Sing to the Lord

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We all like to sing along to the music we listen to whether it is in our car, our house or in church. The difference is when we are in church or listening to worship music we should be doing more than simply singing along with the music. We should be singing to the Lord.

Whether you prefer hymns or contemporary Christian music, worship music is designed to worship the Lord. It is created to help give us words of praise and thanks to sing to the Lord.

Psalm 7:17

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
    and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

But when we sing them are we really singing to the Lord or are we merely singing along? Singing worship songs should be different than singing other songs because we are singing to someone. Each time we sing a worship song we need to picture ourselves actually singing the words directly to the Lord.

Think about the last time you sang along to a worship song. Were you merely singing along or were you singing praises and thanks to the Lord? Take some time today to listen to your favorite worship music and sing the words directly to the Lord. He will be glorified and your spirit will be lifted!

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Waiting on the Lord

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Impatient is a great word to describe what we have become. We live in a world of instant gratification where we are used to getting what we want when we want it. We have so many ways to connect with others instantaneously. We can text, tweet, post a status or message someone on FB or Instagram and we expect an immediate response.

We are not very patient when we have to wait. If someone doesn’t immediately respond to a text or message, we easily become frustrated. Do we feel the same way about the Lord? Do we become frustrated and impatient when we don’t feel like we have heard back from Him on something we are praying about?

J. I. Packer gives a beautiful perspective on this in his book Knowing God. “Wait on the Lord” is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.”

If you are waiting on the Lord, perhaps instead of feeling frustrated or doubting whether or not He heard you, simply wait. He will reveal to you what He needs you to know or what He needs you to do in His time, not yours.

There is much that can happen in the waiting. The Lord may be developing your dependence upon Him and building your faith. He may be putting things in place ahead of what He needs you to do. He may be waiting on someone else to act in obedience. Whatever the reason is, waiting on the Lord is not a waste of time or merely a holding pattern. There is always a purpose for the waiting and we usually don’t recognize what it is until after the fact, if ever.

Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

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Everything Belongs to God

Generosity

“A lack of generosity refuses to acknowledge that your assets are not really yours, but God’s.” Timothy Keller

This past Sunday, our Pastor, Bob Henson, gave a sermon on how generosity makes God smile. You can listen to it here http://www.graceanglicankaty.com/sermons/. It really made me think about what I think about my possessions.

Intellectually, I know everything I have is by the grace of God, but how do I feel about the things I have? Do I feel they belong to me or to God? There is a difference between understanding this intellectually and feeling it in your heart.

When I look around at my house and the things inside it, do I feel they belong to the Lord? I do feel my house belongs to the Lord, but the things within it make me struggle a bit more. When my husband and I were looking for our house and knew we were moving back to the U.S. I had a dear friend tell me I didn’t need to worry about finding a house. She knew God had already chosen our house and she said it would be a planting.

It wasn’t until much later that I understood what this meant. Our home has been able host Bible study, prayer meetings, women’s gatherings, etc. for our church. We are a church plant and do not have a permanent worships space. My house has been part of planting our church and it feels like it truly belongs to the Lord.

The things inside the house are a little harder to truly feel like they belong to the Lord. It isn’t something that will simply happen. Being more grateful for the things I have and recognizing that EVERYTHING I have belongs to the Lord is a good place to start.

How do you view your possessions? Are they yours or the Lord’s? If we can truly grasp that everything belongs to the Lord, we might not only be more generous but also be more grateful.

Psalm 24:1

The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein,

 

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Religious Freedom Taken for Granted

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July 4th is Independence Day in the United States. This year I found myself very thankful for not only our independence but also our religious freedom. I am lucky to live in a country where we are free to practice whatever religion we want. However, that freedom can easily be taken for granted.

After living in the Middle East for four years, my appreciation for religious freedom is even greater. While we lived in Doha, Qatar we did not have the freedom to practice our religion the way we do here in the U.S. We could not read our Bibles in public, publicize our Bible studies or church services, wear anything that would identify us as a Christian or share our faith with others.

I wonder how many of us who live in countries that have religious freedom take advantage of that freedom. Do you read your Bible in public? Do you tell others about your church or Bible studies? Do you share your faith with others?

What good is the freedom we have if we don’t use it? We need to appreciate the fact we can openly practice our faith and share it with others. We need to be so excited about our relationship with the Lord  we want to tell others about it so they too, can have a relationship with Christ.

We need to be passionate about His Word and be willing to share it with others. Reading your Bible at a coffee shop, in the waiting room at a doctor’s office or while waiting for your child’s practice to end is a great conversation starter. Are you willing to read His Word in public? Are you willing to share His Word with others?

May we all reflect on our willingness to take advantage of our religious freedom and not take it for granted. May we live out the words of Paul to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 6:18-20
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

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Judgment or Love and Grace?

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Do you judge others or do you show them the love and grace of the Lord? It is something we all struggle with and it is always a choice. We choose to judge or we choose to lavish others with the love and grace we have received from the Lord.

We had a wonderful book club discussion this week at Grace Anglican Community based on the book “Dropping Your Rock” by Nicole Johnson. The book is based on the story of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and what Jesus had to say about it.

John 8:3-11

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midstthey said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” 

If we found ourselves in Jesus’ position, how would we have responded? We find ourselves in similar positions each day when we hear that someone has done something they shouldn’t have done. How do we choose to respond? Are we more inclined to feel the need ‘to put people in their places’ or to ‘teach them a lesson’ than we are to show them love and grace?

We tend to be more judgmental of others whose sin is different than our sin. We may judge someone who has been caught in adultery harsher than we would someone who gossips or is very prideful – things we are all guilty of doing. The consequences of sin are different, but in the eyes of the Lord, sin is sin.

We also tend to judge others more harshly than we would want to be judged and more harshly than we would want one of our loved ones to be judged. What if the woman at the well was our son, daughter, brother or sister? Would we want compassion to be shown to them by others? Those who are in the body of Christ are our brothers and sisters and we need to show them compassion. Those who are not in the body of Christ need our compassion even more. If we, who are in the body of Christ, don’t show love and grace to those outside the body, how will they see the love and grace of God in the world?

Matthew 7:2

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

We are not to judge others because we will be judged by the same measuring stick we use to judge them. Jesus was the only one who was without sin and the only one who was able to judge the adulterous woman. He was the only one who could have chosen to throw the rock, but He didn’t. Instead He choose to show her love and grace.

“Our rocks will never change the world, only pockmark it with hate and fear.”1 We always leave a mark when we interact with others. Are you leaving a pockmark of hate and fear or are you leaving the beautiful mark of love and grace behind? Remember, it is always a choice. Choose to show others love and grace today!

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