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Written by Ted Pate, Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church Winslow:
Self-sufficiency is one area of my life that I must work hard to control. I have always had a job, been able to fix almost anything and my health has been good. I can understand how Jesus would need to warn people to turn to God and not depend upon themselves. Too often the rich, or capable, wrongly believe they don’t need God. They think they can control their own lives.
However, over the past eight weeks an old knee injury from a motorcycle accident is reminding me of my need to rely on God. Problems with my knee have happened a couple of times in the past 10 years. Previously I would call my doctor after about four weeks of pain; he would examine me and refer me to a specialist. I would then call for an appointment, which would be scheduled about 5-8 weeks away. By the time of the appointment, I would be back to normal. Still, they would do an x-ray or a MRI and then send me home.
This time though, I figured I would skip the doctor visits, the exams and the cost. It’s been seven weeks since my knee started acting up and it’s still a little painful. As a result, I am slower and not able to do all my normal activities.
While I wait for my problem to clear up, or my leg to fall off, the effects of this injury are a constant reminder of how much I really need to depend on God. It is as though my knee is telling me, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own skills (Prov. 3:5 - Ted’s paraphrase). God bless you as you trust in God.
As I sit down to write this post, the calendar tells me it’s six days before Christmas. My mind is filling with thoughts about all that I need to accomplish before the big day arrives. In the stress, this verse came to mind: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)Funny how God’s Spirit can even touch a pastor’s mind and heart when I most need it. In a world – even a church culture – that rewards busyness, being still is often a tremendous challenge. Whether true or not, it has been attributed to Martin Luther that he once remarked, “I’ve got so much to do today, that I must spend the first three hours in prayer.” Seems counter-intuitive, even to those of us who are called to be the spiritual leaders in local church ministry.
So, when you finally find some stillness this week – perhaps after your church’s pageant is behind you, or when the children’s Christmas program has concluded, or when you finally begin to decompress after the Christmas Eve candlelight service is over – don’t just be still, but invite this knowledge into your heart.
Know that God is in control. It’s easy to despair and lament about how out of control crazy this world has become. Divisions about race and class, angst over America’s general election, wars and strife between nations around the world, and even conflict within the congregations we serve. These can certainly play with our emotions and drain our energies. Be still and know . . . God is still in control.
Know that God loves you. I don’t want to insult you . . . you know this, but do you really, know this? Remember that we serve a personal God who is genuinely interested in you. Yes, he is interested in your ministry, your family and your marriage, but more than anything, He is interested in you. He is concerned about your doubts, your frustrations, your goals, and what brings you joy and what satisfies your soul. God perpetually stands ready to minister to your needs. Be still and know . . . God loves you.
Know as well, that God sees and knows the work you do for the Gospel among His people. Your church members will not always know about the fervency of your prayers for them. They won’t always know about your words of encouragement to those who struggle in their walk with Christ. They may not hear of the late-night vigil you keep as you minister to a grieving family while they gather around the bedside of a dying loved one. Be still and know . . . that God knows.
I believe worship can be very private, up close and intimate, even during Cooperate Worship. Here are three things that I do as a pastor to insure I worship during services at our Church.1.) Pray: Each one who will be taking part in the services meets together before and we pray for God’s guidance in the service. This is a really blessing for me personally. Also, I pray just before I step into the pulpit and I learned this from Dr. Piper. This allows me to release myself into my Father’s hands to be used as He sees fits. This is my prayer, “Father, I have studied faithfully Your Word. I believe I have heard from You and that I have the very Message You want preached today to Your people. I am confident You are with me. Thank You!! Amen.”
2.) Participate: I endeavor to take part in every facet of our services. I greet each person that comes through the doors. I also join in with the singing and insist that we always uplift missions.
3.) Praise: We have a praise time during our services and I make sure to participate in this as well.
These simple things allow me to go into the pulpit as a fellow worshiper and it comes back to me in a very personal way.
At home I take time daily to feed my soul and worship privately. I have Pastor Byron Bantam to thank for helping me with this. Byron came to our Desert Pines Association some five years ago and gave us a 52 week plan on how to go through the whole Bible in one year. This January I will start my 6th year through. This has been a tremendous blessing to me as God has opened my eyes to see so many wonderful truths. Doing this private worship this way has caused great growth in my life and I have never had to wring my hands wondering what I was going to preach on next.
I have a special place I sit in my living room. I get up early to read the Word, mediate on the Word and take notes on what I have heard from God. I pray for our NAMB Church Planters and IMB Missionaries. I might sing a song or look at one from a Hymn Book. I also am reading through the Psalms and Proverbs besides my daily Bible reading. During the day I continue to reflect on what I have read. Sometimes I have a dry day but I do not allow this to discourage me. I keep going back to the Word for I know that I shall reap if I faint not.
I would love to hear how you privately Worship our one True God!!!
When I think of personal worship I’m reminded through Scripture that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17,“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20,“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
This reminds me that I am not my own, I don’t own myself, I belong to God! He owns me and I have been bought with a price. Jesus Christ bought me out of the market place of sin. He redeemed me! He paid a price with His blood that He shed for me. The most horrible death of torture that one can imagine, taking upon Himself the sins of the world. The sins of the past, present and future.
I cannot redeem myself, and we cannot redeem our brother. Only Jesus alone can redeem us and He did that. Psalm 49:7, “No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him.”
Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” John 14:6, “Jesus *said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”These words propel me to worship and adore Him?
When I think of personal worship, I am reminded through Scripture that my thoughts, my mind, my whole being must dwell on Him.
We are to dwell on these things.
He is the One who is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good report, excellent and worthy of praise.
I must tell Him!