reach out to God, just as David did.

When he didn't see the presence of God, he had a "craving" for Him, as an animal in search of water, and he says, "my soul pants for Thee, O God." (Psalm 42:1)

We, too, should have this same kind of yearning for God, for from Him comes our comfort, just like having a cool drink of water when we are very thirsty.

And again David says (Psalm 62:1-2),

1. My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.

2. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

David doesn't worry or rant and rave about the threats made against him, nor of the evil around him.

He puts his full trust in the Lord.

As he says, "My soul waits in silence for God only."

In other words, David is convinced that turning in any other direction would be an exercise in futility.

Only God can restore our souls.

And in Psalm 63:1, 5, and 8, David continues in this soul restoring attitude.

He says again, "my soul thirsts"; then, as he feels the Lord's peace come over him, he says, "my soul is satisfied."

But David doesn't stop here; he doesn't want to fall back into the same problem he was in, so he says, "My soul clings to Thee."

He doesn't want to let go.

Yet at times in his life, he did let go, and not only did he get into trouble, but the nation suffered because of what he did.

This happened because the nation followed David's lead, and when David failed to be guided by the Lord in the paths of righteousness, the nation followed his example and they all suffered.

And this brings us back to today.

We were created to be living souls for God.

He wouldn't make us this way, if He didn't want us this way.

Thus, when we feel threatened, or we stumble or fall, God is always there to help us.

God is always there to restore our souls.

But, we must both want Him to do it, and allow Him to do it.

God can and does make a difference in our lives.

And we can and should make a difference in this world.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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