One of the biggest lessons I have had in my faith walk is worshiping at different churches and different denominations. Especially when I have dug in and discovered why they worship the way they do. Each of us has a different comfort level with our world, and our own faith. Each of us has a different comfort level with tradition. Each of us has different needs for religion. Each of us has a different way of expressing spirituality. Some of us are quiet, some are loud. Some are through evangelizing, some through quiet service and caring. Some are through learning and some are through listening.
But my favorite churches have been the ones where I can feel Jesus in the community.
And yes, I have been to a lot of churches where I don’t feel Jesus. I see a lot of people filling chairs, but I don’t feel His presence there.
I have been to churches where I don’t feel comfortable because it is different from my faith, but I have still felt Jesus. I have been to churches where it is so comfortable that it almost seems boring–but I have felt Jesus. I have been to churches that are exciting where I feel Him, and ones where that excitement doesn’t really feel like Him.
And each church, no matter what category, helped me learn. Each shaped my personal faith. Each shaped my vision of Christ in my life. Opened my eyes. Opened my mind. Filled me with grace.
Have you ever looked at different churches this way? Have you let other’s faith walks, no matter how different, encourage you to learn and love? I highly recommend following Paul’s advice.
Good morning! Happy Easter! Praise be to Christ! He is risen indeed!
Yes, I know it was yesterday. 🙂 But I am still celebrating, and I hope that you are too.
Greet your fellow believers this morning in love. He has kissed us with grace and love. Showered us with it. It is only right for us to celebrate that love and share it with all. Not just on Easter, but all the time. We have much to be thankful for.
It is Good Friday friends. The day that we memorialize Jesus’ death on the cross. The day that He atoned for all our sins and gave us mercy. Each and every human. He knew that each one of us was going to sin in and out of every day. He knew we were going to fall short in every occasion. And still He paid the price. He knew. We cannot hide anything from our Lord, for He created us, He knows our every fiber.
We can let that be scary that He knows us so well. Or we can understand it, accept it, and let that lead us to confess that we are small compared to His greatness. That we are partial to His wholeness. That we are mediocre to His greatness. That we need Him, that we want Him. And we can receive His blessed mercy and love.
There are nuances of color and shape and texture and pattern in the painting around the words on purpose–that is how grace is. When we listen for it, God tailors it to each of us. When we soak it in, we give grace to each person according to their NEED, not what we want to give. For some reason, I only used the last half of this verse:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
We are called to give grace to all people, all the time. We are called to love and build up one another. If we see someone choosing sin, we are to use words that are caring and understanding, not judgemental. We are to fill our lives with grace for ourselves and others. Building each other up and giving each other more opportunities to extend grace, as we would want them to extend it to us.
As I said in the last post, part of the great thing about our Bible is that we get to read it and hear God speaking to us, when we listen. There is a big difference between just hearing and this: listening, taking it in, making it our own, living it, letting it soak into our being, and then following it. That is a lot more active. Isn’t that how grace should work? It is in the believing that we deserve God’s grace. And so does everyone else. Not in a greedy way–but that we are capable of it, that He loves us so much, that it is for each one of us. That He died for you and me and everyone.
Psalm 118:26 or Matthew 21:9 or Matthew 23:39? I don’t remember. When I just typed in these words all three of these verses popped up. (Isn’t Bible Gateway fabulous! Love that site!) I have linked each passage to the page on Gateway so you can easily read and compare if you would like to as well. Each one is very different. Yet the same– they speak of the sovereignty of Jesus as our God and Lord.
Let’s look at them backwards:
Matthew 23 is subtitled “warnings against hypocrisy and the seven woes of the Pharisees”. It warns against thinking that we know all, against judging others, against looking good on the outside, but still having hearts of humans that are full of sin. It is quite the chapter. Really humbles you. Really makes you realize none of us can attain the blessed perfection of our Lord.
Matthew 21 is the story of Palm Sunday. One of my favorites. I love the imagery of Jesus on the donkey, the crowds with palms, the feelings of victory and praise, yet the impending sorrow. So powerful.
Psalm 118 is a long one. It is filled with praises for God that He has saved His people from all sorts of issues, that His love endures forever, that He will come and save us all for eternity. It is such a satisfying piece of praise! It made me want to read it out loud and say, “Amen!” every few lines. LOL
I encourage you to read all three and compare, see what you think and what you pull out of these words. Our God is so good that He encourages us to use our hearts and minds to enjoy and think on His teaching.
So over break I was listening to the teachings from our church back in Chicagoland. (You can find them at ccconbell.com.) They started a wonderful vision quest this winter to have a list of 500 stories of acts prompted by faith. 500 instances of being servants of Christ. Listening to His whispers and following them.
This art takes on a whole new meaning to me–now it looks like sounds waves traveling in a tunnel–maybe even an ear drum. It makes me think about listening to Jesus and what words and directions He is sharing with me–with you. How often do we hear Him talking to us, yet we act like Jonah and run the other direction? How often do we pretend we don’t hear it at all? How often do we listen, but choose not to follow?
What would happen if we were servants and followed?
God tells us right here what will happen. He will HONOR us. This verse is from John 12:26. These are the words of Jesus. He promises this to each of us. We must only choose to follow and serve.
How will you do that today?
LOL, can you tell I was dreaming of spring and oceans this winter? Lots of flowers, shells, oceans. No muddy drifts of snow or bare trees were painted. I was waiting for Him to lead me past all of that hibernation and back to the warmth of renewal. Even still, I knew He was there with me in that cold spell–I knew that I was holding tight to His hand and He would hold me close through it all. I knew He carried me along that beach and would set me down to walk when I was ready, but He wouldn’t go far, but stay next to me.
My prayer today is that you feel His hand leading you as well. That you are reaching out to it and holding it tight. That you are letting Jesus carry you or lead you to the paths of joy and peace that He wants you to enjoy with Him. Watch for the shells of reward, the tides of rewards He had for you.
We are so rewarded! He blesses us with His love, peace, joy, and the best yet…hope of life with all of that eternally! That is the best reward of all. And when we stay focused on that prize we can find it in the little things of each day. For He leaves clues to it all over. The sun streaming through clouds. Maybe the beat of rain on the window. Flowers pushing through. Smiles of tiny people. And big people. The brightness of colors. Fresh, clean fragrances.
Where do you see His rewards in your days?
God is so good. Just when you think you can’t go another step, He truly steps in and rescues us. I had a tough winter people. Besides work conflict, the snow/ice days were dragging me down. I kept thinking I have all day stuck in this house to write and get stuff accomplished and I couldn’t get anything coherent put together. I was struggling to find positive encouraging things to share.
This week was our spring break–and I finally found that respite. My wonderful parents and mother-in-law took the kids for a few days. I was able to get out and just bop around Des Moines for a day. The sun came out and I took our dog for a few walks. I purged the kids rooms and the basement. And I am feeling rejuvenated. I am feeling lighter, freer, closer to God again. I trusted that He would help lift the fog and help me find perspective, and He did. I was able to reflect a little. Get out of my head a little. See His creation a little. And I am ready to see more of His glory and work in my life again.
Do you ever get in that winter rut? What do you do to get out of it? Do you trust that God will come and rescue you?