Rest for the People of God, Part 2

Rest for the People of God, Part 2

Word in Season

This is part 2 of a series of posts on biblical rest. See part 1 here.

Biblical rest is about finding refuge, satisfaction, and actively trusting in the finished work of God’s son, Jesus Christ. Putting our faith in his work on the cross as final for our salvation is where we find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29). Before we dive into application, I think it is helpful to look at the opposite of rest in the Bible. 

Rest and Restlessness: The opposite of rest in the Bible is restlessness. This means we can labor without resting and we can rest without resting. The key to biblical rest is not necessarily to stop laboring and physically rest. 

Psalm 127 is about three areas of human activity: The home, the city, and the family. What does the Psalmist point out about these places of labor? He reflects on the significance of our labor and God’s work. 

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for he gives to his beloved sleep. – Psalm 127:1-2

It isn’t the work that is bad, it is the heart behind the work. There is a vanity to laboring in any of these areas of life when that labor comes with anxious toil or restlessness.  Why is it in vain? Because this is God’s work to complete. It is he who is taking the work and using it for his purposes. He is in charge. It is a gift from him to have a family, a home, and a safe city. We are not in control of the outcome and our anxious toil is a complete giveaway that we are resting on our works instead of in his. God is pushed out of the picture entirely. That is why the Psalmist stresses that we can lay down that restlessness labor and sleep as an act of faith. 

This striving on the basis of our own works is mentioned in Hebrews chapter 4. 

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.  So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:9-11

We strive, but we strive to enter the rest provided in Jesus Christ. We rest from our works, our striving, our insatiable need to prove or earn something. We are redirected to strive towards the rest found in Christ. We lay down our anxious toil, our restlessness, and surrender our work and our rest to our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

When the Israelites neglected to keep the Sabbath it was a sign of their declining spiritual state. When we find ourselves full of restless striving in the work God has given us to do or unable to physically rest, it too is a sign of spiritual self dependence and a lack of faith. Striving apart from Christ never brings rest. 

Stay tuned for the third part of this post where we will make our way towards application.

Rest for the People of God, Part 1

Rest for the People of God, Part 1

Word in Season

This is part 1 of a series of posts on biblical rest. See part 2 here.

Here is what I’ve been pondering lately: Rest. Not just any rest, biblical rest. The rest the Bible talks about and teaches.  A rest that any number of vacations won’t quench. A rest better than the best night of sleep you have ever had. A rest that can be enjoyed even during the hardest seasons of life. The rest that Jesus talks about giving. A rest that reaches all the way down to your soul (Matthew 11:29). A rest that permeates into every facet of your life. But before we get there, we need to go back to the beginning and see how rest develops in the Bible. We need the full picture because the Bible is one book, all about Jesus Christ, and all of it matters. 

God Rested (Genesis 1:31-2:3): Although the Lord doesn’t need to rest (Psalm 121:3-4), we see him resting on the seventh day of creation. What’s notable is the context around his resting: God rests after his “very good” work is completed. He rests in satisfaction at his completed work. God rested with satisfaction from the very good work he alone had finished. Remember this because it is important. 

God’s People Rest (Exodus 16:16-24): God redeems Israel (his people) from slavery and now he graciously gives them a day to rest. Will the people obey and trust God to make provision for them on this day of rest or will they trust in their own work and go out to gather food on the seventh day? This rest is a gift, however, in order to take this rest, they must trust in the work of God to provide for them. Eventually, God establishes the Sabbath rest as part of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:9-11) and anyone who fails to take the Sabbath rest will die (Exodus 35:1-3). 

Sabbath and Redemption (Deuteronomy 5:15): The death penalty if you don’t rest? I never understood why such a harsh penalty was necessary. Deuteronomy connects this rest to redemption which helps us understand how the LORD sees this rest. 

Moses says, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15). 

