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Christmas Bells

henry w. longfellow

Light into Darkness – I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

December 25th, 1864 dawned bleak and cold. Not only had the tragedy of civil war gripped the nation, but Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was grieving over the wounds of war and death in his immediate family. His son, Lieutenant Charles Longfellow, had been grievously wounded in the recent battle of New Hope Church– resulting in partial paralysis. He had lost his lovely wife Fanny after she had been burned in a horrible accident three years previous. Christmas cheer was not something to be found in the Longfellow household. His journal entry for the previous Christmas reads, “‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”

Then, on this Christmas morning, Longfellow heard a clear, ringing note. Cutting through the cold, despair and seemingly hopeless grief rang the clear sound of church bells playing Christmas carols. In an instant, hope came rushing in through the window, warming Longfellow’s heart. Sitting down, he penned this poem that was later put to song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) 

Click HERE to read the story of this poem on the Washington Times

Join Us for Christmas Eve

Christmas-Eve

 

Plan now to join us for a special time of worship on Christmas Eve! Maybe you grew up, as I did, celebrating Christmas, but never really incorporating worship into your celebration. A Christmas Eve worship service is a great way to start a new tradition and to incorporate into our modern culture the discipline and deep meaning of what Christmas is all about.

Our Christmas Eve service is a special one hour interactive worship service, beginning in darkness and progressing with carols, songs, candlelight and live nativity. We gather with family to look to the fulfilled promise of Isaiah, who foretold that in Christ “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; upon those living in the land of the shadow, a glorious light has dawned.”

Truly, Jesus is the Light in our darkness!

This service will honor Him as the Light of the World, the hope of all humankind. Come and worship Christ on this holy night, the high point of our Advent journey!

Advent: Waiting on God

johnthebaptist

 

12-15-13 – 3rd Sunday of Advent Sermon. Okeechobee Presbyterian Church, Rev. Loy Daniel Mershimer

Matthew 11:2-11

Today’s text is an Advent text that places before us the reality of waiting on God.

The text takes us to a first century political prison, where John the Baptist waits on death row. The last snapshot we saw of John was in his powerful preaching of repentance, in the Judean wilderness, baptizing in the Jordan River.

Today we see him in prison, on death row… waiting. What happened?

Well, he is in prison for preaching the truth. John preached that it was sinful for a man to sleep with another man’s wife. John preached that God viewed marriage as sacred… and this did not sit well with the King Herod. Herod stole his brother’s wife and lived w. her as his own… John looks him in the eye and said, “God is not pleased w. your action.”

John honors God’s word. And his reward is prison.

 

So the text places before us the first question: What about the Word? Would I be in prison with John; would I be faithful to God’s word?

Answer: Where do I stand, when my culture divides from the Word? If I do not stand for God’s view of marriage now, I would not have stood with John back then…

Our world asserts sinful desires as civil rights… what do we value most? Our desires and feelings, what culture calls right, or the word of God? Herod: It’s my personal right to do this, John, how dare you judge me?

Culture: It’s my personal right to sleep with whomever I will, whenever I will… you can’t judge. But the Word already judges. It pierces the soul, dividing between intent and action… (Heb. 4:12).

The text shows us a man in prison for the word of God. A man called faithful.

Am I faithful?

 

Second question: What about the waiting? How does this fit with God’s plan?

Picture: John on death row, in a crisis of faith. He has done everything asked of him… faithful, preaching repentance.  Jesus witnesses of him: “Among women, there is born none greater… none more faithful. He is the one spoken of in Scripture, ‘One who goes before, preparing the way… repent!’

John: Faithful, fulfilling Scripture, living for the kingdom.

Why then is he in prison?

I mean, after all, the TV preachers tell us that if we obey God we’ll be physically blessed, right? Health, wealth and prosperity to the one who sows seeds in the kingdom, right? “Your best life now!” the TV preachers promise.

That false theology has been around for a while. The oldest book in the Bible (Job) features three self-styled prophets who preach this false message… three theologians tell Job, “It is because you have sinned that God isn’t blessing you. Your lack of health, your loss of fortune and family — this is because you’re not sowing the right seeds. Get right, and get blessed!”

Such false thinking causes John to stumble. “If I have obeyed my Lord, if I have faithfully preached, what am I doing in prison?”

