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Archive for September, 2009

How to Worship

If you had to explain to someone how to worship, what would you say? Would you tell them that you’re supposed to raise your hands when you sing certain songs, or sway just a little to the rhythm, or bow your head when you pray? None of this is how you worship. What I mean is, that while these may be the motions that we use to worship, they are not all there is to worship.

A few weeks ago I shared some of the struggles I went through a few years ago. I didn’t finish the story. Here’s what happened. We moved. We moved because my parents felt led to plant a church, and we did. First, however we spent a year living with my grandmother an hour away from our target area. We went to an amazing church while we were up there. They have one of the best youth groups I have seen. I went to youth camp with them. While I was there, they taught me how to worship. What I mean by that is that they gave me the freedom to worship freely, something I had sadly never known. It was life changing. Now my dad pastors the church that we planted and I’m the preacher’s kid again. But this time its different. This time I know, beyond a shadow of doubt that I can offer up my praise to God without worrying what other people think. He set me free, and he used that church to do it.

I mentioned in the first post that worship was love. Here is what God has taught me about worship. Mark 12:30 (ESV) says, And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.Now, since worship is love, replace the word love in this verse with worship. Now it says, And you shall worship the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. That is what God has taught me, that I need to worship Him with my all, every day. The way we worship might be different for all of us, but as long as we do it with our whole hearts, our whole souls, our whole minds, and our whole strength, we will all be offering up true worship.

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Worship….For God Alone

I realize that to a lot of you this may seem very obvious. Yes, we should only worship God. Pretty simple, right? Actually I want to point out that anything that we put ahead of God in our daily lives, we are essentially worshiping. The very first commandment of the ten says, You shall have no other gods before me.(Exodus 20:3, ESV) Anything we put before God we a exalting as a god. We create idols for ourselves daily. The second commandment says, You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, (Exodus 20:4-5a, ESV) So when we give our worship to something other than God we are breaking two commandments. Our gods and idols may actually be good things, like books, eating right, or even school. However, so long as we are putting those things before God they are xtremely dangerous.

In the book of Judges there is a cycle, the Isrealites turen away from God, they our put under oppression, they cry out, a judge is brought up by God to save them, they repent, the judge dies, repeat. Sometimes I find this creeping into my own life. I find little things that I like to do getting in the way of my quiet time or school work. Then I will ask God to help me stop and get back on track. A few weeks later however, I have either returned to the same thing or found a new thing to distract me. I may still be able to worship God around these things, in my own mind that is, but I’m not giving Him my all. In order to have true worship however, we must give it all to God alone.

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What is Worship?

Worship. Supposedly we participate in this every week. At least once, depending on how your church does things. I say supposedly because just because our churches have worship doesn’t necessarily mean WE are WORSHIPING. Why do I say this? Because worship is not an just an act. It is not something you can just do to check it of a list. It has to come from your heart. Yes, you can act like you are worshiping. It can seem like you are worshiping to the people around you but so long as the actions do not come from the heart then they are a mockery to God.

The Webster’s New World Dictionary  Third College Edition defines worship as “extreme devotion or intense love of any kind.” So then worship is a form of love then, right? Love comes from the heart and since worship is a kind of love, then it must also come from the heart.

This is how I would define the worship we should have for God as Christains. True worship is an outward expression of the deep love that I have for God. It demonstrates to the world the personal relationship I have with my Savior. It is not just my outward actions but my thoughts. Worship is the seen form of the love that bubbles up from my heart.

We see people worshiping through out the Bible. It is a very important aspect of the Christian life. This week I would like to share with you various aspects of worship. First I want to know, to YOU, what is worship?

And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped. Exodus 4:31 (ESV)

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; 1 Chronicles 16:29 (ESV)

When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:3 (ESV)

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! Psalm 95:6 (ESV)

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11 (ESV)

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:23-24 (ESV)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 (ESV)

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Temperance, in modern language, means moderation.  It basically carries the idea of strength – to be strong.  Most translations say “self-control.”  Now upon seeing the word “self” the thought comes to my mind, “Oh, no!  Not self!  Die to self, live for Christ.”  When my pastor preached on this topic, he stressed the point that this does not mean “self in control,” but rather “self under control,” guided by the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, temperance can be biblically defined as “the controlling power of the will under the control of the Spirit of God.”  So it is our will, responding to the direction of His Spirit through His Word.

Evaluating our emotions, and our ability to control them, is just one way to gauge whether or not we are walking in the Spirit.  Do I get angry, upset, or frustrated easily?  That may be a sign that I need to put the Lord back in control in my life.  Now while we’re talking about emotions, let me point out that we know that women are typically more emotional than men.  That’s natural, it’s one of the differences between genders, and God made us that way!  But, ladies, that does not give us the “right” to burst into tears when burn the toast, or to shout at a family member because they left their socks in the floor… again.  We must ask God to give us the self-control to keep our emotions in their proper place.  Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man [or woman] without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”  At that time, walls were the primary protection for the city.  If we let our emotions get out of control, it leaves our fortress broken down and our “city” susceptible to the attacks of the enemy.

