Some of you may have seen the Questions program that Duff, Mike and Chris have been putting out over the past couple of years. Some of you may not have noticed or not checked it out yet. Our goal with Questions is to engage the church and non-churched people in thoughtful discussion around faith and […]
Worship Academy is a group of courses aimed to help you develop your artistic abilities while finding ways to use them to enhance and encourage worship. Check out more here: gpchurchofchrist.com/worship-academy
Here are some of the areas we are still needing people to help in: Sunday School These roles require a background check and completion of our Vulnerable Persons Training Teachers Needed Class # Needed Preschool 1 Needed Grade 1-2 1 Needed Grade 3-4 1 Needed Grade 4-6 1 Needed Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info Youth […]
“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”
– James 2:18
I have always liked the book of James, mostly because it speaks to our need to have our faith expressed in real ways. Some have had issue with it because it seems to lean towards earning our faith by what we do. This however, is not the reality. The reality is that if we have faith, it must express itself in what we do and how we live. We cannot have (or rather do not have) faith when it exists only in our minds and hearts, it must spill over into our hands and feet. What we do (our deeds) are evidence of what we believe. If we profess the love and grace of Jesus, how then are we living it?
There is so much evidence of this in the bible. One of the main judgements God had against Israel was their exploitation and abuse of the weak and powerless. They were not reflecting the character of God in how they lived. They identified themselves as the chosen people of God, but then neglected the fact that they were called to represent God to the world. We too are called to be God’s representatives and reflect his character. How we interact with people in our workplaces, our schools, at the mall and online all must reflect our relationship with Jesus. That our relationship with Jesus that is so flooded with the knowledge and understanding of his grace that it overflows in us and oozes out of every aspect of who we are.
So the focus again needs to come off of us. It has to be on him. We cannot hope to live this out unless we are oriented and centered on Jesus. Our desire to make a difference in this world cannot be rooted in our effort, but rather in our desire to reveal who Jesus is as he fills us and his spirit moves in us. Our deeds are not about doing better or trying harder. The evidence of our faith is the deeds that pour out of us as we dwell in and live out who Jesus is.
If you have a minute read the entirety of James 2 here: James 2 Text
I was thinking about my own relationship with Jesus and what could possibly change who He is to me. If my life was completely flipped upside down and nothing was going right, would it change how I relate to Him? When things are good I am thankful and happy. When things are bad I get negative. Either way I try to place the blame on something I must have done or I distance myself from Jesus.
I realized that if I am going to call myself a disciple of Jesus I need to have a relationship built on who he is, and not what he does for me. I need to understand how I walk with him is not contingent or dependent upon what I have to offer. Even on what he can do/has done for me. Is Jesus himself enough? Do I only want Jesus for what he has to offer me and how he can improve my life? We usually default to the answer of “no” or “of course not”. I feel that this is either because we are afraid to look at our lives in a more honest way, or we are afraid of what it might cost us. You see, as we let go of “regular” things and pursue Jesus, we might find we get asked to sacrifice, to give things up, to have less for ourselves. Less money, less power, less comfort, but more Jesus. How does that sound to you? On its face not very appealing, unless you’ve met Jesus. You see, to really know Jesus is to see what being human actually is. In Jesus we see real life, real freedom, real hope. Jesus didn’t do things the way the established order did. He made time for the insignificant, he honoured the lowly, he gave his time and energy to show people their worth. That is what Jesus has in store for us too. If we can learn to grab a hold of him first and foremost. Ask him to drag us around with him, we will begin to see things differently. Our yearning for a better car, a better job, better health, better friends. This will all fade as we begin to see more and more of who Jesus is. As such, we will also find ourselves giving more, sharing more, wanting less, getting deeper friendships. We will see our lives improve but most likely not in the way we would have wanted. As we make Jesus the centre of who we are, we will learn what it means to be human, and what it means to truly live.
