Tag Archives: worship

Trying to Read God’s Mind

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This morning, as part of my devotional time, I was reading from a book, When God Says “Wait”, by Elizabeth Laing Thompson (sidebar:  I got this as a free Kindle book from Book Bub).  This morning’s chapter discussed some of the unpleasant thoughts we have when we’re waiting;  often we come to the conclusion that God is angry and is punishing us.  Then the author makes a very good point:  WE CAN’T READ GOD’S MIND!  The Bible makes this very clear in the book of Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

If you read closely, you’ll see that we’re not only incapable of reading God’s mind, when we try we’re almost certain to get it wrong — He just doesn’t think the way we do.  So, what do we do when we want to know God’s will?  When we want to know why some dreadful thing is happening to us?  When we have questions about the purpose of our life?

I think we have to go back to a previous blog post I did, “Agree in the Lord, Example #1.”  In that post, I talked about the fact that we can’t read the mind of other people — if we’re upset about something they said or did, the best course is to go and talk to them directly.  The same holds true with God — when I don’t understand or don’t like something that’s going on in my life, I need to go and talk to Him about it.  The most important way to do this is prayer:  pray, pray, pray and then pray some more.  It also means studying His word, because often that is how God speaks to me.  It means attending worship — another opportunity to listen to His word through the readings, sermon and hymns.

Does this mean I’ll always get a quick and clear answer?  Well, no.  It does mean I’ll have a relationship with God.  I’ll come to a better knowledge and understanding of His character.  I’ll mature in wisdom and discernment.  I’ll trust Him, even when I don’t know all the answers.

Have questions?  Go to the primary source;  go to God.

Contractual . . .

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Contractual . . .

Hosea 13:4-6

“Yet I have been the LORD your God Since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, For there is no savior besides Me. I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought. As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me.”

I read, ‘ . . . And being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me.” And I think that Christians need to remember those words. Not because we need to tell others about the words of warning God spoke, but because Christians need to warn each other. God makes a promise and we all know he’ll keep it. We certainly balk if we feel he hasn’t or won’t; yet how easily we forget that long ago we agreed to uphold our part of a binding contract.

We are a government, people, society, even world of contracts. Paper work to verify other paper work to ensure promise of words written and said in processes of purchases, acquisitions, and agreements of all kinds. And we have laws that force any who would dare usurp such paperwork as this.

How hypocritical we all are. Christians descended of Jews who are descended of Abraham, Father of nations made a promise. To follow God, worship only Him, and to do so by obeying His will. Which, I might add, only looks to provide us the best and safest option. In other words, His will would never wish His people harm or leave us wanting. Yet we’ve strayed, and forgotten over and over that our God loves us and that we also made a promise. We have grown comfortable by the blessings He gives and in our comfort and satisfaction we forget who gives it. We think it must have been our own doing. That the ‘stars aligned’ and all our efforts came to bear fruit of prosperity and peace. But from where did we get the money? A job, the employer, the company, a city, the state, country; have all those things including the political web of red tape and regulations, with the world chess pieces of military power all been a product of our own hand?

God might ask us as He did Job if we laid the foundations of the earth and hung the stars and moon. No, we simply reap the benefits if we only obey putting one foot in front of the other. We must be cautious, and not forget when we sit on our soft couch in our warm homes just who made it all possible. Good for us we have a really big note a.k.a. the Bible, so that we can read it and remember not just God’s promises which are faithful, but our own.

Walking in Obedience

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I am posting this for Becky, a Lutheran lady from St. Paul’s who does not use the computer, but likes to write.  She is one of our adult Sunday School teachers.  I hope you enjoy her thoughts on this month’s topic, obedience.

A Christian is called to obedience and discipleship.  God is to be loved and listened to and obeyed.

“The Lord our God is one Lord and you shall love Him with all your heart and soul and might” Deuteronomy 6:4 (the law of love)

Be exclusively devoted to God and learn His commandments and obey them.  Our entire being must be totally committed and obedient–our total being with love–our absolute devotion to God with all we have.  We need to seek the truth.  His word is truth and needs to be known and obeyed.  When we worship, we come together before a loving God to honor Him for His greatness and focus on listening to hear His Holy Word.  We have to be exposed to the Word and open our hearts to transformation through faith and obedience.  Willing obedience is the response of gratitude for the gift of eternal life.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  John 14:15

We respond to God’s promises and commands out of love and gratitude and devotion to Him.  In lifting our hearts to God and being instructed by Him, we express our love for Him.  God commands us to be consistent in our Christian conduct.  What we profess must be revealed in our actions.  Where words and deeds are in harmony, faith and works go hand in hand.

With the perfect obedience of Jesus, we, through faith and love can now in Christ obey God and be saved(Romans 5:19).  Christ’s obedience teaches us obedience through believing in His saving work.  We join with Him and receive the promise of eternal salvation.

“Who in the days of His flesh, Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered.”  Hebrews 5:8

Doing good to others is part of our commitment to God.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments.”  1 John 5:2

Our walk of obedience to God gives us a heart guided and nurtured by the Holy Spirit in all areas of our lives to grow in our love for Jesus.  May we each offer ourselves to God in trust and obedience.

 

 

 

New Month/New Theme

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Can you believe it’s November already? This is my husband’s favorite time of the year.  The air is turning crisp and cool (he likes cool, I like warm).  The fall decorations have been brought out at church — pumpkins, gourds, apples, and other symbols of a successful harvest surround the altar area. The scenery is beautiful as the leaves change colors. We’re looking forward to our annual November trip to South Carolina to visit our daughter, Kate and her husband.

Most of all, November is a time for giving thanks.  As the end of the year approaches, it’s a good time to stop and reflect.  Am I thankful?  (I should be).  Why am I thankful? (God has given me many good gifts, starting with His son, Jesus).  How do I show my thanks? (do I worship and praise Him?  Do I pass His love on?)

All of these questions are food for thought, and I know the Lutheran Ladies will be discussing these ideas and more this month.  So spend some quality time giving thanks, read our posts, and tell us how giving thanks makes a difference in your life and the lives of those around you.

God loves you and so do we!

!

 

 

Lost and Found

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I have a reoccurring dream theme:  I’m lost or I’ve lost something.  Time is passing and I’m searching and becoming more and more anxious.  Like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, I’m going to be late and/or unprepared.  It’s not a good dream.

For some reason those dreams made me think about the church and all the things I would lose if I weren’t part of it.  Of course one thing I wouldn’t lose is my salvation, because like all good Lutherans I know that God chose me and gave me faith, I don’t earn it by going to church or by the things I do there.  But my Christian life would be only a shadow of what it could and should be without the church.

At church, I learn more about Christ and the life of faith.  I learn through Sunday School, Bible study and sermons.  The Bible becomes a living part of me, not a reference book I have to refer to.  I learn through the example of others.  There are so many people at church I admire for different things.  People at church have taught me about generosity, self sacrifice, leadership, compassion, joy and any other Christian virtue you can think of.  Better yet, the folks at church encourage and support me when I use my gifts for the good of the congregation. In fact, church was the place I found out that I had gifts to share!

Church is the place I go to worship God (a good reminder in case I drifted away during the week) and where I receive the sacrament of communion, which strengthens me for the days and trials ahead.  I get to sing!  Don’t you think singing always makes you feel better? You don’t even have to sing well, just lose yourself in making a joyful noise to the Lord. I see friends who celebrate and mourn with me and who pray for me whenever I ask.

So, I am puzzled.  Who would want to lose all that in order to find a few more hours to sleep in, or go to the mall or watch sports on TV?  What do you find when you take time for church?  What do you lose when you don’t?

“Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”Hebrews 10:25

 

 

 

Liturgy as Prayer

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“The liturgy of the Word is prayer.  You pray the scriptures with, and for, the people assembled and the words go out to them, touching them in ways that only God can imagine.”

Kathleen Norris

The congregation I belong to, St. Paul’s Free Lutheran, is liturgical.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Liturgy, in Greek, means “work of the people.”  It’s something we participate in together, the body of Christ in this place.  If prayer is communicating with God, the liturgy is also prayer.  In the familiar words, many of them directly from the Scripture we confess to God, we sing His praises,  and thank Him.  We intercede for others.  We offer our gifts for His use.

God speaks to us as well through the reading and sermons.  He offers us forgiveness and the gift of His body and blood to strengthen us.  He sends us out with renewed minds and spirits to do His work in the world.  Here’s a quote by Thomas Merton which reminds me of what the liturgy does:

“….(prayer) is  the needle by which we draw the thread of charity through out neighbor’s soul and our own soul and sew ourselves together in one Christ.”

Through the liturgy God weaves us into a community.  It doesn’t matter if we are old or young, rich or poor, black or brown or white, educated or ignorant, for this brief time we become one in Christ and it changes us.  It changes us because when we pray together, we become God’s kingdom on earth.

How does your worship experience change you?  Please send us your comments.

Walking through the Services

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All my life I’ve gone to church on a fairly regular basis. Growing up, my parents added Sunday School and Vacation Bible Study to what we were required to attend. Then there was confirmation. As I got older, it didn’t seem so important to attend church regularly and besides, it’s hard to get the family up, dressed and out the door. Gee, I have to do this all week long, do I really have to do this on Sunday, too? This is what would go through my mind.
So when a crisis happened (my husband diagnosed with terminal cancer) we went back to church. Still not as much as we should have, but with more regularity. The children are grown so it was just the two of us. I started looking forward to the services to start my week. It made my life better.
I’m telling you all this because this Easter Season is the first time I’ve gone to all the Lenten Services and I actually went to the Maundy Thursday service last night. This was the first time I’ve attended this service and it was very powerful for me; it made Christ hanging on the cross more real to me then it’s ever been. When we stripped the Altar of all the vestments, candles and flowers I felt like I wanted to cry. It was a very solemn thing.
I’m not only planning on attending all the services this weekend, but I’m looking forward to them. Tonight is the Good Friday Service and I have an open heart for what ever happens. There are two services on Sunday and I’m looking forward to both of them.
This is a change for me. This is different. If any of you think that all these services are a pain, you don’t have time, you don’t want to take that much time for church; I would tell you to take the time, go with an open heart and I believe your life would be changed.

Would you sacrifice your time and energy to attend all the services at your church?