I have written for 31 days. My topic has been about Scars alternating with the Hope of the Gospel. We are now at the “so what” stage. Actually, at the end of each post, I have had a call to action that has attempted to deal with that a bit. But of course, it is up to you. You have the choice to think further on the topic and apply the truth of that particular lesson.
At this point, that is the challenge for each of us. If we continue to think in generalities about our scars or even the gospel, we really won’t progress very far. We won’t understand where our problem is, nor will we understand how the Gospel applies to our life specifically.
You may think I’m splitting hairs. It’s possible. But I have found that, just as in medical issues, having a “diagnosis” often helps us understand how to apply the medication of GOD’s Word to specific issues we are facing.
Will He guide us and lead us to solutions? Yes, of course. But as we mature in our faith, just as in life, we would like to think that we can understand how to problem-solve in certain areas. This applies to our spiritual life, spiritual community and our relationship to Jesus.
Am I suggesting we need to learn how to function apart from Jesus? NO! But as believers, we have a variety of settings in place for us to grow. When it comes to basics, we have GOD’s Word and prayer.
We also have the Church. This is the community of Believers who worship together.Spend time with GOD's people listening to GOD's Word preached and in community as you share Communion together in the spirit it is meant to be done. Click To Tweet
What is involved in worship?
- Preaching of GOD’s Word
- Prayer-as a community and as individuals
- The sacraments-The Lord’s Supper and baptism. The more frequent sacrament is the Lord’s Supper. It is a concrete reminder of the cross and what Jesus did for us. It is also a means of grace just as other aspects of worship are.
- Confession of sin
- Reading of GOD’s Word
- Praise/Adoration-this is partially seen in singing, but it can be part of prayer and reading of GOD’s Word too
- Building up of the Body-this can also happen before and after the actual worship service as well as during the service
The last three have a lot of overlap in worship. The first four are generally considered to be part of most worship services. Not all worship services include the sacraments every week.
What is the means of grace?
“What the church does when it gathers on the Lord’s Day is not incidental; it is vital for the salvation and sanctification of God’s people. The Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer are, after all, Christ’s ordinances.
The ordinary means of grace, then, are not the inventions of man; they are the institutions of Christ. And if Christ is the one who instituted the ordinary means through his apostolic word, then we neglect them at our own spiritual peril.” Luke Stamps
The above quote is from this article that goes into more detail on the term means of grace. I found it helpful both for a historic setting and for an understanding of what means of grace are.
Why is the means of grace important?
I had heard the term before, but in the last few years, I came to understand a practical application of this term. There is something about hearing GOD’s Word preached and partaking in the sacraments that ministers grace to us in ways that can’t be quantified. There is some mystery about it. But it happens. Somehow extra grace is ministered to us through those two things. One author I read described how this helped her overcome long entrenched sexual sin in her life. Sometimes we like to complicate the work GOD wants to do in our lives. As it turns out, His ways are much simpler.
We want to keep our sin private and deal with it on our own and in our own way. Somehow, GOD, in His infinite wisdom, does not want it to be this way. He has instituted the Church to help us grow and mature in Christ in ways we don’t always want to grow.
Is it a perfect institution? No. It is made up of flawed people like us. But it is what GOD has put in place. It is His bride, for better or worse. We find it easy to critique her for sure. But if we are, we need to be sure we are doing it from the inside, as people who are involved from within His Body. Not as those who are sitting outside, waiting for some perfect, ideal church to come along. It won’t happen this side of heaven.
Spend time with GOD’s people listening to GOD’s Word preached and in community as you share Communion together in the spirit it is meant to be done. This is how you will have victory over sin. The assumption is that you will obey what you hear, not rebel against it, if you are a child of GOD.
Yes, you will still read GOD’s Word and pray on your own, but you need this time of worship with others as well…and so do I. It gets us out of our heads and focusing on ourselves and forces us to think about others. We are surrounded by people and often know their needs. Sometimes they are overwhelming. But we think we need to be on our own little island. It just isn’t true! GOD is going to keep us in relationship with people over and over again.Just as the Trinity has been in relationship with each other for all eternity, He wants us to be in relationship with one another so the world will see the genuineness of the Gospel. This is to happen through the Church. Click To Tweet
We underestimate some of the simplest things in the spiritual life. In our day and age, so many want to “go to church” via TV or in other ways, stay uninvolved. The reasons are manifold. Many of them sound very good.
- We have been hurt in churches before.
- People in churches can be hypocritical.
- Our church leaders aren’t perfect. (This is no big surprise. Remember, all of us are human!)
- We don’t want to fight church politics.
The list goes on and on. But the fact is, GOD has given us a way to grow together, in relationship with both GOD and each other. It is a powerful message to the world around us. Just as the Trinity has been in relationship with each other for all eternity, He wants us to be in relationship with one another so the world will see the genuineness of the Gospel. The only way we can do this is to relate to each other in the context of the Gospel; of hearing GOD’s Word preached to us; of interacting in community together as we grapple to understand what His Word means to our everyday walk with GOD; and as we pray together.
A new commandment I give to you,
that you love one another: just as I have loved you,
you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 ESV
Call to Action:
- Look back over the past 31 days. Which scars do you identify with most?
- Write down one scar that you consider your area of most woundedness now.
- Look back over the words of the Gospel. Which Scriptures speak most to your scar or woundedness?
- Write down the references of those Scriptures from the Bible. Begin the process of memorizing them one at a time or spending enough time meditating on them that you will have them nearly memorized so they will be affecting your thinking.
- Begin praying for GOD to use His Word in your life to hear your wound/scar in ways that will glorify Him.
- Pray for GOD to bring fruit from the Word you memorize.
- Pray for His Spirit to guide you as you are active in His Church. Where should you be serving for now? Where should you be receiving?