Preparing for Worship // May 13, 2018

Preparing for Worship // May 13, 2018

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When I was in high school, I did a weekend retreat at a local church. I don’t remember a lot about the weekend, but what I do remember was a little bit biblical and a little bit cultish (The climax of the retreat was on Saturday night when we went into the chapel and all of our friends and family were there forming a path and holding candles). The other part of the weekend that stuck out to me was the “graduation ceremony.” At the end of the weekend, we all received a cross necklace. One by one, the pastor of the church would put the necklace around our necks and says, “God is counting on you.” To which we would respond, “I am counting on Him.” At first blush that sounds like pretty good theology, since it affirms both human responsibility and our dependence on God. But it’s not biblical. Our passage this week, Deuteronomy 20 teaches us very clearly that God is NOT counting on you.

The passage starts with the Israelites going to war. Then in Deuteronomy 20:5-8, the officers of Israel begin the recruitment process. Actually, it’s more of a de-recruitment process. Rather than forming a draft to recruit more soldiers for the battle, the officers of Israel are commanded to start sending people home. About to get married? Go home. Just built a house? Get out of here. The message is clear: God does not need these people in order to win the battle. God does not need any of them in order to win the battle.

The same is true of you and me. God does not need us to accomplish His purposes for Him. God will be glorified, and His name will spread over all the earth. He simply gives us the privilege of participating in this work alongside Him. There is a lot of freedom that comes along with this. It means that not everyone is called into ministry or to go overseas. We are free of the false guilt that comes from thinking that every one of us has to be a “super-Christian.” There are many geographic places and arenas of life where God calls His people to faithfully serve Him. For many (most) believers, faithfulness to God means working as a banker or a stay-at-home mom or a contractor, while loving your family, God’s people, and the lost. If God has called and equipped you as a greeter on Sunday morning, do not envy those whom God has called and equipped to teach Sunday school, or vice versa.

However, I should be clear about what I am not saying. I am not saying that you can sit on the sidelines of the Christian fight or neglect the responsibilities of the Christian life because you “don’t feel called to it.” Every believer is called to be involved in the spread of God’s kingdom by being involved in the process of evangelism. Every believer is called to use their time and gifts to serve in the church. Also, if God is calling you to go overseas or to volunteer in the nursery or to share the gospel with a co-worker and you consistently refuse to do so, then you are sinning. But the call to fight on behalf of the Kingdom of God takes many forms. It is important that we understand where God has called us so that we can do that well and to His glory. Don’t serve out of fear that the work will fall apart without you. Serve because God has graciously invited you to participate in the work of His kingdom.

THE WORD

Scripture: Deuteronomy 20:1-20
Sermon: Waging War Well with the World

SONGS

Lead On O King Eternal (Indelible Grace)
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Whom Shall I Fear (Chris Tomlin)
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Not Be Shaken  (Norm Strauss)
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Our God (Chris Tomlin)
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Song of Preparation: Song of Moses (Aaron Keyes)
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Song of Response: O Church Arise  (Keith Getty)
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