Sunday Musings – November 20, 2022 (339-341/365)

Today is November 20. I have 2, no, 3 things I want to progress on by way of typing this morning before we head out to Sunday Service.

First, I’m not so sure where to start – or really, what to say, of all the many things that can be said, regarding the topic to be discussed in, oh, a little more than 2 hours from now.

We’ve talked about who God is in the opening salvo for the message series for this month of November. We’ve spoken on the events and discussions as detailed in Acts 17, specifically where Paul went through the Areopagus and saw all sorts of altars and temples to all sorts of entities and deities. We’ve seen how the Greeks were so meticulous in their religiosity that they had what I’d like to call a ‘catch-all’ altar – one dedicated ‘To the unknown God’. Paul was quick to take advantage of this and presented, to all those in attendance in the assembly, that this ‘unknown god’ was God Almighty, who made the heavens, and who made, in his words, ‘the earth and everything in it.’

With all this presented, we came to the conclusion, or rather the consideration that this God whom we say we believe in, is our Creator. He is visible, and He is detailed.

Our Creator is visible in all that He has created. Paul’s words in his epistle to the Romans shares that God’s glory is seen in all of creation, so we are without excuse – and now that I think about it, this means that we could not say that we have no idea there is a God; We know, through the senses we have been given, that there is a Creator. And even in the absence of senses – though we lose our abilities to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell, our mere nature as creations with a beginning and an end is proof enough of our realizing that there is a Creator.

Of course, to clarify: God’s glory, as realized in creation, is sufficient for us to know about Him; but I believe it is still our choice to believe in Him. I just thought I’d state that before I go any further.

Our Creator is detailed. I sort of embellished on this, considering the message of Louie Giglio that still sticks to me to this day; where he states the absolutely immense and great magnitude there is to one single star, before having us imagine that there are billions of stars in the heavens… and after zooming out, he zooms in to the smallest of particles made, in all the intricate and minute details for it to function on its own, and with other particles, and so on and so forth.

I also say that our Creator is detailed because each and every one of the stars have been put in their place to guarantee the survival and thriving of our species here in this planet. I imagine that if the Earth switched places with Mars, then we wouldn’t have a chance to exist, much less to survive. I’ve heard somewhere that the smallest change of a single degree in the Earth’s global temperature would have an effect on plant and animal life, and therefore our food supply. I’d imagine that the composition of the earth’s atmosphere would change as well, so we wouldn’t be taking in as much oxygen as our body needs.

This is the same Creator whom those who have contributed to what we now recognize as the Bible have said, knows the number of hairs on our head at any given moment. He knows so much more than our names, but He knows each and every detail surrounding and involving us – the correct facts that do not necessarily match what we assume about ourselves, down to the aspects of our being that we care less or are completely oblivious about.

So who IS God? For starters, He is our visible, detailed Creator.

Last Sunday we went even further, but elaborating on what God has done. And the thing is, it’s not just about what God has done, but what He has done for each and every one of us.

I tried, and partially succeeded, in pointing our congregation at the last moments of my message (in an attempt to make it an ‘exclamation point’ of sorts), to Lamentations 3:22-23; a favorite, a go-to verse of mine, in an attempt to paint a picture to all about an answer to consider when asked about what has God done:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases

His mercies never come to an end.

His mercies are new every morning.

Great is His faithfulness.

As I’ve said at least once before, you can’t talk about God without talking about love, and you can’t talk about love without talking about God. Apparently, the same thing goes with mercy: I can’t talk about mercy without mentioning God, nor can I talk about God without talking about His mercy.

In fact, we can’t talk about God without talking about what He has done, so in that regard, to put things together in the name of progression: This God, whom was once unknown – He is our Creator, who is detailed and visible; and His love and mercy for us are ceaseless and endless.

Now up until this point we’ve drawn so much detail from the Scripture… but in our present reality, I must admit that one look at creation doesn’t necessarily bring everyone to the immediate realization of a detailed and visible, loving and merciful Creator. No, see, Paul wasn’t done in introducing this ‘unknown god’ as our Creator; He was intentional in making Himself known.

See, you can’t talk about God without talking about love and mercy, nor can you talk about love and mercy without talking about God… but there is only one Way for us to surely know, and consequently, to believe and receive God’s love and mercy: Look no further than Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.

