If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins… (1 John 2:1-2).
I can’t stand going to the driver’s license bureau. Does anyone out there really love that trip? It’s not the cultural melting pot thing that bugs me; though some folks just freak out having to stand in line between a cell-phone-chatting soccer mom with groceries in her trunk and a guy behind her who looks like he lives in his trunk.
It’s also not the need for vehicle license and registration updates that bothers me. What bugs me about that trip to the license office is the rejection! Nowhere else in life do I turn up as a consistent failure like I do when I finally reach the front of the line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Hello sir, May I help you?”
“Yes, I need to register my car that I just purchased.”
“Do you have your proof of address?”
“Bill of sale?”
“Social Security number?”
“Name of the person who most recently balanced the tires on this vehicle?”
Back Of The Line, Sir!
It never fails!! I have to get back out of line, get in my car and go find some obscure document that I may or may not have and then come back again. This time the line extends out the door. A bus full of graduates of the “You Can Learn to Drive Today” school has just been dropped off so now I have to wait again.
This particular day was no exception, only this time I had an advocate behind the glass. I’ll never forget the exchange we had. It was like one you’d have with your spouse where words were not totally necessary. You know what I’m talking about. Over time you develop little signals, gestures, pauses, a lift of an eyebrow that says it all.
“Sir, in order for me to complete this registration the bill of sale name must match the name on the title exactly”
“It is the same name,” measuring my words, pleading to not be sent home again.
“No, it’s not the exact name. Do you see here where there is a letter ‘J’ as the middle initial? This document does not have that.”
“And if it did,” said I, “we’d be good to go?”
“Yes sir. If it did, you’d be good to go.”
“A letter ‘J,’ huh?”
“Yes, sir. A blue letter ‘J,’” she said, as the document somehow appeared back thru the glass into my hands.
What happened next, I’m not sure. Somehow time stopped, we were both suspended in space for a second, and when we both settled back into our places, she was holding a document with a blue letter J on it and I was smiling and heading out the door. Imagine yourself standing before a Holy God without the advocacy of Jesus. You and I—all of us, really—would come up so short and so lacking and so unable to qualify to be a child of His.
Jesus’ work on the cross is the antitheses of the actions of my license bureau friend. Our Advocate, the Lord Jesus, erased what was there. He made what was present disappear! He made old things pass away! He cleaned us up, restored our souls, and just as one pen stroke changed my transaction, one perfect sacrifice changed my life. It is only thru that sacrifice that we can really minister. Not because of our gifts, or talents, or our goodness; just Jesus and His sacrifice. Nothing else.
Let’s never forget as we lead worship that it’s our great Advocate who has qualified us for service.
2 Corinthians 3:5-8 (ESV)
5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?
Lord, I know that even at the times when I think I’m doing well—the times when all my paperwork seems in order—that I still need Your grace to cover me. Thank you for being my Advocate and allowing me to stand before You and Your people in worship. Help us always remember that You and You alone made that possible. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Michael Adler has served the local church as a Worship Pastor for all of his adult life. After 22 years of leading the Worship Arts Ministry at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, he is now the Dean of the Worship Division of the Strength to Stand Institute with the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association. This “trade school” of sorts is dedicated to equipping with practical, sustainable and Biblical tools those called to ministry in the local church. With professional credits including TRUTH, Promise Keepers, the Billy Graham Association, LIFEWAY, he is also a published composer, arranger and clinician. Michael has served in an advisory capacity and guest teacher for several Christian universities and seminaries in the areas of worship leadership and the local church, and regularly coaches worship leaders and teams in practical tools for effective and long term ministry. Outside of the promise of eternal life, Michael considers his greatest gift to be his wife, Linda, a professional vocal coach whom he met while recording daily television shows and specials with the Oral Roberts television ministry in the 80s. Together they have four sons and a growing list of wonderful daughters in law and live on 8 gorgeous acres just outside of Birmingham. There they own and operate their premiere wedding venue, The Barn at Shady Lane.