Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bethany Bullet - September 27, 2011

It was the summer of 1987 and at the box office fans were lining up to see Beverly Hills Cop 2, Predator, The Untouchables, and Dirty Dancing. In the midst of the summer blockbusters, a movie was promoted with what has become one of the most famous promotional lines in cinema, “This time, it’s personal.” The movie? Jaws: The Revenge. The fourth in the Jaws saga and by some, one of the worst movies ever produced. Since that summer that phrase, “This time, its personal” has been used and abused over and over again.

Now I am not condoning this movie, in fact according to the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, this movie gets a 0% on their ‘Tomato-meter’ their lowest ranking. It was not very good.

Revenge, it’s always personal! The scenes play out on the big screen and the small screen, in our daily life and in our spiritual life. This time, it’s personal.

I’m sure you have felt the feeling before.

  • Someone has betrayed you, this time, it’s personal.
  • Your position has been eliminated, this time, it’s personal.
  • The bills are past due and now they are charging you a late fee, this time, it’s personal.
  • You go in for a check up and leave with a diagnosis, this time, it’s personal.

If you are reading The Story along with us this year; we see that in the beginning, God was getting personal. As the Spirit of God hovers, His voice speaks and creation springs forth, and it was good. On the sixth day, God does something special. God gets His hands dirty and forms the crown of His creation and in so doing reveals His personal character. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them.” This time, it’s personal.

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

Every time we look into the mirror we get a bit of the personal story of God. As we carry the image of God with us we see a bit of self disclosure from the Creator of the universe; our reason, our compassion, our ability to love and nurture - all a gift from the image of God.

But that image is broken, shattered into a million pieces by one act of treachery. Giving in the words of the tempter, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her and he ate it.” NOW IT’S PERSONAL.

God has been betrayed. The personal relationship that was forged in creation has been reduced to a pile of rubble. God would have all rights to seek revenge, but what does He do? He seeks the couple in the garden as they cower in fear. This is the act of a personal God who desires a relationship with His people. We have a God who wants to dwell with His people.

In spite of our sin, in spite of our rebellion, in spite of the countless times we have disobeyed and run away, God continues to pursue his people. To Him IT’S PERSONAL!

We start to understand the personal nature of this rescue event in our Old Testament text for today. From Exodus Chapter 3, “God called to Moses from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’…God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.’”

Did you catch it? In an event familiar to believers, the voice of God emanates from a burning bush and He shares something personal with Moses. For the first time in Scripture, God Himself reveals His personal name. In Hebrew it is YAHWEH. A name that sounds like the breath that once gave life to Adam now rings in the ears of Moses. YAWEH! THIS IS PERSONAL!

Even in the ups and downs of the people of Israel, YAHWEH never leaves. He comes as a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud. His presence rests on the tabernacle. He remembers His people in exile and restores a remnant so that His most personal work could begin.

In Jesus we see how personally He takes this story. The God of creation comes to us in a helpless babe; the almighty lying in a dirty manger. The only begotten Son of God, the Messiah, mingling with the masses; it doesn’t get any more personal than this…or does it.

Jesus Christ, True Man and True God, takes it to another level. He did not just come to be a role model, a mentor, or a humble minister. He comes as the Mighty Messiah so that you might have life.

It was personal for Jesus! It was His life on the line and in an amazing display of love He willingly takes your rebellion, your betrayal, and your self-centeredness and nails it to the cross. In so doing He also takes away your pain, your fear, and your inability to do the right thing. And He announces, “It is finished!” This time it’s personal!

I hear you, “The Bible is filled with stories about people from long ago. It has nothing to do with me. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good things in the Bible, but most of it just doesn’t apply to me.”

What about this, “But wait a second pastor, you don’t understand. God can’t be personal. I just don’t buy that the Creator of the universe wants anything to do with lowly me.”

Or this, “Enough of all this mushy stuff, let God be God, I will just be me, don’t rock the boat. I don’t want to hear of all this personal stuff. I got things figured out pretty well on my own, thank you.”

In reality, just like Adam and Eve, we are engaged in a personal rebellion against God. We are at odds with our Creator and it is because of our actions, not just some event in history. We have become blind to the truth found in HIS Story.

The pages of the Bible may tell a personal story but it is not distant. His Story is intertwined with our story…in fact this story is HIS story. HIS Story is not just a far away historical event that has no bearing on today. It is a present tense reality that has eternal implications FOR YOU!

Martin Luther once said, “The Bible is the cradle which brings us Jesus.” This personal story is evident every time we open the pages of Scripture, every time we hear the word of God proclaimed and in a deeply personal way we see it as once again the babe of Bethlehem comes to a lowly manger. This one not built by hands, but made of hands when we come to the communion rail. Like that first manger it is undeserving of such a guest, filled with dirt and grime. Defiled by disobedience and fractured since the fall. But he comes to bring fullness and forgiveness.

Like God in the garden, searching for His wayward children, the Word of God comes all the way to us so that He could restore what was lost so long ago. In (the body and blood of) Jesus we see a Savior who desires to be with us. Who spoke His personal name to his servants, has engraved our names upon His hands, and forgives us our sins. Who holds us when we are down and whispers His name into our ears and says, “I LOVE YOU.” This time it is personal.

The pages of Scripture tell a profoundly personal story that finds its climax with you, not in burning bush but in flowing fount as you too were called by God and His personal name was shared with you in water and word.

I invite you to pick up your Bible, to get a copy of “The Story” and come face to face with the most personal story ever told. Share it with your kids, tell it to your co-workers, and shout it from the mountain tops. This story is His Story and it is very good, and this time it’s personal.

Let us pray…

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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