Why Your Worship Requires a Thankful Heart

By on February 3, 2017

I don’t want to be an ungrateful person – especially toward God. I’m sure you don’t either.

I was reminded this week how dependent my worship life is on the condition of my thankful (or not) heart when I read this:

“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

There are several ingredients in having a true worshiper’s heart, and the Bible says an important one is thankfulness. Worship is the fruit of our thankfulness to God – it requires a thankful heart. In fact, (and, yes, I’ve mentioned this before) we must . . .

*“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and [then] His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5).

You have to go through the gate to get to the courts. I believe that we sometimes miss out on intimacy with God in His courts, simply because we’re not thankful enough to get through the gate. It’s important to God. We need to approach His throne remembering and being thankful for His goodness, His lovingkindness, and His faithfulness.

We get the same encouragement from Psalm 95:2- 3a:

“Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God . . . ”*

I believe this is important because a thankful heart recognizes the relationship between the blessings of this earthly existence and the incredible goodness of God. A thankful heart is aware of God’s power at work when life’s limitations don’t rule the moment. A thankful heart acknowledges God is still who He says He is even when things don’t go the way hoped for. And a thankful heart knows none of this is about me, but He. (Yes, I could go on and on.)

Every time we stop to give thanks to God – to acknowledge His hand at work in, through, and around us – it fertilizes the soil that worship grows in.

And it makes the worship-filled “fruit” of those “lips that give thanks” more lavish and abundant. God is glorified!

Here’s more encouragement:

“He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me” (Psalm 50:23).

“Willingly I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks to Your name, O LORD, for it is good” (Psalm 54:6).

“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Psalm 106:1).

“I will bow down toward Your holy temple And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name” (Psalm 138:2).

“O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness” (Isaiah 25:1).

“Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, In the company of the upright and in the assembly” (Psalm 111:1).

“That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 30:12).

To neglect to show God the gratitude due Him – even offering a flippant thanks – is being Unthankful. Ungrateful. Unappreciative. And shows no real understanding of who God is.

It’s like saying, I deserved this. I earned this. I made this happen.

Or even subconsciously – I don’t need God.

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).

And a “foolish heart” = no true worship.

I don’t often do this, but would you to you join me in this simple prayer for a thankful heart?

Lord God, forgive me for all the times I haven’t been truly thankful – when I haven’t acknowledged Your hand, Your goodness, Your faithfulness, or Your blessings that go WAY beyond what I deserve. I don’t want to be an ungrateful person. You have given me eternity with You, and if that were the only benefit of salvation, that would be an unearned, undeserved, lavish gift. But You pour out MORE Every. Single. Day – Your presence, Your power, Your help, Your guidance, Your love, Your empowering gifts, Your grace (oh, your grace!) in times good and hard, and on and on and on. How can I NOT be thankful? May I never take a moment of this life with You for granted – not a single breath of air, not a beat of my heart, not each new day, not any opportunity to sing Your praise. I. Am. Thankful. For Your are holy. You are mighty. You are faithful to all generations. You are above all. Your love never fails. Your mercy never ends. And for all of these things and more, thank You. May my heart never be foolish, but stay set on, humbled before, and thankful to YOU. May I always worship You as you deserve. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

 

Portion between ** is from my book, Worship and the Word.

RELATED POST:
Confessions of my UN-Thankful Thanksgiving
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Are we guilty of ignoring reverence?

By on January 24, 2017

Ever think about how we should approach God in worship? I’m not talking about where we worship, the position of our bodies, or even the words we use – but more our attitude before Him.

I read these verses earlier this week, and I’ve been grappling with them ever since:

“But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” Psalm 5:7

Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling.” Psalm 2:11

“You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the LORD.” Leviticus 26:2

“Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,” Isaiah 29:13

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,” Hebrews 12:28

God not only calls us to worship Him, but to worship Him with reverence and awe. Because that’s the kind of worship our God Most High finds “acceptable.”

Friends, are we guilty of ignoring reverence? Or dismissing it altogether?

In today’s church, do we grasp reverence at all?

As these verses have turned over and over in my mind, I’ve had the sinking feeling we approach God far too casually or halfheartedly much of the time. It’s as if He weren’t really there or didn’t deserve more than we throw His way without much thought or preparation. (For comparison, picture how our worship might change if the invisible God became visible before us!)

According to the Isaiah verse, reverence does not result from using just the right “words” or engaging in “tradition learnedly rote.” But he says it’s a “heart” issue.

It’s the heart obeying His command to keep the “Sabbath” reverent in worship. It’s the heart responding  in humility to His “abundant lovingkindness” that even allows us to “bow” before Him. And most of all, it’s the heart acknowledging who our God is, remembering what He’s done for us, and responding in unmitigated “grateful”ness and “awe,” because . . .

“I am the LORD.”

What kind of heart bows in reverence before God? Usually the heart that’s already been still before Him.

It’s the heart that’s yearned to see Him and know Him. It’s the heart that’s repentant in the revealing light of His holiness. And it’s the heart that’s overwhelmed by the utter incomprehensibleness that is our Lord God Almighty.

So reverence isn’t something that’s easily whipped up in a moment’s notice on Sunday morning over a God we’ve ignored the rest of the week. The fruit of neglect will be pseudo-worship with “hearts far from Me.”

Not reverence. Not awe. Not true worship.

God deserves nothing less than eyes open upwards and hearts prepared and positioned to bow low in reverential awe before our King – whether on Sunday or any other day. (And yes, I long for churches to embrace bowing the knee – the ultimate sign of surrender and reverence. For the Bible also calls for this!) Let’s strive for it. Let’s fight for it. For He is alone is worthy!

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” (Psalm 96:8-9).

 

What steps can we take to make sure that we’re entering our time of worship with more reverence toward God and less casually? What about corporately on Sundays?

 

RELATED POSTS:
What We Miss When We Don’t “Stop” 
May we never lose our wonder  
Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart 
Grasping the lavish, feet-seeking worship of Mary  
Running from the fallacy of passive worship to chase after God
Pursuing “Show Me Your Glory!” Worship 
Have any tables that need to be flipped?

 

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Reject Distant. Choose to Draw Near.

By on January 9, 2017

I was listening to Michele Cushatt’s new video series that sets-up her soon-to-be-released book, I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is, when one of her sentences gripped me:


“When I see the cross, . . . I see a God who wasn’t content with being distant and detached, but a God who loved us enough to come near.” – Michele Cushatt

And then my heart sank with my next thought – and how many people even give a rip?

The lengths our God went to to “come near” were beyond extraordinary – extraordinarily loving and extraordinarily sacrificial. Yet how many people bother to draw near to Him in response? How many people acknowledge the incredible sacrifice He made so we might even have the privilege of nearness and intimacy with God?

I know – life’s busy. It’s too much work. After all, He understands.

So we’re content with distant. And we’ve grown accustomed to detached.

How utterly heartbreaking it must be for God to see His created ones, and even more so His children, fail to see Him for who He is AND for the intimate relationship He so longs to have with us.

