Are You Welcome?


So what would happen if you showed up at your best friend’s house unannounced? No doubt, you’d be welcomed right in and they’d be excited to see you! Now what if you hadn’t spoken to that friend in a long time, and you just went into their home and sat on their couch, used their bathroom, raided their frig, and slept in their bed? Would they be so happy to see you then? I bet not. In some cases, authorities may even be called. Even if the friend ends up being “okay” with you in their home, the friendship will be strained and harmed. We understand this concept and would never just barge into someone’s home unannounced. (Well, most people wouldn’t.) So why do would we do this to the Lord? Is He not the most important friend that we have? Is not the church His house? If we truly believe that our church is the house of the Lord, our place of worship, then why do we barge in two days a week like we own the place?

We unlock the doors, make ourselves at home on our usual pews, sit on our cushions we leave in “our” seat, and never stop to think about whether or not we even took time to let the Lord know we were coming, or if we are even welcome. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that we are always welcome in the Lord’s house, but we could be much better received by Him if we communicated with Him through the week, on a daily basis. If we talk to our friends daily and plan when we will meet up, what we will eat, what we can do and keep up to date on how each other is doing then why can’t we do the same with Jesus? He cares about how our day is, He wants to know all of our problems, fears, concerns and He also would love to hear our praise and listen to our excitement about our day. It seems so easy for us to call up our best friend and talk forever about our lives. We should do the same with the Lord. We should be telling him everything! We should talk to Him every single day, every minute even! Then He can truly be our best friend! And then we can know that we are welcome when we enter His house.

Furthermore, we will be ready to worship Him because we will have been in communication with Him already. We would be more excited to be at church, because we would be at our best friend’s house! I know when I was growing up I was always so excited to get to visit my friends or family. I loved seeing their homes and getting to know their family pets. But now I have to admit that I’m not always that excited to visit the Lord’s house. I should be, but frankly I’m human and I’m just not. If I could make an effort to talk to the Lord continually, and let Him be my best friend then I’m sure I would yearn for church services to start.

The comparison between a friend’s house and the Lord’s house can even be made when it comes to respecting it. We should have respect for the place of worship just as we do when we visit other people’s homes. When I have company I always try to make them feel at home but they usually still stay pretty reserved. I mean, visitors don’t typically pull off their socks and prop their feet on the coffee table. Now I know that there isn’t a coffee table at church, but you catch my drift. God wants us to be welcome and free of all reservations when we are in His house. That doesn’t mean we should be disrespectful, we should have the utmost respect for the most holy place we could visit. But, we should also be free to worship Him, full of the spirit without reservation or concern for what others may think. He truly does love it when we come to His house and worship Him.

He loves it more when we talk to Him frequently. The Bible says to pray without ceasing. So we should do just that, pray continually. Prayer is simply talking with our Saviour. It’s much easier to discuss anything with a friend whom we talk to regularly than someone we rarely speak to. If I haven’t spoken to you in a month, we would have to catch up on each other’s lives before we could have a serious conversation or ask each other for favors. But usually we don’t have a problem asking the Lord for help with this or that even after we have given Him the silent treatment for the past month. I’m guilty of silent treatment, intentional and unintentional. I have often admitted that I’m a horrible friend. I will eventually get busy with life and out of the routine of talking to you and then next thing we know, we have children the other of us have never even met. I shouldn’t be that way. I need to make an honest effort to stay in a routine of speaking to my Lord regularly. It should just become our nature instead of a habit. Habits can be broken. We should be best friends with the Lord and ever in conversation with Him until it is just our nature to do it without even making an effort.

Are you welcome in the Lord’s house today?

Advertisements

Lonely, Longing and LOVED


Oft I’ve wondered why we go through so many dry times as Christians.  I’m not talking about the times when we have unconfessed sin in our lives, or are in a place distant from God because of our own wrongdoing or negligence.  I’m concerned with the times in our lives when we are doing everything right, obeying the Lord, studying His word and praying fervently.  The times when we are longing to hear from heaven but yet feel so lonely without His manifested presence everyday.   We know that God is omnipresent and would never leave us nor forsake us and that our salvation is eternal, but there’s a fellowship with Him in which we at times are just yearning for a cool breeze from heaven’s shore.  We can feel so alone, dry and thirsty during these times.  This scripture has been on my heart a lot lately, and I’ve been pondering on it for some time:

