Monday, February 27, 2017

Running From God - Jonah 2

Do you remember the dreaded lecture? You got caught doing something wrong and instead of your parents just spanking you and getting it over with, they had to lecture you. The purpose of the lecture was to create guilt for what we’ve done and enough shame so we would never even think about doing it again. For many of us this was our earliest experience with condemnation.

Condemnation isn’t one of God’s tools when He is dealing with us.

Jesus said: The Holy Spirit, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; (Jn 16:8)

The Holy Spirit exposes our sin, points us to God’s expectations, then reminds us rebellion has consequences. But instead of condemning us, pushing us away, He is drawing us back toward God.

I’ve sat through sermons where the preacher thought it was his job to condemn folks with regard to their behavior. We don’t need condemning lectures. God’s Spirit awakens us to the fact that we have left God’s best and need to return to that best.

So visualize Jonah. He just got upchucked out of a big fish. He’s standing on the beach all wet, slimy and humbled. He has already returned to God in his heart when he was still inside the fish. He renewed his vows to go with God. Why would God lecture him?

Instead, God says, “Jonah, now that I have your attention, are you ready to go where I want you to go and do what I want you to do?” A simple question—no emotion, no yelling. No shame.

Jonah didn’t need any more shame. He needed to know if God was done with Him or if God would give him a second chance. And of course a second chance is what God did.

Jonah 3:1-3

If Jonah had run away from God with the assumption that God would just give him another chance, it is unlikely God would have offered it. That’s called presumption. Presuming on the grace of God.

In the Middle Ages, the church presumed upon the grace of God. Knowing God would forgive sin, they created a money-making arrangement of selling forgiveness in advance of the sin. Sort of get out of jail free cards called indulgences. Indulge in sin because your second chance awaits you. Or choose whichever way you want to go, God will forgive you.

The Holy Spirit was sufficiently clear in His convicting: sin is wrong, righteousness is right and consequences are to be expected.

Daily we face multiple choices of what direction we want our lives to go. Some of those choices have no significance in our Christian fellowship with God, but occasionally, there are life-affecting choices.
Imagine a hexagon represents a slice of your life at any given moment. Imagine each side of the hexagon is a choice at that very moment. Within those six choices, God is calling us toward His best. Whatever choice we make, we move into another hexagon to live out that choice until, within that new hexagon, we face other choices.

If we choose God’s best, we discover an open door of blessing.
If we choose against God’s best or simply go with our own will, what happens?
·                              Conviction of sin and righteousness and the consequence of our choice
·                              Persistence of God’s grace
o   By grace God will let us run.
o   By grace God will use whatever it takes to get us to return.

Remember Isaiah 49: But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me." Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me. (Isa 49:14-16)

Each side of this hexagon is a wall continually before the Lord. He knows the blessing of choosing His will and the consequences of choosing against His will. He also knows the sequence of choices that will result if we run away from Him. And the blessings we will discover if we do not.

In whatever choice we make, God meets us there within that hexagon and offers us the direction of His will. If we reject that, and go a different way, He meets us there and offers the way to reconnect to His will.

If I choose God’s best, blessings await.
If I choose another direction, consequences await.
But in each choice, God meets me there with a new best.

Jonah 3:4-4:4  - Jonah’s journey

You are not in charge of the outcome, yet you are angry because I am and I chose a different outcome than you hoped for?

Please don’t insist that for God to be a good God He has to do our will instead of His.
Please don’t insist that for God to be a good God His will has to agree with us.

Oh no, they aren’t happy with what I’ve done. I have to change this to keep them happy. Our happiness isn’t God’s agenda. Doing what’s best is God’s agenda.

He is not a man who changes His mind. Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind. (1 Sam 15:29)

Why do we change our minds?
1.                        What we chose didn’t work as we expected.
2.                        What we chose is making things worse.
3.                       We found something we hope is better.

God sees the beginning and the end. He knows and does what’s best.

But within His will He includes variables according to our response.
Yet even now," declares the LORD, "Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments." Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him… (Joel 2:12-14)

Conditional statements: If you/then I – “If My people, called by My name, will humble…
Jonah only heard the first part: I will destroy/but God always includes a silent if in case they repent.
He is not changing His mind, He’s working within variables.

Chemistry – add two element together and you get a result. Add another and you get a different result.
God + Sinful man = perishing
God + Sinful man + repentance = forgiveness
Outcome is changed because a different element is added.

