I came across this passage last week and I was reminded at how often we replace obedience with ritual!
1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
Early in my church planting years I worked into the fabric of our church the concept of a Theology of Discomfort. At the root of this concept is the notion that we all need a little discomfort in our lives to move forward in our sanctification. As you explore this rhythm of spiritual growth, you will notice that throughout the faith there are uncomfortable concepts like Christian community that brings a diverse people together for the purpose of proclaiming, celebrating and delighting in the presence of Christ.
Isaiah 26:3-4 - “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the
Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.”
As I came across this passage I couldn’t help but think about the churches we have studied in our Sunday series out the book of Revelation called The Seven Churches. The two churches in this series that did not receive condemnation from Jesus are Smyrna and Philadelphia. Five of the seven churches received harsh words of rebuke from Jesus. At some point in their history the church collective did not maintain a steadfast mind focused on God. The discipline of a steadfast mind brings strength to our faith.
Thomas Manton was a puritan of the 1600’s and 340 years later he is still known as a man of prayer and meditation. Concerning the issue of prayer Manton said, “Though there be not an express rule particularly set down how often we should be with God,” yet God's command and call to prayer “are very large.” He also pointed out that the Word commands us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and to be “praying always” (Eph. 6:18). This implies a continual habit of prayer. His words continue to challenge Christians that we should never be afraid to pray to God or hesitate to ask for His help. God does not have to be coaxed into taking an interest in our request. He is ready and willing to hear the prayers of His people. The Lord Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given to you” (Luke 11:9)
Psalm 95 provides a primer on how we worship. The verbs in this chapter set the stage for our great experience and expression of worship. The author begins with the word “come”. Worship is that place where the heart of God and the heart of His children meet. Oswald Chambers said, “Worship is giving God the best He has given you.”
As I have been preparing for the upcoming sermon series I have been reminded of the beauty and simplicity of the gospel. The promise we receive from the gospel—the good news of Jesus—is that when we encounter the love of God and bring it into the core of our hearts, it changes us. The power of the gospel begins to reshape our hearts and transforms us into the likeness of Christ.
Have you ever thought about the metaphors in the Bible used to describe Christians? Christians are identified as temples, living stones, priests, and first fruits, just to name a few. I think one of the most interesting in Scripture was written by the apostle Paul when he called believers “jars of clay.”
I love the Psalms of scripture. One reason is that they put words on our experiences, and teach us ways to cry out and trust the Lord. The Psalms contain the balance of being specific about struggles, but broad enough to stay away from specific details. Psalm 13 demonstrates that David is in anguish and it seems like the Lord is silent to his pleas.
Many organizations throughout history have made the mistake of drifting away from their initial course. Growth has the potential to shift our plan in directions that can be devastating. Admittedly, as the organization grows there are essential elements that must change. For example, in the life of a church, it is impossible to function with the congregation of 200 the same way you would operate with 50 people. Many of those changes deal with the day to day operation of the group.
"Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God." 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
Our Pastor writes most of the blog posts we publish, however, occasionally some of our other church leadership (some staff, some volunteer) who also contribute to the New Life blog.