Thursday, September 27, 2007

Now...Which Way Was I Going?

Rhonda and I were in Portland, Oregon, this last weekend and week "beginning" for a job interview out there (I am not sure how that went and will post on it one way or the other soon). It was somewhat interesting that driving around in Portland felt like much of what is going on in my life right now. I knew I was in Portland but the streets were unfamiliar and their traffic flow was erratic. The street layouts seem to make no sense to me and if I missed a turn, it was not an easy task to get back where I started.

On Sunday morning, we went to a little Baptist church and had a nice worship experience with them. I think the message addressed this issue in life. The church was Mill Park Baptist Church, led by Pastor Gary Lay. Pastor's sermon was thought provoking and well presented. I would like to give you his thoughts from the day.

The message was based in Isaiah 30:19-26 and was about turning your life around.

First, Isaiah indicates that to change the direction of your life, there must be repentance (vs. 19). That is, Isaiah indicates that when the people of God cry out to God in repentance, He will hear them and be gracious to them.

Second, there must also be acceptance, that is, accepting the consequences of past ungodly actions. Even though, Isaiah says, that the people of God had been given the "bread of privation and water of oppression," even though they are bearing the consequences of their actions, God will show Himself to them as their Teacher. Getting your life back on track takes an acknowledgement of the consequences of getting off track.

Third, with repentance and acceptance come guidance. The people of God, when they accept responsibility for their actions and turn from them, will hear a voice guiding them onto the path their Father wants them travel.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, there must be change. The people of God must cast away their false idols, those gods who compete for the hearts of God's people, those impure things that so easily capture the hearts of those who want to follow the One True God. There must be a "Spring cleaning," so to speak, in the heart of the follower.

Finally, in this passage Isaiah declares the results of these actions, which is healing. Verse 23-26a speak of some physical things that will help the Jewish people physically. But these are all representative of what God has really done, found in the last half of verse 26:

On the day the LORD binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted.

This is an obvious reference to spiritual healing. He will restore the relationship between Himself and His people.

I found Pastor Gary's message very thought provoking and challenging. Not only was I glad to be in a church where the pastor preached an expository sermon, but also one whom God used to speak to me when and how I needed.

I think this passage is worth thinking about. With repentance and acceptance of the consequences, God will give guidance to the believer. However, most important in this process is the believer's willingness to change. He must get rid of the idols that trip him up. With this change, comes a healing to the relationship.

Thank you, Pastor Gary, for your willingness to be used by God. I pray that God will continue to use you in powerful ways there in Portland.