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Worship His Holy Name

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Sunday mornings at Colona Community Church are unlike many churches out there today. After our pastor opens with prayer and a member presents a reading from the Word, we grab our hymnals out of the handcrafted racks on the back of each antique pew and are led through a few traditional hymns by our song leader and pianist. That’s the “worship portion” of our service. That’s it. No hundred-member choir; no six-piece band with guitar and drum solos; no big screens with the words of the songs projected over colorful backgrounds. I’ve been in churches where all of these play a part in the service, and they are beautiful, but they might lead some to question whether ours is really even a time of worship in comparison to a more modern worship service.

So what is worship? According to the dictionary on my shelf, it is “reverent love and devotion; to honor or love devotedly.” In other words, whatever we devote our love, thoughts, time, and energy to is what we worship. Real worship is so much more than singing a few songs on Sunday morning. Worship is how we live our lives in response to God’s love for us. As A.W. Tozer put it, “If you’re not worshipping God on Monday the way you did the day before, perhaps you’re not worshipping Him at all.”

Worship can be done in silence or clamor, in stillness or exuberance, in whispers or shouts, so long as we are focused on Him and feeling, knowing, saying in our hearts that God alone is worthy to be praised. “Honor the LORD for the glory of His name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness” (Psalm 29:2, NLT).

But we can’t truly worship God unless we know Him—not just know about Him, but really get to know Him on a deep and personal level (John 4:23). We do this by reading His Word, by pouring our hearts out to Him in prayer, by listening to Him in quietness, and by drawing closer to Him in all circumstances. And, of course, by faithfully trusting in who He is.

Worship should encompass our entire lives, for it is in worship that “God imparts Himself to us” (C.S. Lewis). It is in those times that we are devoting our thoughts, time, love, and energy to God that we are worshipping Him. Be it with a quiet hymn on a Sunday morning or a spirited dance to your favorite For King & Country song on a Thursday afternoon, worship comes from the heart, where God’s throne rests.

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If you’re ever in need of a place of quiet worship and devotion to the Lord, please join us on a Sunday morning in Colona. We’d love to have you worship with us!

Fellowship of the Saints

Here at Colona Community Church we practice the fine art of “potluckery.” Yes, that’s right, once a month (typically the second Sunday) we get together after the service to share copious amounts of delicious food and sweet fellowship.

Fellowship is hugely important in the Christian life. The apostles in the very early days of the Church knew the importance of fellowship. In the second chapter of Acts, Luke reports that the believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Learning, fellowship, eating, and prayer were all of equal value to the beginning of the Church, as they should still be to all believers today. The chapter finishes by saying, “Every day they continued to meet together….They broke bread…and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:46-47a). There can be no doubt that meeting together and eating together brings us closer to each other and to the Lord.

And God commands us to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the  habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25). He wants us to spend time in fellowship so that we can “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24) and “[encourage] one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). The more time we spend in fellowship with one another, the deeper and stronger our relationships with God and with our church family become. Fellowship keeps us encouraged and energized for serving the Lord with joy.

Corrie ten Boom once said, “When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles.” The devil knows that meeting together, breaking bread with each other, and encouraging one another, strengthens our ties, hones our will to serve, and binds us in love. So, if we want to fortify ourselves against the wiles of the devil, fellowshipping and eating together are wonderful spiritual exercises.

We may only be a tiny little church here in Colona, but we are one big family. And all are welcome to join our family in fellowship with each other and with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Refined in the Fire

The silversmith  must pay very close attention when he is melting down silver to create his lovely pieces. He can’t simply toss chunks of silver into a bowl and place it in the fire, checking back on it in a few hours to see how it’s melting. No, he must sit right beside the crucible, constantly watching and caring for the silver. Should he look away for even a moment, the silver can scorch. So he sits and he stirs, ever mindful of the moment when the silver is finally ready to be taken from the fire. And how does he know when that moment has arrived? When he can see his reflection mirrored perfectly in the surface of the melted silver.

And so it is in our own lives. God is our silversmith, placing us in the fire to refine us through trials and tests of our faith. But He never leaves us alone in the fire. He doesn’t take a break to grab a snack or watch the Super Bowl or walk the dog. No, He is always right there beside us during those difficult times, caring for us, ensuring we don’t scorch in the flames. And when He can see Himself more clearly reflected in us, that’s when He knows that the refining has been complete and He removes us from the fire.

Know that when times are tough, God is right there beside you, watching you transform — and if you are trusting in Him, you will be refined into something more beautiful than you can even imagine: a reflection of God Himself.

 

  • I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. Zechariah 13:9
  • For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. Psalm 66:10
  • Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: “See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?” Jeremiah 9:7
  • Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. Daniel 11:35
  • He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Malachi 3:3

 

Praying that you have a blessed week!

A Perfectly Imperfect Example

In my quiet times recently, I’ve studied Jacob/Israel more deeply than ever before. To me he is a fascinating paradox: an often faithless patriarch of the faith.

I can imagine things weren’t easy for him in his early years, knowing that his father so obviously favored his brother, Esau (Genesis 25:28). Yet it seems he forgot the lessons he learned in that experience and went on to favor his own son, Joseph, above all his other sons (Genesis 37:3). And, of course, we know that Joseph is the one who paid for that favoritism (Genesis 37). Imperfect.

Jacob was forced to flee his home after he deceived his father (with the help of his mother) and stole Esau’s blessing (Genesis 27), yet he literally met God while he was on the run to his uncle’s home (Genesis 28). God spoke to him, blessed him, promised him that his descendants would outnumber the specks of dust on the earth and that the land would belong to Jacob and his descendants forever (Genesis 28:13-15). And what did Jacob do? He acted like a typical human and put conditions on God: IF God would protect and provide for him until he returned to his father’s house, THEN Jacob would consider the Lord his God (Genesis 28:20-21). Imperfect.

Even if we skip his time at his Uncle Laban’s home and all the ways that God provided for him in his twenty years there, we still find Jacob depending more on himself than on God. When he left Laban and wass told that his brother, Esau, was coming to meet him, Jacob again behaved like most people: crying out to God for help, but still thinking up ways he could get himself out of danger. One moment he was praying for God’s help and the next he was scheming up tricks to pacify the anger he assumed was driving Esau toward him (Genesis 32). As Warren Wiersbe put it, “[Jacob] prayed to be delivered from Esau, but he really needed to be delivered from himself.” Imperfect.

Even though Jacob, now Israel, had learned so much about God, had seen God, struggled with God, he still depended on his own means (bribery, lies, etc.), because he spent so much time dwelling on his past transgressions, instead of looking ahead in faith. He was far from a perfect example of faith, yet God used him to teach us at least one very valuable lesson:

When we meet God, when we give our lives to Christ, our sins are washed in His blood, tossed to the ocean floor, never to be brought up again. If you find yourself dwelling on the sins of your past, know that it is not God who is bringing them to your mind. It is the Deceiver, who wants to take your mind off of God. When we dwell in the past, we forget to trust God with our present and our future. Look ahead instead, to all God has waiting for His good and faithful servants.

Must we be perfect? I know God would like us to be, but we are human and odds are we will mess up. We should strive for perfection, but maybe we can find contentment in imperfect perfection, always leaning on God, having faith that He is in control and that He cares for us.

Plan to Succeed

For the past few years I have been ever so slightly ambitious & have begun my year by setting up a calendar/planner/Bible journal. This year I added a Bible reading schedule to my calendar, with the grand plan of reading the Bible chronologically in just one year. I spent several days putting my calendar together, plotting out which chapters I would read each day, and how often I would journal the Word.

Well, here it is, not even the end of January, and I’m already behind on my schedule! When I looked at my grand plan the other day I was not-so-subtly reminded of the verse from Proverbs which says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (16:9, NLT). Oh, how true that is! Haven’t we all made plans that did not go the way we expected them to?

