God is with us
When I was living in sin, 33 years ago and more, I wanted nothing to do with Jesus. I did not want to be associated with God or his son. In fact, I wanted nothing to do with the Christian lifestyle, or just being a Christian period. It looked boring to me. It sounded boring, it appeared boring. It was a blah lifestyle compared to my exciting hedonistic sinful lifestyle.
A couple things happened to me. First, I grew up, I matured, and suddenly my sins seemed boring. I am sure that this was a prevenient grace extended to me by God’s Holy Spirit. My sinful life was seeming to be blah.
The second thing that happened to me was that I gave my life to Christ. I can sincerely testify that once I gave my heart to Jesus, I have never been bored. My life with Jesus has been anything but blah. It’s been hectic and pressure filled, calming and relaxing, blessed and challenged, confusing and enlightening, anything, but boring and blah.
Today, we are going to continue our look at the promises of God, and from these promises, God assures that our lives will not be boring. It’s interesting, because none of these promises say specifically that we won’t be bored. It’s just that by these promises being true it comes about naturally that our lives will not be boring. Our first promise today is from the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, in the section with the sub-title Reward For Obedience, Leviticus 26:11-12,
“I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”
This is some different kind of Godspeak 2000 years ago. Most people thought God or gods were going around with hammers trying to squash humans like bugs.
This verse doesn't sound like this at all. God wants to live among us, and not abhor us. A possible opposite word of abhor is love. God is telling us that he wants to live and love among us. God wants to walk among us, as our God, we, as his people.
What is amazing is that God is promising us a relationship with him. Not just as a people, a group of people, but also a relationship with each one of us as an individual.
God is promising us a relationship as both individuals and as a community of believers. This is unique, other gods (false idols) just don’t do this. Because no other gods CAN do this. Throughout the Old Testament God fulfills this promise to his people. God fulfills this promise today through his Son Jesus and his Holy Spirit. John 14:6, Jesus is speaking here,
“I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
What is overwhelming, what is amazing, what is mid-blowing to me is this: Not that Jesus is the way to God, but that God even cared enough to give us access to himself.
Think about this. God cared enough about our establishing a relationship with him that he gave us a way to bridge the holiness gap between us and himself. AND, this way was his Son, Jesus. Jesus, who lived and died and was resurrected for us, so as to create that bridge to His Father.
This is the driving force of all of God’s promises to us as his people, he loves us. God really does love us. As a preacher, I cannot overemphasize this fact: God loves all of us.
God, in Romans 8:28, gives another promise that is not as specific as a personal relationship, but it is important. This promise deals with the broader picture of our lives. Paul, in Romans 8:28,
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
This promise is to help encourage each of us when we are tried by the circumstances of life. We all know these challenges and issues: relationships, jobs, health, family, finances, to which we can add political issues, pandemic issues, cultural issues and war.
Now there is a condition here, did you catch it? “Those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” If we are born again, we have been called in one way or another to a purpose. I am called to preach, but that is not all. There are many ways that we each are called to serve God and to respond to God. The question for each of us is this: Have you answered this call from God? Do you even understand that there is a response to this call required of you?
Here, in Romans 8:28, God is promising to cover your back long term, if you answer his call. He’s not promising to make you rich, or that you will not get sick, or that you won’t get injured in a car wreck, or that your family won’t have problems, or that people in your family will not die. All of these things will continue to happen. But they will continue to happen, and despite all of this, “all things will work for good” in our lives. Nothing is guaranteed in our lives, nothing, except that God wants that relationship with all of us. How you respond is what guides the course of your life, and in many ways, what happens next. It’s based on our responses and our individual circumstances. Like the first scripture heading said, obedience helps to guide our path,
I can testify to this, as one who ran from his call for over 16 years, I am glad that I eventually answered my call from God in full. Even though, since answering this call, my wife has developed and been healed of cancer, we have both been involved in separate car accidents which could have killed us (we were injured), despite my bout with shingles, one of each of our own parents succumbing to dementia, and a long list of lifetime trials, it is all worth answering this call from God.
Why? Because God was with me every step. Not just in the bad stuff, but in the good stuff as well. We forget, buried in the bad stuff of our lives is some of the good stuff. In Kristi’s battle with cancer, and chemo, and radiation, and hair loss, there was healing. Also, a community of survivors that encouraged her daily. Strangers, who noticed her bandana, would give her their survival story. These blessings seemed to happen daily. It’s that way in all of our lives. So, I ask this: Is God involved in your life or not? If he’s not involved, it’s because of you not allowing him that relationship.
Here comes the really cool finish. John 10:10, Jesus is again speaking,
“The thief comes only to steal and destroy; I have come that (you) may have life, and have it to the full.”
The thief (Satan and the world) is interested in only his wants and desires. The shepherd (Jesus) is interested in enabling his sheep to have abundant and full lives. Not just rich in experience (both good and bad), but also a full life in impact and production of good fruit, and bringing glory to the Father. Which is just what Jesus did in his life. John 1:4,
“In him was life, and that life was the light of mankind.”
I want this life. I don’t want a boring life. I want a life full of experience, challenge, overcoming, and God. God promises this to all of us.
From Leviticus, where God promises to live and dwell among us, to Romans, where he promises that the good and the bad of our lives will ultimately work to our good, to John, where God promises to each of us that our lives will be full of life, full of experience, and full in impacting his glory.
God is, in essence, saying that with him, our lives matter to him, and that they will matter for eternity. They will have an impact on his kingdom.
Now is not the time for just binge watching TV. Now is not the time to wring our hands due to politics ( I literally witnessed two news talking heads wringing their hands as the war in Ukraine began), or the pandemic, or the world in general. Now is the time for the harvest. Be sure that you have answered God’s call. Keep answering God’s call. I’m an old guy, who knows many different old people. Every day we wake up (it’s awesome), we need to commit and recommit to answering God’s call for that day.
This is how we live the full life that Jesus has in store for each of us. Don’t just stumble through your life, live it, Spirit led, Spirit filled, doing God’s will.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC