No Insignificant People

One issue that Christians deal with, often in the context of the local church, is a feeling of insignificance. It manifests itself when you say or think: No one knows me. I’m not missed when I’m not there. I’m not important. I don’t do anything that’s vital in the church. I’m insignificant.

This is one reason that people leave their church. They’re looking for significance. They don’t feel like they’re being used or accomplishing anything important. They don’t feel appreciated – which, in their minds means, other people don’t think I’m necessary.

Let me put the lie to rest. There are NO insignificant people in the Family of God (read my local church). To believe that you or anyone else is insignificant in the church is to listen to the lie of the evil one. He’s the only one who has a vested interest in you believing such a thing.

The Bible is clear. Writing to the believers in Corinth the Apostle Paul said those members of the body which seem to be weaker (insignificant) are necessary (1 Corinthians 12:22). What he’s saying is that those people that we (not God) think are less important are in fact necessary, they are essential, they are required.

In his previous discussion he made it clear that God has put each of us in the Body of Christ in the place where He wants us (1 Corinthians 12:7, 18). Whatever you do in your local church is a divine appointment!

Not only has God put you where He wants you to be, but without you the body is incomplete. We NEED you in order to be a healthy, functioning body. WE need you.

More importantly, GOD needs you in the body – that’s why He put you there. And that’s where He wants you to live out your faith in the context of your local church. God does not deal in the insignificant. You are not insignificant to Him!

Your place in the body (represented by your local church) may not be flashy; it might not be up front (that’s much overrated – take it from someone who is upfront every week); it might not be as noticeable as someone else’s place. But never for one minute think that you are unnecessary or what you do for God, the Body, His Church is insignificant.

There are no insignificant people in God’s kingdom.

That means that you need to be there – every Sunday! Be there, if not for yourself, be there for the rest of the body. It means that you need to throw yourself wholeheartedly into whatever God has given you to do. It means that you need to stop looking at people (including yourself) and start looking at God (Hebrews 12:2) because ultimately only His opinion of you counts.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

Advertisements

What’s Good About Prayer?

Besides writing a weekly blog (you’re reading it!), I also do a weekly vlog called Thursday Live! which I post to our church website. You can go to www.svbc.com to watch it or you can watch it here.

Last Thursday it was about prayer – I called it Prayer is a Waste of Time! I used that title because that’s what a lot of people think about prayer. It’s just a complete waste of time.

They think that because they’ve prayed, sometimes for years, but haven’t seen God DO anything it’s a waste of time. Or because their theology teaches that God is sovereign, they don’t see how their prayers can change anything, so it’s a waste of time. I answered those objections in my vlog.

I’d like to come back to the subject of prayer, especially in the context of God’s sovereignty because there is so much more here than you might think. And I’d like to pursue the question:  If God has ordained the results then why pray?

Good question!

It seems to us, in our limited understanding of the plan of God, that if God has ordained the events of the universe, and therefore the events of our lives, then why should we spend our time praying? Can we change the plan of God?

The results are already in. There is nothing we can do to change what God has determined.

The Apostle Paul clearly stated that God works all things according to the council of His will (Ephesians 1:11). That doesn’t seem to leave any room for our prayers.

But there’s more to consider than this.

One thing that we often fail to take into account is that God has not only ordained the results (of His plan) but that He has ordained the means to reach the results. And part of the means is prayer.

For some inexplicable reason, God has given us a part in His plan. Our part is not to determine the plan or to change the plan, or perhaps even to execute the plan. Our part may simply be to pray for the plan. And in that act, we enter into, we become part of what God is doing. We get to join with God; become partners with God in His actions in this world.

That’s awesome!

We don’t fully understand it, but God has made it so that prayer is part of His plan and when we fail to pray we fail to be part of what God is doing.

There’s another passage about the sovereignty of God that is illustrative. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter, speaking of the death of Jesus said that Jesus was delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23). That was the sovereign act of God. No one could change it.

But he continues by saying, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified and put to death.  Later in that passage he again says this Jesus whom you crucified (verse 36). That’s a human element in His plan.

Here we have both the sovereign plan of God and the actions of men. Both were part of the plan of God. A mystery to be sure.

And that’s how prayer is. Yes, God has a sovereign plan. Yes, we can pray. And Yes, by praying we get to become part of His plan.

What’s Good About Prayer?

In praying we have the great opportunity of partnering with God to accomplish His will.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

God in the Mundane

I suspect that there is one thing that is true of most Christians today – when we look for God, we look for Him in the exciting, the extraordinary, the uncommon things of life. That’s why so many Christians today, given the choice, gravitate to larger churches – something is happening there. It’s exciting. We feel good there.

Don’t misread me, I’m not against big churches. Some of my best friends are pastors of large churches. Some of my family members attend big churches. Mega churches have a bigger influence and create a larger ripple effect than small churches and I’m thankful.

My point is that God isn’t always where we think He is. In fact, I think that we often miss God because of our preoccupation with the exciting.

That’s because many times God is in the mundane. The ordinary. The unexciting. The commonplace. And we miss Him because we’re looking in the wrong places.

