Discipleship

Looking Back to Look Ahead

The first Sunday of the year is probably my favorite as Reservoir Church gathers. We sing of Jesus, encourage each other from the word, and take turns recounting the ways God has been faithful in previous year. It is a special time that serves as a reminder to me and a spur on to what lies ahead in the year to come.

For sure 2020 was no poster child of good years. All of humanity has lamented the year given the pandemic. Pairing that with social and political upheaval and economic uncertainty, it was a hard year to see the forest for the trees. But God was faithful.

People shared how small group life was an anchor for them not just as a comfort but as a place of refinement as groups already committed to each other delved into difficult issues to pursue biblical truth. There were stories of relational reconciliation, the kingdom going forth across the globe, and God’s sustaining empowerment for the work he has called us to and placed us in. I shared how the congregation was a great encouragement to me for the way they have remained unified to our mission and each other even while being broadly diverse in opinions of the pandemic and politics. There were plenty of stressors in previous year but it is still a joy to pursue Jesus with these people.

From these reminders of God’s faithfulness we move forward, into what might be better than normal. All for his glory.

Discipleship

Proud to Our Destruction

The movie poster was stirring and has always stuck with me. “He fought for freedom and settled for power.” The movie was telling the story of Castro, but the tag line seems to apply to so many in places of influence and leadership.

It is dangerous. When we succeed or move to the next level, the temptation to worship self runs deep. I wonder if a solution is to pray that the Lord would keep us “small,” dependent on him and content in little things.

Uzziah missed that type of prayer. Made king at 16 he did what was right and followed the law of the Lord. God made him to prosper because of it. Things were looking up. Then, he settled.

“But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction…” 2 Chronicles 26:16 (ESV)

The more he had military and economic success the more reckless he became. He turned from devotion to God to devotion to himself. To his destruction.

God will make those that are faithful to prosper. He will even elevate men and women to prominent places. But we must always labor to keep pride at bay or destruction is bound to come.

May we have the wisdom, and community, to keep us humble for the glory of Christ.

Discipleship, Word & Spirit

Immanuel in 2020

In the spring of this year I was preaching into a camera and I told our church that my prayer for coming through the pandemic was not just that we make it back to normal but that it would be evident that we had been with Jesus during the pandemic. That our hope sustained us. That we served others with joy. That we lived by Christ’s ethic. It was my supernaturalized vision of 2020. I still long for this and I think is is what the great commission lived out looks like.

From a hopeful place in Scripture we hear of what Advent delivers and what those in Christ are meant to reveal. Zechariah is among the minor prophets and in a collection of words from Yahweh through the prophet we hear of calls back to justice and trust in the Lord’s strength and plan. Then in chapter 8 there is a wonderful vision of a coming peace, an expansion of Jerusalem, the city of God.

In the description it is clear that this is the place humanity longs to be. And the far off are brought in. But it is one of the ways they come that stood out.

Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, β€˜Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:22–23(ESV)

Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. This is a Christmas passage. Immanuel has come, God with us. But it is also a passage for the journey home to this place of peace. This is what draws the nations. People that have been with God. Not doctrinal statements. Not political preferences. But that God is with you.

As we wind down the year and look forward to another, might this be a bit higher on our list of prayers. That it would be noticeable that we have been with Jesus. That God is with us… that others might come along.