His-Story and Our Story
A Devotional Communion Service
Study Guide, January 3, 2021
Pastor Clay Olsen
It’s always great to start the New Year with the Lord’s Supper. Dwelling on the wonder of the Lord’s Supper is like restarting our lives. It brings us back to the foundation of our faith. Which is then like a refreshing of our faith, which then leads to a refocusing on what’s really important. And that leads us to rejoicing about our Lord and the life we now share with Him, as in – Eternal Life!
So let’s explore: When we think of history we think of things like the categories of history, like the history of the Universe, when it began, how old it is, has it always been like it is now, and so on. We think of the history of the Earth, when it began, what was it like when it was formed, what were its features, and how have they changed, and such. We think of the history of mankind, what were our early ancestors like, what were our own family ancestors like, and such. Have you ever done a family ancestry search? They can be very fascinating. You might even find some surprises in your ancestral past! I thought it was pretty cool in finding out that in Sharon’s ancestry that she is related to Pat Garrett, the man who shot Billy the Kid.
But the thing is, when we think of history we tend to think of it in this segmented way. And even with our own history we think about it individualistically, or independently. But the thing is, there is an overarching narrative the covers all of history, because, in reality, history is really His-Story. The main narrative of history is His-Story, or God’s Story. In fact, all of us were born into an already ongoing story…God’s story. Even everything we just talked about simply ‘entered into’ God’s ongoing story, from the history of the Universe to the creation of our Earth, to mankind’s ancestors and our own family ancestors…all of everything there is – is part of God’s Story, since He is the only God and sole Creator of all things.
What is so strange about how people do life, is that they tend to approach life in terms of ‘making a life for themselves’, and ‘writing their own story’. Now, personal initiative, and accepting personal responsibility, and embracing a strong work ethic are all admirable and honorable qualities…as long as these are connected to allegiance and commitment to one’s Lord and God. But, especially in our country and in our self-focused and independent society, people are so absorbed with making a life for themselves and so obsessed with their own story, that they do not realize that every person is born into an already ongoing story…God’s Story. And therefore, one of the main purposes of life is not to make a life for yourself, or even a story for yourself, but to find out what this ‘already ongoing story’ is all about, and then to join in and to find out what your part is in this story, and then to give yourself to that part…commit yourself to living out your part in God’s Story; the part that God already planned for each of us even before the foundation of the world! Talk about purpose, right?!
In a conversation with my daughter, Beth, she mentioned how we are all part of a narrative so much bigger than ourselves. And when we see ourselves as part of a story much larger than our own, a sense of purpose greater than our own happiness and satisfaction surfaces. And then Sharon added that so many people struggle with a lack of purpose because they have never found their part in God’s Story. And it’s only when you find your part in God’s Story and join into God’s Story that your life finds its true meaning and satisfaction.
Remember that amazing verse from Jeremiah that we often use to encourage one another? Jer 29:11- “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” NASU Of course we know that the immediate context of the time spoke to the return of God’s people after their seventy year captivity. But the application of this revelation is timeless, because in many passages we are told the same thing…that God has plans for each one of us. God has parts, we could say, for each one of us to play in His ongoing Story.
Again, you talk about purpose and significance! No one ever has to wonder about the significance of their life. God had you and me in mind before either of us ever had a mind! God had a plan for you and for me before we ever showed up on Planet Earth. We were already a part of His Story before there even was such a thing as ‘our story’, or anyone else’s story. It is this great overall story of God’s Story that gives magnificent meaning to each of our lives. And without God’s Story there is little meaning and no purpose to our own story. It is God’s Story that brings our story to life. Or as the Apostle John would say: John 1:1-3- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” NASU The story of all life is all about Jesus. And therefore, in order for there to be true meaning and lasting significance to the story of our life, our life has to be all about Jesus, too!
Having just celebrated Christmas, we often say “Jesus is the reason for the season.” It’s a great saying because it puts the right focus on the real meaning of Christmas. So, yes, Jesus is the reason for the season. But the remarkable and profound thing about it is that we are the reason that there even is such a season. Yes, Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s coming to Earth, but Christmas is also a reminder to all the inhabitants of Earth as to why Christ had to come in the first place. So again, Jesus is the reason for the season, but we are the reason that there even is such a season. The reason for the season is that mankind was in need of being rescued, and so Christ became Jesus Christ at Christmas because He was on a rescue mission. Christmas is really about a hostage crisis. The Apostle Paul reveals that hostage crisis: 2 Tim 2:24-26- “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” NASU
Which brings us back to God’s Story…before we can join in God’s Story and then enter into the part where our story is found in God’s Story, we have to take care of another part of our story…the part where we are still being held captive by sin and the devil. Jesus already defeated the person of the devil and even the power of sin. He even pronounced that His part of the mission was completed when He pronounced from the Cross: “It is finished!” Christ’s part was the rescuing. So what is our part? Again, Christ’s part was to provide a rescue…and our part is to proclaim a repentance, as in ‘repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and coming to our senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been held captive to him to do his will.’
Jesus provides the rescue and He even grants a repentance to us. But know this – what God will not do is that He will not repent for us…that is what each person must do. You see, in order to join in God’s Story, at some point there is to be a time in your story when you repented unto salvation. Like how Isaiah describes a person’s sin condition and Jesus provision: Isa 53:6- “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” NASU And then right after that Isaiah describes this repentance that leads to salvation: Isa 55:6-7- “Turn to the Lord and pray to Him, now that He is near. Let the wicked leave their way of life and change their way of thinking. Let them turn to the Lord, our God; He is merciful and quick to forgive.” TEV
To join God’s Story at some point in our story there has to be a turning point in our story. We were each like the sheep that had turned to their own way. Therefore, we have to turn to the Lord and His way, forsaking going our own way, and commit to going God’s way…to repent. And then, in our repentance we also receive…we receive the forgiveness from going our own way, and we receive a new life, a reborn spirit, a sharing of the very life of Christ. And thus, we are rescued, and our story is joined to God’s ongoing Story, and the adventure begins!
What an amazing plan by our amazing God to create a part for each of us in His Story. And the thing is, we don’t have to fret and stress about finding that part, for that’s another wonder of God’s amazing grace. Remember the Sheep analogy? Sheep don’t stress about the plan…they just keep their eyes on the Shepherd, because the Shepherd has the plan. Sheep don’t fret about the journey…they just focus on following wherever the Shepherd leads in the journey. No, the stress and the fretting start whenever the Sheep take their eyes off the Shepherd and start going their own way again. No, Sheep are most content and satisfied when they are following their Shepherd. And mark it down friends, the same is true for us Sheep.
What your soul longs for is only found in following your Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. Friends, The secret to fulfillment that the whole world seeks and strives to discover and to then experience is not found in their own story…it is only found in God’s Story. Again, the secret of fulfillment is this: ‘Following’. Our fulfillment in only found in our following the Great Shepherd, who already has the plan and already has the part in His Story that He wants each of us to live out. And as we give ourselves to God’s plan, God’s will, and live out that part that He has for us, which is already written into God’s Story…well then, that is what then becomes ‘the story of our lives’…a story of following Christ, our Great Shepherd, and the adventures He planned for us even before the foundation of the world…and get this…along with the adventures ahead of us that He has already planned for us, too…for ours is an eternal story, remember?
And it’s all because of what this represents…what the Lord’s Supper is saying to us: That God loved us so much that He was willing to give His own life in order to save us and make us part of His Story, part of His family story forever. Amazing grace…yes, amazing love…yes, amazing story…yes, amazing God…Oh Yeah!