Dear Brothers and Sisters:
I am writing to exhort you today.
We are called to be holy, even as God is holy – to be set apart for Him; different.
That means that we will be the minority.
When the general society encourages sex outside of marriage, abortion and compromise in terms of dress, speech, morality, values or socialization, we will not be able to participate.
When we are called to tolerate or accept things that God has clearly called sin, we will have to decline.
We are called to give, shine, love, encourage, serve and bless.
That means we don’t curse, “see to Number 1 first and foremost…”
What we get in return is our true identity: A holy nation, a royal priesthood, people set apart for and in the Most High God.
We get a different inheritance, filled with wholeness and prosperity.
Most of all, we live with Jesus forever.
Applying all of this can seem difficult – so much “gray!” True enough. That is why we have the Holy Spirit – Helper, counselor, TEacher, Comfort, to live in each of our hearts.
Don’t know how to think or what to do? Ask; you will receive all that you need – the answer and the grace to obey.
Do you feel discouraged, afraid or alone, cry out: The One who sticks closer than a brother is with you always.
Is shame or self doubt nagging at you? Look to Papa, who knows you fully and loves you completely.
My confidence comes from knowing I’m loved
By God the Most High Creator,
Who made the earth and heavens above;
Besides Him, there is no one greater.
My confidence comes from Jesus my Lord,
Most precious Lover of my soul,
My Savior, Redeemer, Living Word
Who heals and blesses so that I’m whole.
My confidence comes through the Comforter,
Holy Spirit, Helper and Guide,
A constant Presence I hear and know;
In Whom I most gratefully abide.
My confidence comes as I live in God,
Who gives me life and breath each day;
His loving arms support and hold me;
He keeps me safe, driving fear away.
One day, many years ago, I died.
Jesus came into my heart and I was born again. My life is now hidden in Him.
My old self was removed; I was given new clothes: Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love; a garment of praise, beauty for ashes, a crown of joy.
Now, as a daughter of the Most High, a member of Christ’s Body, I live a life that is different from the world. Instead of holding grudges or getting revenge, I forgive. Peace rules my heart; anger, worry, bitterness and malice have no place there. Society’s values no longer govern my thinking and choices; God’s commandments are my foundation.
I, along with all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, am different; set apart to be and live like Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is the way of Your people, oh God, by Your grace. Amen.
Based on verses in Colossians 3:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
It has been several years since I maintained a Lenten discipline. This year, however, it seems like a life giving thing for me to do.
Philippians 4:8-9 came to mind as the basis for my discipline – “Whatever is true, noble(honorable), right, pure…think on these things. Whatever you have learned, put into practice. (the lifehelps revised version)
The focus of my discipline is to reflect on what God is saying about who He is, who I am in Him and what He has or wants for me. This may seem rather basic, but I find that it is easy to get distracted.
The first word in Philippians 4:8 is “true.”
Here is an exerpt I copied from Bible Hub.com:
“what can’t be hidden”) stresses undeniable reality when something is fully tested, i.e. it will ultimately be shown to be fact (authentic).”
Hmm, what can’t be hidden. I am immediately reminded of a paradox:
There are several Bible verses that talk about mystery and how God hides things; then there are at least as many about revelation, hearing, seeing and knowing. I think the key to this is that we cannot know God apart from Him. We need Holy Spirit to reveal and quicken God’s word to us. We need His conviction, confirmation and direction. To “know” God is not about collecting factoids; it’s about personally experiencing and becoming acquainted in a relational sense. That is a life-long journey.
“stresses undeniable reality when something is fully tested.”
If there is one thing about God, all that He is, says and does that brings me great strength and comfort, it’s that He can be “fully tested” and He’ll come out true every time! A lot of things in life can seem very real; yet when they are really tested or challenged, they fail. Any lie is subject to such a fall. What God says is; we can depend on that.
“It will ultimately be shown to be fact (authentic.)”
That’s the kind of truth I want to hold on to: Real, authentic, reliable, eternal, indisputable!
Lord Jesus, lead us into truth; your Word is truth. Amen.
Quiet my mind,
So I vcan hear my heart:
All the questions and struggles there.
Make my soul calm,
Until I can hear you:
The knowledge and wisdom you share.
Friend Stillness come,
So that I can listen:
To all that Holy Spirit says.
All striving leave,
Until I am able
To follow and worship God’s ways.
I trust in you,
Lord, my source and my goal:
I glorify your holy name.
May all I am,
Everything that I do:
Be anointed to spread your fame.
Divine plans were set in place,
Especially for me
So that I would do the good works
That reflect God’s glory.
I gladly live as who I am;
Never to be someone else;
Yielding gratefully to the lead of Holy Spirit.
Oh most beloved;
My heart’s dearest treasure;
Delight of my life;
My greatest pleasure;
I did everything
Because I love you so.
I came from Heaven so glorious
As a humble child;
Died and rose victorious;
After walking with you for a while.
I ascended into glory
Holy Spirit came to you;
Now it’s you who tell My story
In all you say and do.
Oh My precious ones
So priceless to Me;
My daughters and sons;
You will always be
The joy of My heart,
Because I love you so.
Oh the glory
Of your presence
makes my spirit dance and sing;
Oh how lovely
Is your presence
Jesus you’re my everything
And I’ll worship You forever;
I will glorify your Name;
My heart’s flame.
“Lift high your praises when the people assemble, shout Hallelujah when the elders meet!” Psalm 107:32
Some of the most powerful times of worship I have ever experienced have been when God’s people joined together:
*Singing the Messiah in a large choir
*Solemn sung evensong
*Service of Lessons and Carols
*Sunday Morning Eucharist
The key always seems to be that people lay down their own agendas and selfish desires so that they can truly join with everyone else.
In contrast, I have been at gatherings where each person is checking out from the rest to have his or her own experience of God’s presence. Somehow that never quite happens.
So what is it that makes corporate worship so special?
First, there is the simple matter of joining together. There is “energy,” just in that.
Then, there is something mystical that takes place, as though the Holy Spirit likes to join with groups of people while they worship; perhaps He likes to party with us.
Angels might be chiming in as well.
I am in no way discouraging or devaluing individual times with the Lord; in fact, my training and experience tell me that good personal worship leads to excellence in gatherings.
Perhaps a dynamic that comes into play as we gather is that of true fellowship, where we really engage all that we are, physically, soulfully and spiritually.
Then again, this may simply be a mystery that we accept and enjoy.
Hallelujah! Sing to God a brand-new song, praise him in the company of all who love him. Psalm 149:1
Come oh you Christians;
Oh come one and all;
Come to Holy Spirit’s
Come know the great love
Of Jesus for you;
Then go out and share it;
Show that it’s true.
Go to the nations;
Go to every town;
Into your neighborhood;
Up hill and down.
Show by your actions,
Attitude and word;
That Jesus is truly
Savior and Lord.
By His saving grace
And through Him alone,
We enter God’s Kingdom,
Our blessed home.
Lift glad songs of praise
To Him who loves fully;