It’s gotten a little cold around here recently! Not that I should be surprised . . . it is winter! I took a few pictures of this nearby marsh at low tide.
The water level is down to a tiny trickle in the background . . .
. . . but another perspective from the opposite side shows how far the high tide rose in spite of freezing temperatures:
The water at high tide produced large sheets of ice that cracked and split as the tide went out on the next cycle, and the ice fell on boulders and uneven ground. The water is far away at this point, but the ice remains as evidence of the water’s earlier reach.
I wonder how much evidence of our faith is seen in our lives from the beginning of the week when we worship together through to the end of the week.
I realize that I am taking for granted the fact that you gather with other Christ followers at least once each week, but I am optimistically hopeful that it is true! We need the strength of our brothers and sisters, and they need ours. I didn’t get to see it, but I imagine that a marsh with a high tide of ice is a beautiful thing! When we’re worshiping together, encouraging one another in our faith, our spirits are built up. Fellowship in unity helps us know that we are not on this faith journey alone, and helps to give us hope to face the days ahead knowing that we’ve got teammates cheering us on. It’s a beautiful thing!
My question remains. What happens to our faith walk when we leave the confines of the church meeting? Is there evidence of our faith during the week, when we’re not surrounded by our church family? Is there enough evidence to convict us should it be a crime to follow Christ? Or do we compartmentalize that lifestyle “for church only?”
One of my husband’s favorite portions of Scripture is Acts 4:13: “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” (NLT) Being with Jesus should make a difference in us, as well as in how we live! But if we’re only spending time with him one day a week, how much life change is really going to happen? We need his touch on our hearts and lives daily!
Peter and John spent a lot of time with Jesus. They walked and talked together, ate together, prayed together, and learned a great deal from him. They each developed perspectives on what should be expected of one who considers himself or herself a follower of Christ, and what it means to live out our faith. I encourage you to read 1 and 2 Peter, as well as 1, 2 and 3 John. Take your time, and really contemplate the message they’re trying to communicate.
As you read, note similarities and differences in their perspectives.
What do they both emphasize? For example:
“You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.” (1 Peter 1:22)
“And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.” (1 John 3:23)
As you read, ask God to show you where you need his help to grow. Becoming more like Christ requires a much bigger dose of humility than self motivation. First we need to recognize that there is no possible way that we could ever approach holiness or perfection in our own effort. The cross of Christ is the only way to be made acceptable in God’s eyes.
Once pride is out of the way and we realize that we’ve got nothing to offer outside of total surrender, God is able to begin working in us! I love this verse I read this morning: “Lord, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you.” (Isaiah 26:12) Even our act of surrendering to his will for our lives is from him!
Reading the letters from Peter and John gives us a benchmark to measure our lives by. Where are we falling short that we need forgiveness for? What areas do we need to submit to God’s leading in order to grow in our maturity? What is the next step He is calling us to?
Spending time daily in the Word is not to be used to judge others. That’s God’s job. Our time with God is for strengthening our relationship with him, and letting him strengthen us for the journey ahead. We are called to trust and obey!
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. (Psalm 25:4-5)
He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. (Psalm 25:9-10)
Follow the Leader, Friends!