This last Sunday was the first time we had actually been able to be in the church service for worship and the preaching of the Word since mid-May due to being out of town, sick kids and serving in Children's church (it is for 3 and 4 year olds only). Needless to say, I was ready to be fed and excited to be with my brothers and sisters in Christ for worship.
Pastor Dan is currently preaching through the book of 1 Corinthians. And though we had been out for a while, I knew we wouldn't be that far into it the book. I was right as he was preaching from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or
of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know
nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in
weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Can you say, "praise the Lord!" for that bit of truth?! I know I did on Sunday. God was so good to use His word to both convict and encourage me (as usual).
I was convicted because for some reason I have always felt like I was not eloquent enough or had the right words to convey the truth of God's word, and to share about the salvation that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. I'll be honest and say that I have let my fear of not saying the right thing get in the way of sharing this truth. And I believe that fear is a result of me not having too high a view of man, and too low a view of God. I know without a doubt that I have been wrong and in sin, and praise God that He is a forgiving and loving God.
Now for the encouragement. As Dan says, we are just the messenger. This isn't our message. We don't need to write it (or rewrite it as some try). We just deliver it. God does the work. We are to just be faithful and deliver. And who wouldn't be encouraged to know that the Apostle Paul himself had the same fears we all face. He didn't use persuasive words or eloquent speech. He was faithful to deliver the message of God's word, and that is what God wants.
Also on Sunday, we received the amazing news about how God provided for the up-coming mission trip to Uganda. I think everyone was shocked by how all the details came together, and how much was actually offered by the congregation. Truly, God showed us how He is the provider of all things, and I know that most of us are still rejoicing in knowing that only He could have brought things about in the way He did. Thank you, Jesus!
Last night was the first of seven discipleship training sessions. As soon as we received the email about this I knew without a doubt that we'd want to participate. There have been many times that I've been talking with someone and would have a vague idea of what God's word said, but I didn't know where to begin with sending them to scripture for answers and counsel. And I do truly believe that God's word does have all the answers for anything we face (see 2 Timothy 3: 16, 17).
As we were reading through Acts 20 I was again convicted. Throughout this whole chapter we see how important biblical truth is. Over and over we see the emphasis Paul put on God's word and sharing that with those around him. As we were reading through this the question was asked if we had the same passion for God's word as Paul? I hated to even answer that in my head. The truth is that I show more passion for temporal things of this earth (breastfeeding, childbirth, parenting, circumcision, birth control, etc) than I do for God's word. It even seems silly now that I type it out, but pondering that has been very sobering for me.
I don't believe that it is necessarily bad to have these convictions, but they aren't the most important things, and certainly shouldn't hold a spot above God's word. Too many times I have let my personal convictions interfere with the bond in Christ that I have with fellow believers. That should never be the case. My relationship with Jesus Christ and the unity of His church is more important than anything of this world. I know this. And I have confessed this before, but I don't know that God had ever showed it to me in the way He did last night.
I am grateful that the Lord is working in my heart, and teaching me His truth. I am grateful to be at a church that teaches God's word without apology and with passion. I am grateful that the elders, deacons and church family as a whole love God and His word, and desire that everything we do is grounded in Truth. But more than anything, I am grateful that I belong to Christ and am no longer bound by sin. Though I do still battle sin (which is obvious if you just read this post), I am not enslaved to it. I have been set free by the blood of Christ. Praise the Lord!
I'll end with one of my favorite worship songs that is rich in truth from God's word.
In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.