I am guessing most of you have experienced that at one time or another. Maybe you even need to confess that you have been the one that was counted on, only to leave someone else hanging because something else came up or you had another option that you preferred. The world largely functions because people follow through on their commitments and obligations.
We count on this in business, where contracts are upheld, and orders are fulfilled for the agreed upon price. We count on our kids being picked up by the bus at the scheduled time and we expect the teacher that is being paid to show up to deliver the goods of educating our children. We expect the roads to be plowed and traffic lights to be in working order because that is the commitment our government makes since we paid our taxes. I expect that when people commit to serve in many different ways at Oak Hill they will mark their calendar and make it a priority in their schedule.
Life is so much more enjoyable when everyone we are counting on follows through and we can rest in their commitments. Last minute cancellations or not following through puts a strain on my peace of mind. I am continually amazed with the number of people in our Oak Hill family that step-up year after year to give their time, energy and resources to serve in so many ways.
As good as things are here at Oak Hill there are times when we fail each other. There are times when we don’t step up or remember to do what we committed to a while back. Aren’t you thankful that this never, ever happens with our God? God is unchanging and completely dependable every single time. This Sunday we will see in Galatians 3 that God has always been a promise keeping God. We are rescued with an ancient promise that was fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
God spoke a promise to Abraham that “all the nations will be blessed through you” way back in Genesis 12. The Chosen People of Israel were God’s chosen way to bring about the Savior of the entire world, not just Israel. All the Old Testament prophecies and the sacrificial system were ultimately put in place to drive us to the work of Jesus - the long awaited promised ONE. He is the great deliverer. All of God’s promises are accomplished in Jesus.
And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
Faith placed in Christ can bring peace and joy. God’s promised grace and mercy brings us to His powerful judgment seat with confidence that we are in God’s family, just like Abraham. We become full participants in the inheritance. We have our place at the family table because God chose to pour his love out on us. He promised, and we take Him at His Word with complete confidence.
Rejoicing in our Promise Keeping God
It was a late night, actually it was a very early morning, when I was driving north on 35W to my apartment in Roseville. I was just south of Minneapolis when things went wrong. The front driver side tire blew, but thankfully I made it safely to the shoulder to deal with this huge inconvenience. I was bummed and tired, but it wasn’t the first time I needed to change a tire.
I took the spare and jack out of the trunk and began the process I needed to go through to complete my journey home. I was thankful that all the necessary parts were in the right places. I positioned the jack to lift the front end while listening to the occasional car flying by in the middle of the night. Now it was time for the lug wrench and my muscles to remove the useless tire before I jacked the car off the ground. Here is where things went haywire.
I am pretty sure that the tire had not been changed or balanced since 1972 and it was 1987. If you know anything about changing tires you know that I am trying to tell you that the tire was in no mood to be taken off. Rust and time had set in. My quick tire change before I was in bed was a pipe dream.
I was now drenched in sweat from my efforts. I had jumped up and down on that wrench to no avail other than hurting my feet. I hammered on those lug nuts while thinking all sorts of unpleasant blessings I could bestow on this inanimate object. I had also proceeded to yell at the tire, the wrench, my car and passing cars just to vent so my head wouldn’t explode. After six hours, actually about one hour of this I locked my doors and headed toward the McDonald’s on Lake Street to call for help. Remember, cell phones are some future miracle that I could not even comprehend would ever exist.
efforts. I had jumped up and down on that wrench to no avail other than hurting my feet. I hammered on those lug nuts while thinking all sorts of unpleasant blessings I could bestow on this inanimate object. I had also proceeded to yell at the tire, the wrench, my car and passing cars just to vent so my head wouldn’t explode. After six hours, actually about one hour of this I locked my doors and headed toward the McDonald’s on Lake Street to call for help. Remember, cell phones are some future miracle that I could not even comprehend would ever exist.
My dad was deep in sleep, but as I expected he soon made his way to my location to rescue his son. He greeted me and we headed toward my evil car that had brought out so many creative sinful expressions just an hour before. I hoped my father would use some magical leverage technique he had learned in the Marine Corps. Instead, he took a can from the back of his truck. and told me to just wait in his truck. He came back in and we ate some of mom’s chocolate chip cookies he had brought with him.
After about 20 minutes we went out. He had me crank on the lug nuts and with a reasonable amount of effort the tire came right off. Dad had introduced me to the magic of Liquid Wrench. I now always have a can or two around.
Here is the deal. My muscles didn’t get stronger with the arrival of my father. The wrench didn’t click into a new gear. I didn’t all of a sudden produce a brilliant idea that popped that tire right off. I was simply rescued by a gift outside myself. I was rescued through Liquid Wrench doing what it does.
God brings faith to us as a gift. We believe and trust with this faith. Then we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The faith isn’t what saves us. But faith does its thing and through it—Jesus rescues us. Paul describes this in his letter to the Galatians and we will be looking at it this Sunday during our worship service.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2.20
See you Sunday
The reason I point this out is to lead us to our theme for Sunday’s message – Rescued! The nature of this glorious word is that we are rescued from something… to something else. Our minds naturally think in these terms whenever we hear the word rescue. We immediately picture in our minds situations such as being rescued from being lost to found, from a raging river to dry land, or rescued from the ravages of war to a place of peace. That makes perfect sense, right?
In the most important sense, which is the eternal things of God, we have been rescued. We understand this to mean that we have been rescued from sin and death, to purity and life. This is the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ – We are rescued from the power of the Evil One, to the Kingdom of Grace and Truth. I am fairly confident that if you have been hanging around Oak Hill very long you have heard this type of talk quite a bit.
But today I want you to think of the places you need to be rescued from that you may not have thought of before such as complacency or selfishness or bitterness. I want you to understand that these are the places in our lives where we will continue to miss out on the gifts of God. It is in these places of our lives we will end up empty or anxious or alone. We will also find that these places tend to overflow and invade other areas of our lives as well. What are they for you? Your Great Rescuer is at the doors waiting to enter and bring you to a new place in God’s Kingdom.
I experienced this reality last night with Barb. I came home with all kinds of “burdens” and “stresses” and “problems”. The quotation marks represent an incorrect perspective on my part. I walked in the door and proceeded to remove all the joy and peace from our living room. What a blessing I can be at times – YIKES, it is embarrassing to admit. Barb proceeded to point out that I need to be “rescued” although she didn’t really use that word. I love her so very much!
I will keep you from all the details, but she was so correct. She pointed out I needed to be rescued from my negative and overwhelmed perspective, to a perspective of opportunity and balance. I was over-reacting because I was overreaching my abilities and responsibilities. I needed to be rescued from carrying burdens and problems, to trusting in God and being connected to the gifts of others.
Jesus tells us, “I came that you might have life – a full and overflowing life.” For us to experience that we are invited, even commanded for our own good, to be open to the Spirit’s leading [sometimes it comes through people like Barb]. Be honest with God. Be open to His truth and find life! Be Rescued!
So Good to be Rescued,
Pastor Nick Mundis