Tuesday, April 25, 2023

           Yesterday, I was reading Leviticus 19-21 and found a recurring statement in these Old Testament chapters.  It is a statement that captures us rather quickly when we read it many times.  The oft-repeated statement was this...I am the LORD your God.  Not much else needs to be said, right?  God is God.  Not you.  And certainly not me!  This statement, I am the LORD your God, really reads like this...I am the I AM your God.  Not a careless redundancy or needlessly repetitive—simply a theologically sound statement. You can build a lasting faith with that kind of mortar and stone.  The Great I AM is the Great I AM.  We have to recognize that our English language is often inadequate in assigning identity, depth or glory to God.  We are using human language to describe the divine.  We are speaking from our finitude and limitedness in an attempt to speak about One who is infinite and without limits.  We have only words to describe One who is beyond the words of poets, playwrights and essayists.   
            As I was reading these passages, I took time to underline every occasion where the Bible states “I am the LORD your God.”  It is remarkable to look at the text and see that many underlined passages in one relatively small space.  And they all say the same thing. God continued to declare His greatness to the people of Israel over and over.  He essentially had to do this.  They had already turned from Him, murmured against Him, made idols from metals and longed for the “good old days” in Egypt.  Often, those “good old days” were not as good as we might sentimentalize or romanticize them to be.  We can easily long for the familiar and the known no matter how wrong those things might have been.   So, God must remind us who He is and the ways that He has for us to follow.  He must introduce us to the story that He is writing in history, in our lives and in our world today.  So, God grabs us to say “I am the LORD your God.”  It is a theological wake-up call, an early morning shot of espresso. 
            This I AM God is not one just to be pondered on occasion.  He calls us to know Him, to walk with Him, to surrender to Him.  In an often unstable, unpredictable and changing world, it is comforting to know that I AM is our Lord.  The One who sees the past, the present and the future in plain view all at the same time is our bulwark never failing or ceasing.  Our motivation for holiness is God’s own holiness.  The Bible says, “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”  Though we are not Old Testament Israel today, we are God’s own people.  We were won to Him through the victory of Christ at the cross.  We are set apart—called to be holy, distinct, separate.  We are to be holy because we know Him and He is holy.
            Many years ago, John Wesley penned a pledge that the people of God can take as an affirmation of their devotion to the Lord God.  In the eighteenth century, this Christian giant wrote... "I give myself completely to you, God.
Assign me to my place in your creation.
Let me suffer for you.
Give me the work you would have me do.
Give me many tasks.
Or have me step aside while you call others.
Put me forward or humble me.
Give me riches or let me live in poverty.
I freely give all that I am and all that I have to you.
And now, holy God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours. So be it.
May this covenant made on earth continue for all eternity.  Amen."
            Amen, indeed!  Have a great Tuesday and may you enjoy fellowship with the great I AM who is holy, holy and holy!  Remember you can worship at any hour and share our worship with others at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis. 

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