Monday

Monday

Psalm 100 (NLT) Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

How does come so quickly? Five days seem to drag by yet two pass in a flash of light. The weekend is over and Monday is here. Ugh! Rocking in the chair on the front porch, I really needed to take a broom to the pollen and spider webs. Instead, I just rocked watching my husband plant the lovely hydrangeas that were my gift for Mother’s Day. As he worked, I thanked him for my coveted plants. He had been asking for weeks what I wanted, and finally I decided I wanted them. Are you sure? Yes, I am absolutely positive. As I sat there in the afternoon breeze, I knew that I had made the right choice. Their position in the bed was perfect. Morning sun and then partial shade. The soil remained moist which is their favorite. They would grow and fill the area just outside the dining room windows. I wondered what color the flowers might be. Hydrangeas don’t all bloom the same color but it is not because of the variety but rather the pH level of the soil. I wanted to just sit there in that chair and watch the flowers grow. But I knew in my heart all good things must come to an end because tomorrow would be Monday.

Sundays are my favorite days when we worship the Lord together. Fellowshipping with other believers. Finding new seeds of Truth to plant in our hearts growing into purpose as God designed. It goes by so fast and quickly I am thrust back into the rat race of this world. Work has been a challenge lately. Just the thought of the week ahead makes me want to avoid it at all costs. It also seems as though the last several weeks, the enemy has paid particularly close attention to my every move. As if in a game of Mario Kart, I am just tooling along in my little race car while all the other opponents throw everything but the kitchen sink in my way. To spin me out. Make me crash. Give up my joy. Relinquish my peace. I want to win the race that I am in. I want to claim the prize that Christ Jesus has called me to. So this morning, as usual, He meets me with mercy and provides more grace with a word for my life that will changes things – if I allow it in my heart and to rise up out of my mouth.

Shout with joy. Worship the Lord…with gladness. Come before Him…singing. Acknowledge that He is Almighty God. Creator of all things – caretaker of the same. Take full advantage of the access I have into His Presence – go to Him rather than waiting on Him to come to me. Give thanks. Praise Him. For the Lord is good…He is always good. His Unfailing Love and Grace never, ever run out so His Goodness is always available to me. Right here. Right now. It comes as peace and inexpressible joy to those who seek Him. In Christ alone I find that all the impending problems are disguised lies for God is with me and I will not fail.

Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

We must learn to make our mouth and heart agree. There are many times, our head says one thing while our heart strives to believe another. Such disagreement will never provide the peace everyone longs for. To be of one mind and one spirit. Isn’t that what our purpose is in life? To be one with Christ – to live and move in Him. To count everything else as “garbage” compared to just knowing Jesus. Yet, we allow stinking thinking to sometimes muck up our conversation and words of doubt and discontentment begin to form and fall out of our mouth. I was made to praise the Lord. My mouth was created for worship. It is to declare God’s Glory in good times and even on bad days. My confession should reflect a heart in covenant with Jesus Christ. As Ruth to Naomi, “Where you go, I will go.” Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you.

Psalm 27:4-5 (NLT) The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

The Presence of God is an absolute necessity in our life each day. When Jesus died on the Cross and released His Spirit, the very first thing that He did was rip the veil or curtain that separated mankind from the Living God from top to bottom. This was no small set of draperies. The Lord made it clear that His Intention was not to be a God who is far away or distant. He wants us to come to Him. Romans 12:1-2 talks about being a living sacrifice. To give up our bodies or natural life including desires and inclinations to be one with the Lord. Why? Because of all that He has done for you and me. The kind that He finds acceptable. Hmm… I have heard this verse explained many times in many different ways according to the doctrine of the preacher or teacher. But you know what I think this means…God loves us. He doesn’t need us. He desires us. There is nothing God requires me to do other than just repent or turnaround and find Him. My sin is under the Blood of Jesus Christ and I have full access to His Presence. It doesn’t mean I won’t sin and make bad choices. The worst thing I could ever do is claim or even try to convince others of my perfection.

The absence of honesty is insanity. It is very easy to assume the customs and behaviors of the world because of overall acceptance. It is easy to assume the identity of the church culture that one participates in but in the Presence of God there is clarity. He defines our life and how we live it if we enter His Presence. Not occasionally or when things get a little rough or even completely overwhelming, no when I make it the ONE THING that I seek the MOST is when I finally begin to see this life I live agree – body, mind and spirit. Such agreement with the Lord gives me the confident hope that produces heavenly communication. I can praise Him when things are good just like when everything falls apart. Worship is my life not a few songs laced with tears. He will clear the way of all obstacles when I stop holding on to them. I can enter His Presence no matter where I am or who I am with. Jesus gives us that kind of access. The kind of unlimited access that comes without penalty just purpose.

Psalm 50:15-16 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) Thankfulness is the most fruitful part of communication. It is the remedy for discontentment that leads to doubt and discouragement. It turns our situation from hopeless to hope full. Gratitude will change our attitude. Rather than concentrating on what I am waiting for, if I can just begin to praise Him for all He has done. I will admit in a world driven by supply and demand with greedy temptation vying for our attention – it is hard to remain thankful. God’s Will for my life is found in thankfulness. Thanksgiving produces a change in my heart so significant that the Word of God says, He “will give me” His Glory. When I enter the Presence of God, my words are equally important as those cast around carelessly each day. Every word I speak bears fruit in my life good or bad. I must tend the gateway of my mouth and tame my rebellious tongue. My heart desires the Lord. My head knows His Way is best. I must make a careful and considerate commitment to continually monitor my conversation. Are my words filled with praise? Do they worship the Lord? Am I thankful? No more grumbling or complaining about God’s Care for me. That’s what we are saying by doing so that the God of all Creation is not a good caregiver but a careless Father. Which is simply not true!

Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT) Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

The God of Sunday is still God on Monday. The Presence of God that gave you goosebumps in church is the same Holy Spirit that is in you right now. You are a Child of God. He is a good father. Have you forgotten some of the good things that He has done? Or maybe you just haven’t taken full advantage of them yet? Praise Him today. Worship Him. Love on Him. Enter His Presence. Thank the Lord for all the good things that He has done and promised to do for you and in you. This is the best way to start the week. It will end your Monday blues and fill your life with His Presence including His Love, Joy and Peace that is hidden there for you. He fills our life with good things. Always. Every day. More than we can even think or imagine. I must only make myself available – letting go of every complaint – and make my heart and mind agree so my mouth declares His Praise – He is good! He is good on Sunday. He is still awesome on Monday! We serve a good God! Let’s sound like it.

Those hydrangeas in the flower bed have some blue and purple blooms on them right now. I have the ability to change the color of the flowers by what I put in the soil. I can add pH or alkaline depending on what I would like them to look like. I also have the ability to decide what blooms in my life, too. It is about my conversation. It is how I communicate with the Lord and other people. The foundation of my life will be evident in the fruit of my life. Let it always represent that I am rooted and grounded in His Love.

Colossians 2:7 (NLT) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Yes

Yes

Matthew 5:37 (NLT) Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

Many Christmas’ ago, our youngest daughter put an IPod Touch at the top of her list. Midway through the holiday season, I received an IPad Mini from a blogging site and thought she would enjoy it even more because it was bigger and had more memory. She could certainly play her games on it and watch videos with ease. When the big day arrived, our littlest was on a mission. She was opening her gifts searching for the shiny new electronics. My heart skipped a beat when she finally selected the package to open. When she realized it was not an IPod Touch, her hands fell in her lap with it in her hands. She whispered, “Thank you” but my heart sank as I realized she was disappointed. We want to give our children the desires of their heart. In this instance, I thought this was a better gift but it did not meet her expectation. She later shared that she wanted the smaller version because it would fit in her pocket like a cellphone. She was too young for her own phone, but since all her siblings had one – it was the next best thing. Our little girl had an expectation and when what she found did not meet her expectation – it was only natural to experience disappointment. A human response that we all have from time to time.

Matthew 21:18-19 (NLT) In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.

Jesus was hungry. He came across a fig tree covered in leaves. On closer inspection, it did not have any fruit on it. Jesus cursed the tree right then and there, because it was not fulfilling its purpose which was to bear fruit. It put on a glorious show but when it came right down to – it was not fruitful. Who doesn’t want the Lord’s Approval on closer inspection as a Christian? When He moves past the grand show of righteous living, and the performance of service, and peers into our heart – what will the Lord see? Will there be any fruit on the vine which He planted there? “Yes, I will” or “No, I won’t.” These are the only two promises that a person is capable of keeping. The ones pertaining to self and nothing else. I have no control over heaven or the earth. These are the Lord’s domain. He has given me a simple yet great commandment to follow. It is not complicated or overly comprehensive. His Commandment is this:

Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

I am challenged today with my “Yes, Lord”. The commitment that I have made to Christ based on His Generous Gift of Amazing Grace. I take it in and apply lavishly on my life. I know that God is good because I have experienced His Goodness and Glory firsthand in my life and know that I am undeserving. For many years, I have been committed to the church and even religion if I am completely honest. I love to serve. Yet, in all the running, organizing, teaching and sharing, something was missing. I had the best of intentions but something was missing. Me. The “yes” I have to give the Lord completely is “me”. When He commanded us to love Him, of course it is with exuberant affirmation and acceptance Why not? He offers unconditional love to His People. He removes the weight of sin and fills us with inexpressible joy. However, if I do not effectively express His Love to others – I am not bearing His First Fruit.

John 13:34-35 (NLT) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. It is so simple. We have made it complex. When Jesus came upon the fig tree, the Lord was hungry. He had an expectation that the fruit on the tree would satisfy His Hunger. It would fulfill His Desire. But when all that He found were leaves covering the tree – it was cursed. When Jesus comes to live inside of a person – truly take over their existence – the first fruit is love. Not the kind of love found in this world but the Kind of Love that has been deposited inside of us.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love has a definition. The Lord went so far as to clearly demonstrate unconditional love for us. In return, Jesus asks us to love Him and love others. He has an expectation of His People based on the seed deposited in us. To accept Jesus as Savior is to believe in His Great Love for us. As one strives to make Him Lord, our great aspiration is to serve Him. Those who seek Him wholeheartedly are saying, “Yes” to live a life of love. He is our First Love. Loving others is our mission. This is how we make disciples. But this kind of love is not a simple “yes”. It is a messy one. It requires a new kind of fasting our life that breaks the tradition of religious fasting. (Isaiah 58:8-12) Our life given to loving others provides the miracles that many search after. We literally must give our life away. How many times has the Lord inspected our tree and like my daughter on that fateful morning felt the disappointment of unmet expectation? No act of service great or small is worth anything unless it comes wrapped in unselfish love.

Love that is patient. Love that is kind. Love that is not jealous. Love that is generous. The love chapter, I Corinthians 13, goes on to say that the edifying gifts of the church such as prophecy will be gone one day and only love will remain. If we do not get love right, our tree is barren and there is nothing to offer the Lord in our life.

