I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the Lord ? And who is a rock, except our God?— You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation— who delivered me from my enemies; yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence. For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing to your name. (Psalm 18:1-6, 16-19, 30, 31, 35, 46, 48, 49 ESV)
I come from a background where there were a lot of fast and upbeat tempos, so at the end of every service, or right when worship would begin, I would actually leave. I would take Communion and leave and told myself it was okay if I listened to my own worship music and praise music when I got home.
If I was going to be a part of the church, if I was going to come here and listen to the message and be a part of this body, I needed to be a part of this body and actually be in the service. Not just for when Matt preaches or whoever is preaching at that time, but be in a Home Group, participate in worship, and worship with the church. By the end of that transition, I felt myself falling in love with this new way of worship that I’d never even considered.
It’s not about you. It’s not about what you like or what you don’t like. It’s definitely something the Holy Spirit had to remind me of. It’s about God getting the glory, and it really doesn’t matter what avenue he chooses to do that in."
— Kim Smith on church preferences
— 1 Peter 1:13b (NIV)
"I Will Follow" by Vertical Church Band
— John Mark Comer
— Charles Spurgeon
THE OUTWARD, UPWARD LOOK
“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else” Isaiah 45:22
This is a promise of promises. It lies at the foundation of our spiritual life. Salvation comes through a look at Him who is “a just God and a Saviour.” How simple is the direction! “Look unto me. How reasonable is the requirement! Surely the creature should look to the Creator. We have looked elsewhere long enough, it is time that we look alone to Him who invites our expectation, and promises to give us His salvation.
Only a look! Will we not look at once? We are to bring nothing in ourselves, but to look outward and upward to our Lord on His throne, whither He has gone up from the cross. A look requires no preparation, no violent effort: it needs neither wit nor wisdom, wealth nor strength. All that we need is in the Lord our God, and if we look to Him for everything, that everything shall be ours, and we shall be saved.
Come, far-off ones, look hither! Ye ends of the earth, turn your eyes this way! As from the furthest regions men may see the sun and enjoy his light, so you who lie in death’s borders at the very gates of hell may by a look receive the light of God, the life of Heaven, the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God, and therefore able to save."
— Charles Spurgeon from Faith’s Checkbook
"Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:20-21
While I’m sitting in the beautiful St. Croix River Valley area east of the Twin Cities at a scenic Caribou Coffee, across from my stunning wife, with a refreshing sparkling tea, and my Bible open to 1 Peter 5, I am pleasantly reminded of our occupational role in the Kingdom.
I’ve seemed to always wrestle with the balance of resting in Jesus’ finished works and doing work for the Kingdom. Both seem important, but it can be hard to find a decent heart posture in regards to this balance. In reading through 1 Peter 5 today, I stumbled across a verse that, I think, provides a great mindset for believers to have whilst doing Kingdom work.
"Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers - not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve…" 1 Peter 5:2
'not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be…’
In this specific scriptural excerpt, the matter at hand is particularly shepherding or overseeing, but I think this same idea can be applied to many, if not all, works.
The difference lies in this: are we willing? Are we ‘eager to serve’ as the latter part of 1 Peter 5:2 states?
If you deal with feelings of obligation, burdened responsibility, or encumbering dutiful action, I encourage you to rest in the fact that Jesus paid it all and we can’t do anything to add to His sacrifice or to our own salvation. We are no longer under a law that demands our effort to be enough. We live under God’s grace and anything good, beautiful, or profitable that will shine through our good deeds is from the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.
But, there is work to be done ("In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father." Matthew 5:16), and as long as the Bride has an eager and willing heart to do good works, we will see fruit. After all, if this approach is taken, we will enjoy serving God and God’s desire for us to be willing and eager to serve will be fulfilled (‘as God wants you to be…’).
Grace & peace.