Does God want us to fear him?
Hello SPV Family,
Patricia here - A couple of weeks ago I went on vacation to North Carolina. The first two mornings I sat by the water and drank my coffee, it was peaceful and the sun off the water was gorgeous. That morning sitting outside I realized I had a visitor, a 7 ft alligator, right there on the bank of the water hissing at me. I must have been in his territory. As a child, I had bad dreams about alligators, and to say I feared them is exactly correct. I sat inside the rest of the visit and drank my coffee behind the sliding glass door.
I was pretty sure that the alligator didn’t want to get up close to me anymore than I wanted to make friends with it. But my heart was racing and I had to google how fast an alligator runs. Could I outrun the alligator? Well, let me tell you, I was not going to even put it to the test and try.
This made me think about what we fear? Maybe a better question is what should we fear? Does God want us to be afraid of him, what does it mean, when he commands Israel to "fear the Lord your God?"
Moses came face to face with God and was not afraid of God, but in awe of God.
Although we see in the book of Exodus when God appeared to the Israelites from Mt. Sinai they were very much afraid.
Exodus 19: 16-20 On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply.
What do you think you would feel if you were at Mt. Sinai seeing the fire, the mountain shaking and hearing the ram’s horn as God spoke to the people? Would you be afraid of God? Would you tremble in fear or run to a place of safety? Does God want us to fear him? Do you fear that God would stop loving you because of something you did? Do we see God out of our own woundedness? What does God want from his people?
Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord Your God and live in a way that pleases Him and love him and serve him with all your heart. God had Moses place boundaries around the mountain to protect the people from the power of the presence of the Lord God Almighty. When God says that you should fear the Lord, we need to look at what that means.
I love what the amplified bible says in Deuteronomy 10:12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear [and worship] the Lord your God [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect], to walk [that is, to live each and every day] in all His ways and to love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul [your choices, your thoughts, your whole being].
God doesn't want us to fear Him, he wants us to love him so much that we worship him, and live each and every day serving God with all our heart and soul. God does not say you have to be perfect or without sin. At Mt. Sinai the Israelites trembled with fear at the sight and sound of God. At Mt. Calvary Jesus freely gave his life to reconcile all mankind back to the Father. The God of Gods, the creator of all things, the King of Kings, all Mighty God asks us to love Him. Will you give him your heart and reverence? Will you give him your love? Amen! they cried. Blessing and glory and majesty and splendor and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and might [be ascribed] to our God to the ages and ages (forever and ever, throughout the eternities of the eternities)! Amen! (So be it!)
Revelation 7:12 I had a healthy fear for the alligator and chose not to sit in his territory, on the other hand I have a healthy love for the Father and I choose to sit in his presence and worship him.
In reverence of my God,
Looking for answers
Hi SPV Family,
Are you looking for answers to questions you already have the answer to?
Mom can I? Please...Please... Mommy can I ? Pleassssssse.
As kids we would ask our mom the same question over and over again, hoping we could wear mom down and she would change her mind. I learned as a mom that you could say NO, a hundred times and if you say nothing one time then it becomes a yes in the child's mind.
I have been asking God a question that I already had the answer to, hoping that the answer would be different this time. I didn't get an answer to my question and I heard nothing from the Lord. Was the answer a yes?
I already had my answer and I had to stop asking the question and focus on what I knew was the ministry God gave me years ago.
Often times we look for an answer to what or where God wants us to be, and we hear nothing because he has already revealed his will to us.
What does God want us to do and what is our ministry?
I found the answer in 1 Peter 2:9, "You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Just as Jesus became our High Priest (Hebrew 3:1) through his death and shed blood, he made us a kingdom of priests for God his father.
Revelation 1:5,6 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.As a kingdom of priests we are called to be a mediator between God and man.
We have the awesome privilege to bring "all people, all situations and all the world" into the throne room of God, to show others the goodness of God.
Romans 2:4 says The goodness of God leads us into repentance.
Often there are things and situations that get in the way of serving in our priestly duties. We cannot serve as priests without the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, he is the resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead.
When we as priests allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, to bring all people, all situations and all the world into God's throne room then we show the goodness of God.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we can change our world, we can make a difference, step into the calling of a kingdom of royal priests.
If you are asking the questions where can I serve, how can I serve, what is my calling
consider meeting him in the throne room. Let's show the goodness of God to a world that needs His love by stepping into our calling. From darkness into his wonderful light.
Blessings and love,
A Hope and a Promise
Hey SPV family, Patricia here,
In the year 597 BC, there was no hope in Israel, the elders, priests, prophets and all the people had been exiled to Babylon. It was a dark time in the history of Israel. In this dark time Jeremiah writes to those in exile, with encouragement, saying build homes, plant gardens, marry and work for peace and prosperity in the city where you live.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you, “says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. NLT
In a place of hopelessness Jeremiah gives instructions to the Israelites to live life to the fullest.
