Date: September 5, 2021
Sermon Title: "Don’t Eat Your Spinach"
By Minister Kim Braxton
Focus Scriptures: Revelation 4:1-2 / Isaiah 40:25-31
Supporting Scriptures: Psalm 24 “Who is the King of Glory?”
Observations: 1) The King is on the Throne. 2) Since the King in on the Throne He is in Control. 3) Since the King is in Control we have security knowing we will be alright no matter the circumstance.
Revelation 4:1-2: Scene in Heaven
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.
Isaiah 40:25-31 (NIV)
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 27 Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden
from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31but
those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
A preacher’s prerogative – Don’t Eat Your Spinach
This morning I wanted to take a quick departure from the presbyterian lectionary readings to branch out to another pericope of scripture that caught my eye this week. See on this week I was reminded of the old Popeye cartoons. Now the Popeye cartoons were old when I was young, but I remember a few key components of the series. When Popeye got frustrated, he would announce “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!” then he would break open a can of spinach, gobble it down and he would be endowed with superhuman strength to overcome the obstacle that had originally overwhelmed him. Popeye was able to overcome anything that came his way by eating his spinach – and he was strong till the finish…. I would say that overall we’ve all handled this new normal like champs.
Week after week we log into Zoom, we’ve mastered how to use the mute and unmute, how to blur our backgrounds. We’ve adjusted to wearing masks and sanitizing our hands to the point of perpetual ashyness. WE’VE wiped and sprayed every surface with antibacterial wipes. Heads high and masks on! We survived the term of 45, a brutal election season, and an insurrection. Faithful Christian Soldiers. But this week. This week was the one. I mean that most sincerely… I knew it was a rough one when I find myself singing between the keys of “way too flat” and “just too sharp” just making up verses to old time Spirituals to comfort myself in the face of a week that was filled with so much loss and so much unexplainable activity. A week that left me with the feeling of “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more” Let’s run the summary - - The week contained filled a real-life demonstration of the damage that unchecked climate change can wrought.
While the West Coast continues to burn uncontrollably and is experiencing an unprecedent drought the East Coast got to experience Ms Ida’s fury. Ida came to shore in the South hitting Louisiana and after she got done misbehaving down river she made her way up the coast. And Ida gave us a firsthand lesson on what a “flash flood” looks like in the Northeast. Streets and places that never experience flooding now had parking lot rivers and Urban waterfalls. Lives were lost and we are all left shaken and a bit traumatized. I don’t know about you but I will never be able to ignore those extreme weather buzzes when those alerts go out. Days after the storm there were still abandoned cars left on closed streets and flooded out bridges.
This was a week. A week that witnessed devastation and messiness that occurs when politicians finally decide to take action and end a never-ending war. A week where we had to bear witness to the dignified transfer of service men and women that sacrificed their lives in a conflict that began before they were born.
A week that brought to the forefront yet one more time how a segment of America views the “tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” That happen to speak a Semitic language with brown skin; much like the Savior that they claim to serve. This. Was. A. Week. that showed us firsthand what it looks like when people are promoted to positions of authority they are not qualified to hold; and where their lack of character and shaky morality are unable to empower them to execute their position’s most basic responsibilities. Resulting in turmoil and yet another “constitutional crisis”. And the cherry on top was that in this week Covid did not take a vacation. Instead it stayed busy. And over-worked reputable medical professions are forced to treat people who would rather follow the advice of internet hacks and take veterinary medications in a toxic cocktail of misinformation.
Finally, I just had enough – this was ALL I can stands, and I am unable to stands no more. In times like this it feels like the world is just spinning way too fast. I mean we’re still trying to recoup from 2020. Now 2021 only has 117 days left and 2022 is bringing up the rear. So the question I asked is “How can we continue to preserve handling so much uncertainty?” So instead of curling up in an emergency fetal position, with my favorite ice cream and internet shopping. I went to the bible and the Lord spoke through the text. Revelation 4:2 states it clearly, “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.” A throne denotes authority, power, majesty and splendor. And the throne that John saw was not vacant. it was occupied. Someone was sitting on that throne – and the occupied throne provided visible proof of the absolute sovereignty of God! Now you may say, “Preacher I hear you but what about this situation right here?” I would like to take a brief moment to remind all of us that the God that is seated on that throne is still in covenant with us. And God is not a man that he should lie or the son of man that he should repent. (Numbers 23:19)
When He speaks he will do. God is not indifferent to our plights, our troubles, concerns, worries, cares and loss. “For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 But in times like these we need to shift our focus from where we are to where He IS. Elevate your gaze. Above the temporal and temporary. Elevate! Isaiah 40:26 “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” In days like these it is vital to remind ourself of the vastness of the Lord we serve.
However, in our effort to control our environment and circumstances we sometimes try to insert ourselves into the position of “God” over our trials and difficult times. However, we are not equipped for that role. We can’t take that seat and expect to be successful. Let me give you an example, I don’t know about you but growing up when we sat down for dinner the head of the household sat at the head of the table. That position by providing for the family, protecting the home, so they always got the big piece of chicken. Now, you could be cute if you wanted to and try to take that seat and if you were feeling reckless you could reach for that full-sized chicken breast with the wing attached but no sooner than your hand would hover over the piece you would feel a “SMACK” and you would be escorted back to the kid’s table. Why? You want the benefits without the abilities to execute the responsibilities of leadership.
I encourage you to read the entirety of Isaiah Chapter 40. The author paints a very vivid picture of the vastness and greatness of our God that we submit ourselves to.: - A God that created the universe effortlessly (v. 26) - Who is infinitely wise (v. 13-14) - Who is completely sovereign (v 15, 17) - Who is worthy of more worship than we are able to give (v.16) - Who is incomparable (v 18-20) - One who is enthroned above the circle of the earth (v. 22-24) Yes, we may have had a week; But lift up your eyes and understand Who exactly is seated on the throne. And know that that same God, someone say “Same God”, is in relationship with you. Now, why would that God allow your foot to slip? Psalm 121:3 “He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.” Even in the midst of chaos and confusion - - tyranny and turmoil - - The Lord neither slumbers or sleeps. Isaiah 40:28, “He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom” See “The trouble with experiencing so much turmoil in such a compressed amount of time is not that God is inadequate to meet the need; it would be that we would forget who He is and what He’s like.” And that’s when Isaiah 40:25- 31 comes in to remind us of Who He is and what He’s like - - a Public Service Announcement, “Allow me to Reintroduce myself…. MY Name is YHWH (ha shem).” Dropping bars mixed with Hebrew. Nerd life.
From the text in Verse 25, “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.” But it’s not enough that He is all powerful and contains all majesty. He is generous he is giving, Verse 29 - 31 “29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
“ So in times when you feel weak and weary, when you are tired and feel like you can’t go only you can call out to God and He has promised to strengthen you. Provide you with Strength for the Journey And Peace for your Mind. So in closing I bring you back to the original Popeye cartoon. When Popeye got frustrated and felt weak and he reach out for his spinach. I say to you “Don’t eat your spinach; Call out to God!” And allow Him to do what’s He’s promised. Amen.