This passage is about repentance, which is a change of mind that leads to a real change in lifestyle in the direction of God and His will. Repentance is the paintbrush in the hand of him or her who would view life as art…
We too are living in confusing and in many ways perilous times. We need to hear Dr. Niebuhr’s words I think as they relate to the words of Jesus in this passage. We cannot recall in piety and purity. We must take responsibility and engage tangibly in the world from a place of humility and repentance.
Repentance is for today. It is the greatest practical-applicable gift of God.
Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38 NIV84) We’re all called to be the workers in that field. The first step is moral maturity – that’s the preparation – the next step is to orient our thinking in that direction, “I’ve got a place in God’s Army!” We do!
A real angel, a messenger of God, appeared to actual shepherds on the evening God the Son was born. In those days no one would have thought an angel would appear the shepherds in a field. I suspect our images of those shepherds have been largely shaped by Christmas pageants, plays, and shining nativity sets.
Our life is not our own. We are used by God… not using God. Genuine gratitude is the path to real joy, lasting joy! In the midst of trial and pain, suffering and hardship, disappointment and sorrow in this life, hope grows out of shifting from thinking “What do I want out of my life,” to “What does God expect of me and what is He doing in and through my life circumstances, the hills and valleys, all that I’m going through…?”
The foundation of joy and the fountain of purpose is gratitude for the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. My life isn’t about my life. He saved me for Him.
The Congregational Way is a lived way. It is life together. It is covenant community gathered around an open Bible with hearts filled with the Holy Spirit with hands ready to be the hands of Jesus and sandal strapped feet prepared to follow Him wherever He leads.
Don’t doubt that God’s love is greater than your doubts. Faith isn’t a commodity. Faith is a willingness to trust the light of Christ even when the dark clouds of doubt linger. Increasing faith has a direct relationship with decreasing doubts BUT it is far more about a decreasing inclination to stand still. In other words, I’m arguing that faith is a verb defined as willingness to continue to follow Christ in the presence or lack of doubt.
When I am weak, then I am strong. You just saw me telling the children about the Holy Spirit changes our inability to ability. God’s love pours out to us; His presence floods us and fills us. His love is greater than our weakness.
The eternal purpose of God in Christ has always been to redeem His people and to glorify Himself in the process. The Cross wasn’t a make-up surprise plan B. It has always been God’s purpose in Christ to redeem. God’s love is greater than our sin! God’s unmerited favor is available in Christ!
Pastor Chris Surber leading the ordination ceremony for Rev. Res Spears at Liberty Spring Christian Church, Sunday August 19, 2018. Pastor Gene Prim and Deacons of LSCC and congregation affirming the call of God upon his families life.
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:19-25 NIV84)