Seeing Signs, Missing The Savior

God is consistently at work in my life. From giving me breath itself to orchestrating the events of my days, He is always at work.

How often do I stop to savor the fact that every act of His faithfulness is also an example of the glory of God?

Not often.

Most of the time I acknowledge the signs of His faithfulness without savoring the glory of my Savior.

If you’re like me, and you miss the glory of the Savior in the signs of His faithfulness, you’re not alone. In fact, we have company from all throughout Scripture. Yesterday morning, I was starting my day in God’s Word (I wish I could say this happened every day. It does not.) and read about Jesus turning water into wine in John chapter two. Look at the passage with me.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,  and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. – John 2:1-12

According to the timeline of events in the Gospel of John, this wedding takes place after Jesus has called many of his disciples to follow Him. Up to this point, Jesus has not done anything publicly that drew attention to the fact that He was the Son of God (Well, besides knowing everything about the disciple Nathanael just by looking at him. See John 1:43-51.). This was the beginning of His signs. The passage even tells us this in verse eleven.

But look.

Although more than just His disciples knew that it was Jesus who had created this amazing wine out of simple water (according to the passage, the servants were obviously well aware of His miracle-work in this event), there’s not much hullaballoo surrounding this.  Jesus has just done the miraculous, and those who saw Him do it had to have been astounded at His control over nature and the molecular structure of liquids. Yet according to the passage, not all believed in Him. Not all realized that this was the Son of God in their midst. So instead of a crowd of followers who believed in Him, it is just his family and disciples that move from Cana to Capernaum (v. 12).

Jesus has never shown up at my house when Jamie and I have had people over, turning our filtered water into McAllister’s sweet tea. That would be pretty dope.

Jesus has however moved in my life in countless ways, just in 2019 alone. Jamie got me a journal for Christmas with pages to write out ways that God has shown His faithfulness to me. I’ve already got a couple pages full. Obviously the list could be endless, but I have limited it to major things.

Here’s a sample of a few.

On January 9th, I prayed that God would give Jamie and I guidance when it came to buying a house in town. This past Thursday, we moved into a home that we absolutely love! 

Back on February 11th, I prayed that dear friends of ours in our faith community here in Vernon would get the adoption of their three boys they currently foster finalized with a date on the calendar. That date is now set! 

2018 was a lonely year for me and my wife Jamie. We have been praying for solid Christ-centered friendships. God has used the last few months to strengthen relationships that we have with other families in our church, as well as introduce new friendships into our habits and rhythms.

We have a Disciple Now approaching in just three days at my church, and due to some poor decisions on my part, I wrestled with insomnia occasionally in the past month. But as of late, God has answered my prayers for a trusting heart and good, deep sleep. 

All of this was God’s faithfulness to me. A new home. Adoption finalized for this family in my church. Community. Rest.

It came from Him.

God has shown me signs of His miraculous power, His power over my emotions, my circumstances, my relationships, my ministry, my desires, my aspirations, my health. But have I missed the glory of the Savior in their midst?

Probably.

I may briefly thank God when a prayer is answered, but I rarely meditate on what it tells me about the character of God, the glory of God.

Don’t be like me.

Don’t be like the servants from John 2.

Don’t stand in awe of the sign but miss what it signifies about the Savior.

Meditate on all that God is.

Meditate on His glory.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

 

Night Sky

A few weekends after I graduated OBU back in May of 2016, my family took a trip to Caprock Canyon State Park. One night we were there, we had the chance to view the stars through these incredible telescopes. I am awed easily by the magnitude of space, so waiting in line for a while to look through these telescopes was worth the wait. We got to see star clusters, constellations, the Milky Way, and one of the planets (although I cannot remember which one). That particular state park prided itself in having some of the darkest night skies in Texas. So when all the lights were off at this stargazing shindig, every star in the sky was shining in an incredible way.

There were occasionally however some nincompoops who continued turning on their iPhone flashlights, blinding us unintentionally, and making it immensely hard to see the glory and majesty of the night sky. After getting yelled at by some less-patient fellow stargazers, the lights were turned off and the night sky was seen in its fullness yet again.

The night sky is glorious and majestic. No doubt about that.

But when there are other lights, we become blinded, unfocused, and unable to see the stars.

God is in a league of His own in the glory and majesty department. Absolutely no doubt about that.

Yet when I allow myself to become blinded or distracted by lesser things, I am unable to see Him in all of his glory and might.

The beginning of a new year always prompts me to explore ways that I can become more like Jesus, how I can grow closer to Jesus. The reality for me is that I am prone to get blinded and distracted by countless other things in life that prevent me from seeing all of Him.

