January 2, 2011

Follow Up from This Morning

I am home from church, and I am sitting here in AWE of my GOD.  Our service was inspired worship with great preaching and a reflective time of communion.  God is so good, and this morning was a time to focus on Him and His Story. 

This morning's message was titled, "Remember," and it was a call to God's people to remember four things:
  • Who God is
  • What God has done in our life
  • What God has promised us
  • What God has told us to do
The reference verse was Joshua 1:1-9 NKJV:

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Throughout the OT, God calls His people to remember these four things.  Christians are told to remember the promises of God, to recall His faithfulness, and to remind others, especially our children, of our God.  We are a needy and forgetful people, often thinking that God doesn't care for us, or that He isn't interested in our welfare.  Scripture tells us the exact opposite and gives us example after example of God's faithful love for us.

As I sat in church, I was struck by two things:  first off, that this message in particular was another example of the truth of God's Word upon my life; and second, that what I was hearing was testimony not just personal to me, but rather it was a corporate witness that what I am experiencing is NORMAL.  I took away the following understanding that God helps us remember who He is, what He has done for us, what He has promised us, and what He has told us to do through writing.  We have His written WORD, but also He asks us to write down what He says to us specifically so that we will remember His Words to us.  In the OT, the Israelites were told to set up piles of stones as marks of rememberance, to remind them in years to come of a particular faithful act of God.  Likewise, God often uses touchstones as memorials for us, ways for us to remember His faithfulness in our lives.  My blog, in which I pour out my feelings and understanding of God's work in my life serves the exact same purpose.  I am often reminded by the Holy Spirit of God to go back and re-read posts I have written, to recall something God said to me or some understanding I gained through study of the Word.  This process enables us to transform our experiences into meaning or rather to take what we experience and gain insight and understanding from them.  In short, God uses this method to help us remember Him and His Story.

Moreover, as we recall God's faithfulness, we are also centered into the midst of His Story.  We come to acknowledge that we are not the center of God's interest.  Though He loves us deeply, and cares for us -- His ultimate interest is in the redemption of mankind, and the establishment of His Kingdom on Earth.  God is centered on His will for His creation, and everything He does works towards the completion of that goal.  We are part of that goal, whether we are called and now children of God or still among those that are lost.  Nothing is left out, everything and everyone is factored into God's great plan.  Therefore, our role is to participate in His Plan and to work towards His Purpose.

We are called to find our purpose in God's amazing story.  God has work for us to do, each one of us, and individually His Spirit calls and transforms us into useful workers for His Plan.  Our goal is to get into that plan as quickly as possible.  For some people, understanding that they are apart of God's story seems to take a life time (this was the case with me).  For others, they grasp their role, but struggle to identify their particular gifts and talents.  They often spend years wasting time pursuing other opportunities instead of the work the Lord has designed them to do (me as well). 

God has a specific plan for each one of His children.  We are all to work together, in unity and harmony, and through cooperation with His Holy Spirit, we can accomplish God's will for His world as well as our individual lives.  The key is being willing to do His work, and not being so consumed with our own agendas.  The sooner we cooperate with His Holy Spirit, the more able He is to begin that transformational work in our lives.  God wants to transform us, but we simply want a "get out of jail" free card.  We don't want to go to Hell, but we want to keep our own way and do our own thing.  No penalty box, no punishment, no marks against us.  We just want to be left alone.  The kicker is that our being alone, and our doing our own thing is what got us into the mess in the first place.  God is not in the business of rescuing His children JUST to allow them to do the same thing over and over again (I know it seems that way, but God doesn't do that kind of work.  That is just man's attempt at looking good -- God's way always WORKS THE FIRST TIME OUT.)

How I wish more Christians would recognize that they are not the center of the Universe, and that while Christ died to save them from their sins, He did so at a great price -- the price of His Glory in Heaven.  He gave up everything for a reason, and that reason is to redeem all of mankind from the falleness of sin.  God didn't just save one person or a handful of people, but He made it possible for all men to be saved.  Not all men will be saved, but the reality is that Christ died for everyone past, present and future.  The gift is eternal life, and it is open to all who will receive it.  The cost is free.  The string attached is a life that is transformed by the power and presence of God, and a life made whole and useful to Him and His Work.  You cannot have it both ways -- the free gift of Grace and the ability to continue in sin.  You either are saved or you are not, and you are either being transformed or you are not.  If you think you are saved but you are walking to your own tune, living a defeated life, and generally miserable -- well, dear Sister or Brother, you are not.  True salvation brings in a newness of life that just keeps on getting better every day.  It brings in wholeness and healing, and a changed heart and mind.  It renews you, but it changes you from the old self into something so much better.  You are not a whitewashed tomb (to quote Jesus to the Pharisee's).  You are cleansed from the inside out, and you are changed.  If you have not experienced life changing transformation, then you need to ask the Lord whether or not you are saved.  If not, then ask Him now, and He will save you and you will be changed.  If you are saved, but you are not following His Holy Spirit, then you need to humble your heart and bend your knee and submit to Him as Lord.  Your life will soon be put back in order, and you too will be transformed.  My prayer is that you will receive His transforming power into your life today, and that you will not spend another miserable, endless sorrow-filled day on this planet.  Instead, I want for you to experience abundant blessing, and joy that is inexpressible -- all found solely in the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and through faith in His Name.  May God be praised today and forevermore.

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