Worship should be the desire of every believer's heart and the duty of every believer's mind. I've long thought of the importance of worship - how it is not something we switch on and switch off on one day a week, but how it is something that should be as natural and as responsive as breathing or eating.
And it is a response, as this quote says. It is not just an occasion or an event that one attends. It is what we do when the Spirit impresses upon our spirit the beauty, the wonder, and the richness of the person of God and the reminders of what we have and who we are which are the result of God's love and care.
Thoughts of His strength and His might - worship.
Thoughts of His concern and His willingness to guide us - worship.
Thoughts of His majesty in the beauty of a sunrise, or the tapestry of His making as the sun sets - worship.
Every sigh we make, every tear that falls, every song that is sung in response to His presence in our lives - worship.
Oh heavenly Father - may your people love You and live for you in an attitude of worship. An attitude that is a natural response and a desired response with every breath we take, every thought we have, every act we perform. As your Word proclaims: "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)
I was standing by the toaster oven preparing some breakfast when this song came across the radio:
It's a wonderful hymn, and some great words. But the final line of the bridge started me thinking:
"Jesus we will be faithful till You meet us
Give us Your courage as we finish
We want to hear well done"
And the thought entered into my mind - "What if I don't hear Jesus say to me 'Well done'?"
So I went looking for an answer, and found it at Got Questions, one of my favorite Bible study sites. Essentially it is a matter of doing the things that God has asked me to do - being faithful in the little; making them daily chores, and doing them with delight in order to glorify Him.
I have much to do.
Tim Challies featured a hymn written by Luther and called it "The Best Worship Song You Don't Sing."
And he's right... These are the types of hymns I love -- words that drip with meaning and cause a worshiper to ponder about the truths they present. But sadly, hymns such as this are rarely if ever sung in contemporary church settings.
A message from the chancellor of Dallas Seminary, my alma mater, on the opportunities of growth during times of misfortune.
Let me counsel every true servant of Christ to “examine his own heart” frequently and carefully as to his state before God. This is a practice which is useful at all times: it is especially desirable at the present day. When the great plague of London was at its height people [noticed] the least symptoms that appeared on their bodies in a way that they never remarked them before. A spot here, or a spot there, which in time of health men thought nothing of, received close attention when the plague was decimating families, and striking down one after another! So it ought to be with ourselves, in the times in which we live. We ought to watch our hearts with double watchfulness. We ought to give more time to meditation, self-examination, and reflection. It is a hurrying, bustling age: if we would be kept from falling, we must make time for being frequently alone with God.
J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)
So I switched over to Netflix and looked for something entertaining. After a couple of misses, I clicked on a movie called Lion - and found myself thinking about things like "love" and "being lost" and "finding home".
"Why is this powerful, majestic, forest-stripping, lightning-bolt voice so hard for us to hear? How does it radically transform the environment, yet fall ever-so-subtly on our ears? Perhaps we’re listening with the wrong ears. God’s voice is an intense and immensely powerful force, rather than a series of sound waves. Perhaps He issues loud commands to nature’s obedient instruments but whispers His love and guidance to those whose spirits can choose and must relate to Him by faith. Perhaps if He dictated everything to us clearly and decisively, it would be the end of a relationship and the beginning of rote servitude — a condition for which He did not design us. Regardless, we need to understand that the voice we strain to hear isn’t weak. Just one word from God can change any situation at any moment. He may whisper to us, gently guide us, tell us about His plans for us, and counsel us in the midst of our circumstances, but when He issues a command, it’s done. We must never mistake His quietness for reluctance or weakness. We can depend on the power of His voice — even when we aren’t hearing it clearly."
Tiegreen, Chris (2014-09-01). The One Year Hearing His Voice Devotional: 365 Days of Intimate Communication with God (p. 16). Tyndale Momentum. Kindle Edition.
Like the fire in the night
Like the ocean parted wide
Like the grave empty inside
You will see He still does
Lord, You make all things new
You bring hope alive in our hearts
And cause our Spirits to be born again.
Thank you for this new year
For all the potential it holds.
