25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25. ESV.)
The Word of God and Cross References
One of my favorite tools for comprehending scripture is/are cross references. I do not understand Greek or Hebrew so when I want to make sure I have something in its correct context I look up the corresponding passages (which I also usually post here as well when writing about God's word. I hear a concordance is also helpful however I have yet to give it a try.) I also like Grudem's book SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (as I have mentioned a bit before) to assist me in grasping God's character better (which in turn aids me in deciphering the bible).
Apart From God and Without Grace
10 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11. ESV.)
The word of God never returns void, and thankfully so! All the years I spent in Sunday school and church services while growing up were not all for nothing. Though I was too naive to get a grip on what the pastor was teaching, God still took hold of my heart. Even in my "while I am here I am going to check out the guys" phase, God was at work... Yet trying to apply the word to my life was futile until grace from faith alone (Ephesians 2:8).
26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26. ESV.)
As I have mentioned before, I did not receive my new heart until I was 30. Which, in a sense, I feel honored because Jesus did not begin his ministry until He was 30 years old. On the other hand I feel sad because I perceive valuable years were wasted...but then I remind myself God's timing is perfect...and so is His orchestration of my vapor of a life.
Why I Love Attending "Church"
(First of all, my definition of "church" is the people who make up "the body of Christ". Personally, I feel (in this season of my life) there is one "body", one "church" with many parts, numerous members, a lot of congregations. But if each is doctrinally sound I conclude they are part of "the body".) With that said, I enjoy "church":
1. To fellowship (talk about and hear about God and Christ).
2. To learn theology (bible study).
3. To get a break from worldly "stuff" (usually foolishness).
Some have stated they view attending church as an obligation or hypocritical act. For me, I do not feel whether or not an individual goes to a church determines or accurately reflects if he/she is 1. a follower of Christ, 2. a recipient of God's grace, 3. a holder of the inheritance of eternal life and the Kingdom. (Matthew 13:49, Ezekiel 34:17). Though I do believe "grace" causes an individual to want to fellowship, praise and worship, and study God's word with other members of "the body". Part of love is a desire to be with the object of that affection...a priority, an importance. You know?
Do Not Abandon the Love You Had at First
4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Revelation 2:4. ESV.)
Lord, I never, ever want my love for You to turn cold or lukewarm. Please keep my eyes firmly focused on You!