Remembering 9/11

9-11-Tribute-In-Light-MemorialGod does not cause evil, sinful men do evil as an act of rebellion against their Creator.  Yet, God is not helpless and unaware of the evil men do, he is sovereign over it…using it for the billions of reasons that we will never understand because we are not Him – yet we may catch a glimpse of a reason every now and then.

Twelve years ago, God used an astounding act of evil to spin my head around, get my eyes off of myself, and return to my Creator.  He used 9/11 in my life as a giant wake up call, that my life without Him at the center is ultimately empty.

God is also the God of all comfort.  And so, while today I’m very thankful for God using 9/11, I’m very aware that there will always be people who still mourn the loss of loved ones.  We remember them, hug them, pray for them.  We encourage them that the only true comfort is not found in this world, where I was searching for it in my pre-9/11 self-centered fog – it is in a person – Jesus Christ, who came on the ultimate rescue mission to provide a way for a rebellious people to be reconciled to their Creator, by his selfless act of taking our punishment on the cross.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.””

(Mark 10:45 ESV)

 

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The Things that Cannot Be Shaken

Japan-Earthquake_2155758bI spent some time in Hebrews 12-13 this morning.  So much good stuff in there, but what particularly grabbed me was Hebrews 12:18-28.   In the Old Testament, God spoke to Israel at Mt. Sinai and everything shook, they were terrified. That same God is speaking to us today, there is not two different Gods – and Old Testament God with an anger problem, and a kinder, gentler,  80’s feathered-back-hair “Jesus God” in the New Testament.  There is one God, in three persons, who is forever the same.   One day, God will shake the heavens and the earth,  and return to make all things new, to restore forever what sin has broken, to judge,  and to usher those who are his into our new “city of the living God.” (12:22)

The parallel is that in our lives, we can experience times when everything around us seems shaken.  I have a few close friends who are going thru such times now, and I’m certain I will be there someday as well.  No one is immune to such times – when everything we have known as stable for many years is upside down.  In these times, it is important to remember the message of this passage – there are things that cannot be shaken.  The shaking of our worlds can actually cause us to see more clearly those things.  In speaking of this passage, author Michael Horton in “The Gospel Driven Life” writes “Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, the Scriptures remind us, and only the kingdom that God is building will remain.”  Hebrews 12:27b says that they are shaken “in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain”  – there is a purpose to the times in our lives when everything is upside down – so that we may see more clearly that it is only God’s kingdom that will remain.  Sometimes, it takes everything falling down around us in order for us to see what is truly permanent.

So, what do we do in response to this?  Heb 12:25 says “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.”  God is still speaking today, right now.  God is speaking to you in these times, make a decision to turn from controlling your life, and turn over your life to live for God’s kingdom which cannot be shaken.  Our lives are meant to be lived in worship of God.  That doesn’t mean walking around singing worship music 24/7, that means turning from sin and toward God’s way in purity and truth and faith, in a healthy respect of who God is.

Hebrews 12:28-29 sums it up well –

“Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

How to Love God

The book of Deuteronomy is largely a restatement of the law that was given to God’s people, but now as they are ready to enter the promised land after their 40 years in the desert, they are hearing it again before their mission continues to drive out the inhabitants of the land.

Thus…when something gets said twice or summarized, it’s usually pretty important.  In 6:4-7 we see a very famous summary:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

We see a few things here:

  • There is one God, and you are one in God.   Written in a world of many “gods” this is a powerful statement – there is only one true God.  Also the word “you” in v5 is singular – the people of God are united in the one God.  
  • Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  This phrase carries the meaning of “the whole person.”  Israel was being called to love the one true God with their whole lives, let no part of your heart, soul, or mind be not serving God in loving worship.  One God – your many lives lived as one all with everything you have for God’s purposes and glory.
  • Teach with your life.  As parents we are to pass on our 100% love for God to our kids – both in teaching with actual words of God in the Bible – but also in everyday life – when we’re sitting at home, walking (or driving now as the case may be), when resting…all the time.  All of our time with our family – redeemed for one purpose – loving God. Fathers, we are called to lead the way here – Eph 6:4

Lest we think that these are only commands given to ancient Israel and no longer apply to us today…(1) He is still the same God.  The God of the OT is not a different God from the NT.  Why would we not continue to love him with everything we have?  (2) Jesus famously sums this as the greatest commandment in Matt 22:36-38.

If we have repented of our sins, put our full faith and trust in Jesus for restoration and healing, and are persevering in our walk today – we are united in Jesus.  We are part of the new covenant that the old covenant laid the foundation for – Jesus fulfilled it for us!  How much more now shall we love God with all of our being?  We live and work not for God’s acceptance and love, but because we are loved and accepted by God in Christ!