Monday, April 29, 2013

It's Worth Remembering (Part 3)

It’s worth remembering why I named this blog Psalm 102 In the Message. 

While I was on leave of absence from the pastoral ministry “the first time”, I worked at a hotel in Tuscaloosa, AL.  One of my habits was to check with The Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) to see the recommended psalm passages to be read that morning.  I would note mentally what they were before I left for work.  I would stick in my pocket The Message translation of the New Testament and Psalms.  At a break I would pull out The Message and read the psalms for the morning.   

One morning I read Psalm 102: 18-22.  It rocked my world. 

Write this down for the next generation so people not yet born will praise God:
God looked out from his high holy place; from heaven he surveyed the earth.
He listened to the groans of the doomed, he opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion, so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets and wherever people gather together along with their rulers to worship him.
-- Psalm 102: 18-22 (TM)

This one passage rekindled in me a new birth of a ministerial calling that I didn’t believe was possible at that point in my life.  These verses still ring within my spirit the Holy Spirit’s anointing to preach and declare the good news of deliverance for all groaning in cells of all fashions.  In fact, these verses echo the importance to remember the wonderful works of God, write the stories down and declare them in the streets so that we have every reason to worship passionately our God and Christ.  It’s worth remembering.

Just over a year ago I had an encounter with God as I drove to Montgomery, AL to pray at the opening of a session in the state house.  It’s worth remembering.

As I drove past Birmingham heading south I recollected all the places we’ve lived in Alabama as pastors of UM churches (In 25 years of marriage we’ve lived in 10 different homes.  No complaints.  Just recollecting).  As I was remembering the homes and circumstances while I worshiped God and sang praise music, I began to intercede for the broken, hopeless and addicted we’ve ministered to recently and those we’ve yet met.  As I continued to head south, sing, praise, and pray, I believe it was the Lord who spoke to me.  The Lord said, “You can have the state of Alabama, if you want it.”  At that, I said out loud, “Oh, my God!” 

After having such encounters with God in the past, I recognize God when he speaks like this.  It messed me up.  I reached for napkins we keep in the glove compartment for such encounters in our travels.  As I wiped my eyes and continued to drive I said out loud, “OK, I’ll take it!  I’ll take it!” 

Well, what does that mean? You can have the state if you want it.  I still don’t know for sure, but after realizing that the anniversary of that encounter had just passed, and that God doesn’t do things quickly but suddenly, and that whatever and however this is suppose to come about, I’ll live out of my gifting and anointing first.  I will not reinvent myself to fulfill this outrageous plan, but, rather, I will seek His face and continue to pray and remember what he’s done and acknowledge what he’s doing and trust that God’s just looking to provide the fire and for me to be the sacrifice.  All of this is worth remembering.

Lastly, as I recall God’s wonderful works in the form of the Lord’s voice speaking and directing me, in August of 2011 the Lord directed April and I to lead prayer services at my church on Tuesday evenings.  Our intent was to lead those who attended into times of prayer and intercession for this church and community.  We personally fasted Tuesdays to prepare our hearts with hunger for what God would show and tells us in the services.  One Tuesday as we prayed together, I saw in my mind a pencil write on a legal pad Matthew 5: 6.  (Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled).  Then I had the impression in my heart of a second passage, Luke 1-8-7.  I looked up Matthew 5: 6.  I then looked at Luke 1 just to check if there was an 87th verse.  Duh, there wasn’t.  I then went to Luke 18: 7 and found, And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 

I stood up and shared these two passages and told them how these verses came to me.  I then strongly encouraged them to pray fervently for the Lord’s will to be done in justice and righteousness, and they should be encouraged because the Lord is speaking to us in these days.

I still recall these verses and trust that we who are hungry and long for divine justice will be filled and God will not keep putting us off for the sake of those who groan for deliverance and release.  Oh, how does it go?  Oh, I remember – Stay thirsty, my friends!

Never forget what the Lord has said to you.  These are his wonderful works for you.  Now they are meant to flow through you to others in the streets looking for reasons to worship the Lord their God.  It’s all worth remembering.

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