Grace is at work within the conditions God sets.

A prophet with no compassion forgets Grace – When we judge ourselves, we often forget about Grace. Easy to write other people off. Easy to write ourselves off.

Even when we have run away from God, through the condition of repentance, because of Grace, God offers second chances

            1. God never writes off His children.
            2. Even when we are unfaithful, He remains faithful.
            3. Though He doesn’t remove the consequences of our sin, He will offer us a
second chance to return to fellowship with Him.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Running from God - Jonah 1

One of our first family cars when the boys came along was a station wagon. It gave us more room but still put three little boys sitting side by side in the back seat. If you have traveled with kids you know what that leads to.

I admit I used the classic line all parents have used: Don’t make me come back there. Only to have the question asked: how you gonna get back here and drive?

In the Prodigal Son Story from last week, we looked at running from God from God’s side as we saw the patient father waiting for the day the son would come home.

Remember what the father did?
1.       He let him go.
2.      He let him struggle.
3.      He welcomed him home.
4.      He restored him back within the family.

Today, let’s look at Jonah. Jonah fits a different category of runner. His, too, was a self-centered decision, choosing to live his life by his own desires rather than God’s, but he also rejected God’s specific will.

Where God, as represented by the Prodigal Son’s father, waited at home for the son to come back, God goes after Jonah and deals rather harshly with him.

Why would God wait for one and pursue the other?

It has nothing to do with love or value. It has everything to do with strategy and effect.

Heard people say: I raised my kids the exact same way and they turned out so different. Well, they are different. What works for one won’t necessarily work for the other. One takes the licking and keeps on ticking. Just look at the other and there’s a  meltdown. God’s strategy is designed to fit the runner.

But not only strategy—effect: The Prodigal Son was one son leaving one father, and as much pain as that inflicted on the father, there was minimal collateral damage beyond the immediate family.
Jonah not only was messing with God’s plans for his life but was taking a whole bunch of people down with him in the process.
Jonah 1:1f – are we talking about a real man?

He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. (2 Kings 14:25)

For just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Matt 12:40-41)

Vs 3 – Jonah lost what he invested in running – running from God can get expensive.
·         Financial costs
·         Emotional costs
·         Life costs
·         Relational costs

Vs. 5 – sometimes running hurts others who are affected by their running
– Who’s in their boat?
            Husband/wife, Children, Friends, Employees, Co-workers, relatives

Running from God isn’t a victimless crime. In both stories someone else has to pay a price for another someone else’s running.

As a runner spirals downward, he drag others into his vortex.
·         Hurt people hurt people.
o   Cat in the gutter
·         Angry people take out their anger on others.
o   Man came into my office, I thought to reconcile a problem. All he wanted was to spew his anger on me.
·         Selfish people disregard the needs of others. It’s all about me.
·         Guilty people blame others for their problems.
o   Surgeon who washed out of residency because he couldn’t take responsibility for his mistakes. Always someone else’s fault.

While running, their actions become symptoms of deeper issues. – If you’re carrying a bucket of milk and get bumped, milk is coming out.

Running from God is an activity of the flesh. If, instead of being filled with the Spirit of God, they are filled with the desires of the flesh, what’s coming out?
Paul says: Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these… (Gal 5:19-21)
He adds: anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech…and lying. (Col 3:8)

Running from God is a serious spiritual detour away from the normal Christian life. Instead of walking with God they are walking away from God. Instead of walking in the Spirit, they are walking in the flesh. While in the flesh they cannot please God, nor is God obligated to please them. They’ve walked out from under the spigot of God’s blessings.

Vs. 7-10 – why didn’t you tell us who your God was?
Wife who leaves her husband who happens to be Attila the Hun

Vs. 12 – First Turning Point – It’s my fault. All of this is because of a choice I made.
But watch what happens: even at his first turning point, others dragged into his running are immediately affected.

Vs. 17 –Was the fish a punishment or opportunity to return to God?
·         Remember Grace?
o   By Grace God will let us run.
o   By Grace God will use whatever it takes to get us to return.
·         Sometimes Grace shows up as a big fish.
·         We hear the Jaws theme.
·         Actually fish was singing Amazing Grace.

Second turning point is facing God.
Prod Son – I hate where I am - I’m going home to Dad.
Jonah – and he said, "I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried
 for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. (Jonah 2:2)

Question: Is distress a good thing or a bad thing?
If the best thing for us is to live in fellowship with God, anything that gets us to return to that fellowship is a good thing.

