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Thursday, February 11, 2016

02102016 Ash Wednesday - God's Plans Change and Challenge Us!

February 10, 2016
God’s Plans Change and Challenge Us
What does a piece of chalk and a closet have in common?  For some, it is the beginning of a parents worst nightmare of their child marking a place that will require them to re-paint if they move.  For those who saw the War Room movie, it could denote a place where one goes in solitude to engage and battle in prayer over life as a prayer warrior.  Yet, what a piece of chalk and a closet actually have in common are they are the tools that can be used for challenge and change.

In a famous book in evangelical circles entitled, “The Circle Maker”, Mark Batterson tells the story of Honi, a famous prophet who’s life intersects Israel’s at an important juncture.  Israel is in a drought and Honi is the only hope for rain.  Unlike most, Honi does nothing extraordinary but simply goes out into the desert and prays.  Honi’s prayer is not like Jesus, but simply a prayer with a purpose.  You see Honi simply drew a circle around himself and entered into a simple dialogue with God.  For it was not that God needed changing, it was Honi and the people of Israel needed to change.  Tonight we who gather here are no different, God is calling us to change.  We need to draw a circle around ourselves and change.

Tonight we enter into one of the most sacred seasons of the church year.  We enter a penitential season and time of lent.  We gather tonight, receiving the forgiveness of sins and the sign of the Cross of Christ with ash on our foreheads reminding us we are dust and to dust we shall return.  God through the simple action of an ashen cross on our collective foreheads calls for us to action.  For God’s Plans Change and Challenge Us in order for us to be more receptive to God’s leading and not our own.

Our intentional choice to begin action tonight is an opportunity to see God’s plans for our lives and change the landscape that we live on and in.  Not the topography or location, but our perspective of our landscape.  God has great plans for us here at Emmanuel and wants us to change our trajectory.  God wants our destination to be an eternal one, not an earthly one that looks only out for ourselves.  God wants to change and challenge us in order that He will be first in our lives.

If we were on the wrestling team, basketball team or even on any sports team, the coach always wants to improve the level of the players.  So to God wants us to step up our faith game and challenges us to move and grow.  Use our faith muscles and intentionally engage God in daily life.  God challenges our thoughts, motivations, being and challenges us to action.  Action with the destination of His Kingdom.

The promise we hear of God’s plans are meant to change our collective trajectory.  God wants our destination to be an eternity with Him, this is why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to challenge, change and come to satisfy the payment for each and every one of us.  Jesus came to give us this gift of eternal life and fulfill the plan foretold throughout scripture.  God’s Plans Change and Challenge Us to grow in our Christian faith walk and allow the muscles of faith we have been given to be exercised.

Honi, understood the landscape shift in the concept of change.  This is why he drew a circle around himself.  Honi, drew a circle around himself to change himself.  This is why Honi got in the circle and prayed for change to occur, a change to trust God for His plan to be fulfilled of providing rain to the barren land.  Providing the necessary moisture for the crops to grow and the people to fully rely upon God. 

Tonight, may we with our foreheads marked with the sign of the cross also draw a circle around ourselves and resolve to change.  May this season of Lent be an opportunity to challenge us to change, with the understanding that our change is meant in order for God’s Glory to be revealed in our lives through the gift of grace and love offered for us by God’s Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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