A Picture of REMEMBRANCE

Scripture for this blog-Bible study:  Hebrews 10:12-25, Luke 24:13-14

UNITY IN COMMUNION –

COMMUNION, Paul’s term describing the nature of the Lord’s Supper is the term used by many church groups, referring to their CELEBRATION of Jesus’ final memorial supper with His disciples.  Paul used the Greek term “Koinonia” to express the basic meaning of the Christian faith, a sharing in the life and death and more importantly in the resurrection of Christ, which radically creates a relationship between Christ and the believer and of the believers with one another – a partnership of unity.

Hebrews 10:12, 14 (NIV)

[12] But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God…[14] because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

The words speak to the present.  It’s a symbol of our unity, reminding us whom we are to be living for in this life.

  • It reminds us to keep our eyes focused on Him.

It tells us that He is who he said He was and is and we can trust Him today with our lives.

It points to the future.  We proclaim His death…He comes again!  It points to our complete redemption and glorification in Heaven before the Great White Throne.

What does Jesus want for us at this gathering?  Yes, Jesus wants something from us.

When we celebrate, and that’s what COMMUNION should be, is A CELEBRATION, not a ritualistic ceremony.  That’s what worship should be – A CELEBRATION!

WHAT IS JESUS’ PURPOSE?

Let’s together take a walk along the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13, with two disciples of Jesus who heard the two earlier reports of the Resurrection – Mary’s and Peter’s.

However, because they hadn’t personally seen the evidence, rather, they didn’t want to check out the evidence for themselves, probably because they were afraid of being caught and possibly receiving a death sentence, they decided to pack it in and head back home some 7 miles away from Jerusalem, and go back to their old way of living.

Alright, they gave up on Jesus…but thank God, He didn’t give up on them!

Notice verse 15 says, “Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them…”.  I especially like the English Standard Version (ESV) of the passage – “Jesus himself drew near…”  The thought here isn’t that these two disciples were simply geographically distant, but that their FAITH was distant as well.

JESUS knew their need…so He DREW NEAR. 

He didn’t say, “Fine!  You want to leave, you want to doubt, and you want to turn your backs on me?  Go right ahead.  Don’t expect me to come to you.  When you clean up your act and smarten up and return to where I am, I’ll consider taking you back.”  Thank God, Jesus isn’t like that.  He knows our weaknesses and struggles.

“I would have never been like those first disciples!”

We think WE would never act the way they did.  Fact is, we would…and we do…and most likely we will.  Our lives can often fog our vision, our understanding, our faith, and our hope…We allow circumstances to overshadow the truth.

  • It’s easy to lose focus.
  • It’s easy to doubt.
  • It’s easy to forget.
  • It’s easy to fall away.
  • It’s easy to reject.
  • It’s easy to take for granted.
  • It’s easy to misunderstand.
  • It’s easy to give up and give in.

THANK GOD…that in spite of:

  1. Our clouded situations and circumstances…
  2. Getting lost frequently along the way…
  3. The times we decide to hit the road again and run away from our difficulties…

…there’s a God who not only comes looking for us BUT…ALSO DRAWS NEAR AND TRAVELS WITH US UNTIL WE SEE AGAIN!  That’s good news!  That’s grace!  That’s Jesus!

He spoke with them for hours.

He spent the day with them explaining the truth of the Scriptures; this wasn’t a 20-minute sermon!  He was there physically with them until the sun was beginning to set.

They saw Him…

They smelled Him…

They walked near Him…

And yet, with all this physical closeness they still didn’t recognize who he was!

Hello, you two.  You are so caught up in your own pity party.”

WAIT!  Before we begin casting more stones here in judgment, we must confess that there have been times, even seasons, when we’ve been distant.  Times when we wanted to throw in the towel and lost hope over a particular circumstance.

It happened with our children – “This is your last chance!”…At our workplace – “It’s no use.  People around here don’t care.  I’m not going to take it anymore…I quit!”  [I’ve been there before!]  At school – “It’s too hard.  I’m in over my head.  I’m going to drop out!”…And even with God, “I’ve been praying for 8 years and you still haven’t helped me!…I’ve asked for patience and I get more problems…I’ve prayed for healing…all I get is sicker by the day.  HELLO, is anyone up there?!!!”

