(* perusal; to examine or consider with attention and in detail)
Matthew 26: 35 & 56b: Peter said to him, "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!" And all the disciples said the same. Then all the disciples left him and fled.” ESV
Flat Creek is blessed this summer to celebrate the glorious gift of the covenant of marriage not once, but four times. As this perusal is being written two wonderful weddings are “in the books” and our congratulations to Geoff and Rachel Sanders on their most recent wedding! They have begun a brand new life together in our Lord Jesus Christ, to share the wealth of His grace and love and to enjoy each other. Our prayer is that the very same God that gave away the first bride, Eve, will grow them as believers in His Holy Spirit.
Summer is here – in fact, the weather prediction is for temperatures close to 100o F for the next few days. Robby and I and two other couples recently returned from traveling to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks in Wyoming. These areas experienced record snow falls this winter past, over 700” in some places. Snow was still glued to the mountain passes up to 30’ in height. The weather during the day was typically western, rain and thunder squalls with clearing and temperatures warming from the thirties to the sixties. Quite a relief from the heat indexes of 100+. It was difficult for us to imagine that the beauty of creation and the senses to enjoy such beauty was brought about by random acts of natural selection. The Bible informs those that will listen that God “…gives us richly all things to enjoy!” 1 Timothy 6:17. And what glory is seen in the works of His fingers!
No matter what process or agency our Lord used to bring about the creation, as He spoke the worlds responded ex nihilo - out of nothing. Only our God does this. Out of nothing He brought forth material things in physical form including humanity. And provided the capacity to respond to what He provided. What a God! But our response is more often than not muted and oblivious to His compassionate mercy because of our criminal sin. Such was the case of the twelve chosen to witness the kingdom of God in the glory of the Gospel. They were muted and callous as Jesus told of his impending death. As men they responded much the same as men of all time have responded. “We will not deny you; we will follow you to the cross and die if necessary.” Oblivious to the fact that the work of God is done by God alone they enthusiastically and with one voice tried to encourage their Lord, turning their rally hats around and resolutely turning their faces into the chilling winds of sure death.
Courage is not the ability to boldly make claims of bravado. Courage is the fortitude to be thrust into great trials and boldly persevere not knowing the outcome. This is even more compelling when we think that Jesus Christ was well aware of the trials before Him. When faced with the real possibility of death, especially that of crucifixion, the disciples to a man deserted Him. John did return with His mother, but not before skulking away from the clamoring crowd. What our Lord did in the atonement He did alone. Alone and separated from His Father. Alone and deserted by His closest friends. God ventures into the valley of the shadow of death alone so that His bride the church will never be left alone! “I will never leave you or forsake you,” Jesus promised.
Summer is a time when some decide to leave others alone to worship in God’s house. These boldly declare that they “work so hard…” they require vacation. Yes, we need vacation. But 12-13 weeks of leaving God’s people to themselves is more than vacation. It is desertion.
Let us as believers celebrate earthly marriages as illustrations of God’s love in Christ Jesus for his church. Let us also as believers support each other during the vacation months – rest, relaxation, recuperation…and reformation in the Lord’s house.
Sola Deo Gloria, Pastor Carey