Pay It Forward

Did you know that you were formed for God’s pleasure? This begs the question of what is the purpose of humanity if it is not to live fully yielded unto God? For we were created for community with the divine creator, who has formed us in our mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13) We are His handiwork, fashioned at His workbench that we would go and do good, (Ephesians 2:10) that our lives would bear fruit that remains. (John 15:16) Our chief end is to bear much fruit that our lives would glorify God, and that others would see our good deeds and praise Him. (John 15:8) Understand, life was never about us, our wants and desires, it was, is, and always will be about Him, Jesus, what the Lord was doing, that is why it is called His-Story. 

To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever, this is the promise of our future glory. Tell me again what did the elders see that made them fall down upon their faces. What did the angels see that made them cry Holy, as they worshiped the eternal King? I want to know Revelation 4:10-11~ the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will, they were created and have their being. (NIV)

Have you seen how worthy God is, The value of new life in Christ? God has formed us for his pleasure, that we would ever be with him. Jesus even reminds us that we are not orphans. John 14:18~I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (NIV) We must grasp that the life we now live is for Christ. Galatians 2:20~I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV) 

That is why Paul reminds us along his Roman road in Romans 3:23~ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NIV) We have all sinned, falling woefully short, and it is our sin that keeps us from that blessed union with God. Listen to the simple and yet profound words of ~Ellis Crum~ He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away; And now I sing a brand new song, “Amazing Grace” Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.

Romans 5:12~Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned—(NIV) The act of pursuing God requires our recognition and response to the fact that our lives have been fashioned and formed for God’s pleasure.

So, what is it that God has been asking you to do over the last number of days? Maybe you said that you would get around to it when you had time, or that if you ran into them again or even remembered them you would reach out. Well, today, my friend is that special day. Today, we want to respond to God and do what He has already placed in our hearts to do. Let’s not waste another moment, let’s send the text, make the call, carve out time for the thing that God has laid on our heart. This is the day to minister as God has called you to. Pay the grace of Christ forward into someone else’s life today.

Made For

I’ll take Pop Culture—For Eternity. Sounds like a game show, right? Alex, I’ll take Pop Culture for $200, oh my goodness it’s a daily double. So, are you a reality TV fan? I know at Mt Gallant we have some who have confessed to watching Live PD, looking for their own family members to be on the show. I think that they are secretly hoping to see that pink moo-moo which was given to one of the cousins last Christmas or to hear the profound insight and wisdom of family say something like, we could’ve been killed or even worse! I am really not sure what is worse. I mean are we talking a criminal minds episode or something. Raise your hands if this is you. I thought so. In church culture, we have had many powerful statements that seek to help us focus or to embolden us to enter into the presence of God. 

Like rally cries, these statements circulate through the community and often take on a form of Christian Pop Culture. Some require a thought while others seem so cheesy. Yet, at their core, they all take aim at helping us to grow closer to God. How many of you have heard of the B.I.B.L.E. Yes, it is in fact the book for you, for us all, and it is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Then there is Sheldon’s WWJD. In fact, it’s a good question, that’s then followed by poor theology. What would Jesus do? In Puzo’s own words, He’d leave the gun and take the cannoli. Perhaps you’re a child of the ’70s and ’80s when Oliver Wendell Holmes penned the words, So heavenly minded, no earthly good. 

Though written more than 150 years ago, they still solicit an important question. What is the act of your pursuit? Are you seeking after Jesus? There are a plethora of others whose hope is to nudge us ever closer to Christ. There is one which still stands, though many centuries have passed. It is the words of ~St. Augustine Bishop of Hippo~ Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. It simply states that God made us for himself. In Christ alone can we find that which truly satisfies. For each of us holds within us a vacuum that only God can fill. It took a mathematician to work the equation of self, only to discover a God-shaped vacuum. ~Blaise Pascal~ There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ. 

My appeal is for those previously taught in secret, by the wisdom of God whose thirsty heart longs to be awakened again by God’s touch deep within them. Yes, to fan the flame. Listen as Paul reminds his young protege in his second letter. 2 Timothy 1:6~For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, (ESV) Inside of each person is a deep desire to know and be known by God. You and I were not created for the pop culture of our world, we were created for an eternal God. Yes, the creator didn’t just make you and forget about you. Instead, He called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

Today, I want you to walk in the light and take time in the moments that God gives to you to help others who may be adjusting to the light of Jesus Christ. As you share your faith and allow His joy to flow through you, you may notice this in the quizzical looks you get or in a question that is shared. Be sensitive to listen to the Lord as He opens doors up for you to share your faith with others. Remember, you and I were created for this task.

Jesus is Lord

Over the last few weeks, we have been in an ongoing dialogue that centered on worship. What it is and how God set it up for the Israelites in the Old Testament as an object lesson of the process. Offering us a glimpse inside of His throne room in heaven. Last week we began a new discussion on this same topic only we came at it from the vantage point of being Redeemed in Jesus Christ. 

This week, we continue that discussion by pursuing God as we look at what it means to pursue God and some things that can inhibit or stand in our way of removing the veil. Most of you will no doubt remember that there was a veil of separation in the Tabernacle, between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place. Because of what Jesus did by dying on the cross for our us, to remove our sin, saying it is finished, (John 19:30) God then simultaneously tore the veil, thus removing all obstacles or hindrances, giving us complete access to Him. (Matthew 27:51)

As we continue forward, I want to keep our focus for this week in front of us. So, our pericope that we are hanging on the wall of our mind, as the Holy Spirit draws our attention, is found in Hebrews 10:19~Therefore, brothers, and sisters, since we have the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus. (NIV) This is a passage of Jesus Christ being, our perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus has provided us the only way to God. This is an eternal truth.

We hear a lot about truth these days, how it is relative, (I know this is a big ask, but hold on a second) people say no religion or idea can claim exclusivity because something could be true for one person, but not for another. I know my truth, meh. Our culture loves to play fast and loose with the truth. They want to equate the truth to a matter of taste, such as whether or not one person happens to like hot coffee or not. Is coffee only black, or is one able to layer upon sugar, cream, steam, or something that may please one palate but leave another quite sore? 

How about when it comes to ideas? Are ideas relative? If I say, I really like hot coffee, I’m making a claim about a matter of taste and some might say how do you take your coffee. Someone else might not like hot coffee but prefers it cold or iced. But what if I say, with an eyebrow raised, Jesus is Lord? Asking a question, someone else may disagree, and they are welcome to, but when stated as a claim, Jesus is Lord, we are proclaiming a truth. Follow with me for another moment, because I am staking out an area of reality, so to speak, and saying that this bit of information is true, and will always be true.

So, now you ask me what is true. It’s true the Atlanta Braves stink in the postseason. But what do I mean by true? In short, truth is what corresponds to reality. Thus, when we say Jesus is Lord, then he is Lord, so no matter how I respond to the claim. Jesus is and always will be Lord. In addition, I should be tolerant of those who hold to differing beliefs on this point and they should be tolerant of my belief. But tolerance does not mean that everyone is right. Tolerating different points of view does not mean that we give up our own truth claims. Jesus was, is, and always will be Lord, whether you, or I, or others want to accept that truth. 

Today, you are going to chat with someone who may be struggling with making Jesus the Lord of their life. I want you to remind them, that our world exists because He created it. (John 1:1) Tell them they have a life that God has planned for them (Jeremiah 29:11-12), and that God wants to help them do good things. (Ephesians 2:10) You ought to encourage them to come to church or to Bible study. That these are safe places to unpack faith, find answers, and grow in God.