Tuesday, April 7, 2015

After the glow... what next?

This past Sunday was a fantastic day at Oak Park Baptist Church. Our Sunday morning celebration of Resurrection Sunday was the culmination of several Holy Week events where we shared the Gospel and celebrated our Savior's sacrifice. From Thursday evening's showing of the "Passion of the Christ" to celebrating Communion as we remembered Good Friday and what Jesus said from the Cross, to rejoicing on Sunday morning as a fellowship as the message "He is Risen" reverberated off the walls and ceiling of our sanctuary. It was borderline euphoric as we had our largest crowd in over two years, nearing 150 people. So I rejoice and celebrate what God has done in those still here with us at Oak Park and those whom have joined with us over the past several months and years. We are a fellowship that celebrates our multicultural face...but more than that we celebrate and rejoice in our Risen Savior and enjoyed worshipping together yesterday (Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015)

The glow of such a wonderful day can last quite a while, but there is always the question that is raised and that is: What's next? We have seen God move in a victorious way to bring us to this time of celebration, but what is next? What is next after the glow of Resurrection Sunday is but a faint memory? What is next for our fellowship now that the cultural pressure to 'go to church' will be abated for a time, now that the Easter season has passed? What's next for our fellowship when we see an attendance of less than 75 or 80 next Sunday? What is next?

I want all to know that I sincerely rejoice in God's favor and blessing on our fellowship over this past week and all we were able to do in service TO Him and in remembrance OF what He has done. I have prayed for victories for our fellowship to celebrate and this is DEFINITELY one of those victories God has provided! However, as pastor, the thoughts of 'what next' are thoughts that haunt my soul! How do we follow up such a euphoric Sunday?

Scripture is very clear when it comes to this particular issue. In Acts 2 the church experienced a tremendous worship day where over 3000 people were saved. I am sure the leaders could have sat around and said, 'what's next', but the fact of the matter is that they KNEW what was next and it was more of the same! God had called them to preach the word and call people to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ. This was their mission BEFORE the Day of Pentecost and this would be there mission AFTER the Day of Pentecost.

The 1st church sets a pattern that we must follow if we are going to be obedient and content in our service to Christ. We must continue seeking to BE the church God desires us to be. Be the church by sharing His love! Be the church by sharing His name! Be the church by living out His love! Be the church by being willing to reach out and love those in this world whom are hard to love. Be the church by telling others about the Savior whom has redeemed our heart and has given us TRUE salvation. How do we follow up Easter Sunday? We LIVE our lives by revealing the risen Lord in our lives!

Now I understand that every Sunday will not have the pomp and ceremony of an Easter Sunday, but EVERY Sunday DOES still have the same reason for why we are there: Jesus Christ! Our Savior is risen and STILL lives and STILL saves! We can and should rejoice each and every week in the One who has won the victory and holds us firm in His hand!

For these reasons we should LIVE FOR HIM and not forsake this time of celebration each week! For these reasons we must NOT allow ourselves to get so caught up in the planning, programs and events of church that we lose our sense of profound thankfulness for what He has done... after such a wonderful expression of our love for Him this past Sunday, let us NOT fall back into a 'routine' of simply attending church, but let rejoice in whom we have come to worship.

As the songwriter, Matt Redman has written, "Bless the Lord O my soul, O my soul! Worship His holy name! Sing like never before, O my soul, I worship His holy name!" We should worship as the Psalmist does, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations." (Ps 100:4-6-NASB) Let us NEVER lose the joy and wonder of Whom we come to worship each and every Sunday! So the answer to "What's next?" We follow the example of the 1st church in that we study His word, listen to His teachings, tell others about who He is, share His love in all we do, but also we come together often to rejoice and celebrate His victory for us!

Praise Him! Praise Him! He is RISEN! He is RISEN indeed! 

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