God saved you, therefore you rest in his work. This rest wasn’t a mindless pattern. The Sabbath has to do with freedom and redemption. It was a day for the Israelites to remember that God saved them in his great act of redemption. They were to rest with complete satisfaction in the redemptive work of God (Does this remind you of Genesis 2, it should!) A neglecting of this rest was rejecting the redemptive work of God. When you reject the redemptive work of God, there is death. Not keeping the Sabbath was a key indicator throughout the Old Testament in the declining spiritual state of the people (see Jeremiah 17:21-27 and Nehemiah 13:15-18). 

Lord of the Sabbath, Lord of Rest It is in Christ’s work on the cross where God’s people find their ultimate rest. Jesus invites people to come to him to find rest for their souls (Matthew 11:28-30). The Sabbath rest, where God’s people stopped to recognize and be satisfied in God’s work of redemption, was a shadow pointing to the work of Christ that offers redemption and thus true rest to all who believe (Colossians 2:15-16).

Jesus claims he is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28). Not only is Jesus claiming he is God with this statement, but he is also stating that he is the one who the Sabbath was all about. Jesus is the substance of the Sabbath rest for the people of God. The Pharisees were trusting in their own works (ironically this doesn’t lead to rest, it leads to slavery) and lost the heart of the Sabbath which was to rest in the work of God. This Sabbath rest pointed forward to the salvation that is found only in Christ. There is no rest, no salvation apart from Christ. 

Biblical rest is about finding refuge, satisfaction, and actively trusting in the finished work of God’s son, Jesus Christ. When you reject this, there is death. 

Now What? If you are still reading, I’m glad for that. Theology is important because we can’t correctly apply God’s word unless we know what it says. However, I hope you are wondering what this all means for you now, today, in this moment. Run to Jesus as your Savior if you have not done that. Put your faith in his work on the cross as final for your salvation. If you have already done that and are wondering how this rest in Christ actually works itself out in our every day to day lives, stay tuned for the second part of this post where we will try to flesh that out.

See part 2 here.

The Naughty List

The Naughty List

Word in Season

Our Christmas tree is up, our stockings hung with care, and we even turned on our outside Christmas lights. Yes, I am that person who decorated for Christmas well before Thanksgiving. With Christmas on the mind, I’ve been thinking about Santa’s “naughty list.” It is an opportunity for children to debate and negotiate their righteousness: “I hope we aren’t on the naughty list. I probably am on the naughty list. Maybe this year I really will get coal. I haven’t been that bad, but I have been bad. I am definitely not on the naughty list because I haven’t murdered anyone.”

We would be mistaken if we shrugged off this behavior as childish. We all suffer from this disease, adults are just better at hiding it. Side note: I love kids. They haven’t learned to hide what’s in their hearts yet like you and I have.

The disease is called self-righteousness. Righteous means to be perfectly right. Add self to this and it means that you, yourself, are perfectly right. Your actions, words, thoughts, attitudes, desires, motives, and the way you live your life is morally superior and correct.

How does this play out before God? Because of this attitude, one decides they have lived in a moral way which leads to God saving them from hell. And certainly one’s name would never be found on the “naughty list” because they haven’t done anything that bad.

“I’m a nice person.”
“I’ve been baptized.”
“I am way better than Sally, Tom, or Johnny.”
“I haven’t done any of those really bad sins.”
“I attend church most Sunday’s.”
“I worked really hard to make up for my sin.”
“I gave a lot of money to poor people and volunteered.”

We live in the Midwest (I love the Midwest). Most everyone says they are a Christian and everyone is extraordinarily nice (I love the people in the Midwest). Many trust that their names are on the good list because of who they are (I can’t love this).

Here is the problem: God is not like Santa. He has one list. It is called the Book of Life and he only has to check it once (Revelation 20:12-15).

God sets the standards to get into that book of life and we would be wise to pay attention to how he orders things. One sin and you are out of his book of life. One. Did you tell a lie? Get angry at that person at the grocery store? Have you harbored feelings of jealousy towards a friend? Maybe you looked at something on a screen that you shouldn’t have? Have you loved someone or something more than God even for one second?

We can’t tip the scale back in our favor by negotiating our righteousness before him. No one is righteous before him (Romans 3:10) and every mouth that tries to plead their case of self-righteousness will be stopped (Romans 3:19).

