Thursday, December 13, 2018

Persistent Love


Psalm 46:6-7  6 Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when He lifts His voice. 7 The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah

An unusual survey was done a few years ago, Participants in the survey were asked this question.......what 3-word sentence would you most like to hear or have said to you? The top three answers were 1. I love you.....2. I forgive you.......3. Supper is ready. (1)

We live in an ever changing world and we should not be surprised by that. God created a universe that is always in motion. We live on a planet that is spinning around its axis while flying around a sun that is itself soaring through a galaxy that is rapidly streaming through the expanse of the universe. Nothing stays the same for any length of time. Nothing, that is, except God.

Look at how the world is described in verse 6 - nations rage and kingdoms topple. Just when we think we are adjusted to what is going on this crazy world up and changes on us. We look at life on a global scale and we see how it is utter chaos and therefore we begin to doubt that God is still paying attention or that He even cares anymore.

But the Psalmist reminds us that even when it feels like the world is in chaos, God is with us and is our refuge. While the world and even all of creation may be in constant change, God is not a part of creation - He is the creator. God’s plan is the same today as it was before He made the first atom. Nothing has derailed it or thwarted it and nothing ever will. God’s character is the same today as it was when He came to Bethlehem, and His love is the same as it was when He went to the cross for you. God’s love is unchanging.

If you look up unchanging you will find many definitions, including eternal and permanent, but my favorite definition is persistent. God's love for us is persistent. It does not let us go. In the three word survey I mentioned everyone wanted to hear I love you, love is something we desire, and everyone needed to hear I forgive you, forgiveness is not something we desire unless we have done something that needs forgiving.

Here’s the kicker, we often fear that our need to hear I forgive you means we will never again hear I love you. The things I have done that require me to need forgiveness must cancel out the love you were willing to show me. But it doesn’t. You see God’s love is persistent even through our failings. Why is it important that His love is unchanging and persistent?

Because it is by His love that we live, it is by His love that we survive, it by His love that we have hope, peace and joy. We vastly underestimate the power of God’s love.

His love can transform your life. His love can open the doors for you to make it through trials. His love can save you and show you what this life is all about. His love is not a Christmas present you will ever outgrow or get bored of. It is not something you can get your fill of or run out of.

This Christmas realize that God’s love is more than seasonal. It is active, unchanging and it is eternal.

To discover more, visit Oak Grove Baptist Church

(1)Illustration given in a sermon by Matt Parker

Monday, December 3, 2018

Great Expectations

Psalm 5:3 At daybreak, Lord, You hear my voice; at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly.

There are many things to look at around Christmas time.  The lights, the trees, the plethora of movies and the over abundance of decorated cookies.  Of course, as Christians we want to focus on the nativity, on the very true story of the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary so many years ago.  However, when we are looking at Christmas it is a good idea to look at more than just the manger scene, more than just the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes but to try to see the whole picture from every angle.

We have a tradition in the Christian faith that for centuries has sought to focus our eyes not just on Christmas but on the whole meaning behind it. It is called advent and it is a way at looking at Christmas with a sense of great expectation.

The verse above is from Psalm five.  In this psalm, David talks about how the unrighteous can not even enter into God’s presence yet by God’s faithful love David can cry out to Him and eagerly await God’s appearing. He knows there is no hope, no love, no joy, and no peace apart from God. He knows God is going to work great and mighty things and he watches for Him expectantly.

That is advent. Advent is the season leading up to Christmas where we stop and refocus on more than the trappings of Christmas but on the larger story that it is a part of. The story of our awesome God, His amazing grace, and His redeeming love. This isn't a program or a structured bible study. It isn’t a devotional or a to-do list. It is simply a chance to encourage within each of us a frame of mind that allows the Holy Spirit to refresh us. An opportunity to realize that we can lay aside our business and our stress and let Jesus Christ revive us this season.

If you go back and read the Old Testament you see time and time again examples of individuals crying out to God or watching expectantly, like David, for what God is going to do. They may not have known the specifics or the details but they believed firmly that God was going to make things right. They had faith that God was going to come and fix what we had broken.

The Old Testament Saints were saved by grace through the faith that they had in God’s future act of mercy. As we approach this advent season, remember that they had faith in someone who was coming, we have faith in that same someone who has already come and will come again.

God the Father, through Jesus His Son, gives us grace that goes beyond your current circumstance or this world’s current crazy situation but instead carries us into eternity. You see the miracle of Christmas is not just hope for now, it is hope forever more. It is a hope not just in our future but in His future.

In Advent, we put ourselves in the shoes of those people awaiting the coming of Christ so many years ago. But truthfully we should always be doing the same thing today. Whereas the people long ago were awaiting their Messiah to come and walk among them, we are awaiting our King to come and take us home.  We celebrate the hope that this Christmas brings, hope that we can experience today, and every day, but let us also keep our eyes forward to the hope that is to come when He returns for us.

Like a child waiting for his gift on Christmas day, let us wait for our coming King with great expectation.

To discover more, visit Oak Grove Baptist Church