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WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 08, 2021 - THE REST OF THE STORY!

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 08, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz, Today’s verse is from Revelation 7:9-10, where the Bible says,   

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

 

THE REST OF THE STORY!


I was recently watching a scary movie with my wife and I was consumed with the question, “How would this movie end?” It was a movie where the “good guy” didn’t seem to win. It was a movie that was fraught with human frailty and unexplainable forces a work against those who seemed innocent and vulnerable. I wanted to see how it ended so that I could endure the twists and turns of the plot of the moment. I wanted to know “the rest of the story” in the middle of the story.

Do you remember the radio voice of Paul Harvey. I loved his short radio vignettes where he laid out a story with twists and turns. In three minutes, he attached history to mystery to impart hope amidst despair. I loved his “rest of the story” about St. Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity to the island in the 5th century. People don’t know that at one time, Patrick, otherwise known as Magonus Sucatus, was a spoiled, self-indulgent teenager living freely in Roman Britain. His father and grandfather were faithful believers. Patrick was not. Suddenly, a life of rebellious, indulgent ease was transformed. Murderous pirates invaded his village and he was taken into slavery. He was sold to a master in his new homeland, tending to sheep in the hills. One night, under the stars, the young slave-shepherd prayed like never before. He didn’t pray for God’s deliverance, no. He felt that he deserved his fate. He merely prayed to know God and His comfort even now. That prayer of faith became his “state of being” as Paul Harvey reminded us. Harvey went on to tell the history of how that once thoughtless, reckless, indolent young man became the St. Patrick who, after escaping his bondage, would actually return to the land of his captors, to bring them the joy of His Savior, Jesus. Harvey’s hopeful close came when he reminded us, “Now, you know the rest of the story!”

That phrase is appropriate when reading Revelation 7. Here, St. John reminds us of the “rest of the story” from God’s point of view. Revelation was written to Christians who were suffering from the hands of an out-of-control government. People were dying for their faith in Jesus, “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” How could that be? How could the people of that day deal with the mystery of the moment? John tells them “the rest of the story” in the middle of the story so that they might know that in all things they are “more than conquerors” in Christ.” God’s answer in Christ for them and for us is sure no matter the challenges of today.

But, maybe you’re having some “in the middle of the story” challenges that are overwhelming you today. You might be asking, “What about here and now?  What about the strife, the separation, the antagonisms of today? Will politics solve the problem? Will our best efforts solve the problem? How can we make a difference about things in this world when we can’t even get our lives together many times?” Those are great questions. And the Bible is blunt about the answer to those questions, blunt about what we can really count on, now and forever. “Salvation belongs to our God….and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10). Christ’s work FOR YOU changes everything. Faith in Christ changes everything.  

Revelation 7 is an amazing bit of good news to a world as broken as ours. We yearn from camaraderie, community, and purpose. We strive for it, but our selfishness always gets in the way. God’s gift of enduring righteousness, gracious forgiveness, and eternal love in Christ is an undeserved gift. It is a gift, given once-for-all in the cross and resurrection of Jesus, the one thing that holds so that the mystery of our history can end in the hopeful reality of Revelation 7. That might be the best “rest of the story” for all. Or, even better, the overall message of Revelation declares, “The rest, AS GOD SAYS, is HIS Story, for you, NOW AND FOREVER.”

So, when you and I are faced with the world as it is, full of mistakes, flaws, and errors. When we are faced with our own failures, sins, grief, and pain, the Bible invites us to put our hope, now and forever, in the “Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 5:12) for our salvation. In a day when people more foolishly put their trust in politicians, in political prognosticators, in secular gurus, in temporal heroes, or even in our best efforts, God calls us to put our faith and hope in Him for a “rest of the story” that lasts forever.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for life, death, and resurrection as actions in history that call for me to put my faith in you. Amidst the mysteries of today, thank you for the promises of what is yet to come in you, giving me strength to do what is right, to serve others in your name, even now no matter the cost. May we strive to live up to what we already have in Christ. AMEN.

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