The general election was five days ago. I don’t know if you’re happy or sad, hopeful or hopeless, encouraged or discouraged. I do know, God is still on the throne. He’s still sovereign and in control. Even still, now what?
Let's forget about the election today and focus on what God’s calling us to do through the example of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. We want to see what the mind of Christ looked like in a difficult moment.
Mark 14:32-36 Jesus takes Peter, James and John with Him. He tells them that His soul is sorrowful. He tells them to stay there and watch. Jesus steps further into the garden, falls to the ground, and prays.
Mark 14:36 “Abba Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” In this passage, we read of the moment when Jesus – God’s Son is about to carry out the biggest sacrifice in history.
He KNOWS! He knows what’s about to happen.
He’s spent time teaching on it. He’s just had Passover with His disciples. And now, He takes a few of them down into the valley to do the most important thing anyone can do when times are messy – when things aren’t together. Pray.
So, He prays and prays, deep prayers.
“Father . . . take this away! Jesus says with intensity. Then, sensing the Father ministering to Him, Jesus says, “Yet – not what I will, but what You will.”
What a mess. We see the mess our leaders have created within our towns, communities, cities, and across America. What a mess. We see the mess of divisiveness ruining relationships among friends, family, and even within our churches. What a mess. We see the civil unrest in our country. What a mess. We see the pandemic claiming the lives of our loved ones. What a mess.
When in a mess, when facing a time that’s so immense - Jesus looked up.
• He could have looked down
• He could have looked at the shadows around Him
• He could have looked at the frail, tired disciples
• He could have looked for an escape route out of the garden
BUT He looked UP – to the father.
Because the father had the answer.
You know we don’t often have the full plan, all the answers, the way to get through the craziness of life. We don’t even see the complete picture. Sometimes life can seem like a handful of pieces, pieces that are hard to put together on our own. We think we have it sorted. It looks reasonable, but . . .
The disciples saw Jesus. They put the pieces together. It looked reasonable...He’s a good teacher that could one day become a ruler, king or leader. They could be his aids. The pieces started to fit together, yet they didn’t comprehend the words Jesus was saying about being handed over, dying or rising. They couldn’t see the ‘big picture.’
But it was there. The disciples focused on one area and one area only. We like to think we have the answers, that we see the end game. We would like to think we can tell God how to fit the pieces together.
But – you know what?
We don’t have the picture – we don’t even see half of the picture.
I want you to understand, we will NEVER see the big picture.
What we must seek to have in these times, is the mind of Christ.
What this means is that you want to do God’s will, even when it hurts, even when it’s difficult, even when it doesn’t make sense. Jesus gave us the ultimate example of this as we read in Mark 14 on the night before He went to the cross.
In the garden, Jesus was in agony. He knew the pain He was about to face. Not just the physical pain but the emotional and spiritual pain of being separated from his Father as He carried the shame and weight of OUR sin.
Even then Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father…everything is possible for You. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will”. Jesus said He wanted to do God’s will, not His own, even if it was painful.
So, I know we don’t have the big picture. We never will see God’s big picture. But we CAN have the mind of Christ.
The disciples didn’t have the full picture in Gethsemane and we don’t have the full picture five days after the election.
In our prayers we should say, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.” I want to see more than I do with my physical eyes. Open the eyes of my heart.
May I suggest you do something each day?
-Seek the Lord
-Read His Word each day
-Spend more time in prayer
-Spend more time listening to Him
-Ask Him to show you the ‘big picture’
Look up, and say, It is well with my soul. I’m going through this messy moment with God because only He holds the future and I’ll be guided by His hand.
With God, things don’t just happen –He is sovereign, He has the big picture – He has the big plan.
Keep growing in your walk with the Lord over this time. Pray like Jesus. Be spiritually mature and trust God will provide. Remember, “Look up.”
We all love our guilty pleasures, however, when the guilty pleasures start to fill the hole intended for God to fill, this IS sin.
We have all seen many changes. Attitudes have changed. Language has changed. The meaning of language has changed. One that particularly hit me is the meaning of the word sin.
Once upon a time the word ‘sin’ meant something. Proverbs depicts sin as very serious. If it were a movie it would be rated R. Having knowledge of sin opened the 'doorway to the gospel.' In today's world, sin has been downgraded to PG-13. Now, it’s just an extra piece of chocolate cake.
The question is: Did Jesus die on the cross for just an extra piece of cake? If this is how the world sees things, then why do we need a crucified savior?
PROVERBS 26:11 A dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool returns to his folly.
Although the world we live in doesn’t take sin seriously, God still does. The vile image of a dog returning to its own vomit is how God sees it. And it’s exactly how we need to see it too.
So not only does the image reveal something of how God sees our sin, but it also reveals something of the nature of sin.
Why do we sin?
First, a dog doesn’t have a problem eating its own vomit...they’re used to vomiting. Maybe the food is too spicy or the flavor is different. Vomiting could be an everyday occurrence for the dog. In comparison, humans have cast iron stomachs...it takes a lot to make us sick.
But dogs are different. After they eat and they fall ill, they just see it as just the way it is. So, dogs have no problem woofing it down again. It’s that failure to recognize it that makes it so easy for the dog to carry on. People sometimes don't recognize their own sin, so they just carry on with it.
We don’t see it as God sees it; we don’t recognize it for what it is. Failing to see sin far too often in our actions may cause us to have no problem woofing it down again. We eat it because like the dog we don’t have a problem with it.
Second, we eat it because we’re used to it. It’s hard for us to change our sinful nature. Sin has become an unnatural part of who we are. For some, it’s so deep that we can’t even see it. We’re like the dog and his ‘eat anything’ habit. We’ve gotten used to sin.
Third, we do it because we think we need it. Dogs re-ingest their vomit because they think they need it. When a person has something missing in their diet, they take vitamins. For a dog, the richest source of vitamins is probably what they ate last night.
A reason why we sin is because we think sin offers us something we need. We spend so much time and energy chasing stuff that makes us happy. Is that sin? Yeah you better believe it. God is supposed to fill that space, that's why he made it. It’s sin to try and fill our needs with anything else.
I guess we don’t really see sin in the same way God does, but when you see it as vomit, and your stomach starts to churn a little, then you can start to realize how bad it really is. It should repulse us, but often that’s not enough. We actually need to reboot and figure out the behavior that got us in our current state.
The first thing is obvious...you need to name it for what it is – Sin. Then, you need to keep away from it. If something causes you to trip, avoid it. Try and recognize that it’s bad for you...it’s not what you need. Recognize that it’s an issue. Don’t brush it under the rug because vomit stinks...deal with it.
Give it to God. He hates it but he can deal with it. His Holy Spirit is there to help you overcome your sickness. Someone said to me a few months back that this whole thing doesn’t fit. How can we say God loves us, when He sees us for what we are? A vomit eating fool.
I guess we need to realize that God’s love is bigger than our eating habits. He loves us even if there’s a string of vomit hanging from our chins.
Maybe you feel as though you have done something so disgusting that you feel God could never want you back.
Are you a fool?
Mistakes are inevitable; we’re all going to make them. Every now and then, you’re going to “vomit”. But when you do, learn why it happened and resolve to never do it again. The fool is not the one who makes a mistake and sins, but the one who continually makes the same mistake without learning from it.
The good news is that there is a way back to God. As you give the contents of your sick bag to God...there is a way to forgiveness.