God gathers

"In that day," declares the LORD,
"I will gather the lame;
I will assemble the exiles
and those I have brought to grief.
I will make the lame a remnant,
those driven away a strong nation.
The LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion
from that day and forever.
Micah 4:6-7
We look around today at spiritual fellowships and we wonder where God is in them. Jesus famously said, "I will build my church". Now, if he is doing that today, there must be some data on the how and the who and the what of it in the book.
God gathers the lame. God really cares about people who are sick, or infirm.
God assembles the exiles. Many people love God and believe the Bible, but don't do church. Many people have stopped going to church but still carry Christ in their hearts. Some people have been banished from the church by church people. Everyone who's been to church has been hurt there, but many people choose to go away. The Lord wants to gather these people.
God wants to gather those he has brought to grief. Every bad thing is not God's fault, but God takes responsibility for allowing you to be brought to a place of grieving.
God wants to make the lame a remnant. What if there are people who stay lame, who never get a miracle of healing, and God wants to use them in a special way? What if you're waiting until you get whole for God to use you and he wants to use you with your limp or dysfunction?
God wants to make those who've been driven away into a strong nation. What if God's beloved son's a daughters are people who've been driven out by other's who claimed God's authority? What is God says, "I want that one and that one and that one that was driven away from my people and I'll make them into a great group"?
God cares about the outcasts. Remember Jesus talking about the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to get back the one.

Memorial

Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing, and they are there to this day.

Joshua 4:9

After the tribes of Israel crossed over the Jordan river into the promised land, they made two memorials made of piled stones. One was up and outside the river, but the second one was smack dab, in the middle of the river. What can we make of the second memorial and why was it necessary?

The double doing of the memorial to God bringing them across the river calls serious attention to this event. The second one gives impact. Important and real important to remember.

When the Jordan was low or dry for natural reasons, there the stones would be reminding them that God dried it up once so the people could cross over. Seeing the memorial in drought times would also remind them of God's provision. When the Jordan's waters were high, but clear; the memorial would remind them that God had stopped the very waters you see here and the people crossed down there where it looks impossible with the normal waters. The memorial stands in the place where God made a way where there was no way.

I think the application to all this for our lives today is that we need to remember how God made a way in our lives where there was no way. That same way may look impossible or impassible to our naked eye now, but we need to look harder and look beneath the circumstances to what God did in the past and remember we serve the same God who can do it again.

on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him

Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

Now is the time to forgive this man and help him back on his feet. If all you do is pour on the guilt, you could very well drown him in it.

2 Corinthians 2:7 (NIV, TMB)

We need to be encouraged to forgive and restore those among us who fall into sin. The one who has fallen needs to repent, yes; but often we don't embrace the repentant one and restore them.

Some notes on this from others:

"Forgive and comfort him: They were just as wrong in withholding forgiveness and restoration to the man when he had repented as they were to welcome him with open, approving arms when he was still in sin. The Corinthian Christians found it easy to err on either extreme, either being too lenient or too harsh... Paul told them to do more than forgive, he also told them to comfort." (David Guzik)

"There may be a judicial forgiveness which is hard, and leaves the soul always conscious of the past. Comfort takes the soul to heart, and forgets. That is how God forgives, and so should we who are His children..... If discipline is largely lacking in the Church of today, so also is the grace of forgiving and comforting those who, having done wrong, are truly repentant. How often, alas! souls have been indeed swallowed up with overmuch sorrow because of the harshness and suspicion of Christian people toward them in view of some wrong which they have done . . . ." (G. Cambell Morgan) (These quotes are taken form David G.'s commentary at the studylight website here.)

The context for us is that today, the church has a reputation of "shooting their wounded" and shunning people who have fallen from grace, making repentance virtually impossible. Not good. This ought not be. Time to learn this.

making it into the next season

I've been reflecting that the time we're in is like a team that's going into the fourth quarter of a good, but tiring game. Victory nor defeat is assured. The whole team has to hang in there and fight to have a chance of winning.

What's the counsel from scripture?

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

This little verse says everything you need. What it says in plan English is:

  1. Stay in the place of prayer
  2. Be vigilant
  3. And take communion continually
We need to keep ourselves positioned in prayer. Distraction might be our worst enemy right now. All prayer is not constant talking out loud either. Prayer is staying connected, staying available, staying awake to God.

Being watchful is also about staying focused but also about staying sober. Sober mindedness is to keep the fog out and not be be carried away by things that take you away from prayer focus. A vigilant watchman is passionate about keeping watch.

The third one might be the hardest to get. In high church, they call communion or the Lord's supper, the eucharist; which means cup of thanksgiving. Eucharista is the word here for thanksgiving. The one thing we are most thankful for is Christ. Christian prayer is Christ centered and that is the point. Christ has already done the work. Christ is in heaven interceding. The whole Christian life is centered on Christ. We just need to keep this awareness. Taking communion continually is living in the awareness of and being perpetually thankful for Christ and communing with Christ. And we do this together celebrating and partaking in community. The power of your prayers comes from Christ. and you are thankful as you participate in his plan being brought into existence.

what will happen

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

Psalm 14:7

This is what I believe the future holds: salvation, restoration, and rejoicing.