Rector’s message to the congregation February 17, 2019
I believe a number of you took on the challenge of reading your Bible from beginning to end, that is, reading from Genesis all through to end of Revelation, reading every word, every comma, and every period. It is a challenge worth taking on because through it you familiarize yourself with what God has spoken to you.
The challenge takers should by now be well underway in the book of Exodus or even finished with it and now are reading Leviticus. Do not be afraid of the book of Leviticus. Determine to persevere through it, if the word “persevere” is proper to be used in this regard. Again, read slowly, word to word, so you gain a good grasp of the message of the book. Wade your way through it. It is one of my favorite books of the Bible. I call it God’s discipleship manual for his uncouth former slaves whom He is trying to turn into a kingdom of priests. One of these days we will look a little deeper into that book. For now, let’s look some at the book of Exodus.
In the book of Exodus, the timeline of salvation history is moving ahead in earnest. A redeemed people starts its journey with God. From the rebellious and defiant mode in which they lived in Egypt for 400 years and resulted in lawless crude personal behavior, the people of God are now receiving and accepting instructions from a higher power, God, telling them how they ought to live and act toward God and toward one another as God’s people, God’s kingdom of priests.
God was starting from scratch to train His people to learn a new way. He knew how crude they were. He knew how big headed and resistant to authority they were in Egypt. There they were herded along as cattle and would receive the merciless lash of the ruthless guards whenever they failed to toe the line of their slave drivers. The work they did there was not for their benefit but for the benefit of their captors and tormenters. Now their training by God is for their own good. God intends to remove Egypt and its thinking and its worldview from His people’s very psyche so that they acquire a heavenly perspective on life on planet earth.
God gave them principles for living. Such principles are necessary for training and re-conditioning the human body and mind to learn a new way and begin to obey God and to live differently. We too, God’s people of today, need spiritual training to re-wire and re-form and recondition our whole person to acquire godly character and a totally different culture of living. We need to attend church services and Bible studies. We need reading the Bible, reading good books, prayer, fasting, silence, centering, and more. All these are not an end in themselves. None of them is. They are only conduits of God’s grace to form us in a new way conformed to kingdom principles as God’s community on earth. Let’s be intentional in our training.
Our special reading for the week:
Get out of that Pit by Beth Moore (2007:1, 2)
Life can be excruciating. Crushing in fact. The sheer magnitude of our worries can press down on our heads until we unknowingly descend into a pit of despair one inch at a time. Something so terrible can happen that we conclude we’ll never be okay again. We can blow it so badly we think God would just as soon we stayed under the dirt and out of His sight. But, if we are willing to let the truth speak louder than our feelings, and long enough that our feelings finally agree, we can be far more than okay. We can be delivered to a place where the air is crisp, the enemy is whipped, and the view is magnificent.
And not just for a day or two. We’re talking about living the rest of our lives out of the pit and in the fresh air and bright light of God’s will.
Perhaps you have been in a hole so long you can’t imagine escaping and never returning. Truth be told, you’d just settle for a few days of relief. You see, if you are like me, somewhere along the way, pit dwelling became habitual. Homey. But former pit dwellers like me have to form a new habit that leads to a new place to call home….
You and I won’t find a perfect place to live on this planet, but never let anybody tell you life can’t be lived well. We can live the rest of our days out of the pit. Our problems won’t disappear. Nor will our temptations vanish. But Psalm 27:5–6 can be just as true of us as it was of the psalmist. In the day of trouble, God can set us high upon a rock where our heads are exalted above the enemies who surround us, and, right there amid our circumstances, we can overcome every assault with shouts of joy, making music to the Lord.
Life can be different, beloved, but not if we keep putting change off until tomorrow. A day has to come when we’re ready to say, ‘Today.’ How about this one?