God’s standard is perfection and every single person ever born has fallen short of God’s standard, but one. He was perfect and never once sinned. He was punished for sin he didn’t commit and he was killed on your behalf. He lives now, at the right hand of God, and stands before God pleading the case of all of the sinners who have found refuge in him (Hebrews 9:24). Jesus Christ the righteous and our advocate (1 John 2:1).

Santa gives out gifts because people have been good. God gives out gifts because he is good. God gave the gift of his Son because he is full of mercy (withholding deserved punishment), grace (giving undeserved favor), and this amazing kind of love that goes after people who walk in complete opposition to him (Ephesians 2:1-10). That is the kind of love we all truly desire and that is the kind of love that has the power to save wretched sinners like you and me.

A friend of mine likes to ask this question that gets to the heart of the matter: If you are standing before God and he asks you why he should let you into heaven, what do you say?

What will you say to plead your case? What will you be standing on? Who will you be clinging to? Will your name be found in the book of life? There is only one correct answer. You have to admit your great need and die to yourself to find it. But, in this dying you will find life (Matthew 10:38-39).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Editor’s Note: If none of this is making sense or you have more questions, I want to encourage you to make time on Tuesday evenings this winter. Join us in this powerful study to learn how all the events of the Bible – from creation to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – fit together to tell the greatest story in the universe; that God so loved the world. This study is coed and will be led by Pastor Mike and Cody Trump.

The intro session will be December 15 @ 6:30PM in the Worship Center. The weekly study will begin on January 15. Check our Facebook page for sign up details.

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Word in Season

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”*

Oh Father, I’ve tasted the abundance of a life rooted in trusting Christ. How I fail when I trust anyone or anything else. Bring to mind the words and promises of Christ. Remind me Christ is standing before you advocating (1 John 2:1) and interceding (Hebrews 7:25) on my behalf. By grace, not working, you have declared me forgiven, holy, and blameless (Ephesians 1:3-12, 2:1-10). All of your words are true. Give me faith to believe them.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend
And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end.

It was you Lord who taught me to trust you. It was you who showed me the love of Christ. It was you that first called me friend (John 15:15). It is you who refuses to leave me in my sin and continues to sanctify me in your truth (John 17:17). It is you that promises to not leave or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8). I cannot keep promises like that, but you can and you promise to finish what you started in me (Philippians 1:6).

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood
And in simple faith to plunge me
‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

I trust you Jesus. When you say you are faithful to forgive, you are (1 John 1:9). Your blood secured my salvation once and for all (Hebrews 10:11-14). With simple childlike faith, I come to you assured of things I hope for and convicted of things I haven’t seen (Hebrews 11:1). Because of this cleansing, I approach you with confidence to find the help I need (Hebrews 4:16)

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’ve tried many paths Lord and I’ve found nothing sweeter to my soul than you. I must decrease and you must increase (John 3:30). Impress upon my heart that your power is made perfect in my weakness. Your grace is sufficient for what you have for me today (2 Cor 12:19). Teach me again that Christ is gentle and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29) so I can imitate him to others. Help me to stop my striving and rest in you (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

I trust you Jesus. I trust you with my life. I trust that to live is Christ and to die is gain. That you are worthy of whatever you ask me to give up because knowing you is better than having everything (Philippians 3:7-11). I’ve seen your faithfulness in your word. To Abraham and the offspring you promised (Genesis 21:1-5, Galatians 3:16). To work for good through Joseph’s suffering at the hands of his own family (Genesis 50:20). To Moses and the Isrealites in the wilderness (Exodus 16:31-32). To Job even in the darkest season of his life (Job 42:1-6). To the world by providing a substitute in Jesus for dead, sinful people in rebellion against their God (Ephesians 2:1-10). Jesus, I’ve seen your faithfulness in my own life. I have pages of ebenezer’s. Thus far, you have helped me Lord! Oh I forget and I drift. Lord I need your grace to keep me trusting. Keep me trusting Jesus. Keep me trusting Jesus!

