I literally was raised in a church before I was born. My mother and father were Christians and I attended church faithfully for the nine months I was in the womb. I have no memory of my childhood that did not include the church. My father was an elder at a small Plymouth Brethren chapel and I was baptized by him in an YMCA pool. On Saturdays I would go down with my family (which was a big one) and set up the folding chairs and wipe them down. My father taught his Sunday School class in the women’s shower room. My teacher was Mrs. Roth. I loved her. I used to day dream that I would marry her one day. The fact that she was 30+ years old and already married to another elder had little to do with my plans. She would be my wife one day.
All of this to say, I grew up singing songs. Heavenly Sunshine (which is also knows as Heavenly Sunlight by the less than holy) was my favorite, though many others were sung by me and the other kids in Sunday School. On Sunday evening during the service kids always had the first choice in what song the congregation would sing, and if I got picked it would be good ol’ Heavenly Sunshine.
Tonight I taught my final class on the Pentateuch before their exam. I showed them where the Lord commands Moses to teach the people of Israel a song until they learn it perfectly. Here is the passage:
And it came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, “Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you. “For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the LORD; how much more, then, after my death? “Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. “For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.” Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:
What follows in chapter 32 is a song that recounts the reality that Israel will fail in their covenant responsibilities before Yahweh. This song is not like the songs I sang in Sunday School. This one was painful. It spoke of a nation who would reject the love and covenant of the one, true God. It would wander and play the harlot. And in all of this it would not be a shock nor a surprise to the Lord.
Even though the nation knew this was going to happen they could not prevent it. They were like so many others, who will say today, that tomorrow they shall repent, tomorrow they shall reject their sin, tomorrow they shall follow the Lord with a whole heart. But then, when it is too late, they discover that their heart was never given to God in the first place. They are flung down into the fulness of their sin and they are trapped by their own snares.
Not pleasant words, but then, eternity is pretty serious stuff. So, what of you, my reader? Are you flirting with that which is not consistent with one who calls themselves a follower of Jesus? Do you love the world and yet call yourself a lover of Jesus?
I give thanks that we have a Savior who has gone before us. One who is the true, complete sin-bearer. The one who shall bring us faithfully to the Father without a stain or a blemish. But I also know that it is folly for us to say, “Lord, Lord, have we not . . . .” (cf. ) and never bothered to consider the call of following Jesus.
All of this to say, let us carefully consider our High Priest and let us also hold fast to the confession of our faith. May we walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called. And may we be found faithful in the end through the empowering grace of God.
A compelling article:
Fifteen years ago I had it all figured out. Theology was perfect. My passions filled with the progressively growing belief that I was going to make a difference—a big difference. If people were in need, I could fix it . . . or at least direct them to the right way to fix it. I had all the answers. I was sanctified and I was being sanctified . . . fast (like Ferrari fast).
Fast forward fifteen years…
Things are much different now. I don’t have quite as much figured out. Passions are secure, but have been nuanced by the scars of my soul. Things I was so confident about before now make my spirit blush with frustration, salted with a bit of shame and bitterness. Fixing things is not as easy as it seemed back then. Complications have arisen. People are complicated. I am complicated.
Not long ago as I discussed spiritual growth with a discouraged Christian gal, I began to see my own plight in hers. She could not understand why she is not a “good” person. “I have been a Christian for thirty years and I feel as if I am less sanctified now than ever. I don’t understand. Maybe I am not even saved.”
Intrigued? I was. If so, go here to read more of a refreshingly honest post.
We come to you because Jesus your Son is seated at your right hand.
We come because He has given Himself to be our one, perfect sacrifice for sin.
We come because He has opened up the very throne room to us.
We come because He constantly makes intercession on our behalf.
So we come,
and filled with hope
to make our requests known to you. Our first request is to open our eyes up to see the glory of Jesus Christ,
That we would be able to fix our eyes upon Him
and turn our eyes off of this world and its many distractions and temptation.
Quiet our hearts today to hear the Word of God
and to sing praises from overflowing hearts. Second, Father we ask that you confront us those sins we are holding onto.
Cause your Spirit to search us and see if there is any hurtful thing in us.
Bring to our mind something that must be repented of and rejected in our lives
so that we might worship you with holy hearts and lips. Third, Father help us consider the fulness of your wrath to come.
Let us realize the greatness of our salvation,
the fulness of your holiness and justice
and the terror of your holy wrath.
So that we tremble in fear and in joy,
knowing that Jesus has fully drained that cup of wrath that was prepared for us.
So that we desire to speak to others of the gospel that saves. Fourth, Father bind our hearts in the unity of the Spirit,
seeing no distinction between one another,
allowing no heart of racism or pride.
Empower us to express true love toward one another
so that those watching will see Christ and know we are following Him. And lastly Father, let us be filled with love toward one another,
Keeping the love of Christ close to our hearts.
Let us forgive as Jesus forgave us.
Let us serve as Jesus served us.
Let us pray as Jesus prayed for us.
Let us give as Jesus first gave himself for us. And now, as we sing, let us sing as people who are
and Free. Amen.
Father, today we come to
and renew our faith
in the hope of the resurrection.
Not any resurrection,
but the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The resurrection that is the very destruction of our mortal enemy, death itself.
We give you eternal, unending praise Father to have loved us
with a love that acts
And a love that sends
that which is most precious to You.
We give you thanks that Jesus became our sin-bearer.
Our perfect sin-bearer
Our eternal sin-bearer
One who brings us out of condemnation and rejection
and into justification and acceptance.
We who were guilty and without hope
now are filled with eternal hope.
Peace has been given to us.
Forgiveness has been granted to us.
Adoption is our inheritance.
Access to you is our privilege.
Holy Father, today I ask that you work in our hearts
to see the glory of the resurrection of Jesus
How it causes us to not hope in vain.
Bring the Spirit upon us in a powerful way,
one that opens eyes that are blind
one that makes dead hearts alive
one that instructs and guides us in all truth.