So What Will Draw Them to You? 10/2/13

I love October!  There is an incredible smell in the air; there is a crisp, fresh feeling each morning.  I love walking outside and feeling the cool, almost cold air in the mornings.  I LOVE the smell of burning leaves in October – we don’t get that much anymore . . . too bad.  It smells like Fall.  I love it when you have to turn on your heater in the morning and roll the windows down in the afternoon.  I love the full moon in October on a cool night.  I love to watch it rise in the east, especially when you can catch it just as it is appearing over the horizon.  Welcome to October!

I also love reading different versions of the Bible.  My favorite is probably the NIV because I am so familiar with it, but I love reading other versions, getting a little different spin on scripture.  I really love the Message, but it has been awhile since I’ve opened it and read it.  Well this morning Sue was doing her reading and she is reading in Isaiah.  She uses the Message for her reading and she came in and asked me if I had ever read Isaiah 53, the Suffering Servant chapter, a chapter about Messiah, from the Message.  I don’t think I had, but I did and WOW, it is amazing!  I would encourage you to get a copy of the Message if you can and read that chapter today.  I’m not going to spoil it for you so I hope you can do it.  I am though going to elaborate just a little.

Remember that Isaiah told us, in writing about Messiah, that He wouldn’t be this incredibly handsome, “anyone-would-be-drawn-to-him” guy.  In fact, Isaiah told us that not only wouldn’t we be drawn to Him, but we would probably overlook Him or worse yet, turn away from Him. 

Have you ever noticed that most of the pictures of Jesus picture him as this handsome, great looking “white man” whose smile would light up a room?  Please remember, Jesus was a Jew.  He wasn’t a Caucasian American, He probably didn’t have perfect teeth and body-builder muscles.  We don’t know what He looked like, but we get an idea from Isaiah.  I’m going to use the NIV so as not to spoil your reading from the Message.  Go ahead, go and read it from the Message – I think you’ll get a completely NEW idea of it.  By the way, when something is italicized  it is my emphasis.

Isaiah wrote, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”  Remember, he is describing the physical looks of Messiah.  He goes on, “He was despised and rejected by mankind . . . Like one from whom people hide their faces . . .

Now here is where I’m going to this morning.  We have made Jesus out to be this handsome guy that everyone is drawn to.  We fanaticize that He is someone that people would want to be with, be drawn to, like to be around, but if we’re honest we mostly do it because of His looks.  Hold on with me here; I know some of you aren’t with me, that you’ve jumped ahead, but just hold on.

Have you ever read the story of “Beauty and the Beast”?  What about the “Hunchback of Notre Dame”?  I’m not talking about the Disney version, where Beast is this handsome wolf-like creature, or the Hunchback is this likeable little fella that you just want to hug; I’m talking about the original stories.  Beast was this hideous creature that no one wanted to even look at and the genius of the story is that Beauty saw what was inside of him.  The Hunchback was deformed physically, someone who was hidden away because no one wanted to look at him.  Who wants to run up and sit in Beast’s lap?  No one!  Who wants the Hunchback to wrap his arms around them and hold them close?  No one!

Look at those words about Messiah again . . . “ . . . nothing in his appearance that we should desire him . . . like one from whom people hide their faces . . .”  That is the Bible’s description of Jesus!  YET, in reality we know that little children were drawn to Him . . . women of ill repute forgot everything and everyone around them when He was near them . . . people wanted to be around Him.  HOW?  WHY?  That is the beauty, that is the secret, that is the miracle of this story.  We are NOT drawn to Him because He is Hollywood handsome or MMA ripped, it is love, God’s agape love that draws us to Him.  When that kind of love is displayed, appearance doesn’t matter.  When we see that kind of love in action, we can’t help ourselves.  When love like that is what consumes Him, nothing else matters!

I have a friend who commented on a video this past week that we both saw.  The video is about a couple that is celebrating their 50th Anniversary.  The thing is, the wife is dealing with advanced Alzheimer’s.  In the video the husband describes the fact that he has to do everything for his wife; he does all the cooking and cleaning, he has to bathe her, do her hair, dress her, everything.  As we watch the video you can see the joy that he expresses and the love that he feels for his wife.  He says that it is a privilege to be able to do this for her because he loves her.  It is obvious that she can’t return that love anymore, but that doesn’t stop him.

My friend commented on the video, “It’s hard to believe that there’s any love still like this out there.”  My friend has been alone now for over 3 years, having experienced their second divorce.  I don’t know much about the second marriage but the first ended horribly, very messy.  My friend is a Christian and I know that they know that God’s love is like this; they’ve just given up on mankind.  It saddens me; it hurts me; I wanted to cry when I read my friends comment.  Really.

This is the kind of love that God has given to us, but here is the kicker . . . He has given it to us SO THAT WE CAN GIVE IT TO OTHERS.  You see, to that man in the video, love isn’t about what his wife can do for him, it is about love.  She can’t respond to him anymore.  She can’t tell him that she loves him anymore.  They can’t take trips to see their grandchildren and share the wonder and amazement of playing with, holding, being with their family because she doesn’t remember.  He won’t ever have his wife back again, but he loves her nonetheless and nothing is going to change that or stop him from doing what love compels him to do.

God loves us like that, but He does it SO THAT WE CAN LOVE OTHERS LIKE THAT.  And when we do, it doesn’t matter what we look like; it doesn’t matter what kind of money we make; it doesn’t matter what political persuasion we have; it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter . . . people are drawn to that just like they were drawn to the One “. . . from whom people hide their faces.” 

I dare you to love like that.  I dare you to forget that people have different political leanings than you do and love them like that.  I dare you to forget that people are sinners and love them like that.  I dare you to forget that people will hurt you, despise you, spit in your face, take your money, your house, you job, your retirement, you LIFE, and love them like that.  I DARE YOU!

Go on, read Isaiah 53 in the Message – I’ll bet it’ll make your day!  By the way, if you just can’t get a copy of Isaiah 53 in the Message, let me know and I’ll copy it for you and email it to you.  It’s wonderful!

I love you! 

Upcoming Activities

Today, Wednesday October 2 – We will have our regular Wednesday evening activities tonight, beginning with dinner about 5.  Come and join us.  Teens and children will have their regular activities plus we have our Hispanic Bible Study at 6 and our Prayer Group meets in the Sanctuary at 6.  We’d love to have you come and pray with us – I might even show that video I just described to you.

Sunday October 6 – We will come together as the Body of Christ and Worship Him!  We invite you to join with us at the 8:45 service in the gym or at 10:30 in the Sanctuary, or at 4:00 in the Sanctuary for the Hispanic Service.  We’re going to have a GREAT time and we’re going to Worship the One whose love draws people to Him.

Sunday October 13 – Our Hispanic congregation will be celebrating their one-year anniversary on Sunday October 13 at 4:00 p.m.  Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend and join with us as we celebrate this milestone.  There will be a lot of special activities with a Piñata for the children, great food and refreshments, fellowship and fun as we celebrate what God is doing!

Wednesday October 23 – We will be having our special Family Night for the families of our Wednesday night teens and children.  Please note the date change.

Sunday October 27 – Rudy Cervantes, Heavenly Trumpet Ministries, will be with us on this special day.  We will have one combined service on that day at 9:30 a.m. in the gym.  Rudy will be playing and sharing his ministry that day and you won’t want to miss it.  Rudy is an incredible musician and his testimony is amazing..  This will be a very special day.

Following the ministry of Rudy Cervantes and Heavenly Trumpet Ministries, the teens will be serving their legendary Brisket Dinner.  This is the teens Fall fundraiser and the dinner is on a donation basis.  There will also be a silent auction of many items that have been donated to help fund the teen ministry for the year.  There will be some incredible items that you won’t want to miss out on besides the wonderful dinner and Shelly’s INCREDIBLE dinner rolls! 

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