Does the Holy Spirit live in your heart and work in your life? This story started Memorial Day weekend. Our family celebrated the marriage of our neighbor’s son in the Blue Ridge Mountains. As the precious couple pledged their love to one another in an outdoor chapel, butterflies fluttered and a cool mountain breeze blew gently through the crowd. The simplicity and sacredness of the ceremony touched me deeply. Love was in the air; the Holy Spirit was in that place. God’s beauty could be seen in the majestic mountains, the placid lake, the serene setting, and smiling faces of family and friends close to the couple and the Lord. I could feel the presence of His Spirit and the power of His love.
To complete a wonderful weekend, I headed to High Point to visit my sister. Gaye’s family has suffered through seasons of sickness and sorrow, but sunshine always shines in her heart. How can one family face so many trials and troubles? Surely, you know families like that too. Good people get hit with hard times at every turn and we just don’t understand why! Job’s family is proof that good people indeed suffer, but God never leaves them. Job remained faithful when horror and heartaches tore his life into shreds. The end of his story shows the Spirit of the living God falling fresh on him and pouring out blessings tenfold…all because Job trusted and stayed true to His Lord.
Sunday morning I enjoyed breakfast with my sister and her son at a family favorite, The Tar Heel Diner. We celebrated his summa cum laude graduation from Virginia Tech. Then, we worshipped together in their church. I love the freedom and sweet spirit that flow in Quaker services. Open worship offers a time for all people to share in the worship experience. We welcomed five new people into the Deep River Friends Meeting. While we waited to shake their hands, Gaye explained this ceremony is like baptism in the Baptist church. I stood silently in the quaint, spirit filled church, wondering about heaven and how things are handled there. Surely, there aren’t designated places for denominational saints. I thought of how man has complicated what God meant to be simple and sacred. Whatever church or spot we choose to worship, we can commune with the Father, if He lives within our hearts. That’s the beauty of possessing a personal relationship with Jesus. The Spirit of the living God will melt, mold, fill, use, cleanse, teach, hold, and reach us wherever we are. The peoples’ friendly embraces and special service caused His Spirit to rise up in me powerfully. Experiencing God is wonderful wherever you are. God isn’t interested in how religious or denominationally correct we are; He is pleased when we accept and adore Him, walk and talk with Him, honor and cherish Him, and simply LOVE Him. He looks inside our hearts to see who we are; the outside never fools Him. When we become a child of God, we will choose to trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy. How many people reading this today are truly happy? If you know Jesus and He lives in your heart, you’re a happy camper…Christian!
Monday, I was back at work and reflecting on the weekend while cleaning out my Bible tote. The bulletin from my sister’s church hit the trashcan, but something said, ‘take it out and read it again’. I was certain I should do that but uncertain why. When we listen to His promptings, He will guide step by step. That’s what frustrates many people. God does not reveal the big picture at one time. He nudges and stirs our hearts, speaks softly and sometimes gets our attention with a bang! Yet, He always gives perfect directions - piece by piece - to get the job done, glorify Him, and bless us. His Spirit is the Helper He promised to send. When we accept Him and live connected to the Vine, we share a bounty of blessings, divine love and protection, peace here on earth, and promise of eternity in heaven. There are no man made restrictions, rules, or regulations to restrict us from receiving the Spirit of the Living God. Jesus frowned on the actions of the Pharisees and saw good in people of all walks and ways of life. He used ordinary people to do the extraordinary things we read and study in our Bibles. He still does that today. We should never be intimidated or influenced by those who teach things that add to or take away from God’s Word. When the Spirit of God lives in our hearts and we trust and obey, He will guide us on the journey through life. Belonging to a Bible believing church and being grounded in faith is good for all God’s children. Accepting Him as Lord and Savior, studying His Word, walking and talking with Him every day, and believing – even in things not seen-, grounds one in faith and gives a ticket to glory.
Are you grounded in faith with God guiding you day by day? His sweet spirit falls fresh on hearts open to His calling. He sends messages through dreams, people, experiences, even church bulletins. Next week, I will share the rest of the story about the church bulletin that challenged my thinking.