For by the body lain down by the Son of God who was born as one of us, we see God’s selflessness – As I will probably not stop in saying, Christ did not merely offer His garments and belongings, nor did He subject His body just for a painful punishment – No, He offered His entire being, He gave EVERYTHING as an offering for sin. Christ laying His body down shows us just how steadfast God’s love is for each and every one of us.

By the blood shed by the Son of God, we have been given mercy. And this blood which He shed was not as the blood of bulls and goats which satisfied the requirements of the Law, rendering us sinless for a season; No, the blood of Christ was for the establishment of a New Covenant, which not only washed us clean of sin, but proclaimed us righteous, as Jesus Christ is righteous.

The ‘unknown’ God made Himself known, of all things, through the inspiration of the Apostle Paul; through his words we have come to the realization that this God is our Creator, who is detailed and visible. Paul has made it clear that God’s glory and His invisible attributes can be seen in all of Creation… but it is only through Christ that we believe that God is not only glorious, but good.

It is only through Christ’s body that we behold and proclaim the steadfast love of the Lord. It is only through Christ’s blood that we behold and proclaim His mercy.

Consequently, because Christ rose from the dead, so we now know that we have a love and a mercy that does not die. It is only through Christ’s resurrection that we behold and proclaim, that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, and His mercies never come to an end.

And see here, it’s not as if we see the love and mercy of God as a one-time deal. But that’s a discussion for another time. Here’s what we’ve built so far:

God made the earth and everything in it.

His love never ceases.

His mercies never end.

And it’s all because of Jesus.

Just a reminder, we’ve talked a little on who God is, and we’ve talked about what He has done, and in this upcoming speaking arrangement I will be talking about who we are. On the last Sunday of November I will share my heart under the theme of what we do.

With that said, this verse that I have for us today sounds like something I should be sharing for next week, but let’s spend some time on it anyway.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

I’m not only sharing one of our all-time favorite verses here (17), but I am throwing in the verse before that… only for us to understand what we aren’t, to truly appreciate who we are.

See, it says there ‘we regard no one according to the flesh’. The Greek word for the word ‘flesh’ in this verse is ‘sarx’, and Google tells me that this word is defined as the following:

  1. flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts
  2. the body (the body of a man)
  3. a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh) whether man or beast

But it’s the fourth definition we’re to have a look at: 4. the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.

This here gives us an idea of what we were before we were saved by Jesus Christ. As old creations affected by Adam’s disobedience, these were our default settings.

We were merely human in possession of earthy nature. Our failures are more or less expected, because we are human. On the other hand, our accomplishments, no matter how great or enduring they may be – they’re also human, meaning that given enough days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millenia… they will fade into nothing. We’re cursed.

Because of Adam’s disobedience, we’ve been cursed; and more than the curses mentioned in the Garden of Eden, the worst of all was that they were cast away from the Garden of Eden, never to return. We were apart from divine influence.

Finally, because of our nature as humans, and since we were separated from God’s presence and influence, it was only natural for us to be made prone to sin; and not only were we rendered separated, but we were also opposed to God.

Before we ever had Christ in our lives, we had our own ideas of who we were, we had our own experiences, our own triumph and heartbreak… but this is something we all had in common back then. Our default settings were that we were in the flesh, which meant, again, that we were merely human and earthly, apart from divine influence, prone to sin and opposed to God. We were enemies of God!

But, see, this ought to have us appreciating the good news of the Gospel once more. For, see, Paul says the following:

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:7-8

Here we have yet another indication of how we couldn’t know God’s love without knowing what Christ did for us! While we were yet sinners, He died for us. What did it mean for Him to die for us? Well, let’s look at 2 Corinthians 5:21:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Christ died for us, because Christ became sin for us. Christ became our old nature. Christ took on our earthly nature, and was apart from divine influence; He was not only made prone to sin, but became sin, and became opposed to God; He hung on the tree and took the curse we deserved!

So now, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, the New Covenant has been established, and we therefore have been made new. The old has passed!

Take some time to understand this and appreciate it. The old has passed, and the new has come. Let’s look, say, at some of the lines of the songs that the team chose to sing.

From ‘Can’t Stop Singing’:

Your heart is full, because Christ drained the cup to the dregs.

And your soul is free, because Christ was nailed to the cross.

And the thing is, even if you don’t feel free, or even if your heart doesn’t feel full, you can take heart, for In your weakness He had a plan for you.