Third turning point: 2:8-9 – Rejecting what I have chosen over God.

Prod. Son had to turn away from the unrestrained life that he chose instead of fellowship with his dad.

Jonah had to turn away from vain Idols – When I run away from God, I’m running toward something else. Whatever I run toward is my idol –Whatever replaces God in my life.

By renewing his vows Jonah was replacing the desire to run his own life with a fresh commitment that reinstated God as Lord of his life.

Jesus challenged his followers to decide if He was Lord or not: As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you want to go away too?" Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. (Jn 6:66-68)

A person hasn’t stopped running until they realize what God wants for them is better than anything they can want for themselves.

Vs. 10 – The fish that Grace created to swallow Jonah was now the fish to deliver him to a strategic place: not Nineveh – 500 miles inland. Projectile vomiting. Ballistic hurling.

Fish didn’t spit him out in Nineveh but back on the shore where Jonah’s return to God would be tested. Okay – You’re out of the fish, now, what are you going to do? Next week we’ll look at his response.

One writer said: What I love about the story of Jonah is that God sent a storm. God provided a fish. God pursued Jonah, even though he ran. Like it or not, God does not turn away from us just because we turn away from Him. He uses whatever it takes to turn us back.

Wherever we are, however far we’ve run, there’s always a turning point back to God.

If you are running, realize this: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. (Ps 139:7-10)

If you are one of those in the boat: What do you do while you wait for them to stop running?

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:16)

Story after story of people returning to God after running include the faithful prayers of a mom, a dad, a grandfather, a grandmother, a wife, a husband, a parent, a friend.

Pray: We may be helpless to help but not hopeless to hope. Our hope is in a God who can dispatch a big fish if that’s what it takes.


1.       God’s best for us is always better than whatever we could choose for ourselves.
2.      To run from Him means we have rejected his best for something we think could be better.
3.      When our running messes up the lives of others around us, God may step harshly into our lives to protect them since He is working out the best for them as well.

4.      You really don’t want Him to come back there.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Running From God - Prodigal Son

When I was a kid I decided to run away from home. I have no memory of why, only that after I filled a grocery sack with clothes and started for the front door, I never made it out of the house.

We’ve probably all felt the urge to run away at one time or another. I feel it every tax season.

A mother went to wake her son for church one Sunday morning. When she knocked on his door, he said, "I'm not going!" "Why not?" "I'll give you two good reasons. One, they don't like me. Two, I don't like them." His mother replied, "I'll give you two good reasons why YOU WILL go to church. One, you're 47 years old. Two, you're the pastor!" 

Sometimes running away means leaving, other times it means staying but withdrawing from everyone else. Sometimes we act on it, most times we don’t. Some even try to run away from God.

Running from God can be a momentary thought, a passive/aggressive withdrawal or a full-blown, turn our backs and walk away rejection.

Why might someone run from God?
1.                    Disappointed – God failed me – prayers
2.                    Interfering – God wanted something for me I didn’t want for myself – Moses
3.                   Demanding – God expected something from me I was unwilling to give or give up
4.                   Hurt – God took something away that meant more to me than He did – loss

All of these are about loss. An expectation lost, a desire lost, a sense of privilege lost, a loved one lost. With loss comes grief. Grief is the price you pay for loving.

Paul said when we experience loss we aren’t to grieve as those who have no hope.
·                           Hopeless grieving
·                           Hopeful grieving
One takes us to our hope, the other away from our hope.
In one we run toward God. In the other we turn away from Him.

Most of the time we look at running from our side of the equation—how we feel, what happened to us, what are our justifications for running or even thinking about running.

In this series, called Running From God, we’re going to look at God’s side.

Luke 15:11f – We call it the Prodigal Son story.

In this story, you heard that the son chose to leave the father. No reason given. But by what the son did once he left, we can understanding his motives: he squandered his estate with loose living.

Loose living – unrestrained – without boundaries

I want to be in charge of my own life. I want no restrictions or restraints. I want to be free to do as I please. Greatest cry of rebellion. It’s my life and I’ll do what I want with it.