We live in such a fast pace society.  We’ve become so impatient, so “me” focused.  And as a result, we give up way too easily, way too early, and way too frequently.  THANK GOD we are not left alone.  I’m not saying that you’ll never feel alone.  Truth is you will, but that’s not because God has abandoned you, it’s because you’ve abandoned Him!

God won’t go where he’s not welcomed.

If we want to keep pushing God out of our life…if we continue to ignore His Word…if we continue to break His commandments, and I’m not just referring to the ‘BIG TEN’, but all His commandments recorded in the Bible–then what gives us the right to expect Him to “be there” for us?

BUT THANK GOD that where He is welcomed, where there are those who are genuinely struggling with their FAITH, who sincerely want to believe, but because of a lack of hope…just can’t see God in their circumstances, you can be sure that you’ll find Him a lot closer than you might think.  You might even be BLIND to His presence right now, BUT He’s right there sitting or standing next to you…or walking beside you on the road you chose to escape.  Even though we all go through seasons of BLINDNESS, the good news is that sooner or later He will do for you what He did for those TWO DISCIPLES on the road to Emmaus.  Sooner or later you WILL see Him.

You see it wasn’t until He broke the Bread…that finally “Their eyes were opened” and they recognized Him.

Remember Jesus’ words…

“…Do this in remembrance of me…”

REMEMBER ME, DON’T JUST THINK ABOUT ME, REMEMBER ME.

Communion is a very intimate act.  So let’s communicate to our spiritual leaders that we require more than a ‘traditional’, a ‘run-of-the-mill’ type ceremony.  Communion should help us to focus on Jesus instead of ourselves.  It should point us to the One who has been near to us all along.

In this act of remembrance, HE REMINDS US of His constant LOVE and as we break bread we see that He HAS come near.  At least we should!  God wants our eyes to be opened – the eyes of our mind…the eyes of our hearts too.

And that’s why we are to gather at this table…not OUR table but HIS TABLE! 

NOTICE the CHANGE in the disciples’ attitude:

  • From despair to hope
  • From depression to joy
  • From doubt to belief
  • From defeat to victory
  • From dismay to courage
  • From disillusionment to enlightenment
  • From “…stood still, looking sad and downcast…” to “It is true!  The Lord has risen.”

Why the change?

“Jesus drew near…broke bread”!

The next time we gather to CELEBRATE, know that Jesus wants to do something!  And as we remember a historic fact…eat and drink these common everyday elements…we are reminded of ETERNAL reality –

JESUS IS here among us!

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CREDITS :

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP);  English Standard Version (ESV).

Photo Images:  Google Image Search.

Music Video:  Remembrance by Matt Maher with lyrics – YouTube.

 

“For GOODNESS Sake!”

Scripture Passage:  Romans 8:28; Matthew 19:16-20

When I was a child, my mom taught me a prayer to say at mealtime, especially at THANKSGIVING.

“God is great, God is GOOD, let us thank Him for our food.  AMEN.”

And as an adult, I remember singing this chorus in the church:

“God is so good, God is so good, God is so good.  He’s so good to me.”

We find the GOODNESS of God as a reoccurring theme in the Scriptures:

God HAS to be good…it’s His very nature to be good.

  • WE RECEIVE PARDON.
  • FORGIVENESS.
  • HE HEARS OUR PRAYERS.
  • WE CAN EXPERIENCE FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM.
  • WE CAN TRUST IN HIM THAT WHATEVER HAPPENS IN OUR LIFE IS BASED ON HIS GOODNESS!

SOMETIMES, we don’t SEE God’s goodness, especially when something BAD happens.

When we experience heartache, a tragedy, a disappointment in our lives…it seems like God isn’t GOD.  Otherwise, why would God allow this to happen to us?

BUT FOR GOODNESS SAKE, EVERYTHING that God does…is good!

When God created the world, He stooped and said, “It is good.”  Part of our problem is that we spend too much of our time complaining about 10 BAD things and not enough time rejoicing over the 1000 GOOD things.