The biggest move I’ve made in getting distraction-free was putting my phone up in December, leaving it in the kitchen overnight instead of scrolling endlessly through social media in bed. I had written about this idea a couple times over the course of a year before I actually followed through on what I felt was best for me. I’m weak and lack self-control, and know that I spend hours of uninhibited time on social media if I don’t remove that temptation. That is not an everyone has to do this mandate, but I encourage you to maybe consider it.

Anywho, I got rid of that distraction but I know there are still so many lesser lights that I am prone to get distracted by. Here’s some of my big ones right now:

  1. Darkness. My heart is to see God and the good news of the gospel saturate and permeate the community that I find myself in. Out of this desire however comes eyes that are maybe a little too aware of the darkness, evil, and sin that are a part of a post Genesis 3 world. What I mean by this is that I can be zeroed in on the here and now, the evil and brokenness of our world, to the point where I fail to see beyond it to the glory, majesty, and power of our King. Yes, the world is a broken place. It’s all over the news. However, God is greater. I believe that. Everything that is broken will one day be made right. Until that time, we should put out the light of the darkness around us (weird illustration) and focus on the glory and majesty and power of God. He is able to bring restoration, redemption, and resurrection to all that we see.
  2. Work. I’m a spaghetti brain. Unlike most men who have the segmented waffle brains, I have an incessantly and constantly moving brain that is often thinking about 458 things at once. That being said, I do a pretty bad job of leaving work at the office. I think part of this is the nature of ministry, how it does permeate your daily rhythms, but that is no excuse to not put it aside and rest. So for me, I’m learning how to establish rhythms of life where I put work and ministry aside and just rest and relax and enjoy the good graces of God. The light of work blinds me from the majesty of God. No more.
  3. Self-Reliance. Man, oh man. I gave up on the power of New Year’s Resolutions a long time ago, but this is certainly something I want to grow in in 2018. I am too often dealing with prayerlessness. I journal prayers throughout the day, but as far as sitting alone with the Lord in prayer, I’m still not good at. This is pride, arrogance, and sinful. I am too self-reliant, thinking that I have all I need to get through my day without the power of God’s Spirit within me. Because I don’t go to Him, I miss out on seeing Him move. Because I miss out on seeing Him move, I miss out on seeing His glory and majesty.

I don’t know what your lesser lights are, but my prayer is that you will put them aside, or at least dim them so that you can see the greatness and majesty of God. Lastly, don’t be a light that distracts or detracts from God’s glory yourself. In our arrogance, we can become people who draw attention to ourselves, instead of letting people see through us to the glory and majesty of the God we serve.

I’ll close with this.

 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,

who alone does wondrous things.

Blessed be his glorious name forever;

may the whole earth be filled with his glory!

Amen and Amen! – Psalm 72:18-19

He does wondrous things. He is glorious. Look at Him.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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3 Reasons To Read Scripture

I woke up this morning, turned on the lights, and started my day with something that I have struggled to put first in my day: time in God’s Word. I felt the cool morning air seeping in from my window, and I enjoyed refreshing time in the Scriptures. I was looking at Psalm 119, and it was a convicting reminder of where God’s Word should be held in my heart and mind. It is easy to quickly turn from prioritizing time with God in His Word, allowing distractions like social media, television, and even good things like being a fiancee and minister keep me from Scripture. read me

Look with me at Psalm 119:1-3.

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart – they do no wrong but follow his ways. – Psalm 119:1-3

Blessings. Fullness of joy. Perfect peace. True contentment. These things come to us when we are walking according to God’s Word.

Even though I know this is the case, my sinful desires often keep me from God’s Word. Good things in my life keep me from God’s Word. I’ll go too long without really diving deep into studying God’s Word, and the affects of such decision-making shows itself in each facet of my life. When I begin my day in God’s Word, it changes my whole day. Not because God rains down physical and earthly blessings as a result of my obedience and devotion to His Word. Rather because I enter my day with an eternal perspective, instead of an earthly one.

The Word of God is going to do 3 things for me when I spend time in it.

1. It shows me how to live a life that is pleasing to God. 

As a follower of Christ, I desire to please God with my life. I know that I will not be perfect in my endeavors, but I desire to be the man described in Psalm 119:1-3. A man who walks according to God’s Word, keeping his commands, and seeking Him with all my ways.

Because of Scripture, I don’t have to question or second guess what is or is not pleasing to God. In Scripture, I see what it is that God desires of me. Take this very passage for example. The Lord wants to draw me into maturity, draw me into ever-increasing obedience to His Word. God knows that we won’t be perfect. So even when we see in Matthew 5:48 the call to be perfect as God is, we read that in light of God’s grace. It’s something to pursue, but not something to bash over our own heads. God desires for me to keep his commands.