The relationship He desires with us is as far in the opposite direction from distant as you can get. We can’t begin fathom it. His love is completely overwhelming and His Spirit all-consuming. The only thing we should feel detached from is darkness and its allies.

Friend, let’s hear and heed His own words to us,

“Be still and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10).

For in that stillness – where we grow to really know Him (and oh, how God loves revealing Himself!) – our desire to draw near to Him only increases more and more with each glimpse.

And we have this incredible promise from James,

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Our God relishes those moments when we stop to commune with Him – to be in His word, listen to His heart, share what’s on ours, and bow in humble worship.

And what we reap from that sacrifice of time, attention, and focus is indescribable and invaluable.

Here’s a glimpse into the heart of some psalmists who truly loved to bask in the nearness of God:

“How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. . . . How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. . . . For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You!” (Psalm 84: 1-2, 4; 10-12).

“How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You, To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple” (Psalm 65:4).

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good” (Psalm 73:28a).

God isn’t content with distant and detached, and we shouldn’t be either.

So reject it. Reject the lies that say our glances God’s way are enough or that it doesn’t really matter anyway. <sigh>

Let what Jesus did – from leaving His perfect heaven so he could humbly come to earth as a human baby to His torturous death on the cross just so He could draw us near from now to all eternity – drive us to His feet often. There is so much He longs to do in us and for us in that place.

Reject distance from God. Choose to draw near to Him. And then humbly respond in worship.

Take a minute to make this beautiful song by Meredith Andrews your prayer – Draw Me Nearer.

 

RELATED POSTS:
11 Ways God Powerfully Responds to our Worship: #1 – His Presence
14 Lies That Will Sabotage Your Worship Life
Grasping the lavish, feet-seeking worship of Mary

10 ways to worship with a heart like David’s
What We Miss When We Don’t “Stop”

Go here to check out Michelle Cushatt’s new video series on her new book, I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is. Powerful!

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EditorsPick_2014For an in-depth personal or group study on what the Bible teaches about worship, check-out Worship and the Word (including 3 FREE sample lessons) or purchase it here.

Worship Leader Magazine awarded Worship and the Word as one of the “Best of 2014” books!

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Step into an Unknown Future with Life-Changing Intentionality!

By on December 29, 2016

As we enter a new year, we know one thing for sure: it’s packed full of unknowns. Right?

heavens

That doesn’t mean that we should just throw everything up to chance though. There are definitely things we can control, and one of those is our pursuit of God.

Like any relationship, if we leave our God-relationship up to chance – with no real pursuit – then it will lack intimacy any resulting fruit.

Maybe you’re not the type to set New Year’s resolutions (that most don’t follow through with) or even more concrete goals. (Honestly something I’ve always struggled with.) Know that being intentional about the spiritual goals you’d like to achieve in the New Year could absolutely be life-changing.

What goals? Maybe you need to begin the discipline of spending dedicated time in the Word or prayer everyday. Or maybe you want to add to your scripture memory (my favorite goal achievement from last year) or work on being still to listen. Or perhaps you want to focus on living a Spirit-filled life or sharing your faith. Is there a book (or ten) that would encourage your faith you should read? These would all be great aspirations for the New Year!

Of course, don’t forget about your worship life. Is worship an area you’d like to grow in understanding biblically and/or in practice? Whether personal or corporate?

As with any goal, it’s important to start with why it’s important. As we dig into God’s word to see what He says about worship, it’s obvious that it’s of utmost importance to Him. In fact, He doesn’t make it optional for us!

Paul wrote in Philippians 2:9-11:

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

During His temptation in Matthew 4:8-10, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13, saying,

“YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.”

It’s important both as healthy, growing believers in Jesus and as the Church that we get worship right.

If you haven’t already, I’d like to encourage you to make your pursuit of biblical worship a top goal for the new year. Write it down: how do I want to grow, why is this important, and how do I get there? (Michael Hyatt says the mere act of writing down a goal increases the likelihood of you achieving it by 42%!) Then get accountability – maybe someone to do it with you!

I’d also encourage you to write down the things that are holding you back from pursuing a deeper relationship with God. Get honest with yourself – unhealthy beliefs, relationships, or circumstances? List them and write down why and how they can be changed. (Need ideas – ask!) If there’s sin, repent and then leave it at God’s feet as you walk into His victory. Refuse to listen to the enemy’s lies that you can’t grow, or change, or be fruitful!

Remember Paul’s declaration in Ephesians 3:20,

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, . . .

(That’s within you and within me! And what’s our response?)

to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (emphasis mine).

Worship!

Want to learn more? Then I invite you to begin this new year by being intentional about your pursuit of God and biblical worship. And I’d like to invite you to do that by going through my study, Worship and the Word, either alone or with others. Either way, you’ll find it will both challenge and encourage you to passionately pursue and intimately engage the God of the Bible in worship! It’s a personal study that changed my life!

Let’s step into an unknown future with life-changing intentionality!

Go here to learn more about Worship and the Word or here to purchase it.

May you “be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) in the New Year! Pam

 

Let me know what your New Year’s spiritual goals are! I’d love to hear them!

RELATED POSTS:
Everything you possibly need to worship
Using our New Year’s transition to fuel our worship!
What will you do to ignite your worship in 2015?

 

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EditorsPick_2014For an in-depth personal or group study on what the Bible teaches about worship, check-out Worship and the Word (including 3 FREE sample lessons) or purchase it here.

Worship Leader Magazine awarded Worship and the Word as one of the “Best of 2014” books!

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What do we do with a broken Christmas?

By on December 13, 2016

Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean everything is suddenly all twinkly and cheery. Right? If anything, Christmas shines more light on those things that don’t seem to fit into our picture of the perfect holiday scenario.

holding-a-candle

So what do we do with a broken Christmas?

Thankfully, we have a God whose light is brighter than the dark things of life. We have a God who “holds all things together” (Colossians 1:17) – from the universe to our hearts.

Especially our hearts.

The surrendered response of our tenderest selves in worship is the elixir the great Healer calls for in these moments. As we fight to make Him the center of our focus (instead of ourselves) and humbly bow before all He is, the massive expanse of His glory floods our souls with a peace that surpasses any understanding (Philippians 4:7).

This isn’t another ignorant ritual or empty promise like the world keeps throwing our way. Seeing Him – reveling in Him – transforms our perspectives on those broken things that deeply wound our hearts. It saturates our souls with the powerful effects of His conquering light.

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

      They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.

      For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light” (Psalm 36:7-9).

In Him, we have hope. In Him, we find peace. In Him, joy is supernatural instead of dependent of everything in our lives (or churches!) being perfect.

In fact, worship should be the front-line of our battle plan. (Remember King Jehoshaphat!) Worship resets our hearts and minds and invites God to be God in us, for us, and around us – regardless of the situation.

