Good morning to the Fellowship at Grace,
It is the Sunday before the Thursday that our nation pauses and reflects; and gives thanks. Thanksgiving – the giving of thanks for all our blessings. This year it is different. We have been told to limit our gatherings, to separate from large assemblies. It isn’t the first time this year we’ve been asked to do that – and it isn’t the first time this year that we as Christians have determined to comply. It is against our human nature that draws us into togetherness, naturally. And, it is profoundly against our Christian nature that draw us into a togetherness that is closer and more intimate than any worldly togetherness we might experience.
There, together as believers, we are joined by the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit and by that we are made more than each of us together, we are made as one.
20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;
21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
And please notice – our togetherness, our oneness, has a visible and powerful impact on the world. Jesus says we are drawn together as one SO THAT the world may believe. The SO THAT of our togetherness. Powerful!
And now we aren’t. We aren’t together. Not this Sunday – or the next two Sundays. And it is right for us to consider the impact to the SO THAT if we are not together. What does it mean for us to be apart? – that is one question. But also, what does it mean for the world if we are apart? – that is another question. It is not one we should take lightly, and we don’t. It is one we should consider carefully, seriously, and then find God’s answer and purpose in the answer.
Consider Paul’s words regarding the unity we have in Christ; every believer, one with Him through love:
35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul says that our unity with Christ cannot be separated. It cannot. It will not. Not by anything. Even if, on the outside, there appears division, at the essence of our being there is no separation with Him. Even when we live with tribulation and distress – we are one with Him. Even when we die – we are one with Him. Nothing can separate us.
Now, go back and read His words to us from John 17. Jesus says that the Spirit makes us one, one with the Father and the Son – and one with each other. If Paul declares there is no possible separation with Him – then there is also, in much the same way, no possible separation from each other. The space between us isn’t wide enough to separate us.
We know that is true. We have felt the unity of fellowship and unity of identity with brothers and sisters around the world that we have never even met. The space between us can’t separate us.
Church family, this is the togetherness that impacts the world. Not the togetherness of us together, actually, on the Lord’s Day, as powerful a testimony as that is. No, that sort of togetherness can be mimicked by the world. Their large gatherings and the emotions they might feel, the convictions they might share – – that is about as far as that goes. And when they leave, they are separated from any lasting unity. Our togetherness on the Lord’s Day is only a picture, a very small picture, of a togetherness that is uninterrupted when we separate. That is something that the world cannot mimic. That is something that no earthly relationship can match.
So, we are separated this morning; physically. But nothing can separate us spiritually. Nothing. Not life, not trial, not distress – and not a pandemic. Nothing.
That is something we can be very thankful for; most thankful for. And when the world sees a thankful people even when separated … that is SO THAT territory.
This message, from 2016, focuses on our peculiar testimony of thanksgiving. Give it a listen – may it be a blessing to us all.
God has done something for every Christian: He has removed the scales from our eyes and has revealed Himself to us. We are given eyes to see, and ears to hear, the wonderful majesty of God.
We tend to forget what we saw, to forget what we heard. Even after coming to God in Christ … even after having our eyes open … there is enough of the vestiges of that sinful nature in us that we forget what we saw. You’ve all experienced that, sometimes in just a matter of hours. You’ve been reading in the Bible, or reading a devotion, or listening to a sermon … and there in that moment of truth God shows you who He is. He gives you a TELESCOPIC PERSPECTIVE of His greatness.
And it is more than an intellectual reality, it is an emotional reality — you feel His presence, you experience a true sense of His grace and mercy – of His goodness toward you.
And in that moment you are certain you will never doubt Him again.
In that moment you are certain you will never lose sight of Him again.
But in just a few hours, or days, something has happened. That sense of His greatness – of His ever-nearness … it is gone.
And in its place the mundane has crept back into view, the circumstances of life have rushed over us, leading to doubts, despair even.
You have forgotten what you saw … forgotten what you felt – – forgotten who He is.
Let’s be reminded. Let’s be thankful.
Grace to us all,
Our 2nd Hour Lesson for November 22nd – “Jesus Feeds the 5,000” Teacher Lesson, Crafts/Activities, Family Devotion, and Illustration Pages!
Thanks for remembering the importance of your continued giving – you can give online, mail, or drop by Tuesday-Friday, 8:00 AM to Noon.