The Scriptures would be a treasure if this was the only thing they did. But the Scriptures do so much more than this for me.

2. It shows me to be set apart by God amongst the nations (when I follow it), bringing glory to God. 

So, when I follow God’s Word, when I live as He desires me to live, the world begins to see me as a man who is set apart. This was the purpose of the Old Testament law that was given to the people of God. This is one purpose of the entire magnum opus of Scripture as well. When I live as the Bible calls me to live, I will look different from the world. This is a reality. Our Christian witness will become more noticeable as our culture continues to drift away (or run away) from the commands of God. This drift is no need for fear, for it gives us as followers of Christ a greater opportunity to show ourselves as set apart, as men and women who live for something other than ourselves. We can show ourselves to be set apart, not in an elitist sense, but in a way that emphasizes the love and grace of God, thus giving glory to God.

3. It shows me the character of God.

This is probably my favorite aspect of the Bible. It shows me what God is like. It shows me His character. I don’t have to question what is He like. I get to see through Scripture the love, mercy, grace, holiness, justice, judgment, and heart of God. I get to be reminded of His power and presence and provision and protection. It erases my fear, doubt, and anxiousness.

For instance, when I read Genesis and the way that God has created the cosmos, it brings peace to my mind that He is powerful and purposeful and in control. There is no need to doubt His power or His control over the stressful things of my life (like wedding planning).

So God’s Word shows us how to live a life pleasing to God, following God’s Word sets us apart from the world, and God’s Word shows us the character of God.

The reality is, I’m foolish when I don’t search and study the Scriptures each day.

I would encourage you to dive deep into Scripture.

You will experience joy as you follow God’s Word.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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100% Him, 0% Me

The beauty of the gospel message is that I’ve been accepted by God because of Christ. It is not contingent upon anything that I can do. This may seem like such a basic truth but let it sink in. God accepted me because of the life and death of His Son. I didn’t do anything and will never do anything that makes me worthy of saving. Ever. All I do is have faith that Christ has already done all the work for my salvation.

Here at Wellspring Church, I’ve been leading the Young Adult group through the book of Galatians, and this has been immensely impactful in my own heart and walk with the Lord. Last week we looked at just the first passage in Galatians and how the gospel is vibrantly on display in what is a simple greeting portion of Paul’s letter.

Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead – and all the brothers and sisters with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. – Galatians 1:1-5

The gospel is infused into this greeting and it’s worthy of our attention. In just a short side-note before we look at it, I find it incredibly encouraging that the gospel is not just for those who are beginning in faith or have just recently come to know the Lord. The gospel is for every day of our lives as followers of Christ. All of the New Testament letters have the message of the gospel explicitly on display, and that should remind us that we should be preaching the gospel to ourselves every single day because these letters were written to churches, written to followers of Christ.

The gospel is at work in what Tim Keller describes as kind of a four point outline here in this passage.

Who We Are. While there is nothing explicitly said about mankind here in regards to the gospel, the word ‘rescue’ in verse four tells us all that we need to know. As sinful man, we were in need of a great rescue. We were in need of the Lord to come and rescue us from sin and the consequences of that sin which is death. We were helpless and lost. We didn’t need a moral teacher or a powerful leader, we needed God incarnate. We need rescuing.

What Jesus Did. Jesus gave Himself for our sins (v. 4). Jesus didn’t purchase with his death a second chance for us or a fresh start or a clean slate. No, what He did was far more than that. Jesus purchased us our freedom. He did ALL we cannot do but needed to do. We thus cannot fall back into condemnation. We are completely free.

What The Father Did. God the Father accepted the work of Christ by raising Christ from the dead (v. 1). God the Father also via the work of the gospel grants us grace and peace (v. 3). Even as a follower of Christ my two biggest struggles are wrapped up in guilt and shame. Yet the very nature of the gospel destroys those two realities. Grace covers over all of our guilt and in place of shame comes the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

Why He Did It. Here’s the big part. God did all of this simply because it was His will to do so. It has nothing at all to do with me. This passage says nothing about mankind being deserving in even the slightest bit. No, this passage makes clear that the gospel was simply God’s plan. It’s all because of grace. That’s the motivation behind what God did. It was all about His grace. glory

That is why verse five is so powerful. The gospel is 100% about what God did and 0% about anything I have or ever will do. It is because of this that God gets all the glory forever and ever amen.

This is the message of the gospel. Walk every day in the grace of Christ and preach yourself this truth each morning.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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