Jewish history as recorded in the Old testament is full of reports of hard times, disease, wars, famines, slavery. Weren’t these God’s chosen people? Wouldn’t that mean they’d be living on Easy Street?
As I read this morning, my mind kept going to my pastor’s Bible Study from last night’s prayer meeting. We’re going through the Psalms, and last night he spoke on 18:6-19, pointing out three things God delights in:
God delights in our prayers.
God delights in responding to our prayers, answering our prayers.
God delights in me. In you.
So as I read 2 Kings today, it occurred to me that God does NOT delight in punishing His people. Oh, discipline is part of His love for us. He will never turn a blind eye to sin. He rejects those who reject Him.
But He doesn’t like it.
He’d much rather enjoy a relationship with us, pure and holy, as we allow Him to clothe us with Jesus’ purity and holiness, through His blood. When I read the accounts of all the bad kings in Israel, and all the ways God disciplined Israel for disobedience, I find myself feeling bad, not for them, but for God. I’m sorry He had to distance Himself from his disobedient people when He so longed to wrap His arms around them and protect them.
And I am sorry for the times He has had to remove Himself from me because of my own disobedience, for the times I have robbed Him of fellowship with me because of my pride, or my neglect of Him, or some sin I haven’t confessed.
Nothing can separate me from His love. His love is a given. But my sin can separate me from a relationship with the One who loves me and gave Himself for me, from the One who delights in me.
As I thought about last night’s Bible lesson, I was reminded that this month is Pastor’s Appreciation Month, and I hope you make it a point to let your pastors know what it is you appreciate about their ministries. I’ve shared that I am blessed to be a part of two fellowships, one in Georgia, and another in Ohio. And I am blessed to call Pastor Whit and Pastor Bill my pastors.
Both men have blessed me, challenged me, and encouraged me to go deeper into God’s Word through their sermons. Both men have demonstrated examples what it means to be ready and eager to share Jesus with people in our communities.
So, Pastor Bill. I appreciate you. I appreciate your heart for the people of Bellville. I appreciate how much you do for our little fellowship, how available you are, and how true to God’s Word you are. Your time in God’s Word speaks to my heart every time I am privileged to hear you share what God lays on your heart. I pray for you and Kris, and for your ministry. May you see the fruit of your efforts in a mighty way, and may God be glorified. I know that is the prayer of your heart.
Pastor Whit, I appreciate you. You inspire me to find ways to share Jesus. I appreciate how you take us verse by verse through the Bible, even those hard passages. I appreciate how God’s Word excites you. Your enthusiasm is contagious. I pray for you and Wendy and the kids, as you serve our Lord on this island. (I love how you love our island!) And I pray that God will continue to guide you as you lead our fellowship into this building project. May we not just grow a building, but enlarge the church for Jesus sake. I know that is your prayer, too.
Pray for your pastors, and not just because it’s Pastors Appreciate Month. When I read God’s Word I am reminded how important leadership is, not just in nations, but in our fellowships as well. God blesses obedience. Pray that your pastor will be obedient. God blesses true worship. Pray that your pastor will lead you to worship God in Spirit and Truth. God blesses the humble. Pray that your pastor will continue to humble himself before the Lord. Pray for your pastor’s relationship with God.
Pray that God will use your pastor to speak to your own heart, to encourage your own obedience, to prompt you to share the good news of Jesus Christ with lost souls.
And may our fellowships be those which God can delight in as we pray, as we recognize answers to our prayers and give Him the glory, and as we serve Him out of grateful hearts. Remember God delights in YOU. God wants to bless YOU, God wants to fellowship with YOU. He would rather not have to discipline you.
May we delight in the One who delights in us. He certainly deserves it.