Monday, June 18, 2007

The following are excerpts of a sermon given recently at Capital Life Church by the Rev. Bill Shuler:

Before Batman was featured in epic movies, there was the television series. Each week an exciting episode would end with Batman in some type of quandary. My favorite was the show where he was told by one of his mortal enemies to choose between three doors. Two would result in his demise as lions and other treacherous perils awaited. Behind one door, however, was freedom.

Sometimes life is unclear, and therefore, we hesitate in making decisions lest they lead to ends that we do not desire. In the book of Genesis, a young man named Joseph is given a dream that stirs his heart and calls him to live greatly. There is just one problem; he is given no game plan. In 1 Samuel 16, David, a shepherd boy, is anointed king, but he returns to fields of sheep because he does not yet know what steps to take to achieve what has been spoken over him.

There are so many who wander in our generation. Like the freed Israelite slaves of old who wandered for 40 years on a journey that should have taken days, people spend a lifetime searching for purpose and significance. Somewhere deep inside, there is a sense that life should constitute more than meeting bills and building resumes.

In Psalm 37:4, the Bible says: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The word “delight” can be translated “make supple.” Thus we are to make ourselves supple to God and sensitive to His leading. In so doing, He will meet our heart”s cry to live a life of true meaning and purpose. It is interesting to note that the Bible says that “He” — meaning “God” — will give you the desires of your heart. We are not to grasp, strive or covet. Our role is to be supple, and God”s role is to bring eternal results.

When Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, he found himself displaced from the family and community of his upbringing. Many in the D.C. metro area can identify with this story. This is a transient area, and therefore, people put down shallow roots. Yet, Joseph teaches us a lesson as to how we can live lives of value. He fully embraces the place, people and season of his life in Egypt. He doesn”t fight what God is doing in his life or pine to go back home, he makes himself supple where he is planted. With excellence, he serves his new boss. Even when falsely accused and placed in prison, he never ceases to use his talents for God. As a result, God takes a displaced, forgotten young man and places him in a position of great national prominence. His life would be used to save the lives of an entire nation.

Perhaps if Joseph were alive today, he would call us to put down deep roots. Shallow roots make for shallow relationships and commitments. Even if people feel that time spent in the D.C. area will likely be short, one should consider the fact that many have stayed for years when they thought they would remain for mere months. Joseph”s life would be invested not where he grew up, but where God would lead him.

The story of David is one that also provides lessons on how to proceed when life is unclear. As a shepherd boy, he may have been anointed king, but nobody knew it. Only God and the prophet Samuel seemed to have taken notice of him. So David returned to the fields to watch over sheep with excellence. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.” ”

David found himself called into the palace to play the harp for King Saul. Playing the harp isn”t being king, but it is being in the environment of his calling. If God has stirred your heart to make a difference, and this is why you are in the nation”s capital, then become environmentally correct. Serve where you are with faithfulness until God promotes you. As you are faithful where you find yourself, throw seeds in the direction of your inklings. Seeds of prayer, volunteerism and relationship building can grow into greater influence in time.

In Proverbs 3:5-6, the Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Acknowledge is to recognize the rights, authority and status of; to express gratitude for; to take notice of. As you acknowledge God in all your ways, you are living a life that aligns you for blessing.

At Capital Life Church, we often refer to Acts 13:36 that says, “For when David had served God”s purposes in his own generation, he fell asleep.” The definition of a life well lived is one that steps beyond our purposes to fulfilling the eternal purposes of God in our generation. This is the place where life becomes clear.

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