Choosing a pastor is a strange business. Basically the search committee has arranged a blind date, and after one date you get to decide if you want to get married, with the hope that this is a match made in heaven and we will live happily ever after. There is a lot of trust involved, in the search committee and the council, in the process and most of all in God. We have entreated Him in earnest prayer for 15 months. We asked you to pray since the beginning of 2020. We cannot pray too much asking for God’s leading, asking for wisdom, discernment and clarity. Choosing a pastor is the most important decision a congregation can make. It has powerful influence on the future of the church and the spiritual life of the flock.
Introduction. Moms and dads took a double hit from the virus this week. For dads college football has been canceled. For moms schools have been closed. This is not the fall anyone was planning on. And this is on top of a summer no one planned on, like the fact that tomorrow is supposed to be the beginning NW Washington Fair and third annual pastor MooWich give-away. OK, so maybe the football thing is not that huge a crisis. But schools being closed is. I have to tell you; I have been praying for the opening of the schools in our area. When I got the news Tuesday morning of the Lynden School board’s decision, my heart sank. I immediately started thinking about the impact of this on so many families in our community, on moms and dads, on parents who both work, on single parents. I thought about parents who want to be parents and not teachers, not have to be the policeman over assignments and computer time. Homework is a hard enough battle, but now all the schoolwork is homework. Some of you have kids who are easily motivated and will jump right in and get it done, and some of you have kids for whom this is going to WWIII. I want to give you all a hug and say I am sorry, I know this is hard, it is not what we planned for the fall and for the education of our children. My heart goes out to you all. All of this has had me thinking all week about where God is in all of this.
Yesterday we finished our two weeks of Serve at Home. Five teams worked five shifts at four work sites and accomplished a prodigious amount of work and left behind a bunch of blessings. My thanks go to our Serve volunteers who organized and coordinated all this work, and to our congregation who responded so well and did so much. As Molly said, “What an awesome church.” Glory to God. Why do we do things like Serve? Jesus said it is more blessed to serve than to be served and He set that example for all of us. We serve because we want to be Christ-followers. During these past two weeks you noticed the email devotionals were prepared by the Serve volunteers and followed the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are Jesus’ definition of what a Christ-follower is. These eight beatitudes are a bold declaration of what it means to be a Christian and how we can be supremely happy, of how we can live a supremely blessed life. These Beatitudes test and challenge the reality of our Christianity and our views of what will make us happy. There are several lessons that can be drawn from the Beatitudes. Let’s consider five this morning.
Psalm 100 is the psalm from which Serve took its theme statement this year, verse 5. It also has a verse that has Serve written all over it. Serve the Lord with Gladness. This Psalm is much beloved, one of many favorites in the Psalter, often referred to as Old Hundredth. It is an exuberant Psalm, it stirs the soul to sing and praise God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord. Worship the Lord with gladness. Come into His presence with singing. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. It is also that Psalm of encouraged to all the bad singers in the world, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord.” It has four stanzas but two parts, that form an AB AB pattern, 1 and 3 go together and 2 and 4, back and forth. Praise God, know God, praise God, know God. The two are inseparable. You can’t praise what you don’t know, and to know God truly leads to praise. You could call it doxology and theology. Great doxology always flows from great doctrine. God has revealed Himself to us in such a way that He may be known with our heads and praised from our hearts. Our singing is grounded in the knowing. Satan knows God, but Satan doesn’t sing. If our knowledge of God doesn’t lead to worship, it is worthless. And if our singing is without knowledge it is just noise, it doesn’t glorify God.