God says, I have plans for you, good plans, I want to give you a future and a hope. To find that future and have hope, pray to me and I will listen to you. The key to that fulfilling future is to look for me with all your heart and you will find me.
It is hopeless! Oftentimes, that is what we think about the state of affairs in the world today.
Where do you put your hope? In political leaders, in our church leaders or do you put your hope in your own ability to make a good life for yourself?
In the darkness that is in the world today, we as children of God have a hope and a promise. We build our homes, we plant our gardens, marry and work toward peace and raise our children; and hope for a good life.
In the book of Jeremiah, the Israelites were in exile, but God told them how to find Him. He said pray and I will listen, look for me with all your heart, and you will find me. This is true for today as it was in 597 BC, God has a plan for good, a future and a hope for all of us.
Are you feeling hopeless?
Does the situation feel out of control?
Do you feel you have no one to turn to?
The promise of the Lord is: When you pray, I will listen. If you look for me with all your heart, you will find me. This is a future full of hope, a future that is full of light and love. When you seek the Lord in your everyday life, you will find Him.
Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. NLT
Romans 8:31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
God almighty, Creator of all things, gives us the key to knowing Him and finding Him.
Out of hopelessness, into hopefulness.
Living in the House of Blues
Hi all, Jules here,
I was honored to be asked to write this week's email. A lot of you know my story, some don't but the House of Blues is where I have been living a lot in the last 3 years. Losing my husband, my home and my business was devastating and I was angry at God for a long time. Then came covid followed by the death of all 3 of our fur babies.
Yes I was depressed, self-medicating and having nothing to do with the Lord.
BUT... HE never turned his back on me. He led me into forgiveness through Garth Brooks' song "The Dance" making me realize how grateful I should be because I did get to experience a wonderful marriage for 2 years, some people never do!!
He blessed me with a new home from Mikes life insurance and gave me an awesome BFF to live with, who makes me laugh everyday.
He gave me amazing friends that didn't judge or push me to go back to church until I was ready.
Even when you shut the doors and pull the curtains determined to stay in "The House Of Blues" God finds a crack and sends in a ray of "Son shine" lol!! He gently pulls you back into the light determined to bring you back into his arms to heal and reconcile you. THEN, He uses what you've been through to give others hope!!!
Romans 8:28 And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. AMP BIBLE.
2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Hope this blesses you,
An upside down kingdom
We just celebrated Labor Day, a day set aside to honor working people, how did you celebrate? With a cookout or just a day of rest?
I took off both Sunday and Monday and spent time resting in the Lord.
The Kingdom of Heaven is an upside down kingdom. A good example of this upside down kingdom is in Matthew 20:1-16. The story of the vineyard owner that hires workers.
The Vineyard owner went out early in the morning to hire workers, he agreed to pay them the normal daily wage. At 9:00am he went out again and hired more workers, agreeing to pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. At 12:00pm and again at 3:00pm he went out and did the same thing, promising to pay whatever was right. Then at 5:00pm he was in town and hired those just standing around, promising to pay whatever is right.
Five times the Vineyard owner went out searching for workers to serve in the vineyard, each time he promised to pay whatever was the fair wage.
As the story goes, at the end of the day, the vineyard owner had his foreman call all the workers together, starting with those he hired at 5:00pm.
When each group of workers came forward to be paid they realized that each one was getting paid a full day's wage.
We can look at this story in light of how we feel about serving in the church and how we see others that serve or we can look at this story in a different way, in the light of how the Kingdom of Heaven looks.
The workers were all paid the same no matter the work or hours they put in.
This goes against what we labor for, we want to be acknowledged for the work we do.
Have you heard the quote “Work hard and you will succeed?” Was it unfair that each worker got paid the same amount of money?
This story is not about the workers or the pay or the amount of time that they worked, it is about what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like.
The Vineyard owner went searching for the workers, this is how God seeks us out no matter who we are or what we have done, right or wrong.
God did pay whatever is right, he gave us Jesus his only son. When Jesus willingly gave His life for all mankind, He paid the wages for sin and death, and gave us eternal life and the opportunity to love him.
EVERYONE is equal in the Kingdom of Heaven, everyone receives the same wage, and we all labor together to grow the kingdom. The last is first and the first is last. Upside down thinking compared to the way the world thinks.
Have you ever thought “ I can not serve in the church, for whatever reason? We are all equal and we are all qualified to serve and build the kingdom because we have the Holy Spirit in us.
Come and serve for a day, a few hours or a few minutes. Every act of love large or small builds the kingdom.
Are we building the Kingdom of Heaven patterned after the world's way of thinking? Or are we building the kingdom of Heaven, God’s way? Through prayer and seeking God’s guidance in all we do?
