Recently, I have been struggling in my life as a Pastor, wishing that I could bring every person to the incredible love of God in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. It sounds like an honorable goal, but there is one major problem with this: “I” am wishing that “I” can do it. Now, you might be wondering, “What is the problem?” But, when you take a look at that phrase, perhaps you notice that such a desire places the focus on me. Suddenly, I have placed myself in the place of God’s work, no longer trusting in His Word and His work through me, but seeking to figure out my own ways and my own ideas rather than place a deeper focus on the Lord’s Word and the incredible power that is found there.
I have often found myself thinking, “What am I doing wrong? Why isn’t our church ‘jam-packed’ every Sunday? Why aren’t people flying through the doors to receive the forgiveness of sins, to hear the promises of God in His Gospel, to join together in worship?” Still, you can see that the focus is the same: What am “I” doing wrong — Once again, it’s about me.
Today, however, I was struck by the words that we speak every Sunday from 1 John (1:8-9): “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, HE who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Sisters and brothers, I am a poor, miserable sinner in need of the forgiveness of God. If the fullness of a congregation on a Sunday morning or the salvation of one person were left to my work and life, condemnation would be the only result. Yet, in the midst of this recognition and repentance, I also find myself ever thankful for the promise shown in the Word of God: “HE WHO IS FAITHFUL AND JUST WILL FORGIVE US OUR SINS AND CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.”
God is the one who forgives our sins, God is the one who cleanses us from all unrighteousness, God is the one who SAVES US. How AWESOME is this incredible gift and promise that comes from our saving, loving Lord. Apart from Him, we are without the truth and left to be focused on ourselves, leaving us to the realization that we are in bondage to sin and without freedom. By His grace and the work of the Spirit in us, however, we find the truth that he forgives, he cleanses, HE SAVES US. God is the one who works in our hearts, He is the one who gives us the Good News of salvation, He is the one who works in us to share His Gospel, allowing us to witness the amazing power of His Word in beautiful ways.
And His Word is truly powerful! Through His Word, we receive His incredible promises and we learn His will for our lives. Through His Word, the truth is made known and the church is grown. Through His Word, all things are possible! Therefore, let us trust in His Word, being filled with the fullness of His grace and mercy and seeking Him in all things. Together, let us receive His Word and give thanks for the joy of knowing that as we — fallen sinners — make our confession, “He who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Peace, hope, and love in all ways & always,
PS- In knowing the beauty and power of God’s Word, I am trying to be more diligent in my devotional life. I do not say this to impress anyone, but rather to hold myself accountable by sharing this with you all. My goal is that I would begin sharing some thoughts about the Word of our gracious God through this “Pastor’s Pax” page. I hope that this will be something that allows us all to grow together. Also, I am going to leave the comments “open with approval,” so if you would like to read along with me and share your thoughts, I look forward to witnessing God’s work in each of you. Thank you and the Lord bless you and keep you in all ways & always!