*”Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” is a Christian hymn with music by William J. Kirkpatrick and lyrics by Louisa M. R. Stead.

The Christian Greeting

The Christian Greeting

What I Learned Last Sunday

We finished up Titus at 9 am Sunday School this past week (Side Note: We start the Gospel of Mark next week, it is the perfect time to start coming to Sunday School!). We lingered on Titus 3:15, “All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.” 

The Christian greeting. Mention of the Christian greeting is abundant in the New Testament and referenced over 80 times. But how often does it come to mind? Usually we skip over these first and last sentences in the New Testament letters. 

Paul spends 16 verses in his letter to the Romans on Christian greeting (Romans 16:1-16), concluding this section with instructions for believers to greet each other with a “holy kiss” (Romans 16:6). Peter has similar instructions (1 Peter 5:14). John wants the recipient of his letter to greet all of the believers but more specifically, he wants them greeted by name (3 John 1:15). Paul wants to make sure every single believer in Philippi receives a greeting from him (Philippians 4:21). 

What are we to make of this emphasis on the Christian greeting, and how can we apply it to our lives? 

  • It starts with simply making an effort to greet your brothers and sisters in Christ like a family member would be greeted. Enthusiastically, intentionally, sincerely, and with love (maybe not a “holy kiss” but with that measure of love). 
  • When you see a fellow believer out and about, is it evident by your greeting how much you love this person? Eye contact, body language, full attention, sincere words, making time to stop for a few minutes to talk. 
  • These things matter greatly because it is by our love for each other that others will come to know Christ (John 13:35). Let that sink in for a moment. What would others make of Christ by the way you interacted with a fellow believer at Walmart or during the church service?

There is another aspect to Christian greeting and its importance. In the New Testament, many believers lost their families when they became a Christian. The body of Christ was their family, support system, and the only community where they belonged. This still happens today in many countries. This may not happen as much in the Western world we live in, but it is still relevant. 

  • Kids may be the only believers at their school but they have a place to belong with their church family. 
  • An elderly widow may have no one left of her blood family, but her eternal family is here at church. 
  • That college student sitting in the back row feels out of place because they choose to not party on the weekends and they need to be welcomed and encouraged Sunday morning. 
  • What about the woman who comes to church without her husband every week and sits behind you? She needs support, love, tender care, and someone to notice her.

None of this happens without the Christian greeting. 

Jesus took time to greet people; sinful, messed up people. He came down from heaven to pursue us!  In the Gospels we see Jesus as someone who has his arms wide open. “Come to me”, he says. “Talk to me. I am a good shepherd, I’d love to care for you and listen to your troubles. You matter to me. Let me love you and pour out my grace on you.” People are so very important to Christ that he died for them. 

When a believer greets you at church this Sunday or at the store this week, turn your body towards them, look them in the eye, listen to what they are saying, ask them how they are doing or about important things you know that are going on in their life. Put aside that worry we all struggle with about how we will be received. Follow the example of Christ and the disciples, and together let’s make an effort to greet our fellow brother and sisters with the love Christ has shown us all. 

Equipped for Every Good Work

Equipped for Every Good Work

Word in Season

Fresh out of college, I started working at a construction equipment manufacturing company. In my first week on the job, I found myself in a machine shop looking at a 9-cylinder diesel engine. My task was to work with a small group to disassemble and reassemble this engine. I graduated with a degree in marketing. To describe me as ill-equipped for this task was the understatement of the century. Alone, I was ill-equipped. 

As believers, we aren’t so different from this situation I found myself in. Our dead hearts were made alive by Christ and now we find ourselves sent into a world of which we are we are not supposed to be. (John 17:14-18). We are forgiven all sin but still struggle to live by the Spirit and not the flesh (Romans 8:5). We are called to die to ourselves and live for Christ (Matthew 16:25). Our Lord asks us to suffer with patience, be angry and not sin, spread the gospel to the ends of the earth, and practice meekness in the face of our opponents. Alone, we are ill-equipped.

