One thing I know for sure is that satan sure doesn't want God's people to join up in an official capacity with a local congregaton of Christ's Church.
For the past several days, I have been assaulted relentlessly with thoughts of condemnation, self pity, rejection, defeat, apathy, hatred, and all kinds of other unGodly inward dialogue. And it has grown worse each day.
As I sat in the worship service, reading the bulletin, I noticed that the new members were going to be received right before the offering, which comes before a second hymn and the sermon. "Oh, no!", thought I. Either at the very beginning -- before the confession and repentence and assurance stuff (which I knew was going to tear me up today, given the trajectory of my thought life over the past several days) or after the sermon which was on Psalm 142. But, please, not in between!!
Just as I suspected, I looked like a complete fool up there. As I stood in front of about 350 people, I had blood red eyes, tears rolling down my cheeks, and such a downcast countenance that Psalm 42 could have been a personal request for today's message.
Again, God is omniscient and knew that Psalm 142 was exactly the sermon that I needed to hear. It is encouraging when so often the weekly sermon is perfectly timed and tailored just for me! God really is gracious and awesome that way.
But, really? Psalm 142/42, right there in front of 350 people? Not cool, God (but very Holy and Wise and Gracious). God never said He would always make us look cool, right? Embarrassed, sometimes, yes, apparently. Humbled, definitely. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians Chapter 4:
8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.We must reject any lie from hell, satan, and our old nature that sets itself up against the idea that we should not belong to the body of Christ. There is no other place for broken hearted sinners than in the community of blood-bought believers. There is no other place for people who are called to take up their crosses daily and follow Jesus.
Just as we suffer in these mortal bodies while we are here, Christ suffered in every way we do, so that He now intercedes on our behalf. As we are joined together in His Body, we endure these present sufferings in His strength and we strengthen one another along the way. For His Church, He suffered an eternity in hell on the cross, so that we will not have to endure the eternal suffering that we deserve. We are joined together in the suffering of the here and now, and we are joined together in our future hope of the resurrection together that we have in Him. We were not meant to take this journey alone.
As Paul would write to the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 4:
15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.Thank you for indulging me as I "Talk to Myself" (ht:challies.com)