What did the father do?
1.                              He let him go.
2.                              He let him struggle.
a.      Why would a good father let his child struggle? Sounds unloving.
b.      Help him!
c.       Help and enabling are separated by doing what’s best.
                                                              i.      Help is providing what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need – empowering someone to succeed.
                                                           ii.      Enabling is help intends to resolve a specific problem but in fact may perpetuate or make the problem worse.
                                                         iii.      Genuine help deals with the problem.
                                                          iv.      Enabling help deals with the symptoms of the problem.
d.      No one changes until they reach the turning point.
Question: Is struggling a good thing or a bad thing?
If the best thing for us is to live in fellowship with God, anything that gets us to return to that fellowship is a good thing.

3.                             He welcomed him home.
4.                             He restored him back within the family.

Though this is called the Prodigal Son story, it should be called the Father of the Prodigal Son’s story.
The father, represents God in what the story is really about. Like God, he was willing for his son to get swallowed up in his own misery so he might wake up and return home.

The resolution started when the son came to himself. He reached the end of his running away and decided to go home. That was the father’s hope.

In all those days the father sat on the porch looking for his son to return, wanting him back, he never wanted him home if the son was still running. Until our heart comes with us, there will always be the desire to run again.

This isn’t a story about family relationships. This is a story about how Grace operates in our lives when we turn away from God.
·                         By Grace God will let us run.
·                         By Grace God will use whatever it takes to get us to return.
·                         Because of Grace, God never stops wanting us back.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and …  kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

Fell on his neck and said: don’t you ever embarrass me like that again…

Fear of coming back to God? Look at how the father reacted.

And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' (Luke 15:21)

But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:22-24)

If you’ve ever thought: I’ve messed up forever. God will never take me back after what I did or said. I’ve sinned away any possibility of returning to God. I blew my only chance…

But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me." Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. (Isa 49:14-16)

First Turning Point – It’s my fault. Owning up to the fact all of this is because of a choice I made. Can’t blame anyone else.

Second turning point is facing reality. I hate where I am - I’m going home – I was better off there.

Third turning point: receive Grace. Be restored to the Father.

Wherever we are, however near or how far we’ve run, there’s always a turning point that takes us back to God.

God is the God of second, third, fourth…chances. I’m probably over a hundred by now.

I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, (Isa 65:2)

For us to be able to return, we reach out to the hands reaching out for us. Here’s the promise: even in our rebellion, He’s there urging us way back into fellowship with Him.

1.                          We cannot run far enough nor fast enough to run away from God.
2.                          Wherever we are, there He is.
3.                         His intention is for us to accept the way back to fellowship with Him.
4.                         His love for us is stronger than our willingness to stay away.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Passover to Communion

In a memorial service, we remember the one who has died. We recall aspects of their life that remind us what they were like and what they meant to us. We tell stories of special moments and through memories relive the relationship, usually all very fresh and quite tender from hearts still grieving.

God used memorial services to remind Israel of special moments when He did amazing things for them. Piling up rocks as a monument or creating a new ritual. To memorialize His deliverance of Israel from the Egyptians in the Exodus, God instituted Passover. On the night of that deliverance, He told them to prepare a specific meal and eat it. Then He said do this each year as a reminder of that event.

Here were the instructions for that first Passover: Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household…Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste--it is the LORD'S Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments--I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. (Ex 12:1-14)

And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. And when your children say to you, 'What does this rite mean to you?' you shall say, 'It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.'" And the people bowed low and worshiped. (Ex 12:24-27)

But like any repeated ritual, after a while the significance can be lost. Like us singing a hymn unconsciously since it’s so familiar and not worshipping God. They could go through the motions of observance and fail to connect with God, not remembering what He had done, or why they were doing this in the first place.

It’s called perfunctory religion – going through the motions with no connection to God and failing to see any relevance to us personally.

During the years, Passover became formalized with certain procedures a Jewish family would go though: Lighting candles, repeating memorized prayers, dipping parsley in salted water, taking three matzos, removing the middle one, breaking it and hiding one half until the end of the ceremony.  

They would use four cups of wine, reflected in what God said in Ex 6:6 I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people.

These four cups, each had particular significance:
1.       Cup of Sanctification – I will bring you to Myself – setting you apart from others
2.      Cup of plagues – I will free you from your slavery
3.      Cup of redemption – I will redeem you
4.      Cup of praise – I will take you to Myself

Though we usually don’t make the connection, Communion is a memorial service that came out of Passover. But instead of continuing the same traditional practices, we observe communion with a sense of fulfillment the Jews knew nothing about.

