The Need to Spend Time with God
“The Need to Spend Time with God”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Last Sunday of Epiphany
February 7, 2016
Readings: Exodus 34:29-35, Psalm 99
1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13
This is the last Sunday of Epiphany. We are reminded that we are not alone in this journey through life. God is with us. His presence in our lives gives us hope and peace.
The Psalm reading gives us an understanding of how great God is. He reigns! Sometimes when we are confronted with what’s happening in the world around us, we become fearful. But Psalms 99 and 93 resound with the truth that the Lord reigns! “He is clothed with majesty; the Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength. Indeed the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting.” (Psalm 93:1-2) Let us not put our confidence in man or in anything else because man is weak, and the other things will fail. Our confidence should be firmly placed in God. He is clothed in strength; He will rule for all eternity. There is no greater power. “He is enthroned above the cherubim….He is exalted above all the peoples….Holy is He.” (Psalm 99:1-3) The Lord loves justice. “The strength of the King loves justice; You have established equity….” (Psalm 99:4) Such is the greatness of our God that we should worship at His footstool.
The world seeks to elect a person who will bring the nations to prosperity, but men are weak; their lives don’t inspire confidence. It is only God who doesn’t fail. Even if we fail, He will not abandon us. He is committed to us, to lift us up from our failures. He sent His Son to take upon Himself the punishment for our rebellion. This is why we have hope for today and tomorrow. We should view life with confidence and hope. Maybe the sun isn’t shining today but we know that tomorrow it will. So we end the season of Epiphany with hope, looking to the God that we serve who is unfailing and mighty in strength.
The Old Testament reading gives us an account of how Moses led Israel out of Egypt. In the wilderness, the Israelites gave Moses a hard time. God summoned Moses to the mountain to give him the law. The second time he went to the mountain, God asked Him to write down the law on two stone tablets. In accordance with the Lord’s words in the Ten Commandments, He made a covenant with Israel. Moses stayed with the Lord forty days and forty nights and during all that time, he did not eat nor drink. Most of us have a hard time fasting even for just a meal! We carry a water bottle with us everywhere because we fear that without water, we will pass out. Moses survived forty days without food and water. I was reminded of what Jesus said to his disciples: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me”. His strength came from doing the will of His Father. Medical science tells us that it’s impossible to survive forty days without food and water, but Moses did it. This is a pattern for us to follow for Lent – we set aside everything else so we can focus on God. When we spend time with God, life will change because we will change; our attitude toward life will change. For Moses, it was his face that visibly changed; it shone such that when he came down the mountain, the people were afraid of him. He had to put a veil over his face when he talked to them. Being present with God, spending time with Him will be manifested in our lives.
This Lent, we are challenged to set aside the things that distract us so we can spend time with God. Starting on Ash Wednesday and all throughout Lent, we need to give God time to speak to us. I have prepared Scriptures for our meditation during Lent. I ask you to spend 15 minutes everyday meditating on them.
Our lives will be so much better when we do what God commands us to do. Several years ago, we changed the curriculum of the Academy (the school being ran by the Church) to focus on the fact that God created everything. This fact should be our guideline for life. When we spend time with God, we get a better understanding of Him, His nature, His love for us and His plan for our lives.
From 1 Corinthians 12-13, we know that God established order in the Church. We read this in Nehemiah. He set the order, called the people and read the law to them. This brought security to the people and order to their lives. With the order should come a change in our lives. In the New Testament, we read that the evidence of our Christianity is our love. This means that we don’t allow the worries of life put us down because we trust God to take care of us. For Moses, the evidence of God’s presence in his life was his shining face. For us today, it is our love – for God and for one another.
In the Gospel, Jesus took Peter, James and John to the mountain to pray eight days after imparting very important truths and instructions to them. In the Old Testament, circumcision comes eight days after birth, a symbol of commitment to God’s Kingdom. In the New Testament, the Resurrection took place on the eighth day. In the Resurrection, Christ brought us new life. These events have tremendous meaning for us: circumcision on the eighth day in the Old Testament and the Resurrection on the eighth day in the New Testament. These events are covenants of God with man.
In the Gospel, the disciples fell asleep while Jesus was praying (like some of us in church who fall asleep during the homily). When they woke up, they saw Moses and Elijah talking to the Lord and they couldn’t grasp the significance of what they were witnessing. They were awed by what they saw; Christ’s countenance glowed: “….the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming” (Luke 9:29). As Moses and Elijah were leaving, Peter said to Jesus: “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah….” (verse 33). He didn’t know what he was saying. Then a cloud formed and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then God spoke through the clouds, saying: “This is My Son, My Chosen One, listen to Him!” (verse 35). It was the Feast of Booths, a time when God asks the people to separate themselves from all the distractions of life so they can focus on God. They leave their homes and build tents to live in.
For us today, Lent is a time to know God and His love for us. The most important thing is for us to realize that we need God. He gave us new life – the sign that we have hope; the sign that will make people realize that we’re different. As we come to the season of Lent, we recognize that God is with us. Lent helps us understand what this means so that we won’t be fearful and anxious, no matter what comes into our lives and no matter what we see in the world around us. We know who we are and we are at peace with ourselves.
This is the truth that we should bear in mind: the Lord reigns! We may not experience that everyday but eventually, this truth will manifest itself to us. God is faithful. He is in power and authority. And He will always be with us. Lent is not a time to punish ourselves but a time to focus on God so that we can experience how deeply committed He is to us and how great His love for us is.