We’ve come to the last Sunday of the first Quarter of 2022, and it’s been quite the ride. Personally, it’s been a trip.
Do you remember what we talked about through all this time? On the first Sunday of the year, we kicked things off by looking at Psalm 22. The writer of the Psalm mentioned on the first half of the Psalm, how he was afflicted from inside, and how he was tormented from the outside. We saw how his mind was just as tortured as His body.
But when we move to the second half of the Psalm, we see how he still has hope. He reminds his soul to worship God, and he proclaims that he will lift up his hands to praise Him. Not only that, but he encourages everyone who sees him, and everyone who reads the Psalm, that they should glorify the Lord as well! Why is this? Well, from one point of view we see that his hope remains because he knows God will not only save him, but He will satisfy him… and not only will he be satisfied, but the promises of God proclaim that even his household would be saved and satisfied.
We saw how the words spoken in this Psalm are almost identical to some of the words that Christ spoke on the cross, and therefore gives us a picture as to what He was thinking so many generations later, in the moments when He was nailed to the cross and hoisted up for the world to see Him suffer. And we see how Christ was fully aware of the great pain and anguish dealt to Him from inside and out, but we can also picture that through all His suffering, He was looking forward, not to His death more than our life.
Instead of thinking about Himself, Christ, like the Psalmist, was thinking more about the great goodness of God – That by His death, we would be given Life.
I remember saying at the first moments of this year, that while the rest of the world is confused with all that is going on, we will not be shaken – instead, we shall be overwhelmed with the goodness of God. I said 2022 will be an overwhelming year for all of us.
It’s been 3 months, and a LOT has been going on, huh? Rising gas prices, rumors of global conflict, tensions online and on the ground from all this bickering on who should lead the country next, the sudden passing of our loved ones – at the same time that we’re remembering those who died last year, we’re burying those who died this year! And are we shaken? Perhaps. But let us not stay shaken.
Let us labor to enter His rest… and in the process, let us continue to be overwhelmed by God and His everlasting goodness, for each and every one of us, guaranteed by no less that His Son – Jesus Christ.
My God, this is just recalling the First Sunday. I intended to write and speak about each Sunday, but there’s certainly a lot for us to unpack, from just one lesson – but I feel we should constantly remind ourselves of rest. Let us labor to enter His rest. Christ paid such a great price for us, taking the sum total of all our fears, that we would rest, freely enjoying the perfect love of God.
It’s a personal message for me, considering all that I’m dealing with in my own personal life – And I would open it all up to you, but I don’t even know where I should start. It’s not for me to say that I have greater problems than any of us – that will NEVER be something you’ll hear me say – but more than us playing the ‘You don’t know me or my story’ game, I believe that it is my responsibility, to bear your burdens with you, and to encourage us as a community to bear one another’s burdens… And we don’t stop there – for we will never stop reminding ourselves and others, that even in these issues and circumstances we find ourselves in, lo and behold – we see the faithfulness of God and the truth of His goodness to us ESPECIALLY in times of trouble.
And really, I could stop here and just allow all of us to go home early, but if you would bear with me, I’d like to keep going down this road of reviewing all we’ve been talking about.
We spoke on us being overwhelmed by the goodness of God, and, foreseeing how this year will be full of its dangers and its adventures, we talked about how talking about the love of God is no longer just an option, but it is necessary. God’s love is a more necessary today than it has ever been.
It was around this time that we needed to close the church for safety purposes, and we reached out to you guys online. I’d like to take this time to thank you guys for sticking with us through these 3-4 Sundays.
We talked about how God’s love is necessary, and we also talked about how God’s love is personal. Personal, as in He knows all there is to know about us, and He still made the active decision to love us and reconcile us to Him.
We talked about how God’s love is present, as in it’s not that He just ‘loved’ us, not just about how He ‘will love’ us; No, we emphasized how Christ paid such great price in order for us to enjoy His complete and perfect love, which not only covers our past, not only secures our future, but is present and is with us, 100% of the time, all the time, right here and right now. Christ’s finished work has guaranteed that one song we sing: “Nothing you can do could make Him love you more, and nothing that you’ve done could make Him close the door.”
We talked about how God’s love is sincere, as in it’s not just a matter of God telling us that He loves us and leaving it at that. No, God loves us sincerely – He doesn’t just give us the blanket ‘I love you all’ statement, but I believe that just as His love is personal, that He knows each and every one of us, He is also sincere in that He knows us all so much that He knows how to get to each and every one of us. At this time I remember how my brother Kip would take the initiative to buy Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, and birthday cards in advance so we would have something ready to give when the time comes. Noble gesture, and it is intentional, but I believe God goes so much deeper for each and every one of us. I believe He designs each card specifically named for each of us, knowing what entertains us and what not to say. That’s how I say that God’s love is sincere. It’s real.
At around this time I was feeling really, really sick. Remember the blood problems I had? It all happened at the end of January, and as we began February. It was during this time that I just had to testify that the pain I was feeling was enough to incapacitate me, in that I couldn’t think or hold a thought. It was just like if any thought entered my head, it would just come and go as it pleased. But one thing that I picked up in all this comes from what we talked about in Psalm 136. Remember Psalm 136? We spoke on how every verse in the Psalm ended with, ‘for His love endures forever’. This was what I was experiencing – that even though I had no power or intention to sing, it was the Holy Spirit that kept singing to and through me, that His love endures forever.
From this we were led to a series, called the Holy Spirit’s love songs for us. Or something like that.
Valentines’ Day was around the corner, and so we talked about Saint Valentine, and how he and the Christians back in the day endured so much. We talked about how the scene may be different today, but the concept is still the same – the persecution still exists, but praise God, because we pointed out in 1 John 4, that we are able to endure – not because we love God, but because He loved us FIRST, and lay down His life for us first, that no matter where we are in the timeline of the world, we can love one another and so shine Christ wherever we are, no matter what we are feeling. The Holy Spirit sings to us, His love endures forever, and He loved us first.
But, some may ask, what about what it says in John 16, where Christ says that He convicts the world of sin? Well, if we look at the complete verses, it mentions that He convicts the world – of sin, because they did not believe Him, of righteousness, because He will go away and we will not see Him, and of judgment, because the ruler of the world is judged. Friends, I am assuming that we all believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am also assuming that we are not of the ‘ruler of the world’. What’s left is that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness – He sings that we are righteous, as a reminder of who we are to Him, because we may not see him physically.
The Holy Spirit sings to us, His love endures forever, and He loved us first. He sings to us that we are righteous, always in good standing with God, and always free to run to His throne of grace in our time of need. And the Holy Spirit does not stop there – for as Paul reminds the Corinthians, He reminds all of us today – “…you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
For purposes of this series, I dare say that we are not only living letters of the living Word written on our hearts, but we are His songs that He sings to the world. We wrapped it all up by singing we are His songs. And around this time I thought I was Martin Nievera.
I don’t know, I could keep on going, but I’m running out of time. I’m nervous, but I’d like to see how this all turns out later.
Post-Message thoughts to follow, I guess.
God bless us all.