The morning of the first full day of the Gathering for those in the Chosen in Christ track kicked off with a bang as the heart-pumping bass and multitude of voices led by house band, Fusebox, shouted praises to God. In one of their opening songs, lead singer Billy Buchanan softly sang, “God Almighty, Lord of Glory, You have called me friend.” Those lyrics very appropriately prefaced Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer’s message for the morning.
Lehenbauer opened the morning by stating, “This Bible study is absolutely foundational.”
It was a message to prepare the hearts of all those in Chosen in Christ on Sunday for the upcoming week. First and foremost, we are God’s children, called “into his wonderful light,” said Lehenbauer, as he read from 1 Peter 2:9. He identified 1 Peter as a confirmation letter, a charge of something to be remembered by all believers.
He continued by giving the crowd his own charge. If they would remember only one thing from his message, Lehenbauer wanted it to be that, “Being chosen in Christ changes everything. It changes the way you think about yourself and others. It changes the way you think about choices you must make.”
With that, he moved into the heart of his message – the freedom of choices. America is a society obsessed with choices and assuring everyone that their choices are as valid as anyone else’s, but many times those choices can be overwhelming, dangerous, and even deadly, physically or spiritually, Lehenbauer explained. What Christians must remember is that the truth about God is not in their choices but in His Word.
“The most important thing in life is recognizing and believing by the power of the Holy Spirit that you have been chosen by God in Jesus Christ,” Lehenbauer continued.
You have been chosen by God to live eternally with Him, and bad choices will never change that.
As Lehenbauer put it, “Sometimes choices make you go, ‘Aarghh!’ But knowing we are chosen by God before the creation of the world to live in relationship with Him makes us go, ‘Aahhh!’”
He assured the crowd that it is impossible to read God’s mind and it is not inside yourself where you should look for answers. Rather you should fix your eyes on Jesus’ cross and always put your trust in Him.
Isaiah 55:8 reinforces that theme as it states, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”
In remembering this, Lehenbauer reminded everyone that Christians have not been set free from making choices through God’s work through Christ, but rather He has set Christians free to make choices that are holy and pleasing to Him.
Lehenbauer concluded his message by declaring, “When God chooses, the devil loses; because we’re chosen in Him, we win!”
Afterward, Holly Graap, a seventeen-year-old from Risen Christ Lutheran in Davenport, Iowa, said, “I didn’t know what to expect, but I really liked it all. [It’s great to know that] even though we’ve all made mistakes in the world, [God] decides we are worthy.”