When The Spirit Moves

Read Acts 11 here.

Peter had a vision about what God considers clean. Before he had this vision about the animals on the sheet, he was still only focused on “his people.” But he began to understand that God’s Word is truly for all people.

There is a little verse at the end of Romans chapter 2 that I do not hear many people quote. It’s simply says, “God does not have favorites.” The point is God’s blessings and grace is not just for one group of people but for the whole world. Peter has just learned this and has had to gives his testimony to the other apostles who questioned his actions.

Have you had an opportunity to follow the Spirit’s leading, doing the good that he was guiding you to do only to have it questioned later? Sometimes I think people question our motives for doing good works. Why would we do something if it didn’t benefit us? Those who have quenched the Spirit’s voice may not understand that we don’t always do things to improve our reputation, or to move our status up. We talk with people, help, and go places because God’s Spirit is leading us.

One thing we have to be aware of is some people will not understand why we do what we do. This is an incredible opportunity to share grace, to tell the good news of Jesus Christ. Wherever we go, people need to hear about Christ so they can understand they are truly free because Christ has defeated and broken the chains of sin and death forever.

When we allow ourselves to be filled with the joy and grace the Spirit gives, people see there is something different about us. They want to know why you can handle tragic situations with calmness. They want to know how you can remain hopeful and peaceful when a family member is on their death bed. They want to know what is the source of all this.

Our culture has gotten to be more interested in finding the answers to how to “fix” their life through books, thinking all they have to do is read and they’re problems will go away. But we know that the answer to life is Christ. He is the source of our joy, strength, peace.

Knowing and living in that truth will cause people to notice you follow Jesus Christ in your life. What a joy it is to be called “Christian” meaning “little Christ.” Every time we step out and do something others may not understand, we are following the Spirit’s movement, truthfully going where Christ is working, and being his hands and feet in the world.

The Spirit will lead and guide us to do what we may not do if it was left to us. It is much easier to remain comfortable than to go where the hurt and pain is in the world. But, when we trust the prompting of the Spirt, we get to watch incredible things happen, incredible things change, and see the powerful works of God in the world and in the lives of those people the Spirit sent us to.

What great a blessing is it to be joined with God to go into the world to work for redemption, reconciliation, to make disciples of Jesus Christ, and to witness how God is changing the world one step at a time.

5 Reasons You Should Invite People to Worship Each Week

I am sure most of you have heard a pastor, or other church members say “invite your friends to worship (church) with you.” Why would we do this? I hear all the time people say things like, “all my friends already have a church home,” or “so and so won’t come to church with me,” or “I’ve tried and I can’t get anyone to come with me.”

One thing I am concerned about is when we allow these reasons to be the end of asking and inviting people to worship with us. When we invite someone to church, whether our friends or people we just meet, what are we doing? If we have the mindset that we want people to come to church with us so we can have more people join us, this may be projecting from our body language (and our spirit) and would be unappealing to those we desire to invite.

Here is something to consider: we go to worship, we are the church. So we should stop inviting people to come “to” church with us. Instead, we should invite people to come to worship with us to grow the Kingdom of God and invite people to experience the real presence of God within the concept of a full worshipping community.

We like to think that the Christian faith can be grown and nurtured individually; but this is not the case. The New Testament clearly shows being a Christian is also being part of a faith community that works together, through the grace of God, to work and walk with God to show and usher in the Kingdom of Heaven right where we are.

With this in mind, what are some other reasons we should invite people to come to worship with us?

Inviting others gives them another chance to hear the gospel

How do you feel about sharing your faith on a daily basis? Our society seems to look down, or have a negative viewpoint, of people sharing their opinions, especially our faith. If this describes you, having someone come to worship with you should give them a chance to hear the gospel presentation within the context of a worshipping faith community. I hope the community of faith you belong to gives people the opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus Christ each and every week.

Inviting others gets us out of our comfort zone

This is what seems, to me, to get to people more than ever. We like to live in a comfort zone and don’t do anything that pulls us out of feeling safe and comfortable. My challenge for us is to really consider how the Christian life is not supposed to live in a comfortable manner. Even when we are in sticky, uncomfortable, or even dangerous situations, we have the presence and grace of God already with us, never leaving us. This is the best and safest place we can be, in the arms of God, wrapped up in His grace and presence. Inviting someone to come to worship is a great step to getting us out of our zone of comfort zone. Why?

We invite because people might just say yes

This is a good thing to stop and think about. People just might say “YES” to the invitation to worship with you. What a good thing to think about. Now, there will be those who say no. This would be a good time to be the church (Body of Christ) in action and seek to develop a deeper, more meaningful relationship with that person, demonstrating your true motive for them is to come to a meaningful relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Lunch, any group activities, or anything you can think of would be a great way to develop trust in those you wish to invite. After more trust is developed because of building a relationship, they still might say “no” to coming to worship; but they could also say “yes.”

We invite because it’s a great way to have faith conversations

Having people join you in worship is a great way to begin faith conversations. Maybe something that was said, prayed, or sung struck a cord and they just need to talk more about it. This is a great time to reinforce the concept of God’s grace and presence in their life, as well as how you have and continue to experience His grace and love daily. Remember this, it is not the pastor who can develop relationships in a meaningful way with each and every person. Pastors try to do this; but the relationship building really happens with the members of the faith community. But most importantly, Christ calls us to.

We invite because Christ call us to

This is the best reason to me. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he gave his disciples and followers the Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples in all nations. We get to do this on a daily basis, wherever we are. As you are on your way, and in your daily life, pray for guidance of who God is working in the heart of that the Holy Spirit is inviting you to connect with.

Inviting people to come to worship is more than just trying to “fill the pews” or “getting more members.” It is about offering Jesus Christ to the world and inviting them to come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and experience the true life and joy that is found only in Him. This is how we get to be part of God’s redemption of the world and ushering in the Kingdom of God. How awesome is that? We are invited and called to work with our creator to show others what life in Christ really is. We get to grow the Kingdom of God (because of our love for God) with each step we walk in faith.

Stepping Out

Hello Church!

Before we began this five week series through the book of James, I wrote down a thought that I believe catches the heart of these messages: “Be who you say you are, yes!; but more importantly allow God to work in you to transform you to the person He created you to be.”

James 1:22-25 CEB “You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves. Those who hear but don’t do the word are like those who look at their faces in a mirror. They look at themselves, walk away, and immediately forget what they were like. But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do.”

The first verse we come to is a verse that I am sure everyone of us has heard many times. We must be the kind of people that don’t just learn and not do anything. We have to put our faith into practice. This seems very straight-forward and is easy to understand.

Another verse that comes to mind is Ecclesiastes 12:12 “studying too much wearies the body.” I used to tease high schoolers to give this verse to their teacher to say that they don’t need to give so much homework. They never did go to their teachers (I’m glad 🙂 ); but there is some truth to this verse that we can see through the lens of today’s passage.

If we only study, and don’t do anything about it, our studying has really been done in vain. Same thing with our faith. If we do not move to help those who need help, visit those who need to talk, giving or going where we need to go, then we have not let the words we learn for our faith to strengthen our bodies. If all we do is take time to study and not apply the message to our lives, we actually miss a grand part of life: being a vessel for the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts and lives of people around us. This is a great and joyful thing to do.

Then there are these verse about looking into a mirror and then forgetting what we see. Have you looked at a picture, turned away after a few seconds and remembered everything? No. There are times I am getting ready in the morning and I look into the mirror to brush my hair or shave and can forget if I did everything I needed to. Why is this? If the image has not seeped into our minds, and then our heart, we will easily and quickly forget what we saw. The same thing is true for our faith.

The works we do mimic what we really have faith and believe in. Our lives are a reflection of what we believe in. Simply learning new information does us no good unless we put it into practice, unless we teach another person.

This is why it is important to be doers of the word and not just hearers. If we look into the mirror and see God changing us through His Spirit and through His word, we are looking at His reflection and remembering what He says.

Today, I invite you to think about what areas you have had a difficult time doing in your faith journey. What are aspects of what you hear about faith that make this challenging?

If you’re ready to, I invite you to say YES to Christ. Allow Him to come into your life. Allow Him to guide you. See how much more you’ll be able to see much more by stepping out in faith.

Lord, today I say YES to you. Guide me to love the people you love and step out when you call me to. Amen.