September 23, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“The Lord thunders at the head of His army. His forces are beyond number. Mighty is the army that obeys His command. The day of the Lord is great. It is dread-filled. Who can endure it? ” (Joel 2.11)
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will a person die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love for us by this truth: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5.6-8)
While we were powerless and ungodly. While we were POWERLESS and UNGODLY? These are the words used to describe us and all believers by one who was aligned, at one time in his life, with those who would have said it of themselves as unbelievers, though they would “say” they were not. That echo of defining something by what it is not sounds strangely like “the pot calling the kettle black.” And the kettle is blackened on the outside because the effect of heat and the presence of char. The kettle is blackened on the inside because of the proper seasoning process which keeps it capable to producing good food. So, keeping that in mind, we can see the distinct contrast as the leaders of the Temple called themselves “powerful and godly” when they were not. Jesus would say of them, “You are like white-washed tombs with the appearance of purity but you are still dead inside.” (Matthew 23.27f) Those who were believers, before they were believers, were seen as powerless and ungodly simply because they did not appear like the leaders of the Temple in their presumed state. To the leadership, those unlike them, were as good as dead inwardly and outwardly. Jesus was alluding to the truth that the leaders were the very same as those whom they accused. How? Because they were not seasoned inwardly to produce “good nourishment.” They produced bitterness, angst and contention. That would mean their works were “powerless and ungodly.” They had knowledge of the truth of the matter of God and yet refused to follow the recipe for righteousness. Ultimately, both leaders and followers were in the same condition. Without Christ, we would be in that same condition as well. Yet, as the lesson of Paul goes on to say, “while we were yet ungodly and powerless, sinners, Christ died for us.”
Dare we take a look at the world today with this paradigm in mind? The struggle for power, the desire to exert power, the hope of convincing others that some group of people have the power while others do not and then promise to share the benefit of their power-broking with those who will submit to their power with the promise of power themselves is becoming the very definition of this present season of life. But, I prayerfully submit, what we are seeing is the mere presence of “white-washed tombs full of dead bones and no spirit of life in them.” We still struggle ourselves, even though we are saved by grace and confirmed in our faith in Jesus Christ alone, with a sense of powerlessness and the false sense of having power. We are tempted and often yield to that temptation. Without living fully into who we have become because “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” we are susceptible to the presence of sin and its allure to have power we do not have or need. Sin desires to convince us that we are still sinners and powerless and most of all that we are un-godly. Hear the words of the Temple leadership who accused the believers, even Jesus Himself, that they were un-godly. And why were they ungodly? They were ungodly because they dared to believe in God and not in the Temple Leadership. And while our own United States Constitution forbids the establishment by the government of a “state religion,” we are fast seeing the government becoming a “state of religion.” They are pursuing the premise of moral, physical, financial, emotional, social and I would dare say “a theological” (as in god with a lower case g) authority. They are defining themselves as the seat of knowledge, wisdom and power. But, they are more likely the very “white-washed tombs full of dead bones” Jesus called out in His day. I would believe that Jesus would call our leadership out in this manner as well. And we dare not fall into the same and similar mindset ourselves as communities of faith. If God is truly for us then who can be against us? But, if God is with us, as Immanuel, then isn’t God supposed to be in us, as Christ. It is, after all, Jesus who taught the disciples, “I AM in the Father and the I AM is in Me.” (John 14.11) But, if God is in us, then are we not seasoned with wisdom, truth, faith, hope and love bound for the glory of God far and away opposed to the glory of humankind? All of this points as evidence to the awful truth that we need Jesus as the Christ more so today than ever before. We need His truth in us, as well as with us and for us.
There is no season in the history of world since Jesus walked on earth for thirty-three years an “age” ago, that the call for revival is so critically needed. The call for believers to be “watchmen” set on the city walls is clear. We are to declare either the approach of the enemy for whom we should be prepared and at the ready in spirit and in truth. We are to declare the coming of the Lord for whom we should be prepared and at the ready in wisdom and with all righteousness. For those who are believers, mighty men of God, there is the promise of authentic power, truth in love, and the authentication of godliness, faith in action or “good works.” But, the stated truth of our faith must be this, and I state it with all sincerity, that we work for the glory of God and let it be our “say so” as bringing the lost to salvation in Christ alone and not merely in to the “land of promise and prosperity.” If our nation, if not all nations as those to whom we have been commissioned to make disciples in and of, are not aligned in this truth then either the truth is a lie or the lie is greater than the truth. If the truth is a lie or the lie is greater than the truth then the return of the King, and He will be returning in the fullness of time whether we would believe it or not, will be a dreaded appearance and a dreadful experience. As for me and my house, we will choose the truth and refuse the lie, we will accept the commissioning and refuse our decommissioning, we will follow the Way, the Truth and the Life which leads to eternal life and not just any way or any truth or any life which changes whenever the wind of human desire and opinion blows in this direction or that or worse- not at all. We can ill afford to be “dead in the water” as if we are still powerless and ungodly. We have been given the power of the Holy Spirit who is with us, for us and in us. We have been given Immanuel, Jesus the Christ, who is with us, for us and in us. It is time to put away the façade of righteousness which is no righteousness at all. It is time for us to be truly clothed in righteousness, God’s righteousness, and seek Him first and trust Him always to provide what is needed so that we may fulfill our calling as “the people of His hand and the sheep of His pasture.” It is not time to “Make America (and the world) Great Again.” It is time to “Make America (and the world) God’s Again” by our will as is it His will as well. It is after all, when everything is said and done, His World and His Earth and His Universe and His Everything. Why should we dare to steal, kill and destroy that which is His and send ourselves to a place of true powerlessness and ungodliness. Heaven help us because Hell can’t.
The evidence of Your Word is sure and we can see it for ourselves. But, we still feel the reality of powerlessness in us and know we have not been fully pursuant of all godliness and righteousness. Forgive us for not claiming the opportunity you have given us in Jesus Your Son to its fullest. We will endeavor to do so today with the submission of our will to the leadership of Your Spirit. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is yet to come. You are coming. We will declare this truth today and be defined by what we are, children of the Most High God, and not by what we are not, powerless and ungodly. In Jesus’ name, we commit ourselves to You. AMEN.