he best thing I can say for God is that he has never failed me, even though I have failed him: "By thought word and deed... and the remembrance to me is grevious," as we say when we confess our sin before taking communion.
Our text uses the term "Steadfast Love" three times. The Hebrew word is "checed" pronounced "khe-sed" or "hesed." It means exactly what it says: Mercy, kindness, favor. The word is used throughout the Old Testament to describe the fact that on his part, God will always, absolutely, be there for each one of us. He loves us, and has a wonderful plan for each of our lives. Furthermore, his grace and power is sufficient to guide us into, and to keep us in that plan.
Although we fail God, we do not have to fail in staying within his plan for our lives. His calling means that there is a special place for each of us as an individual stone in the building of his Kingdom. As a boy I worked as a helper for both brick masons and stone masons. Brick masonry is relatively simple campared to stone masonry which requires the mixing and matching of different size stones. Bricks are all the same; but stones, especially natural river stones, or raw mountain stones, are each shaped differently. However, the stone wall is more beautiful and artistic. The Church is made up of unique stones, and the Good News is that God has a place just for you. God knows our potential and puts us where we can make the Kingdom stronger.
A mother was asked by a census taker how many children she had, "Well, theres Billy, and Bob, and Mary, and--" "No" replied the census taker, "I dont need the names, Just give me the numbers." "My children do not have numbers, they all have names," retorted the mother. God is like that mother in loving us. "The Lord knows those who are his." (2 Timothy 2:19). And Jesus said, "God has the hairs on our heads numbered." This was especially comforting to a bald man who reasoned that if God had them numbered, as they washed down the sink, maybe in glory he would get them back. That does sound like something our God of Steadfast Love would do, doesn't it?
My great peace amid the storms of life has been knowing that I was doing what he wanted me to do. I have shared with you before how my family has a vision from God as to his plan to bring resurgence to this great church. Many of you are catching that same vision. If it is true that God is steadfast and true in his love and leading, then his purpose for our life together is a future reality.
Future reality? Do you know that term? I doubt it, for I devised it myself. What I mean is, if resurgence is Gods vision for our future, then it is a reality already.
Martin Luther King, Jr. had something of this same experience when he, just prior to his death, said that he had looked over into the promised land and had seen the fulfillment of the vision of racial harmony, even in the red mud fields of our beloved Georgia. When we first heard him proclaim it, we doubted if it would ever occur; but you see, it was a "future reality."
What future realities might be possible in our lives through the Steadfast Love and of God? I hope you share in a great vision for our church. But, maybe God also has a personal dream for you. For example, a four year college degree can seem like a long-distance dream, but looking back on it, it seems like a wonderfully brief moment. During college folks kept telling me that these are the good old days, and they were right. In fact, all my days have been good days as I have stayed in his will for my particular shaped building stone.
Several young couples have come by recently to share their vision for a life together in marriage. What a wonderful time in a couples life. I always try to ask them something about their vision for their marriage, and usually their faces fill with expectation as they share their dreams of, children, and homes, and jobs. I think Ill start talking to them about "Future Reality" based on the assurance of Gods continued Steadfast Love.
Isnt your dream for a full and abundant life based upon total surrender to his will? You can have your dream if you want it with all your heart, and make sure its Gods dream too. We get about as much out of our religion as we want. Just coming and sitting in church does not automatically make you a Christian, anymore than sitting in a garage would make you a car.
I read this week about an eighteen year old young man who moved to Chicago to seek his fortune. Although he had been reared in an atheistic home, he was attracted to an evangelical church. Sure enough, the Good News reached him and the young man came forward one Sunday and knelt at an Altar rail much like ours, and surrendered his entire life to the Lord, not knowing what God might do with his life. He was the most unlikely convert, but God did use the life of Dwight L. Moody in a fantastic way. Today a college and a world wide evangelical ministry continues under his name, many years after his victory over death. It all began with surrender to Gods Steadfast Love.
We never know how God is going to use events in our lives to shape his will. One of the greatest stories is from the dedicated life of Corrie Ten Boom who during WW II had the courage and calling to visit the Germans Ravensbruck Prison Camp. She and her sisters were ushered into a large filthy, overcrowded, mass cell, that was filled with fleas and rats. They were given the opportunity to pray and she felt she must thank God in all circumstances so she thanked God even for the terrible surroundings, and even the rats and fleas. Only later did she learn that she had great freedom in conducting ministry with hundreds of political prisoners because the German guards would not go into the cells with the rats and fleas. We never know what God can do in situations. Yet, I know for sure is that I am his and he is mine!
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor