Today was a really cool day at Living Hope- it was Spiritual Renewal Sunday. I honestly didn't know much about about it other than the fact that it was called Spiritual Renewal Sunday. However, I did know that this was something that the church leadership was very excited and passionate about, and a lot of prayer and preparation had gone into it. The church as a whole had been praying and fasting in preparation of this day for a while. When we allow God to move among us and speak to us, He does big things, and that is exactly what happened today. God spoke through the music and through the preaching, and I can honestly say that He refreshed me and renewed me today, and for that, I am so grateful.
One of the first few songs we sang was "Great is Thy Faithfulness", and as I was singing, some of the lyrics really stuck out to me. You know those moments where you're singing praises to God, and the Holy Spirit just grabs hold of you? It happened to me during that song. We were singing the first chorus, and I just got choked up. Lately when I pray, I've been following the ACTS prayer format- adore, confess, thanksgiving, and supplication. In the last week or two, I have really been focusing a lot on the adoration part, because it's something I know I don't do enough of. Our God is the creator, He sustains us and provides for us, He loves us unconditionally, He is faithful, and He wants to spend eternity with us. What about Him doesn't deserve our praise?? So, I have been focusing on praising Him and His many great attributes. Back to the point...we sang these words: "Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!" As I sang those words, I was overcome with the realization of the truth of those simple lyrics. Each and every day, God provides us with a new day to enjoy, to live, and with which to serve Him. He provides for our every need, whether we realize it or not. He showers us with undeserved grace and mercy every day! God truly is a faithful God. I've sung those words who knows how many times, but I had never thought about what they really mean. As I realized all of this, I got teary eyed. (I've turned into an emotional guy, I won't lie to ya, haha.) God gripped me in that moment, and I could do nothing but praise Him.
It happened again when the choir sang their song, "You Are". When Benny explained the premise of the song, he told us to pay close attention and listen for the 30 different attributes and names of God that the song talked about. So I did. The choir sang, and as I listened and read the words on the screen, I was overcome with emotion again. I didn't get teary eyed this time, that I remember, but was overcome with overwhelming joy and excitement. As they listed off the different attributes, I had the realization that is exactly the kind of song we will someday be singing at the foot of God's throne, in the presence of our God himself. How cool is that??? We will forever praise our God for all that He is, all He does, all He has done....how cool is that???? It was such a cool moment, and I really don't think words can explain what all I was feeling at the time. I started singing along to myself, and just embraced the moment.
I was really looking forward to the sermon because I had heard our guest preacher before at the men's retreat back in October. This man speaks with such a fire for God, and he really allows God to speak through him. Anyway, he preached from Philippians 3:10-14. From my understanding, the main point was that we are called into salvation and into service by God. When we are saved, God calls us to a new identity; we become holy children of God. When you're saved, you are also called into service. When God calls us into service, He calls us into action, into activity. When we're saved, Christ takes hold of our lives, and when he does that, he gives us a purpose. It's not always clear what that purpose is, but we are to pursue it as God leads, and our activity should reflect that purpose. Basically, God wants us to serve Him, so we need to get off of the sidelines. Too often, we'll let someone else in the church do the work for us, when we're supposed to be working along side of them. Our service is about God, NOT us. Many are guilty of serving because they want to make themselves look like a good Christian, and I'm guilty of that too...we all are. Serving is about glorifying God, not ourselves. And if you feel like you aren't qualified to serve, serve anyway. God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. (somewhat of a Christian cliche, but a good one to remember) Whether you think you have the ability to serve or not, God can and will use you. Serving isn't about how big we are, but about how big our God is. Isn't that reassuring? Why should I care what others think of me when I serve? I should serve to bring the attention to God.
And as if that wasn't enough, God continued to move. When it was time for the invitation, it seemed like half of the congregation got up and got on their knees in front of the church in prayer before our God, and I heard it happened in the other two services as well. That was incredible to see. God moved in the lives of so many people this morning. Families, couples, friends, individuals, children, all praying to our God. It was such a beautiful site. As I watched, I prayed from my spot in the balcony, in awe of what our God is capable of. And the best part is, I know that there are no limits to what He can do- this was just an example!
(Sorry for the lengthy post. I know that I probably rambled some and got a little repetitive, but I just really wanted to share what God showed me this morning and sometimes its hard to put it into words, ya know? Our God is incredible and it's so awesome to see Him move in the lives of so many.)