redemption

God’s Laundry Mat

The only thing harder than building is rebuilding. To go back, restore something that was ruined, rebuild a structure that collapsed, or to cleanse something that was stained. These projects are often harder than starting from scratch.

Such was the case in Jerusalem ca 520 BC. Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonian army at the start of the 70-year captivity where God allowed His people to be carried away so that He could teach them not to commit idolatry. In 520 BC, the captivity was ending, and King Darius decreed that the Jews should go home. So, home they went.

Upon arriving in the Holy Land, they found Jerusalem in total ruin. The Temple was destroyed, the walls were a pile of rubble, bandits raided the area, and discouragement set in.

The Prophet Zechariah was called by God to encourage the people to rebuild Jerusalem.

In Zechariah 3, the prophet sees a vision of Joshua the high priest standing before the Lord while wearing filthy garments. His filthy attire was not from incidental contact with dust, but rather was the complete soiling consistent with rolling around in mud.

Old Testament Law required the high priest to wear clean clothing, so the fact the high priest was standing before God wearing filthy clothing was a major violation. Being the representative of the people before God, Joshua was essentially representing the sinfulness and the guilt of the nation before God.

To make things worse, Satan stood beside Joshua “to resist him” before God. Basically, Satan stood beside Joshua, criticizing his filthy clothes, and the sinfulness of the nation.

This had to be a mixed bag for Zechariah. One on hand, there’s the high priest. The priesthood and worship were being restored. On the other hand, he wore filthy clothes before God, and there was still no temple where worship could truly take place.

It was at that moment that God rebuked Satan, called Joshua (and by extension, the nation of Israel) a brand plucked from the fire, and restored Joshua to the glory of the priesthood by changing his clothes from filthy clothes, to new, clean, priestly clothes.

In this one moment, God showed the Prophet Zechariah that He not only accepted the return of the Jews to Israel, and the reconstruction of the Temple, but that He was behind it, and He would restore it, and He would cleanse the nation and reconcile them to Himself as His chosen people.

Therefore, the nation should move forward with reconstruction in faith and return to the Lord.

Often times, we wind up feeling like Joshua the high priest, standing before the Lord in filthy clothes with Satan (and the rest of the world) criticizing our weaknesses and failures. It often feels as if we stand alone, damaged goods rejected by the world.

Just as God cleansed Joshua and restored him to the glory of his position, God will restore us as well, if we (a) know Christ as our savior, and (b) turn to Him.

You don’t have to go through life defined by the scars of your past. You don’t have to go through life as a second-class citizen, or a second-hand friend. You are not some old CD single languishing in the bargain bin of a soon-to-close music store.

You have the opportunity for a new life, one where you’ve been made free in Christ, where you can grab that new lease on life, love God, and do as you please.

And we want to be a part of that with you. Come see us. Sunday School at 10 am, Morning Worship at 11 am. We meet at the Early Chamber of Commerce, 104 E. Industrial Drive, Early, TX, 76802.

Advertisements

How God sees you

IMG_0774The Bible tells the story of a rich man who traveled into a foreign country and released his wife into the harem of a pagan king on two separate occasions. This same man fathered children with multiple wives, as well as one of his wife’s handmaids. What do you think God did with this man?

In two short sentences, I described to you Abraham, father of the Jewish nation, and the prime Biblical example of faith. In all fairness to Abraham, the two sentences I used to introduce him captured the worst moments of his life. In the opening paragraph of this post, I unfairly defined him by his sin, and his failures.

While I may seem like a dirty dog for doing that, the truth is we do this to ourselves and each other on a daily basis. We tend to define ourselves by our worst moments, which leads to discouragement, which leads to depression, which leads to anger and estrangement.

You may see yourself as a failure. You may see others around you as failures. However, that does not mean that’s how God sees you, nor does it mean that’s how God sees others.

How can God honor a man who sinned as grievously as Abraham? Simple. Romans 4:3 says “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”

Abraham believed God. He trusted God. He took God at His word. Therefore, God regarded Abraham as righteous and saved his soul.

Furthermore, God looked at Abraham, not as the adulterous man who violated His plan for marriage, but rather as a work in progress that God refined until he was ready to receive His blessings.

You see this concept at work with Joshua the high priest in Zechariah 3. Joshua the high priest stood before God wearing filthy garments, a sign of his sin, and a sign of the sin of his people. Satan stood beside Joshua, “resisting,” or accusing him, but God responded, “The LORD rebuke thee, Satan, even the LORD who hath chosen Israel rebuke thee, is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?”

Joshua stood before God as a mess, but God saw Joshua for the man whom he was transforming him to be.

Your life may be a mess right now. You may be fearful to enter God’s presence. Perhaps that is why you haven’t been to church in a while. You want to at least be able to put your best foot forward, and right now, you don’t have a shoe to fit.

If you trust God, He regards that as righteousness, and He will save your soul. Furthermore, His view of you has less to do with what you are, and more to do with what He will transform you to be. He sees the best in you, and He will bring it out.

And just as scripture gives glowing praise of Abraham, if you trust God to do this work in you, you, too, will hear God’s praise on the day of judgment, when He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

If you don’t know the Jesus Christ as your savior, trust Him to save you today. If you know the Lord, trust Him to transform you. Then, return to His presence.

I’ll see you Sunday morning.

Motorless Mustangs Are No Fun

1965_Ford_Mustang_Fastback_(15595256971)

In the back of every red-blooded American’s mind is a dream to take a classic car from America’s golden days, restore it, and hit the open road. Very few actually undertake this project, because restoring a classic car to its former glory is an involved process. You have to disassemble the car, all the way to the frame, and rebuild it from the ground up, replacing worn out and broken parts with new parts, and making sure all parts fit properly together.

To me, the most exciting part of restoring a classic would be the finishing paint and chrome. At that point, the final product takes shape, and that newly restored car sits in its full glory in your garage. However, if that car doesn’t run, it’s no fun. Worse, it has little value. So, the true car enthusiast will begin his restoration project by restoring the mechanical components of the car. After all of that is complete, then comes the body and paint.

If the one doing the restoration is successful, he will roll out of his garage in a car that has been restored to its former glory. That awesome moment comes only after the car has been rebuilt from the inside out.

This process is time consuming and intense to perform on a car. It’s even more intense to perform on one’s life. All too often, we get to a point in our lives where we see the need to rebuild, to start over. We look for redemption in our lives, but we don’t think about Spiritual redemption. We merely want to fix our current physical situation, whether we’ve wrecked our careers or marriage, or whether we’ve lost everything to drugs and alcohol.

The fact is, if we only try to fix the problems in our lives, our restoration will be just as shallow as putting a coat of paint on a car with no engine. We have to get to the root of the problem, and that’s our Spirituality.

In Luke 24:13-27, we meet two disciples who were disenchanted after the death of Christ. They had believed that Christ would come in and restore the Kingdom of Israel. However, when Christ died on the cross, and rose again, it appeared that the restoration of the Kingdom would never happen. So, these two disciples, disillusioned and disappointed, left town.

The mistake these two disciples made was desiring a surface-level restoration of the Kingdom while overlooking the deep restoration that would come through redemption and salvation.

However, Christ met these two disciples along the road, and began to preach to them all things concerning Himself in the scriptures. The plan wasn’t thwarted. The plan was carried out beautifully. Christ paid for the sins of man so that man could dwell with Christ eternally in that restored Kingdom. The most important thing Christ had done for them, and us, was paying for their sin, thus giving them eternal life. Once that issue was settled, then the Kingdom on earth could be addressed.

You may be struggling right now. Perhaps your life has fallen apart. Perhaps you’ve seen destruction in your life. Perhaps you’ve lost everything. Or, perhaps your setback is relatively minor. If you simply try to solve your own problem, and restore your own life, any progress you make will be temporary and superficial.

However, if you repent and trust the Lord, He will rebuild you from the inside out. He will turn your sorrow into joy and form you into the person He intended on you being. That restoration runs deep, and is eternal. The question is, will you trust Him?

See you at church Sunday. Sunday School at 10 a.m., Morning Worship at 11 a.m., at the Early Chamber of Commerce building, 104 E. Industrial Drive, Early, TX 76802.