“Leave it all behind” came across my mind as I studied from Luke chapter 5 about Levi the tax collector (AKA - Matthew, disciple, gospel writer, and Christian martyr) who was invited by our Lord to faithfully follow Him. In Luke 5:28 it simply states, “So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.”
Luke would later share a parable (5:36-39) that I reflects Levi and his commitment to “leave it all behind” and follow Jesus. The parable is quite simple in that it states that you don’t take the “new” and put it in with the “old” (cloth and wine) because it will not work and will eventually fall apart.
That is exactly what Levi did with his life. He left the “old” life of power, cheating, and taking advantage and embraced the “new” way of truth, life, and covenant of Christ. He lived this life of hope, love, and faith with diligence even to the end of his life. Tradition has it that Levi was killed for his faith in Christ in Ethiopia. It would have been so easy for him to deny his faith in Christ and live and go back to the “old” but when it was all said and done for Levi, the benefits were out of this world.
The lesson for you and me is this: embrace the new and don’t try to do patchwork with your life by trying to put the new life in Christ back into your old way of sinful living. Embrace the “New Covenant” and don’t go back to the “Old Testament” because under the “New Testament” what we have enjoy is so much better! So LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND even if it kills you! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” - THE APOSTLE PAUL (2 Corinthians 5:17)
How much do you value FELLOWSHIP with your spiritual family at Westpark?
In April of 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a preacher, was executed by special order at a Nazi camp. He was arrested two years before, and had been transferred from prison to prison. Moving from place to place, he lost all contact with everyone he knew, the outside world, and according to his own testimony, the most precious possession he had: FELLOWSHIP.
Years before his imprisonment Bonhoeffer wrote of the richness of fellowship in the following statements from his book, “LIFE TOGETHER,” based on Psalm 1:33. “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer. A physical sign of the gracious presence of the triune God. How inexhaustible are the riches that open up for those who, by God’s will, are privileged to live in the daily fellowship of life with other Christians.” “Let him who has such a privilege thank God on his knees and declare. It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in fellowship with Christian brothers.”
We experience many blessings in Christ, but one of our greatest blessings is the FELLOWSHIP we share together at Westpark. We must make sure we never neglect this wonderful blessing!
“Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God” Ps. 146:3, 5
When the bottom falls out the market, do you call your stockbroker right away? When the pink slip has your name on it, do you open the Yellow Pages for “headhunters” instead of opening Scripture? When you’re in a jam, do you immediately call a friend? When heavy traffic is going to make you miss your flight, do you swear instead of pray?
Is God too often your last resort?
Our temptation and human tendency is to turn to people in our time of need rather to the One who is truly able to help us in any situation. Unlike human beings, God is not limited by time or space, power or knowledge, busyness or self-interest. The psalmist knew “there is no help” in princes and human beings. Ask God to do His work in our hearts so we will turn first to Him in confidence and trust, ready to accept is a solution, His timing, His love, and His perfect plan for us.
Who will you turn to first?
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." -- Jesus Christ
By going into our world we are….
* Gaining an important perspective that we are not the same but have the same need - Jesus Christ!
* Proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God.
* Declaring to our community that “WE CARE!”
* Honoring the commission of our Lord.
* Serving something and someone greater.
We must pray, encourage, support, and unite our efforts.
We should be extremely proud of our Westpark Family because we have members, deacons, and elders, who are united, committed, and convicted in serving Jesus Christ (and His world) as loyal subjects and willing to carry out His will.
Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” -- Jesus Christ
God longs for eternal relationships. He wanted an intimate, lasting relationship with the first couple Adam and Eve. God experienced this intimacy in The Garden when He would enjoy the benefits of a relationship free of distraction and sin. However this intimacy, closeness, and fellowship would be short lived because of their personal sin. This couple was ashamed, afraid, deceived, and now separated from the relationship that was meant to be eternal.
God continues His pursuit for relationships built for eternity. He implements His eternal plan for relationships for all of humanity ultimately fulfilled in Christ (Genesis 3:15 - The First Gospel Message). The Hebrews writer shares insight into this idea in Hebrews 2:14-18 by sharing the message of Jesus who brings us back into an eternal relationship with the Father and connects the prophecy made in (Genesis 3:15,12:1-3, Galatians 3:15-18).Jesus came, lived and died so that we could experience a relationship with God built for eternity. Again, “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” - Hebrews 5:9
You and I get to play a BIG part in this awesome experience of intimacy with our Heavenly Father, His Glorious Son, and amazing Spirit. We first and foremost get to enjoy forgiveness through the precious blood of Jesus. Then we get to partner with God by sharing the message of Jesus and help reconcile people to Him and build RELATIONSHIPS BUILT FOR ETERNITY. How awesome is that!?
Our purpose, responsibility, and goal is coined beautifully in the word of the apostle Paul, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.” - 2 Corinthians 5:20