Have you ever missed out on the benefit of something because it seemed either too difficult or insignificant? Maybe you think – “I have enough going on in my life, so I’m not going to put any time into that information, task or activity.” It clearly is beyond me, or maybe I view it as irrelevant. Tragically, this can often be the way Christians look at the prophetic books in general, but especially the last twelve prophetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures.
This Sunday we will be starting a new series entitled, The Other Twelve. We will be spending time looking into the Old Testament books that are often referred to as the Minor Prophets. They are not called minor because they are less significant, but because they are briefer than the letters from the other prophets. We will find out over the next three months that God has always used his prophets to speak needed truth to his people.
Time and time again through Scripture we see the patience, discipline and love of God. He doesn’t hide His truth from us, but we often need a refresher course in it. The prophets come to us time and again to bring us back and to recalibrate our perspective as God’s people. We tend to drift or downright rebel from what is right and we find ourselves attracted to the things that draw us away from God Almighty. The prophets are called by God to deliver a message of correction and redemption. It wasn’t always an easy message and the prophets were often rejected by the very people they came to bless because the people didn’t necessarily want to be corrected. Kind of like me!
This week we will look specifically at the prophet Joel. Technically the first minor prophet is Hosea, but we are going to jump over Hosea since Pastor Ben spoke on that book just a few weeks back. The prophet Joel was given the task of speaking the difficult word of a coming “plague of locusts” and the approaching “Day of the Lord” which is the final judgment. The primary reason he spoke this difficult message was that “even now” God will forgive as you repent. God was and is always calling us to turn from all that opposes His Kingdom to live in His loving care and truth in obedience.
We will also be looking at the exciting reality that when God speaks to us it will always be true. A prophet’s primary calling is to speak the necessary current truth for the day, but at times there is also a future component to the message. In Joel 2 we see the coming “pouring out of the spirit of God” that was fulfilled in Acts 2 as Peter spoke to the newly formed Church of Jesus Christ. Peter quotes Joel’s ancient message as being fulfilled as the message of Jesus was understood by people of all different languages and ethnic backgrounds.
Joel declared in 2.28-29 that all people can be proclaimers of God’s truth when he said,
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”
Time flies when it is a summer of R&R – Rescue and Restoration.
I can’t believe it, but this is the last weekend of our summer series. If you remember we started in the Book of Galatians where we clearly see that we have been personally rescued and restored in Jesus. The first seven messages of our series focused on this work that has happened in all of God’s Children. It is a personal interaction with God. He comes for us and changes our hearts, minds and our identity.
The second section of the series has helped us to understand our roles as people that live in two kingdoms. Our primary allegiance and citizenship are in God’s Kingdom, but we are to operate in this world as His representatives bringing light and life. Each week we went to God’s Word seeking guidance on living fulling engaged in our immediate context but knowing we are “Not of this world…but sent into it” just like Jesus.
My goal for you as you read this little article is for you to understand there was a reason we called this series “Living in the Middle of Rescue and Restoration.” You never outgrow or move beyond this truth. All the days of your life will be about these two “R” words. We are to live out each day with a renewed sense of what God has done for us and then from there to look at the people around us as others that Jesus died on the cross to set free. This perspective will give our days purpose and joy!
This Sunday’s message is entitled “Living the Connection.” We will be considering the source of living our lives like this. We wake up each morning to a perpetual barrage of distractions and temptations to be people of mediocrity, selfishness and even despair. How can we stand up against the current that is trying to sweep us away? The first thing we need to know is that we were never created for neutrality or stagnancy. We are either growing, deepening and living or we are deteriorating and falling into a stupor. Yikes! That sounds a bit dramatic. Well, it’s still true.
The message on Sunday will lead us to the source of true life and “Living the Connection.” It is really quite simple and yet in many ways the most difficult thing to do. It can be summarized with a few simple words that God has spoken repeatedly in the pages of the Bible in many different ways.
“Come closer and follow me!”
From Genesis to Revelation God delivers this message of Rescue and Restoration. He does this because He wants to and because we desperately need what He alone can do for us. We are merely invited to respond in each and every area of our lives through all the days God gives us.
