I just finished watching the movie, I Can Only Imagine. I don’t think it’s an accident that the next adult Sunday School lesson I’ll be teaching is from the book of Romans and titled “The Transformed Life.” God does that to me all the time! Bart Miller’s story is one of transformation, redemption, forgiveness, hope and most of all music. His father was abusive and angry, his mother left, and for young Bart, music anchored him, lifted him up, and gave him a dream. I won’t say more, because you should see this film for yourself. You’ve probably heard the song, but it’s worth another listen:
I came across a poem I would like to share by Keri K. Wehlander
We are the locked door,
the stone not rolled away.
You invite us to cross through waters, walk dry roads
look toward transformation in every wilderness.
You believe we can.
We want other gods, other commodities—
depth without the daily searching.
You offer us a simple table
and the words, follow me.
You believe we will.
We choose a meager vision,
hold tight to the catch of our nets,
You tell a story that asks,
Which one was the neighbor?
You believe we understand.
We are perplexed
when you appear in our untended gardens.
You say, peace,
to all our uncertainty.
You show that new life
comes with time, with practice,
and the sowing, however small,
of stubborn hope.
You believe we will grow.
“For the word of the Lord is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Sometimes studying the Bible can be unsettling. We read or hear things that we don’t understand; things that don’t seem fair, even things we don’t like or agree with. The verse above tells us that this is to be expected. Studying the Bible sometimes reveals just how sinful we are, how far from understanding God and living according to His will. When that happens it is up to us, not God, to change. This is the process of sanctification and for our own good, we should welcome it and participate in it. Will we ever be perfect? No. Will we ever completely know God? No. But we need to study the Bible seriously so that we can grow toward being the new creation God wants us to be.
Here’s a quote I like about this:
“You know no disturbing voice? God never points out to you a pathway altogether different from the one you had planned? Then you, my brother, you are still in the land of slavery, in the land of darkness.
G. Campbell Morgan
Has God’s word ever called you to do something you hadn’t planned? Tell us about it.
Jesus said to her (Martha), “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”…John 11:25-26
This verse came to me this morning and I think it’s significant. Jesus is speaking with Martha about her brother, Lazarus, who died a few days ago. Martha knows that Jesus has the power to raise Lazarus, but he’s waited so long she’s not sure if he will. So she questions him about his intentions. She tells him she knows he could have come earlier and prevented Lazarus from dying; she also knows that all will be raised from death in the last days. Notice how Jesus answers her. He does not say “I will be resurrected” or “I will resurrect Lazarus” or even “Don’t worry, we’ll all be resurrected at some point. He says, I AM the resurrection.”
What does this mean?
I think it’s another one of those indications that the kingdom of God is both now and not yet. If we believe in the resurrection of Jesus, the kingdom has already come in our lives. We are a “new creation” NOW, even as we look forward to the second coming when “every knee will bow” to Christ.
How would we live if we really believed this? Well, I think we would give God the proper place in our lives (first) NOW; we would stop being anxious and worried NOW; we would love others as Christ loved us NOW; we would want to tell everyone how they, too, could experience this new life NOW.
Think about it: you and I have already been raised from the dead. We don’t have to live in darkness and fear. The resurrection is NOW.