From ‘No Longer Slaves’:

Christ became a slave to fear, so you can proclaim, ‘I am a child of God!’

From ‘God You’re So Good’:

You are blessed, because Christ took on our curse.

You are called, because Christ was rejected.

You are healed, because Christ took on our afflictions.

You are whole, because Christ was broken for us.

Highly favored, anointed, because Christ took on our being forsaken, and accursed.

For the sake of the church and all that they’re used to saying, I would close with the following:

Looking at our consideration of the word sarx:

We are no longer in possession of mere earthly nature: No, we are greatly blessed!

We are no longer apart from divine influence: No, we are highly favored!

And most important of all – We are no longer prone to sin and opposed to God: No, we have been made righteous, knowing that we are deeply loved by God!

So to wrap it all up:

God made the earth and everything in it.

His love never ceases.

His mercies never end.

We are greatly blessed, highly favored, and deeply loved….

…and it’s all because of Jesus.

So that’s over. And when I said, ‘over’, I’m saying the article is over, and so was my preaching.

I did say I had 2, no, 3 things I wanted to write about in order to progress my thoughts.

I told my team that I’m meeting with church leadership tomorrow, and top honcho is asking for plans and goals and stuff like that. Discipling and the like taking the forefront. I have my team planning on events on the obvious days (Holy Week, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, etc), but I have a feeling that they’re going to be expecting more… compounding and long terms goals.

To that note I was thinking of two things: An entire month to rest, if possible; also, an alternative approach to discipling beyond what they stated was ideal (‘replacing myself’; well, it has a nicer ring to it compared to the ‘clone yourself’ that they used to say).

Sorry, I’ve been all over the place. It’s been, what, 2 or 3 hours since that last bunch of words. We had dinner and I talked about the possibility of having an entire month to ‘rest’ our ministry, to which the ladies immediately rejected the idea. I elaborated that this wasn’t about us stepping completely away, but perhaps for us to see who would step up in the rest of the congregation. But I didn’t push the idea. They grew suspicious about why I proposed that, and I assured them, it’s for no other reason beyond us needing to get away, not necessarily to rest, but for us to give our creativity space to move… for us to have new ideas, remember old ideas, or to update current ideas. Long story short, the entire month off turned into time away from the city we served… and not just an overnight trip, but an escape lasting, oh, 3-4 days.

Regarding the alternative approach… well, there’s the current discipleship model involving mentoring and spending more time than we would want with those we would disciple. I suppose if we want to create ‘clones’ of ourselves (ugh); well, let’s talk about that. Really quick, for the record, if I wanted to disciple by way of creating a clone of myself, heaven forbid I transfer all of my experiences and knowledge into another person with his or her own experiences and knowledge. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it – this would be an insult to my intelligence, and this would also be an insult to the intelligence and unique build of the other person I’m supposed to ‘disciple’.

No, I think I said the magic word earlier: Involvement. Collaboration. They’ll call it living together, but I’ll just say we’re celebrating Christ together by way of involvement and collaboration. This is way different from what I’m to understand as mentoring: a one-way transfer of knowledge from one person to another. No, if I just go ahead and work with other individuals and entities, with the clear expectation and acknowledgement that we may have different builds and philosophies, but one common goal, then it becomes an exponential increase of experience.

As I type all this I’m starting to get an idea of why the word ‘birth’ is what I’m to focus on in the days to come, leading to the end of this year, to 2023. When we work together, new ideas are born.

So on top of what I’m going to talk about regarding our being ready for the next year’s upcoming events, I will be talking about our plans of creating more content, and taking more time away to flex the creative muscle. I will also be talking about getting more people involved and collaborating with each other and possibly each other ministries, with the goal of listing down new ideas, recalling old ones, and enhancing current ones. All within the guidelines of our mission and vision:

The Mission: To create content, curate ideas, collaborate with the Church, and commune with the World.

The Vision: Dynamic, Diverse, and Determined Communities celebrating Christ and His finished work!

I know I had a third item to add value to tonight, but I’ll save it for tomorrow. It’s all about observing Thanksgiving and making sure we throw in gratitude when I talk to the high school kids on Friday, and include it in my message to the congregation on Sunday.

Lots to talk about, and I’m glad y’all are with me for this ride.

Until the next post, God bless you.

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