But the Lord has plans to equip us to do his work and does not leave us alone. He has not only given us his Spirit and the body of Christ, but also his Word. His Word has many purposes, one being to equip the man of God. 

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

This means that on Sunday when we sit and hear the Word preached or attend a weekly Bible study, God intends to use it to equip us. How can we be better prepared to attend that Bible study or sit and listen to the Sunday sermon so that the Word equips us instead of going in one ear and out the other? How can we get better at applying truth and growing toward Christ?

  1. Recognize your Need: God sees our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7) and the posture of our hearts towards him. It is hard to teach someone who doesn’t want to be taught. We are better prepared to let God do his work on us with a heart posture of knowing we need his help. We come Sunday morning or to our mid-week Bible study wanting to be equipped. We keep in the forefront of our minds this purpose of God and we stop and pray that God would use his Word to do his work on our hearts. We get out of the habit of checking Sunday mornings off of our list and remember how much we need Christ to change us.
  2. Prepare:  It sounds almost too simplistic yet many of us don’t do this and it is so helpful. Read the passage in advance. We prepare for tests, we prepare meal plans, we prepare for sports practice, we prepare for that big presentation at work, but rarely do we prepare for Sunday morning. Spending time in the text before you come to church starts to prepare your heart. You will be more familiar with the passage and it will be easier to listen, understand, and apply. We need to hear things multiple times before they start to stick. The same goes for your Bible study; set aside time to read and think about what you are studying that week. If you don’t know what your pastor will preach on, ask him to share his weekly plan with you. It takes discipline to manage your time and priorities well and we must acknowledge that God’s equipping is needed more than just about everything else for which we take time to prepare.
  3. Engage: Be an active participant. Have your Bible open, take notes, write questions or thoughts about application. Then, talk to others about the sermon or engage with your Bible study group. As a leader of a Bible study, I can’t tell you how encouraged I am to hear questions from women because it means they are engaging with the text! Things stick more when we process them with others. Come to a Sunday night home group where you can discuss and apply the sermon. Plan to review the sermon as a family on Monday mornings at breakfast and have everyone share what they learned about God. If you are discipling someone, plan to talk about the sermon weekly with them. Ask others in the church how the sermon series has been affecting them spiritually. There are many ways to engage; let’s get in the habit of talking about application and how our lives are being transformed by God’s Word. 

I wasn’t equipped to put together that diesel engine and was useless to the three engineering majors in my group. I don’t want to find myself ill-equipped for the good works God has planned in advance for me (Ephesians 2:10). Let’s get better at applying truth and growing toward Christ as we come to church next Sunday and start our next Bible study this fall.  

Remember the “Scare Quotes”

Remember the “Scare Quotes”

Word in Season

Recently we were able to gather in person on a Sunday morning after 2 months of having livestream “church.” It was glorious. I am full of gratitude to God for the members that worked tirelessly to make technology work in short order so we could live-stream Sunday mornings. That being said, are we prepared with an answer for why live-stream “church” isn’t church? Will we remember the scare quotes?

The answer lies in another question. What was it like for us to be together again that glorious Sunday morning? I spoke to many who attended that first service and our responses were all the same. We found ourselves with tears of joy as we raised our voices together, received the Word together, and took communion together. We wept.

What happens together on Sunday mornings cannot happen in our living rooms, alone, with a good internet connection. Brothers and Sisters, the Lord is teaching us something very precious about his church during this time.

We were created to worship Jesus, together.

In his book, Habits of Grace, David Mathis rightly identifies that our great destiny is corporate worship (p.155). In the new heavens and the new earth we will join angels and other believers from every tribe, tongue, and nation to worship the Lamb (Rev. 7:9-10). Today, as we eagerly await that day, we do just that when we come together Sunday mornings with our local church.

When joined together, we fulfill our purpose to live for the praise of God’s glory (Eph. 1:12) as we lift our voices in unison to praise Christ. Together, we leave ourselves for a while and set our voices and hearts on the one who alone is worthy of our praise. We need to hear each other’s voices in this battle of faith because our own heart or the heart of our brother sitting next to us has become weak and oh, so weary.

