S (Scripture): Psalm 91:9 For you have taken refuge in the Lord, my shelter, the sovereign One.
14 The Lord says, “Because he is devoted to me, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he is loyal to me.
15 When he calls out to me, I will answer him. I will be with him when he is in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him honor.
16 I will satisfy him with long life, and will let him see my salvation.”
O (Observation): A person faithful to God seeks refuge in the Lord, and the psalmist assures the individual that God will protect those who seek the Lord for refuge.
Then, the Lord speaks directly to the faithful one. The Lord promises protection and rescue. Not only this, but the Lord also promises to bring honor and salvation to the one who believes!!!
A (Application): This is a great example of the Lord’s generosity and the lack of prerequisites for receiving God’s grace. God’s grace is always available to those who believe.
In this case, we see that someone comes to the Lord for refuge.
Unfortunately, many churches these days put up all kinds of roadblocks to becoming a part of the fellowship of believers. We say, “Believe like us. Look like us. Act like us. Then, you can be one of us.”
THIS IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF HOW I FEEL CALLED TO LEAD!
Instead, let’s flip that paradigm on its head: “Come, be a part of us by checking us out in worship and fellowship, regardless of your background. Then, you will see our customs and we will see your customs, and we will work together. As time goes on, we will help you with understanding our vision and values, and we will want to hear your vision and values. Finally, if you see fit, you can commit to being a member of this church.” And I’m even okay with someone being with us, but not “joining.”
For too long, people have been hurt by congregations who lead with exclusion. How can people seek out the Lord for refuge, if so many congregations are closed off to people, because the people in the congregations judge others to be wrong or “living a life of sin.”
Humility is key for me and for our congregations. Seeking to be in fellowship with all kinds of people is our goal. Let people feel that they can be welcome in your church, so that they have a chance to seek refuge in the Lord.
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to know that salvation lies in you, and not in our congregation’s list of beliefs. Amen.