You Are Not Forgotten – Purity 745
Purity 745 05/31/2022 Purity 745 Podcast
Today’s photo of a man looking down into the waters on the shores of Howard Beach underneath the setting sun comes to us from a friend who is vacationing in Florida and captured and shared this scene of his son testing the waters this past Sunday.
I did take artistic license with this photo as I cropped out a silhouette of an older couple who was off to right to emphasis the solitary figure with the downward gaze and the setting sun over his shoulder to emphasis the them of today’s encouragement: that you are not forgotten.
Yesterday, I marched in the Memorial Day Parade in remembrance of those who died for our country and in support of the good work, my father in law does with Operation Adopt a Soldier (https://www.operationadoptasoldier.org/).
When you walk in the Spirit, where we are continually reminding ourselves of God’s presence and of His wisdom for our lives, the meaning and purpose of our lives becomes seen in its proper perspective. Our lives, all of them, are part of God’s grand narrative, what man calls history. When we know who God is and recognize His sovereignty we understand that He is control and there is no such thing as coincidence and that the things that happen throughout time and space, through out history, are somehow part of God’s overall plan and will for the earth.
God knows all, sees all and directs all towards His purposes. What may seem utterly chaotic to us is all part of the grand narrative that God is writing and will one day culminate in the return of Christ.
Okay, but until then we just do our lives and while they can seem pretty mundane and repetitive at times, if we are walking in the Spirit we can see God’s hand in both the setting and the action of the :”days of our lives”. The beauty of creation is always there remind us of God and sometimes the things that happen in our lives indicates that God is working and hasn’t forgotten us.
Little did my wife, my step daughter, and I know it at the time but our decision to march in yesterday’s Memorial Day Parade was an answer to prayer of sorts and a reward for the faithfulness to those serving the non-profit organization we were marching with and for each of us, in a way.
Running or serving in a volunteer organization can certainly test one’s patience and faith in what you are doing. Because it is volunteer, nobody is getting paid and nobody has to show up. Just because you are volunteering for a good cause doesn’t mean that others are going to be motivated to join you, nor does it guarantee that anyone will support your efforts at all.
As someone who has been there and done that with various volunteer efforts in the past, I know how much the organizers of an event appreciate the donations they receive and especially appreciate it when people actually show up to volunteer for attend a fundraising event for a cause.
Since Covid-19 and as we steadily move forward in a Post Christian society, there seems to be less participation in community events and less involvement in volunteer efforts. Before we arrived to join the others at the parade, one of the organizers was greatly concerned that they would not have enough people to carry all of the flags they wanted to display to adequately give honor to the various branches of military services and causes Operation Adopt A Soldier wanted to represent.
Apparently in years past there was an abundance of volunteers to man all the positions but yesterday, those in charge weren’t sure if they going to be able to swing it so they began a count of the volunteers as they arrived and began hoping that they wouldn’t have to change their plans and make due with less.
But as the saying goes, God is right on time, and as our small group joined the others there was an audible expression of thanks given as our participation was “just enough” to fill all the spots.
I don’t know if my father in law in the others went to God in prayer or not, but they were rewarded for their faithfulness to their good cause all the same as they received just enough help to accomplish what they wanted to do to honor the dead and give respect to our country’s service men.
And as it turned out, we were rewarded too. Not only did we get to stretch our legs on a beautiful day in May, but we were used for a cause that was bigger than ourselves. We were used to demonstrate our nation’s desire to remember those lost and support those who were actively serving and may be called to sacrifice their lives in the cause of freedom.
My wife, TammyLyn, was honored to carry the flag for the United States Marine Corp, to not only honor the Marines that gave their lives for our country but also as a personal tribute to her daughter Rachel, who is actively serving and deployed overseas.
My stepdaughter Elisabeth, with her cousin Maddie, carried the banner for Operation Adopt a Soldier, with the dual reward of serving a good cause that supports servicemen but also honored her grandfather as the nonprofit’s founder.
And I got to carry the flag for the POW’s and MIA’s with its somber epitaph that states “You are Not Forgotten”. I felt honored to carry it because this flag was created in a response to the prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Viet Nam War, in which my Father served in, and I know that the cause that this flag represents, that none of our service men would be left behind, is near and dear to hearts of all who have loved ones in the armed forces. Although there was some celebratory aspects to yesterday’s parade, I was humbled and solemn underneath the weight of what that flag represented: the loneliness of being a prisoner in a foreign land and the fear and uncertainty surrounding the missing.
I’m sharing a link to an article about Congressman Sam Johnson who wrote a book about his experience as a POW in Viet Nam and how His Christian Faith was instrumental in His survival. In his book Captive Warriors-- A Vietnam POW’s Story he relates how God sustained him through the long captivity of torture and pain, and the emaciation he endured. (https://www.godsotherways.com/stories/2015/5/12/pow-sustained-by-gods-power) The article shares some of Sam’s story and the power that presence of God can have in our lives. The article states that:
“One of Sam’s favorite scripture verses is Isaiah 40:29-31: "He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."
So as we start, or continue another work week, let’s recognize the truth that God has not forgotten us and that if we seek Him we will not only find Him but we will see His presence has never left us and He is at work in all the things that surround us.
So let’s keep walking and talking with God. Let’s reach out to Him, everyday to thank Him for not forgetting us and to receive His wisdom, His strength, and His love.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.
Today’s Bible verse reminds us that we are not to take revenge and that we are to trust the Lord to repay the injustices of the world.
