Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"GOD SPEAKS..."


Pastor Tim Dodson  - given Christmas Eve 2014 at Jesus Fellowship of Believers, Menomonie, Wisconsin TEXT: Job 38:1-20

 

Hebrews 1:1-2 "Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son."

 

It is no secret that we are today living in an age of communication.

 

Mankind is passionately consumed ...obsessed even, with their cells phones, their emails, texting, Skyping, and tweeting. Our personal world's are generally very loud. Yet for all of our communiqué, we seem at the same time to be strikingly lonely and, honestly...most of the time...lost.

 

Yet the world that God has designed is thus so, for us to hear from God, and to then communicate that message back out into the world. We manifest His voice within the faith community in which we belong. We have a God who speaks. Not merely to direct, or teach, or correct, but to relate. He has from the days of Creation made great effort to reveal Himself. The distance between God and man is naturally and in every way, a great distance. Thus God has taken great strides to proclaim, publish, and generally relate His presence and plan. He is a "God of revelation."  Right from Genesis 1 we see it...10 times records those words "God said..." Jehovah God of scripture is a God who speaks, and he is still today speaking: But I wonder if we are really listening?


Unless He is talking and we are indeed hearing, then we are truthfully left in the dark looking for the light switch and guessing which way is the door. We would be left with nothing more than speculation...our 'best guess'...or maybe the most comfortable one, as to what God is like or what He wants us to believe or how to behave. That speculation generally revolves around human philosophy, spirituality, religion, and the social sciences. All which are essentially human efforts to take a stab at who God really is and what he’s like.

 

All of this thing we call Christmas, is from the two word's 'Christ' and 'mass'...or "Jesus communion." Communion with the Son of God. A deep, personal, and meaningful 'connection' with God in the flesh of humanity. And the lengths that God took to make that happen are staggering to the mind and our understanding! He could have went about it in any way that one could imagine, because as God, He has the power and the freedom to do things in any way that He so chooses.


He firstly manifested himself in nature...speaking volumes as to his character, His priorities and His "personality" if you will. Romans 1:20 says this: "For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God." 

 

Then, so we wouldn't lose the details, He wrote a book and sent us a copy. And what an amazing autobiography! 2Peter 1:3 tells us in this, He has illuminated Himself and His abilities: "By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence."

 

Then, there was and is literally God's "still small voice." That's all about “minding the checks” in our spirit. We are made in the image of God, and when we confess Jesus and follow Him as our Lord and Savior, His Spirit comes to live in us. We are thereafter "hardwired" into the Corporate Headquarters and we communicate then over the 'spiritual intercom system.'


And then yet even after these things, He inexplicably took the extreme path of a 'home visit.' Apparently, despite these overt attempts to talk to us, the message was still not getting through with any regularity, consistency, or clarity. He even sent prophets, and 'signs and wonders', and even some well noted pain, but with no avail. So God spoke, and He spoke, and He spoke some more. It certainly wasn't for the lack of trying. But the problem both then and now is that generally speaking, we just aren't really listening. After all, we're busy. We got stuff going on. Cell phone ringing and texting, computers running, kids yelling, dog barking, spouse talking-talking, the TV is running, so is the radio in our car, and it just is never...well, quiet!

 

I wonder how many missed calls there has been so far? Communiqué's about our life...you know, stuff like job recommendations, parenting directions, financial advice, needs of friends and acquaintances, and general warnings and or statements about our general surroundings like "isn't that an awesome sunset I did? Did you see it? It was sooo cool, and I wanted you to see it..."

 

We mean well. We try to hear Him. But I wonder if the problem is, we are straining to hear that "small voice" over the volume of noise instead of actually turning the noise down? I wonder if we are constantly saying "what?" to God? But that is merely adding God to your life instead of making Him your priority. Sometimes...many times, we must physically and purposely run and hide to make this happen! We must consciously and purposely slow our lives down and simply how we live. That will take discipline, great effort, and the ability to say "no." When we do not, we are "lost in plain sight." The crowd noise is just too loud to hear the coaches calls.

 

Tonight I pray that in the quiet of our communion, that we all listen and hear.

 

For God is speaking still...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Business as Usual?"


Back in the garden, Adam began something that has been haunting men ever since. No...I don't just mean 'sin' ...that's a given. But specifically in relation to his interaction with his woman, who just happened to be the only other person to interact with at that time! The events of that day are sketchy...we aren't given a lot of details. But what we know transpired leaves us with lots of questions: where was Adam when Eve was chatting with the devil? Where was the protection and the leadership that he should have been exercising? And then,...then he folded like a house of cards in what was the first instance of what has been called the 'sin of passivity.' A sin has been the bane of humanity every since!

 The "sin of passivity."

It has tore up our marriages, our relationships with others, often negated or at least rendered invisible our Christian testimony. We have missed great blessings that God wanted to give us, bypassed great opportunities God wanted to experience with us, and lost so many kingdom advancements and 'mountain top' events that God wanted to show us. How many marriages have been waylaid because the man wouldn't lead? Instead we use language like "well, it's just not as easy as that...it's not that simple...".

How many churches have 'missed the boat' because they chose rather to 'get along' instead of 'moving along?' For many, it is far more important to be in good standing with man than it is to be in right standing with God. How many pastors have been sidelined because they refused the fight, refused to really look close for fear that what they would find might alter their reality! So we appease. We avoid. We acquiesce. We assimilate. But the 'life and times of Jesus Christ' was not so lived. Jesus said in Luke 6:26..."woe unto you when all men speak well of you..." and Jeremiah the prophet warned of those who  "offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound claiming 'peace, peace, when there is no peace.'"

To reject this blight is to enter into a realm of extremes. That is a truth that I have been very aware of since I began in ministry 30 years ago. I have always taught the ministry students here at JFB that to serve God in such a capacity causes the "middle" of your life to slowly fade and disappear, which is counterintuitive in a world that actively seeks the "middle!" Oh, we like the 'highs,' but not too high and not too often please! Generally, our tendency is to seek the calm, the safe, the stable, the average. We do not want to 'rock the boat' or 'cause a ruckus.' We want quiet at any cost and 'peace' at any sacrifice...even if that means our very soul, and even if it is only at best a "pseudo-peace."

I am reminded that the same Jesus "meek and mild" who said "...let the little children come to me" in Mark 10:14 also cleared the temple with a 'cat o' nine tails' whip. Extremes. The same Moses who doubted his ability and feared for his safety at one point, melted down the golden cafe and made the people drink it for their sin for their idolatry. Extremes. Peter? He was either experiencing the mountain transfiguration, or he was falling on his face. Extremes. The apostles in Acts were participants in miraculous events such as supernatural healings and great moves of the Holy Spirit, and then later being stoned, beaten, and martyred by the people. Extremes. And the list goes on and on...throughout the scriptures and throughout history in the lives of those greatly used by God.

And there were many, but many more who came and went without even a ripple! What made the difference? The "willingness to engage at the cost of the middle." Because the highs get higher and lows get lower, the further one travels in ministry. The middle of your life fades away. Thus every day for the engaged minister of God is a page stolen from "The Tale of Two Cities"..."...it was the best of times and it was the worst of times."

The alternative however is...for many of us, unthinkable! It is the option of average, quiet, calm, easy, and benign, all at the cost of peoples souls. Our 'sin of passivity' sucks the passion of our soul from us, and can condemn the souls of those around us. For some...and I pray for this church as we enter 2015, there can never be such a model played out. May we forever "love large and fight hard" and never let passivity find root...

 

Pastor TIM