Matthew 26:7-9 (NLT) While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”

If the giving of time, talent and treasure is not wrapped in love and presented in worship then what good is it? If our “Yes” to the Lord is presented to this world wrapped in religion, tradition and condition – what’s the point? If I try to relay an experience that I have not encountered myself than I am a counterfeit. For example, how can I explain the Grace of God and His Forgiveness when I cannot bear the fruit of forgiveness in my life? How can I share the Jesus who did not come to condemn that world when I pass judgment on them on sight? To love others like Jesus will harvest a life of giving that displays the Gospel in living color. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He did not leave those in need unfilled even when He didn’t tell them who He was or what He was about to do. He met them where they were and loved them on the spot without hesitation, reservation or condemnation. This is true love. The disciples were worried that the worship in the form of expensive perfume could feed the hungry. Noble effort but they missed the point completely. The service performed by the church is community service unless it comes packaged in unconditional and fruitful love born of the great love give to us by Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NLT) Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

Jesus is looking for those who love Him to love others. Not with the kind of love that the world is known for. God’s Love has no requirement. It is by His Grace that we have acquired love. It is to be given freely and cheerfully. Love with condition is a counterfeit. People know the difference between real love and fake love. There are many broken hearts out there that will never don the doors of a church because of the judgment and condemnation that is felt when they enter. To preach a Gospel of words without true and genuine love is to counterfeit the Cross. To give from anything less than a humbled heart changed by God’s Love is a lie. To try to present a message of love with words that hold empty promises is to literally shun those who need Jesus most just like me. The seed of our life is love. Not conditional love, but radical love that meets the need of others not based on prideful religion but the pursuit of each heart as Jesus would. He pursues us with unconditional love and goodness. (Psalm 23:6)

From a very early age, I participated in church visitation. As a teenager loaded in buses and dropped off in neighborhoods to present God’s Message to the lost. Invite them to church. Pray for them. As a young adult, every Tuesday night armed with an atlas and the Bible – we would go visit those who dared to fill out connection cards at church. I remember every awkward encounter. It was after I became the woman at the well, that I finally had something to share. After wandering, I met a man who knew everything about me and still thought I was to die for. His Overwhelming Love rushed in and covered me just as I was not waiting for me to do anything or be anyone other than who I was. It would take years for this truth to finally manifest in my heart and see that God wants us to accept His Grace and grow His Love to give to others. This is what “Yes, Lord” means it is to love extravagantly and overwhelmingly giving our life to others daily even in the seemingly smallest of gestures such as a smile. The Love of God is attractive. It is perfect. I don’t need to add to it a single condition but spread it thick in the world in which I live. Nothing will ever change the heart of a person more than experiencing the Love of Christ. It is love for Christ that empowers us to make better choices and give more to Him. I can never out give the Lover of my soul. So I say, “Yes” today. Today I will love others (or try to) just like Jesus loves me – radically and unconditionally – it will be my act of service. I will call it a fast. Either way… it is the fruit of our life that He desires. I do not want to disappoint Him. Yes really is that simple. Will you do it today?

Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Stale Bread

stale-bread

John 4:21-24 (NLT) Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

My people are bread fanatics. If it is made of dough or contains any form of flour and yeast, it is the preferred manna of our home. The local grocery store carries Krispy Kreme donuts as there is not one locally – it is the best one can do to fulfill the craving for this glazed piece of heaven. However, there is no “hot” sign to signify that a warm, soft, squishy, sugar-covered concoction is ready for human consumption so one must improvise. If you reheat the donut for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave, it regains its former splendor. However, this is short lived. It must be immediately eaten or as it cools it becomes harder and less appetizing than before. No one wants stale bread so they reheat it over and over until there is no life left in it.

Stale bread. There are days that my worship seems to have arrived at the same state as day old bread. It is not as fresh as it once was. Not as sincere as before, when heaven comes down and touches my soul. Life is hard. Just like the forgotten box of donuts in the pantry or bread tucked away, it is not that it is unwanted just hidden behind other things that catch our attention or consume our time. The Lord opens the windows of Heaven over the lives of His People but there are times of wandering and settling for less than God’s Best because maybe the process is a bit inconvenient or change too uncomfortable. The Father is looking for those who will worship him in Spirit and in Truth. Can we be honest? Faith is not a fake it until you make it routine. You cannot overcome fear and achieve faith pretending that everything is great and things are going just swell. God sees much deeper than that. His Mighty Hand is reaching for the crumbs and scraps that one merely survives on to replace it with a feast at His Table to thrive on.

Matthew 15:21-28 (NLT) Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.” But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

I am a Gentile. I am not of Jewish decent. The mindset of religion was demolished by the arrival, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in many ways, Christianity has returned to its rebellious roots. Not intentionally, of course, but seeking after a God who cannot be seen and Spirit that is invisible – leads one to make certain assumptions, I guess. Jesus knew the heart of this woman who sought after Him that day. He fully intended to heal her daughter and deliver her from the demon that raged within her. But in the last few moments of her desperation, the Lord tried to change the hearts and minds of His Disciples. They believed He was the Messiah. They were ignorant in His Method, though. Jesus came to save everyone – not just God’s Chosen People but all those who He created. Ethnicity is the flavor of creation when God designed a series of individuals with differing characteristics and qualities painting a Kingdom with color and individuality perfect in His Eyes. We see limits and boundaries of differences that divide us when all along His Love was for all of us.

Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Is it hard for you to accept God’s Conditional and Perfect Love sometimes? I think it is a challenge for us all yet few are willing to admit it. God’s Grace is sufficient for me. His Power is manifested in my weakness (or humility, if you will indulge me). This woman believed that Jesus Christ could heal her daughter and do exactly what He said. I wonder if she knew the centurion known for the same. It didn’t matter what anyone thought or how many disappointments she endured. When she came to Jesus, she believed. She would not be dissuaded. Her life, her child were her world. Jesus was the Healer. She would get what she came for that day. Even in the midst of rejection of religion, she knelt before the Lord and worshipped Him all the same. Still in the same condition, pushed away by people, she knew in her heart something that her attitude and actions relayed.

Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” Are you willing to worship anyway? Are you intent on changing your pattern of worship to gain access to the Savior, Healer, Provider, Perfecter, Waymaker, Lifechanger – His Name is Jesus Christ. How far are you willing to go to gain access to His Throne? Well, she was willing to bow as low as possible, forsake all pride and simply gather the scraps beneath His Table if that is all she could get? What about you? Are you willing to fall to your knees? Get on your face before the Lord? Stay there until He comes? It is time to change my pattern of worship. Will you?

Hebrews 8:1-6 (NLT) Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

Human nature maintains the idea of corporate worship. Strength in numbers, if you will. But I believe that before our churches are empowered, each person must come back to the heart of worship first. Faith is my personal investment. It is the seed growing, developing and maturing in me that yields a harvest of good fruit. I cannot give what I have not received. The fruit in my life is born of His Spirit. The seed is defined as God’s Word. The process of sowing and reaping is firmly established. I must dedicate my life to living according to His Spirit and His Truth to prosper beyond survival to learn to thrive in life. Jesus Christ is our High Priest. He ripped the veil from top to bottom, but do we try to sew it back up? Limiting the Presence and Glory of God by holding back bits and pieces of our life due to a lack of faith or disbelief?

Luke 8:44-48 (NLT) Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Matthew 8:5-11 (NLT) When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Two of my favorite stories of great faith are the woman who had “issues” and the Centurion who believed Jesus simply at His Word. What great examples of worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth. I believe that when the woman pressed through the crowd, obviously on her hands and knees because she touched the hem of His Robe, that Jesus knew not only “who” touched Him but that she was coming. He wanted the others to see her as an example of true worship. They left their lives, families and jobs to follow the Messiah as King of Kings, but were they will to make Him Lord of Lords?

The centurion took Jesus Christ at His Word. He recognized the authority and power that was in Jesus Christ and even though he was not a member of the local synagogue or Jewish by birth, he believed with his whole heart and his mind, as well. It made sense that only the Son of God could do these amazing things that defied natural and human logic. He was confident in God’s Word. So where am I in all of these amazing people? I am a Gentile. I am not worthy of the Grace that I have received and cannot ever earn the forever that I am promised. All I can do is offer my heart and mind as a living sacrifice to be overtaken completely by His Spirit and His Truth.

John 6:26-29 (NLT)  Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

John 6:34-40 (NLT)  “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Signs and wonders will come when the Glory of God surrounds us. It is not something conjured up but grown by faith inside of each one of us. Perfecting the process called church and revising our doctrine is not the pattern of worship referred to that will bring us into alignment with God. It is seeking the Bread of Life as a constant sustenance of our everyday life. Fortifying our heart and mind in the Spirit and Truth that grow faith more and more each day. We must trust the Lord in all things even at only His Word to build the confident trust that allows us to live peacefully in all conditions and circumstances. It is the very thing that draws us closer in heartache and brokenness rather than allowing anger and bitterness to leak out. The only way to see the Glory of God manifested in our life is to personally participate each day in gathering fresh bread rather than reheating stale donuts. You can have it hot. You can have it fast. It will not sustain you. Religion and service cannot replace a real relationship with Jesus Christ or becoming a living sacrifice. He offers you a place at His Table. Will you remain eating scraps off the floor? Old worship. Old ways. Religious tradition. Has it changed your life? Has it renewed your soul? Has it healed your body? Has it provided more than enough? Has it strengthened you in weakness? Nope. We must change our pattern of worship in the New Year or risk starving our faith even more.

But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. Our life is built on expectation. When Jesus came to the earth, He was not what they expected. His Followers constantly sought after signs and wonders. It was difficult for Jesus to get His Word or His Seed into their hard hearts. Who doesn’t come to the Lord seeking a better life? A little relief? Some provision for our lack? What if we came to Jesus, our Savior and Lord, seeking only to worship Him? What might happen if we did that? The Bible tells us that He will give us a new heart and new mind. His Spirit and His Word will change us from the inside out. Like fresh bread, there is kneading, pressing and molding to combine all the ingredients and form a loaf. The bread is left to wait while the yeast or potential rises up within. It is put in the oven to bake in extreme heat until it comes out in the form of fresh bread. Jesus wants to do the same thing in our life. If I embrace the pressure to change and endure the process of promotion, my life will prosper. Lord, change my pattern of worship. Help me to let go of every bit of staleness and stagnancy in my life to produce the prosperity of soul that you have ordained for my life.

John 6:47-50 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 

Smell Me

smell-me

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NLT) But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

The term for my wanderings this lazy Saturday morning would be referred to as “piddling” or even “tinkering” here in the South. Only one sleeping beauty in the quiet house unless you count the tiny princess running around my feet. As I begin a load of wash, making my way to the garage to close the door left open by my husband on his way to the woods. The old cabinet which is my next refinishing project catches my attention. Grabbing a sandpaper block, I begin to scratch the surface to see how many layers of poly are on it. I begin to inspect it. I bought it from a woman down an old dirt road who lived in a tiny mobile home. Her mother had passed and all her belongings were set up outside under tarped makeshift coverings. I couldn’t really inspect the cabinet in the darkness as the rain began falling so loading it up it was acquired sight unseen. As the gritty edge cut into the top layer, the distinct smell of years of cigarette smoke caught my attention. Sliding open the cabinet, I could smell it there, too. Memories came flooding back to me of my mother’s parents. Grandparents I hardly knew and spent little time with yet in that moment I was carried back to their tiny apartment. My mom’s house smelled just like it as she aged and the generational curse took over her life, too. It’s funny how certain smells trigger memories.