When joined together, we receive the preaching of the word as the body of Christ. He is equipping us, one body but many members, to do his work (1 Cor 12:12). We need to be one in order to be many. Amputated body parts need to be reconnected to the body not only for survival, but also to perform their intended function. A properly working body must be together.

When joined together, we receive communion and remember the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. We proclaim together that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We humble ourselves, as sinners, in need of a savior. When we do this together, our idol making hearts experience a much needed reminder of the gospel.

Burden -bearing, rejoicing, encouraging, maturing, equipping, serving, teaching, evangelizing, admonishing, praising, remembering. God designed us to do these things together. Solitary fellowship is an oxymoron. Church is a wonderful means of God’s grace and this grace is poured out in a unique way when we gather together. This is why we wept.

Let’s thank God for the technology he provided to live-stream “church”, but let’s also remember the scare quotes and, as we are able, let us join together again.

What if I’m Hopeless?

What if I’m Hopeless?

Word in Season

What if I’m hopeless? What if you’re hopeless? What if a dear friend, or your child is hopeless? Recently, for many days in a row,I woke up without hope and went to bed without hope. One of those nights I lay in bed half talking to myself and half talking to the Lord and trying to put my finger on this desperation. Hope- I am without hope. What does the Bible say about hope, what does the Bible say about hope, what does the Bible say about hope? Hope. Hope. Hope. You were once without hope. You were once without hope. You were once without hope.

There it was; the living and active Word was starting to come alive- if I could just concentrate enough on this thought to see where the Lord was taking me. Ephesians 2, that was it! Paul is reminding the gentile believers in Ephesus of a time past, a time when they were without God and thus without hope. Separated from the holy and living God without a way to get to him. The Bible’s definition of true hopelessness (Ephesians 2:11-13). 

Past tense. The Ephesians were once without hope because they were once without God. So what is present tense? Verse 13 makes it clear. “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” From hopeless to hope- filled. From far off to brought near. 

We who have our faith in Christ and the work of his sacrifice are also in this same state. Once hopeless, now hope filled. Once far off, now brought near. Now what? What if I’m still hopeless? The scriptures have fallen flat. This verse isn’t quite living and active. Keep going. This is a battle that is not easily won. If you are doing battle, you are on the right path. 

How about starting with the obvious, but some of the hardest, words for our prideful hearts to mutter. “Jesus help me. Help me believe this. Forgive me for not believing this. Help me to see this, breath this, live this. Jesus, will you help me?” 

Now we push deeper. What does it mean at this moment in my life that I have been brought near to God? If this is the foundation for my hope, I need to lean into this. God has brought me near to him. Who is this God to whom I’ve been brought near and why is that hopeful? 

This is the God that brings things to life by his words. He is powerful and I need someone powerful when I feel so powerless.

This is the God whose ear is mine. He is present and I need to not feel so alone. 

This is the God who is patiently waiting for me to speak to Him about my fears, sorrows, and hopelessness. He is compassionate and I need His mercy.

This is the God who gives me His Spirit. His power in me is greater than my weak flesh.

This is the God who has brought me into his honorable household. He has made me his and I belong to him. 

This is the God who knows what I suffer in this fallen world. He is sympathetic and can relate to my struggles. 

It starts to matter a bit more that we have been brought near to God when we add this depth. I’m starting to feel the hope building; how about you? 

Now what? We pray these things, we speak to this near God, and rehearse them over and over again. We thank Him for Christ. We call a trusted friend and share how hopeless we’ve been feeling and tell them about the scripture we are trying to cling to. We ask that trusted friend to pray and walk with us. Maybe we take another path and dive deeper into what it means that God has given us His Spirit and brought us into his household. And we keep doing these things over and over again. 

There’s no formula. There’s no quick fix. But there is hope to be found in Him. I’m sure of it.

