“This is my son, the beloved; with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!” Matthew 7:5
When Jesus led a few of his closest disciples to the top of a mountain and they saw Jesus, the guy they have been traveling with for some time, transformed before their eyes it must have been one of those once in a lifetime experiences. The disciples were blown away by what they experienced. Some experiences do that more than others; sometimes we just don’t know quite what to do when Jesus shows up in our lives. The disciples thought they knew what this thing called faith was about, but this experience changed everything. Then God says something troubling to them; “Listen to him!” Bottom line is that they thought they were listening to Jesus and doing all the right things along the way. So why did God feel the need to remind them to listen? Maybe then, as today, we have a hard time listening to what God has to say to us. We think we are going in the right direction then God gives us a “wow” experience, a realization that God is a whole lot bigger than we could ever imagine. The little rooms we build for God do not hold the majesty or the fullness of the grace of God. We tend to compartmentalize God to suit our needs. We seek a God that satisfies our needs rather than experience God who will transform our lives for the better. Allow God to touch your life and be “blown away” by the change that ensues. God offers us reminders along the journey, some profound and others simply a small quiet voice. God speaks in many ways; we just need to be open to what God is doing in us and around us.
Rev. Tom Joyce, pastor
Fields United Methodist Church
“Let your light shine before others, so that your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
You are the most important person in the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ in the world. You may not believe it, but people depend on you to live out this Good News called Jesus Christ, especially in a world that seems to be full of one-sided conversations and adversarial relationships. People yearn for more than what they see, and desire to live a life of pure joy but often times have difficulty finding the peace that comes through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the past few days, the lyrics from Jeremy Camp’s “Give me Jesus” have been ringing in my ears, “you can have all this world, just give me Jesus.” Just give me Jesus; that desire can be fulfilled through our faithful witness of the grace of Jesus Christ. Jesus is amazing; he reached out and touched those others would not even consider worthy their time. Jesus saw people, all people, as God’s beloved worthy of Jesus dying for on a cross for them. When others saw someone as unworthy, dirty, and soiled with the cares and bitter crosses of the culture or sullied by the judgments folks cast upon them, he looked beyond and saw a soul worthy of being saved. When your witness is a witness of grace, there is rejoicing in heaven, because someone has found what their soul has been seeking. Our witness of God’s grace is not about rules or regulations or making sure the way we believe is how they should believe, it is about sharing the same love that God has shared with us to another. It is offering the gift of eternal life; it is knowing that when somebody turns back to the mighty and loving arms of Jesus, their life will never be the same. Your words or actions may be the only hope they receive when they need it the most. The light of Christ can only be seen when it is not hidden. Faith needs to be shared. You have been given an incredible gift not to be tucked away but to be celebrated. This thing we have received called grace is amazing, it reaches beyond what is seen and extends not judgement or pain, but shares hope, compassion and understanding. We offer grace through our witness not for our glory but for the glory of God. As St. Paul writes, “Yes, everything is for your sake so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:15) May your words and your deeds give glory to God as you extend the love of Christ to somebody that is waiting and hoping for a transformed life in Christ. You are the witness of Jesus that is so important. Think about it this way, the soul of another just wants Jesus and is crying out, “just give me Jesus,” just give me Jesus to the glory of God. Thank you Jesus!
“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Christian conversation, or as our Methodist tradition calls it “Christian Conference,” involves the art of getting along with one another and understanding the incredible value of sharing our life with other Christians. It does not mean we need to always agree but does call for us to, in the words of St. Paul, “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Worship is imperative for a vital church community, as is prayer, Biblical understanding and attending opportunities to better experience the grace of God, yet there is a need to take the time to talk about our faith as we journey with other Christians. The bottom line is that our faith is not intended to be lived out in isolation from other Christians or the world around us. We were created by God to be in community for the dual purpose of nurturing our souls and equipping ourselves and others to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ beyond the walls of the church. When Jesus taught us to pray he instructed us to begin, “Our Father…,” not “my Father.” We are baptized into one body, with a variety of gifts to share with each other for the purpose of equipping “the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12) “Christian conference” is a means of grace by which we more fully understand how God has called us, nurtured, and equipped us to celebrate the joy of living out our faith in our everyday lives. God never intended for you to live out your faith alone, rather God has placed folks along the way and opportunities to nurture what God has given you. More than a “means of grace,” Christian conference (talk) is living out your faith to the fullest; it is God’s precious gift to you. Thank you Jesus!
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
It is hard to imagine what the presence of God would be like, yet Jesus offers a taste through calling us to worship “in spirit and in truth.” “Attending to the Ordinances of God” is a way which we can truly be caught up in God’s grace, whether through partaking of the Lord’s Supper or celebrating worship. If we believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ in worship, that God comes to us in Spirit when we raise our hands to truly give honor and praise to the creator of the universe and the author of our salvation then we will truly come to know even more completely what an incredible gift God has offered to us. To worship in “spirit and in truth” is to come to worship with an open heart, an open mind, and a soul longing to be drawn closer to Jesus. To some, worship may be the thing to do on Sunday. For others, a chance to sing familiar tunes; and for others worship is a time to just get away from life for but an hour. So what if we saw worship as a celebration of the presence of God, no matter our circumstances or our disposition at the time. What if we came to worship to do nothing more than to give thanks to the Lord our God? When we worship in spirit and in truth we recognize our absolute dependence on God and our need to come into God’s presence with a spirit of humility, openness, and joy. Worship out of a sense of duty or tradition is no worship at all; worship becomes then only something to do, not to experience and celebrate. As a “means of grace,” corporate worship is crucial to feeding our souls and living a transformed life. When we worship in “spirit and in truth” as Jesus calls us to do, we experience the amazing grace and incredible joy that can only come from God’s Holy Spirit. As the Psalmist writes, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God…O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.” (Ps. 84) Thank you Jesus!