Thursday, December 19, 2013

Oceans and Sunsets, Church and Christmas

I was a grown man before I ever saw an ocean. It's only a drive of 8 hours from my hometown in west Texas to the Gulf of Mexico, but I had never made the trip. Now, over the years, my travels have allowed me to see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.

My first look at the Pacific Ocean was one of those breath taking experiences. That evening I watched from the beach in Oregon as the sun was setting in the west.  I was in awe of the majesty and the power of God. His creation had brought me to experience him and know him more closely. 

Another time, a friend and I had secured permission to go fishing at a stock tank in west Texas and our afternoon and evening showed us the sun setting over mesquite trees and pasture land. My friend made a statement to me, indicating he can see God in a pretty sunset, but it is difficult sometimes to see him in church.  I thought for a moment and had to shamefully agree. 

I know the Scripture says, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork."  God is evident in all aspects of creation and lots of people make that their "church." But God has different plans.  Look at Ephesians 3:10-12:

" His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,  according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.  In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence."

There are many good things we can say about the church.  We are added to the church by the Lord. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the head of the church and he loves the church. Much of the New Testament  is composed of letters written to churches.  The verses above tell us something about the church that is of vital importance. Look again. Paul told the Ephesians it is" through the church, the wisdom of God should be made known to our rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms."  All of this is wrapped up in God's eternal purpose that has been accomplished in Jesus. 

I enjoy seeing God in church. You can see him in the lives of the church leaders who are chosen to lead us with wisdom, with love, and with a watchful eye for the security of the people. You can see God in the lives of those who contribute food items to be distributed to the needy. You can see him in those who attend to special projects which benefit those who are sick. You can see him in the smiles and cheerful greetings of those who welcome us to the assembly.  I will add, you will be able to see God just about anywhere you look for him. 

Yes, we can see God in his creation, but we must remember creation is not the object of our worship. The creator is. We need the church in order to accomplish the intended plans of God. In the church, we can individually and collectively praise and worship while the evidence of God in our lives becomes the greatest outreach for others. 

This week while we are filled with anticipation of the joy and happiness of the Christmas season, may we see God not only in the Christ-child born in Bethlehem, but in his love overflowing through our lives. Share the celebration with friends and family, but also allow God's love show in your goodness and loving kindness to the stranger you meet, the beggar at your door, and the neighbor across the street. God bless. 


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