In 2015, our theme has been that…We must make the GLORIFICATION of Christ our Highest PRIORITY.
The times in which we are living are difficult. We do live in a fallen world that is constantly pining for our attention; and we do have a relentless Adversary. But, we are not without remedy. We are not without hope. We are not without a solution. We are not without Good News: Beloved, we have JESUS!
Hebrews 13:8-15 NIV - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever… 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.
It is THIS JESUS that the Writer of the Book of Hebrews testifies about and of whom we preach. This Jesus who is the Ultimate One. Greater than Abraham and the Patriarchs, greater than Moses the Lawgiver, greater than Joshua or David or Solomon or one of the prophets. Greater than the Priesthood of Aaron; He is greater than the saints and greater than the angels.
He is the Great mediatorial HIGH PRIEST and the SACRIFICE. Jesus Himself, who sacrificed his life for us in order to draw Humanity near to the Father. Therefore, since Jesus offered all of the Sacrifices Himself: Sin, Atonement, Consecration, Sanctification, Devotion, Fellowship… everything, there remains only ONE Sacrifice left for us to offer: THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE!
We cannot make atonement for our sins. We cannot bring ourselves into right standing with God. We cannot provide for our eternal life…only Jesus can, and only Jesus did! But what we can do is Worship and Praise His Holy Name and bask in the Beauty of Holiness. It is when we consider THIS JESUS…THIS GREAT WORK OF SALVATION…THIS GREAT EXPRESSION OF MERCY…then and only THEN, can we begin to understand the great GIFT, NECESSITY, and REQUIREMENT OF WORSHIP! No wonder, the Apostle Paul would tell the Church at Rome:
Romans 12:1 VOICE - Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship.
Mark 12:30 NKJV - And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength...’
Religion seeks to regulate behavior through repetition, rigor, and in a very real way, comparative analysis. Christianity, on the other hand, seeks to release dynamic and real relationships, first with God, and then with others based upon a simple guiding and over-arching truth: Love. In its truest state, Christianity is a relationship that restrains negative behavior and releases positive actions because of the love one has for his/her Creator, and the object of that Creator’s affection: His creation.
1 John 4:7-8 MESSAGE - …Let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love.
This is love that is a CHOICE, thus, Christ could command it and John could compare it the very Nature of God Himself. It is a sacrificial love. It is love that is the "deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle.” It loves without condition. It simply says, "I Love You." This is the kind of Love God has for us, and the type of love He wants us to return to Him and express to others!
Dr. Ken Ulmer, Senior Pastor of the Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California, said it this way:
“God is love. Love is not just something that He does. It’s what He is. It follows then that we are never more godly, never more like God, than when we love…We cannot fulfill the first commandment to love God without obeying the second command to love our neighbor. Nor can we avoid this problem by narrowing our definition of ‘neighbor’ to people ‘in our neighborhood’ – that is, to those of our family, race, perspective, economic or intellectual level, value system, or religion. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), Jesus made the world my neighbor by qualifying anyone God puts in my path, or who needs me, as ‘my neighbor.’”
My two youngest grandchildren were born a little over a year ago, in 2014. My dad was born over fourscore years ago, in 1934. When my youngest grandchildren reach eighty years of age (the same milestone my dad has achieved) it will be the Year 2094! At the age of 53, my personal lifespan: touching my dad and my grandchildren is over 160 years!
When we begin to think about the multi-generational realities of our lives, it changes everything about your life’s plan. Should the Lord tarry, what are we planning, preparing, and doing today that will have a positive and Godly impact upon our descendants? What kind of Oakland are we leaving? What kind of Bay Area Metroplex? What kind of America? What kind of World? Should the Lord tarry another 5 years, 25 years, 50 years, 100 years, or 500 years…what are we doing to prepare the future generations for the work of the Lord? Are we instilling in our children the belief and understanding that ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO HIM THAT BELIEVES!
Matthew 19:26 NIV - Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Christianity is a journey from SELF to CHRIST. It is the pilgrimage from Self-Interest to Christ-Interest. We must intentionally focus on leaving a deeper understanding of Christ and a better world for those coming after us.
Proverbs 13:22 - “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children...”
Between the Lineage of Yesterday’s Promise and the Destiny of Tomorrow’s Possibilities, lies the Responsibility of PRESERVING, STEWARDING, AND PROTECTING THE WORK OF THE LORD TODAY…right here, right now. You and I are called to be the GUARDIANS of Today. We cannot return to yesterday; and while the possibilities of tomorrow are promised, our participation is by the Grace of God. Tomorrow is what we leave to our children; TODAY is the DAY to SERVE the LORD. TODAY is the DAY to Honor His Name. TODAY is the DAY to do His Will, and we must Guard today…Protect it!
Dr. Tobey Montgomery