Good morning. It’s Saturday, May 5. Today is Oyster Day? Never heard of that one before. Much more significantly, though, I believe, on this day in 1961 (can’t say I remember this one…) Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., became the first American to be launched into space. It was also on this day in 1995 that a surprise hail storm hit the area (Mayfest was going on at Trinity Park), leaving 17 people dead and many more injured. At the time, it was the most expensive hail storm in the history of the nation.
It’s Saturday morning, again, which means I’m pressed for time. We leave for set up in 15-20 minutes, so I’d better get to it. First, though, I must relate an experience from yesterday. I got another test, and while I failed it at first, I believe that I stepped up and passed it by the end. I got into a discussion with a driver yesterday afternoon, one that I’ve butted heads with before (not literally, that would hurt). At one point, I kind of lost it with him. He went on out, and the more I thought about it, the more horrible I felt about the whole thing. Yeah, he expresses and attitude a lot of times, but it may just be his way of talking, and I may be misinterpreting it. I kept remembering what Joel said last Sunday about the way we treat others being a litmus test of our maturity in Christ. I didn’t feel very mature at the moment. Then (and doesn’t our God have the most perfect timing??) I read this blog over at By His Grace. And what should be right in the middle of the page but Proverbs 12:16 (also featured by our pastor last Sunday), which says, The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. The version quoted in the blog said, “A fool shows his annoyance at once…” That pretty much settled it. I got somewhere alone, called the driver on my personal phone and apologized. So we’re cool. And I think he really appreciated that. And I didn’t feel quite so much like a fool.
Father, I pray for some wisdom this morning; some insight that will help me live this day in your grace, looking to the risen Christ.
My Utmost For His Highest
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God… 1 Peter 4:17
As Chambers writes about salvation, he declares the truth that it is God’s idea, not man’s. He then calls it “an unfathomable abyss.” I like that. I think it’s true. The very thought of our salvation is, in fact, an “unfathomable abyss.” “Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is only a gateway by which salvation comes into our conscious life.” He then proceeds to say how this should affect preaching. “Never preach the experience; preach the great thought of God behind.” He goes on to say that preaching should not focus on men being saved from hell and made moral and pure. Preaching should convey “good news about God.”
In Jesus’s teachings, he emphasizes judgment a lot. We don’t like judgment, so we ignore those parts. Oh, except when we’re thinking about OTHER people. We like judgment, then! But judgment is “the sign of God’s love!” We should never sympathize with someone who is experiencing trouble reaching God. “God is not to blame.” It’s not our job to find out the reason for their difficulty, either. It is our job to “present the truth of God that the Spirit of God will show what is wrong.” Does our preaching bring people to judgment?
Jesus does not command that which he does not enable us to fulfill. If he did, he would be a liar. And if we say that we “can’t” do something, we are telling God that there is something he didn’t think about. “Every element of self-reliance must be slain by the power of God.”
So how does all this relate to the Scripture verse in 1 Peter? In the context, Peter is speaking of suffering. I guess the point is, if the judgment of God even falls on the believers, and if we are saved “by the skin of our teeth,” as it were, then “what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Sobering question. Chambers is concerned with the way we go about sharing the good news of Christ to those people. It is not an experience to be preached. It is, as he said, the “great thought of God,” and should be expressed as such.
Father, as I get ready to run out the front door to go help transform a middle school into a place of worship, I thank you for your Spirit and his influence on me yesterday! I praise you that you got through to me to do the right thing and rectify that situation before it became “un-fixable.” Perhaps a doorway of witness was opened up. And it also challenges me to watch the way I act toward this person from now on. I have initiated something that must be maintained. I pray that your Spirit will enable me to think on these things at every instance of interaction, even down to the way that I react with Stephanie at times.
I thank you for your great thought, Father! I praise you for our salvation. May we think soberly about this when we preach, Lord. May our preaching reflect this great thought more so than a simple experience. We center so much on experiences in our culture. And we are guilty of preaching experiences. “Come get saved!” “Be more moral! Be more pure!” But you, O God, are not an experience! And salvation is your idea, not ours. It is life. You are life. You are my very breath, O God. Fill me up today. Fill me with you. Let others see Jesus in me.
I pray that you will find yourself pondering this “great thought of God” today.
Grace and peace, friends.