Monday, February 29, 2016

The Bethany Bullet - Week of February 28, 2016

“When Just Another is Not Again!”
Text: Psalm 85

Over the past few weeks in worship we have been talking about how Lent is just another 40 days.  While we may have a particular focus on repentance and faith in this season, they are not the only days they should be at the forefront of our minds.  In fact, every day should be a day of repentance and faith. So, Lent it’s just another 40 days.

But what happens when “Just Another” is “Not Again!”?

The “Not Again” moments seem to come all too often, don’t they?

Whether it’s the return of cancer or a change in career; the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship; for some it’s the call from the collection agent or the email from the IRS.  I don’t know all the “Not Again!” moments of your life, but I do know that you have them, and they are never fun.

Sometimes those moments come when we see what is going on in the world, a convoluted war in Syria, continued violence in the workplace, confounding political maneuvering by both sides of the aisle, racial tensions and a world that doesn’t seem to value human life.  Oh no!  Not Again!

It is further proof that in many ways we live in post Christian climate.   Of course, it is also further proof that in many ways we are not Christian leaders or citizens we ought or desire to be. 

Time and time again we go back to our own stupidity and find ourselves in need of restoration and forgiveness, which drives us to repentance and faith; it’s what the season of Lent is about.  It’s what every day is about for a follower of Jesus Christ.

God’s chosen people felt the same way.  They had experienced many “Oh no! Not again!” moments. Just a brief study of the Old Testament and one will see that time and time again God’s people returned to their stupidity and followed after other gods. 

Time and time again they felt the fury and the burning anger of the Lord of creation.  They too were in need of restoration and forgiveness and to be led to see that living a life of repentance and faith was necessary. 
Eventually they wound up in exile in a foreign land. 

But God had a plan.  Eventually the exiles would return.  Our text today from Psalm 85 is believed to be written in response to that return, but they are also fitting for our own “Oh no! Not Again!” moments.

You favored your land, O Lord.
You restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You removed your people’s guilt.
You pardoned all their sins. Selah
You laid aside all your fury.
You turned away from your burning anger.
Restore us, O God, our savior.
Put an end to your anger against us.
    Will you be angry with us forever?
    Will you ever let go of your anger in the generations to come?
    Won’t you restore our lives again
        so that your people may find joy in you?
            Show us your mercy, O Lord,
                by giving us your salvation.
I want to hear what God the Lord says,
    because he promises peace to his people, to his godly ones.
        But they must not go back to their stupidity.
Indeed, his salvation is near those who fear him,
    and his glory will remain in our land.
  (Psalm 85:1-9)

We all need to be restored.  We all have done some stupid things and in reality we are all fragile, fallen, and frail. 

We confessed that exact thing at the beginning of this season.  As the ashes were imposed you heard the words, “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”  It is a truth not only these 40 days but every day.
We need to be restored, especially when we cry out, “Not Again!” When those moments risk to plunge our heads underwater and drown us with their contempt. 

But our Lord knows your every weakness; He knows all of your sinfulness, even the stuff you have never told anyone about.  We are called to live lives of repentance and faith and one day we will no longer have to cry out, “Oh no!  Not again!”

Eventually we will hear the words “Not Again!”  But this time they will not be uttered by human lips in fear or frustration, or failure.  They will be the final words of the Savior who will say “Not Again!”  From the lips of the Savior to the ears of the faithful, this phrase will break the cycle of sin and sadness.

Jesus says “Not Again!” to sin.  He says, “Not Again!” to suffering!

He says, not again will you have to experience the pain, the grief, the return of the disease, the death of a loved one, the empty seat at the table, and the ache of a heart that is filled with grief. 

“Not again!” is the cry of the cross that announces to you that your sin has been forgiven!  It is the cry of truth that is timeless even in this post Christian climate.  It is in the cross of Christ we glory. 

Even as we will all go back to our stupidity over and over again, we find restoration in Christ and a Lord…
…who shows His favor
…who restores fortunes
…who removes guilt
…who pardons sins
…who laid aside fury
…who turned away anger
…who showed mercy

Who promises never to leave you and never to forsake you.

Now, He never promises that those “Oh no! Not again!” moments won’t ever happen again in life.  In fact, they probably will.  But when they do we can know His strength, we can experience His grace and we can encounter his holiness as we live lives of repentance and faith not just these 40 days, but every day.

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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