My heart for this blog post is to remind friends and family of Heritage Baptist Church that we can have "church" just as easily at times sitting in our homes with our family or friends. With that being said, here is our first "Snow Day Devotional."
As I watch the news it seems like many things are continually growing worse in our world. It would appear that our sinfulness is causing us to be in a continual downward spiral that will ultimately lead us into places of pain and hurt that we have never experienced before. That is why when Pastor Luke sent me a text telling me to read Psalm 16 I thought it would be a great discussion for our families.
After talking to many teenagers it is clear that whether you realize it or not, your kids are at least to some extent worried about what is happening in the world around them. In Psalm 16:1 David writes "Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge." What a powerful statement coming from David! While he could have placed his trust in himself, his armies, his family, or any other worldly thing, he places his trust in God! David continues on in the rest of the chapter by saying things like "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing" and "you alone are my portion and cup." David shows us a picture of what true dependence on God looks like. Pastor Luke said a few weeks ago in his sermon "If you still have a life line, you have not met the real Jesus." For the Christian security, rest, hope for the future, and fulfillment is found in our God alone!
Read the rest of Psalm 16 out loud and then answer the following questions by yourself or with your family.
1. Why does David say "apart from you there is no good thing?"
2. David claims that those who run after other gods suffer more and more. What are some gods that our modern culture runs to? (Money, pride, popularity, etc...)
3. In verse 8 David says "I will not be shaken." What allows him to say that?
4. What does it mean when David states "you make known to me the path of life?"
5. How are we filled with God's joy?
6. How can we cultivate His presence in our lives daily?
It's been awhile since I've written a blog. As I've been getting back into a habit of studying (outside of school work) I have been focusing a great deal on what the church is supposed to look like. I believe that when we look at the Church in its earliest years, the New Testament Church, we can determine that there are some things that they did much better than we do now.
One of the things I see time and time again in the New Testament is the idea of a community who was completely bent on following Jesus at all times. Sticking with the common consensus I will agree that we (as a culture) are failing at community. Our world as a whole has started to fall into disillusion because we believe that the skin deep relationships formed on social media are in some way worthy of being called friendships. Why do I say this? Because a friendship (for the Christian) is meant to lead both parties closer to Jesus.
Paul Tripp wrote "True friendship calls you out of the darkness of personal privacy into the loving candor of mutual concern. It moves you from being a sealed envelope to being an open letter." Wow. What an idea... A friendship that is focused on moving each other closer to Jesus? Moving each other closer to the way life was intended to be? This idea seems provocative because we live in a culture where shallow relationships are okay and admitting our failure is seen as being weak. Or even worse, admitting failure in the Christian community could lead to judgement or even loss of friends.
I think we are missing the mark. In regards to the early church Matt Chandler wrote “With their individual gifts, resources, and levels of faith, these early believers built one another up into maturity. They encouraged one another, blessed one another, rebuked one another, disciplined one another, outdid one another in showing honor, taught one another, and trained one another in the gospel.” There was a lot more to the early Church than potluck dinners, volleyball games, and Sunday morning worship service. The early Christians were okay with saying what needed to be said. They were okay with tough and awkward conversations. They were okay with admitting their sin so that others could help them through it! Ultimately the early Church community was intensely more focused on following Jesus than they were about following people on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!
Why is this type of community important? Why do we need to have these deep relationships with the people in our church? Because when we are complacent in battling sin alone, we will fail. God has established the Church as a community of people that we can rely on to help us through the toughest times in life. In relationships where transparency and accountability are used to grow closer to the Lord, we will find an overwhelming sense of peace. This accountability will bring us closer to Jesus and closer to the “life to the full” that He offers in John 10:10. A joyful life.
May our church be a place of safety, a place of forgiveness, a place of honesty, and a place of pursuing the Lord in a new way.
Questions to Consider
Hi there friends! What an exciting time it is for our small church in Pinch, WV. God has been doing some amazing things that are changing how we view the operation of the "church." Over the past few months Pastor Luke and I have been brainstorming some ways that we may be able to help our church on Sunday mornings, but also on the days that we do not meet at the church. We have come up with a solution that we think will be a catalyst to personal spiritual growth in the lives of our congregation members, and anyone who visits our website.
So, this is what we are doing. Pastor Luke and I will be writing blogs atleast weekly to reflect on the past Sunday's sermon, address trends we see in the church, and provide a more clear starting place for how to develop a personal walk with Christ. While our congregational services are great we believe that there needs to be a deeper level of prayer and Bible study on the personal level. We hope that these blogs will help you grow and will be refreshing as walk with the Lord.