This week-end, our church is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary and we were reminiscing about the old days – singing older songs and talking about the past. Janet and I have attended about 15 years, so we are not founding members of the church. I did, however, know executives of the company that rented it’s warehouse space to the church when it first started out. That first Sunday, more than 600 people showed up to worship and now there are about 5000 people per week-end, in six services, divided among three venues – occupying more than 250,000 sq. ft. on 52 acres of land.
But the greatest part of the week-end was the revelation by Dave, our Senior Pastor, about how much he has personally grown spiritually during the last 20 years. I found his honesty very affirming and it reminded me that every once in a while it is important to go back and access our individual walk with God. Because it should be every Christian’s desire to have a closer identification with Christ every year. And if you are intentional in your faith walk, you will become more Christlike in your demeanor.
That’s not to say that I have grown in my faith every year – that’s just not true. I have had times when I felt that I was really growing quickly in my faith, and other times that if anything, I felt further away from God. In those times, I always wonder if God has moved away. Although that’s my first impulse, it only takes a moment for me to remember that God loves me and one of his fondest desires it to have a relationship with me. So it doesn’t make sense that God moved away… the only other choice is that I moved further from Him. And that’s not good. That means that I have stopped pursuing God, and while He desires to be in relationship with me, I have free will and that means that I always have the choice t0 move away.
And there have been times in my life that I am embarrassed about something I have done, or thought about doing; or other times that I don’t want to be accountable to God, and so sometimes I know that I do not try to be in a closer relationship with Him. But that is contrary to what I should be doing in my life. Theologically, the whole journey has a name – and that name is “progressive sanctification”.
You see, when a person accepts Christ as Lord and Savior, the road to sanctification begins. And what exactly is that? The idea of becoming more like Christ. And that journey ends in heaven, when we are said to have “perfect sanctification” – fully in the presence of Christ. So the journey from our profession of faith to ending up in heaven is that time when we are to pursue God and become more like Christ in our lives. When I look at my own journey over the years, there have been times when I have really been dedicated to my faith, and other times when I have taken it easy, and I can tell that I have wasted time by not being serious or intentional about my growth. In those times, I don’t set aside devotional times, and my prayer life suffers, and I tend to be less tolerant of others. I am pretty sure that I am not the only one who occasionally gets this way…..
So, like so many other events in my life, this week-end really reminded me about my personal journey. To hear other men and women of God, especially pastors, talk about their spiritual walks, and the hills and valleys they have encountered, gives me hope that I can still seek God with all my heart and continue on the road to a more Christlike life.
Tonight’s verse reflects what God wants for each of us. Luke, the author of the book of Acts, speaking of God, says in Acts 17:26-27, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. He did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” In other words, God wants us to pursue and find Him. Isn’t that great?
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that God is waiting for you. In fact, He sent His Son into the world to save the lost and to make it possible for us to be reunited with Him. My prayer is that you will be diligent in your faith journey and that you will use your devotional time, and your prayer life, wisely. Because it is God’s desire that you become more like His Son, Jesus Christ. And some day, in heaven, you will stand before the King, fully sanctified – perfectly sanctified. Have a great day in the Lord.