This past Sunday I formally preached for the first time in years. And I preached twice!
Admittedly, it was intimidating. But God was definitely in it. There were several moments when unplanned things were coming out of my mouth, and as I was saying them, I realized they were true. I’d like to share 2 of those thoughts with you guys just to mull over a bit.
1: If we go through life seeking answers, we’ll never be able to stop. One question’s answer can only get you by until the next question arises. And, as crazy as life is, there will always be new questions needing new answers. It’s really a vicious cycle. However, if instead of seeking answers, we seek God, we will get caught in another cycle. We seek God, we feel a peace that if nothing else He is in control and He will work things out in His time and His way; another crisis/issue to wrestle with comes up. We seek God, etc. This is an unending cycle, too, but this one brings more peace instead of more stress.
2: For this one, I have to give a bit of context. My sermon was out of Mark 10. I contrasted the story of James/John asking for places of power with Bartimaeus asking for healing. The basic principle is, we need to be able to look past what we’re asking and determine if it will help us serve God better or if it will just make things better. Is God’s eternal purpose or our present happiness more important? But it’s when this is fleshed out in the story that it really comes alive (to me, anyway). See, James and John asked for great positions. I should point out as an aside that Jesus was right about them. One day, after Pentecost, they would sacrifice for Christ and become great pillars of the church. At this time, though, they were still being shaped by God in their character. Their character wasn’t matured enough for that kind of position yet. This is where it gets really interesting, though. Let’s think hypothetically about what if Jesus could have granted them that and had gone ahead and given it to them. What good would it have done? They did not ask to sit at Jesus’ feet or be in His presence, remember. They asked to sit by Him. All they could have done sitting by Jesus is reflect on how good they were or how important they were or how they were the best. Not exactly a servant attitude. Look at Bartimaeus, though! He asks Jesus for healing. Jesus could give him that, and Bartimaeus’ character was ripe to receive it. We know this because when Jesus granted His request, it produced more service in him, not less! The first thing he did after receiving his sight was follow Jesus. The healing was a means to an end; the power position was just an end in itself. In this area and #1, too, I was convicted and had to ask forgiveness before I could preach it. Since then, I’ve tried to demand answers less, and make my prayer requests of God with His big picture in mind instead of my current polaroid.
It’s such a blessing to share what I’ve learned, and to know for certain that I was really used by God, and to see how His word impacted the people in Edmonton. I’ve missed it, and hopefully this will continue.