Living in the Middle of R&R,
I am currently reading the book “Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do.” It is not nearly as dull as it sounds. It is actually quite a fascinating and challenging read in many ways. The author, Tom Cable’s, primary objective is to reveal that humanity has a “Seeking System” that always wants to grow and create and expand. I couldn’t agree more even though he believes that this is a result of human evolution; whereas I believe that this is the design of God. The Seeking System is simply how God made us.
Herein lies a great division. On the one side, if we have humanistic tendencies we will be comfortable simply saying, I want a new idea or the opportunity for a creative expression at work. The philosophy of humanism will wrap it up tightly that this is the thing that has “improved” the human race over eons to become the animal we are today. This can ultimately be described as seeking everything but God.
On the other side of this divide would be an acknowledgment of this seeking system but the firm belief that it was planted in us by God, therefore instead of avoiding God - we look to seek everything through God! From this perspective we may see the same discovery as the humanist, but we see the God behind it and the God of it.
For instance, the deeper into the vast expanse of our universe we go or more we understand how the brain works we can either be impressed with our “brand new discovery” or we can be in awe of the Creator God that made us and knows our name. Wouldn’t it really be something if we could know God! Virtually everyone would agree with the previous statement regardless of their philosophical or religious perspective.
The reason for that bent is we were made to find our peace and our place in God Almighty. This is the truth whether we believe it or not. In Acts 17 Paul visits Athens and connects to the locals at their starting point; not where he thinks the starting point should be. Paul sees all their idols and he correctly identifies that they are seeking but not finding. He respectfully and humbly enters their context.
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
This Sunday we will be considering the fact that we are invited by our God to walk with people as they seek. They may be seeking with a “know it all attitude” or through fear or through a million other perspectives, but we ultimately have what they need in the message of Jesus. We can follow in Paul’s footsteps to be ready when the moment arises that they seek “the Unknown God” that we know. One other important component of this connection to others is to be honest enough to admit that even though we know God, we definitely do not know everything about God nor everything about the way He does things.
But we do know what matters most. Our God loves us and wants us to rest in living as His beloved children through grace and truth. What an adventure!
Seeking through God,
I have always had an appreciation for power. Some of the forms that drew my attention when I was a child were superheroes and tractors. As I got older I was still impressed by power, but it moved more in the direction of prestige, position and wealth. I like power tools, power boats and power naps but I dislike when I believe other people are using a power grab to fulfill their power-mongering tendencies. In a nutshell I like power when it works for me and not against me.
As I thought a bit more about my history of appreciating power I became aware of a couple side effects that always seem to be present in one way or another. Those two things are a personal discontentment and a desire to be superior somehow to others. I don’t necessarily mean in a blatantly evil way. Most of the time it manifests itself as simply missing out on the joy God intended for me in just being me or appreciating the many gifts God has given to me to enjoy in the moment. The pursuit of power always wants more!
The human problem with power is as old as time. On my own I will want to build my power base by “leading” and using people. Life becomes one big power play chasing more and more. It is very different in God’s Kingdom – our hearts are changed so that we want to lead others by serving and loving them. Even though the Church is to operate with this complete paradigm shift, it is important we acknowledge that we will often still struggle with a tendency to believe we should build God’s Kingdom through power methods, instead of God’s methods of grace, love and truth.
This Sunday we will be looking into God’s invitation for us to influence our world on His behalf. Each one of us are called by God to follow Jesus into a life of service and significance. There is a pervasive lie in our culture that significance doesn’t come through serving, but through being served. Jesus clearly disagreed with this through his words and His actions, but the dissenting voices of our world are often loud and appealing. Where will you turn for the answers of your heart cries? What voices will speak into your soul and guide your mind and actions? How will you view other people?
Consider the following quotes:
“He who dies with the most toys wins.”
“Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice.”
“Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”
“I have come to seek and to save the lost. I have come not to be served but to serve.”
The Church has been set apart by God to lead others to freedom. Leading by serving will also set us from discontentment and pointless pursuits of power.
Serving and leading with you,
Pastor Nick Mundis