However, if you go back just a few verses in the same chapter, God tells us what we need to do to make our paths a bit straighter: “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3, NLT). If we put His will above our own, obey His leading and set our desires aside, the plans we make for His glory will always succeed.

I will still read His Word, still take the time to journal about what He reveals to me, but if He has other plans for me, I choose to walk His path and not my own. I know I won’t fail when His will is done. And neither will you!

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Have a blessed week!

Dot-to-Dot

I used to love dot-to-dot puzzles when I was young. I must admit, I still enjoy them today—the revealing of a beautiful picture as your pencil (or pen, if you’re brave than I am!) progresses through the sequence of dots. It fascinates me how an artist created this work, then deconstructed it into mere dots, so that I could then play detective/artist and put it all back into focus.

 

 

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from print-ables.com

 

It recently occurred to me that our God is a master dot-to-dot artist. His work, the Word of God, is one seamlessly drawn piece. Yet we only tend to see the dots—a verse here, a chapter there, a favorite character or story over there…

However, when we open our hearts and our minds to the guidance of the Holy Spirit before we begin to read His Word, He can connect the dots for us, showing us the intricate beauty of His eternal Word.

If you desire a deeper understanding of the Bible, take a few moments to pray before you open it up. Ask the Spirit to reveal His truth to you, to connect those dots for you, so that you can see the whole awesome picture of His glory. Then marvel at the wonder He will reveal to you!

 

He Did This Just for You

The first Sunday of each month here at Colona Community Church, we celebrate Communion.

Every time I am blessed to participate in the act of Communion, I am reminded of a beautiful story that was shared at a retreat I was on a number of years ago. The young man who was speaking was reflecting on Jesus’ time on the cross. He told us to think on the idea that after Jesus had already endured so much, and even though He knew what was still to come before His resurrection, He looked out over the crowd beneath the cross. But He didn’t simply see the soldiers casting lots for His clothing or the women weeping over His crucifixion or the people mocking Him—He saw all of us, every man, woman, and child from creation to the end of days. And looking across that unfathomable sea of people, He locked eyes with you (yes, you) and said, “Even if you were the only one, I’d still do this.” While His body was broken and His blood was spilling, He looked on you with love and knew that He’d do whatever it took, face all of God’s wrath, be separated from His Father, just for you, just to save YOU.

He remembered you and me when He was on the cross, and that is why we should be honored and humbled to celebrate Communion in remembrance of Him and all He did (and still does) for us.

God bless you today and every day!

Resolved.

I’m not one for making resolutions. I used to be, but I found myself getting so upset when I messed up or gave up on my resolution, that I decided a few years ago that I was never going to bother again. Why set myself up for failure??

But, this year, I’m getting back into the spirit…in a way. I decided to look to the Word of God for New Year’s Resolution ideas this time around. What would God want me to do with my time, my energy, my talents, my life this year?

What better place to find instruction than in the Psalms. As I was looking around I turned to Psalm 105 and the first five verses gave me ten simple, yet meaningful things I can do to grow closer to God and to serve Him better in the New Year:

 

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Psalm 105:1-5, NLT

 

So, I resolve to do my best to be a light for the Lord while He has me here, to seek Him first and continually, and to share His love with others. I promise, however, to sing to Him in private, so as not to offend anyone’s ears! 🙂

I pray that whatever resolutions you make this year draw you closer to the Lord and that you are abundantly blessed today and every day!

A Season of Love

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One of my favorite Christmas songs is “I Celebrate the Day” by Relient K. This touching and powerful song culminates with the statement: “I celebrate the day that You were born to die, so I could one day pray for You to save my life.” Wow! That is such a huge deal and so overwhelming to think about—Jesus chose to come to earth, to be born as both wholly man and wholly God; to go from being at the right hand of God to laying in a dirty, smelly manger; to be a helpless baby, a child who worried his earthly parents, a teenager (yikes!), and an adult in a world where nothing comes easy, especially if you’re different; to be falsely accused, tortured, beaten, and crucified; to be physically and spiritually separated from God and have the Father’s wrath poured upon Him; then to rise in glory. And why did He do this? Because of His LOVE for us! In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).

God loves us so much that He sent His only Son that whoever would believe in Him would have everlasting life (John 3:16). That is what we are celebrating when we gather around the Christmas tree and exchange gifts: the gift of God’s agape, unconditional, unmerited LOVE for each and every one of us.

So on this fourth week of Advent, light the first three candles, as well as the last purple candle, known as the “Angel’s Candle,” for the angels announced the good news of the Messiah’s birth, or the “Candle of LOVE.” Read and reflect on the following verses:

Isaiah 52:7-10

Luke 19:10

Romans 8:18-25

Isaiah 53:5-6

Revelation 21:1-4

God loved us before the foundations of the world; He loves us today; He will love us for all eternity. There is nothing more powerful or beautiful than God’s love for His children. Hallelujah!

God’s gift to us, the ultimate gift, was His only Son, who was born to die to pay for our sins. We can never give God a better gift than He gave us, but what can you give to Him? What present will you put under the tree for God? Will you give Him your time? Your love? Your heart? Your talents? Your passions? Your devotion? Your path? Your job? Your family? Your health? What is that you prize? That is what you should give to Him.

Pray: Father God, I don’t know why You looked down from the highest heaven, saw me in all my wretchedness, and still decided that You loved me enough to be born of man to die for me, but I am so grateful You did. Thank You for loving me when I was dead in my trespasses and blackened by sin and for continuing to love me when I stumble even now. Thank You for the future hope I have in Christ. When I feel discouraged, help me to remember that You will wipe away every tear. Help me, Lord, to reflect Your love onto those around me. Use me as a light of Your love to brighten the darkness in this world. And help me to never take for granted Your love or the incredible gift you have given to me. In Your Name we pray, Jesus. Amen.

Have a blessed Christmas Eve! And if you happen to be in the Colona, Colorado, area, please join us this evening at 5 pm for our Candlelight Service. We will read the Christmas story and sing hymns to celebrate the birth of Jesus in our beautiful, historic little church. All are welcome!

A Season of Joy

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Today begins the third week of the Advent season: a time to meditate on and revel in the JOY which the Lord brings! When the angels announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds, they immediately went to Him and they rejoiced. Those shepherds are a model for us: we should run to Him and rejoice!

Unfortunately, joy seems fleeting when we look at it only through the lens of this world. When we depend on material, worldly things to give us joy, we will never be satisfied, never be filled. There will always be something missing: we get a good job, but want a better one; get a new car, want a nicer one; get our first house, want a bigger one; and so on. That is because true joy can only be found in the Reason for this Season…salvation through and relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Through that relationship with Jesus one way we can find the JOY of the Lord is when we lay our burdens at His feet. Remember that Jesus commanded us to do just that: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Give your cares to Him today and be lifted up in His JOY!

If you have an Advent wreath, light up the first three candles: the purple “Prophet’s Candle,” which represents the hope of Jesus’ coming; the purple “Bethlehem Candle,” which represents the peace which His birth brings; and this week’s pink candle, the “Shepherd’s Candle,” representing the JOY of the Lord. Take time to read and consider the following verses:

Isaiah 9:6-7

John 1:19-34

Matthew 2:3-4

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Philippians 2:1-11

Pray: Thank You, Jesus, for being the Light of the world. We live in dark times; please help me to seek Your Light and find Your joy even in troubled times. Help me to shine brightly for You and to point people to Your love. Although You are my friend, Jesus, help me to fully understand what it means to have You as my King. Show me how to worship You with my treasures, my talents, and my time. When people try to rise up against me, thank You for Your protection, Your guidance, and Your direction. Your timing is perfect, Your joy is complete; give me eyes to see how true that is. In Your Name we pray, Amen!

Give your cares to Him and rest in the JOY of the Lord!