Page 248 was a Sunday and being the first Sunday of the month I had the privilege of preaching at the North Wayne Mennonite Church this morning. Before I could get there though, the day began with Susan having a night of recurring seizures. While I’m sure these are the hardest on her, it doesn’t do her parents any good to combine a lack of sleep with having to keep her from hurting herself as the seizures come and go. We all made it through the night and had dozed off one last time before it was time to get up. As has usually been the case with these, Susan got up happy and ready to go while MJ and I were doing good to drag ourselves out of bed and get ready for the day.
As always, it was a good gathering at North Wayne and I shared a message titled, “WORK that Lasts”. I was looking for something that would fit with the Labor Day Weekend holiday and the idea of work, so I built the sermon around the teaching of Jesus, as He addressed the crowds that were looking for bread, that we should work for food that lasts. He went on to say that the work that God desires from us is to believe on the One He has sent. With that in mind, I used the word “work” as my outline and we began by addressing the need for Worship that lasts. When Jesus was questioned by a Samaritan women about worship, and who was doing it right, Jesus responded that the time had come when true worshipers would worship in spirit and in truth. When we worship God at all times in spirit and in truth, we begin to experience worship that lasts not just for this life, but into eternity.
The second part of having work that lasts that we looked at was the need to have Obedience that lasts. It’s one thing to obey God when we feel like it or when it is convenient, but to have obedience that lasts means that we do what God wants at all times. There may be times when we don’t feel like obeying and there may even be times when we tell God we won’t obey, but more important than our words is a life that “comes to our senses” and obeys even when it goes against what we want and desire. It is having this obedience that lasts which puts us in a position where we will be found faithful to the end. When Jesus returns and finds us faithful, we can be assured that our obedience will last throughout eternity as the temptations of this world come to an end.
The “R” in our WORK outline was for a Repentance that lasts. There seems to be two levels of forgiveness that the Bible teaches about. On one level, Jesus teaches that we forgive in order to put ourselves in position to be forgiven by Him. This type of forgiveness on our part has more to do with freeing our self from the hold that the wrong of another person has on us. This level of forgiveness needs to be given whether a person seeks it from us or not. There appears to be another level of forgiveness that I call a restorative forgiveness. Jesus teaches that if a brother should sin (against us), we should rebuke or correct them with the intent that they would repent. In this context, Jesus says that if they sin against us seven times in a day and they come back each time and repent, we must forgive them. While many of us may question the sincerity of someone who comes to us and repents seven times in one day, we first better look at how many times in a day we repent, or ought to repent, when it comes to matters of our sin against God. When we view repentance as a change of heart, mind, attitude and direction of life, it is easy to see why we need to have repentance that lasts.
The final point of the message was about having a Knowledge that lasts. We live in a culture that is saturated with information but often seems to have very little knowledge. When we seek to grow in knowledge, at least from God’s perspective, we are growing in an intimate relationship with Him. The knowledge that lasts will only be found through intimacy with God through the power of His Spirit as we’re cleansed by the blood of Jesus. While there will come a time that the pursuit of knowledge will end, knowledge itself will last because at that time “we will know fully just as we are fully known.” As I closed out the message, I believe each one of us needs to examine the work we do. Our we involved in WORK that Lasts, or is our work being done in vain?
I pray that you and I would worship God in spirit and in truth from now through eternity. I pray that we would grow in our obedience to God so that we would obey Him now just as He is obeyed in heaven. I pray that we would always see the need to repent whenever we stray from what God would desire. I pray that we would grow in knowledge as we grow in our relationship with Jesus.