Isaiah 58-60, Psalm 119:153-176
Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer, how many of us had reasons for not participating in some way. If we were told the full power of God would be revealed this weekend in Washington D.C, how many would make excuses why not to attend. Excuses and reasons do not have to be bad things. How many would put their child's sporting event over going to D.C.? How many would put a hospital visit or a funeral visit above this? How many would put a vacation above this? How many would be skeptical that the full power of God would truly be revealed? Like it or not, we live in a distracted and skeptical world. Though many profess belief in God, there are many obstacles to seeking Him with all of our heart. These obstacles, again even if good, are the idols we serve ahead of God.
When we read portions of Scripture as in today's reading it would appear far-fetched that everyone would be single-minded and literally drop everything and place their focus solely on God. There is the problem. Many view these events as their eternal hope when things eventually change. We read in Isaiah 60:3-4, "The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. "Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; Your sons shall come afar, And your daughters shall be nursed at your side." We also read in 60:9, "Surely the coastlands shall wait for Me; And the ships of Tarshish will come first, To bring your sons from afar, Their silver and their gold with them, To the name of the Lord your God, And to the Holy One of Israel, Because He has glorified you." These refer to future events after the Tribulation when the True Light will be present. But why are we waiting for a change in us to respond like this? We often mistakenly believe when we hope for eternity with Jesus, that this begins the moment we die in our earthly tents and enter His presence. But He came in order that we also might experience this eternal hope here and now in our hearts and lives. In the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17, we read in 17:1-3, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." In Jesus' prayer He desires this for us now, not when we die or when He comes back. To strengthen us, we read in Ephesians 1:13-14, "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory."
Jesus wants us to experience the full joy of eternal life both here on earth and in heaven. For those of us who are in Christ, we often don't experience this fullness because we keep one eye on Jesus and the other eye on the world. Though there will be trials and tribulations before Jesus returns, He promises us joy throughout if we will only keep Him continually in our focus. Happiness is based on circumstances, but joy is not. Joy as we see so often in the lives of Jesus, Paul, etc is based on holding firm to that eternal life which is offered to all of us now. We, Christians, should be the most joyful people on the face of the earth. We have been offered, not a possibility, but a promise by the Creator of the Universe. It is time we cast off everything which hinders our walk and live the Spirit-filled life which Jesus desires for us. With our eyes set on Jesus, let us serve as light to an otherwise dark world, attracting others to turn their eyes towards the Only One with the power to save.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: