Monday, June 6, 2011

A Great Morning to be in Church :)

Oh my, today’s been AMAZING and it’s only 3:00 in the afternoon! My God is so gracious and so amazing and so patient. He just keeps opening my eyes wider and wider and teaching me more and more!!!!!!!!

It started with the worship service at church this morning. My church here has an open worship service, where any men in the body can stand up and share whatever is on their hearts. Typically in the past it hasn’t always been all that meaningful to me…but the problem has been with me and not with what is being shared. But this morning was different. I could see how what each man said fit together and applied to me. It had meaning and wasn’t just something that seemed lifeless.

Before I really get into today, let me back up and say that not too much exciting had happened spiritually in my life since my last post. Other than one weekend of conviction and regret turned to praise, my spiritual walk had hit the summer slump I had expected. I’m reading through a chronological Bible in a year, but I have mainly been just going through the motions. Today in church was different – it was alive.

Our opener started the meeting by reading Hebrews 10:11-22 about how animal sacrifices could never truly cleanse people from sin, but how Christ’s sacrifice does provide complete and final cleansing. I love Hebrews so much. It’s definitely one of my top five favorite books in the Bible. In this passage, I especially like verses 19 and 22: “Therefore brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” He also read from a hymn that summed it up nicely, though I can’t remember now which hymn it was!

The next man read from John 15:9 and talked some about how Christ loves us with the same love which the Father has for Him. We can’t begin to comprehend exactly what that love is like, but some of the words that came to my mind to describe it were: eternal—limitless—unchanging—perfect.

Another person shared a story from his childhood about how he broke his toe, an injury that took six months to heal. He kept limping even after it healed, however. He tied that idea into Hebrews 9:14—Even though we have been completely cleansed by Christ’s blood, we sometimes still walk with a limp of sin. But God has cleansed us in order that we may serve Him. This is how I feel a lot of the time, and I had a similar limping experience when I bruised my foot badly last month.

After he shared, it was as though I heard a voice inside of me whispering “Keep Listening. Keep Seeking. Yearn for Me and I will fulfill you.” It’s so easy to be distracted by our failures, our busy life, whatever. But the only solid place and the only place of no regrets is when our focus is on God and His will for our lives.

Referring to Exodus 14 and 15, the next man talked about how even though Israelites had just seen God perform amazing miracles in Egypt and the Red Sea, they put their focus on their physical needs rather than remembering that God could easily provide for them.

Another man read Jeremiah 31:27-34 (which I love!) about how God remains faithful even when we are not.

Lastly, we did a responsive reading that included Hebrews 10:14, and it struck me. The verse talks about how Christ has “perfected forever” (past tense/completed) those who “are being sanctified” (present tense/ongoing). It’s so hard for me to get my mind around that….I am completely perfect in Christ, and yet there is this daily, ongoing choice to live in it or not.

Looking back and trying to recapture that sense of what I was learning this morning is difficult. In some ways, it makes me worry that I’m turning into an experientialist… that I’m basing my spiritual health on these experiences that I’ve been having. I know that having the experiences isn’t enough. I believe that spiritual experiences are valid, but they must always be based in God’s Word and revealed truth. Also, I shouldn’t just live for the experiences. I should live out what I learn in my daily life. The practical application is always harder to accomplish than the feelings of joy and spiritual understanding. But as I choose to continue seeking my Savior’s face, I have faith in Him that I will grow in my knowledge and in my walk.