So he sends his followers. Ask Jesus what’s going on! If He’s really Messiah, why hasn’t he rescued me?

Honestly, this is where the enemy of our souls attacks us. “If God really loves me, why am I in this place…?” Waiting? Where are the answers to prayer? Why this trial, why this burden, if you love me Lord?

So John wondered, in prison. So Joseph wondered, sold into slavery, falsely accused… cast into prison. So Elijah wondered, running for his life in the wilderness, death sentence on his head for preaching God’s word… So Job wondered, sitting on the ash heap, in the wreckage of his former life… lost home, health, fortune and family.

There’s something about the delay, the waiting, the suffering, that causes us to doubt.

Pastor Saeed Abedini is now being held in a deadly prison in Iran — for the crime of Christianity. His wife and children — think of the prayers they’ve prayed. Waiting, waiting for an answer. This week the wife said, “My husband is suffering because he is a Christian. He’s suffering because he’s an American… Yet his own government did not fight for him when his captors were across the table.” She feels abandoned by her government. And in the long hours of darkness, the enemy surely whispers that she’s been also abandoned by God.

Have you been there?

The text moves on — what about the word? What about the waiting…?

Third question — our answer: What about the kingdom?

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

Why does Jesus end this with the caution, “Blessed are those who do not fall away (stumble) on account of me? It’s because the occasion to stumble is always there — as soon as we start thinking in human terms, we stumble.

Jesus is God for us, and God’s ways are not our ways. Isa. 55:9: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts…”

So, Jesus doesn’t answer John’s friends in the way they expected. No reply to the prison problem. No get out of jail free card. No prosperity blessing. Instead, Jesus merely gives them a message: Go back and report that what Isaiah promised is happening, before your eyes.

Answer: Make the kingdom your focus, & not your condition, & you will know that I am He. And that is our answer, in the prison of our own waiting…

Kingdom Focus: Look for the good of God, the saving work of God around you and through you, even in trial. Look for the work of God, and partner with it — in heart and mind and soul. Find a way every day, in the midst of the worst circumstances, to work the work of God for someone else — a call, a word, a card, a note, a favor, an act of kindness, and a prayer…

Kingdom Joy: Take joy from God at work. Let the saving work of God in others’ lives be counted as your personal gain. Make the kingdom your basis of life, not your condition. In captivity, the faithful people of God took Jerusalem, the City of God, as their highest joy, their reason for living. “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill! If I do not take Jerusalem as my highest joy, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” Ps. 139:5 This is the pathway of peace for us: Intentionally looking to the kingdom, and taking it as our highest joy, intentionally: 1. Songs of faith (making myself listen & worship, daily); 2. Disciplines of faith — Scripture, prayer, obedience; 3. Right eating, exercising. 4. Acts of service… if the kingdom is our joy, we live fully, as if our answer were already accomplished. We do today what we would do if we were perfectly fulfilled.

Kingdom Permission: Here, we permit God to work out answers in His time even into eternity. People say, “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” And He does. But that plan primarily includes conforming you to the character of Christ, fitting you for eternity… and sometimes that conformity takes place amidst great pain, struggle over time. When that happens, do we give Him permission to answer our prayers, even in eternity? God doesn’t need our permission, of course. But in a very real sense, WE need to give the permission for our own good — releasing our dream to God, and agreeing with God’s timing of fulfillment, even if it is fulfilled in eternity, not time.

This is how Job reasoned his way to the resurrection, centuries before the birth of Christ… Baseline fact: 1. God is just. 2. What I am suffering is unjust. 3. God, because He is just, holy, loving, true — He will fix it. 4. He doesn’t fix everything in this life; therefore, there must be eternity: There is Resurrection to higher life!

It’s in great darkness that Job cries out, “I know that My Redeemer lives, and on this earth again will stand… yea, though this body be destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God!”

Jesus promised: “I go to prepare a place for you.” Peace, shalom, I give you — not as the world gives. Thus Scripture speaks: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

God is working out a plan of justice that far exceeds our paltry view of justice.

Why then does He delay? Why does He delay coming when Lazarus is dying? He waits three days — on purpose. Why does He leave John in prison?

Greater glory.

His answer is greater, infinitely greater, than our current dream.