Come and kindle in us
A mighty flame
So that in our time, many will see the wonders of God
And live forever to praise Your glorious name.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(Psalm 51: 10-12 ESV)
Cravings — we all have them. There’s the classic appetite dualism of “Sweet vs. Savory” ― the yearning for sugar or salt. Then there is my crucial morning quest for caffeine disguised in a hot and oh, so delightful cup of coffee.
Cravings can go much deeper. Deep desires compel us to search for something or someone to quench the unyielding thirsts of our souls. The elusive quest has many labels. Acceptance, love, respect. High on the list, for nations and individuals, is peace. Civil war, ethnic conflicts, domestic violence, and divorce all create a growing hunger for peace. A famous entertainer quipped, “I would give my fortune for a moment of peace.”
Is it possible that God placed these universal desires in us to compel us to seek Him? Saint Augustine seemed to be convinced when he prayed, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Think of it for a moment: Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He told His followers, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). We can seek peace from other sources ― a walk in the woods, through strong friendships, and in the places we live — but the ultimate lasting peace does not come through circumstances. God’s peace is rooted in His unchanging character. Develop a craving for it, and He will satisfy you.
Jesus, thank you that you came to give the gift of peace to me and each person everywhere. You are truly the Prince of Peace. I invite you to transform my heart, soul, and mind with your peace. Amen.
I have always enjoyed the musical ministry of Steven Curtis Chapman. But it has been 25 years since that amazing introduction was first heard - and the world was reminded that the life God gives us in an adventure "...like no other..."
This is the 25th anniversary rendition of "The Great Adventure"...
I don't wanna hear anymore, teach me to listen
I don't wanna see anymore, give me a vision
That you could move this heart, to be set apart
I don't need to recognize, the man in the mirror
And I don't wanna trade Your plan, for something familiar
I can't waste a day, I can't stay the same
I wanna be different
I wanna be changed
'Til all of me is gone
And all that remains
Is a fire so bright
The whole world can see
That there's something different
So come and be different
"Death is not the end of the road; it is only a bend in the road. The road winds only through those paths through which Christ Himself has gone. This Travel Agent does not expect us to discover the trail for ourselves. Often we say that Christ will meet us on the other side. That is true, of course, but misleading. Let us never forget that He walks with us on this side of the curtain and then guides us through the opening. We will meet Him there, because we have met Him here. The tomb is not an entrance to death, but to life. The sepulcher is not an empty vault, but the doorway to heaven. When we die, nothing in God dies, and His faithfulness endures. Little wonder the pagans said of the early church that they carried their dead as if in triumph!"
Lutzer, Erwin W. (2015-04-17). One Minute After You Die (p. 78). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Pastor Erwin Lutzer has written a wonderful book entitled One Minute After You Die. Short, to the point, and very enlightening. Get it and read it.
But here's an overview of the topic that is just as good...
Warren Wiersbe commenting on Luke 10: 25-37:
We may read this passage and think only of “the high cost of caring,” but it is far more costly not to care. The priest and the Levite lost far more by their neglect than the Samaritan did by his concern. They lost the opportunity to become better men and good stewards of what God had given them. They could have been a good influence in a bad world, but they chose to be a bad influence. The Samaritan’s one deed of mercy has inspired sacrificial ministry all over the world. Never say that such ministry is wasted! God sees to it that no act of loving service in Christ’s name is ever lost. It all depends on your outlook. To the thieves, this traveling Jew was a victim to exploit, so they attacked him. To the priest and Levite, he was a nuisance to avoid, so they ignored him. But to the Samaritan, he was a neighbor to love and help, so he took care of him. What Jesus said to the lawyer, He says to us: “Go and keep on doing it likewise” (literal translation).
- Wiersbe, Warren W. (2010-06-01). Be Compassionate (Luke 1-13): Let the World Know That Jesus Cares (The BE Series Commentary) (p. 138). David C Cook. Kindle Edition.
There are days when I go running so far ahead of God that I think I know what's best for me.
I am so very wrong.
He knows so much better than I.