Why is it so difficult to have real conversation about our personal relationship with Jesus, especially with non-believers? When given the opportunity, we are quick to say that God has incredible power to transform lives, but we belittle the example of transformed life that we know the most...
Showing items for 'Christian Living'
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) There is hope, even in these turbulent times. The spirit of the world is divisive, angry, hateful and racist. Those forces can deeply...
Following one of the most controversial election cycles in modern history, where the political drama was only amplified by the voices of our friends and family online, the social media bashing of one another’s views has not stopped. It’s easy to get swept away in it all. Convictions...
To live as followers of Jesus, we must not ignore the example Jesus set. Jesus didn’t talk about religion in buildings. He didn’t spend his time in Torah studies discussing the merits of this teacher or that. Those things have their place…but more often than not during his...
In the next 15 seconds, name as many ways as you can think of that other people show they love you. Ready? Go… What did you come up with? If you are like me maybe things like, they are kind and considerate, they do things for me, they say they love me, they give hugs, they bring...
Stephen Hord is taking life as a Severn Runner “On The Road” literally. Through the heat, through the pain, through the training, and by running races, he strives to raise a donation of $5000 to Severn Run’s On The Road campaign. This is his story. About two years ago, Stephen...
If you are a young adult, you are probably finishing up some kind of school or beginning a new career. You may have grown up in church like my wife, who felt like going to church was “what you did” and rarely thought about what she would do when given the option of how to spend her...
How were you first introduced to Jesus? It’s a good bet that you learned about Jesus because someone shared with you. They shared their personal experiences and the joy that he brought into their life. That person shared with you because they knew the impact Jesus would have in your life...
Greater love has no one than this:to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13) The greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends. Certainly we aren't called to die for our friends...are we? Well, yes. We are.If we mean to show the love of Jesus to the...
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) We are often reminded of our “first world problems” on days when things just don’t go right. The drive to work is...
Seems as though there would be more to worship than singing on Sunday, saying an occasional prayer, or owning and reading a Bible. What do you think worship is?
Dig deep. Think hard. Be open-minded. Open the Bible.
An understanding of why we worship God isn’t found in the news or in our workplaces. It can’t be found in the media or on our favorite reality show. It’s not found in a self-help book or on twitter.
It can be found through observing the sunrise or hiking in the mountains. It can be evident in the face of a small child or felt in the evening winds. It can be seen in the lives of others, even in our own lives. Most importantly the answer to understand why we worship is found in God’s Word.
If you look for verses that speak to the act of worship, you will find numerous passages.
Some scripture simply tells us to worship:
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.”
(Psalm 150:6 NIV) (1)
Other scripture gives instructions on how to worship:
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.”
(Psalm 100: 1-2 NIV) (2)
There are also examples of others worshiping:
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
(Acts 16:25 NIV) (3)
The Bible even tells us how not to worship:
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
(Isaiah 29:13 NIV)
And there are many more verses and passages that speak to these areas of worship. Yet why? Why is it so important to give God the glory, offer him our praise, and do so with our hearts close to him?
We can see what makes God deserving as we walk through who God is and what he has done. We will find the true intent and purpose of worship.
Imagine a newborn baby and the sweet love of his father. He has anticipated, waited for, and prepared for the baby, falling in love before the child is born. Yet, the father knows he will one day send this child away.
He will do this not because he doesn’t love the child. He loves this child with his whole being as he and this child are as one. He does so because he loves others too. He loves them so much he has devised a plan such that they can be adopted into his own family. He therefore chooses to send his child to accomplish this goal.
This isn’t any ordinary father, this is Father God. His Son has always been with him and we know why he did this. John 3:16 (NIV) says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This is who God is, what he has done and why he is to be glorified.
We also find in scripture that we are all sinners. We fall short. We fail. We try. We need a Savior. Christ came to earth, lived a sinless life, was crucified and raised from the dead. He did this to build a bridge to the Father. Through the action of the Father and the son we could be forgiven of our sins and know, “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1 NIV). It was, “In love he (God) predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:5 NIV)
And the very next verse in Ephesians sums up like this, “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One (Christ Jesus) he loves.” (Ephesians 1:6 NIV)
Songwriters Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin give a snapshot of reasons in their praise song “10,000 Reasons”. The words include, “You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger. Your name is great, and Your heart is kind. For all Your goodness, I will keep on singing...10,000 Reasons for my heart to find.” (You can find that video here).
God loves us! He loves YOU!
He choose to give us his son. We have been adopted into God’s family. 10,000 reasons for worship. And more.