When I was in grade school, I tried everything in my power to eliminate that smoky smell from my belongings. I hate cigarette smoke. It just smells so nasty. I remember being mortified that people could smell it on my clothing. When I went to my paternal grandparent’s house, they would quickly whisk our things down to the basement washing them all and packing them away. Back then the dangers of nicotine were not known like now, it was socially acceptable and just about everyone did it. When I became an adult, I vowed that I would never smell like that again. I promised that my children would not be exposed to it. I had developed an aversion to it. So much so that I am very sensitive to how things smell. I use scented soap. Dumping copious amounts of laundry detergent and fabric softener in the washer and smelly sheets in the dryer to make sure our clothing is pleasant and aromatic long after they cleaned. Bathing and deodorant which seem only natural but to some may not be is a household requirement. Militant efforts to maintain an inviting fragrance to all who visit.

I believe that when I came to Christ sin had a distinct odor in my life. Jesus washed me in His Blood and rinsed me in His Word wrapping me in righteousness and covering me in grace – it is only then that the fragrance of my life is acceptable to God. Please note I do nothing more than submit to the process of complete restoration, Jesus did it all. Yet over time, it is human nature to maybe become a little stale. Perhaps, it is in those moments when sin is allowed to remain in the hidden places like a rotting potato lost in the pantry. No, seriously there is no worse smell I assure you. Or maybe the sweaty smell of exertion when I tried to do what Christ already has done for me because I cannot accept free grace as enough for me. Like boy funk from sweaty gym clothes, discarded socks and every other perspired soaked thing they can find piled high in their room because a whole 20 feet to the hamper is just too dang far for their teenage legs to carry them. My life is to be a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. Lord, smell me. How do I smell to You? Is the aroma of my attitude and actions pleasing to You? Or do I offend you with the odor of sin and perspiration of human perfection? Hmmm…

Philippians 3:8-9 (NLT) Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Have you ever smelled body odor and checked your own armpits? Discreetly, of course. I have done it I will admit. I keep perfumed spray and lotion in my bag just in case. I have deodorant in my car and desk at work. Are you judging me right now? I hope not. We should all consider the aroma of our life and decide if we are emitting the fragrance of Christ. When I discover it is me with stinking thinking or smelling choices, I immediately do something about it as not to offend or run off anyone else. What about you? Have you smelled yourself lately? We must examine our heart and mind every day. We must wash ourselves in the Blood of Jesus that is repentance, and know Him more by washing ourselves in the Word. My life has purpose. It is to please God. How can I please the Lord if He cannot stand the smell of me?

Have you ever flipped open the garbage in the morning to discover the delicious dinner last night has turned into a gross, disgusting and offensive odor that assaults you? The meal discarded in the trash can sits and ripens into rottenness by the very next day. What we eat becomes waste that is not pleasant smelling if you catch my drift. We all have to take out the garbage inside and out to maintain a sweet smelling life. When allowed to sit and fester – the odor permeates other areas of our life until no one smells our goodness just our grossness. Everything else is worthless when compared to knowing Christ. We must be willing to discard those things that stink up our life as the worthless garbage to become one with the Lord. It is in that moment the fragrance of our life is pleasing to the Father again.

The message of God is desirable when the aroma denotes something tasty. No one wants to eat something that is terrible. How many times have my kids said to me, “taste this its awful” or “smell this I think its rotten”. Now why in the world would I want to smell something bad much less eat it. God’s Love is sweeter than anything that I have every tasted. He is Good and fills my life with good things. If my life does not reek of God’s Love and Goodness, why would anyone want to taste and see that the Lord is good? You with me so far.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

My plan for today is simple. I am going to work on my little project. First, I am going to take some wood soap and clean the cabinet inside and out. There are a few imperfections that I will quickly fix and adjust before I set to sanding it thoroughly. I have decided to stain the top and apply a coat of polyurethane. I want this old piece to come to life again. It has history. It bears the smells and scars of its past. With some time, attention and loving care, it will go from a piece of junk one step from the garbage to become my masterpiece.

We are God’s Little Projects filled with imperfections left by sin, our past, problems and more. Jesus finished His Work concerning us on the Cross. He bought us with for a tremendous price though God could stand the sight of us or the smell of us. Jesus washes us in His Blood and rinses us in His Word wraps us in righteousness covering us in His Amazing Grace – it is only then that the fragrance of our life becomes acceptable to God. I want to live in the Presence of God so I must go through the process of repentance and restoration day by day. He makes our life beautiful again as we become His Masterpiece again. The fragrance of our life is made new and attractive to the Lord and all who come into contact with us. Do you need to ask the Lord, “Smell me?” Today. Is there an unpleasant odor wafting from your life? Do people find you offensive and obnoxious when it comes to your life or do they find it pleasing and desirable? Do they want to know the Lord who has filled you with good things? Do they want what you have? Praise and worshipping God should emit a fragrance from our life that is inviting so others will want to know Him and love Him, too. How do you smell today? Can you smell me? Lord, may our lives become sweet smelling offerings and a perfume in Your Presence today!

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The Next Step

in-each-step

Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Since my mom had open heart surgery, I have made a several trips back and forth to check on her. A few years ago, my parents bought a new house in a community just outside of the city limits of their former city. Thankfully my phone has a map application that gives me step by step directs how to get from my driveway to their front door. When I plug in their address, it gives me options to choose regarding my route. There are many ways to get to their home. I can choose the fastest route which means at some point I will take the busy interstate. There is the option of the completely rural route with winding back roads which takes a while longer. I can choose a combination of both if I would like. Once I choose a route, the nifty little helper will let me know if there is an accident or traffic jam up ahead and an alternative route to avoid the congestion. If I choose it, the device will reroute me so I can keep moving. When I complete a turn, it gives me the next step in the instructions. As I proceed, it will give me indications of the remaining distance at certain increments. As I approach the next turn, it will begin to countdown even measuring it in feet until the kind voice tells me to turn here.