Matthew 23:11 Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others.
Pastor Kelly has excelled at this, I see him working in every area of the body, building the kingdom and I would like to say thank you Kelly for all you do, you have a true servants heart.
When I look at the kingdom at St. Pete Vineyard, I want to say to all our workers thank you and be blessed, you are loved. Your fair wage is Jesus and the opportunity to build the Kingdom of Heaven, so others can know that same love of God.
Blessings and love,
You are Blessed!
Pastor Kelly here this week. We are so excited about the new service time and partnership with Grace Connection.
We get to honor and embrace each other in serving the greater St Pete area with two churches sharing in the same goal.
That in itself is an act of worship as God will be our main focus throughout this new partnership.
It’s so important to serve each other, the body and the community. I would like to invite us to remove any of our past feelings and move forwards toward a unified front to impact our city.
At the end of the day that is the our goal!
As we end one sermon series and start a new one, I’m excited because, we have seen the atmosphere change on how we worship and serve God. Over the last month, different leaders in our church have shared their hearts towards this reverent act.
Worship is the ultimate surrender, so that when we decrease, Jesus can increase.
I love Mathew 5: 3-9 MSG and how it layouts how we can be blessed:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”
This instructs us on how to be blessed and gives us a clear cut example that we MUST, at all cost decrease so HE can increase. It is not coincidence that we’re going into our new series: “Hope in the House of Blues”.
We have used this series in worship to examine and renew our understanding about worship but through this new sermon series we want to go deeper into what it looks like to surrender even in the mist of the most difficult situations in life.
As we start to examine these issues, let all of us be encouraged by having the Holy Spirit as our comforter in every circumstance and situation.
All we have to do, is give him that control.
Please pray for those who are suffering in their despair and hopelessness. One of the ways that we can help with this, is by offering to pray for them, and also inviting them to church so they can surround themselves with a support community. We pray God’s will be done, in the hearts of those who worship our King…..Jesus!
See you at 10:30 for breakfast and at 11 am for service !
Called to love.
Hi SVP family, Jamie here,
Called to love.
This the foundation of the Christian church and I would say most especially
resonates with St. Pete Vineyard.
The two great commissions – Love the Lord God with all your heart, and
with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great
commandment. And the second - Love thy neighbor as thyself
Wow, first commission – Love my Lord - ok I get that one, check myself
daily… heart… Soul… mind… some days hard, some days not, it's a good thing His love is not qualified by my love for Him!
But that second one – love my neighbor as myself! Now let’s be clear, who
is my neighbor? The guy two blocks away that speeds down my street dangerously?
The girl behind the counter at Walgreens
6 blocks away that is always rude? Or, literally the house sitting right next to me?
We ALL know the “Jesus” answer! But literally, if we ALL love “our”
neighbor, we would ALL be loved, right??
But here is where the calling comes in folks! We have got to make up for those that don’t love their neighbor! I could give you scriptures with example after example after
example where we are guided how to love and when to love. Everyone we
encounter is the “neighbor”. Regardless of their sin, regardless of their
gender, skin color, religion, political beliefs, personality, or their mood.
We are called to Love!!!
I encourage you today to choose love. Choose it for your enemy, someone
who hurt you, choose it for those “easy” to love and especially those “hard”
to love! I promise you, it actually blesses you. Let’s remember one of His
promises from Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what
reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you
greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not
even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is
This is the perfect example of what Pastor Chris refers to as “the upside
down Kingdom”. It is not our nature, it is not what we think is the “way to
do things”, it is however what we have been called to do!
Those that have yet to develop their relationship with Jesus keep the law that
taught “love your neighbor, hate your enemy”. Here is one you hear
often… “love the sinner, hate the sin” (can just hear the old southern
grandma in my ear), how bout JUST LOVE THE “sinner”! And just a little
reminder we are ALL the “sinner”, washed by His blood, made perfect in
His image! That includes the “one” you struggle with – they are also
washed in the blood!
I love you my dear Saints – I speak extreme blessing over you, your day,
your week! I am asking you personally to return to our building if you are
able and have not done so yet. We need you!
I leave you with two things: a verse, and a song – always a song LOL.
Music is sewn into the fibers of my heart and I must leave you with a
song!!!! My dear friend reminded me of this one, just today, not knowing
what I was writing about. But my Lord is always cool like that!
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not
proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily
angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but
rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes,
Blessings and love,
KING & COUNTRY - The Proof Of Your Love
Lift up your eyes and see Jesus.
Hello SPV Fam, this is Chris sending you greetings from South Carolina!
