April 27, 2014
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Sermon Series on “The Names of God”
Sermon 16 of series-
“The Sacred Names of God: El Roi”
Genesis 21:1-21 The Message Bible
Acts 4:32-35 The Message Bible
Spangler, Ann: Praying the Names of God: A Daily Guide
Let us pray…
God of Jesus Christ, give us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Christ,
so that the eyes of our hearts might be enlightened. Help us to know the hope to which you have called us, the riches of the glorious inheritance in the saints, and the immeasurable greatness of your power at work in us. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(—based on Ephesians 1:17-19, NRSV “Reprinted by permission from The Worship Sourcebook, © 2004, Faith Alive Christian Resources.”)
In the world in which we live there are so many ways we can locate stuff. We have GPS to locate where we are going. There are microchips that we put in or animals so that if they ever get lost they can be found. There are baby monitors so that we can know that our child is safe and sound. We need to know where things and family members are and that they are safe and sound. Sometimes I want to put a GPS in each of the girls’ backpacks when they leave for school. Just to see where they really go each day… But is that all there is to life? Is that all we need to care about? Well…what about those who feel lost and alone? What about those who think that no one cares what happens to them? How can they have hope for tomorrow? Where can they find that feeling of being cared for and safe? Is there something we can do to help them feel that love? Does God really care about them?
Today I would like to talk to you about another name of God…a name that brings hope to those who feel hopeless… This is a name I am fond of and grateful for each day. The Name is El Roi…the God who sees me (or watches over me). The title El Roi reminds us of the God who numbers every hair on our heads and who knows the circumstances of our lives, past, present, and future. Nothing is hidden from him. God has been looking after His creation called human beings for a long time. There are many stories in the bible about God watching over His people. One that I really like is the one about Abram, Sari and Hagar that I read this morning.
Paraphrase the story of Abram, Sari, and Hagar… before Sarah became pregnant and she banished Hagar. God watched over both women. Hagar in the desert twice and remembered Sari.
Ann Spangler states in her book “Praying the Names of God: A Daily Guide”: “Even the most watchful parent has to sleep. But Scripture makes it clear God never slumbers, never looks one way while we head off in another, never misses a millisecond of what is happening on earth. It also assures us God is on the lookout for men and women who are totally committed to him. Why? Because he wants to strengthen their hearts as they serve him. If you are feeling weak in the face of life’s challenges, the best way to grow strong is to strengthen your commitment to Christ. Decide to obey fully, to follow completely, to keep your eyes fastened on him. Let El Roi take pleasure as he watches over you, and you will soon find your heart stronger and your confidence deeper without quite knowing how it happened.” As we trust our ever watchful God we are changed without even realizing we have. It is that natural…it really is that simple…and yes easier said than done.
In Psalm 139 David talks about God knowing everything about him No matter where he went God…El Roi…was there. David’s God is also Hagar’s God and our God too—the all-knowing, all-seeing God keeps his eye on us and watches over us by day and by night. If you have ever been tempted to believe that no one understands you or that no one cares about you, you will have to revise those thoughts in light of the God who revealed himself so faithfully to this desperate slave girl and her son. He is El Roi…our constant companion on our journey of life.
So you may say…Ok Pastor Ruth, this has been a great story for us about God’s provision but is that the end of the story? No it is not the end of the story. As a matter of fact God also provides for us through others…through the church. In the Book of Acts, we hear the story of the first church. Listen to how God used others to provide for His people…
Acts 4:32-35 The Message (MSG)
32-33 The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.
34-35 And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.
God uses others in our lives to look after us and provide for us. El Roi knows who can help us…who can be His messenger…who He can trust to be the voice of God in the wilderness. But…but…God’s ambassadors…you and I…must be willing to be used for and by God. We need to be God’s church…the church on fire for God and His plan. So what does a church like this look like? Well I think I answered that question in the reading from Acts.
- Unanimity of heart and soul→ verse 32 tells us that they shared everything. There were no ego trips…no “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine”. They were all of one mind. Yikes…we have to share and be like minded with people…even those who drive us within our church family? Yes…
- Hearing of great preaching→ OK…I had to say that… The apostles gave great witness…passionate witness…of Jesus Christ. They told the truth and the facts of what they witnessed. Is that something we can do? I don’t know…I think I can do that. Just tell others about my witness of Christ in my life and the lives of others.
- Reception of grace→ God’s grace was upon them all. DO you think God is still in the habit of pouring out His grace on the faithful? Well…I think so. I have seen the grace of God fall upon this room many times. I have heard stories of God’s grace in life of people of this church.
- Love of fellow Christians→ They loved their brothers and sisters in Christ so much that they “sold the farm” so that the proceeds could be given to everyone. It was all shared. None had more or less but all was equal. I can’t believe that there are some churches that have been graced by large amounts of money and they don’t share with those in need and keep it for their rainy day. Well…it may not be their rainy day but it’s someone’s rainy day and we should do what we can, with what we can, to help all we can…
El Roi loves us no matter what. He sees all that we may go through in life and goes with us. He sees us worrying about our future and yet our future us un His hands if we would trust. He has numbered and knows ever hair your head. We never go alone. El Roi goes right along with us even though we may not feel Him, He is there. He wants us to be His image in the world. He wants to us not only to supply for the needs of others but to be His face of love. He wants us not only to be His ambassadors but to be the very voice calling out in the darkness of a world full of anguish and fear, worry and depression, loneliness and grief. How will you answer His call? Will you believe in the ever present source of all goodness or will you choose to believe the siren song of the world? We have choices to make. Maybe…just maybe we can be the church that once was. Maybe, just maybe we can be the voice of compassion and love. Perhaps this really isn’t the end of the story but the beginning of the journey with our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps maybe…you fill in the blank…
Let us pray… (Pray to El Roi)
Lord, I praise you for you know the whole story. From beginning to end, you see it all. Give me the humility to admit my limitations. For I don’t always see the past accurately, my vision of the present is often blurred, and I am blind when it comes to the future. Help me fasten my eyes on you, trusting in your vision for my life and in your watchful care. Help us to be your presence in the world in which we live. Embolden us with the Gospel of Christ so that we may share with the passion of the first Pentecost believers. May we trust you more as we step out in faith and give you more of who we are. AMEN!