I occasionally serve on our church worship team. Part of the process for me includes practicing the selected songs, printing out the lyrics and finding a possible part to sing. On one recent week that I was to serve I went to the website to begin working on the music. I was pleasantly surprised...
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...
Ask anyone you meet at work or on the street, “What or who do we worship?” and the answers most certainly would be varied. Severn Run attendees would mostly say “God”. But if you continued to look beyond the church walls, and observe what or who people worship...
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...
Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to be served.Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.(Matthew 20:28 NIRV) What does it mean that Jesus came to Earth? That he laid down his heavenly Glory, and...
The scripture tells us that God created each and everyone of us to know and love. But the scripture also tells us the truth. That you and I made a choice to live as though love had never come. We looked at the life that God offered and we said, "No, we want to be in control, we want to call the...
1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." This message that love could be love in the pain. That love could be love in the struggle. That love has to die and hurt -is the story of the...
We're all masters at missing the point. Almost all of the ugliness and damage that has been done in Christian and church history is because we miss the point. One of the crucial turning points of faith is rejecting the legalism that the human heart longs for. Legalism (religious rules)...
If any of you have ever loved your children, how dare you not love God's? That means you, as God's child, and it means everyone around you!Some of you look at yourself and you hate what you see- don't hate God! You are the masterpiece of God and He loves you! Psalm 139:14 says, "I...
Can I invite you to think? Sometimes we act like if we're going to believe, we have to turn off our brains. No, your brain is part of the image of God! Your curiosity, your imagination, everything inside of you, all of your faculties need to be brought fully to bear in seeking first the Kingdom...
I occasionally serve on our church worship team. Part of the process for me includes practicing the selected songs, printing out the lyrics and finding a possible part to sing. On one recent week that I was to serve I went to the website to begin working on the music.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover a song I’d not heard for a very long time had been selected. It’s a beautiful song sung by Jenn Johnson. It’s message is sweet and the words are poetic. Phrases like, “Let me be filled with kindness and compassion for the one, the one for whom you love and gave your Son. For humanity increase my love.”
As I listen to and digested these words, singing them in my car as I drove home or during my lunch break, I thought, that’s it - this will indeed be my prayer for 2019. I was excited. I had been trying to find a theme for the year to focus on. This theme was so fitting for the times we are living in when love is often based on appearances. We judge need and people by how they look, where they live, the words they say, and the job they have or don’t have. I asked God to increase my love for humanity.
When I arrived at rehearsal for worship team later that week, I discovered that the song was no longer on the schedule. I was a little sad as I thought about those stirring lyrics that would not be sung that week. The congregation would not hear, “Help me to love with open arms, like you do. A love that erases all the lines and sees the truth. So that when they look into my eyes, they would see you. Even in just a smile, they would feel the Father’s love.”
Those thought quickly fled and I moved on. I figured a better, or more fitting song for the week had been chosen.
The rehearsal moved forward. A time of devotion and prayer starts us off. This particular week one of our worship leaders shared with the group something with which she had recently been challenged. She wanted to challenge us as well. It was quite simple actually yet it had the potential to be life changing. She simply asked, “If you had no fear, what would you do in 2019?”
She looked around at the faces in the group and repeated the question. I hoped she’d not planned for volunteers to share as my mind was blank. I egotistically thought to myself, “There’s not anything I am not doing because of fear.”
I was so very wrong and God was about to make that very clear to me.
I decided to continue to sing “For the One” even though it was off the schedule. It was going to be my 2019 theme after all and I loved the words, “Oh how he loves us from the homeless, to the famous and in between. You formed us, you made us carefully, ‘cause in the end we are all your children.” That would be how I’d live my life. It didn’t occur to me yet how much I needed to change.
During my lunch break the following day, I was humming these words as I drove to a shopping area near my work. As I approached a major intersection to make a left hand turn, there he was. He stepped off the curb and began walking amongst the cars as they waited for a green light to complete their turn. He held a sign, a sign such as we have all seen—usually made from a tossed piece of cardboard. As I glanced at him, not wanting him to see me looking, I saw the typical words:
- God Bless
An old recording from my past played once again, “Don’t give them money, they just want to buy drugs or alcohol. It’s better not to give them anything if you don’t have food to give.” I had once heard this from a director of a homeless shelter. It had been my mantra every time I saw a panhandler. I kept my eyes focused forward and drove past.