You can call this the Elijah syndrome. From 1 Kings 17 where we first meet the prophet, through chapter 18 Elijah’s life was one exciting event after another. He stood toe to toe with the King as only a prophet could; he ate food miraculously provided for him by God; he performed miracles; he raised the dead; he challenged the King and his false prophets to a contest of fire; he defeated the forces of evil; and he saw miraculous answers to prayer. Elijah was living in the realm of the exciting!

Then he fled from an angry woman, running as fast as his legs could take him all the way back to Mount Horeb (Sinai) where Moses had met God generations before.

It was there on a desolate, barren mountain that God appeared to Elijah. Not in the hurricane force winds that ripped the mountain. Not in the earthquake that rocked the earth. Not in the fire that raged across the landscape.

God appeared to Elijah in the mundane. He came to the prophet in a quiet, whispering voice.

Nothing special about that voice. Nothing exciting or extraordinary or uncommon. Just a quiet whisper of a voice. God was in the mundane. He was in the ordinary.

I believe that is where we will most often find God in our lives. We will find Him in the quiet of our Bible reading. Or in the solitude of our prayers. Or in a private God conversation with a friend as they encourage us. Or in the everyday events of life as we faithfully live for Him.

Sure, the exciting is fun – and sometimes it’s invigorating. But you can’t live all of your spiritual life on the exciting and the extraordinary. God doesn’t expect us too.

Most of our spiritual lives involve the ordinary and that’s OK, because God is there.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

Is God Hiding?

I’m intrigued by the hiddenness of God. The Bible presents God as both beyond us, hidden from our eyes (Job 11:6-7, Isaiah 55:8-9, Romans 11:33-36) and at the same time there for us (Jeremiah 9:23-24, Matthew 11:28). He is both incomprehensible and knowable.

The idea of the hiddenness of God has caused some people to reject Christianity and to even take the position that there is no God. Their reasoning can take several different directions but ultimately it comes down to this: if God does exist then He should reveal Himself in a way that removes all doubt.

Even as Christians we struggle with the hiddenness of God. When we face the acute pressures of life we want God to make Himself known to us in unmistakable and obvious ways. And we want to decide what form that takes.

The reality is that God has revealed Himself. He’s revealed Himself in creation (Romans 1:20), in the Bible (pick a page!), in history (this was one of the arguments used in early church history – see Acts 7:2-54), and most of all in Jesus (John 14:9, Philippians 2:6, Colossians 1:15).

That brings questions to mind, such as What more does God have to do? How many more times does God have to show Himself before we’re satisfied?

Our desire for God to be obvious is not unlike the wife who continually asks her husband if he loves her. At first he tells her. Then he tries to show her. But no matter what he says or does, she continues to doubt – and ask. That’s going to get old after awhile.

I wonder if it gets old for God when we continue to expect Him to reveal Himself when He’s already given us all of the evidence that we need.

The problem is not the lack of evidence. The problem is our lack of trust in God – we don’t think that He’s done enough, or a lack of satisfaction with the way He’s chosen to reveal Himself.

But if we believe that God is who He says He is – an omnipotent, all-wise God of love, then He has revealed Himself in exactly the right way and enough for anyone to believe and be satisfied.

As finite beings, we should not expect to know the Infinite One in great detail, nor should we expect (demand?) that He act in ways that meet our requirements. As Paul reminds us, He’s the potter and we’re the clay (Romans 9:21) and we have no right to question what God does or how He does it.

There is no unrighteousness with God (Romans 9:14). To state it another way, all that God does is right and righteous. Even when we wish He would do more.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

Never Be Satisfied – Yet

Being satisfied is a dangerous thing. So is being dissatisfied. Satisfaction can lead to complacency; dissatisfaction can lead to frustration. But satisfaction can also lead to a sense of peace and dissatisfaction can push us to attempt greater things.

So how do you know when to be satisfied and when to be dissatisfied?

That’s a personal call that will differ by individual and circumstances.

As far as the Christian life goes there is a danger in ever being satisfied. As long as we are on this earth there will always be room for improvement. When we stop growing spiritually we become spiritually stagnate. There should always be a nagging sense of dissatisfaction somewhere deep within us.

If there isn’t, something is wrong.

The Apostle Paul expressed his dissatisfaction with this life and all that it had to offer and a longing for something better.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 12:24

We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:23

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Philippians 3:10-12

Christians should never be satisfied with lingering sin; never satisfied with our level of love for Christ, our spiritual growth, our commitment, or our service; never satisfied with this life or what the world has to offer us.

In fact there should be a high level of dissatisfaction. Don’t be satisfied to be who you are. Until we see Him we are incomplete, imperfect, unfinished as it were.

But there should also be a certain satisfaction that we have because of Jesus.

We should be satisfied in His love; we should be satisfied with who we are in Him; we should be satisfied with what He is doing in our lives; we should be satisfied in the prospects of eternity with Him.

In short, we should be satisfied in Jesus. Totally, completely.

On that day when we stand before Him we will be like Him (1 John 3:2), finally complete. Finally satisfied.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve