Sunday, March 18, 2012

Jesus Calls Us To Come

Today's record-setting temperatures no doubt seduced many people into bypassing our worship service this morning. Too bad for them as they missed a very good one.

Pastor Brad welcomed us with his usual "Good morning" greeting and reminded us that it is the fourth week of Lent. "I think of Lent as a time of deepening our relationship with Christ," he said. "We’ve been in a series addressing questions like, 'Does God still talk to us? How do I know God’s will?' Too often we begin to treat Jesus like Oprah who will help us with our problems. But let’s remember first off He is our Savior."

This morning we had a guest pianist, Susie Newman's sister Nancy from Dallas.

Announcements included the following:
1. There’s a sign up sheet in the back for men who will be helping with Easter Breakfast…
2. Next Saturday the men will be going on an outing to Cabela’s. Guys planning to go should meet us here at the church at 7:30.
3. The council is meeting Tuesday.
4. The pastor is starting a New members class. If you are interested in membership at New Life Covenant, please give Brad a phone call to make arrangements.
5. Brad drew attention to a handout in the bulletin today emphasizing prayer.

The transition into worship included a reminder that worship is an act of participation where we open up our hearts to God and express our gratitude for who He is.

After a medley of hymns the tithes and offerings were received while All Hail the Power was being played.

Pam Johnson read John 3:14-21, which included the great proclamation that “Light has come into the world…” This was followed by a time of prayer, and then the pastor took the pulpit.

Jesus Calls Us To Come

Anyone here enjoy waiting? Have you ever had a job interview and you’re asked about your strengths and you outlined all the ways you enjoy waiting? Brad pushed all the hot buttons that make us impatient... driving examples, shopping experiences, elevators, stuck waiting in the airport… “I love waiting.”

Waiting is generally not something we’re ever good at. We live in a fast food, fast messaging world where everything is go, go, go. Yet directly into our restless culture God speaks, Psalm 37.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him...

"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Relax in His strength, His power, His presence. And wouldn’t you know it," Brad said, "God is never in a hurry."

God says “Before you can go and do, you need to come and be.” That means you have to learn to wait.

Waiting in our culture feels like we're spinning our wheels and wasting time. In God’s view waiting is more active than that. We participate with God in becoming who we’re meant to be while we wait.

Waiting is an active thing. We don’t quit our jobs and relax. We actively hoist our sails to catch the wind, not sleep on the deck. We wait actively and live dependently on Him.

Brad told an amusing story of big Iowa farm boy with whom Brad once arm wrestled. There were lessons for both. "I’m not as strong as I thought I was. And the other fellow wasn't as smart as he thought he was.

This was a lead up to the question of how... How do we trust God's strength, God's view, God's heart.

First: Keep doing the right thing.
Verse three says, "Trust in the Lord and do good." As we reviewed last week, Joseph’s life wasn’t turning out the way he expected, but in every situation he did what was right. He didn’t complain, didn’t rebel, didn’t sink into self-pity. Instead, he trusted God, knowing that waiting was an active thing, doing the right thing every day.

Maybe you’re feeling like you’re not in the right career or stuck in circumstances you dislike. The principle here is that while you’re waiting, you trust the Lord and keep doing good. Don’t dwell on where you wish you were or what might have been. God’s will for you right now is to keep doing the right thing, right now where you are at.

Whenever I get distracted by wondering where I am supposed to go in the next phase of my life I remember Micah 6:8. "He has shown you, O man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you? To do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God."

There will be days when the plan is not crystal clear. Don’t throw in the towel. Cultivate faithfulness right where you’re at. Even when it seems like the most menial dead-end situation.

In Colossian 3 Paul writes, "Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart…"

Brad told the story of guy who ended up as the close-up guy at McDonald’s. A friend said, “You could do better than this.” He replied, "Yes, but tonight I’m going to mop this floor as if Jesus was going to be the first customer to walk here in the morning.”

David, too, did exploits but was patient and went back to tending sheep. He understood waiting.

God doesn’t tell us how long we are going to wait. If He did we would get discouraged. Abraham and Sarah waited decades to have their promised son Isaac.

God’s will is more about becoming who you are.

Second: Moment by moment doing life with God.
Verse 4 of Psalm 37 states, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
There are two parts of that verse… Part A, “Delight yourself in the Lord…” All too often we want to jump to the B part. God’s aim with the first part is for us to get the desires right. If we make knowing Him and pursuing Him our primary delight, He will give us the desires of our heart.

This is not a self-help thing. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Here's a good prayer: “God, just clarify the desires of my heart. Help Your desires and my desires to come into alignment.”

When our focus is on Him, our passions begin to line up with His, and life becomes a true adventure.

Pastor then cited Jeremiah 2:13...

13 “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

God created us to be empty that we might be filled with Him. “Before I will ever tell you where to go, I just want you to come to me.” We are amazingly dependent on God when we need an answer, and incredibly independent when we feel our needs are all met.

God's desire is that we would come to know Him and fall in love with Him… and do our lives moment by moment with Him.

How do we do this? It begins by receiving Him. And inviting him to be with us in every situation, whether meetings, dates, wherever.

For a great prayer suggestion, look at Psalm 25:4, 5.

4 Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

Have you heard this from God today? "You can be doing life with Me. Today is the day to come." Are you tired? Are you burned out on religion? God says, “Keep company with Me…"

Before you “go” you need to “come.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord.

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