The First Sermon I Ever Preached. The Text May Surprise You.

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May 29, 2018

Genesis 5:21-24

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years.24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. 

CONSIDER THIS

I remember it like it was yesterday. There I stood in the pulpit of the First United Methodist Church of Dumas, Arkansas, staring out on the faithful saints, many of whom expected that I would one day become the President of the United States. I sat in those pews for twenty-something years, never imagining I would stand in this pulpit to preach the Word of God. My chosen text for the only inaugural address I would ever give was Genesis 5:24

Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. 

I remember being won over by this obscure character who in the midst of mindless genealogical rehearsals gets a massive high-five from God. There’s Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Mathuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Tucked in there between Jared and Mathuselah we meet the man of the hour, Enoch. Of all the people singled out for mention, not to mention the unnamed multitudes, Enoch gets a special commendation.

Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. 

Why this text for my first sermon ever? I can only speculate all these years later.

I think my life to that point had been more about running the world’s race than walking with God. I think I was ready to stop running a race for yet another trophy that would not matter in the end. Honestly, I think those were the days when I stopped running that race and started walking with God. Sure, I called on the name of the Lord before then, but it was more calling on God to bless my plans and help me win my race. Walking with God meant letting go of the never ending resume building quest to make a name for myself. Maybe I got a glimpse of the fleeting nature of life and caught a vision of  the future when I would be no more. I wondered what, if anything, would be said of me, and what word would endure about the life I lived. I knew that I knew Jesus. I think I feared arriving at the end filled with regret about missing the point of my life. Somehow I knew back then the point of my life on earth would only be found by walking with God. I still believe this.

One more observation. Some of you reading may be thinking, “I wish I had discovered this much earlier in my life. How different or how much richer my life might have been. Take heart, Enoch didn’t start walking with God until he was 65 years old.

As said earlier in this series, walking with God means graduating from a life where prayer constitutes the punctuation marks, to a life where prayer is the prose and finally, the poetry. It is to shift from a “prayer life” to a “life of prayer.”

Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. 

I hear you. “Enough of the fluffy language,” you say, “How does one make such a transition?”

It starts by seeing the difference—between a prayer life and a life of prayer; between “calling on the name of the Lord,” and “walking with God.” It grows not by ratcheting up the discipline but by reorienting our desires. In truth, we will walk with God to the extent we desire this more than anything else. I like the way Mother Teresa makes this point. Let’s give her the last word today.

If you do not pray your words will have no power; your life will have no power. Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself.”

P.S. I’m still looking for that sermon. I’ll share it with you when I find it.

THE PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you are right here, right now. I’m weary of trying to grow my prayer life and constantly feeling like I’m not really growing. I am ready to grow by order of magnitude rather than incremental degrees. I want to walk with you. I want this to be the core integrating desire of my life. Lead me. Right here, Jesus. Right now Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. How do you evaluate where you are at this point in your life? Prayer Life or Life of Prayer? (And Prayer Life isn’t bad– mind you).
  2. Who comes to mind in your own life and history as a person who “walked with God?”
  3. What characteristics stand out to you about a person who walks with God?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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