This morning I got up and counted on some important things to happen. I expected the sun to come up in the east and it did. I breathed in to fill my lungs with air and it worked just fine. I walked out the door taking for granted that gravity would keep me from floating away into space and it kept me grounded perfectly. I could list a number of assumptions that I count on as universal realities. Without these things I depend upon so naturally, the complexities of my life would be exponentially amplified or impossible.
I am sure it will come as no surprise to you that the reason I count on the things I listed above is quite simple. It is because I am one of the created and not the creator. I do not need to keep the world perfectly in it’s necessary orbit or balance the oxygen level in North America. I am unable to keep the moon in the right place or adjust the temperature of the sun, so I don’t freeze to death. I simply believe the absolute truth of Genesis 1:1.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
This Sunday we are going to consider our call to value God’s Truth. We believe that the Bible is God’s perfect revelation of the truth we need to walk with our God and live in this world today. At Oak Hill we proclaim that God’s truth is good and absolute through all ages for all people everywhere. This belief delivers to us a sense of confidence and security. It also sets us in direct opposition in some ways to those who do not believe this. Don’t be surprised or filled with fear. This dilemma has existed in every generation since Adam and Eve.
There is an invitation/command for us is to bring rescue and restoration to those around us because that is what came to us through the ultimate truth of Jesus. He comes to us in perfect holiness and love. The Christ comes to us with grace, mercy and forgiveness which we desperately need. But He also comes declaring He is the King of our lives with the right to rule with absolute authority.
The purpose of the Church in the world today is to enjoy God and His many good gifts. We are to live life together as a loving and worshipping community. As we do this we are expected to bring God’s Truth into a world of relativism and insecurity. In a world chasing after significance and identity; we get to bring them the absolutely perfect truth of God’s rule and reign over humanity. Not everyone wants this news, but some do, and we get to be a part of bringing them what they need whether they know it or not.
God declared to Moses and Joshua that He would give them the perfect instructions and His perfect presence as they moved Israel toward the Promised Land. He delivers the same eternal truth to Oak Hill Church today as He leads us today!
8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
In God’s Truth,
I don’t have the natural patience that is necessary in hobbies that involve restoring things. I tend to not appreciate all the prep work that goes with making something look like new again. This has often resulted in me needing to redo things since I didn’t do the task right the first time. For instance, Barb is a far superior painter than me not necessarily because she literally does the painting better than me; she just does the taping, roller and brush prep and drop cloth work the way it is supposed to be done. When Barb is finished – the room is restored. When I finish – the room needs lots of clean up and touch up. I love my wife!
This Sunday we are going to see what God’s Word has to say to us regarding restoration. Paul wants us to consider in Galatians 6 how we can effectively restore others spiritually. I believe there are similar traits needed do any type of restoration whether it be old cars, furniture or people. The letter to the Galatians describes it this way in the first verse of chapter 6:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.
Paul goes on to describe some of the potential problems we may encounter as we engage in bringing about the restoration of people, but I want to just focus for a moment on this first verse. Time and time again in the Bible God is described as gentle and mighty. One attribute does not cancel out the other. Our God can do this naturally – I cannot. He will need to keep me in line!
On my own I will quite easily ignore the difficulty and complexity of sin or on the other side - I will lack gentleness, therefore coming across as just disappointed or frustrated. This problem of mine can either drive me to humble dependence upon God’s perfect ways or choosing to just “restore” in my very limited and ineffective capacities. God’s wisdom and power to do this correctly is available to all of us. But do we want it?
If we want to be shaped by God into an effective restorer of humanity we first need to be amazed by the patience of God that rescued and restored us back into the family of God. For us to properly represent our God in restoration we will simply reflect humbly the grace and truth that has come to us that brought our freedom! This is not a natural ability we can drum up on our own – this is fruit of the spirit that dwells in the hearts of followers of Jesus. As we walk with Jesus we will join Him in His restoration project – we serve as His helpers.
Rescued and Restored,
I am quite thankful that I have never served time in an actual prison. I have never been in jail or incarcerated in any way by our penal system. There is no pride in that statement; just a sense of gratitude that I grew up being taught not only “the rules” but in a stable and affirming home that kept me from chasing after things that would ultimately hurt me. Whenever I drive by prisons I am overwhelmed with a sense of sadness and I pray for the people locked behind the walls.
This Sunday in our worship service I will be talking about “Freedom in Christ.” This is a theme that has personally transformed my life. The truth of the matter is that there are many people that have never been physically imprisoned that are holistically far more lacking in freedom than some of the people that will be behind bars for the rest of their lives.
Therefore, it is so vitally important to understand our need for true freedom and how pervasive being imprisoned is for each of us. This aspect of our world’s brokenness bumps up against the reality of how many lives are lived out in “quiet desperation” or chasing the next thing. The next thing could be a million different things, ranging from our addictions, to our personal struggles, to being abused or abusing others, to….
Do you need to be rescued from some prison? The answer is yes for each of us. We all need to be rescued from the power of sin and death. That is why Jesus came. You have heard me say that many times if you have regularly attended Oak Hill’s worship services, but I want you to understand today the comprehensiveness of Jesus’ rescue mission and our prison break.
It took a long time for me to realize how many prisons I have chosen for myself over the years. Some of them were obvious to me even at the time. Others, such as my addiction for control and security came to light later in life. Now, I have no doubt that some of you would disagree that this is truly a prison from which I needed to be rescued if I were to describe this to you. But I am absolutely assured that my “do all you can and get everything in order” attitude has many times masked my lack of faith or trust in God. I worshipped or exalted myself by claiming the need to worry and be anxious. I claimed God’s role in my life as my own. OUCH!!
We need to be rescued from prisons of fear and bitterness, from prisons of pride and an empty existence. We need God’s Word and Spirit to reveal that many of the “trappings” of our culture are not just little inconveniences or habits, but they are full-blown prisons that can drain us of freedom and life. We can be locked up in a prison discontent whether we have a lot or a little, whether we have a good job or no job, whether we have a large house or a studio apartment.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Free in Christ,
Pastor Nick Mundis