“ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Paul would write later to the church. No one knew this Truth better than Paul. Paul, formerly Saul, one of the religious elite leaders, was the worst of sinners until Jesus came into his life. Jesus’ words pierced Saul’s being and had to be heard for the Light of Jesus blinded the eyes of this highly legalistic, pious, religious fanatic–stopping him cold on his self-proclaimed mission to kill Jesus’ freaks. As the story goes, Saul was headed down the road to yet another city, Damascus, to wreak havoc, killing and torturing all who believed in Jesus. What a mess! (See Acts 9)
Jesus’ words to Saul were and still are chilling to the bone. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” These words brought the mighty, arrogant Saul to his knees. Saul, along with others, committed himself to ridding the world of these faithful believers of the One who died for their sins and rose again to complete the work of redemption for all who would believe. What Saul thought he was doing for God was actually persecuting His Son, Jesus Christ all over again with the torture of each believer!
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did unto me.” –Jesus (Matthew 25:40)
Our mess affects everyone around us. When we hurt ourselves and others by our mess, our sin, our pride and arrogance, we are persecuting the One who loves us most. Jesus loves the people being hurt by our actions. When we hurt his created, we are hurting him. This breaks the heart of God. Let that sink in. Take all the time you need.
Saul was a mess. Jesus transformed Saul’s mess into His Message!
Saul became Paul, the Apostle, who loved Jesus Christ with all of his being. Paul became a missionary who told the Good News of Jesus’ saving grace. He was also a church planter, church renewal advocate, writer, and encourager for all who believed. His God-given intelligence was now used to tell the Truth. His tenaciousness and dedication to the Body of Christ, is the basis for our current church theology. How to relate to each other in The Body of Christ, seeking God and finding out what HE wants, and loving each other “as if your life depended on it” is the thesis of the message of Paul in his letters to the church.
Before Saul/Paul, there was David, “a man after God’s own heart”, who also was a mess. David wrote this Psalm admitting his messiness, leaning into God’s redemptive power while discovering what God really wants from all of us.
It is in the middle of our messes that we learn what God wants. Our messes can be God’s messages when we humbly repent and return to God’s will and plan for our lives. Only God can turn our messes into messages of His Truth. Then it’s time to praise Him with thanksgiving and adoration for all He as done, is doing and will do in our lives. Tenaciously trust Him. Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life…from messes to messages of how He saved us!
Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs
Psalm 40, The Message
A David Psalm
40 1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God.
At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.
4-5 Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”
ignore what the world worships;
The world’s a huge stockpile
of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
comes close to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words
account for you.
6 Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
that’s not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious—
that’s not what you’re asking for.
You’ve opened my ears
so I can listen.
7-8 So I answered, “I’m coming.
I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I’m coming to the party
you’re throwing for me.”
That’s when God’s Word entered my life,
became part of my very being.
9-10 I’ve preached you to the whole congregation,
I’ve kept back nothing, God—you know that.
I didn’t keep the news of your ways
a secret, didn’t keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.
I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone. I told it all,
let the congregation know the whole story.
11-12 Now God, don’t hold out on me,
don’t hold back your passion.
Your love and truth
are all that keeps me together.
When troubles ganged up on me,
a mob of sins past counting,
I was so swamped by guilt
I couldn’t see my way clear.
More guilt in my heart than hair on my head,
so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.
13-15 Soften up, God, and intervene;
hurry and get me some help,
So those who are trying to kidnap my soul
will be embarrassed and lose face,
So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable
will be heckled and disgraced,
So those who pray for my ruin
will be booed and jeered without mercy.
16-17 But all who are hunting for you—
oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you’re all about
tell the world you’re great and not quitting.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing:
make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—
but God, don’t put it off.
TRUTH: What God wants, “Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God”.
WHAT GOD DOESN’T WANT…
Proverb 16:25-33, The Message
There’s a way that looks harmless enough;
look again—it leads straight to hell.
26 Appetite is an incentive to work;
hunger makes you work all the harder.
27 Mean people spread mean gossip;
their words smart and burn.
28 Troublemakers start fights;
gossips break up friendships.
29 Calloused climbers betray their very own friends;
they’d stab their own grandmothers in the back.
30 A shifty eye betrays an evil intention;
a clenched jaw signals trouble ahead.
31 Gray hair is a mark of distinction,
the award for a God-loyal life.
32 Moderation is better than muscle,
self-control better than political power.
33 Make your motions and cast your votes,
but God has the final say.
WISDOM: God has the final say.
You are God and we are not. You are in control of all that you have created. Your love for us goes beyond our imaginations. Your timing is perfect. Your will is pleasing and perfect for each one of us. Thank you for looking at the mess we make, forgiving us, while turning our mess into your message of Truth. Thank for your patient lessons through it all. Thank you for continually transforming us day by day as we lean into your wisdom, learning the beautiful rhythms of your love, grace and mercy. Do what you want in and through me. I’m yours, Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen