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The call to the life of faith is a call to something much higher, much more far-reaching and powerful than we have been inclined to think.
Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Genesis 12:1-3
This is not only a description of God's call to Abraham, it's a description of God's call to us.
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, "I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here am I." Then he said, "Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord said, "I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt."
This is not only a description of God's call to Moses, this is God's call to each of us.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory."
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said, "Woe is me! For I am lost; and I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!"
Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven." And I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"
Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
This is not only a description of God's call to Isaiah, this is God's call to each of us.
"Behold this (burning coal) has touched your lips. Your guilt is taken away and your sin is forgiven.
.....Go and speak to the people."
We could go on and cite the call of Mary, Peter, Matthew, Saul of Tarsus. Always there is a turning away from a life which may be small, petty, ingrown, stuffy, self-important, into a life that burns with God's fire. And always there is the promise of much blessing for others through us.
Aword will go forth from us that will absolutely bring life to others.
- Rivers of living water will flow forth from our hearts.
- Men and women will be caught out of desolation and lifted into God's kingdom by us.
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you...." John 15:16
These promises are not given to certain rare spiritual giants as seemed to be the case in Old Testament days. They are for all who will hear. If we listen we will .hear the Son of God literally calling us by name into a life of faith that will move mountains and bless nations.
Ah, but to move mountains, to bless nations, to cause the life of God to gush forth in the midst of the desolation of this world, is accomplished in us not by doing great things in the eyes of men, but by doing great things in the eyes of God. And that great name he promised to Abraham, and to us, is not great before men but before God.
The victories we are to win, mighty works we are to perform, are to be accomplished exactly as they were accomplished in our Lord ... by becoming as he became ... broken bread and poured out wine.
As Abraham and Moses and Isaiah answered their call from God, they walked a path which was also broken bread and poured out wine. Not a life enhanced, but a life spent,
a life given,
a life poured out.
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
What was Jesus doing when he gave them bread and called it his body? ..."This is my body"...gave them wine and called it his blood? ..."This is my blood of the covenant."
1. Jesus was instituting a feast of remembrance.
This meal was to help them remember Jesus. To keep their minds and hearts alive to him.
To never forget his death.
"Forget everything else if you like, but remember me in this."
2. Jesus also instituted this meal as a feast of hope.
"I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
Every time they would eat this meal they would be foretasting heaven ...anticipating and rejoicing in the day when they would drink it new in the Kingdom.
3. Jesus also instituted this meal as a feast of participation.
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
I Corinthians 10:16
By eating his body they became part of his body and they share in its brokenness.
By drinking his blood they became part of his death. They are united with his cross. They became a living sacrifice and a dying sacrifice in union with the Lamb of God.
When Jesus goes out from that meal to lay down his life he literally takes with him, down into his death, those who eat his body and drink his blood. And when he rises from the dead on the third day he literally lifts up into newness of life those who eat his body and drink his blood.
Week after week these followers of Jesus ate this bread and drank this wine. And each time they did,
- they remembered Jesus' death,
- they hoped ... looked forward to heaven,
- they participated ... became one with his body and blood.
So, they became an extension of Jesus' broken body, Jesus' shed blood. And as they poured themselves out in his name, Jesus' life flowed into the world around them.
They did mighty things. They healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, delivered the captives, brought multitudes into the Kingdom of God.
And they did these mighty things not as heroes, not as magicians, not as celebrities, not as flashy spiritual success stories, but as broken bread and poured out wine.
Now it's our turn. The God who called Abraham, Moses and Isaiah, Mary, Peter, Matthew and Paul, has given a personal call to each of us to follow his Son out of our shallow waters into his ocean with the promise that we will bear much fruit, move mountains, bless nations. And the place where this call comes to us again and again is in this meal.
This broken body and shed blood was not only something that was done for us by Jesus, it is also something which is now being done in us by Jesus. We are being made by God, through the power of his Son, broken bread and poured out wine for the world.
Now we go out and nourish the famished with the bread of God ... heal the sick with the wine of God ... raise the dead ... free the captives ... restore the penitent. Supernatural, eternal, holy changes will take place in the lives we touch.
But if this bread is to so nourish people, it has to be broken. As long as the bread sits on the table and is not broken and eaten no one is nourished. This means we get broken! Our wishes, our desires, our plans give way to God's purpose. We are inconvenienced,
hurt, maligned and despised ... some of us may be killed.
But as we so share in our Lord's cross life comes to others.
And if this wine is to bring life to people it has to be poured out. If it stands in the chalice it may give off a fragrance, but no one is nourished. So we are spent, poured out, lost in the doing of God's will of mercy.
And as we share in our Lord's obedience to the Father our very bodies become a sacrament ... a means of divine blessing for those we touch.
- Phone calls, visits,
- letters, simple acts of service,
- deeds of whatever kindness is needed,
- words of encouragement,
- words from God's mouth,
- words of testimony to Jesus,
coming from broken bread and poured out wine are absolutely awesome in their divine power. By them souls are gathered to God.
When we take the bread and wine we remember Jesus...
- Who he is to us,
- What he has done for us on the cross,
- How he loves us even now.
And we hope ... we look forward to that soon-coming day when we will eat this meal with Jesus in the Father's kingdom.
And we participate in his body and blood...
- We are his body broken.
- We are his blood shed.
And we go out into the world to spend ourselves,
to pour ourselves out in his name. Not to acquire, to get,
to gather to ourselves, but to gather living souls to God.
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you..."