In the last two posts, I have mentioned how I’ve been dealing with some spiritual ‘heart’ issues. In the 34 years of Christian ministry, I have found that the Lord does not leave me alone, and He normally walks me through texts that I’m preaching on to get my attention. That has been true over the last several weeks. Some of you have asked me about this. You’ve noticed a sober approach to my preaching that you haven’t seen before or that the sermons seem more personal than usual to me. First, thank you for noticing. I’m grateful for a caring congregation concerned for their pastor and friend. Second, you’re not wrong. This past Sunday, as I read Genesis 15, one of my historical hero’s thoughts ran through my brain: “I do not tremble in the pulpit because of the people I stand before. I tremble because I stand before God’s word and want to represent Him faithfully.” That’s how I’ve felt recently. God has been speaking to my heart. He’s regularly reminded me of His faithfulness and the covenant of grace. He’s been reminding me that the fight of faith is not a fight of ‘feeling’; it’s a fight of faith…seeing, believing, and clinging to the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf. That’s why Sunday was needed for my soul.
One of my desires for Sunday was to teach about the importance of the covenant of grace’s final revelation being THE evidence that God will be faithful to His people. Here’s why this is important: I run into many situations where people question God because of circumstances and current events. The new sexual revolution has created disappointment with God. The political spectrum has caused people to struggle with faith. The financial uncertainties have caused people to be worried if they will have their needs met. Marital battles, family feuds, and international conflicts have all contributed to foundational fears and anxieties that seem to govern our faith.
I’ve heard many Christians get disillusioned by not seeing more miracles, and they believe this is because of the lack of God working in and through His church. This has led many Christians to think that we’re missing something, need something new, or believe that God no longer works in miraculous or supernatural ways. And what happens when these types of things take place is concerning. Some begin to take aim at Jesus’ bride, the Church, and blame her for all of society’s ills, and they say things about the Church that are dangerous and critical. Some have turned to a hyper-spirituality that looks to prophetic visions, angelic visitations, and ‘new’ revelation. And some become cold and apathetic.
This is why the covenant of grace being sealed and delivered to us through Jesus is incredibly important to us as Christians. It’s why Genesis 15 is important. When Abram asked, “How will I know that I will possess the Promised Land?” God gave him a physical, visible, objective sacrifice. This is why Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are important to us. This is why believing in Jesus being the final revelation of God (Hebrews 1) is critically important to our faith.
Current events…will change. Tyranny and wars, many times, are just a matter of dates and changes with who’s in charge. Finances and economies go up and down. Social justice issues are more prevalent in one decade than in another. Conflicts come and go. Revivals come, and they go. Miracles happen at times, and then there are times they don’t. But this fact never changes: God’s covenant of grace with Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection never changes, proving that God will fulfill everything He has promised (2 Corinthians 1:20).
I have been doing this to my soul for the past several weeks. I have been returning over and over again to the covenant of grace revealed in Jesus. If all God ever gave us was forgiveness of sin and a right relationship with him, it would be the greatest gift we would ever receive. So I have said to myself, “Why so downcast, Oh my soul? Put your hope in God!” as declared in Psalms 42 and 43. And I have taken my soul to the cross to prove that I have hope.
So, if you feel like you’re missing something spiritually…could it be Jesus? Could it be the simplicity of the covenant of grace? Return to that hillside outside of Jerusalem, to a hill far away, the old rugged cross, and an empty tomb. At that place, God has said and continually declares, “I have fulfilled my promises here, and this is THE proof that My people will inherit everything I have planned.”
One last thing on this: God is playing the long game, and we’re usually playing the short game. He thinks about time differently than we do. This is why I think it’s very important for Christians to examine how to be faithful to Christ NOW while trusting God to do His work over time. It is not our job to bring about cultural change or restore all things to God’s original plan. It’s our job to be transformed by His gospel, speak the truth about what His word says about life and how He’s designed it, and trust Him to change hearts. Our job is faithfulness, His job is transformation. And that normally takes longer than we want.
This Coming Sunday
This Sunday, May 14th, we will study Genesis 16 and look at Sarai and Abram’s attempt to help God. Just a hint…it didn’t work out very well. Our service will be at 10:00 a.m. at Jacoby Auditorium on the campus of Umpqua Community College.
From the Cheap Seats
- A professional game with a bull rampaging onto the field…it happened. Check this out: https://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/37512827/rampaging-bull-storms-pitch-ahead-super-league-match
- Wait, what?!? How in the world did he catch this: https://www.espn.com/video/clip/_/id/36319187
- Ok, the Champions League Semi-Finals are Tuesday—Man City at Madrid. Madrid is the master of the Champions League, but will Man City finally break through? I hope so.
- Just a thought: The Texas Rangers have scored double digits on 9 of their 33 games to start the year. Now that I’ve said that, they’ll go scoreless against Seattle. And yes, the pun was intended “Scoreless in Seattle.” I sure hope not!
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.
Have a great week!