And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15 (KJV)

Such a common scripture that we all have heard many times and one that we can draw many lessons from.  No doubt we see the forgiveness of God and His desire for us to be with Him.  All hundred sheep belonged to the shepherd, just as we that are saved by God’s grace belong to the Lord.  I have been the lost sheep many times in my life when I have gotten out of God’s will and ended up in a mess that only God could get me out of.  He has restored me each time, praise God!  My thought today is with the ninety-nine obedient sheep.  They are exactly where the shepherd wants them, doing no wrong, yet they have to go without the shepherd for a period of time while he searches for the lost one.  We can spiritually be right in the center of God’s will, studying, praying and living for Him, but not feel His presence with us daily.  He is still there, omnipresent, but we can’t see or hear Him.  These sheep were left alone for a time and they could not see or hear their shepherd either.  They were no doubt lonely and longed for their shepherd to feed them and comfort them.  They probably were bleating away at the surrounding wilderness just crying for a sound from their shepherd.  We should likewise be praying and desiring God to manifest Himself in our lives daily.

I’ve heard that sheep are not very smart (and we aren’t either), but I’m sure that they are familiar with other members of their flock.  Some of the sheep were probably wondering what happened to the sheep that always ate beside them or walked closest to them as they grazed.  In our churches, “flocks”, we should likewise be aware of those around us.  We should concern ourselves with the well-being of our brothers and sisters.  I’m not justifying gossip or meddling in other people’s business, we have scripture that proves that is wrong.  We do not need to know the details of our sister’s situation, we can pray just the same because God knows the details.  Pray for one another!  It may be that the Lord has us personally in a spiritual wilderness but that He is much at work in someone else’s life, trying to get their attention and restore them to Himself.  Do you care enough for your sister’s that you would notice if one of them was “missing” in a service?  I pray that we all would have that burden for one another.

It is also worth mentioning that no doubt the shepherd would have made provision for the sheep while he was away.  He loved these sheep and would not have left them in an overly vulnerable place of imminent danger.  He may have found a natural shelter of sorts in the wilderness where they would be safest while he was away.  The shepherd would have most definitely known exactly where he left his sheep so that he could return to them once the lost sheep was found.  Our Saviour is always looking out for us as His children.  The Bible says that He will never leave us nor forsake us so we can be assured that He is always aware of our situation.  We are also promised that He will always provide our needs (not wants) so we always have the comfort of knowing that He will always allow provision for us just as the shepherd does his sheep.  Praise God!

When asking my wonderful pastor about this issue, he informed me that sometimes shepherds would notice when one of the obedient sheep was longing for his attention and he would rest his staff on their back as they grazed.  He would leave it there long enough that it would thrill the sheep’s heart that the shepherd was giving it the attention it so longed for.  How amazing this is for us as well when our Shepherd gives us personal attention and love that we have been yearning for.  If we had not been without it for this period of time, we wouldn’t rejoice when we finally received it.  Praise the Lord that he always thrills our hearts with His presence when we need it most!

 

I Can Almost See the Lights…


On our way home from Jonesborough Saturday night, we came around the road that overlooks Erwin, a small little town.  It was all lit up of course and I must admit was really pretty from our view.  Brantyn, now 6, exclaimed, “Wow! Mom that’s beautiful!”.  It was, of course, but it’s such a small town and I’ve seen so many other larger, gorgeous places lit up at night. Chattanooga, TN is one that comes to mind although it isn’t as large as some.  What came to my mind though was the old song that starts,

“I can almost see the lights of that City.
I see them gathering all around the Great White Throne.
Through Faith in my Saviour, and His wonderful love,
I can almost see the lights of home.”

See, Brantyn had his eyes open to see the beauty of what I and others wouldn’t have given a second thought. Just as spiritually, we should be watching, waiting and longing to catch the first glimpse of the lights from our home, that heavenly city. To so many others in this life, there’s no city to be watching for.  There’s no excitement to see the lights from heaven or even to realize how near we are to that day.  Now more than ever, our eyes should be open wide to see the light.  The Bible says that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  We should be walking in the light and looking to Him.
Just as the lights shine so beautifully and brightly in the darkness of night, we should be shining as a light to a lost, dying and dark world.  So next time your traveling after dark, pay attention to the beauty of the lights.  Then take it to heart and make an effort in your spiritual life to shine brighter than ever, always watching for the lights from home.