Yes, 9-11 was a tragedy…BUT we could be living in Israel where it happens daily.

Yes, I lost my Mom to Alzheimer’s disease, BUT I enjoyed 65 good years with her.

Yes, I have had heartaches and tragedies and disappointments in my life, BUT my GOOD GOD was there, through it all, to see me through every one of them.

THANK GOODNESS!

God sets the standard for GOODNESS.

How do you determine what is “good” and what isn’t “good”?  What is the standard for “goodness”?

Matthew 19:16-17 – 

The Rich Young Ruler had everything money could buy and he was living the GOOD life.  One day he comes to Jesus and asked him“Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

Jesus wants to teach him the standard for “good”…(19:17a).  The Rich Young Ruler didn’t know what “good” was.  He thought it consisted of “good things”, “good circumstances”, “good feelings”.  He even thought that being “good” would get him to Heaven (19:17b-20).

Anything that is GOOD comes from God.

If it’s not from God, it isn’t good!  It doesn’t matter how good it looks…how good it feels…how good it tastes…if it doesn’t come from God, it isn’t good.  AND…if it isn’t good, it didn’t come from God.

LIMA BEANS didn’t come from God…BUT chocolate did!  There will be no Lima Beans in Heaven!  Adam & Eve had no Lima Beans in the Garden of Eden…they came after the fall of man…a result of the curse upon the Earth!  LIMA BEANS will be the main course in Hell…HEAVEN will be full of chocolate.  You get the idea.

The truth is (as much as I hate to admit it), that Lima Beans are GOOD for you.  They even teach us a spiritual lesson.

GOODNESS Isn’t Determined by Experience, But by Its Source.

I’ve had a bad experience with Lima Beans growing up.  My parents were determined to get me to eat what was on the table, saying, “Mel, this isn’t a cafeteria.  You’ll eat the Lima Beans on your plate NOW, or have them in the morning cold, for breakfast. Your choice.”  Their strategy must have worked, because who wanted “cold” Lima Beans for breakfast?  BUT that doesn’t determine whether Lima Beans are GOOD or BAD.

Goodness is determined by its source, not by experience.

Chocolate tastes good…it makes me feel good…it makes me smile.  BUT…chocolate isn’t good for me, especially since I’m diabetic.

EXPERIENCE isn’t the set standard for GOODNESS.

James 1:17 (Amplified Bible)

“Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives light], in [the shining of] Whom there can be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures [a sample of what He created to be consecrated to Himself].”

GOD TURNS BADNESS INTO GOODNESS –

Somebody might say:  “How can God be good when thousands were killed on 9-11.   I can’t believe a good God would allow such a thing to happen.”

Let’s just say you are right…and that God isn’t good…and that He really doesn’t exist.  You have still got thousands of dead people.  Getting rid of God didn’t solve the problem at all!

How do we answer the fact that God is good…yet bad things happen?

ANSWER:  If it isn’t good, then it didn’t have its source in God.

YES, God is sovereign…He’s in control.  God ALLOWS bad things to happen for reasons that we don’t have a clue!  BUT…God didn’t participate in their sin in any way, form or fashion.

“OUR GOD IS GOOD!”

Our problem is, we use the wrong standard for “goodness”…we use OUR standard.  OUR standard is: “Good” is whatever is “good” for me.  We say: “I am the standard for GOOD”.

God says: “I AM the standard for GOOD.”

The proof of “goodness” isn’t in the experience…it’s in the SOURCE.  Nobody likes to get a shot before dental surgery, but it’s good for you at the time.

God’s GOODNESS doesn’t mean that BAD things won’t happen to you.

We live in a bad, evil world.  BUT…because God is GOOD, He can take BAD things, and bring eternal GOOD out of them.  IF…we let Him.

Romans 8:28

We always want to blame somebody for the BAD things that happen to us.

God is always nearby, so we blame Him a lot;   “If there’s a good God in Heaven, how could He let this happen?”  What are we really saying when we blame God?  We are REALLY saying:  ‘Since God didn’t act the way I expected He should…He’s either WRONG, BAD, or DOESN’T EXIST!”  But, you can’t really be mad at a God you don’t believe really exists, can you?

