As Christians, we truly become who we are created us to be when we live with bold assurance of who we are and what we are called to do. This does not mean we are to become a saint or famous. It means we live a life ready to do as God would want even if it is something that is uncomfortable or not something we think we can do. God walks with us and God equips us. We just have to say yes and respond.
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. – Acts 4:13
Those who are ordinary and plain can do great things for God when we go forth boldly, assured of God’s call and direction in our lives.
How might you make a big impact in your community and world? How might God be calling you to be special?
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare. – Isaiah 55:1-2
To live as God has created us to live, we must live a life of gratitude. To fully be who we are we must tap into our generosity and realize that God is the one who graciously gives us what we need. Let go of the things you thought you needed, the things that you thought satisfied and be grateful for the gifts you have so freely received. Stop chasing after things that rust and are eaten by moths and find the treasure that lasts.
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken. – Psalm 15
Yesterday we talked about being patient as we worked towards fully revealing and living as God created us to be. Another important step is to live with integrity. David, in the Psalm, calls people to live this way and they will never be shaken. One of the things that prevents us from being who God created us to be is when we do not live with integrity, when we do the things that satisfy our earthly desires and wants. Living an honest, ethical and moral life prevents that which blocks God’s work in our lives and allows for God’s love to flourish. Are you honest? Are you true to your word? Are you living a decent life? God calls us to holy living and that parallels a life that is full of integrity.
As we strive to be who God wants us to be, we have to be patient. We have to wait on God’s timing. That can be very difficuilt to do as we live in a world where we get instant gratification, instant answers and instant information. When we desire to be who God has created us to be and reveal it, we want it right away but sometimes it takes time and patience for us to fully discover who we are in Christ. Be patient!
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint – Isaiah 40:31
Jesus did the impossible. He overcame sin and death and came back after being crucified. He empowered others to do the impossible. He brought in tax collectors, prostitutes and simple fishermen to turn the world upside down.
St. Francis of Assisi once wrote, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
As we continue to seek to become the person we are created to be, we must start in our faith journey by doing what is necessary. Study Scriptures, get in a small group, pray, be generous, do random acts of mercy, love others and stay in love with God. As you do this, you will begin the journey of faith. As you look back to where you were, you will find how far you have actually travelled. I love when people who actively seek faith realize how quickly they can journey into the depths of the love of Christ simply by doing what is asked. But the journey to what we thought was impossible only becomes possible when we take the risks Christ asks of us. Each of us has a different comfort zone. I have been thrilled to know that there are many of you who are doing that this Lent. One family has been in church EVERY single week. They made the commitment to do that and it is paying off. They normally attend very infrequently. Others have served and volunteered in places that normally makes them feel uncomfortable. One person said on Sunday that she is going to volunteer as a liturgist even though she hates speaking in front of people. She just asked for a passage with easy words.
Take a risk and become more than who you thought you were and more of who God knows you are. Let the light of Christ shine in you and you will find the journey takes you to what you once thought was impossible.
Have you been intentionally seeking out ways to be kind to others? Have you found new ways to love people you don’t even know? Jesus calls us to show mercy in this world. This weekend, find ONE way to be kind to someone, serve someone or to go above and beyond for someone. After all, Scripture tells us that when you do something for someone else, including the least of these, you are doing it for Christ.
While I am not a fan of the image of a fishbowl where we, as humans, swim around and God is watching our every move. Instead, I like to think that God is with us in our living and so knows what we do and how we act. Revelation 20:12 says:
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. The dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds
I certainly want my deeds to reflect acts of mercy rather than acts of selfishness. However, my theology calls me to be merciful and kind to others for a different reason. It is not so I can gain salvation. It is not so my deeds will be judged nicely when I die. I want to do acts of Mercy because it might make God smile. How awesome is it that every time I show love for someone, my Creator is proud of me and smiles at my deeds. That is worth the effort to show love.
One of the most important things to do as a disciple is to invite someone to a relationship with Jesus. However for most of us, we confuse that with simply inviting them to church. For many, if not most people, who do not already attend a church, that can be a very difficult thing. Churches can be scary places, or intimidating. They also can bring up some bad memories for people or they just do not know what to expect. Here is a tip to extend your discipleship and help our church grow new disciples (which we need to do).
Before you invite someone to your church, invite them into your home. In “Why You Should Never Invite people to Your Church….Until You’ve Invited them to Your Home” Israel Steinmetz makes this important point. “You know what’s awkward? Going to a new church. You know what’s worse? Going to a new church when you’re not already friends with someone who goes there.” Inviting people to church is easy for us, but hard for them. Inviting them to our home is harder for us but easier for them.
Enjoy a cookout with some new people in the neighborhood and when you have begun to build a relationship, let them know that you attend a church and if they are ever looking, you would love to invite them to your church. Then meet them out for coffee ahead of time and walk in the front door with them. Introduce them and show them around. If your church is like ours, it has bathrooms that take a GPS to find. The more comfortable they feel the more likely they will be back. Also, make sure you introduce them to the pastor. That is proven to be an important step for people. Finally, make sure you tell your pastor ahead of time that you have friends coming, this might allow for her/him to seek them out before you introduce them. That will make a big impression.
Now is a good time to bring someone to church. Easter is a season when many people are seeking to re-engage with faith. Why not invite them to your church?
A lot of people ask how to pray. Often, we share techniques or methods of prayer. Most of those are pretty good. I love the examen prayers and silent meditation. I love when we pray the scriptures using Lectio Divina. However, there are some fundamentals to prayer that do not require a method or technique.
If your prayers are sincere and honest, they are good prayers. Flowery words can be nice but as you pray are you thinking more about how it sounds than what you are saying to God? Do you truly mean what you say? Do you listen as much as talk? Do you want to be in prayer or is it simply a duty? Prayer is a conversation, it is an act of obedience, it is a way to praise, but all of this is hollow talk unless you mean it. Pray simply, pray honestly and you can be assured it will be heard.
You were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this city and its people. You humbled yourself and tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. (NLT)
-2 Chronicles 34:27
This Lent, we are asking people at Flowing Grace to dig deeper into holiness. One of the ways to become deeper in faith is to spend more time in the Bible. At the adult education class this past Sunday we talked about the Bible. A tool to help you in your reading of a text is to first read a Psalm. It happens to be the Psalm we have been reading as our opening to worship and call to worship.
PSALM 117: Praise the Lord, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
2 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord!
Read this Psalm before you enter into your reading of the Scriptures and use it as a reference for your reading.
1. Praise the Lord – What is it about the text that can cause you to praise God in your reading?
2. Extol him – This is even a bigger level of praise and moves the reader to glorify God – how might the text lead you to glorify God?
3. For Great is his steadfast love for us – how does the text show God’s love for us?
4. The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever – as you read the text, what does it show about God’s promises and how God keeps promises? When you read the text, know that God is faithful to loving us and faithful to the covenant with us.
I pray you find this another helpful tool for reading Scripture!
Enjoy the snow!
All, on Sunday we had some technical difficulties and so I pray that Holy Spirit intervened during the message time. However, the video is well worth the view and is a good devotion for us today. Hhere is the video from Sunday. On a separate note, I am interviewing candidates for ordained ministry today. Pray for our team and discernment and for calm for those coming before us. It is a very important and stressful day for many as they have spent the last 5-7 years or even longer preparing for these interviews.