This month marks the beginning of the end of 2017. That sounds very morbid, but you know what I mean. We are entering the final quarter of this year. The end of 2017 brings with it excitement and a renewed focus on Jesus’ work in the church. We can all look back on this year and see how the Lord has developed us as a body. In the spring of this year, we entered a Sunday series through the book of Ephesians. We were challenged with the call to unity and growth as a body. After that series, we entered a short five-week series on the reformation. We focused our attention on the five “Solas” of the reformation. We were challenged to understand the theological propositions within their 16th century context and apply the conviction to our lives as protestants. Then, we entered the Summer with the crazy idea of working through three of the major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) in ten short weeks. We focused our attention on the “call” of each prophet, the major “issue” presented, and finally the “hope” presented in each one for God’s people. The last and final week of that series we focused on the messianic hope presented in each prophet and how it was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are now full swing into the fall of 2017. We are working our way through a series in the book of Nehemiah on Sunday mornings. We have been challenged through the first several chapters of this book to see the blessing and opposition in relation to the work on the wall of Jerusalem. As we finished chapter 4, we were struck with the challenge to finish well. The constant message throughout the whole OT, however, seems to declare that we are incapable of finishing well. We do not have the endurance in faith and obedience to accomplish all that has been set in front of us. As we observed in our text the first week of October, we “can” finish well when our imperfect efforts are laid at the foot of the perfect work of the Cross. We have several more weeks in our Nehemiah series, but then after Thanksgiving, we will focus our attention on the birth of our King, our Savior, Jesus. Our hope for accomplishing the will of God in our lives, in our church, rests upon the shoulders of the King who came to give His life. The end of 2017 should renew for us a hope and confidence in the Grace and Mercy extended to us through Jesus Christ. We are in covenant with the Father because of His work of obedience and the blood of His selfless sacrifice. If that does not humble us, I do not know what will. If that does not draw us to the foot of the throne of God in worship and awe, I do not understand. We are able to finish strong, for the Gospel and Glory of God, in our marriages, our families, our neighborhoods, and our church community, because of the victorious finish of Christ on the Cross (John 19:30). We have been given freedom from the cycle of sin and disobedience, not so that we can do whatever we want, but so that we might “finish” the full work of the Great Commission.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
(Galatians 5:1 ESV)
The challenge that we as a staff here at SCC have taken is to “finish” 2017 strong. We know there will be opposition, because it is God’s mission we are on. But, we also know that our job is to be faithful to the call, because Christ has already won the victory. Would you join us in renewing focus on God’s work the end of this year? Like Nehemiah, would you first begin to pray to our Lord that He would have mercy and grace upon us as we embark on this journey (Neh. 1:11). Then, would you come and join the work on the wall. Well, not a literal wall. Would you join your church community as we work to accomplish the mission with one hand and with the other be ready for whatever opposition might come our way? Would you renew your focus in your marriage, family, etc.? Would you even become bold enough to call the community together to help you fight off the enemy who is attacking you in these areas?
We are all in this together. I can tell you from the perspective of the church, we need you! We need you in our children’s ministry. We need people who will work with preschoolers. We are growing and moving toward the Gospel work in our community, but we need everyone to join together and do their part. I can also tell you that we want to join you. We want to be there when you need us the most. We want you to be overwhelmed with love and grace when things explode in your life. Your job is not to be perfect, it is to be redeemed at the cross! The new paradigm for perfection is imperfection at the foot of the cross. Together, we can finish strong!