What are your “worship reasons”?
Write them down.
Read them again and again.
Express your reasons daily in worship to God.
- Also see I Chronicles 16:23-24
- Also see Psalm 100: 1-2
- Also see Daniel 4:37
You might think that worship time on Sunday is all that God requires for our worship of Him. And most of us can’t imagine ourselves playing music or singing songs to God in our homes or at our job, so we just save worship for for church on Sundays because that’s where we know how to do it.
But worship isn’t just for church. Worship is personal. It is our personal response to God’s involvement in our lives. If God is involved in our lives on other days besides Sundays, shouldn’t we worship Him on other days as well?
If you don’t know how to make worship personal, you can learn how to worship God when you’re not in church by learning from what happens before and during a church worship service. The worship leaders shared what they do to prepare for worship on Sundays. And since that is where we start our week in worship, we can learn from them and then apply the principles to develop our own worship during the week.
We asked the worship leaders, “How do you prepare for worship?”
Every week the worship team leaders meet to listen to what God is laying on Pastor Drew’s heart for the church. There is much prayer involved as they God’s direction. The team then searches for appropriate worship songs that support what God is speaking and they practice and plan for the Sunday service. Another important aspect of their preparation is in developing their own relationships with God through prayer and Bible study. They all know that they would not be able to lead worship if they didn’t have an active relationship with Jesus.
So, how will YOU prepare for worship?
As with the worship team, your preparation for worship comes from an active, daily relationship with Jesus. It comes from spending time in the Word, and in conversation with God in prayer.
- Seek God’s direction for how you can practice personal worship.
- Pray, read the Bible, and practice a daily relationship with Jesus.
- Think about ways you can respond to and support what God is speaking to you.
We asked the worship leaders, “What does worship mean to you?”
Patrice Lyle said, “Worship is to give honor or reverence to something. If you have chosen to give your life to God, you owe God your worship. I can help model worship as a leader, but each person must worship God for themselves. Not as a spectator, but as an active participant. How we express our worship to God may vary, but that we worship is a responsibility we can’t ignore, nor pass off to someone else to do for us. When we respond to God revealing himself to us…we show others the goodness of God. This is worship—pouring out our lives to God in a way that attracts others to Him, and having the freedom to express our love for God in how we live for Him.
Hannah Martin said, “When I read scripture I see over and over again how spiritual victory comes after a time of worship. Paul and Silas were beaten and in prison, and it says in Acts 16 that they began to pray and sing songs of praise to God and suddenly the foundations of the prison were shaken and their chains were loosened and fell off, the prison doors swung open. Paul and Silas weren't asking for a rescue, they were worshipping...and God showed up and shook the foundations. They were freed because of their worship. Worship is my love letter to my Creator. Worship is so much more than playing and singing songs about God. It is our response to all that God has done for us.”
So what does worship mean to YOU?
Worship is a choice; a choice to give honor and reverence to God above all other things. It is something we each have to do for ourselves; we can’t rely on others to worship for us. Our worship can free us from our chains. It is our love letter to the Creator and a response to God’s love for us.
- What are you choosing to worship? Are you choosing to honor God above all other things?
- Don’t rely on other’s to worship for you; your worship is your response to God’s love for you.
- Worship comes in many forms, not just singing in church. It is showing God’s love, it is praising Him in your prison, and it is a response to His love and provision.
- How will you respond to God’s love for you today? This is the beginning of personal worship.
We asked the worship leaders, “How do you hope people would respond to worship?”
Hannah Martin said, “I hope that people would experience the presence of God, that they would begin to fully comprehend how much they are known and loved by God and that worship would be an expression of that revelation. That they would be able to freely embrace the Father’s love for them and respond to it because no one walked away from experiencing the presence of God and stayed the same. His presence changes people.”
Patrice Lyle said, “My hope is that every person who enters Severn Run for a worship service will experience the manifest presence of God in a way that encourages them to choose to respond with their lives as an offering to God. When we respond to God revealing Himself to us, we become the embodiment of 1 Peter 2:9, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, we are given the charge to show others the goodness of God. This is worship.”
So how do YOU respond to worship?
Do you experience the presence of God? Can you comprehend how much He loves you? Your worship is an expression of that revelation!
- Freely embrace God’s love for you and respond to it in a way that feels right to you…by singing, or creating, or speaking, or praising…by sharing or by helping others feel His love. This is a response of worship.
- Experience the presence of God and let that affect you! Are you happy about it? Scared of it? Amazed in it? Experience that, and respond to God in worship.
