CHRIST IN US - CHRIST IN HIS GLORY
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
5 JANUARY 1992
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verse: (John 14:20)
“In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
Throughout the Christmas season, we sang and spoke of Emmanuel, Jesus Christ, God among us.
But Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and gone back into heaven, and sits and reigns at the right hand of God our Father.
Now, I have said, "God our Father," and not, "God His Father," because God should be more to us than the Father of the Son, Jesus Christ.
He should be our Father, too!
So, even though Jesus has risen, He is still God Among Us, for His Spirit is still with us.
And even more than this, if we believe and have faith, He will dwell within us.
Thus we become one with Him, and God becomes our Father, too.
This process was taking place among the Ephesians, when Paul wrote his letter to them.
Listen to what he says in Ephesians 1:15-17.
15. For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints,
16. do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;
17. that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
This only happens when the Holy Spirit is present within us; but the knowledge of Him is presented to everyone, whether or not we choose to accept His presence among us.
If we lived in a part of the world where even the existence of God is rejected, then it might be easier to understand why He would abide in the hearts of only a few people.
But we live in a nation that openly accepts the existence of God, and even worse, a nation in which most people say they believe.
Then why have so few of us really committed our lives to serving Him, according to His will, and why is His presence not seen in more of us?
Keep a place mark here, for we will be coming back to these Ephesians verses,
and in the meantime, let me give you a couple of examples of what I am talking
Recently, I watched a National Geographic presentation on TV that presented the life of the "Bird Nesters of Thailand."
These men risk their lives to collect bird nests for the Chinese from which they make bird's nest soup. The Chinese pay about $1,000.00 per pound for these nests on the retail market; for they believe soup made from these nests have some special power.
Before these men start their dangerous task, they pray to the gods of the caves in which they find these nests.
And they use special amulets to remove these nests, so that the gods won't be angry with them and will protect them.
They believe that if they live a good life, they will be safe and not die, even if they fall.
They say that only bad people fall to their death, and then they haunt the caves in which they say there are also demons.
Now consider the nests:
They are made from the birds’ saliva and other things, and then the birds sit in them and lay their eggs in them, and the young even move their bowels in them.
Doesn't this just make your mouth water in anticipation of tasting a bowl of soup made from these nests?
This whole culture is built upon a decadence in which there is no room for God or His saving grace.
Nothing of God is ever degrading.
But we say we know better.
And that is what Israel said in the days of Jeremiah.
Turn with me to Jeremiah 37:6-10, and as we look at this passage, remember that the Holy Spirit was abiding within Jeremiah during this time when Israel was not making room in their hearts for the Lord their God.
6. Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, saying,
7. "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'Thus you are to say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: "Behold, Pharaoh's army which has come out for your assistance is going to return to its own land of Egypt.
8. "The Chaldeans will also return and fight against this city, and they will capture it and burn it with fire.'' '
9. "Thus says the Lord, 'Do not deceive yourselves, saying, "The Chaldeans will surely go away from us," for they will not go.
10. 'For even if you had defeated the entire army of Chaldeans who were fighting against you, and there were only wounded men left among them, each man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire.' "
It is obvious that the Holy Spirit is in Jeremiah, and it is just as obvious that the king of Judah knew that God exists; but there is a tremendous difference between the two of them.
Jeremiah is listening to the Lord, but the king has not been doing so.
Jeremiah has committed his life to the Lord. The king is still living in his pride.
And the people, for the most part, are listening to the voice of their king and not to the voice of the Lord through Jeremiah or the prophets before him; thus they are being punished by the Lord.
Even the bird nesters of Thailand heard the unction of the Spirit of God, for they knew that there were spiritual forces at work around them; yet because of their culture, they rejected the truth for a lie.
But Israel, and our nation, and the church today, know the truth, for it is part of our respective cultures, as it was in the days of Jeremiah; but they and we, for the most part, reject it.
And remember that the glory of the Lord must have been evident in the life of Jeremiah, or the king would not have sought his counsel in the first place.
Now let's return to Ephesians 1:18f, and listen carefully to Paul's prayer:
18. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19. and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
20. which He brought about in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
21. far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.
Then Paul concludes with further assurance of God's grace for all believers:
22. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
23. which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Did you hear the key point of Paul's prayer? That, "the eyes of your heart may be enlightened."
Some might say that we have eyes in our head, and not in our heart; and they are right, for those are the only eyes they are willing to have.
This is also the missing ingredient that the Chinese seek to obtain through the eating of bird's nest soup.
This is the missing component in the lives of the Israelites that would have protected them from the Chaldeans.
And this is the problem with our nation and the church today.
For there are spiritual eyes that will enlighten our soul, so that we can see the glory of God that is able to come into us and renew us unto everlasting life.
This is the spiritual enlightenment that tells us when something is according to the will of God, the same will that exists in heaven and was present when God created Eden.
And, this same spiritual enlightenment tells us when things are not according to God's will:
It tells us when things are decadent.
It tells us when something causes harm to another living being.
It tells us when something destroys part of God's beautiful creation.
It tells us the things that we should reject.
We need to open our spiritual eyes and see the things that are loving and compassionate.
And as we do, we become renewed in the here and now, giving us the power to live in a world that is mostly blind and in our society that is rapidly going blind.
With this renewal, we have the power to make a positive, loving, and compassionate difference in this world around us.
This is Christ in us.
This is Christ in His glory.
This is the true Amen.
Your Comments are welcome
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