So, if you find you are tired of where you are at, maybe it is time to get to know Jesus? To decide that he is enough, and let go of all the other things that cling to your soul. Maybe it is time to say, “Jesus you are enough”.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
We all come to points where we are tired, worn down or sick of people. It is a normal part of life, but for people who follow Jesus we need to remember to have patterns in our lives that renew and revive us. It is easy for us to keep trying to soldier on, put on a brave face and try harder. It is more important however that we recognize our dependence on God. That we need to come to him and ask to be refilled, renewed, restored. God wants us not our deeds, God want us not what we can do for him. We have a God that is unlike any other. Read this passage from Micah chapter 7: 18-19
“Who is a God like you?
Who forgives sin
and pardons the rebellion
of those who remain among his people?
Who does not stay angry forever,
but delights in showing loyal love?
Who will once again have mercy on us?
Who will conquer our evil deeds?
Who will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea?”
We have a God who delights in forgiving, showing mercy and compassion. We have a God who takes the worst parts of us and refines them. His love is described as loyal, unrelenting, boundless. It is a well that we must ensure we are continually drawing from. It is the source of life that enables and empowers us to live as his children. It is the strength we need to overcome our struggles and the courage to proclaim his love to everyone. If we are not regularly returning to the well, we will dry out, become weak, fall apart. We must recognize that God does not want or expect us to be strong enough. He is the one who deals with our sins, and he is the one who transforms us to be more like him. We must therefore learn to rely upon him and come the well where he refreshes and restores us.
So how do we come to the well? In many ways and no one way is the only way. Most common is to spend time reading the bible and praying. Allowing his word to saturate your spirit and wash over you. Music and praise is another key component to this. If we are joining in worship of God with other people we recognize that God is at work in us, his church, and that we rely on him. Serving is one of the most overlooked ways we draw near to God, but as we lay aside our own wants and needs and engage in service of others we begin to gain greater awareness of the value and dignity of others. We express in tangible action that we desire God to use us to lavish his love on others.
So, make sure you are returning to the well, the source of life. Find time and create spaces where you can be renewed and restored in God’s presence. Understand anew that we have a God who loves to show mercy to us, who will not let anything stand in the way of us coming to him. Come to the well and be refreshed.
I have been thinking about how is my day to day life impacted by my relationship with Jesus? It is one thing for us to acknowledge that we need Jesus in order for our debt of sin to be paid, but there is so much more to a relationship with Jesus than that.
It is about transformation and restoration. What God wants is for us to be whole, to be complete and we cannot have that apart from him. If you look at the biblical story, the entire narrative is about God seeking to restore all of creation to its proper state. I know for myself I often lose sight of the bigger picture and get too focused only on myself and my own shortcomings. Jesus calls us to take part in the restoration of all things. We are called to be peacemakers, advocates, servants, and leaders. We are called to be agents of change. So the question remains, how does Jesus change how I live? How does he transform and shape every aspect of my life? How do I treat the homeless person I walk by, the grumpy cashier, the annoying co-worker? How does the fact that I know I am loved by the king of the universe affect how I treat people? My challenge is to ask God to have his love drench every fibre of my being so much so that it spills out over everyone I meet. Will I have dry and crusty days? Sure, but I will acknowledge them and pray for God’s love and grace to move through me despite them.
I believe that we can take a hold of God’s love and hold tight then he will show us what restoration looks like. Restoration of our hearts and lives, restoration of our friends and families, restoration of this world. This question remains, do we want this?
“The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
Family Camp again July 15-17th. A great time to hang out, eat and worship together. For more details check out the event here: Family Camp Info Kids Day Camp July 18-20th For kids ages 6 to 12 and will run from 830-4 each day. Kids will need to bring a lunch but we will be […]
Whether you think of it as the Annual Meeting or as the Ice Cream Social, this is an important time for our church family. We get to hear about the state of various ministries as well as there is opportunity to ask questions and discuss the plans and direction of the church for the upcoming […]