- Let God change you! Let His love mean something to you, and let it set you free. Respond to the change God has made in you—that is worship.
- Respond to God in worship with your life. Get involved, get connected, learn, grow, pray, serve. These are worship responses.
God loves you. He knows who you are and what you are going through. Let that sink in. Let it mean something to you. Then respond to God’s love for you with love back to him. Worship him in word, in deed, in spirit and in truth. Let your life be an offering to Him, a daily worship of His goodness and love.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)
When we lived in Colorado we would hike often. I thought it was important to teach my then five year-old son about nature, hiking, and being outdoors in general. While I was teaching him about nature, he taught me about worship.
Almost every time we started out on a trail, he would open his arms wide and exclaim, “I just love seeing all of God’s glory!”
Isn't that the essence of worship; seeing God in something and declaring it?
Where do you see God in your life?
Sometimes to see God, you need to look for Him. It’s about intentionally seeking Him, and expecting to find Him. In Jeremiah 20:13 God promised, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” (ISV)
If you look, you can see God in all things.
You can see God in the smile of a tiny baby. You can see Him in the love of your family. You can seek God in your job and you will find Him in the blessings you receive. In the paycheck you take home. In the people you help, and in those who help you. You can seek God and find Him in the beauty of spring, in the sunrise and sunset, in the way the daffodil blooms in the spring, and in the way the leaves turn auburn in the fall.
When you seek Him in your surroundings, you will find Him.
When you seek Him in the ordinary, you will find Him.
When you seek Him in your every day experiences, you will find Him, right there with you.
When you seek Him…you WILL find Him.
He will not just be there in the good times, where it’s easier to see Him. He will also be there in the trials. When you are lost in the dark, distracted by your grief, or laying sick in bed. God does not leave us, nor will He forsake us. He says, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV)
It is God who gives us comfort in our trouble. Who gives us a way out of our temptations. It is God who provides peace in the storm, strength for the fight, and courage for the battle. He isn’t just a God for the good times. He is a God for all times…even in your trials…in your darkness…in your distress.
This is why Paul said to focus on whatever is true, and noble, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable, and on that which is excellent or praiseworthy, in his letter to the Philippians (Philippians 4:8).
Because when you seek the good you’ll be able to see the fingerprints of God in all things.
Seeing God in your life is the first step, but that is not the whole of worship. Worship is also about declaring God’s glory.
When you seek Him, you will find Him! When you find Him, declare His goodness!
Declaring God’s goodness in your life is your personal worship.
It is a way you can daily declare the glory of God for yourself and as a witness to others.
It is a way you worship God when you are not at a church worship service.
So when you see God’s glory, say it out loud!
“Thank You for the raise!”
“Thank You for your provision.”
“Thank You for my family.”
“Thank You for showing yourself to me through this!”
“You give me peace in my trial.”
“You are my provider, my hope and my joy!”
Or, as my son declared on the trails in the Colorado mountains, “I love to see Your glory, God!”
This is the heart of worship.
Did you feel His love today? Declare it!
Can you see His hand protecting you? Say it!
Are you trusting Him to get you through a trial? Put a voice to it!
Do you have peace in an impossible situation? Shout it out!
Look for God and you will see Him.
Then when you see Him, declare His goodness.
This is worship.
Growing up in a small town church in the middle of Minnesota, my understanding of worship was pulling out the tattered faded red congregational hymnal every Sunday morning as roughly 100 people stood up to the sound of pages turning. Gradually everyone settled in at the correct page and then joined in as the high school music teacher began to sing. Clearly and confidently his rich bass voice flawlessly lead the familiar hymns.
It would be years later before I understood what God ultimately desires of his children and how God defines true worship.
In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren argues that there are five God-ordained purposes for us: worship, community, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. He supports each area with Biblical references as all being key to effective living.
Rick Warren is not the only advocate for worship. The writer of Psalm 100:2 (NLT) tells us to, “Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.”
If we are instructed to worship in God’s word, it must be very important to God. Anything important to God would not be intended to be saved for only Sunday morning singing, but instead intended to become part of our daily priorities.
Easier said than done, I know. However, God didn’t make worship important just for his benefit but also for ours.
- Renews our strength.
- Is critical to our faith.
- Celebrates God.
- Brings us joy.
- Is key to being in God’s presence.
How do we go through or plan out our day to develop habits that intertwine worship in our activities? Is it possible? Despite the engrained definition I grew up with, finding other ways of worship has been immensely rewarding.
