All that to say, my intentions were to write an entry on yesterday's sermon. While listening to Pastor Brett, I kept thinking "Yes! This is something I need to hear and maybe others want to know it too!" But, I find myself forgetting exactly what he said and I hate to butcher his sermon and I feel I wouldn't do it justice. We are studying the book of Revelation (I am pleased to say that it is my second time through, and I'm only pleased because I was previously terrified of the book). Unlike his regular Sunday sermon, Brett reviewed what we've gone through in previous weeks. He spoke of Jesus addressing each church and described why He was speaking directly to each of those churches specifically. The thing that Pastor Brett said that caught my attention the most was the fact that despite the disobeying and falling away and selfishness these churches were going through, He loved them so much as to approach them and discipline them through godly correction. Pastor Brett said that a lot of times people get wrapped up in the religious side of Christianity. The religious side being that we put conditions on our relationship with Christ. For example, one might say "I need to go to church every Sunday or else", "I need to read my Bible x amount of hours or else", "If I don't volunteer this much, God won't...." I, especially, fall into this hole of religious beliefs. For me, it may be the Catholic side of me that focuses so much on works to be a result of my relationship with God. I find myself saying, "I read my Bible everyday, I go to church every Sunday, I volunteer for ministry so that means I'm close with God". But, does it?
No. It doesn't. There is ample amount of proof and evidence that God's character does not work that way. God didn't say to Abraham, "Hey, since you didn't believe that I was going to give you a son, I'm not going to give you one now" or to David, "You slept with another man's wife AND killed him, so I'll ignore you and take your crown from you" or to Peter, "You denied me three times. THREE TIMES and I told you that you would, so I don't love you anymore". Absolutely not. Despite our disobedience, despite our unbelief, despite our flesh God pursues us and loves us and uses us for His work. Of course, I am not saying that reading your Bible, spending time in prayer, being involved in ministry isn't important. It is so very important. But, the most important thing of all is your heart. All of these men in the Bible had a heart that desired to please the Lord. We all go through troubles and dry spells and maybe, in my case, rebellion toward God but that only hurts us.
In my selfishness, I go through seasons of rebellion in my walk with Christ. I don't want to read my Bible, I don't want to pray, I question others' sincerity in their relationship with Christ. But, in the end it only hurts me. I push away God and I hold brothers and sisters in Christ at an arm's length. What I don't get, or what I didn't get until this Sunday, is that God stands right there when I slam the door in His face. He may not knock and He certainly won't force Himself back in but He will wait. And wait. And wait. Because He loves me so much that He's willing to say, "Hey, it's a new day. Can I hang out with you?" And to that I say, "Why would You want to hang out with me? I haven't talked to you in three weeks." And He says, "What are you talking about? Come on, I really want to hang out with you today." GAH! What a humbling thought. Just writing this, I'm sitting here shaking my head and wondering why I always do that. Praise God for His grace in my selfishness. We may not be able to forgive and forget others but God has an auto-delete button. Every day, every hour, every second, He is there to delete your past when you sincerely seek Him and asking to take your hand for the future. Because, with every second that passes there lies a new beginning.
And here were are, by the grace of God, I've remembered what I wanted to say. :)