Thursday, January 12, 2012

A sermon to myself...

I am a jotter.  Meaning I jot things.  In notebooks.  On scrap sheets of paper.  Here on this blog.  This morning, I woke with a verse on my mind, so I turned to one of my little notebooks to find the chapter and verse jotted within so I could read it word for word.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  {1 Thessalonians 5:16-18}

I needed that one today.  And every day.  Seems I've been faltering on the joyful part as of late.  I feel a little blue, a little less than joyful.  Life is hard and stressful and disappointing, but God commands that we find our joy through Him and His Son.  I do well in this area sometimes, other times notsomuch.  And so upon reminding myself of the principles of this verse, I thought I would read the entire book.  1 Thessalonians is not lengthy by any means, and it's a quick little morning read.

Every time I do this... oh let me stop and read this whole chapter or book that surrounds this particular passage I find so timely today... I am pierced at the heart with God's words.

Here's what stabbed me today:

It is God's will that you should be sanctified... For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.  {4:3a, 7-8}

Yikes.  And here's a wee bit more.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.  {5:23-24}

Wow.  See, any time I see the word call, I am automatically fascinated.  This is a term used loosely among Christians today.  Jobs are considered callings, men and women are called into the ministry or to me missionaries, and nearly every Christian feels called to something, somewhere, or someone at some point in their life.  Me, being the introspect I am, have always wondered, "How are any of us so certain we've called to do anything?  How do I distinguish the difference of the will and voice of God in my head and that of my own sinful and prideful one?" The ears of my soul perk up when I read this word in the Bible, as I am determined to figure out what it all really means, and I am finding more and more that it's not a term of to go here or there or to do this or that but more of a beckoning from our Creator.  A drawing toward. A gentle whisper.  Come to me.  Not to go to Africa, take this or that job, be a preacher, but a pulling in of your soul to God, the Holy One, himself.

I read in my Study Bible about the Thessalonians, how this was addressed to the first church in their area, how they lived amidst persecution.  Not a Tim Tebow type persecution (because he is experiencing the modern day version of it in the media for sure) but the real deal... the beating and imprisonment and death kind of persecution.  We are so fortunate in our country to know nothing of these types of things; our persecution comes in social terms but not in a my life is in danger for professing what I believe terms.  And yet, my profession is weak.

This is something I have been tossing around in my head for a while.  I talk it.  I write my thoughts here.  But am I living it?  Am I making a conscious effort each day to live it out?  This is where I fail.  And what does that demonstrate?  A lack of faith on my part.  Complete lack of faith.

The one who calls you is faithful and HE WILL DO IT.  {Emphasis added.}

Just for grins and giggles and because I am a word nerd, I looked up the word sanctify:
~ to set apart for sacred use; consecrate
~to make holy; purify
~ to make productive of holiness or spiritual blessing

What I see in 1 Thessalonians is a call to be purified through Christ, and a promise that He will do it.  The thing that must be sandwiched in between is faith.  Faith that He is willing and that He is able to do that with who I am today.

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.  But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.  For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.  {5:6-10}

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