Feeling like you’re headed for a broken Christmas? Stop what you’re doing and ask God to help you see Him right there in that place you’re living. Yes, the God who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17). The God who sees (Genesis 16:13). The God who heals hearts (Psalm 147:3). The only wise God (1 Timothy 1:17). God, our Rock and our Fortress (Psalm 18:2). God, whose love is beyond comprehension and unfailing (Psalm 143:8). God, who satisfies the deepest longings of our soul (Psalm 63:4-5).

And worship Him.

“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

      Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

      Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.

      So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.

      My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips (Psalm 63:1-5).

Lay out your heart (wounded or not) before God and invite Him to pour His redeeming life into it. And then revel at the feet of the greatest gift you’ll ever receive in this Christmas – or in this life. Jesus.

 

RELATED POSTS:
What’s my first response to baby Jesus at Christmas?
Oh come, [do we] adore Him?
The power of bowed-down, battle-bracing worship – King Jehoshaphat
What do the hard places of life find in me?
How “But God” Worship Changes Everything

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EditorsPick_2014For an in-depth personal or group study on what the Bible teaches about worship, check-out Worship and the Word (including 3 FREE sample lessons) or purchase it here.

Worship Leader Magazine awarded Worship and the Word as one of the “Best of 2014” books!

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What’s my first response to baby Jesus at Christmas?

By on November 29, 2016

I’m not one to begin the Christmas festivities too early. I like Thanksgiving to be focused on, well, thanksgiving – and not on how many days we have until Christmas or who has their lights up already. I even have a personal December 1st rule for listening to Christmas music. (Love the anticipation!)

magi-following-the-star

But I was struck by a memory of the biblical Christmas story recently that got me thinking a little earlier about our whole approach to what’s become the biggest holiday.

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him’” (Matthew 2:2).

The magi’s first response to Jesus’ birth was that they needed to go worship Him. And they probably traveled months to offer Him the best of what they had.

Is anyone else convicted by that? Our first response seems to be shopping and decorating. At least, that’s where our physical and emotional energy appears to be focused.

God’s help for an undeserved sinful world (you and me) was to send His Son to become flesh.

“[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” Colossians 1:15.

And our response to that incomprehensible move is to throw parties, eat cookies, and watch mostly silly movies.

Yes, we all have our Christmas programs and services we go to. But we need to stop and take the time to be awestruck by the fact the invisible God – out of His infinite love for us – bothered to leave His perfect heaven to walk on this earth among sinful man. And we need to let that overwhelm our souls and infiltrate our Christmas.

Think about it – we don’t really know what these wisemen understood or thought about this newborn “King of the Jews.” One thing’s for sure: they didn’t know what we know. Not by a long shot.

We’ve read the reports and seen the prophecies fulfilled. So we know sweet baby Jesus actually came here to save us. And He came so people – from Mary Magdalene to Saul/Paul to you and me – might come to understand who He is and worship Him. (In other words, we are without excuse.)

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (Paul – 1 Timothy 1:15).

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Without Easter, Christmas doesn’t matter. It’s just another holiday.

It’s just a lot more fun to talk about a baby than our sin that brought His ultimate death. (Thanks be to God, that’s not the end of the story!)

I’m not saying it’s not ok to enjoy the cultural things of Christmas (that are healthy). We each have our own favorites.

But we need to break any of their hold on our hearts that prevents worship from being our first response to the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Let’s ask God to help us see and respond to Jesus’ “glory”all He is and all He’s done – this Christmas season. If He really is what Christmas is all about (like we say), let’s be diligent to “come to worship Him.” Let’s go to whatever lengths it takes to offer Him our best. Just like the magi all those years ago.

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17)!

Enjoy this beautiful song by Lauren Daigle – Noel.


How can we make sure our first response to Jesus’ birth is to worship Him? How can we make that our focus all season long? Share your ideas.

 

RELATED POSTS:
Oh come, [do we] adore Him?
Responding to Baby Jesus

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Worship Leader Magazine awarded Worship and the Word as one of the “Best of 2014” books!

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Have any tables that need to be flipped?

By on November 4, 2016

How seriously do I take distractions from my worship of God? Do they really matter?

prayer

Jesus took distractions from worship seriously. We know this from reading Matthew 21:12-13. “Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.’”

What were they robbing? They were robbing the Gentiles of their dedicated place of worship and prayer in the outer courts of the temple. He had made it clear that this was an unacceptable practice three years prior (John 2:14-16), but their businesses, even under the guise of being religious, were inhibiting worship.

Their priority was the monetary gain of worldly business. Jesus’ priority was the soulful gain of anyone who would choose to come and worship the Father there.

While we don’t sell doves and exchange currency in churches these days, we do often have things in our lives and churches that inhibit ourselves, and others around us, from worshiping the Lord. We have tables, so to speak, that desperately need to be flipped.

We need to get rid of anything that weighs us down, distracts us, clutters our minds, or holds us back in any way. We need to remember and diligently fulfill the prerequisites for being true worshipers of the Most High God, such as “clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-5), instead of believing that going through the religious motions is enough.

This isn’t because God wants to add to our “to do” list but because He is wholly deserving and worthy of all of our strivings to have a worshiper’s devoted heart.

After all, we are now the temple.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
(1 Corinthians 3:16).

Just as Jesus cleaned out the temple so nothing would hinder the worship there, is there anything in me I need to allow Him to clean out or flip over that’s inhibiting my worship? That’s a question I need to be asking regularly.

 

*Sections of this post are excerpts from my book, Worship and the Word.

RELATED POSTS:
Periscope Hearts and Adoring God
Want to beat those Sunday morning distractions?
Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart
Is the God I say I worship on Sunday my everyday God?

 

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Pursuing “Show Me Your Glory!” Worship

By on October 19, 2016

It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips for us. Blessed with free housing, my husband and I celebrated a significant anniversary a few years ago with a trip to Kauai, Hawaii. And the highlight? Oh, definitely the helicopter ride throughout the island! It’s not something that we would’ve normally done, but winning a free ticket made it both a no brainer and an unforgettable experience.

kauai-coast

There’s no way to describe the magnificence of the island sites that are hidden to those who remain below on the roads and beaches. Because sitting in the front seat of a chopper with an unhindered view below, it was honestly as if we stumbled onto something that should never be seen by human eyes. I remember having thoughts of, “Surely this is for God’s eyes only!” And, “Why should I be allowed to see such magnificence from the hand of God?”

I know He was smiling as those thoughts swirled in my mind as quickly as the helicopter blades above us.

Because our God delights in revealing Himself.
He loves disclosing wonder after wonder of who He is – whether it’s through His Word, basking in His Spirit’s presence, or gazing on the hidden treasures of His creation. God is always inviting and revealing. (Psalm 19:1-2; John 14:21)

Friends, shouldn’t worship feel that way? Have that expectation?

As we bow before God’s throne of grace – to exalt His mighty name and pour out at His feet from all He’s given us – I feel like He’s calling out, Keep looking. Soar higher. There are so many wonders to behold here in My presence.

What wonders? He may want you to see the greater depths of His love, expanse of his grace, or intimacies of His presence. Or maybe He longs to reveal His mighty strength, limitless mercy, or holy, holy, holiness. Or perhaps He has something for us that you and I can’t possibly imagine sitting right here, right now.

