4/9/2000, L5B "Passion Sunday"
can't recall who said it, but in the line after last Sunday morning's service someone said to me, "Dr. Bob, you preached with a special anointing this morning!" We do not hear that word, "anointing," too much anymore: The notion that God can reach out and touch us.
I suppose that every preacher wants to feel that they are being used by God to communicate the Living Word. If we take seriously what we are doing in preaching, we should expect to depend upon the Holy Spirit to take up our best efforts, rambling thoughts, and stumbling words, and use them beyond themselves, for His purpose of reaching into human hearts. Indeed, over the Christian centuries preaching has been the medium used most often to change lives.
To say that a preacher has preached under an anointing, is not so much bragging on the preacher as it is bragging on God, who supplies the anointing. Our part is to learn to lean on Him, and not so much upon ourselves.
There is a sense in which we all live from day to day by the guiding presence of God in our lives. When we pray are we not asking for God's intervention? Oftentimes we have nowhere to go but to the Lord. It is in that process of going to Him for help that we mature and grow up as disciples. It is God's way of remolding us from the old self to the new.
So, I claim no out-of-the-ordinary blessing in preaching. It's just plain old Bob who longs to be used in any way that God chooses to utilize his minimal abilities. I hope that this is your longing too. Basically, we become the person that we long for God to enable us to be.
Many have found that among all of the world's religions, and systems, Christianity is the only approach to God that takes sin seriously, and that has a way of dealing with our sin. Simply put, Christianity says that we cannot not sin; but, when we sin and ask for forgiveness, God forgets our sin. It is precisely in that process of repeatedly going to God for forgiveness that He enables a new life and lifestyle to begin. In this maturing process, sin becomes more and more repugnant, and we are gradually enabled to take increasing control over the old habits and passions.
The key to the entire process of finding Christ and living for Him, is longing; or, wanting more and more. Unless we have goals, dreams, and holy ambition we will probably spend our entire lives just going with the flow of the prevailing current. Persons who spend their lives listlessly meandering along will eventually stumble over the corpse of the person they could have been.
So, what do we burn after? Do we just want to be "cool," or perhaps, "popular?" Do we long to fit into a worldly culture and to become amalgamated into society, or do we want to become more like the Master? Do we desire to be ordinary, or extraordinary?
We have sung the key words in our prayer hymn this morning entitled, "Whit er Than Snow." Our former Music Director, Harry Armstrong, included this favorite gospel song in his much used paperback songbook, Spiritual Life Songs, (that is in it's 87th printing) "Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; I want Thee forever to live in my soul, break down every idol, cast out every foe; Now wash me, and I shall be Whiter than snow..."
In our text we hear the psalmist longing for a closer walk with God. That experience has been provided in Christ's life, death and resurrection. By looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our salvation, we can know this great joy.
(2) "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from sin, For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. (7) ...wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (10) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. (12) ... and sustain in me a willing spirit."
But, what exactly are we avowing when we use the word sin? C.S. Lewis described sin plainly when he wrote: " The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither." (Mere Christianity, (ch 5, par 14, p 94-95).
Perhaps the key to it all is found in the expression "willing spirit." If we are willing, and longing and wanting more and more from God, then all things become possible. We are weak, but God is mighty, and in partnership with Him, we can begin to become the person that He has created us with the potential of being.
We hear Christ calling us through our Invitational Hymn, which we will sing in just a few minutes: "I can hear my Savior calling, I can hear my Savior calling, I can hear my Savior calling, Take my cross and follow, follow me. Where he leads me I will follow, where he leads me I will follow, where he leads me I will follow, I'll go with him, with him, all the way."
Is this what we long for in our lives?
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor