Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Devotional 160310

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It took me a couple of days before I re-adapt to my pace at home. When I was on the road, I would be very focus on my task. But when I returned home, I either felt relaxed and sometime off focus in the midst of running for errands. Good habit and routine helps put life back to right track or in focus again. Writing devotional journal is definitely one of the helpful habits for me. The habit is not my God but way to help me draw close to God. We have nothing to boast but to thank God for His abiding presence that keeps us on track and steadfast in a rapid changing world.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at (1 Cor 4:7). Much anger towards the church and most disappointments in the church are because of failed expectations. We expect a disciplined army of committed men and women who courageously lay siege to the worldly powers; instead we find some people who are more concerned with getting rid of the crabgrass in their lawns. We expect community of saints who are mature in the virtues of love and mercy, and find ourselves working on a church supper where there is more gossip than there are casseroles. We expect to meet minds that are informed and shaped by the great truths and rhythms of scripture, and find persons whose intellectual energy is barely sufficient to get them from the comics to the sports page. At such times it is more important to examine and change our expectations than to change the church, for the church is not what we organize but what God gives, not the people we want to be with but the people gives us to be with – a community created by the descent of the Holy Spirit in which we submit ourselves to the Spirit’s affirmation, reformation, and motivation. There must be no idealization of the church.

Having been in pastoral ministry for 27 years, I totally agree with Eugene Peterson that it is more important to change our expectations toward the church than trying to change the church. It is out of God’s divine plan to put the church together as it is. We enter a church not out of coincidence. It is out of the providence of God. And it is not out of coincidence that we decided to become a member of a church. We may have observed and considered for a period of time before we make our final decision. We thought it was our decision in becoming part of a church. Only when we look back we realize it is out of His providence that we do so. If it is God’s plan for us to join a church, what does God intend for us to be and do? God must have a purpose in mind to place us in this church in our pilgrimage on earth. God’s purpose for each person’s life in church could be very different, but one thing is for sure. God wants to use us to be a blessing to the people in this church.

It was God who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). God bought you into a church and gave you gifts to edify the people in that church – it is totally out of the perfect will of God. Are you exercising your gifts to serve the members of the church, or still waiting to be served?

Love you according to His plan,

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