“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
Awesome in praises, working wonders?”
Exodus 15:11

My breath was taken away by the grandeur of God’s creation only because I was on that helicopter ride with my eyes wide open. I was ready to be wowed and expecting to engage my spectacular God. I had no idea what revelations He had for me that day, but I was there, ready, and willing.

I don’t know how often I’ve stuck with the routine car ride or chosen the backseat with a distracted view of His glory. The memories of entering worship nonexpectant and uninvolved will never leave me. And I can’t imagine how much I missed.

We should learn from David, who sought hard after God – whatever life was throwing at Him – until his sights were fully set on the thought-altering, life-changing, worship-drawing view of his magnificent God.

“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You”
(Psalm 63:1-3).

And from Moses, who boldly asked of God, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” (Exodus 33:18). Ahhh!!

Why would we ever dare ask the same? Only because it would produce more worship for our glorious God. It’s all about Him.

Oh God, may we humbly approach your throne with souls yearning and expecting to behold more of who You are. Still our minds. Open our eyes. Show us Your glory! May we soar high in our seeking and bow low in surrender before You in worship.

 
 
RELATED POSTS:
Expecting God to be God in Worship!
May we never lose our wonder
The Wonder of God’s Breath in You
What We Miss When We Don’t “Stop”

 
 
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The Staggering Place of Grace in Our Worship

By on September 29, 2016

I was in a frustrated funk recently. I’d been working hard on something for some time, but it wasn’t going as I’d hoped. And as I unwisely allowed my focus to veer off the road God had paved with confidence, strength, and hope, I began questioning all the important whys, whats, and hows attached to what I was doing. I was tired, confused, demoralized, and frankly lonely in my labor.

woman-sunset-silhouette

Then early one morning, a short phrase in a familiar verse grabbed not only my attention but my weary heart.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

There’s no way I could recall the number of times I’d read that verse before. But on a day when I was mistakenly feeling alone in my labor (I knew better!), the timely reminder that God’s grace was laboring with me took my breath away. While it wasn’t an unfamiliar truth at all, the overwhelming thought of the unmerited favor of God laboring in, through, and beside me made me instantly dig deeper for more grace gold.

I quickly filled my journal with verse after verse of the sometimes forgotten treasure that is God’s grace. And wouldn’t you know it, I was lovingly pointed toward worship. (Shocked?)

I invite you to soak in a few of the verses I found that day to be reminded of – or maybe discover for the first time – the staggering place of grace in your worship. The incomprehensible, unmerited, undeserved favor of God is truly grace upon grace upon grace . . .

God’s grace . . .

~ Saved me.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

~ Justified me.

“. . . so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).

~ Makes me what I am.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, . . .” (1 Corinthians 15:10a).

~ Calls me.

“[God], who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” 2 Timothy 1:9

~ Is sufficient for me.

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a).

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

~ Perfects, confirms, strengthens, and establishes me.

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

~ Makes it possible for me to glorify Him.

“ . . . so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:12).

~ Is the very name of His throne!

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:15-16.

Friend, worship is the response and surrender of all I am to all God is and does – and God made me all I am! (As I seek and allow Him, of course.)

So when I come to the throne as a grace-saved, grace-justified, grace-made, grace-called, grace-empowered, grace-established believer, I’m only pouring back out to my grace-giving God all that He has lavished on me through His astonishing unmerited favor to begin with. All He requires and desires, He generously gives me. He alone makes me acceptable to come before Him and makes it possible for me to glorify Him AT His throne of grace! How overwhelmingly humbling! How staggering!

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

I don’t know about you, but I need to meditate on these grace-truths a lot more often. God’s word teaches us that grace is something that can be multiplied (2 Peter 1:2) and even be transferrable (2 Corinthians 4:15). (How are we doing at that?) It’s also something we can grow in <yes!> (2 Peter 3:17-18) or fall short in <ouch!> (Hebrews 12:15).

Lord God, thank You for your overwhelming, life-enveloping, soul-infusing grace. Help us count on Your grace, grow in Your grace, and transfer Your grace to others. We humbly bow all You’ve given and made us before Your very throne of grace and give You all the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Which one of these verses on God’s grace stands out to you the most today?

 

[More verses on grace for those who want to keep digging! (I’d encourage you to look these up in your own Bible.) James 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:5; John 1:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; Acts 4:33; 1 Peter 4:10; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Hebrews 13:9; 1 Peter 1:13; Acts 6:8; Romans 12:3]

RELATED POST:
4 Reasons Why Our Worship Is So Unreasonable!

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8 reasons heavenly worship will be, well, heavenly!

By on September 6, 2016

Wouldn’t it be great to have a promo video that showed us what we can expect in heaven? I’m sure our jaws would be on the floor through the whole thing – the sights, the sounds, and the unimaginable glory of God! Right?

fieldworshipsky
But we don’t. (I’m still holding out for a play-by-play video in heaven of all the ways God answered prayers or intervened on my behalf – with angels and all!)

The Bible tells us enough though that should fill us with incredible expectation of what’s to come. And at the peak of that expectation of heaven should be the worship! So to whet your appetite a little bit, here are 8 reasons heavenly worship will be, well, heavenly!

1) We’ll worship God face to face. No more deep strivings to get a mere glimpse of His glory. No more relying on the power of the Holy Spirit living in us (as incredible as it is) to experience His presence. Every limitation of this earth that separates us will be gone when we finally stand before Him face to face.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face;” (2 Cor. 13:12a).

“There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:3-4).

 And because of this, . . .

2) We’ll know God fully. For now, the depth of our worship is limited to how much of God we know and understand from His word. It’s limited by how hard we seek after Him daily – to know and love Him – and how much the Holy Spirit reveals. So for even the most passionate God-seeker, earthly sight is greatly limited. But in heaven, our anchor will no longer be hope. Perfect light will erase the questions. Our faith will finally and fully be sight!

For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. . . . now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (2 Corinthians 13:9-10, 12a).

Which means, . . .

3) We’ll be overwhelmed by God’s beauty. His glorious majesty and holiness will compel us to our knees. No special effects needed. His splendor will take our breaths away to heights unseen everyday for all eternity. Marvelously overwhelmed.

I saw no temple in [the holy city, New Jerusalem] for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:22-23).

And we’ll have a perfected ability to understand, appreciate, and respond to all we see of Him! Because . . .

4) We’ll always come with “clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4). No more pride. No more apathy. No more idols. No more unsurrendered hearts. Our love will finally be perfect, pure, and strong.

“. . . and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into [the holy city, New Jerusalem], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).

So of course, . . .

5) We’ll have perfect communion with our Savior. Ahhh!!! There will no longer be barriers between us and the throne! Nothing between our heart and His. No sin, no distractions, no confusion. No more lies from the enemy about why we shouldn’t/couldn’t be there. Nothing just for the sake of tradition. Nothing stale or passive. We’ll have absolute perfect, bowed-down communion with the God who blesses us with eternity in His holy presence!

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).

And . . .

6) We’ll worship full-out. No more halfway or passive worship! When pure, enlightened hearts stand in the presence of our unveiled Savior, we won’t be able to contain it! We’ll join the heavenly chorus in unbridled worship!

“And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped” (Revelation 5:13-14).

Not only that, . . .

7) We’ll worship together as the bride of Christ in perfect unity. How powerful! No more of Satan’s accusations or disruptions. No more nitpicky, self-centered desires keeping us from bowing before Him together in perfect harmony. Our perfected love for God will spill over into a perfected love for each other – joyfully expressing our worship before Him together.

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying,

“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 7:9-12).

And don’t forget, . . .

8) We’ll enjoy our place at the foot of His throne forever. This worship party will never end! No one will be watching the clock, because there will be nothing more important or desirous to do. Ever. Can you even imagine?

“And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever” (Revelation 4:9-10).

Until then? We need to take our cue from Revelation 19:7, “His bride has made herself ready.”

That’s us, His bride – the Church! Our highest goal should be to make ourselves ready to be presented to the Bridegroom of all bridegrooms for the marriage of all marriages! We need to allow God to adorn us with His incredible grace and beauty so we might bring Him the most glory while we wait and be perfectly radiant for our wedding day. (Glad there’s a to-do manual for this!) Are we ready?

I love Passion and Kristian Stanfill’s song, Even So Come, and admit there are days I’ve watched this video over and over. It’s a powerful picture of the bride calling out, Lord Jesus, come! Let’s join them! Enjoy!

 

RELATED POSTS:
14 Lies That Will Sabotage Your Worship Life
“Who do you say that I am?”
Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart
How to Avoid Settling for Less in Your Worship Life!
How vital is the Bible to my worship life really?
Am I overwhelmed by the right thing?
Running from the fallacy of passive worship to chase after God
Expecting the Intimate Presence of God in Worship

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9 Sparks For Your Worship This Week!

By on July 26, 2016

Hi, worshiping friend! During my few weeks off from writing new posts, I thought I’d send you some thoughts on worship topics from a variety of sources. This week I was pulled toward the important topic of surrender.29214748_m

Surrender is an essential element of true worship – and one that we don’t give in to easily. Right? So here are 9 thoughts – posts, quotes, and songs – on surrender in worship to spark your personal reflection, mediation, and worship over the coming days. Enjoy!

       1) Ooooh . . . may it be true of me!

TozerQuote
      

       2) Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart

We’re Christians, so we should understand surrender. Right? Both hands up (the international sign) – You’re God, and I’m not.

Our first act of surrender was when we first accepted Jesus’ payment on the cross for our sins and His victorious resurrection – embracing Him as Savior. And it continues day after day as we strive to surrender our will to His – confessing sin as His Spirit convicts us and choosing His way over ours – making Him Lord. So surrender plays a very important part in our daily Christian walk.

And it does in our worship life as well. In fact, the Bible says that only the heart that’s surrendered to God can stand before His throne to worship Him.

READ the rest of my post, Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart, here.

 
        3) “If not to God, you will surrender to the opinions or expectations of others, to money, to resentment, to fear, or to your own pride, lusts, or ego. You were designed to worship God and if you fail to worship Him, you will create other things (idols) to give your life to. You are free to choose, what you surrender to but you are not free from the consequence of that choice.” ― Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

 
       4) I Surrender – Hillsong United
Love this song. Click to listen.


 
       5) Is the God I say I worship on Sunday my everyday God?

The Sunday worship disconnect is real. I see and hear about it all the time. I’ve been there! And one of the main causes of it can deceptively sneak past us if we aren’t on the alert.

So how about some self-probing questions: How does the God that I sing about in church compare to the God that I allow into my life Monday through Saturday? Is the God I say I worship on Sunday my everyday God?

KEEP READING my post, Is the God I say I worship on Sunday my everyday God?, here.

 
       6) This.

      

 
       7) “God never forces a person’s will into surrender, and He never begs. He patiently waits until that person willingly yields to Him. True surrender is a matter of being ‘united together [with Jesus] in the likeness of His death’ (Romans 6:5) until nothing ever appeals to you that did not appeal to Him. And after you surrender–then what? Your entire life should be characterized by an eagerness to maintain unbroken fellowship and oneness with God.” — Oswald Chambers

 
       8) Only You – David Crowder Band:
Click to listen to this great song.

 
       9) What should my surrender in worship look like?

Surrender is an important topic for Christians. It can also be uncomfortable, confusing, and even repelling.

Several months ago I wrote a post, Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart, where I shared how the Bible teaches that only the surrendered heart can stand before God’s throne to worship Him: “Words are merely that – words – until poured out from a heart bowed before God.  And the ‘bowing’ part is what makes it worship. Bowing is the heart’s response of submission and surrender to the God it’s exalting.”

We tend to view surrender as a negative thing – involving enemies and duress – that results in loss of freedom, forfeiture of blessings, and the degrading of the soul.

But when you surrender all that you are to a holy, loving, perfect and true God –  it results in freedom . . . blessing . . . and renewal. More importantly, it results in glory for the one true God – our Savior!

While true submission is born in the heart, I constantly remind myself of the need to express that submission even further in my worship – because I keep running into verses like these:

READ MORE of my post, What should my surrender in worship look like?, here.

 

If any of these encouraged you, please pass them on to others! God bless!

 

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The Unswerving Call to be a Worshiping Church ~ 8 Insights from Psalm 95

By on July 12, 2016

Did you know the Bible has far more examples of personal worship than it does of worshiping together as a body of believers? Yet, there’s an unswerving call for us to come together to worship God.

church-worship

This past week found me riveted on Psalm 95. The writer of this psalm has some powerful things to teach us about worshiping together. I love his hows and whys, as well as his warnings. Let’s dig in!

Psalm 95:1-7 begins,

“O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation,
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the LORD is a great God And a great King above all gods,
In whose hand are the depths of the earth, The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it, And His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand
.”

According to this psalm – as we enter worship together, we must:

1) Engage our will.

“O come.” It doesn’t matter that you got up early, put on your Sunday best, and made the drive to sit in your favorite seat. You can do all those things and still not “come”  to worship. In fact, you can engage your voice in singing the songs for others’ ears to hear (i.e., praise), and still not engage your will in worshiping – “sing . . . to the LORD.” So it’s important that we respond from deep within our souls to the invitation to “come” – each individual heart surrendered, yet lifting His name together to Him. For His ears. “Come, let us sing . . . to the LORD!”

[Related post: Does your focus get stuck here on your way to worship?]

2) Allow our emotions.

We don’t just “sing” – we “sing for joy!So beyond engaging our will, we allow our emotions to be engaged as well. In fact, the original Hebrew word, nariah/naria, used for “sing for joy” and “shout joyfully” (vs. 1-2) expresses the highest kind of joy! That’s right, the absolute greatest joy is called for as we come before God – remembering who He is and pouring out ourselves before Him in worship! (Is that the slightest bit convicting to you? It is to me!) “. . . let us sing for [the highest] joy to the LORD!”