He had a slight limp and was dressed in ill-fitting clothing. I noticed he worn a winter hat and his sign dropped to his side as he walked back toward the intersection to wait for the next group of cars. He appeared to have not been very successful in his collection attempt.
As I drove through the stoplight, making my turn, some of the words I had been humming popped into my head. “Oh how he loves us, from the homeless to the famous and in between. Let me be filled with kindness and compassion for the one, the one...the one for whom you love and gave your son.”
I was stunned. What had I just done? I began to make excuses:
- It is too late now.
- He probably doesn’t even have a baby.
- He might even have a job.
- Maybe his next stop is the liquor store.
How wrong these thoughts were, and that and there was something completely wrong with this picture.
What was wrong was me.
Later that day, as I drove home from work, the image of the man and his sign came back to me and wouldn’t let go. That’s when it all came together. That was my fear and it would keep me from loving humanity like God does. I was so unkind and lacking compassion. How could I love those lyrics, commit to loving like God, and yet do nothing when I saw the man and his sign?
As tears welded up in my eyes, a list of fears poured into my mind. I was afraid of:
- Looking foolish.
- Being taken advantage of.
- What others would say.
- What they use the money for.
All very real and very ridiculous. Was the man today really looking for food or a fix? Did he have a baby? Was he sincere or guilting with “God bless”?
One might think God had finally gotten his point across to me. He was not quite finished.
In the church lobby the following Sunday he brought to my attention all the serving opportunities coming up for Winter Relief. I couldn’t miss the large display of information pamphlets. I took one home. I will be volunteering.
Again God was still not finished with me. On the following Monday, as I did my morning Bible reading, I landed on Matthew 25:45. Here Jesus is speaking in parables to the crowd and explaining what it will be like when we are before the king at the final judgment. Talking about himself he said “...‘ I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”
I had refused to help. I had refused to help Jesus. How does 2019 change starting out like this?
I change by taking action. Feeling my fear and doing it anyway. Seeing Jesus in the eyes of everyone. It changes when I stop judging the worthiness of those in need.
Maybe these are your fears, maybe not. Whatever your situation, I challenge you too - what would you do in 2019 if you had no fear? Maybe you think fears are no problem like I did at that night at worship team rehearsal. Think about it, pray about it and see what God shows you. He just might have a plan to change you in ways you didn’t even realize needed changing.
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
Ask anyone you meet at work or on the street, “What or who do we worship?” and the answers most certainly would be varied. Severn Run attendees would mostly say “God”.
But if you continued to look beyond the church walls, and observe what or who people worship you’d see a much more broad scope of practices. Many of which we may not even realize how much we worship them. You’d see Hollywood, royalty, the rich and famous, money, possessions, good looks, food, children, and maybe even spouses. You would most certainly see self.
And if you ask the same Severn Runners is service worship? With a head nod they would likely say “Yes”! Then ask how is it that so? You might then get that “deer in the headlights” look.
Why would that be? Maybe because service seems on the outside to be about the receiver. He/She who is served is the receiver, right? They do of course benefit, yet we must ask is there more or is that it? Fortunately, there is more, much more.
William J. Stewart noted on the “Looking unto Jesus” website, “Every aspect of a Christian’s life is to be service to God, but not all service is worship. However, let us also be careful not to limit our worship to 3 or 4 hours of assembly time with the Lord’s people per week. We ought to habitually set time aside to worship the Lord privately. (Matthew 6:6)” (1)
If we are wanting to worship God, just how do we do that through service? To understand the tie between service and worship, we must first understand how worship is defined in the Bible.
In John 4:24 Jesus lays it out for us this way, “God is spirit. And his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” So then, is all service worship? Yes, no, or maybe as some would argue the following points:
- If the service is rendered to God it is worship.
- With the right heart, all service in all situations is worship.
- If the service isn’t sinful, it is worship.
- Service is worship if it follows the Bible’s definition of worship.
All these points have various compelling arguments but the final option seems to be supported in knowing we are then following the teaching of God’s word.
After Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus with food. He suggested Jesus test the angels who were to protect him. He offered Jesus dominion over the kingdoms of the world. After all this, Jesus had enough and Matthew 4:10 tells us how Jesus finally responded to Satan, “Get out of here, Satan.” Jesus told him. “For the scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
What does this mean for us today? Jesus is clearly saying that we are to serve God only. We therefore must be careful our service is not tied to things of this world such as status, self-sacrifice, admiration of others, personal recognition or anything else we might potentially worship. These things and more can seep into our service lives.
