Thursday, January 13, 2011

Opening the Door of Faith

Today's Reading: Acts 14:27-28 NIV
27 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.

Good morning!

Yesterday my spirit was renewed as I sat with a fellow lay speaker at the hospital, waiting for word about his wife, who was having cancer surgery. We met last spring at a United Methodist lay speaking training event held at Faith Church in St. Charles. He and his wife were both taking classes together, and I was blessed to make the acquaintance of this family. We've kept up with each other and our respective local churches activities online since meeting last year. They were able to attend a summer lay ministry seminar in Fayette, Missouri, which I had missed. The keynote speaker was Dr. Tom Albin of the Upper Room Ministries in Nashville, Tennessee. During our visit yesterday, I was able to tell my friend that I actually did get to meet Dr. Albin and hear him speak on his Wesleyan studies last week at the United Methodist Congress on Evangelism in South Carolina. It is a good thing to always compare notes. We can learn so much from each other as we hear the stories of how the love of Jesus impacts our daily lives.

The Lord has given my friends an extra measure of peace at this difficult time. This hospital visit could have been a very frightening experience. I am always amazed by the hope Christ gives to all who have chosen to place their lives in His loving care. Concerns and worries were talked about but not focused on. These emotions had no hold upon my friend's heart. He was able to look beyond the situation and see His Savior right there, holding his hand. Christ's love frees us to rejoice even in the darkest times of our lives. Together, we can find His hope. We cannot help but be encouraged by the love of God.

When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Antioch, after suffering great personal tribulation, they were gathered into the arms of their community of faith, who loved and encouraged them. Paul and Barnabas did not focus their hearts on fear, but fixed their eyes upon the Lord, the author and giver of new life. They rejoiced together that God had somehow used them to spread the saving message of Jesus Christ with the people in Attalia. They were having such a good time, they chose to stay there, to rest and be refreshed in the fellowship of believers.

If you are going through a rough patch right now in your life, there is one place where you can turn to find hope and help in time of need. Your local church is right there in your neighborhood, just around the corner from where you live. Maybe you've even driven by the building a thousand times and thought out loud, "I wonder what is going on inside those walls?" Isn't it time you come and experience it for yourself? Your local church is filled with folks just like you, who have found Christ's peace that passes all human understanding. And that's pretty amazing stuff when you consider the world in which we live today.

Won't you open the door of faith this weekend and worship with me at Faith Church - St. Charles - I look forward to meeting you there.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

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