See Yourself in the Struggle ~ Based on a sermon by Pastor Kevin Dudley 6/2/2013

June 5, 2013

Selected Reading: Revelation 1:4-8

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I can recall easily the moment I found out about the Newtown, Ct. shooting that claimed the lives of 26 strangers, both children and adults. I was at work and covering the reception desk with the receptionist was in a meeting. A young woman from accounting came up to the desk red faced and in a complete panic. She told me about what happened and said that although her children were safe and sound in Grove City she needed to hear their voice. I went to MSNBC.com to read about the tragedy for myself and saw that the number of reported deaths had risen from the time the woman from accounting left her desk and made her way to the reception area. Voices darted back and forth in the office as people talked about how badly they felt for the parents and how insane the killer must have been. One of the other four African American employees came to the desk and asked me if the shooter was black. Insulted, disgusted and confused I responded, “Does it matter?” and dropped my head in prayer.  Of all of the panic and grief that was spreading throughout our small office, there was only one thing that I knew to do and it came so easily. I felt helpless and unable to fully sympathize with the community of Newtown Connecticut, so I prayed. I was reminded of this day as I prepared to write this blog post reflecting Pastor Kevin Dudley’s sermon on Sunday June 2nd, and asked myself, why is it so easy to turn to God when the struggle is not my own? As I reviewed my notes, I was reminded that what happens in the world is directly connected to me because of who I am in Christ. In this day and age, God needs us to be sane, secure, surrendered and submitted in order to be a part of what He is doing. We have to see ourselves in the struggle, no matter if it is in the world or in our own lives –furthermore we must see ourselves according to God and not the way the world sees us.  We have to see ourselves as people of faith in the struggle so that we can be used by God and make a difference. We have to stand our ground and keep our faith in the God that we serve.  Through the selected reading, we find three ways that we can live faithfully when we find ourselves in the midst of the struggles of life.

 

First, Pastor Dudley advises us to simply keep the covenant. In verse 4, John greets the seven churches of Asia by reminding them of what they have already been given: “Grace and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come…” God has already established a covenant with us; we have been given grace and peace and now only are tasked with the responsibility of living in it. The covenant was given to us all for us all. We are bound together by the promise God made to us and are charged with a calling to work together and support one another. We are expected to extend to one another the same grace and peace that God has given us. It was this grace and peace that sent me into immediate prayer when there was nothing else that could be done for the families in Newtown. It is the same grace and peace that made the call for “Prayers for Boston” and “Prayers for Oklahoma” over the last few months as we experience tragedy after tragedy in this country. Our faith in God’s plan and sovereignty over this world is our way of sharing the grace and peace bestowed to us through the covenant. All we have to do it keep it.

 

Secondly, we can see ourselves in the struggle when we claim every moment. Every moment in our lives does matter; God is not a coincidental God. Everything He does is laced with purpose and intention, even in the middle of a struggle. Verse 8 reminds us of what was said just a few verses above in verse 4: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (NIV). The words of the Lord refer to time and timing –God’s timing. HE is the beginning and the end. We offer too much permanency to temporary situations. God is infinite. And so if we are living according to God we would understand that in the grand scheme of Him, we are giving too much attention to small moments. We are being called to stop living according to the superficial right now and live according to God’s supernatural forever. A circumstance is not our life and as quickly as it came upon us, God will surely allow it to pass according to His plan. God is bigger and lasts longer than our moment. As we await His return we must remind ourselves that He is among us right now and so we should look forward to claiming every moment knowing that God is real. Don’t settle for small momentary living, but be renewed in knowing that God is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…” (Ephesians 3:20 KJV).

 

Lastly, Pastor Dudley encouraged us to receive the gift. Jesus has already taken away everything that might get in the way of our walk; every obstacle, every struggle. He has even saved us from what we haven’t even done yet. We cheapen the sacrifice that Jesus made by acting like this life is too much for us to handle. Have you ever given someone a gift and you can read on their face that they don’t care for what you’ve given them? Or they pretend to like it, even love it but as time goes on you notice that they never wear it or use it? Or how about the insult you feel when you hear through the grapevine that a gift you’ve given to someone, they’ve actually had the nerve to give to someone else?! Think about how we make Christ feel on a regular basis when we give in to the stresses and circumstances of this world. We are reminded of what Christ did, being a “faithful witness” in verses 5 and 6. We should wear his gift daily, knowing that we’ve already won! No matter how hard the battle, no matter what it looks like to the world or in the world, we can take faith in what Jesus has already done for us. He’s given a gift that is more valuable than we can even fathom. We have the victory when we receive the gift by faith and live according to what has been given to us; as a child of the Most High God.

 

In all that this world throws at us, it is easy to become distracted by the gloom and consumed by the small moments that seem as though they will haunt us for a lifetime. But as children of God we must perform a regular self-check and make sure that we are living as though we belong to the Church. When struggle arises we are called to serve God in faith by keeping the covenant, claiming every moment, and receiving the gift. Jesus has paid the price and given us victory against anything that comes against us in his death. We need to honor that gift by capturing every moment and knowing that God’s timing is beyond our understanding –making sure not to allow ourselves to get caught up in the temporary calamities of this world. We have been given grace and peace from he who is and who was and who is to come –let’s live in it together!

 

 

 

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