06022019 Easter 7 Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

“God calls us to be of one accord in prayer!”

06022019 Easter 7 Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Export PA

June 2, 2019
“God calls us to be of one accord in prayer!”
Sermon Audo

It could be said, gather twelve people together around a table to discuss a topic and you will have 13 opinions.  In our society today that seems to be very true, because everyone postures and pronounces, spins and spouts and sadly this occurs because everyone seated at the table is trying to get what they want.  Whether opinion, action, change or in order to return to by gone years. To say this is only those who are ‘non-Christian’ doesn’t account for the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther’s teaching on ‘free will’.  The reality exists today that each and every person, non-Christian and Christian alike have an opinion. This is the way that God formed and shaped each and everyone of us and we have the opportunity to and truly should thank God for our individual opinion.  Even the disciples in Jesus day had opinions about a whole number of things, even who Jesus should have surrounding Him.

Whether the disciples were asking the question in hushed tones, ‘who is the greatest’ among them and who should sit at His right or left?  Or even the side conversations of why they felt children should not be allowed to come before Jesus. Yet, what ultimately reigned supreme for the disciples was that once a decision or consensus was reached by the disciples it came because the disciples had followed Jesus imperative.   Jesus called for the disciples to pray to discern what the Father’s will was in every situation. Jesus had modeled this for them and even instructed them to pray on the night that He was betrayed. We who gather today see this as well from our Acts reading, “God calls us to be of one accord in prayer!”

Let’s recap our first lesson.  The disciples had just witnessed Jesus ascension into heaven.  They no longer were the 12, but the eleven and Jesus was now in heaven.  In unity by prayer, they felt they needed to replace the disciple that no longer was with them who had been chosen just as they had.  So the disciples were gathered in the Upper Room and were led by the Holy Spirit as they prayed. God by inspiration among them through the Holy Spirit, led the eleven to chose Matthias as the twelfth disciple that would then be known as an apostle.  They modeled clearly for themselves and for us today that “God calls us to be of one accord in prayer!”

We who gather here at Emmanuel today as well should hear that“God calls us to be of one accord in prayer!”  We need to daily pray for God’s will to be done among us and not shrink away from God’s call, because God knows what is most helpful for each and every one of us individually and collectively as a congregation.  God knows each and every one of us intimately and has the desire for all of us to be blessed by Him, both here on this earth and for eternity. When we pray and ‘be of one accord in prayer’ for God’s Glory, God will send the Holy Spirit to help to reorient us, remove barriers that are in our way whether placed by us or those around us and God will reorient our understanding of what God will do in, through and by us as we do His will here at Emmanuel.

This morning we have heard how the 11 disciples determined who would be numbered among them after Jesus had ascended into heaven.  We have heard that “God calls us to be of one accord in prayer!”  Yet, these events occurred only days after Jesus ascension and one might ask, was this the only time that prayer was used to unify as recorded in Holy Scriptures?

Simply, no it was not.  Prayer has been the framework upon which the Church of Jesus Christ has been built and continues today.  From Adam and Eve, Jacob, Isaac, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Mary the mother of Jesus and countless other individuals who prayed for the will of God to be fulfilled in their lives.  Each in their own way learned the hardest lesson was to bend their will and desire away from self to being selfless. And one of the most profound of these was the prophet Ezekiel.  

In the 18th Chapter Ezekiel is clearly proclaiming that those who sin shall die.  This proclamation though does not end with death, but simply a calling for an action by the Israelites of Ezekiel’s day.  Ezekiel lived approximately 600 years before Jesus Christ would walk the earth. He had heard and read all of the Old Testament texts and history that told of one coming that would set things right.  Yet, Ezekiel, still in active obedience engaged himself in the practice ‘to be of one accord in prayer’ for God’s will to be done by him and unto the people of Israel he prophesied unto so they would continue to fulfill God’s will.

Ezekiel in the final words of the 18th chapter writes to the people of Israel, which I believe speaks to us today, not only our congregation, but for the graduates and each and every one of us who claim we are disciples of Jesus Christ.  Ezekiel’s words are poignant for us today both for the graduates who will take the next step in their lives, but also for our congregation of Emmanuel who have heard the words of our Dean, Carl Johnson. Ezekiel writes, “Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!  Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

God is calling me and each and every person who believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to turn and return to Him.  We stand today at a seminal moment in our world as well as here in our church of Emmanuel. Today we have heard through Ezekiel from God to ‘turn, and live’.  Let us hear and believe the Gospel of our salvation from Jesus Christ and demonstrate our faith, trust and belief in God’s relevance to and for each of us today.  In obedience and like the disciples let us together listen to the Holy Spirit and seek God's will where “God calls us to be of one accord in prayer!”

Let us pray...Good and gracious heavenly Father, it is clear that the disciples who watched Jesus ascend into heaven united together in prayer in faith so they would ‘be of one accord in prayer’ as they chose Matthias.  May we, Your children who gather here today at Emmanuel hear as “God calls us to be of one accord in prayer” so that You may guide, direct and lead us for Your Glory.  May we declare the forgiveness of sins to and for one another through the gift of grace offered through Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  And unite and bind us together as the Body of Christ proclaiming the love of God for all of mankind that we are partakers of as we hear the Holy Spirit in our own lives so that we fulfill today and every day how “God calls us to be of one accord in prayer!”  We ask this in love for one another and obedience in our prayer to You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  AMEN!