We sang from Romans 5:1 for the first set and Romans 5:2 for the second set.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Paul mentions this “grace through faith” in Ephesians 2 but I’ve always found it confusing and confess that I therefore could never remember if the grace came through faith or the faith through the grace. I guess it would clearly have to be the one way that it is but none the less, I didn’t get it all that well until last night.
Ok, so why did I title this little journal entry “Is It All Real?” Should I apply a question mark to the outside of the quotes since it is a question quoting a question? Guess I don’t really know the answer there and I’m not all that interested in looking for the answer. One never knows the tangents One might find themselves on. Welcome back to the circle. In the few hours since I got off work I have listened to an album, an EP really, from Jon Rizzo called Just the Way You Are and a message by Allen Hood about Jesus sending out the 70 in Luke’s gospel. And then I listened to the song Zion and Babylon by Josh Garrels and I just felt like I really needed to stop playing the nearly-mindless game I’d been playing and write about the past couple days.
So why do I mention something from yesterday and then jump into a short list of things I’ve heard? How are they connected? What’s the point? Here it is, what is this faith that I’ve become a part of? Romans 5 and Ephesians 2 make it clear that the grace comes from the faith. We sang about it and I got it in a way that I never did before. Once Mandy described to someone what we do in the prayer room as “a bible study that we sing,” which I find to be pretty accurate. I have faith that Jesus was the Son of God, that he died for me, and that I am justified before my Holy Father, and I find the grace to live that way. “Access by faith, into this grace,” Paul wrote long ago. This was a new and amazing revelation. We believe in what happened and therefore we are a part of it. The belief brings the strength.
You know, just yesterday I woke from my nap at the end of my lunch and I didn’t feel depressed. As I got into mounting some picture I found myself asking, “Why am I so happy?” I was feeling good. I was feeling the joy of the Lord and I’d done nothing to get it. How about I give you a little backstory to fill you in? I take a nap every day at work on a mat and under a blanket in whatever time I have left in my hour-long lunch. I do this because I seem to be tired all the time. I really am tired all the time because I don’t go to sleep at night, who would have thought? When For the past several months when I woke up from my daily nap I would feel depression. I really didn’t want to work the five more hours that were expected. I didn’t really want to live anymore. I would feel overwhelmed with a desire for my going-nowhere life to end. But I didn’t feel that at all yesterday. I didn’t feel it at all today either. But yesterday is when I found myself asking the question, “Why am I so happy?” The night before I hadn’t gone to prayer until it was over because I’d wanted to read a novel instead. I hadn’t done anything to earn this good feeling. How incredibly wrong my thinking has been. I could have told you I didn’t earn such things, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t seem to think so on a lower level. He gave me that good mood, Jesus gave me that good mood as a gift. The Holy Spirit made me free to be happy. It lasted all afternoon and I was enjoying working enough that I could have kept going after five.
I’d woken up to my alarm yesterday feeling tired (reading that novel far too late of course) and really didn’t want to go to the prayer room at night. Usually it’s a “not really” wanting to go to the prayer room and then a “pretty glad” I went. Yesterday was more of a “really not” and then a “really glad” I went. I Have been justified, purely by his blood.
So that gets me back to this faith. What is faith? Faith is the belief in something, or someone. My faith is in the work Jesus did and he’s constantly bringing my faith into closer understanding of the actual truth. What is He asking me to actually believe? He is God, he came down to earth as a man, he lived a sinless life, he died on the cross, he took all (repeat, ALL) of my punishment for my past and present and future sins, he took the curse for me, I can’t pay what I owed in any form or fashion, he was dead three days, and then he rose again to life and right now he is interceding for me and he speaks to me and he loves me. There’s a summary of my faith. And through it, I have access to the grace that keeps me standing until that glory of God is revealed.
Today work was great. A month ago I would have said that work was not great and that my nights and weekends were far better. That’s what I was living for. But the past week or so I’ve had a bunch of opti mounts to make (image mounted to the back of Plexiglas, makes it really shiny and nice) and I’ve also felt like I can make them well and Jesus gave me a good mood. It has been great being busy with them. Stacey and I put over ten on the wall today and it went smoothly. I went home and found this Jon Rizzo CD on my desk. I’d gotten it for just $2.00 at OneThing almost three months ago and just decided to listen to it. Jon Rizzo makes some pretty unique songs. There were only four but I certainly liked them. I like the one the title is named after, Just the Way You Are. Jazzy.
The Allen Hood message was all about that sending out and he says something about Luke 10:21-22 where Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you Father . .” Allen was all excited about how Luke gives us almost no details. Surely the Son of David would out-do David in his dancing. What does that look like? Surely Jesus was just so full of Joy at what the 70 (or 72, whichever) experienced and learn of their names being written in heaven. Jesus was excited! He is still excited! He is anointed with the oil of joy above his companions! He rejoices over me! I’ve been pretty darn excited before, but it is nothing compared to Jesus!
And then Zion and Babylon. I love this song. I can sing all the words. But this time it was different for me. I’ve wanted to do a short drama using it because it has two parts and would look cool. First, there is a guy singing about his sinfulness ending his part with “Oh my Lord, I’m your enemy.” Then the Father is singing. “Come, to me, and find your life. Children sing, Zion’s in sight.” and he describes Zion. Near the end is where it was happening.
My kingdom’s built with the blood of my son,
selfless sacrifice for everyone,
Faith, hope, love, and harmony.
All you slaves, be set free
Come on out child and come on home to me.
We will dance, we will rejoice
If you can hear me then follow my voice
It really is going to happen. The sons of glory are going to be revealed. I am going to have a mansion. I am going to have an excellent and joyful time with my Lord and God forever. It will not be boring. It will not get old. It is currently indescribable. I only got a little bit more of a glance of it. I won’t feel like I’m not really part of the group anymore. The trials were as nothing to glory yet to be revealed for Paul because he really got it. It is better. Oh Lord, show me more and more how it will be every bit worth it. This earth: not worth comparing. It’s all real.
Being a Christian isn’t about your friends making you feel good. It’s about knowing Jesus, and he is so real. Faith gives access to grace; grace gives strength to get to the Glory. Jesus is glorious. I will see it and I will love it. My heart will be fully satisfied. He is the deepest of mysteries. Who is God? He is three and he is one. Father, Son, and Spirit. And they made me. And they made you. Will you seek him? Maybe he’s more than your mind has ever conceived.