Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Scrooch* in a Little Closer

What an awesome time of worship we enjoyed in our contemporary service this past Sunday! God drew me close to Him through the words of the songs, the testimony of the worship leader, the enthusiasm of those around me, and the toe-stomping message in the skits performed by a talented troupe. I love it when God’s nearness is practically tangible!

Do you long to draw close to Jesus? Be encouraged then, because, in His great love for us, God uses a variety of ways, not just worship, to draw us into a deeper relationship with Him.

God gave the church the basic disciplines of prayer, worship, the Lord's Supper, Bible reading and study, Christian fellowship, and fasting in order to lead people to saving faith in Jesus and to keep us close to Him.

By regularly practicing these spiritual disciplines, we avail ourselves of the power of grace to:
  • transform us into the persons God wants us to be (Romans 12:2)
  • enable us to obediently love God and  love our neighbor (Luke 10:25-27)
  • grow in holy living (1 Peter 1:15)
  • express our faith through love (Galatians 5:6)
  • understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:11-13)

Surprisingly, the famous Methodist theologian, John Wesley warned that how we use these disciplines will determine whether we receive any grace through them. What did he mean?

Like the Pharisees of Jesus time, we sometimes do the right things but for the wrong reasons. Wesley encourages us to keep the following truths in mind:

God can offer his grace in any way and at any time. Have we limited God by only expecting to find Him in prayer or Communion or in fasting? Are we looking for Him always and everywhere?

Spiritual disciplines themselves cannot save us. When we read the Bible or give or go to church, is it out of a misplaced notion that these efforts will erase our sins? Only faith in the sacrifice of Jesus can assure us of forgiveness.

Drawing closer to God must be our only motivation. Practicing these disciplines will not earn us special standing with God or make us more deserving of His favor.

Isn’t it awesome that God wants so much to be in a relationship with us that He’s willing to reach out through all available means to get our attention? What has drawn you close to Him today?

Scrooching in a little closer to Jesus,

*scrooch [skrooch] Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S.
verb> to squeeze or huddle (usually followed by in or over).

©2012 Pamela D. Williams