Dear Cornerstone brothers and sisters,
I pray the Spirit is strengthening your spirits this week. A passage that has struck me of late – and one that is a constant encouragement to the church – is Psalm 121:
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
A few reminders:
Men, we will meet this Saturday at 8:30 at Matt Brueggeman’s home for breakfast, study, and fellowship. Matt’s address is 7402 Skylight Ln, Houston, 77095. This will be a great time of prayer and digging into God’s word.
Ladies, be on the lookout for your next fellowship gathering.
Also, the audio from our conference with Dr. Murray will soon be posted on the website. Let’s encourage all those we know to listen and to be challenged to grow in their devotional life with the Lord.
Finally, this week’s devotion is a meditation from 1 Thessalonians 2.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“The Heart of Paul”
1 Thessalonians 2:2, “But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God.”
The book of 1 Thessalonians is a neglected treasure in the New Testament. 1 Thessalonians is one of Paul’s earliest letters; and in it he writes encouraging the church to holiness (4:1-12) and instructing them as to Christ’s second coming (4:13-5:11). In the earlier chapters of the letter, however, Paul gives unique insight into his heart for ministry and for service. For example, in 2:1-12 Paul lays open his heart and his priorities as he seeks to take the gospel to the church and beyond. There are several lessons we can take from these verses.
First, Paul states that he had “boldness in [his] God” (2:2). Paul spoke with boldness. He did not shy away from “declaring the gospel of God.” Furthermore, the context of his boldness was one of conflict and suffering (vv. 1, 2b). In other words, the persecution Paul had endured and will endure for the sake of the gospel would not deter him from proclaiming that same gospel.
Second, Paul speaks “not to please man, but to please God” (v. 4). Paul is not a man-pleaser. His words and actions are not determined by the world’s standards. Rather, Paul lives before the face of God. His life is lived before an audience of one … the one who “tests our hearts” (v. 4b; cf. Gal 1:10; 1 Sam 16:7; Prov 15:3; Hebrews 4:13). Paul does not speak to flatter, or from greed, or seeking worldly approval. He seeks to please God.
Third, Paul describes the manner of his witness and life: “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her children” (v. 7). Paul did not exploit others. He did not demand his rights from others; but he was gentle, loving, and selfless to others, especially to those young in the faith (in this specific context). And this loving and selfless attitude showed itself in both word and deed. Paul states, “we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (v. 8). Biblical love and care shows itself in words and deeds (cf. Gal 5:6).
Fourth, Paul’s heart was characterized by a ‘holy determination.’ Paul labored and toiled night and day. And not only does he describe himself as a “mother taking care of her children,” but also as a “father with his children” (v. 11). Paul did not hold back the truth that the Thessalonians needed to hear. In other words, Paul spoke in love … but he spoke truth in love (Eph 4:15). Both the manner and the content of our speaking is to be governed by Scripture.
Finally, Paul’s goal in ministering to the young, Thessalonian believers is to the end that they would “walk in a manner worthy of God” (v. 12). His ultimate aim is the glory of God. That the lives of Christians would redound to the glory of God.
Brothers and sisters, there is much truth in these verses for us to meditate upon. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul calls us to imitate him as he imitates Christ. Thus, may our lives be filled with words and deeds to build up the church – to build up our brothers and sisters in the faith! That the Lord may receive the glory due his name!
Have a good week and I look forward to worshipping with you this Lord’s Day,