We Are Needy

We Are Needy

Word in Season

I woke up needy today. Desperately needy. I imagine most of you did too. In a world that shouts “You are Enough” the recent pandemic squashes that mantra before our feet touch the floor in the morning. Being needy is seen as a weakness in our culture today. When you are weak you are not enough, you are desperate, dependent, and unable. Who wants to update their Facebook status with those words? We should be able to do this, whatever “this” is right now in your particular situation. We must look within ourselves, find more strength, pull it together. I’m exhausted, aren’t you?

I have some good news for you. God is Lord over all. It’s his perspective that matters and his word turns everything upside down on this particular topic. 

Look at Proverbs 30:1, “The man declares, I am weary, O God, I am weary, O God, and worn out.” Sound familiar? Where does this weary man find his strength? Himself? No, in the refuge that the Holy One provides (Proverbs 30: 2-5). 

David exalts God and publicly praises him because God stands at the right hand of the needy one (Psalm 109:31). God is at the ready and supports those who are desperately needy for Him. Not the one who has it all together. 

The Prophet Isaiah proclaims the type of person who God will favor and it is the one who is humble with a spirit of neediness before Him (Isaiah 66:2). 

Jesus says the supremely happy and honored person is the man who knows his great need for Him (Matthew 5:3). 

The circumstances may not always be ideal, but it is a blessed thing to be so acutely aware of our great need for Christ. Great glory for the name of Christ comes shining through needy people. 

  • God weakened Paul so that Christ’s perfect power could shine for all to see (2 Corinthians 12:19). 
  • The LORD brought the Israelites into the wilderness to help them see and repent of idols in their hearts so they would turn and worship the one true God (Deuteronomy 8:2-3). 
  • God took Christ to his weakest point on the cross, humble, shamed, mocked and through this neediness, all who believe in the name of Jesus can be saved. God works in mighty ways during times of great neediness. 

Playing off of Pastor Mike’s recent article, don’t waste this neediness. Instead of trying to look to yourself, humbly come to Christ and admit your great need for him. Rejoice in this desperation because it draws you closer to Christ. Be open to seeing where God is revealing idols in your heart during this time. The Lord is working to conform you to the image of His son through your neediness (2 Corinthians 3:18), what a gift! Come and find rest at the feet of the one who says His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9), whose mercies never end (Lamentations 3:22), and who sent his son to die in your place so you could draw near to him. 

Join me and let’s be desperate for Christ together.

The Church Needs the Church

The Church Needs the Church

Announcements Word in Season

The church needs the church. Not just on Sunday to help with Sunday school, potluck, greeting newcomers, nursery care, or worship. The church needs the church for everyday life. And if you haven’t noticed, life can be hard in our fallen world. We groan with all creation at the fallen-ness of this world and the effects it has on our lives (Romans 8:23). 

Conflict in relationships, health struggles, financial unknowns, child rearing, disabilities, marriage challenges, injustices at our workplace, death, addiction, and the list goes on. Christians and non-Christians alike are needy people. The difference is where we go to address those needs. As Christians we turn to God, our loving Father, and cry out to him with our needs. And then we turn to the body of Christ, in our local church, or at least we should. God is gracious to provide the body, our family of brothers and sisters, to help each other as we walk through life. 

Ed Welch explains this well (Side by Side, p.11):

We were meant to walk side by side, an interdependent body of weak people. God is pleased to grow and change us through the help of people who have been re-created in Christ and empowered by the Spirit. That is how life in the church works.

Christ has commanded us to love one another (John 13:34). He is speaking about the family of Christ loving each other. This love must be visible to the world as our love and care for each other in the body becomes a witness to others of our love for Christ (John 13:35). We all have a responsibility within the body to do this. This is what it means to be a disciple and to disciple others. 

It is critically important that we do this well for one another not only because Christ commanded it, but also because the world cannot offer the help the body can offer to each other. Our hearts and minds have been transformed by the gospel. The gospel and God’s Word radically shapes how we think, feel, and deal with all of those hardships listed above. 

But how? We need wisdom on how to love each other well. I highly encourage you to join the 13-week class on Discipleship/Counseling, on Sunday Mornings, 9-10 a.m. (during Sunday School hour) beginning January 12, 2020. You can sign up here

I need you and you need me. The church needs the church.