I remember when the original Global Positioning Systems first arrived on the market. They were a bit hit or miss and not nearly as accurate as they are now. As of February 2016, there are 32 orbiting satellites in the GPS constellation. In order to obtain accurate information, at least three of those must be able to measure a single user’s position accurately. The advance of such technology is incredibly fascinating and a bit disturbing to think that this is constantly monitoring each person’s human activity according to the device that is a dependency in this day and age. What would we do without the directions of our GPS traveling through life? I have forgotten what it is like to pull out a map and try to discern my direction. I am completely dependent on map application in my phone.

Today I am praying about my some important steps in my life. Oh how nice it would be if the Holy Spirit worked like my navigation system in my phone. If an audible voice would come across the car radio telling me when to turn, go straight or reroute because of danger up ahead. The Lord is a still small voice. He directs our steps but just like the tracking system allows us to choose the direction to take. If the voice grows silent, it is human nature to wonder if somehow we are lost. Have I missed you God? Did I make a wrong turn? Have I miss-stepped missing your plan and now fully engaged in my own? These are questions that I am asking myself today to be fully transparent. I do not want to take another step if it is not by His Design.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall. He holds them by the hand. Looking back at Peter, who stepped out of the boat into the water by faith, it is clear that his faith was not yet big enough for the journey. Yet later in the midst of his booming ministry, he offers these words, For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (I Peter 2:21) I think when Peter stepped out of the boat that he expected the Lord to carry him safely across the water. But what he learned is that each step to Jesus requires faith, not in the current conditions of our life but total trust that even when we fall, face hardship or don’t know where to step next – the Lord is holding our hand. Faith will not allow us to necessarily “see” the next step but allows us to walk on water for those who believe. Believe that Jesus is in each step of life – He is the Way Maker.

Exodus 20:24-26 (NLT) “Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use. And do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.

Plugging the desired destination into my time with the Lord today, I came across the passage tucked right after the Ten Commandments. The section was labeled, “Proper Use of Altars”. Our purpose in life is always to find our way to worship the Lord with all of our heart. To follow Him wholeheartedly (Jeremiah 29:13) and seek His Kingdom above all other things. (Matthew 6:33) How we get there is mandated by the Lord, but we are free to choose our path. God is in each step. To reach the Promise and obtain the Kingdom, my feet must always be pointed toward the altar of God, pursuing His Presence and taking steps toward total surrender and submission. Surrender is to our Savior and submission is for our Lord.

“Build for me an altar of earth…” As I journey with the Lord, God has provided everything I need for proper worship in my present life. We do not have to make it up as we go along or try to do anything ourselves. Jesus Christ did it all on the Cross. “Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered…” God promises to come and bless those who live a life of identification with the Presence of God in each footfall. God is always pursing us with unfailing love and overwhelming goodness. (Psalm 23:6) As long as my want and desire is His Kingdom and I am committed to Christ – God will bless me each time I stop and worship Him. To stop what I am doing and build an altar (worship) is to develop a consistent life of worship as the Holy Spirit cultivates faith in us helping it to grow. “If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones.” Religion can allow us to think that we can rework the pattern of worship predetermined by God which is just not the case. My ability to worship is innate. The right to worship fruitfully is a product of grace alone. I cannot make my worship anything of worth. Worshipping the Lord is an absolute surrender of my Will, Way and Works to the Cross to be covered in His Blood and made acceptable to God. It does not in any way influence God’s Love and Acceptance of me. This is completed start to finish by the Work of Christ on the Cross. This is simply how I choose to serve Him the Master of my life. Finally, “do not approach my altar by going up the steps. If you do, someone might look under your clothing and see your nakedness.” Humility allows me to walk God. Nothing more or less. If I ever come to the place that I feel somewhat entitled or think I have reached a higher level of saving grace, I have lost my way.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Many steps have added up to where I am today in this moment. Yet the sum total does not equal my expectation. As I sit and think upon God’s Word concerning the next step in my life, I am overwhelmed with a burning desire to be where He is. I want to walk humbly with my God. I want to do what is good. To do what He requires. To do what is right. I don’t want to move a single inch if it is away from Jesus. Today I am building an altar in this place, I am waiting for Him to come. To cleanse my heart and clear my mind. I don’t need to see the next step as long as I can hold His Hand all the way to the other side. There is pain in this process. Fighting hurt and discouragement every moment of the day. Yet standing here looking forward, I know that God is in every single step that I take and delights when I choose godliness.

Proverbs 2:20-21 (NLT) So follow the steps of the good, and stay on the paths of the righteous. For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it.

Reading today, I revisited Joshua in the moments before crossing the Jordan. All those years and miles of journeying to the Promise Land culminated in these final moments. (Joshua 3) The exodus was over and now it was time to enter in. The only thing between the Israelites and their promise was the surging Jordan River. God had a plan. The waters did not recede before they arrived or because they prayed. Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’” They had to get their feet wet. Stepping out on faith is never easy, but the Lord will not show you the next step until you take the first step of obedience and trust in His Word. Psalm119:133 says, “Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome with evil.” It is not enough to just read God’s Word but it must become the guide for each step. We can plan our next fifteen steps from here to what we want and desire, but the moment I cry out to the Lord to have His Way all that changes because He is the Way, Truth and Life. (John 14:6) I cannot get to God expect through Jesus. My steps must line up with His Steps and follow His Way.

Proverbs 14:12-16 (NLT) There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains. Backsliders get what they deserve; good people receive their reward. Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps. The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.

Finally, there are some pitfalls to avoid as we walk in step with Jesus today. We must not be caught up in being right but being righteous. Rightness is driven by pride. Righteousness is the fulfillment of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. My heart must be in it. All of my heart must be invested in this journey. My heart cannot remain heavy laden with all the burdens and cares that Christ has requested yet still think I have the strength to move one step closer to Him. Backsliders get what they deserve. I cannot entertain sin. To do so is to rebel against God. The thought that I am doing all these things right so I am better than anyone else is false. To go about God’s Work my own way is wrong. The only way to keep from falling is to hold His Hand firmly. We must be prudent in pursing the Truth. The Word of God is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. I will not get through to the Promise without God’s Word and His Spirit to guide me. Finally, we must carefully consider each step in life. Commit the one’s not clear to prayer. Don’t move until God lights up the way. Be patient and enduring when we just want to escape and run away. As I sit and think about all these things, I have peace that God has considered my next step and is clearing the way. I just have to surrender my way to have His Way.

Psalm 43:3-4(NLT) Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!

My prayer today is for the Lord to send out His Light and His Truth to guide my next step. To lead me to the place where He is and to where He lives because that is where I long to be. This is the place of worship that I need to be and the place He has reserved just for me. This earth and the things in it are temporary so I must focus on the eternal. Forever. When I read about David today in 2 Samuel 6:12-16, he was in the process bringing the Ark of God – His Presence back to the city. The priests and David stopped every six steps to offer a sacrifice to God and David danced before the Lord. The life of worship is in each step. What might happen if I stopped looking for the whole staircase and took a single step wearing it out with my worship and treading it with praise. I may not be certain but my God is for sure. Life is to be lived in each step. Each one is important. It is worthy of an altar. It is worthy of my Lord. Lord, lead me.

Psalm 73:23-25 (NLT) Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.  Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.

Broken Worship

Broken Worship

Psalm 51:15-17 (NIV) Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

It’s Sunday. The day set aside by most Christians to “worship” the Lord in a congregation during a church service. I love Sundays. I love to worship Jesus. I have been a believer for a very long time. I have attended countless services not only here but in foreign countries. Most people associate worship with music and the songs sung to prepare our heart to receive God’s Word or at least it should. Worship is music, but it doesn’t start there. Worship is more than that. Worship is a demonstration of our reverence for the Lord. It is a deep respect tinged with awe that should reverberate through our life like a ripple in an endless pond. However, most of the time it is hidden in a box, stored on a shelf, and taken out only at the appropriate time.

I am challenged today to dig deeper and find a place hidden within me that may not be fully expressing the Love of God as it should. I want my worship to transform my life rather than using it as a shot in the arm that gives me an instant boost. However, to truly know what worship is and what it requires may not be the immediate gratification that one desires. Worship requires brokenness. Raise your hand if you want to be broken? Yeah, me either. However, in this broken state in which I live now, I can attest that I do not necessarily want to be put together again after all.

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God will not despise.” God does not “desire despair in us but in necessary humiliation and sorrow for sin. It is a heart breaking within itself and breaking from its sin; it is a heart pliable to the Word of God and patient under the rod of God, a heart subdued and brought into obedience; it is a heart that is tender, like Josiah’s, and trembles at God’s Word.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary) The Lord is always looking at our heart not our intentions. He looks deep inside of us where no one else can see. He is looking for those who are humiliated that they have sinned against Him. Those who have true sorrow that sin exists in their life. See worship is born of repentance first. If I am not humiliated by my sin or sorry that I am unable to completely avoid it, I cannot worship the Lord as He desires. Worship requires repentance. Repentance requires a change. Repentance turns our heart over to the Lord so He can prepare us to be true worshippers. I must live in a state of repentance to worship God each day.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) 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.

To be a “living sacrifice” and live a life “holy and pleasing to God” is to express “true and proper worship”. Conformity is not just a pattern in this world but it has infiltrated our church. The transformation that comes from Spirit and Truth has been put in a box by religion, doctrine and tradition. God is trying to rip the lid off that box and pour out revival in these last days. I do not want to be the one who is stopping it from happening. True worshippers must do so in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:24)

Luke 7 tells the story of the woman with the alabaster box. It was filled with expensive perfume which she acquired from her suitors. She was a woman who lived a sinful life. When she came to the house of Simon, a Pharisee, she broke the jar of perfume and anointed the feet of Jesus. Her actions sparked outrage among those in the house that night. As she wept at the feet of Jesus wiping them with her hair, those around expressed their disapproval. The disciples felt her efforts a waste because the cost of her sacrifice would have padded the benevolent fund to feed the poor. The religious order of the day were indignant and judgmental immediately dismissing Jesus as a prophet or He would have known what a “sinner” she was. This woman, indeed, was a sinner just like you, me, the disciples and Pharisees, but one thing she was that most of us are not is a true worshipper.

Mark 14 gives the same account in less detail. There is one point in this account that is important not to miss. She “broke” the jar. True repentance is brokenness. She did not intend to return to her old life so she did not need the jar to collect any longer. By breaking the jar, her worship was the loudest. She gave her all. I cannot help but also consider her act of worship in facing all of her accusers and those who judged her the most to worship when there are some days that I will not go to the altar to pray because of what someone might think. What about the act of weeping at the feet of Jesus and wiping his feet with her hair? If our Lord sat before us, would we be so humble? Humility comes from complete brokenness and sacrifice of our pride to serve Jesus. Can we worship like she did? Are we willing to break our alabaster box?