In 2009, twenty-nine-year-old Maryam Rostampour and thirty-two-year old Marzieh Amirizadeh spent 259 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. They faced the threat of life imprisonment and the possibility of execution, simply because they loved and followed Jesus Christ. Solitary confinement, and endless hours of interrogation… months of horrid living conditions, sickness.

When they were first arrested, they were beaten and cursed… not allowed to drink water from the public tap or use the wash basin. Educated prisoners called them ‘Mortad Kasif’ (Unclean apostates). But Maryam says, that in a month, everything changed. “As they got to know us, they were curious about our faith, they respected us and called upon us to sort out arguments they had between themselves.” Marzieh says, “We became an example to them, and they would take our side.”

In the midst of this terrible injustice, Maryam and Marzieh prayed, sang and lived the light of Jesus… people began to hear of Christ, and many prostitutes came, praying the Sinner’s Prayer, receiving the grace and forgiveness of God. Many others were too frightened to confess their faith, but they were touched by grace all the same.

It was the dream of these women (and their families) that they would be freed from prison, but as they make the kingdom their goal, grace flowed, gospel given, light dawned in darkness… a very dark place, filled w. the hope of Christ.

So John’s friends come to Jesus. Lord, are you…?

Answer: Go back and tell John, Kingdom Come. Rejoice.

Actively participate in the kingdom by rejoicing, even when your personal answers delay. Actively participate in the kingdom by making it your highest joy, even above personal need.

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

For those who trust unto the kingdom, there is such transformation awaiting us… that the least of us will be greater than the greatest down here. The answers there are so much greater, that our questions here will lose their meaning.

4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

Lord, we will not stumble this Advent. We will honor your Word…. We will wait for you. We will hope in the kingdom.

Amen.

Still Waiting…

John the Baptist

Matthew 11:2-14 – The Message (MSG)

2-3 John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison. When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?”

4-6 Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.

“Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!”

7-10 When John’s disciples left to report, Jesus started talking to the crowd about John. “What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A prophet? That’s right, a prophet! Probably the best prophet you’ll ever hear. He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, ‘I’m sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.’

11-14 “Let me tell you what’s going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him. For a long time now people have tried to force themselves into God’s kingdom. But if you read the books of the Prophets and God’s Law closely, you will see them culminate in John, teaming up with him in preparing the way for the Messiah of the kingdom. Looked at in this way, John is the ‘Elijah’ you’ve all been expecting to arrive and introduce the Messiah.

Prepare the Way of the Lord

preparetheway

Matthew 3:1-12

English Standard Version (ESV)

3 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”

4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

We Wait

waiting

2 PETER 3:11-18

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.

Reflection

What do you usually do while you’re waiting on someone or something? Sit and watch TV? Busy yourselves in routine, unimportant matters? Talk on the phone?

While the word “wait” is used multiple times in the above passage, it does not imply a meaningless time of anxiety, fear or busyness. Rather, as Rev. Chip Blackshear writes, “we also learn from Peter that we are not to just wait around for Jesus to return. We are to ‘be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.’ We are to live ‘lives of holiness and goodness.’ And we are to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ ”

Isaiah 2:1-5

mountainoftheLord

The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Isaiah 2:1-5

Advent Devotional: How can I work the works of God?

Advent13

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” John 6:29

How can I work the works of God? This is really a trick question. Because the first confession of the Christian life is that we cannot do the work that God requires. We are categorically unable to do holy work, in ourselves. Jesus taught us that we can only work the work of God by belief in Him, the One the Father has sent (Jn. 6:29). In other words, our work of faith is no work at all, in ourselves, but simply belief in the One who has worked salvation for us.

In this faith, trusting in the work of Jesus for us, there is a component then of following through in obedient works: we are ordained for good works, and sanctified to them. But even this task can be overwhelming, if we look at it in totality. At any moment of our life, if we look at what we are, compared to what we are called to be, it can be overwhelming. Discouraging. Paralyzing.

But God doesn’t look at us like that. God doesn’t demand the finished product, nor place its expectations upon us. He lovingly looks at us in Christ, and then faithfully conforms us to the image of Christ, over time, into eternity. It is thus that He can look at what we consider failure, and bring eternal good from it (Rom. 8:28, 29). When we judge ourselves based on the weight of finished expectations, we are judging ourselves in pride, with self as the focus. The better way is to make Jesus the focus, trusting His work — and then working humbly on the next simple task at hand. We confess that we can’t work what we should, but that Christ can work it through us… and then we look for the next thing at hand in which we can show obedience. In faith, we “do with our might what our hands find to do” (Eccl. 9:10). Like this, something miraculous happens: In our very confession that we cannot work as we should, somehow the work of God happens in us and through us.