According to Delesslyn A. Kennebrew in a 2012 Christianity Today article, “We worship God because he is God. Period.” No specifics here, no required place, no demanded method. Just worship.
Worship is an expression of love or reverence towards God. How then can we worship—showing our love and reverence for God—outside of Sunday morning corporate-designed worship?
Acknowledge God’s many amazing qualities.
- Pray a prayer.
- Consider the needs of others.
- Listen, sing and meditate on songs of praise.
- Write a “God’s attributes” poem.
- Notice the glories of nature.
- Read and reflect on his word.
- Journal your “God thoughts”.
- Donate money (tithe).
- Share encouraging words.
- Serve unselfishly.
- Obey God.
- Dance like David.
- Express thankfulness all day long.
- Create artwork reflecting God’s glory.
- Give your day to God.
- Share your Jesus story.
The list goes on and on…and you will find what clicks for you. Anything you do that expresses your faith in and love for God is an act of worship.
Be deliberate, make it personal, plan it out and do so even when, no especially when, you don’t feel like it!
God is good. He will reward you. As Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
If ever a prayer needed to be answered it was now.
Standing inside the critical care unit of Children’s Hospital, I watched and waited outside a recovery room. A battery of alarms were blaring. Code blue blurted on high volume from the loud speakers. Nurses came running, equipment was rolled in, and one of the doctors who’d participated in that day’s surgery dashed into the room. I, as well as other family members, peered through the viewing window at the many monitors, with the heart rate monitor being the target of our attention.
The baby in the room was only a few days old. The surgery just completed was the first of several open heart operations that would lead to her eventually being added to the heart transplant list roughly 8 months later. She was so tiny and helpless. Her heart failed to develop properly. She was suffering from a rare congenital heart defect known as hypo-plastic left heart syndrome. In layman’s terms, the under-developed left side heart can't effectively pump blood to the body, so the right side of the heart must be modified to do both functions.
Thoughts raced through my mind as we continued to take in the activity in the room. How can I help? What do I do for those around me also watching? In my head these words repeated again and again, “Please God, make it work. Please God, make it work.” After what seemed like an eternity, yet was likely but a minute or two, baby’s heart rate when back up, the oxygen level improved, and I knew she was okay for now.
A prayer with an immediate positive response. These are the times that hearing and seeing God’s answer to our request bring us delight and leaves us grateful.
But sometimes, God’s response to our prayers seems slow or even non-existent. Other times the response seems to be more of a challenge than an answer, leaving us to wonder, does God always answer prayer?
If you spend any time at all researching this question you will find websites and articles that outline three possible responses - yes, wait, and no.
There are many stories of answered prayer throughout the old and the new testament. One source offered 68 verses of answered prayer.(1)
One of the many famous immediate “yes” answers is found in Matthew 8. This is the story of the man with leprosy who simply asked Jesus for healing. Verses 2-3 tell us, “Suddenly, a leper came up to him, fell down before him, and said, ‘Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean.’ So Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do want to. Be clean!’ And instantly his leprosy was made clean.”
Imagine the elation of the healed man! Clearly, for the leper, this was the answer for which he had hoped to receive.
In reading the book of Psalm, it is somewhat surprising how often David prays to God to be rescued from his enemies. Again and again he is on the run. Its clear that his situations are dire and his prayers are ernest. For example, in Psalm 69:1-3 he prays,
1) Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
2) I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.
3) I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
Clearly David is in distress and has been praying for quite some time. However, in continuing to read, the good news is that David always gets an answer. Through it all he continually praises God and acknowledges God’s goodness.
Ask any parent and they will tell you that some times the answer to a child’s request needs to be “No”. God, as our father, would also agree. The request may seem reasonable to us, maybe even necessary. But thankfully God sees the big picture, looking far beyond our limited area of vision.
One of the most profound stories in the Bible that demonstrate why God must say “No” at times, is the plea Jesus made in the garden of Gethsemane just before his arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. He was accompanied by his disciples and as he went off ahead, he prayed to God saying, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” Matthew 26:39b
Can you imagine if God had shrugged and said, “Well, okay.”? It is a terrifying thought. We would have no redemption and no one would have saved us from our sins. Thankfully God said “No”.
As we consider our own prayers requests today and in the past, we are likely to be able to recall times we have gotten each of these answers. No matter where you are today in your journey with Jesus, remember in all things—and especially in prayer—we need to trust that God has us covered. He promises to take care of us.
When in doubt, read, ponder, and meditate on Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”