Summary: To be wise in God’s eyes, let’s revere and draw near in the new year.
How to Be a Wise Guy
Rev. Brian Bill
January 5-6, 2019
The weekend between Christmas and the New Year is often difficult for churches to navigate.
One church I know cancels services the last weekend of the year and instead encourages its members to have “Church in My Jammies” while providing a 20-minute video complete with music and a message.
Our daughter Emily and son-in-law Matt just moved to Virginia and researched churches so they could find one to attend last weekend. Excited to find a church that lined up doctrinally, they woke up early and arrived to find only a handful of cars in the parking lot.
They discovered the church had cancelled services but had not posted anything on their website about it. One of the other confused guests in the parking lot went on the church’s Facebook page and found this: “ANNOUNCEMENT! We are observing a church-wide sabbath this Sunday, so there will be no services this week. We encourage you and your family to rest and recharge.” BTW, I thought one of the purposes of the Sabbath was for God’s people to worship together!
Another church pastored by a well-known and respected gospel-preaching pastor, cancelled services at all of their locations, encouraging its members to #worshipathome. The pastor explained they were cancelling services because of the intensity of their Christmas Eve outreach and they know it’s a “busy travel time.”
Are you kidding me? Churches in America are cancelling services because people are tired?
One writer pointed out the contrast between these churches and the attitude and actions of our persecuted brothers and sisters in China. In advance of the persecution one pastor saw coming, he prepared written documents so his church would know how to respond when he was in prison. Here’s what he called it: “14 Decisions: In the Face of Persecution, What Will I Do?”
Here’s the very first decision: DO NOT STOP GATHERING TOGETHER. “Under no circumstances will we stop or give up on gathering publicly, especially the corporate worship of believers on Sundays…the Bible’s teaching on not neglecting to gather together is higher than any secular law…I will not cooperate with the police banning, shutting down, dissolving, or sealing up the church and its gathering. I will not stop convening, hosting and participating in the church’s public worship, until the police seize my personal freedom...”
The writer concludes his post: “Our Chinese brothers refuse to give up under persecution what so many American Christians voluntarily neglect or dismiss under ease.”
Speaking of last weekend, Pastor Dan sure did a fantastic job walking through Psalm 46 where we were reminded that God is our refuge. Beth and I watched the sermon video on Sunday afternoon. I’m so glad we didn’t cancel! We would also not have had six baptisms, eight new member introductions and two baby dedications!
Let me be quick to say that I’m not judge and jury of what other churches choose to do but I do believe a case could be made the American church has lost its fear of the Lord. I recenty heard a pastor (not from this area) begin his prayer this way: “Yah, hey God…” Romans 3:18 immediately came to mind, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
God is looking for faithful followers who fear Him and tremble before Him. Philippians 2:12-13: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
And God is longing for churches to walk in the fear of the Lord. Acts 9:31 gives this report about the early church: “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”
I cringed several years ago when a well-known quarterback made this statement after winning the Super Bowl: “I’m going to kiss my wife and children. Drink a lot of beer…Then I’m going to say a little prayer and thank the man upstairs...”
Here’s a news flash. He’s not the big buy in the sky, or the man upstairs.
He’s the Lord of Hosts, the Most High God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the King of Kings, the Omnipotent Potentate who is Omniscient and Omnipresent, the Lord of Lords, the God of the Angel Armies who is holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed Trinity! Hebrews 12:28-29 gives us this challenge: “let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
We’re kicking off a new series this weekend from the Book of Proverbs called, “Wise Words to Live By.” Here’s a summary of where we’re headed: To be wise in God’s eyes, let’s revere and draw near in the new year.