In the Lark Rise to Candleford Christmas, a former seafaring man struggles with this paradox. In his mind, he sees all that he wants to be — indeed, all that he should be — for his family. In the unspoken part of his heart, he knows that he is not what he should be. So he secretly plans to abandon his family. After all, if he can’t live up to everything that his wife and children need, then they’d probably be better off without him — and he’d be better off without family responsibility: If no responsibility, then no unmet expectations. So his thinking goes, in pride.

He plans his escape to the sea. He writes a letter to a sea captain, requesting crew work that will take him far from home. But his wife sees the address of the letter before he posts it, and his secret escape is not so secret. She privately weeps in anguish, sensing that her husband is going to abandon his family again.

She confides her fears to a wise friend; who, in turn, speaks perchance to the husband. “Why are you leaving your family, when they need you so?” she asks him. He responds that the weight of all that he should be for his family is too much for him. And his solution is to run.

The wise friend simply turns to him and says, “Surely we can do for one day what is impossible for a lifetime!” In other words, yes, the full weight of what you see for yourself is impossible. But by God’s grace, you can go home and live for just one day, being present for your family, meeting their needs — humbling yourself just for one day: the day called Today.

That sentence shocks the husband. It breaks through the fog of pride and the misery of narcissistic expectations. He returns to his family table in time for Christmas, perhaps truly present for the first time, and hopeful for a faithful future. Surely, we can do for one day what is impossible for a lifetime!

The secret of working the work of God is an apparent paradox. We have to give up any hope in ourselves, and place it in our Lord. We confess our utter need, and then humbly focus on the task at hand — no matter how seemingly insignificant, the task of today. J.C. Ryle says, “Expect less of yourself and more of Christ.” It’s good advice. The work of God is accomplished in the humble works that we find before us today — for our family, for those closest to us, for those whom God brings into our lives, for those whom God bids us pray. Today! We can do these daily works as we think less of self and more of Christ. Confession: Less of me, and more of Christ, in all I do and say. If it is Christ at work in me, then no task is too humble. The pie that is baked: It is Christ in me. The ham that is cooked: Christ in me, for family. The house that is cleaned: Christ in me, the hope of glory. The neighbor that is helped: Christ in me, speaking peace and hope…

George MacDonald looks at this paradox of faith and says,

You can at once begin to be a disciple of the Living One – by obeying Him in the first thing you can think of in which you are not obeying Him… We must learn to obey Him in everything, and so must begin somewhere. Let it be at once, and in the very next thing that lies at the door of our conscience!

Truly, the work of God is before us, in the very next thing at the door of our conscience, and the very next person at the door of our house. All God asks is the next moment, the day called Today.

Give God this day, today, the whole way through Advent, and you will be working His work — even with all your faults. And this Christmas, you will encounter Him as never before! Amen.

The highest blessings of Heaven be upon you this Advent, as you surrender your life to Christ, faithfully working while it is day, today! Alleluia!

Love in Christ,

Pastor Loy

Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving

Hello Friends,

It is a special time of the year. The lights of Christmas ignite on this holy day of gratitude. Advent properly begins in Thanksgiving, and we journey with anticipation toward the greatest miracle in human time: The descent of God in human form, Messiah wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

C.S. Lewis calls the Incarnation of God the “the Grand Miracle,” the “central miracle asserted by Christians and the central event in the history of the Earth.” He says that every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this…. the central event in the history of the Earth and the epicenter of salvation history. And truly, it is! If the timeless God has entered into human time, in human form, all bets are off. If the Holy Creator God has taken on the flesh of His fallen human creation in order to redeem it, every other miracle must naturally follow. Nothing is impossible with God!

How fitting that our journey to Christmas begins in Thanksgiving! Oh that we might become people of Thanksgiving, living every day in the reality of the Incarnation of God, and the resurrection victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over darkness and death!

We pray that this Advent will be a faithful journey for each of us, entering richly into the meaning of the season, in penitence and holy benevolence. Our church services this month are designed to lead us closer to the manger, and thus closer to the cross.

Several items for your consideration:

  • Hanging of the Greens. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 & 31, from 9 a.m. till 12 p.m., those who are able will gather to green the church in Christmas decor, symbolizing the victory of God, light dawning in the darkness, life exploding death.
  • Sundays of Advent. December 1, 8, 15 & 22. These services will encounter us with the Advent texts, declaring the promise and preparation for Christ’s Second Advent, even as we celebrate the meaning of the First Advent.
  • Dedication Sunday. This Sunday past we dedicated our tithes and pledges to the Lord. Enclosed you will find the Prayer of Dedication — please read over it, pray it softly before the Lord. And if you did not receive a pledge letter and would like one, please reply to this email and request one.
  • Bible Study: Please note that the Thursday Evening Bible Study is not in session during Advent. It will resume in the New Year, completing the Book of Galatians and then moving on in the Pauline Epistles.
  • December Christmas Feast will follow Morning Worship on the 22nd. Come and share in the fellowship of grace!
  • Christmas Eve Worship, Dec. 24th @ 6:00 p.m. LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS, a service of candlelight and carols, showing forth the reality of life in Jesus Christ, Word of God made flesh, come down from heaven to give life to the world.

Please take note these items, and please continue your prayers for the life and worship of Okeechobee Presbyterian Church. God has called us and chosen us, and ordained that we should bear much fruit, here in Okeechobee County and around the world. But we are sustained in our mission only in the obedience, faithfulness and prayers of each person. There is nothing greater than a humble prayer prayed in the secret place. For the Father who sees in secret rewards us in open, as many souls are strengthened in faith.

God bless you on this Thanksgiving! May it be, more than ever, the great Door for you into Advent, in faithful preparation for the coming of the King. Alleluia!

Sincerely yours in the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Pastor Loy Mershimer

A Prayer From What I Am Not

 
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“My prayers, my God, flow from what I am not
And yet Thy answers make me what I am.
Like weary waves thought follows upon thought.
But the still depth beneath is all Thy own.
And there Thou mov’st in paths to us unknown
Out of strife Thy peace is strangely wrought.
If the lion in us pray – yet Thou answerest the lamb!”

George MacDonald, “Diary of an Old Soul”

The Tempering of Moses

moses

Are you feeling misunderstood recently? Distraught? Empty? Desperate? Doubtful?

One theologian has said that if you look at the life of Moses, you will see that God continually brings him to places where he is desperate and dependent upon God. God humbles Moses both in crisis events and long processes — all heading toward a point where Moses can be called both a “man of God” and the “most humble man on the face of the earth.” Moses is perhaps the greatest leader of all time, yet he is also the most humble. By the end of his journey, Moses has bowed before the Almighty in so many impossible situations that he knows — more than life itself — that the power is of God. From a proud Prince of Egypt, Moses becomes a man who sees the Presence of God and lives… and leads the People of God from provision to provision in the wilderness, into the Land of Promise. Moses becomes a man who will intercede for a rebellious people, placing his life on the line so that they might reach the place of destined blessing. But he becomes this man in desperation and dependence upon God.

This same pattern shows up in all those who desire to be used by God. He continually brings them back to a place of desperation and dependence.

So this brings us to the question: Are you feeling misunderstood recently? Distraught? Empty? Doubtful? The real question then might be: What is God doing in this present desperate situation?

It’s not until we admit our complete powerlessness that we can  receive the full benefit of God’s power. It’s a paradox, but true: We can’t live even the first day of the life of faith. But when we confess our utter inability, God somehow grants us His ability. And the impossible life is lived.

Here’s a secret: God never intended us to live a Christian life. He always intended that HE might live the Christian life through us. We just have to lay down our guns, surrender our efforts to please, give up the struggle to live in our own strength, and simply let His divine power flow through us. We have as much power to live the Christian life as Moses had to part the Red Sea or bring water from a wilderness rock. None. No power to do this. Nada.

But God has all power. And He’s releasing it to us this very moment, as we cast ourselves in desperation and dependence upon Him.

There is great release in this! And there is victory. The victory is His. Fear not the struggle — the barren rocks, the desert, or the recalcitrant people around you. Water will flow. And the iron will enter your soul — you are being tempered unto divine destiny.

Alleluia!
Pastor Loy