[Related post: Oh come, [do we] adore Him?]

3) Employ our minds.

This joy isn’t just some worked up emotion for the sake of emotion. It’s the result of remembering and engaging with the “rock of our salvation.” It’s the aftereffect of declaring, “the LORD is a great God And a King above all gods.” “In [His] hand are the depths of the earth, . . . The peaks of the mountains, . . . The sea . . . , He made it!” It’s the intrinsic why. Worship is the acknowledging and lifting of infinite truths about who God is. Which means, we must . . .

[Related post: Why God Wants Us to be Intentional About Remembering]

4) Know our God.

This may seem obvious, but knowing God is crucial for true worship to happen. It’s foundational. This psalmist’s heart poured out many of the whys he was inviting us to worship, and they all had to do with who God is. Now, the mind mouthing facts about God can never replace experientially knowing your Savior. You want the type of knowledge that results in awe-inspired, complete, and utter devotion to Him expressed in worship.

The psalmist obviously had very specific personal experiences or events in mind as he wrote each line – covering God’s power, goodness, and even gentleness. “For the LORD is a great God!” “We are . . . [His] sheep.” So besides coming as a body of believers, it’s deeply personal. I come to worship my God – who is our God – with you!

[Related post: How vital is the Bible to my worship life really?]

5) Expect His presence.

God wants us to expect to engage with Him closely as we lift up our hearts and minds in response to all that He is in worship. He doesn’t invite us to worship Him at a distance, He longs for us to draw close. “Let us come before His presence . . .” Can you picture it? What grace! We can stand before the King together!

[Related post: 4 Reasons Why Our Worship Is So Unreasonable!]

6) Give Him thanks.

I believe thanksgiving is a necessary ingredient for our heart to be rightly positioned to worship. As this psalmist said, “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.” We need to approach God’s throne not just remembering, but being thankful that He’s “the Rock of our salvation,” “a great King above all gods,” and the Creator of all we see. Who is He to you? Come with thanksgiving.

[Related post: Confessions of my UN-Thankful Thanksgiving]

7) Surrender our all.

We shouldn’t put a limit on our surrender – on how much of our mind, emotions, and will. We need to surrender all. And that includes having a physical posture that’s yielded to the Holy Spirit’s direction. “Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.”

Many of the Hebrew and Greek words for worship show us that there is absolutely nothing passive about the act of worship. Our bowed knees and raised hands are physical expressions of surrendered hearts – hearts offering from the deepest depths. So we need to consider how to surrender all of who “our Maker” created us to be in our worship of Him. Because He deserves nothing less.

[Related post: What should my surrender in worship look like?]

Then, the psalmist suddenly hit the brakes on his worship invitation and felt the need to issue a warning:

“Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work.
For forty years I loathed [that] generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways
” (v.7b-10).

He’s telling us, Church, in order to enter worship together, we must:

8) Guard our hearts.

We need to guard against “hardness” and unbelief. This psalmist’s warning specifically refers back to the Israelites’ attitudes in Exodus and Numbers. “Though they’d seen my work, . . . [They] err in their heart, And they do not know My ways.” They doubted who God was, and they didn’t like how He was fulfilling His promises. They questioned, “Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7). They didn’t “hear His voice,” but doubted His presence instead. They erred in their hearts. The psalmist is obviously warning us not to repeat Israel’s unbelief and sin!

Psalm 95 is later quoted in Hebrews 3, and is followed by,

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (v.12-13).

True worship comes from hearts that are in a right relationship with God. Otherwise,

‘ . . . this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote” (Isaiah 29:13).

[Related post: Do I have a growing appetite to worship God?]

So learning from the encouragement of Psalm 95, may we be ready to  “come” together to worship – “singing for [the highest] joy” to our God “with thanksgiving” as we proclaim who He is. May we not doubt “His presence,” but “hear His voice.” May we not engage in part, but come surrendering all. And may we “encourage one another day after day,” (important!) so we don’t “harden” or “err in [our] hearts.”

Church, let’s come ready to intimately engage our God together! Because “the LORD is a great God!” “He is our God!

It’s an unspeakable taste of His mercy and grace and the greatest privilege on this earth. Let’s be a worshiping Church!

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

 

MORE RELATED POSTS:
Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart
Why worship? Simply . . .
Running from the fallacy of passive worship to chase after God
Is the God I say I worship on Sunday my everyday God?

Want to read more on this topic? Go here to receive my free eBook, 4 Keys to Intimate Sunday Morning Worship!

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11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #8, 9, 10, & 11 – Encouragement, Unity, Evangelism, & Help in Battle

By on July 5, 2016

There are several reasons I’m so passionate about helping people understand biblical worship. And one of them is because it’s vitally important to a healthy, impactful church to get worship right!

silhouettes-holding-hands

My first seven points showing how God works in response to our worship showed the more intimate, inner works of the Spirit of God in our lives. But we can also find evidence of God responding in ways with more outward effects. You’ll see what I mean.

Finishing up this series, here are four more ways God works in response to our worship:

#8 Encouragement

Did you know that worship among believers inspires encouragement?

When we worship together, our words, proclaiming and adoring who God is, encourage and stimulate others in their faith and walk with Him.

“My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:2-3).

“I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving . . . The humble have seen it and are glad; You who seek God, let your heart revive” (Psalm 69:30, 32).

True worship encourages others in their relationships with God and reproduces more worship!

#9 Unity

Related to encouragement, transforming worship brings about unity.

These verses show the additional display of God’s power in encouraging unity in the lives of believers who worship together. It’s the most powerful thing that the body of Christ can share!

“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:46-47a).

“My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:2-3).

The revelation of God in authentic worship has the power to bring unity to those lifting His name together.

#10 Evangelism

Another powerful outward effect of worship is evangelism.

I love the powerful Acts 16 story of when Paul and Silas worshiped in jail after a severe beating. I won’t go back over the whole story when you can catch it here, but the movement of God in, through, and around them was undeniable by those eavesdropping on their chain-bound worship service.

The end result of Paul and Silas’ faithfulness to turn to God in worship was the powerful salvation story of the jailer and his family. After witnessing God’s power in the earthquake, in the physical releasing of the chains, and in Paul and Silas’ implausible attitudes, he asked, “What must I do to be saved?” (v.30). The jailer’s heart turned from fighting, to keep them captive, to hungering to know their kind of freedom. He wanted to know their God!

I think Satan wants us to think that worshiping our Savior is so foreign to the lost that it would always push them further away from Him. But the Bible proves that line of thinking false.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:3).

There’s obviously something supernatural that happens when we lift the name of our God for all to see. It’s unexplainable. It’s convicting!

#11 Help in battle

One of the most extraordinary examples of God’s display of power in response to worship is that of His movement in times of battle. (Again, remember Paul and Silas!)

In 2 Chronicles 20:1-24, we read how King Jehoshaphat wisely led his people to seek and worship God as his first response to the news of a great army advancing to attack them. God knows that Satan fears the worship of God most of all. So when Judah went out before the army and proclaimed, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (v21), there couldn’t have been a more devastating assault on the approaching enemy!

The well-known Daniel 3:10-30 passage also shows how God protected men who refused to worship other gods in the face of life-threatening danger. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did this knowing full well that God could choose to not save them. But He did save them.

And not only that, the kingdom, and eventually the world, heard of God’s miraculous deliverance of His worshipers! That was a result of their heathen king responding with a decree against the very idolatry that was the reason for his attempt on their lives to begin with.

I believe this truly was God’s greater goal – the powerful glory brought to His name as a result!

It’s easy to put Biblical characters in a different category from ourselves. We tend to see them as more spiritually mature, more knowledgeable, and even more lovable to God. But they needed to confess their sins just like us. They struggled with self-centeredness, distractions, apathy – all of the same things that threaten to take us away from worshiping God. Yet they continued to strive towards the goal to become the worshipers that He made them to be. And as a result, He blessed them with greater revelations of Himself – just like He longs to do for us.

This series has been a short, and obviously incomplete, look at how God works in response to our faithful, diligent worship. We saw God’s work through His presence, changed perspective, conviction of sin, spiritual transformation, guidance, supplication, desire for heaven, encouragement, unity, evangelism, and help in battle.

It’s an incredible picture of who He is – of His incredible love for us, His amazing grace towards us, and His unfathomable power in us.

Chances are pretty good that we may never see prison chains fall off or enemy armies fall over dead. But we’ll surely see His transforming power working in our hearts, minds, and lives, if we just keep pursuing His grand purpose for us – that of becoming worshipers of the Almighty God. Maybe that’s a greater work! So let’s keep striving!

 

**Sections of this post are an excerpt from my book, Worship and the Word. If you want to learn more about Worship and the Word, how to get the FREE 3 sample lessons, or where to buy it, this is where you go to do that!

RELATED POSTS:
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #1 His Presence
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #2 Changed Perspective
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #3 – Conviction of sin
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #4 Spiritual Transformation
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #5, 6, 7 – Guidance, Supplication, Desire for Heaven Learning from the grace-fueled worship of Paul
What do the hard places of life find in me?
The power of bowed-down, battle-bracing worship – King Jehoshaphat
Rejecting the Idols in Your Life – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

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EditorsPick_2014For an in-depth personal or group study on what the Bible teaches about worship, check-out Worship and the Word (including 3 FREE sample lessons) or purchase it here.

Worship Leader Magazine awarded Worship and the Word as one of the “Best of 2014” books!

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11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #5, 6, & 7 – Guidance, Supplication, & Desire for Heaven

By on June 28, 2016

If you’ve been following this series, so far we’ve learned how God works in response to our worship by 1) the experience of His presence, 2) a change of perspective, 3) conviction of sin, and 4) spiritual transformation.

Today I’m going to hit the accelerator pedal and cover the next three! Here we go!

man-field-light

#5 Guidance

It’s obvious by now that true worship involves surrender, and that includes an increased sensitivity to God’s voice and guidance in our lives.

Warren Wiersbe said, “It’s when we worship God that we discover afresh that His thoughts and ways are so far above ours that whatever we do will have to be guided and empowered by Him.”*

It was during a time of worship at a church in Antioch that Barnabas was called to be a missionary.

While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts.13:2-3).

We should long to know God so intimately that our worship of Him puts us in that place of seeing His ways, hearing His thoughts, and longing to walk in them wherever they go.

We want to be able to hear and respond like Barnabas when God says, “Set apart . . . I have called” you (Acts 13:2). Or like Isaiah when he heard God’s call, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”, and responded, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:1-8).

We should have our ears tuned to hear anything God might whisper during worship, and that includes times of guidance.

#6 Supplication

Being drawn into a time of supplication is also a way God works in response to our worship. For as we center our focus on Him – seeing Him more clearly and declaring who He is – the result is often that God reveals our own needs in the process.

As David entered prayer in a time of great distress in Psalm 86, he wisely used it as a time to focus on God in worship which put his need in perspective with who God is.

“You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; And give heed to the voice of my supplications!” (v.5-6).

And as he declared the glory of God and the perfection of His law, David again responded with a personal appeal:

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” ( v. 14 of Psalm 19:1-14).

Our single focus in worship needs to be on our glorious God and not on our long list of requests. However, we need to be quick, like David, any time the Holy Spirit prompts us to respond to the God we’re exalting with a revealed need.

God’s Spirit longs to usher us through our time of worship.

#7 Desire for heaven

Gazing on the Lord during worship also increases our desire for heaven! Because this is just a rehearsal! The link between our present lives on earth and our future in heaven is worship.

Worship is central. Worship is eternal. And the more we worship in the here and now, the more we long for that non-ceasing worship service!

“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple” (v.4 of Psalm 27:1-4).

“Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (v.6 of Psalm 23:1-6).

It’s completely unimaginable!

These first 7 points are results of the inner work of the Spirit of God in our lives in response to our faithful, diligent worship. It’s an incredible picture of who He is – of His incredible love for us and His amazing grace towards us!

Next week, we’ll look at the final four on the list with evidence of how these inner workings can result in more outward effects – including in the church. Don’t miss it!

 

*Warren W. Wiersbe, Real Worship (Baker Books, 2000), p.15

**Sections of this post is an excerpt from my book, Worship and the Word. If you want to learn more about Worship and the Word, how to get the FREE 3 sample lessons, or where to buy it, this is where you go to do that!

To make sure you don’s miss the rest of this series, 11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship, subscribe to my blog here, below, or in the right sidebar! (Hey, people like options!😀)

RELATED POSTS:
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #1 His Presence

11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #2 Changed Perspective
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #3 Conviction of sin
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #4 Spiritual Transformation
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #8, 9, 10, & 11 – Encouragement, Unity, Evangelism, & Help in Battle
Expecting God to be God in Worship!
Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart
Heaven Will Never Be Boring!

 

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EditorsPick_2014For an in-depth personal or group study on what the Bible teaches about worship, check-out Worship and the Word (including 3 FREE sample lessons) or purchase it here.

Worship Leader Magazine awarded Worship and the Word as one of the “Best of 2014” books!

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11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #4 Spiritual Transformation

By on June 21, 2016

What do you picture is going on when you worship? Do you picture yourself in intimate communion with the very heart of God – a basking in His presence?

dancing-sunset-silhouette

Of course, He’s always right here. But true worship is the most intimate of times – as we pour out from the very depths of our souls to all that we see, know, and believe about God in complete surrender.

And part of God’s workings in response to that humble offering is a powerful, spiritual transformation from the inside out.

Is there a more dramatic worship transformation story than that of Moses coming down Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments?

After Moses cut the stones for the second set of ten commandments as God requested (Exodus 34), He took them back up Mount Sinai to present them to Him. God proceeded to remind Moses who He was, and “Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship” (v.8). He then asked for forgiveness for the people of Israel, and God renewed His covenant with them. Moses spent the next 40 days “with the LORD” fasting and carving the Ten Commandments. (I’m secretly hoping there’s a video library in heaven of all these great events! Ok, the secret’s out.)

When Moses came down the mountain with the tablets, he didn’t know his face was shining from exposure to God’s presence. In fact, it was so bright, the people were afraid to go near him!

Matt Redman says that this Exodus passage “gives us insight into two things: the deep revelation of God, and the change it brings to those who experience it. The greater the revelation, the greater the transformation. Unveiled in his worship and given incredible access to the presence of God, Moses also became a changed worshipper who glowed with the glory of God.”*

As unlikely as it is that any of us will acquire the same type of God-glow that Moses exhibited, the Bible tells us that we can absolutely reflect God’s glory. As a matter of fact, we can’t be in God’s presence and not change. Looking at 2 Corinthians 3:18, we read,

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (NIV).

In that verse Paul reflects on Moses’ experience and says that we, too, can be transformed as unveiled worshipers. I love what Matt Redman said: “The greater the revelation, the greater the transformation.” For the more time we spend exposed to God’s glory in worship, the more He’s able to do His work in us so we reflect that incredible glory.

It’s impossible to fathom. Such incredible grace! Such power!

Now, this is a transformation that goes way beyond just one’s perspective. It’s recognizable from the outside, but it surely begins with a transformation in the inner man.

This is life-altering transformation that I believe begins with an increased evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). We’ll more closely reflect God’s love, joy, and peace. His patience, kindness, and goodness. And don’t forget His faithfulness and self-control. As we surrender our all to His all, to His glory, we become more like Him. Wow!

And you know what? Unlike Moses (2 Corinthians 3:13), we don’t have to hide as our “shining” transformation slips away. Because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who continues that transforming work in and through us as we allow.

Of course, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Bible shows us how those same reflection results work for those who worship idols – anything that’s not God:

“Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them(Psalm 115:8).

Sadly, we see this happening throughout our culture today along with the horrendous results. But before we say, “Not me!”, it’s a very real threat for the committed Christian, too. We need to pay close attention to what or who gets our most valued attention and affection. Because we will become like the object of those affections. (Yes, I stand convicted, too!)

How would it change your life if you were more and more enticed to be in the glorious presence of God and were less and less enticed by the things of the world? How would it change your everyday life – your attitudes, relationships, dreams, and desires? Oh, pray that would be your heart’s passion!

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16)!

 

*Matt Redman, The Unquenchable Worshipper (Regal Books, 2001), p.62

[In case you missed my 2nd post in this series, the changes in our perspective God brings about as we worship Him are definitely part of this spiritual transformation!]

**Sections of this post is an excerpt from my book, Worship and the Word. If you want to learn more about Worship and the Word, how to get the FREE 3 sample lessons, or where to buy it, this is where you go to do that!

To make sure you don’s miss the rest of this series, 11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship, subscribe to my blog here, below, or in the right sidebar! (Hey, some people like options. 😀 )

 

RELATED POSTS:
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #1 His Presence
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #2 Changed Perspective
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #3 Conviction of sin
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #5, 6, 7 – Guidance, Supplication, Desire for Heaven
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #8, 9, 10, & 11 – Encouragement, Unity, Evangelism, & Help in Battle
Expecting God to be God in Worship!

 

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EditorsPick_2014For an in-depth personal or group study on what the Bible teaches about worship, check-out Worship and the Word (including 3 FREE sample lessons) or purchase it here.

Worship Leader Magazine awarded Worship and the Word as one of the “Best of 2014” books!

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11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #3 Conviction of sin

By on June 14, 2016

Ok, this isn’t one of the warm and fuzzy topics to talk about in regards to worship. But it’s necessary for moving forward – for achieving the greater intimacies at the foot of His throne. So stick with me!

Anytime we enter worship, we can count on a battle. Right? There’s always something distracting us, enticing us, bugging us, or flat-out lying to us to prevent us from bowing before the Lord God Almighty. (Can I get an Amen!)

And often times that battle is coming from within.

You may remember Psalm 24:3-4 teaches us the necessity of having “clean hands” and a “pure heart” to enter God’s presence to worship. Or recall that Hebrews 10:19, 22 tells us what’s necessary to “enter the holy place.”

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus . . . [Then] Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

But it only makes sense that when imperfect men encounter the holy and perfect God, He might reveal those broken places that still need exposure to His light in the process.

So a repentant heart is vital to the entering of worship, as well as to the continuation of worship.

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts . . . Woe is me, for I am ruined! . . . For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3,5).

I love Isaiah’s impassioned repentance in response to His breathtaking vision of His holy Lord.

David had the same plea when remembering the goodness and faithfulness of his God in worship.

“To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. . . . Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day. . . . For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great” (Psalm 25:1, 5, 11).

Both Isaiah and David’s prayers force me to ask myself,

~ Is my soul prepared to encounter and respond to what God reveals of Himself to me in worship?
~ Do I approach Him in full submission – with an laid-open heart anxious to respond to anything His Spirit reveals to me about myself – including my sin?
~ Do I desire those deepest levels of worship intimacy?

This conviction may happen as you’re proclaiming God’s holiness to Him, and His Spirit whispers, You need to be holy as I am holy – with specifics. Or maybe you’re declaring His strength, and your eyes are opened to how you haven’t been trusting in His strength in a particular area. Or as you’re singing words that lavish love on your beautiful Savior, and He shows you the need to make intimately seeking, knowing, and loving Him a greater priority. I want you here at My feet more often.

So this is a work God does in response to our worship that requires our further cooperation. Of course, an immediate, contrite response at any prompting of the Holy Spirit will always be met with embracing forgiveness by our loving God. And not only that! It will invigorate worship intimacy as the hindrances to seeing and communing with our holy God are removed!

I love how David reminded us in those verses of the primary goal and greatest result – that of a greater glory being brought to His name.

For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity” (v.11).

As we enter worship, let’s ask God to help us approach Him longing to surrender our all to His all. For His glory alone. For He is worthy!

 

*Much of this post is an excerpt from my book, Worship and the Word. If you want to learn more about Worship and the Word, how to get the FREE 3 sample lessons, or where to buy it, this is where you go to do that!

To make sure you don’s miss the rest of this series, 11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship, subscribe to my blog here, below, or in the right sidebar! (Hey, some people like options. 😀 )

 

RELATED POSTS:
Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart
Expecting God to be God in Worship!
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #1 His Presence

11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #2 Changed Perspective
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #3 Conviction of sin
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #4 Spiritual Transformation
11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #5, 6, 7 – Guidance, Supplication, Desire for Heaven

11 Ways God Works in Response to Our Worship: #8, 9, 10, & 11 – Encouragement, Unity, Evangelism, & Help in Battle


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I’d love to hear what you think, too!

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EditorsPick_2014For an in-depth personal or group study on what the Bible teaches about worship, check-out Worship and the Word (including 3 FREE sample lessons) or purchase it here.

Worship Leader Magazine awarded Worship and the Word as one of the “Best of 2014” books!

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