Walking in spiritual freedom

For the month of January I have challenged myself with the YouVersion devotional plan reading Oswald Chambers to begin the year. Nearly every day I have been challenged in some way by a simple sentence or two.

Today was this:

When you have no vision from God, no enthusiasm left in your life, and not one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your family life, or in your duty to Him. It takes much more of the grace of God, and a much greater awareness of drawing upon Him, to take that next step, than it does to preach the gospel.

What is needed is a steady perseverance. Day in, day out, we need a steady obedience to God. Week by week, we need to be reminded in worship of the great love poured out for us as we partake in the Table. We need to see this incarnated act of love demonstrated in the Table. We need to taste his love and his sacrifice for us.

We need an incarnational Christianity that keeps us moving forward with perseverance and steadfast love. This is the power of participating in worship at the Table of the Lord every week.

The beauty of communion

Author of life divine,
Who hast a table spread,
Furnished with mystic wine
And everlasting bread,
Preserve the life Thyself has given,
And feed and train us up for Heav’n.

Our needy souls sustain
With fresh supplies of love,
Till all Thy life we gain,
And all Thy fullness prove,
And, strengthened by Thy perfect grace,
Behold without a veil Thy face.

— John Wesley, “Author of Life Divine,” 1746

Sin

“Sin is not a mistake. Our sin is our willing unlawfulness, our purposeful breaking of God’s law. In attitude and in deed, we rebel against God, and we have for that reason forfeited our right to live. We deserve to die for our sins. That’s what the death of Jesus is for; our deliberate unlawfulness.

We all make mistakes, and we can all brush them off. But our dilemma caused by our offense against God, the removal of the penalty we deserve, can only be solved by the act of God. God must provide the solution…

Jesus didn’t die for your mistakes; he died for your sin.”
— David Hansen, The Art of Pastoring

The Process of Discipleship and the Beauty of Communion

I wrote earlier about the process of discipleship.

When it comes to obedience, we so often need to “loop” right back up to faith. Discipleship isn’t “linear.” It’s a cycle. It’s a cycle that grows, but we never “leave” a certain step or stage of the process. We build.

That is the beauty of communion. It “loops” us around.

We come back to faith. We come back to the reality of the Beatitudes: no one is beyond Kingdom blessing. We come to Table of the Lord saying, “Thank you, Lord, for reaching down to touch my life. I am not beyond your reach!”

We need the constant reminder that we are broken human beings in need of the blessing of the Kingdom. We come to this table and realize that YES! the Kingdom of God HAS touched us! We are truly blessed.

The gifts of God ARE for the people of God!

Eating and Drinking in the Presence of God

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw Israel’s God. Under God’s feet there was what looked like a floor of lapis-lazuli tiles, dazzlingly pure like the sky. 11 God didn’t harm the Israelite leaders, though they looked at God, and they ate and drank. (Ex. 24:9-11, CEB)

My own Pentecostal/Charismatic conditioning says this is not how you act when the presence of God shows up. You’re supposed to fall down (forward or backward, depending on your theology), and “be undone.” Then… write a book.

Or something like that.

I exaggerate (somewhat), but when the presence of God comes down, I never heard about eating and drinking.

In that day, it was a sealing of a covenant. It was the acceptance of a peace offering. This was what they knew to do. God shows up, the covenant is agreed upon, so we eat.

The presence of God makes all the difference. His presence in our lives is key. We are to be people of the presence.

And the invitation comes to us on a regular basis. Eat and drink.

Where?

“Take and eat.”

“Take and drink.”

In our church, it’s every Sunday. We come to the Table of the Lord. We are invited to remember this covenant, and by partaking of the table we are invited into his presence. God comes down and we eat and drink.

In most churches of my denomination we are seated and the deacons serve us. The communion generally comes at the end of the service and is generally “tacked on.”

We serve communion weekly and ask people to come forward. I give the bread and say, “The body of Christ for you.”

They move to the next server who gives them the cup saying, “The blood of Christ for you.”

This is nothing new for mainline Christians. (And I’ve probably butchered it. My apologies.)

But every week we are invited into the presence of God. It’s not overly emotional… though I must admit it IS emotional for me. Every week, I love giving communion. It is precious.

But I don’t fall over. (Well, not every week.)

Yet, here I am in the presence of Almighty God. Eating and drinking.

And his presence changes everything.

Lord, Is It Me?

17 That evening, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 During the meal, Jesus said, “I assure you that one of you will betray me—someone eating with me.”

19 Deeply saddened, they asked him, one by one, “It’s not me, is it?” (Mark 14:17-19, CEB)

Jesus prepares this meal on this night among chaos. He prepares a meal in love knowing he is about to be betrayed. He prepares this meal out of his incredible love for them. Each of the disciples then hear than someone will betray Jesus. They honestly ask, “Is it me?”

They knew their own capabilities. They knew their own sin.

We think too much of ourselves. We have been spoon fed this “You can do anything in the world” stuff so much we actually think we can.

But our hearts are capable of great wickedness. We can turn on a dime and we need to see that.

Yet, in the midst of that chaos and the near betrayal, Jesus sets the table. He does it for you and for me.