Devotional Thought of the Day:’
He has watched over your journey through this immense wilderness. The LORD your God has been with you this past 40 years, and you have lacked nothing.’ Deut 2:7 HCSB
It has become habit to read through the Old Testament every year, and changing translations each new year. There are times it seems a drudgery, a journey through this guy begat that guy or a recitation of all of the different ways to sin. (as if I needed a detailed list!) What will I find here, I wonder, that will make this habit worth it. Where will I find something that is nourishing in this wilderness?
And then I come to a verse like the one above, Tucked into the history of Israel’s rebellion and sin, a recounting of all the times they did what was right to them, completely disregarding God’s directions, given through Moses.
Go here, they go there. Do this, they do something else. It sounds like a group I would find myself some like-minded companions. People who struggle just the way Paul did, doing what they shouldn’t, and failing to do what they should.
As Moses tells them their own history, there is this incredible verse. He tells them that as they have walked through the Wilderness, their punishment, their discipline for the sin they have committed, where God was.
There. providing for them. For 40 years, He didn’t abandon them as He disciplined them.
That is an incredible thing to realize.
By no means should that continue to wander in sin, we need to confess our sin, trusting in God to forgive those sins, because Jesus came and died to pay for them.
But there is a comfort to know that God doesn’t abandon His rebellious children, that He desires, truly desires that all come to repentance and that this is part of the work of the Holy Spirit.
What an amazing, loving merciful God we have, that allows us to wander, that disciplines us, and yet provides for us during that time, giving us what is truly beneficial!
He is with us, even when we don’t see it, even when we don’t want to see it. When we are faithless, still e is faithful.
So if you are wandering today, you can’t escape Him, so it is time to come home, and confess your sins, and find the incredible love and mercy of God is yours. Come, confess your sins, and find that He is faithful, forgiving you of those sins, and cleansing you of all unrighteousness.
Backseat Conversations on the Way to Heaven
May you be blessed, as your realize the depth of God’s work in your life, evidence of His great love and affection for you!
Our Way to Heaven is like…
In my congregation, we have been working on a sermon series, a long parable of sorts.
The idea is that like our life long journey in Christ, which ends before the throne of God, is like a long family car journey. We aren’t the drivers, rather, we are the 3 oe 4 siblings in the back seat. That as the Holy Spirit guides us toward eternity, we sometimes act like little kids in the backseat.
The sermons have been based off of scripture, but using the idea of the conversations heard in the back seat to describe how we live together. We journey together toward the day when we are in that vast crowd, people from every nation and family and culture. But getting to that day can be a challenge. Just like surviving a long drive in the back seat of my parents 1971 Dodge was a challenge.
We’ve had titles like, “get along back there” and “that’s not fair!” and of course the ever popular phrase, “are we there yet?!?” Interestingly, they have all tied into the scripture passages on our three year cycle of readings.
Today, as we look at this incredible message from the Book of Revelation, chapter 7, the question is simple….
And the more we can realize that God is in charge of our journey, the more we see it as a blessing. That results in a life of holiness and peace.
So let’s look at this more clearly.
A vast crowd, too great a number to compute, from everywhere, every time, every language, all before the throne of God, all in His clear view. Called by Him, gathered together by Him.
What a glorious day that will be. All the people of God. Together.
How did they get there? That is one of the questions asked the elder to the apostle John, in verse 13.
The answer is not a list of directions, generated by a gps device, or from google maps. But it is how they got there…
“These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. 15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. 16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. 17 For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Verse 14b-17)
This gathering of all believers made their way there, because God led them, because God cared for them. It is why we will find our lives in eternity as those who minister and serve God. They are transformed, and what they have been clothed with is dazzling white.
This is what is promised in the Old Testament, in Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. Isa 1:18,
and in the story of the high priest representing Israel, in Zecariah,
1 Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel’s right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “I, the LORD, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.” 3 Jeshua’s clothing was filthy as he stood there before the angel. 4 So the angel said to the others standing there, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And turning to Jeshua he said, “See, I have taken away your sins, and now I am giving you these fine new clothes.” Zechariah 3:1-4 (NLT)
We get there, to the point where we are clothed in Christ Jesus because of God’s work, This is how the Apostle Paul says it,
26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28 (NLT)
The one people, made up of all peoples. We are one in Christ.
So I have a question
Why do we try to be spiritual backseat gps devices? Or as we used to say, backseat drivers.
Let me explain. When William was little, he loved to imitate the GPS, and on occasion, try to beat it to the punch. Trying to sound like a computer generated voice, he would give me directions.
at the next light, turn right. Go four miles, turn left. You have arrived at your destination. That last one was usually said when we got near a McDonalds!
He really didn’t know how to get where we were going. For that matter, he often didn’t know where we were going. But he wanted to give me the directions.
Sometimes we act that way with God. Rather than trusting our Lord who came from heaven to bring us there, we tell Him the directions we want to take.
Lord, do this for me.
Lord, I think this is how it should work out.
Lord, if you don’t follow my ideas, we will get lost!
Yet like a four year old giving directions, we don’t know the way to heaven, apart from Him.
And sometimes, we might even think we are there, when it is our hungers that really speak. You see this in the world today, it often throws aside how God has designed us to live, and people want to follow their passions. In this world people even go so far as telling God what is good, and contradicting Him when He says what is desired is sin.
Humanity, even those in the church, often want to take over and navigate this journey of life. They want to do this, rather than letting God guide us, letting God take care of us, letting God teach and protect us along the way.
It’s in those times, like children realizing their moms and dads probably know their way around better; that we have to remember who is taking us through life, and bringing us home.
It is then we need to come to our senses, to repent, to know we are forgiven, and listen to God’s ways.
Look at Who our Chauffer/Guide is….
In every passage of scripture where heaven is described, I love the awe that is described. We will be shouting in heaven
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”
and not only us, all of heaven, the angels, the elders, the four living beings are in awe as well, as they sing,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever!
This is who will bring us to heaven, this is the God who has promised to bring us to a feast that is like no feast we have ever seen.
This is the God who will guide our steps, all of our steps, even as He guided each one of us to this place, even as He will guide both Passion and Concordia’s ministries in the days and years to come.
For He is God.
So let us bow before Him, recognize Him as Lord, and with confidence in His completion of what He has began in us, walk with Him, letting Him lead our way.
For there, walking with Christ, cleansed by His blood, knowing His love, we are assured of getting where He is taking us. To see the Father, high and lifted up on the throne, surrounded by angels and elders, living creatures, and us, the people of God, from every nation and tribe and language….
Until then, we are assured by His presence, that we can dwell in His unexplainable peace. For Christ guards our hearts and minds in that peace. AMEN?