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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sunday Message: When we're closest

Here's a cheery description of the state of man by David:



Psa 22:4  Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them. 
Psa 22:5  They cried to You, and were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed. 
Psa 22:6  But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. 
Psa 22:7  All who see Me mock me; they shoot out the lip; they shake the head....


Now those of you who know this verse know there's more to the story, and may suspect there is a reason I clipped this where I did.  You see, this is really the state of all of us before God;  covered in sin, unable to stand on our own, crawling in the filth that surrounds us.  With unbelievers, those who find our "hypocrisy" funny, making fun the whole time.  But this line here, is actually the description of our ultimate victory.


For this is Psalm 22, the "Psalm of the Cross" where David channels across nearly a millennium the feelings and pain of Jesus as He goes to the Cross...

 Psa 22:16  and You have brought Me into the dust of death. For dogs have circled around Me; the band of spoilers have hemmed Me in, piercers of My hands and My feet. 
Psa 22:17  I can count all My bones; they look and stare at Me. 
Psa 22:18  They divide My garments among them and cast lots for My clothing. 


It is here, where we realize just how low we are, that we are the CLOSEST to Christ we will ever be.  This is the meaning of, "He became one of us."  And He was able to do it- not just FOR us but WITH us- because His eyes were set on the big picture, "the Glory that was to come," as Paul put it.

Today, I was listening to a pastor speaking about the letter from the Lord's Brother James, encouraging us to count it all joy when we hit our trials.  And this is why- when we are at our lowest, it is then that we are closest to Jesus, though it doesn't seem that way.

Another thing that has been on my mind is the section in Matthew:

Mat 16:16  And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. 
Mat 16:17  Jesus answered and said to him, You are blessed, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but My Father in Heaven. 
Mat 16:18  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 
Mat 16:19  And I will give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven to you. And whatever you may bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven, and whatever you may loose on earth shall occur, having been loosed in Heaven. 


This is the verse upon which Catholics base the authority of the Pope.  And that has bothered me, because I don't believe that Jesus was trying to establish such an office here, but wasn't sure how to deal with it.  Until this morning, when I read a little farther...


Mat 18:18  Truly I say to you, Whatever you shall bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in Heaven; and whatever you shall loose on earth shall occur, having been loosed in Heaven. 
Mat 18:19  Again I say to you that if two of you shall agree on earth as regarding anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by My Father in Heaven. 
Mat 18:20  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst. 


Two or three important takeaways here.  First, note that it is the exact same words Jesus used previously, so He is talking about the same subject.    Then note that He is not talking to Peter, but to "any two or three" who are "gathered in my name."  This tells us firstly that Jesus handing over of the "keys to the Kingdom of Heaven" was not to Peter (and by extension, to his successors), but to the Church- and that the Church is ANY two or three of us gathered IN HIS NAME.  Now, I don't want to give the impression that that means it only takes two to MAKE a Church (though it is entirely possible), or that two people reasoning together can determine what God is saying.  The key phrase is  "in My name, there I am in their midst".  And I am not going this way to bash the Catholic Church (exactly), but to frame another point about how it only takes two or three gathered in His Name to accomplish something.

Recently, in trying to expand Project IS, I sent a letter about it to several places that I have communicated to in the past, asking them to join us in praying for that one person each day who is on the brink of spiritual disaster.  And I have gotten two responses, which I've been awaiting the right moment to share.

First, from Dr Jeremiah and Turning Point:

Dear Christopher,

 Thank you for your email and for taking the time to share your heart. We have been truly blessed to read how God has placed this burden on your heart to pray for those that are in dire need. It’s sobering to think what might have happened if you had not faithfully prayed for that “one” person and equally sobering to realize what an impact we can have on others if we will just be faithful to pray. 

Again, we thank you for contacting us and for challenging us to pray each day for that one individual. We look forward to hearing more testimonies of God’s faithfulness!
Blessings,

 Turning Point


And then, from GoTandem:

Christopher,

It's amazing how God can use is in miraculous ways. It's a blessing to us to hear how God is working in your life. We'll be praying for both you and that ONE person.

Your friends at goTandem

One of the blogs I have followed for some time was by a man very active in his church and dedicated to service.  Unfortunately, this man has been going through some issues due to depression issues and the failure of his fellow churchmen to act towards him in a very Christian way.  A few months back, he talked about getting some help, struggling with his medications, and with the hurt when a friend at that church turned out to be no friend at all and abandoned him.  I was really worried about this guy, and at that point he dropped off the grid.


But that doesn't stop praying for him; and last week, like the groundhog, he stuck his head out of the hole and announced that he had finally made it to a better place, praising God for the help that he had along the way.  While I did not get that strong feeling that our prayers were directly at work as I did here, I know that this is exactly the situation that I started Project IS for, and that this is a victory that we contributed to.  So, you see it only takes a handful of us, united every day, to make a REAL difference.  I want to thank all of you who have contributed your prayer time for this, and I encourage you to keep up the good works to which we are called.


Moral of today's story: #1, when we feel the worst about ourselves, we are the closest to Christ; #2, when it comes to moving the world through prayer, any two of us are the Church.  Strive on!

4 comments:

  1. Chris:
    It never ceases to amaze me how many times we can delve into the Psalms and come up with a myriad of explanations as to what troubles us and what needs to be done..
    And to show how CLOSE we are to God when we're at our lowest (or worse) should be something we wear with as much intent as the FULL ARMOR of God.

    Been down that "Depression Blvd"...not a great neighborhood, but I was shown that a purpose remains not just for me, but for us all who trust in Him.
    Our job is to listen a bit more, and not look to victory as some grandiose finality to whatever bothered us.
    The smallest victory is STILL...a victory.
    In THAT, we can be blessed more than we might realize.

    Excellent post.
    Stay safe up there, brother.

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    1. I don't think we get hung up on the smallest victory being a win as much as the smallest loss being a Waterloo.

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