For some us of, God speaks during prayer, during meditation, during sermons, through scripture or (like me) with music.
Maybe it is because I was briefly a music major in college, maybe it is because I have just always loved music, but that is where I can always trust God to speak to me. Sure, I hear Him speak through scripture and sermons and meditation, but His voice comes to me stronger through music.
I like it all. The old hymns, like; “The Old Rugged Cross”, “Blessed Assurance”, “Where the Roses Never Fade”, “Camping in Cannon’s Land”, “Amazing Grace” and one of my favorites, “Rock of Ages”. I also like the new Contemporary Christian. It is all I listen to. The stories there fit so many of my own life stories. My dad’s favorite song of all time was “Beulah Land”. I am willing to bet that some of you haven’t even heard of some of these songs, but each and every one of them bring a smile to my face even as I am typing this blog.
Just to share a quick personal story – I was feeling very spiritually empty several months ago. I was praying, I was reading my bible, but still felt so empty. It was my turn to get up early and take my stepson to work. It was on my way home that God painted me a beautiful sunrise. Now, sunrises have always been my favorite, they remind me of God’s promise to pour our mercy and grace every day for us. But this morning God outdid himself, I had to chase the sunrise to find a clear spot so that I could fully appreciate it. My drive led me to the river near my house. I took many pictures and was sitting in my car praying when I hear a line from a song come through “Don’t worry child, don’t you worry. See Heaven has a plan for you.” This was on a secular music station, this was the only line I can remember hearing. The tears came pouring and I was filled with God’s love. I didn’t feel empty anymore. On the way to work that day, I changed my radio to a Christian station and heard “Come to The River” by Rhett Walker Band. Of course, my hearing those songs on that day wasn’t by mistake. God was speaking to me. God was emptying me so that I may be filled with only Him.
God speaks to us using whichever means we can best hear Him. Yet another way He always has our best interest in His heart.
When a child is praised it makes them feel proud, happy and fulfilled. So, using that logic praising God should make Him feel the same way. But in reality it is us who end up feeling proud, happy and fulfilled. I am sure that God also feels proud of us (His children) when we praise Him, but by His Grace the more we praise Him the more we get filled with His Holiness and Goodness.
Why am I suddenly speaking of praise? Well, I have some praise reports!! My battleBuddy and I (and our SS class) have been praying for her children. Today prayers were answered!! Her oldest child passed her state boards and is now a licensed Cosmetologist – on her way to financial stability for her and her three children. Her oldest son had his own good news today which he would like to keep private, but he wants the praise and glory to go to God. Her youngest son received news today that he has a stable and safe home to live in for as long as he needs.
God is good all the time. All the time God is good. Today is just another day for God, just a blink of an eye. But today, God has blessed my battleBuddy and her family. Praise be to God. She and I have been praising His name all day and we are the ones who feel proud, happy and fulfilled.
I am guilty of it myself. The line of thought that says “I have God in my heart I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” Yes, that is true – but to be an authentic follower of Christ we need to be a part of a church where other Christians are. Our church family is where we are encouraged, strengthened, prayed for, cared about and when necessary lovingly corrected. All of these things help us along with our journey towards holiness. I can sit at home and read my bible, pray and meditate on God’s word and even feel the Holy Spirit – but that still isn’t “Having Church.”
“Having Church” is when you feel the Holy Spirit freely moving during the songs. When you can just close your eyes and praise Jesus and know that somewhere else in the church someone is also feeling the Holy Spirit. That gives me strength and encouragement.
“Having Church” is when you know that Pastor is talking directly to you when he makes a statement. The old phrase is “The pastor was stepping on my toes” still rings true. The pastor happens to preach on something that you are going through at that very moment. The thing is Pastor is also talking directly to the person next to you or behind you or across the room from you.
“Having Church” is really just having the Holy Spirit present and hard at work on many lives and hearts all at the same time. Thank you, Most Powerful Holy Spirit!
Thank you, Lord for leading me to a church where we always “Have Church.”
Serving others IS serving Christ. It can be as little as saying “Hello” and smiling as you pass someone on a sidewalk or as big as giving your life for someone else. In my past, I thought you had to preach or teach or lead music to serve Christ. But I have come to learn that by serving others you are in fact serving Christ. By being a friend and keeping a fellow Christian encouraged I can serve Christ. By praying for my friends, enemies and people I don’t even know I can serve Christ. By helping those less fortunate I can serve Christ. According to Paul, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” Colossians 3:17. So I now know that all that I do with the love of Our Savior in my heart I am serving Christ. Thank You, Jesus for giving us all so many ways to serve you every day.
I recently overheard two men talking about religion and various other topics. One man asked the other, “Where does the heart of that church lie?” The man was not able to answer the question. I immediately started thinking about my church and how easily I could have answered that question. It is simple. The heart of FHBC lies in two places: loving each other and loving other people. As for loving each other, that is evident is so many ways… the most recent with the roll out of “battleBUDDIES”. The concept behind this is quite simple. Two are stronger than one, the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10If either of them falls down, the one will help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) Having a formal battleBuddy is a great way to keep yourself accountable. The key is to pick a buddy in whom you can trust and someone who will love you enough to challenge you when you get off course. Of course, in return you must also be willing to do the same for your buddy. Together you will both grow stronger in the Lord.
FHBC also shows that our heart loves others – that can be seen by the four mission fields. Our love for others is recognized by Santa Rosa county officials, Pensacola News Journal and our sister churches in Milton. I recently heard of a local church who made an announcement in church that they helped widows and their members. I am very proud to be a part of a church that helps members and non-members alike and Christians and non-Christians alike. After all, Jesus didn’t come to earth to live as a human and die a horrible death for the just. He did it for us sinners.
It makes me very happy that God has led me to a church where it is easy to answer the question, “Where does the heart of your church lie?”