The Promise of God Fulfilled in His Presence

When Our Lord spoke these words from the Prophet Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," He declared, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Today God reminds us that everything we have hoped for from God, has been fulfilled in His presence.

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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.

I can't help but think that today being Labor Day weekend and a full church, I can't help but think that part of the reason there are so many of us today is because on the other side of Florida there's a storm, just a couple of days ago was headed straight for us. But by God's grace, through the intercessions of Saint Nicholas, of course as always, it seems as though the storm is going to turn and not just turn but stay completely out to sea. Now, of course that's good news for us, but good news for us always is not so good news for someone else where the storm is headed. As I saw last evening, it's going to hit pretty hard in The Bahamas.

So even though we are here this morning thankful for the protection of Saint Nicholas and thankful that God has sent the hurricane away from us, we must remain fervent in our prayers for those other people in the world who are facing storms, not just this hurricane, and this is a big hurricane, but other storms in life. So I'm thankful to almighty God that we gather this morning in our case to give thanks and also to pray for those who still have to face the storm because as storms go, it could still go one way or another. We're not 100% sure.

But this morning's gospel also gives us my brothers and sisters hope. Hope because in this morning's gospel today, being the first day of the year, new ecclesiastical year, it reminds us of when Christ entered the temple and he proclaimed the acceptable year of the Lord. Christ reminded them and he's reminding us that ever since the beginning of time, ever since the beginning of creation, ever since our ancestors walked in the garden of Eden, God had prepared to come visit his people.

So for many centuries, the people were waiting and hoping for God to come. So as he declared in this morning's gospel, when he went and read from the prophecy of Isaiah, he said, "Today these words have been fulfilled," and he reminded the people that all those things they had hoped for in that very moment of his presence, in his coming to his people, everything they had ever hoped for from God had come true in his person. So I ask you, when it comes to God and it comes to our life, what are the things that we have hoped for? What are the things that we live our life day in and day out, when we're asleep, when we're at work, when we're working in the yard, what are the things that we hope for from God?

Because today they are fulfilled in his presence, because today God reminds us that from the beginning of time he was going to come and save us. So whether a storm comes barreling down our way or not, whether we find ourselves in floods or winds, God is here for us and God will always be here for us because he loves us. Listen, this is from Isaiah. These are the words that Christ spoke on that day, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind and to set at liberty those who are oppressed."

My brothers and sisters, we are poor, not financially, in fact, some people think that the Greek Orthodox Church in America is the richest poor church in the world because we always complain about not having money, but we always find it when we need it. But we are poor my brothers and sisters, because we need God and we are lacking him in our life. He has come to bring hope and the good news to the poor, to heal the broken hearted. All of us know the wounds of a broken heart. God has come to heal that broken heart.

To bring release to the captives, and this is something my brothers and sisters, we don't even fully appreciate just how captive we are to the world. The amount of energy we spend, the amount of thought that we put in to sustaining all of the things around us, our homes, our businesses, our way of life. We're consumed by it. We are held captive by the world and yet today Christ has come to release us from captivity, to free us from the bondage of the world. We don't have to be bound to the earth any longer because we have Christ.

Finally, to free the oppressed. The devil continues to hold us down with his thumb. A couple of weeks ago, I was blessed to attend a conference on domestic violence down in the southern part of the county and it was eye opening for me just how prevalent in our society oppression is. I'm not just speaking about the things that we can see in the news, but the oppression that quietly goes on in our homes where we feel we are not free to speak the truth. The oppression where we are held down by someone or something or some presence, God has come to free us from that oppression, to free us from being under the devil's thumb.

The rest is up to us, if we take God up on his offer, if we allow him to free us, we have to allow God to set us free. We have to be willing to let go of the temptations and the joy, the gifts of the world. God's not going to force us away. Beautifully enough, when the storm comes, we remind ourselves we have more important things in our life. So today we give thanks not just for the storm being sent out to sea, but we give thanks to God that he has set us free from the oppression of the world, so that we could bring the good news to others. Our job, my brothers and sisters is not just to take the joy of God and keep it to ourselves, but to bring it to others. Not just Greeks, not just the people in Tarpon Springs, but our job is to bring the hope of this freeing from God to every one that we encounter and everyone who hears our voice.

That is that beautiful opportunity we have today on the first day of the year as our Lord says, an acceptable year of the Lord. So I invite you, I challenge you today, declare this year in your life the acceptable year of the Lord. Make this the year that you allow yourself to be freed by the world for God's sake. Make this be the year that you spread the gospel to the poor, that you bring the hope to the oppressed and that you free those are held captive. That is our great opportunity and our great obligation all for the glory of God. Happy new year. May this continue a blessed journey of our life in Christ together for his glory. Glory to God. For all things.

Be Transfigured is a production of Be Transfigured Ministries in cooperation with the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida. We depend upon your generosity to maintain our ministry. You can make a safe online donation when you visit our website,