Communion is a photo of an event that if we examine it closely, we’ll see that it captures a much bigger picture of what Jesus did and how that affects us today. To understand Communion and its’ roots in Passover, we have to go back to the Last Supper Jesus had with His disciples the night He was arrested.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." (Jn 13:1-10)

And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; (Luke 22:15)

What they were doing was observing traditional Passover. But more than just going through the same ritual meal they had all done each year since they were little kids, Jesus now gave them insight into the message within the ceremony.

When the dad, leading his family in Passover, took the three pieces of bread, he had no idea what they represented. Why three? To us, we think immediately of the Trinity. We see the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And then he would take the middle piece—the Son—and break it, we say, “That’s Jesus.” And a whole new message opens up.

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."

Suddenly, in that moment in that supper room, the broken matzos had been explained.

Then the cup. Remember there were four cups? In the sequence of the ceremony, the cup of wine that is used after the breaking of the matzos is the third cup. It was the cup of redemption. God said: I will redeem you.

And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.  (Matt 26:26-28)

The story of God’s redemption now became specific in Jesus.

Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (1 Pet 1:18)

Paul put it all together: Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? (1 Cor 10:16)

What Jesus did was explain what was about to happen by revealing what had been hidden within the Passover meal all along.

We celebrate the whole picture in Communion. But in repeating it so often, what are we to do to keep this new tradition from becoming perfunctory? What would keep the significance of it alive?

Consecrate – dedicate formally to a divine purpose. A utensil in the Temple.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Rom 12:1) – Worship is presenting ourselves to God.

If communion is a worship time, we should be presenting ourselves as dedicated to God.

Worship requires consecration as an acknowledgment that God is in our lives and these lives belong to Him.

Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth of the second month. And the priests and Levites were ashamed of themselves, and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the house of the LORD. They stood at their stations after their custom, according to the law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood which they received from the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves; therefore, the Levites were over the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was unclean, in order to consecrate them to the LORD. (2 Chron 30:15-17)

Consecration is a recognition of spiritual neglect in my life and the necessity of acknowledging I have been stained by the world. I need cleansing.

Before Jesus observed Passover with the disciples, He washed their feet. It was a custom but also a lesson for them. He was about to turn Passover into a whole new worship moment.

The custom: Roman bathhouses. Come out clean but going home you kick up dirt and dust from the roads. When you get home you need to wash your feet again, not take another bath.

To be consecrated required clean hands and a pure heart. Passover then and Communion now were divine appointments for us to ascend to the hill of the Lord, to stand in the presence of God and declare worth to Him for what He did.

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Ps 24:3-5)

When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He was teaching them that though they were clean in spirit, fully His, they wouldn’t stay clean in body. To come deliberately into God’s presence, we need to be wholly clean.

But Jesus was also making a promise: as He cleaned the disciples’ feet to make them acceptable to worship, He will provide cleansing for us, who can’t stay clean either.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn 1:6-9)

We still sin. Sinning doesn’t make us unsaved. Sinning makes us unworthy for fellowship with God. Not unworthy of but for.

--Egg Farm – not unworthy of my mom’s affection, just not acceptable to be
   hugged at that moment.

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to [then] eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. (1 Cor 11:23-29)

Examine: to determine worthiness, acceptability to perform, to qualify – are you qualified to take communion?

What gives us the right to take communion in the first place? We belong to the Lord.
We have cried out to the Lord for salvation, a relationship with Him has begun because the Father applied Jesus’ blood to the forgiveness of our sin which bathed us completely.

What makes us acceptable: clean hands and a pure heart.

Have we remained clean from sinning since then? No. So we figuratively look at our feet, dirty from walking in a sin-infested world, and ask the Lord to wash them again.

Communion is a right given to God’s children. It is a deliberate time that we connect with the Lord. It is a memorial service, a time to remember what Jesus did and why. It is a time of personal worship when I honor, thank and love Him for what He did for me.

He makes us acceptable for this act of worship. It’s all because of what Jesus has done and continues to do: cleanse our sin and make us holy.

1.       If we know Jesus as our Savior, we are already washed and qualified to take Communion.
2.      But chances are we’ve tracked in some dirt from the world that might interfere with being our worship.
3.      If we acknowledge our sins, He is not only able but willing to cleanse us from what hinders us connecting with Him today.
4.      So, before we take Communion, examine your life. Spend a few moments letting Him wash your feet.