For Lord’s Day, February 7, 2016
Last week in the morning service, Leviticus 19:30 had us revisit the fundamental expression of being God’s people—sanctified Sabbath worship around Him in His sanctuary. This is, after all, a foretaste of heaven (as depicted in The Revelation).
Since then, I’ve been thinking about a beautiful image in Psalm 92, which the Bible entitles “A Psalm for the Sabbath Day”. Among other depictions of what is experienced within and expressed without by those who embrace Sabbath worship with reverence and godly fear, verse twelve gives us this simile to study: The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree ...
We have a lot of palm trees in San Diego. What do you notice about them? They are able to survive and thrive in an area that does not get a lot of water but does get a lot of sun. So spending time in the presence of the Son each week helps us flourish throughout our weekly desert pilgrimage.
Another thing comes to mind due to the recent stormy weather we experienced just last week. The high winds nocked down several trees. But notice, as far as I could determine, they were not palm trees. Palm trees are rarely blown over by strong winds. So the Holy Spirit fills us each Lords’ Day with rivers of the water of life so that we have the “bend but not break” stamina to not be bowled over by the powerfully changing winds of the world each week.
What a witness we can give to the Lord of the Sabbath before the rest of the trees out there struggling to stay green and upright. One other thing about palm trees: they are outside giving a witness to the world around them.
Last week, we considered what Martyn Lloyd-Jones had to say about living out the Sermon on the Mount in our lives as the main way of real evangelism (relational). Sabbath-filled, sanctified palm trees give us a good illustration of this truth. But if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphors, may we also be motivated by an article in the November/December 2015 edition of Preaching magazine, entitled, “Run the Play! Why Preaching is Only the Beginning”. In it, Pastor J.D. Greear first writes:
If we really want to see the power of God, it’s not going to be found primarily in the pulpit. I’m all for the pulpit, but the real power will be released as ordinary, Spirit-filled people take the gospel wherever they go, into every part of our communities … I simply can’t reach everyone where they are, and you can’t either; however, the people in our congregations can.
Thinking of how we have recently learned in our evening sermons through Matthew that Jesus is looking to make fishers of men to catch men for the Kingdom of Heaven, Pastor Greear’s “mission statement” for his church is impressive: “sending capacity, not seating capacity, is the best measure of a church’s success.”
Let us share the same goal of him and his church, not to pad our pews but to plant churches. And let us remember that God reaps His sown Seed by sending laborers out to harvest. Here is the other metaphor to meditate on by Pastor Greear:
In many ways, a church service functions similarly to a football huddle. Imagine watching a football game in which the quarterback calls a play in the huddle, the team applauds him, pats him on the back and then runs back to the bench to have Gatorade and snacks. The quarterback would be right to feel frustrated: “Fellas! The point isn’t listening to me call the play. The point is to run the play.” … No matter how good pastors get at calling the plays, if we don’t get people to start running the plays, we’re going to forfeit the game … We won’t be content to have our preaching reflect the theology of the apostle Paul. We’ll want to match the evangelistic zeal of the apostle Paul, too … Faithful churches seek to reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, because that’s what good fishermen and compassionate shepherds care about. If we are not concerned about this, can we really call ourselves disciples of the One who said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men?” The bottom line? Faithful churches pursue width and depth, because one is not possible without the other. Depth in the gospel leads to width in the mission.
With these illustrations, let us hear and live anew Christ’s Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20: … All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations … Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
(Second image source: http://www.facingthegiants.com)