See how foolish this is?  Are you going to believe in God ONLY if He acts like you want Him to?

Are you going to form your opinion of God from how He acts IN RELATION TO how YOU would act if YOU were God?

You’d be better off worshipping yourself…since you’re putting yourself on a higher level than God.  You’re determining what is “good”.  You’re setting the standard for what is “good”.

I say, NO!  GOD sets the standard for “good.”

God is GOOD…ALL THE TIME!

It doesn’t matter what happens to you and I, it could have been WORSE!

Dr. W. T. Watson used to tell this story at Trinity College:

“There was a preacher who, no matter what bad thing you said had happened to you; he had the habit of always saying ‘It could have been worse!’  One day a man in his church decided to put a stop to this and attempted to stump his Pastor at the door after the service.  He told his Pastor, ‘I had a dream last night’, to which the Pastor replied, ‘It could have been worse.’  The man went on, ‘I dreamed I died and went to Hell’, the man stated.  The Pastor replied, ‘it could have been worse.’  He thought he had the Pastor this time.  ‘Pastor, what could be worse than dreaming you died and went to Hell?’  The Pastor replied ‘It could have been true!’  

It doesn’t matter what happens to you…“It could have been worse.”  Praise God that it wasn’t.  [My Connect Church, June 23, 2014 – Romans 8:28]

Try to focus on His GOODNESS to you!

I don’t always know what “good” God has in mind when He allows tragedy, heartache, and disappointments to come into our lives.  I don’t know…BUT…I don’t have to know.  What happens in my life may not be good…it might even be terrible.  Maybe I can’t see any purpose at the time in it at all.

BUT…What does Romans 8:28 say about what I am to “know”?

I may not be able to see how it’s working for good…or feel like it is…or understand how it’s working for good. 

BUT…I am to “know” that it is!

I need to look at it from God’s perspective…not mine.

Don’t ever think that God’s GOODNESS means that bad things won’t ever happen to you.  God is GOOD…BECAUSE…HE takes the BAD things that happen to you…and brings eternal GOOD out of them.

I may never see the “good” that comes out of it…this side of Heaven.  Or…I may.  BUT…I can “know” that God means it for “good”…OR…He would never allow it to happen.

God, the Father, KNOWS What’s Best!

God has one up on us…He’s omniscient!

You and I can only see things in the present tense lens…God sees things with the Eternal View lens.  God has a lot better view from Heaven than I do in Lynden, Washington!  What happens to you and me may not be good…but it IS working together for good.  And I can “KNOW” that…when I put my faith and trust in a “good” God.

Again God is good…all the time!

That’s His nature…He HAS to be good.  God has given us so much more than we deserve.  If we got what we DESERVE in life,, we wouldn’t have driven to work today in our fine automobile (“It could be worse!”).  We wouldn’t have such nice clothing to wear to church (“It could be worse!”).  We could be in the finest hospital, or the finest jail where we live.  We could be lost and bound for an eternity in the Lake if Fire.

We’ve gotten into the habit of saying to ourselves:  “THIS is good!”  A job promotion, a pay-raise. a gift, a pleasure in life, CHOCOLATE!  We should develope the habit…whenever something GOOD happens to us…instead of saying “This is good!” “For GOODNESS sake, God is so good!”

How can we make God’s GOODNESS…REAL in our lives?

  • Don’t judge God by your standard of “goodness.”
  • Don’t judge God by whether He does what you want Him to do.
  • Don’t judge God by how you would run the universe if you were God.

God says:  “When you start creating universes…and control tides…and keep the planets in orbit…THEN I’ll come to YOU for advice…THEN I’ll let YOU determine what is “good.”

In the meantime, we need to trust Him, For GOODNESS Sake.  

YOU ARE WORTHY!!!  GOD IS SO GOOD!!!

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CREDITS:

Music Video:  God Is So Good (You Are Worthy) by Pat Barrett – YouTube 

Bible Translations Used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); King James Version (KJV); New Living Testament (NLT).

Images/Photos:  Gooogle Images Search.