A Note From Michael Gossett
One of the greatest indicators of a healthy church is that her members are joyful. Joy is something that you and I both know in concept but is difficult at times to live out especially when things are not necessarily going our desired way. I love the first stanza of Psalm 119. Verses 1-8 say, “1 How happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk according to the Lord’s instruction! 2 Happy are those who keep his decrees and seek him with all their heart. 3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. 4 You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept. 5 If only my ways were committed to keeping your statutes! 6 Then I would not be ashamed when I think about all your commands. 7 I will praise you with an upright heart when I learn your righteous judgments. 8 I will keep your statutes; never abandon me.” (CSB)
Psalm 119 is not only a tribute to God’s word, but it shows the affect that it truly has on an individual. Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm and the longest chapter in the entire Bible. There are 176 verses and each stanza begins with a different letter of the 22 letter Hebrew alphabet. These first eight verses (aleph) open with a clear priority on obedience to God’s holy word. It is not my point here to give an exhaustive explanation (for that you can see Charles Spurgeon’s 398 pages in his Treasury of David). In American efforts to normalize individualism, strict adherence to the Word of God is normally shoved into a box, taped shut, and labeled “legalism.” Legalism is not equivalent to obedience nor is obedience equivalent to legalism. However, obedience in attempts to do in your life what only God can do will inevitably lead to a life of piety and legalism. While stiff arming legalism, it is the normal tendency to embrace presumptuous behavior. The antinomian view of God’s grace is the teaching that because Christ died for my past, present, and future sins, God’s grace will abound. Paul had some words against this type of behavior. Romans 6:1-2 says, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” For those who are in Christ Jesus and have been baptized with Christ, the desires of the flesh are put to death and the desires of the Spirit are now activated within those converted. Being presumptuous with the grace of God, although on separate ends of the spectrum, is just as damaging as legalism.
But what about Psalm 119? In the first stanza, the Lord is gracious enough to provide a pathway to a life of joy. The CSB translates this joyful life as happy. Happiness is not a virtue, but in the Lord, happiness is a reality. The NLT translates this verse as joyful, the NIV and ESV translate it as blessed, and the CSB translates the verse as happy. How joyful, how blessed, how happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk according to the Lord’s instruction! Healthy churches are people that are full of this type of happiness, this type of blessing, this type of joy that is contagious. There is only one way that true joy can be a reality in your life, and that is as a follower of Jesus who delights in the law of the Lord. The world may appear happy on the outside, but unless they are living according to the law of the Lord, there will be unlimited brokenness rather than unlimited joy. I believe that this should help us as God’s church to not only do life together but also have fun together. The world will not see the joy in your heart, but it will see the evidence of that joy that glows on your face. Through the years, as I’ve attended other churches as a guest speaker, I’ve noticed that as some gather to worship, it almost seemed as though we were all attending a funeral. We do not gather to mourn Christ’s death, but to celebrate His resurrection. Let it be known of Green Acres that we live our lives centered on God’s Word which provides a joy within us that is seen among us. This is another distinction of the church body… Delight in the Word of the Lord as we sing together, as we learn together, and as we grow together.
This week, we continue our sermon series called, Distinct. We will look at Ephesians 4:11-16 as we learn about a Distinct Process. As we have already seen in this sermon series so far, we have a distinct purpose, a distinct word, and a distinct message. But what about the methods of the church and the way we are called to do ministry? It has been said that the American church flirts with being over-programmed and under-discipled. What is the process of discipleship to which you and I are called? How are we to make sure that our methods are in line with the philosophy of discipleship? It will be our aim to recognize what God’s word teaches about His design to build up the church of Jesus Christ. I pray you will join us this Sunday at the Tyler Campus at 8:30 or 11:00 or at our Flint Campus at 11:00. We will see you this Sunday!
STARTING POINT If you have just recently joined our church or are considering church membership, this class is for you! It is designed to give you a better picture of who we are as a church family. Together, we want you to have a clear understanding of our mission, vision, and values here at Green Acres. Our next Starting Point is Sunday, February 5, at 9:30am. Register by clicking the image below:
JOURNEYS OF PAUL TRIP: I would like to invite you to join Katie & me on an amazing journey retracing the footsteps of the Apostle Paul. The trip will be September 17-26, 2023. We will step into history and walk alongside Paul as we journey through Philippi, Thessaloniki, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Crete, Patmos, and Ephesus. The Holy Scriptures will come to life in unimaginable ways! This will be a trip of a lifetime that promises to forever change all of us! For more information on this trip, stop by our table in the foyer or visit this page.
You are loved and you are prayed for!