We constantly have to make a choice: Will I follow the leading of the Spirit?  Or will I follow my emotions and desires?  The Holy Spirit desires to be in control and to develop this fruit in our lives.  The Spirit-filled Christian life is not a matter of strength, but of surrender.  We must be weak in ourselves, to be strong in the power of the Lord. (2 Cor. 12:10) We must die to sin and live for Christ. (Romans 6:11)  We must be surrendered to the will of God so that the Spirit can direct us through the word of God.  We have to make the choice: Will I serve sin? Or will I serve God?  We can’t serve both at the same time. (Matthew 6:24)

Romans 6:16-17, 22 – “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, …But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

Philippians 1:9-11 – “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

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“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

Meekness is mildness, humility.  This humility comes from an attitude of gratitude toward God for all He has done and promised to do.  My pastor was just preaching on humility Sunday, and he talked about how we all want to be humble, right? … or at least we want other people to think we are humble.  I don’t know about you, but that part cut straight through to me.  In order to be truly meek, we must honestly asses ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness. 

Why is meekness so difficult?  1) Because of our sin nature – pride.  The sin nature says “I’ve got to be #1.”  But it doesn’t work that way in God’s Kingdom.  One is not great in God’s Kingdom because of the number of people serving you, but because of the number of people you serve.  Humility is seen in the servant-heartedness of an individual.  However, we must be careful, because the flesh can counterfeit this quality to some extent.  I have been guilty – so guilty – of counterfeit meekness.  Did you know it’s possible to become proud of your humility?  If you, too, have congratulated yourself for your humility, that’s a sign of pride.  I’ve done it, and I pray that by God’s grace He would continue to convict me of that, and show me how to become truly humble by His grace. 

2) Another reason meekness is so difficult is because of our society and it’s perception of “success.”  Nowadays, (generally speaking) everything is judged by how impressive it is, by how much tangible evidence there is of its own greatness.  Secular society screams “You have the right to be #1!”  This results in self-glorification – being too concerned with what people think of us instead of letting God get the glory.  But “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)  We aren’t supposed to use the world’s standards.  True greatness is measured by how much we are willing to serve.  We must understand that we are nothing, and that all that matters is that God is glorified.  We must offer ourselves and our spiritual gifts as a living sacrifice.  (Romans 12:1)  My prayer should be to see myself as I am, see all that He is, and see how I can be used for His glory.  If I find myself waiting for applause, it just may be a work of the flesh, and not the Spirit.

Don’t let the world deceive you.  Meekness is not weakness.  Meekness is, rather, evidence that we are becoming more dependent on Christ.

Psalm 10:17 – “Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart…”

Psalm 25:9 – “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.”

Psalm 149:4 – “For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.”

1 Peter 5:6 – “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”

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“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)

“Faith and Faithfulness are inter-dependent.  Faith is total dependence on God. Faithfulness is our being dependable to God and man.”  This is the quality of fidelity (loyalty), reliability.  Faithfulness has become a rare characteristic in our era (Ps. 12:1-2, Prov. 20:6).  But it should not be rare for believers.

God is faithful – we can just about open the Bible to any passage and find a reference to or example of God’s faithfulness.  “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)  “With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.”  (Psalms 89:1b)  “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13)

How do we develop faith in our lives?  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)  We must be diligent students of the Word of God – the Bible.   It is in the Scriptures that we learn in full what ‘faith’ truly means.

One extremely important part of faithfulness is that we must be faithful in the little things, the things that sometimes may seem unimportant.  Things like being on time to class, keeping your promise to buy goodies for your little brother, paying your friend back the dollar you borrowed.  These things may seem small, but they can develop habits that will last the rest of your life.

Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25? The master rewarded those who had been good stewards of what he had entrusted him with.  “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” (Matt 25:21 & 23)  God must see that we are faithful with little responsibilities before He will give us bigger tasks.   For me this means doing my chores, finishing school work on time, having a daily devotional time, diligently praying for others, etc.  In the past, I have caught myself wondering why God hasn’t given me anything “important” to do.  It’s then that I must look around at what tasks I have been given, and see how I can do a better job with those.  God will not give us more than He knows we can handle. (1 Cor. 10:13)  And if we feel like we can’t fulfill the duty He has given us, we can always fall back on Him, Who is always faithful to enable us.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

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“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” Luke 6:35 (ESV)

This quality is very similar to the “gentleness” we talked about yesterday.  My pastor said that this is more of a moral goodness – the desire one has to be good.  A person possessing “goodness” will seek to do good even with what may seem to be a measure of harshness.  It often takes this stern aspect of God’s goodness to bring us to repentance.

Our God is a good God.  Psalm 34:8 – “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”  Psalm 100:5 – “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 145:9 – “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” Lamentations 3:25 – “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” Nahum 1:7 – “The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”  His goodness doesn’t necessarily mean He will do whatever we think is good, but rather whatever is good for us. 

This characteristic of goodness is only seen in perfection in our Lord, but it is to be being developed in our lives as well.  At least two things are involved in developing it in our lives.  1) Goodness must fulfill a purpose.  2) This purpose must bestow some kind of blessing to others.  We are here this earth to give glory to God, and to be a blessing to others.  This can basically be summed up in one phrase: 1do something good 2for someone.  This means doing more than just the basic requirements, if we want His goodness to be evident in our lives.  Goodness goes beyond just being nice.  “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9, 2 Thess 3:13)

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