Sunday, August 5, 2018
Sunday Message: Before the but
We've all heard the phrase, "You can't get there from here." This week, I heard it in a bit different form. And, I had a couple of experiences that reinforced that way. Let me start with the experiences.
The first one is a rather sad commentary on a former friend, that I won't go into detail on. But what I will tell you is a phrase that I thought of at this last contact: "It's easy to make up the rules when you have a made-up god". In other words, this person could even change the "time honored rules" of what he claimed to believe, because there's no consequence. That which he claimed to believe can't ever answer him back, can't ever tell him, "you're doctrinally wrong," so he can choose to believe in a "salvation" no matter how he "serves his god". An atheist could tell him, as they have tried to tell me, "you might just as well worship the Easter Bunny"- and in his case, they'd be right.
The second one was an offhand, half asleep comment I made to myself that was totally wrong headed. In the course of spreading around my giving, I have accepted e-devotionals from three different pastoral ministries. I get something a little different from each one. But being a human with the normal human distractions, there are way too many times that I just glaze through as I read these. Sometimes it's because the day's topic really isn't speaking to me; more often, I am not listening as I should. So when I was listening to a broadcast by yet another pastor, and his host mentioned he had a devotional, my mind thought first, "that's the last thing I need!"; but then, put together an even worse idea: "why not just get a LOT of such devotionals, and read them in ROTATION- read one each day and disregard the rest, and trust in God to get you to read the "right one for you"?"
Because God's Word is not a slot machine. What you get out of it needs to grow like the Vine, not pull a lever and say, "here's what I got today." #6 of the 'Doc Martin's Rules' is, "While looking up random verses may help SOMETIMES, the BEST way to hear God is with a disciplined reading plan." The Word of God is a journey, and it needs to be taken step by step, not by 'watching Bourdain's travel show once a week'.
And that brings us to the phrase I got this week. In one of those devotionals lie a story called, "The way you got HERE, won't get you THERE." You are, whoever and wherever you are, at a certain point, whether you are a Christian or not. Out there is the goal, heaven and the promises God gives to those who believe. What you have done so far in your life has gotten you where you are RIGHT NOW. Unless you are reading from the Great Beyond, you are not THERE. You have growth to grow, and choices to make. And you are not going to advance any closer TO that goal without growing in knowledge of God, Christ, and His Will for you. And that means reading and studying the Bible for the living work that it is.
Dennis Miller just brought this up. You can go into a library and find all sorts of different kinds of books. All of them have a similar concept, they are the writings of man written by man. The only book that is different than that is if you have a Bible in the library. Written by men under the inspiration of God, it is the one book that will speak something more to you every time you read it believing.
Just so you know, I tend to do the Wednesday Bible Study ahead on Saturday, and the Sunday Message actually Sunday morning, so I have a slight advantage of knowing what is to come there. And this week, what is to come is something I called "The Mighty But." After the but is the promises of God in all their loving glory. But, before that but, there is a lot of pain, despair- yes, and judgment. To stop where you are is to accept that pain, despair, and judgment is all there will ever be. You have to keep growing every day to get to where you cross the but. To stop part way, or to make up your own rules with a god from Ronco that you can manipulate, modify, and ignore at your own desire, won't get you past the but.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Phil. 3:12