It has been awhile since I snagged a copy of one of Mike's sermons. Here you go...
I want to see how good you are at recognizing great words, words that have shaped us as a people. Here are some lines from great speeches. You tell me who said it.
Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
For bid it, Almighty God!
I know not what course others may take,
but for me
give me liberty or give me death.
That came from Patrick Henry 1775, from a church pew when discussing whether to mobilize forces against the British.
Fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth
on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty
and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
That came from Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address. Critics said it wasn't a good speech because it was too brief.
It was we the people, not we the white male citizens,
nor yet we the male citizens but we
the whole people
who formed the union
and we formed it not to give the
blessings of liberty
but to secure them not to the half of ourselves
and the half of our posterity but the whole people,
women as well as men.
That was from Susan B. Anthony when she was fined $100 for casting an illegal ballot in the 1872 election.
My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you.
Ask what you can do for your country.
That was in JFK's inaugural address in 1961. He was 43 years old, the youngest and first Catholic president. It seems like words we need to hear again in a society that is more individualistic.
I am also amazed by great words in the scriptures. Every time I read John 1:1-18, the prologue, or the first word in John's gospel, I am overwhelmed at the great words. There is so much to chew on, to think about in these 18 verses. I had a seminary professor tell me that when he took "The Gospel of John" when he was in seminary, his teacher spent 80% of the class on these first 18 verses. Almost every line is a classic:
- In the beginning was The Word and The Word was with God and The Word was God.
- The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
- He was in the world and the world and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
- But to all who did receive him, who believe in his name, he gave the right to become Children of God who were born not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God.
- And The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son, from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- No one has ever seen God, the only Son, who is at the Father's right side, he has made him known.
Great, great words. Let me see if it can be summarized in a few sentences. By taking on human flesh, Jesus the Word comes into the world he created. The Word is the light of God that overcomes spiritual darkness and Jesus authorizes believers to become Children of God. The only Son reveals God the Father to the World.
Words have great power over us. We are being bombarded by words on a continual basis. Those words, whether we realize it or not, are shaping us.
We are speaking words, and hearing words. We have words in our heads.
We get up in the morning and the words start coming. Conversation, TV, radio, Kindle, words on my coffee machine, words on the packaging of my bread, on my cereal box...
As I write I notice words on my sweatshirt. It says, "2006 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals". Words are everywhere.
This year I have cut back on listening to/reading the news. This was hard for a boy who started reading the newspaper when he was in the 4th grade. The news was bringing me down.
Every morning I listen to an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading and a devotional reading on my Kindle. I have a prayer time with God. That is, I speak words to God - confession, thanksgivings, words for others, words for myself, praise for God...
In his book he promises to speak over your life. Joel Osteen writes "Our words have creative power. Whenever we speak something, either good or bad, we give life to what we are saying. Too many people say negative things about themselves, their families and about their futures. Here is the key. You've got to send your words out in the direction you want your life to go. You cannot talk defeat and expect to have victory. You will produce what you say (or think)... With our words we can bless or curse our future."
When I read the words of John 1:1-18 I am encouraged. It takes a lot of pressure off of me. God created the world through The Word. God continues to take care of the world, this congregation, my family, me.
I don't have to worry about salvation.The true light has come into the world that enlightens everyone. All who receive this light, believe in his name, are authorized to be Children of God.
Its a new year. I have no idea what will happen but I believe that God will take care of us. I don't know about you but I am going to cast all my anxiety on God because he cares about me. I am going to make this a year of good words, of positive thoughts and positive proclamations. I know I feel better when I do this and I think you will, too.
Jesus is the ultimate good Word that God speaks to us. That Word is light and life. Go into 2015 with God's Word, Jesus, in the center of your life.