Calvary Church

4216 West 204th St, Matteson, IL – 708-481-8300
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  • Lightweights

    Sometimes, I reflect on what a bunch of lightweights a lot of us are in the trusting God department of our lives. With the technological advances that we have at this point in human experience, much of what folks used to trust God for is obtained without much effort compared to even a generation ago. We don’t really need to trust him to provide water for us. We just go to the faucet and there it is in abundance. We really don’t need to trust him for food, as the average waistline professes. We have shelters from storm and sun as well as transportation to get us where ever  we need to or want to go.  We have it made with little shortage to rely upon God to wonderfully and unquestionable provide. We even live in relative seclusion with our oceanic borders which makes us a little harder to attack.  When attacked, we can fire back with pin-point precision.
    Contrast this with Israel in the wilderness.They had to trust God for everything. Without his daily provision of food, without the miraculous provision of water, they would have all died in the sand becoming a vulture’s banquet. Without the amazing victories that He gave them, they would have been wiped out and resold into the slavery that they had been delivered from in Egypt. Even with all of the consistent evidence of his graciousness, however, the Nation still struggled with trusting.
    In Numbers 14 we read the account of the rebellion at Kadesh in the desert of Paran. After seeing God devastate the super-power, Egypt, they cowered at the thought of the warriors of Canaan.  They forgot all of the evidence of God’s power, love and provision. They jumped at the idea of surrendering to the Egyptians, reenlisting into slavery rather than trust God to defeat their future foes.  Even though they had incredibly abundant reasons from their personal experience to trust fully, they cowered in faithlessness.
    I have never heard a cowering person being a thankful person.

    mayflower    In 1620, 102 pilgrims and a crew of 30 sailed on a 25’ x 113’ foot ship for a 66 day trip to the “New World.” The plan had been for them to take two ships, but the Speedwell was leaking too much to make the transatlantic voyage so the home seeking vagabonds crowded onto the Mayflower.

    Their moniker, “Pilgrim”, was earned before these separatists sailed from England.  They had previously relocated to in search of religious freedom.  (They believed that the Church of England was so corrupt that there was no hope for it. Seeing that the government and the Church were in essence one entity, the only was to be separate from the corrupt religious system was to leave England altogether.) Economic conditions were poor enough for these saints that remaining in Holland became an nonviable option. Their desire to follow Christ apart from the control of the Church of England led them to move across an ocean, where its authority would not reach in the “new” and “unsettled” land. They desired to follow Christ, even if it meant difficulty, persecution or death.
    I think that folks accepted adversity more easily in those times, as there was so much more of it. Plagues and errant, inadequate or absent medical care were common deadly forces, and we would easily think of their base standard of living as deep poverty. Yet these “pilgrims” are best known for being thankful to God for the abundance of his blessings and not cowering before their difficulties.
    We know that half of these saints did not survive their first year as they arrived when winter was in full force in New England.  Nonetheless, their first year ended with a three day celebration of Thanksgiving, and not with cowering and grief.
    Paul writes:

       “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.  Then many will give thanks  on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

    2 Corinthians 1:8-11

        Paul anticipates that the end result of the harsh adversity that he, Timothy and others who served with them were facing would result in thanksgiving.  He, in the midst of the grind, starts this letter with “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort”.
    Jesus, just before his suffering for us:

      “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

       “Then he took the cup, gave thanks  and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” “

    Matthew 26:26-29

        Paul encourages the Thessalonian believers, a highly persecuted group, in I Thessalonians 5:16-18:

       Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

        From prison, he tells the Philippians to:

       Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

       In the middle of the few adversities that you and I face, start with giving thanks.  Here is a short list if you are short of ideas:

    You have not been treated as your sins have deserved.
    You have had the basic needs supplied.
    Your life has purpose and meaning.
    Your life is not bound by this life
    You are infinitely loved.

        We need to fully embrace the concept that our lives are not about us, but about the relationship with God that we were designed to have.  If my life purpose corresponds to this, then I can to be in a state of perpetual thankfulness because even in the grinder of the worst that life can dish out, I am growing in my relationship with God.
    If my life is about me, then, with the forces gathered against me, I ought to cower.  If my life is about Christ, and Christ alone, then I must trust him, full of thanksgiving, for he alone is enough.

     

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