I’ve been thinking lately how guilty I (and church leaders in general) have been in making following Jesus a lot more complicated than it should be. And in fairness, there is A LOT to it if you think about it. The story (of God) can be simplified but it’s still a really BIG story. And the Bible is pretty big, 66 different books, hundreds of chapters and thousands of pages. And then there are the various theological interpretations of all of those different passages. And then there are particular worship styles and traditions to sort through and then the day-to-day questions and challenges we all face with our particular faith journey.
So, while I completely acknowledge there is A LOT involved, I also feel like we need to constantly remind ourselves and each other that Jesus emphasized to his audience mustard seed sized faith and a childlike faith approach. It was those who were “adding on” and complicating things that were distancing themselves from the heart of the true kingdom.
Read this passage from Mathew 17 about the Transfiguration:
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”
Now, I won’t even begin to try to explain what the transfiguration was, what was actually happening or even why because it’s a really odd story. But what I do find really interesting is that while in the midst of a pretty “trippy” supernatural experience, Peter, James and John jumped quickly to try and add to the experience or even put their own little spin on it. They even asked Jesus if they could build three different tents to make room, space or places of honor for Moses and Elijah (who represent The Law & The Prophets respectively) in addition to Jesus. But look what happened, a booming voice (booming enough to scare the living daylights out of them) told them to listen to Jesus and gave no mention of Moses or Elijah. Verse 8: “And when they opened their eyes, they saw only Jesus.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying The Law and The Prophets aren’t important and that “fleshing out” various aspects of the faith aren’t necessary. But I believe this passage of scripture is an important reminder that when an encounter with Jesus is taking place, let’s not look to add something to the moment (build a tent or otherwise) but rather simply “listen to him” and allow everything else to fade away into the background so that when we lift up our eyes “we see no one but Jesus.”
Much love and a sweet simplicity of faith to you all,
Greetings SPV Family!
Pastor Kelly here this week. This past Sunday at the end of the service, we made an announcement about some changes we want to make our family aware of.
THE SPV LEADERSHIP has been working behind the scenes to MORE EFFECTIVELY reach our community. With lots of thought and prayer, we are excited to announce a new partnership with GRACE CONNECTION CHURCH.
This is a great opportunity to have two churches in the same building, having the same goal to reach the greater St. Petersburg area.
Pastor Tim Kelley and his congregation have been around for many years and are super excited for our partnership at the SPV campus. Over the next few weeks, we will be working hand in hand to schedule new events coming to our campus.
WE WILL UPDATE YOU AS WE GO.
As it stands, starting Sunday Sept 4th, Grace Connection will be joining our campus for a 9:00 am service. We in return, will move our service BACK 30 MINUTES to 11am.
We will still have our community breakfast time starting at 10:30am with the service to follow. We understand change is not always easy but we do feel God is leading and HE is working in this change. Please welcome Pastor Tim as he will be our guest this week at the church and introduce himself, as well as some of his leaders to our community.
Please, feel free to reach out with any questions to myself, Kelly@spv.org or any of the board members or leaders, so we may address any concerns moving forward. Thank you to everyone who calls SPV their home and we welcome new folks who will one day call this their home church as well.
Be blessed !
Hi SPV family,
Patricia here,In my teen years I lived on a farm and we had many animals. My favorite one was a quarter horse named Dixie. She was beautiful and very smart. During that time I learned a great deal about caring for a horse of my own, learning how to saddle the horse was an endurance in strength and also it was important to know which was the right bit for the horse's safety. Dixie loved to be ridden but when she was ready to go back to the barn, she would chomp down on the bit and take off running. I had no control whatsoever over this 1,000 lbs. of powerful horse. I would have to hang on and hope for a gentle landing because when she got home she stopped as fast as she took off, and I went flying over her head. That only happened once since I was a fast learner.
It took practice and hard work to care for my horse but I was rewarded by a friendship with a powerful and kind spirited animal. It also takes practice to use words that build up our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is hard to say kind things about another, when you feel you have been wronged and want others to take your side so that you feel justified in how you react.
My time with Dixie reminds me of the scripture in James that talks about controlling the tongue.
The bit in the mouth controlled the horse and I could direct her where I wanted her to go.
James 3:2-3 Indeed we all make mistakes. For if we control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.
How powerful are words? Do Blessings and cursing come out of the same mouth? Do we chomp down on our hurt feelings and not let go of them? Do we find ourselves unwilling to make it right with our friends and loved ones?
Do we criticize others instead of building them up? Do we praise the Lord on Sunday and talk about our brothers and sisters in Christ unkindly that same day?
No you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. James 3:11
Words are powerful. In Matthew it says to go to that person and talk it out. If they listen you have won over your brother or sister. The scripture does not say, talk about it with others and complain, that causes division and divides the body of Christ.
James 3:17-18 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
Words are powerful, plant seeds of peace, plant seeds of forgiveness, plant seeds of love.
The harvest will be rich and plentiful and then you will be blessed and will bless others with your words.