In light of the horrors and injustices of this world, the world teaches us to not get mad but to get even, by exacting revenge in retaliation for things done against us.
Now I would like to be clear here. Justice and revenge are two different things. God has ordained governments and societies to be the agents of justice and they should be utilized to serve justice. Revenge is taking justice in our own hands and can be clouded by our overwhelming emotions and lack of insight at the time.
People who are upset can and do make mistakes and the consequences of hastily seeking revenge can result in more injustice and pain and suffering.
So should we bring people to justice? Absolutely. Should we seek revenge? Not according to the word of God.
And I know that may be a difficult pill to swallow and it might cause us to start seeking Bible verses to support our vengeful cause, in
Exodus 21:23-25 (NLT2)
23 But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life,
24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot,
25 a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.
But we as Christians do consider the whole counsel of God and recognize things changed with the advent of Jesus Christ. The Bible is a progressive revelation and we really have to consider what the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, Jesus Christ has to say and we shouldn’t use Old Testament verses to cancel out New Testament principles.
Jesus taught us to forgive others. He said in:
Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT2)
14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
So if we refuse to forgive, it may indicate that we haven’t put are not “followers” of Jesus.
Christ also taught mercy, telling those that were ready to stone a woman caught in adultery to consider their own sin before casting the first stone and then directing the woman who found mercy to go and sin no more.
So, likewise, we who have found mercy and the forgiveness of our sins should not seek revenge and trust that the Lord will either extend His mercy and forgiveness to those who seek it or will repay those who have done evil and not sought reconciliation.
So take your complaints of injustice to the proper authorities and pray for justice to be done on the earth.
But take your hurts to the Lord to be healed and go to Him to help you to forgive as you are commanded. And of course, trust that no matter what happens on this planet broken by sin, the Lord sees all, knows all, never forgets, and will do what’s right.
Our not seeking revenge, is one of the ways we can demonstrate that we know the Lord and trust Him. In spite of our pain, we are to draw close to God and trust Him to repay the injustices of this world.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.
If You Come With No Interest or Knowledge
Not everybody comes to this chapter with a clear and driving passion for the glory of Christ among the unreached peoples of the world. Most of us are pretty parochial and ethnocentric and narrow, and even sometimes self-centered and racist, in our way of life. We hardly ever even think about the global, multinational, multiethnic, multi-linguistic cause of God, and what God’s passion and purposes are for Guinea and Indonesia and Tanzania and Thailand and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and Turkey and Czechoslovakia and China and Siberia and Japan and Cameroon and Myanmar and the Somali or the Hmong or the Dakota or the Ojibwa of Minnesota.
So I don’t assume that you come to this chapter with a clear and resounding interest in the really great news of the world—which the media never report—namely, the spread of Christian truth and faith among the peoples of the world on the way to a God-wrought consummation that will make all of world history look like what it really is—a brief prelude to the everlasting, all-glorious kingdom of Christ. I don’t assume you come with your heart enthralled with God’s great global purpose. So I simply want to let God tell you, in his own words, about his priorities.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. (Psalm 22:27–28)
Then there are Old Testament prayers:
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy. (Psalm 67:3–4)
Then there are Old Testament commands:
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! … Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.” (Psalm 96:3, 10)
Then there is the great New Testament Commission from the risen Christ:
Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)
Then there is the apostle Paul’s great life of utter dedication to this mission:
I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” (Romans 15:20–21)
Then there is the magnificent picture of the final outcome of God’s purposes in history:
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you [O Christ] to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9–10)
A Summary Statement of Faith on Missions
From these and many other Scriptures, I have been impelled over the years to think and preach and write about Christ’s great global purpose called missions. Several years ago the elders of our church drafted a statement of faith to guide us in the education of our apprentices and in the selection of new elders. Paragraph 13 of that document summarizes our sense of what missions is:
We believe that the commission given by the Lord Jesus to make disciples of all nations is binding on His Church to the end of the age. This task is to proclaim the Gospel to every tribe and tongue and people and nation, baptizing them, teaching them the words and ways of the Lord, and gathering them into churches able to fulfill their Christian calling among their own people. The ultimate aim of world missions is that God would create, by His Word, worshippers who glorify His name through glad-hearted faith and obedience. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and the goal of missions.
Even Civilians Love to Follow the Triumphs on the Front Lines
This is the big picture. Christ came and died and rose again in order to gather a joyful, countless company for his name from all the peoples of the world. This is what every Christian should dream about. I say this carefully, in view of what I wrote in Chapter 8 about secular vocations. It is crucial that millions of Christians fulfill their life calling in secular jobs, just as it is crucial that during wartime the entire fabric of life and culture not unravel. But during wartime, even the millions of civilians love to get news from the front lines. They love to hear of the triumphs of the troops. They dream about the day when war will be no more. So it is with Christians. All of us should dream about this. We should love to hear how the advance of King Jesus is faring. We should love to hear of gospel triumphs as Christ plants his church among peoples held for centuries by alien powers of darkness.
This is God’s design in world history—that people from all nations and tribes and languages come to worship and treasure Christ above all things. Or as Paul put it in Romans 15:9, “that the Gentiles [all the peoples] might glorify God for his mercy.” There can be no weary resignation, no cowardly retreat, and no merciless contentment among Christ’s people while he is disowned among thousands of unreached peoples. Every Christian (who loves people and honors Christ) must care about this.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 159–163.