Although worship and service are closely related, they are not the same thing. As noted on the “Trusting God America” website, if they were the same there would be no reason for Jesus to address them separately.
There are at least three things to consider for service to be an act of worship:
- Proper Attitude with Correct Authority: Our mindset and perspective need to be God focused and in the Spirit for our service to be worshipful. (John 4:23-24)
- Intentional: Worship, thus service, is to support Biblical worship and have specific action that we intent to be worship.
- Truth Regulated: To worship in truth is the approved action for service. Our service must support truth which is found only in God’s word. (John 17:17)
In summary we serve to worship God and this service is an outcome of our love for God and others.
According to one blog on worship versus service, “The Divine ideal is that our worship of the Lord will inspire us to serve, and that our service for Him will flow naturally from worship.” (2) Another wrote, “We find that worship is outwardly manifested by service.” (3)
When out of worship of God, we can then chose to serve God by taking action:
- Go to Severnrunner.info
- Click on “Be the Difference”
- Complete the Level 1, 2, & 3 challenges
- Get your stickers
- Fill your card
Get started or take the next step today!
(1) http://lookinguntojesus.net/a-difference-between-service-and-worship/ by William J. Stewart
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 comfort, share words of encouragement, listen when I talk about my day, and they take care of me when I am sick or grumpy.
Not bad…its all good stuff. A bit self-centered, but good stuff.
But still, a list like that can leave us asking, is there more? Or is that it?
Some would say, yes, that’s it. End of story.
The Bible would tell you a different story.
How about a love that loves us even when we don’t deserve it? While we committed one sinful act after another, we are loved.
How about an unconditional love that sacrifices everything for us, even unto death? Ponder for a few moments Roman 5:8: “But God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Really, who does that?
But why? Why would God do that?
The answer becomes clear to us in one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Often this is the first verse memorized when a child attends Sunday School or an adult begins studying the Bible. John 3:16 says, “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Pure and simple.
Not because we earned it, bought it, or deserved it.
Its because he loves us.
How does one respond to that? What is it we are to do?
The expectation is simple. It is to accept it.
Then we are to live it.
We are to be thankful for it.
We are to give it away.
Ultimately we will bathe in it for an eternity.
In the words of the Psalmist, “Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalms 136:26
Amazingly, his love doesn’t end there.
Not only did he love us first and will for an eternity, he has given us a gift. A gift that lives in us. “…God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5b
The Holy Spirit is our guide, comforter, and helper. He is with us and in us. He is an example of God’s love. He is God.
The prophet Zephaniah also explains, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud song.” Zephaniah 3:17
You might be thinking, that’s all well and good. Sounds wonderful. But, is it really THAT big of deal? Life is good. I got it.
It is a choice, there is no doubt about that.
We can choose to live our lives in the status quo, same old, same old.
Or instead, we can choose to live our lives in the new. New life with a new beginning that is given to us when we admit our sins, believe in Jesus, and commit our lives to him.
There’s no promise of a fairy tale ending but instead we can have a life filled with…
A love that began before us.
It is the never-ending love of our Lord and Savior.
Be like the Son of Man.
He did not come to be served.
Instead, he came to serve others.
He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.
(Matthew 20:28 NIRV)
What does it mean that Jesus came to Earth? That he laid down his heavenly Glory, and stepped into the world as a baby. To grow and live. To follow God with every breath, every step. To show us the way.
The way of love.
The way of peace.
The way of joy.
Do you know the love of Jesus? A love so deep that he calls you brother. The love that put you first when he gave his life for you so you could be with him for all eternity.
Do you know the peace of Jesus? The peace that passes all understanding. The peace that covers you when everything is chaos. The peace that breathes, “Be still, I AM.”
Do you know the joy of Jesus? The joy of knowing you are a child of the King. The joy of knowing that if God is for you nothing can stand against you. The joy of a fellowship with God that gives you purpose and passion.
If you don't know these things, you can when you get to know Jesus. When you decide that your way is inadequate and the only way to really have life is by allowing Jesus to lead your every step.
If you know Jesus, it’s time to act. Time to make it real. Time to share this love, this peace, this joy, with a world that is broken and hurting; a world that needs to know how much Jesus loves them.
How will you share Jesus with the world in 2017?