Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bit Players in God’s Plan

Eph. 6:11-12:  "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

He is a pastor; he is tired and buffeted on every side.  Some days he is extremely discouraged.  He asks himself, “Is this what I am supposed to be doing?”

In his small town he has stood for truth, became involved in the lives of the down and out in his community.  The turf he is treading upon is in many places the devil’s playground.  The devil works overtime to frustrate and wreck people’s lives.  Some days the pastor wants the easy out, just come back Lord, bring an end to it all.  Come back.

In the meantime, we are to be an occupying army; not only occupying but pushing forth the Kingdom of God.  We get tired, we reflect and realize for all our striving we are but bit players in God’s unfolding plan.  Our job is to be faithful to Jesus and God, the Father.  When living out our life being involved in the lives of others, ministering as it is, brings us into judgment  from professional fence sitters—Christian and non-Christian. 

This pastor has been involved in a drug intervention of a non-member of his church; (he is the pastor’s friend.)  One of his parishioners is a friend of this person and asked for his help. Some people do not like his involvement or his decisions.  That’s the way it is some days when we minister in a broken, fallen world.

We get tired and disgusted when we think the furtherance of God’s kingdom depends on us.  We get tired, wounded and hurt but God brings in the harvest.  We are but bit players in the tapestry of everyday life for a Christian.

Push on Christian; rest in God’s mercy; push on, remember God is in control.  We may not understand all that’s happening but we know the one who changes the seasons and rules the affairs of men.

It’s good to be a bit payer; we need to remind one another often of that fact.  Rest well, Christian.  Come quickly Lord Jesus; come.

Rev. 22: 20 - "He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Crying Time – What kind of tears have you shed?

Jeremiah 50:4-5 -- "In those days, at that time," declares the LORD, "the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God.  They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.”

The prophet Jeremiah talks about seeking the Lord in tears.  Have you shed tears this week?  What kind of tears were they?  Were they tears of joy or tears of sadness?

We shed tears when

·         Our children are born

·         They graduate from high school

·         Our only daughter marries

·         Our son comes home from the war

·         We visit with our war buddy whom we haven’t seen or talked to in forty-one years

·         We hear an old song our mama loved

·         We finally get rain for our dry, dry crops

·         We finally get rain for our dry crops that ends up with hail which destroys everything

·         Our loved ones die and go home to be with Christ

Tears of joy and tears of sadness are intermingled.  It would do us well to be patient in judging events in our lives.  When something adverse happens to us, we shed tears in frustration only to find out in the long term it was for our good.  The tears of frustration become tears of joy. 

May your tears be tears of laughter and joy not sadness.  When they are tears of sadness, be patient until they turn to tears of joy.  The waiting is the hard part; patience is a hard lesson to learn but sometimes we must wait.  Wait for the tears of joy.  We wait for tears to be wiped away.  We wait for the “old order” of things to pass away.  We wait…

Revelation 21:4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Does Truth Matter Anymore?


Jesus was speaking to Jewish believers in John 8:31-32 where he said, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." 

Many times just verse 32 is quoted with no reference to verse 31.  It is important for us to consider verse 31 –“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples…Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free…

We are to obey…then we will know the truth; and the truth will set us free.  Jesus is the truth; He sets us free from the bondage of sin.  Something to think about:  if truth sets us free, do lies lead us into bondage?

Andy Andrews has written a book entitled, “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?”  It is the story of how the Nazi German regime killed 11 million people between 1933 and 1945.  The simple answer to the question is, you tell them a lie.  Yes, brothers and sisters, the truth matters!  What is the problem in America today?  We love telling ourselves lies.  Only one example—we continue to go into debt as a nation at an alarming rate.  We know that we cannot continue to accumulate more and more personal debt and survive; at some time we must pay the piper.  No matter how uncomfortable the truth may be, we must address it.

Any good politician wants a balanced budget but it never happens does it?  I visited with two politicians from different political parties at the Renville County Fair recently and asked them what is on the hearts of the people.  They both said the same thing—people are concerned for the future of our country. 

In closing, I share with you an excerpt from Andy Andrews’ book.   
In at least one German town the railroad tracks ran behind the church.  An eyewitness stated:

"We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because we felt, what could anyone do to stop it?
"Each Sunday morning, we would hear the train whistle blowing in the distance, then the wheels coming over the tracks.  We became disturbed when we heard cries coming from the train as it passed by.  We realized that is was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars!
"Week after week the whistle would blow.  We dreaded to hear the sounds of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp.  Their screams tormented us. 
"We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns.  By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top of our voices.  If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more.

"Years have passed and no one talks about it now, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep.”
Are we, as citizens, concerned for America or are we concerned for the truth?  What is being told to us is this—the Government knows what is best for us.  We want the Government to take care of us.  They can’t. They are lying—look at history. Do we in the church care or will we just sing our hymns louder as our country goes to hell in our presence?           

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Everlasting Grip of God

John 10:25-30 -  Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me,26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.30 I and the Father are one."

These verses are good news for us believers.  Jesus alone gives us eternal life through the work on the cross (verse 28).  The Father gives us, the believers, to Jesus.  God the Father is greater than all.  (Good news for us today.)

Eternal life means we never perish…but…but you say, we all have an appointment at the front of the church whether in a casket or an urn.  Someday, unless Jesus comes back first, we have an appointment with death.

In the meantime, we walk through this life buffeted by the cares and worries of every day existence.  Remember this (verses 29 & 30) “no one can snatch us out of God’s hand” because of God’s everlasting grip.  Remember, no one, no one, no one can snatch us away from God.  And remember, God the Father and God the Son are together on this.  Oh, this is good news for us who believe.

Most of us have some kind of fear of death.  Yesterday, after I finished preaching, a man told me he had died but was brought back to life.  He said, “I saw ‘The Light;’ it was serene, peaceful and good beyond description.”  He said, “Don’t be afraid.”

I close with Question #1 from the Heidelberg Catechism. 
That I am not my own,
but belong– body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. 
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me whole-heartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

Amen.  Thank you Heavenly Father; Thank you Jesus.

*The thrust and idea for this Blog came from Pastor Randy Bloomer of Roseland Reformed Church in Roseland, Minnesota, spoken in part at the funeral of Jeanette Holwerda on September 1, 2012.