Friday, December 30, 2016

The Purpose Of January At Calvary

"Some years ago I attended public worship in a certain church. The pastor was absent on holiday, and a lay elder led the pastoral prayer. He prayed that the pastor might enjoy a good vacation (which was fine), and that two lady members of the congregation might be healed (which was also fine; we should pray for the sick). But that was all. The intercession can hardly have lasted thirty seconds. I came away saddened, sensing that this church worshiped a little village god of their own devising. There was no recognition of the needs of the world, and no attempt to embrace the world in prayer." (John Stott, Guard The Truth)

There are good habits and bad, but even good habits can become less than the best habits. A rut is a rut is a rut. Even a good rut is still a rut. It's easy for us to get into ruts. Even churches get into ruts. Every now and then we need to take time out to examine ourselves, as Paul wrote, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" (2 Cor. 13:5)

For months I've felt that we, Calvary, needed to take time to examine ourselves. I always like to hit the ground running the first of January, but that almost never works. People are just too busy from Thanksgiving through Christmas to prepare for a new year. So, we're not going to hit the ground running. We're going to hit the ground and stop.  There are five Sundays in January, and we're going to use them to seek the Lord. He has people for us to embrace and Paul made it clear that that group of people is a lot larger than just our own church.

A church glorifies God when its members function together as God designed. So, we're going to spend time together. Rather than meeting in home groups, we'll spend the last four Sunday nights in worship together. Each Sunday night will be different, but focused on seeking God together.

A church glorifies God when it listens to God. So, we're going to spend time listening in prayer and worship.  While I'll do the majority of the preaching, we'll hear from four different preachers this January, and we'll even spend one night hearing the testimonies of dozens of persecuted believers. There will also be two special gatherings before worship to hear from one another.

A church glorifies God when it embraces His vision. Since no individual or church has arrived, we know we always have to be willing to embrace change if we're going to carry out His vision in this world. There's no joy apart from the vision of God. There's just a rut. So, prepare yourself. It may be that God is preparing to set us on a new path.

See you Sunday.