Sunday, September 27, 2015

I Have Decided

The fall colors are beginning to peak and on a sunny morning like today the reds, oranges and yellows are especially vibrant. Brad welcomed us warmly, which happens no matter the weather.

1. There is a shoe drive to collect shoes for the homeless, especially men's shoes of any size.
2. Brook has scheduled a cleaning day for Wednesday to organize the storage room.
3. New flooring will arrive before long, to be installed around the first week of November. It's possible things will be in disarray so that we may have to be creative about where we worship one or two weekends at that time.

The trio helped us transition to worship by singing, "Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place." The congregation joined to sing several songs and hymns before an offering was taken while the trio sang "Make Me A Servant."

A time of prayer preceded the message.

I Have Decided

We looked at the book of Nehemiah again this morning. Brad began by talking about the implications of Jesus' invitation: "Follow Me." Those two words have changed human history, globally and individually, by people who followed these two words, from the early disciples to the present.

Everything is wrapped up in those two words. "Follow Me."

When Jesus says that, He's really saying, "I just want you to trust Me in everything. I want you to obey Me fully. No exceptions." This is not a preference, but a commitment.

The reason Pastor Brad is here at New Life Covenant is summed up in this concise call to surrender. The ball is in our court, to decide. Following Jesus is a decision. It is intentional.

Which brings us back to Nehemiah. Last week we discussed how the people built the wall, but at this point they were still living in a land run by foreign authority. And the people gathered, seeking God's guidance. They looked to Ezra to read God's book to them. The people listened as Ezra read from the Torah from daybreak till noon. (Nehemiah 8)

Beginning with Genesis they learn how the world came into being, how the world became broken, how God had purposes, a mission and a people. Ezra continued to read about Moses, and the giving of the Law, and how people are supposed to live.

And as the story went on, they learned how much they had missed it, how generations lost their way, living shallow meaningless lives when they had been called to so much more, and they're hearts were broken, and they wept.

But the leaders said, "Wait, enough crying. Because God has a purpose for you." And then the significant words in verse 10: "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

This is followed by more reading from the Book, and three further hours of worship, they confess their sins together and repented. Here's the culmination, in verse 38: “In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it."

Our commitment is more important than anything. It is not legalistic. It is not self-righteous. It's something inside them. This day commitment becomes a turning point in the history of Israel.

Then one day Jesus comes. And He explains the meaning of all these things. And what He shows them and us is that the Laws of God are not intended to make us a group of people who keep a bunch of impossible rules, but rather people whose lives exhibit this from the heart.

This isn't something nebulous out there somewhere. This is practical in the moment, here and now. Love one another.

It's not about "I'll pray when I need something," or "I'll study God's word when it is convenient."

Jesus is able to help us become all He wants us to be. He is patient, and willing. And He calls you. He is Lord of all and He invites you...."Follow Me.

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