The Joy Found Here

This week was Vacation Bible School week at my home church.  It’s always a memorable time, but this week, for the first time, I participated as a volunteer, not as ‘the pastor.’  I took note of the many ways that other volunteers (58 in total) played a part in creating  an amazing experience for a group of children learning that God’s love is MONUMENTAL

What beautiful cooperation, dedication, and love that I witnessed. People grew weary, but knowing they were doing ‘God’s work,’ and enjoying the journey, they lived this week with joy. Each one found a place to belong and a place of grace, acceptance not based on beauty, brains, or brawn. They loved and were loved.  In this CoffeeBreak reflection, I want to return to an old theme, something about which we all need to be reminded.

Are you, disciple, part of the Body?
Are you committed to the Church and the church?

The Church is the universal Body of Christ. We are joined to her when we are born of the Spirit and baptized in faith. But, we need to do more than know this. We need to do this!  If we will make the weekly gathering with our church family a priority, we will discover support, fellowship, and encouragement; and who doesn’t need that? 

So, why don’t more of us find the richness of relationship I’m describing? Because churches are made up of real people, flawed people, who don’t always love well.  It takes commitment, patience, and time to create the connections that return the kind of joy promised to those who are ‘in the Body.’  Look what is possible. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” (1 Corinthians 12:26, NLT)

Experiencing real ‘body life’ requires radical commitment; akin to that which we make in marriage.

Some Christians “date” churches endlessly, but never marry one!

Thus, they never know the great joy that can only be experienced as a part of a team that is building the Kingdom of Christ. They let the superficial stuff – who was nice to me, who talked to me, who noticed me – replace the unity of the Spirit that binds us all together. 

When we let the Tempter stir up feelings of resentment toward other people in Christ’s Body, we will fall into the sin of offense.  Inevitably a high wall will appear dividing us from those who are our best allies in the fight for faith. Even worse, when we let resentment loose, we will begin to attack and destroy what Christ loves! Think what it does to His heart when we tear down, for selfish reasons, the Bride (the Church) that He loves so much that He gave His life for her.

The Bible offers this lofty description of Christ’s Church. “By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News. Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:7-11, NLT) God’s plan is to use the church to demonstrate His grace and goodness to Heaven and Earth!

Church attendance numbers are sharply down in post-COVID America.  Break that trend by investing time and effort in body life.  It’s a commitment that pays rich and numerous dividends.  And, it’s not all work and effort. Good churches are more than an organization. They are ‘family.’  Yes, just like natural families there will be problems, dysfunctional people, and disappointment, but there will also be friendship, support, grace, and purpose in the Presence of God.  

Here’s a word from the Word to ponder today. “I … beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each  other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6, NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)

House Of The Lord

We worship the God who was
We worship the God who is
We worship the God who evermore will be
He opened the prison doors
He parted the raging sea
My God He holds the victory yeah

There’s joy in the house of the Lord
There’s joy in the house of the Lord today
And we won’t be quiet
We shout out Your praise
There’s joy in the house of the Lord
Our God is surely in this place
And we won’t be quiet
We shout out Your praise

Oh oh oh
We shout out Your praise

We sing to the God who heals
We sing to the God who saves
We sing to the God who always makes a way
‘Cause He hung up on that cross
Then He rose up from that grave
My God’s still rolling stones away

(‘Cause) We were the beggars
Now we’re royalty
We were the prisoners
Now we’re running free
We are forgiven accepted
Redeemed by His grace
Let the house of the Lord sing praise

There is joy in this house oh yeah
There is joy there is joy
And we won’t be quiet
We’re gonna shout out Your praise

We shout out Your praise
There is joy in this house
There is joy in this house today
We shout out Your praise
We shout out Your praise

Jonathan Smith | Phil Wickham

© 2020 Be Essential Songs (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

Cashagamble Jet Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

Phil Wickham Music (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC])

Simply Global Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC]) CCLI License # 810055

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