We all have those moments, or days, or seasons even, in which we ‘feel’ out of sorts. Though we may know that the heart is deceitful, we temporarily deny this in favor of what our generation speaks to us: you be you, be mindful, look inward, emotions are always right and good and to be trusted, have faith in yourself, believe in your ability to shape your future… It is tempting to listen to these antithetical voices, which is why we must encourage one another all the more to cling to Christ and not give up our local church membership.
So, in those out of sort moments, we turn our thoughts back to Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life; He is the Author and Perfector of our faith; He is well acquainted with all our sufferings and able to come to our aid; He is the only Mediator we have, and is full of grace, mercy, and love.
There are two things I have found helpful that I want to share with you today, though these are not the only helps we have! Firstly, a particular verse hung up on a wall in my house; secondly another set of verses on “presenting” to walk through meditatively.
In our personal Bible readings, we should be often in the Psalms; so perhaps you read this one several times each year. But to spend some extra time in this one is helpful. I have posted on my wall verses 6-8a. When I need to (which is quite often) I read it, muse upon it, pray through it.
For though the LORD is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; …Your right hand will save me. The LORD will accomplish what concerns me…Psalm 138:6-8a
God is both exalted, and with us. This paradox, this mystery, brings us to awe. We can trust Him, when we know how true both of these are–always. He knows us, not the haughty. He knows those who take refuge in Him (Nahum 1:7) and He knows and reveals Himself only to His own (John 10:27-30 and 14:18-21). The others, the haughty who look inward and have faith in themselves will one day hear “depart from Me, I never knew you” as He casts them into hell.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble…a line that ushers me into prayer. He knows, He cares, He listens. What are your troubles? Do not simply let yourself ruminate on your troubles, turn to Him in prayer.
You will revive me! You will! Let yourself ponder this. He has told you how, beloved. Psalm 19, and 119, and countless others describe this; Romans 5 and 8 give us more to think about. His Spirit at work in you, He will bring comfort and renewing; He will use His sword to do so.
The LORD will accomplish what concerns me, what concerns all His children. He is faithful, even when we are faithless. He will complete His good work. Where is Jesus now, and what is His posture toward us? (Hebrews answers this, as does the story of Stephen in the book of Acts. He will not leave us, is with us and for us. He is working out the details of my life–I will walk with Him.
Present Yourselves to God
Romans 6:8-14; pause and read this. Ready to move on? Consider with me just this phrase: but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. If the imagination that God created you with is alive and well this will be easy. If you have stifled your imagination believing it to belong to childhood, please–indulge in some good fairy tales and perhaps the whole of the series of Narnia books while it is still summertime!
Ok, so with that God-given imagination, present yourself to God. Where is He? Picture a throne, a throne room; more elaborate than the King of Assyria whose entire palace was overlaid in gold, more precious and awe inspiring than any modern day palace or castle you have seen. Delight for a moment in His beauty. Now, present yourself to the KING of kings, the Creator and Sustainer of every atom and molecule in the universe.
Present yourself as alive from the dead. Be like Lazerus–YOU ARE NOT DEAD!!! Are you dancing? Are you skipping? Are you running toward your Father, the KING?!!! “Thank You for my life! Thank you for making me alive in Christ! I can breathe!” Let Him hold you there as the Father of His prodigal son.
Now, on with it–present your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Your hands, feet, lungs, brain, emotions, intellect and ideas, your bum knees, your achy back, your will, your every member. Ponder His righteousness that is yours in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31), and His call for you to be holy, pure, godly, and zealous for good deeds (Titus).
Colossians 1:22-29 and 2 Corinthians 4
Remember that you are not alone. You are called to be a member of a local body of believers operating as described in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. We need to submit to our elders, which means submitting ourselves to their care. They are called to shepherd us, we ought to let them do this. Their heart’s desire is to teach us that Christ will present us before the Father–holy and blameless; they want to work towards presenting every one of us complete in Christ, particularly through admonishing and teaching. (see Colossians 1)
We also know, as Paul knew. Yes, contrary to postmodernism, we can know a great deal, and be assured of our knowledge. In this particular passage, 2 Cor 4, Paul claims to know that “He who raised Jesus from the dead will raise us also with Jesus, and will present us with you.” Imagine that day, beloved, when He who raised Jesus raises you–but you are not alone, you are presented as a part of the true fellowship, with all who are united to Christ, and in particular with those in your local church body. He will present us, it is not just about you.
So use that imagination, ponder being presented. Ponder heaven! Ponder your true home, your homecoming, and your Saviour welcoming you home. He has gone to prepare a place for us–ponder Him showing you the kingdom, your true home.
Hebrews 10:26-31 and 13:7-17 was written to believers who were tempted (in their weariness) to return to temple worship. What are you tempted to do, rather than persevere in true worship? Many are currently leaving church all together–and I understand (a story for another day, over a cup of coffee, in my living room perhaps). Leaving an unhealthy church to join a faithful one can be good. Leaving because you think you can do Christianity on your own is to manifest an oxymoron. You need fellowship, true fellowship, under the care of elders. You need brothers and sisters who will encourage you in the Way, the Truth, and the Life; who will abide in truth and love with you. You need pastors, elders, teachers in your life who will echo John’s sentiments: I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth…acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren…and they have testified to your love…(see 3 John 4-6).
Photo by Skylar Gerald on Unsplash