Matthew 21:42-44 (NIV) Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Reading this passage again, I wonder if the Lord has hidden a message to those who desire to worship Him. A word of encouragement in the midst of refinement. “Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken into pieces.” I thought this was about them. All those fingers pointing to Pharisees, hypocrites and sinners…you know them. But what I have discovered is that those who do not repent will be the ones who are “crushed” when judgment finally comes. The ones who “fall on this stone” are those who call on the Name of Jesus to be saved, repent and turn to follow Him the rest of their life. We are the ones who will be broken into pieces. It is what it means to be a living sacrifice. We must be broken to express true worship but as always it comes with a promise.

Psalm 34:18 (NIV) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

My heart rejoices today that even as I submit to brokenness and attempt to live in it that the Lord is close. My brokenness allows His Grace to cover my sin. It is a Robe of Righteousness that covers my naked state and allows His Love to wash over me again and again as I live to worship Him. This is the life that I must live. For far too long the church has tried to relay an image of perfect people who have it all together but the Lord is close to those on the verge of falling apart. His Presence is open to those who are broken. Those who live in a state of brokenness not because of sin but surrender and submission to the Lord in reverence full of deep respect tinged with awe.

Psalm 147:3 (NIV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

It is time to rip the lid off the box and break some alabaster jars at the feet of Jesus today. It is time to stop acting like we have it all together and allow ourselves to be broken as we fall at the feet of Jesus. It is humbling and necessary. To be broken allows the Lord to heal those open exposed wounds that have festered beneath the surface of pride for years. It is the opportunity to move closer to Jesus than ever before. In Luke 7, Jesus told the woman “your faith has saved you; go in peace.” And in Matthew 26 and Mark 14, Jesus tells the others, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Oh friend, don’t you want your worship to be memorable to Jesus today? I know that I do!

Psalm 96:1-9 (NIV) Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.

 

Undignified Worship

Undignified Worship

Psalm 30:11-12 (NIV) You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

When our oldest daughter married a couple of years ago, her wedding was truly a celebration. After months of planning and preparing, her big day finally came. It was clear that everyone was intent on making the most of it. Not only did it mark the end of a courtship turned into a covenant, but it also was the end of the long treacherous road to her brother’s battle against cancer. When dinner was over and the music started, no one could have imagined the celebration that would begin. The carefully set tables would be pushed aside, shoes were flying, ties and jackets discarded. It was quite undignified from that moment on. The DJ said that he had never seen such a reception without alcohol. God is good!

Sitting on the front row on the cold November day, I turned to watch our bride walk with her handsome dad to meet her groom who had dissolved into tears at the sight of her. I was holding it together quite well at this point thanks to a mixture of exhaustion and mascara keeping me intact. But when she reached her destination, I panned the wedding party to find that all my beautiful children were standing before me. Handsome and beautiful, as well as, healed and whole. The enemy tried to take one of my sons but the Lord saw it fit to give me another. God is good!

Today as I think about the wedding reception, I remember the relief that it actually went off without a hitch. Wedding planning and preparation is stressful. Bringing two families together is difficult even when everyone is saved and sanctified. But in that moment, everyone in that place danced together. It didn’t matter if they were from the bride’s side or the groom’s side. I wonder if we should be dancing more as believers as I ponder the moment. I wonder if our faith gets stifled inside of us at the thought of a display considered a bit undignified. Faith without works is dead according to the Word of God. I wonder if redemption without celebration is dead, too. I wonder if we sing but don’t move beyond lip service to celebration if we have missed it.

I Peter 1:6-9 (NIV)  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Genuineness of faith is expressed in inexpressible and glorious joy. It is the salvation of our souls. Working out our salvation is a God process and our surrender to His Will and Way for us. Obedience is not a mundane following of a mediocre God. When obedience begins in our heart making its way to our hands, our soul begins to prosper and so will the productivity of our life. It matters what drives our actions and attitudes in life. If I treat others better than myself, yet secretly have hate or prejudice against them in my heart – all good deeds are fruitless. Love is the bottom line in all things. My husband and I have been married almost two decades. We have had great times and difficult seasons yet the prevailing commitment between us is always upheld by our love for Jesus first and then each other. It allows us to wake up each morning and find joy in each other even if we were at odds last night. This is the care over of faith in life. No matter what happens – the Lord gives us new mercy each morning to keep hope alive in our hearts.

Our love for the Lord should produce joy in our life that is more than just words. Singing a song comes from memory but when it causes us to lift our hands, tears running down our face, or even leads us to an altar then our praise made it into our heart. If my praise is rehearsed, I wonder if my life may be too. Habit rather than holiness. If my worship is dry, I wonder if my heart is hard and barren. When declaring His Great Name, does it press me to draw closer or do I tend to remain self-controlled. Where are the David’s who choose to dance before the Lord in an “undignified” state? Are they hiding from the Michal’s?

2 Samuel 6:14-17 (NIV) Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord.

The Lord will not force us to love Him with all of our heart. He will not force us to praise and worship His Holy Name. He provides new mercy and plenty of grace that allows us to step into righteousness and ushers us into His Presence. When will we come as David did, “dancing before the Lord with all his might”? David was leaping and dancing before the Lord as the Ark of the Lord was brought to the city. The Ark represented the Presence of God. The Spirit of the Living God now lives in us. Are we expressing the precious treasure invested in us to the watching world? Why not? Michal was David’s wife. She worshipped idols not the one true Living God. She was embarrassed by her husband and king’s ridiculous behavior. David was a man after God’s Own Heart. It did not stop him from worshipping the Lord openly. What is stopping me? What is stopping you? When God moves on our heart, why do we refuse to move?

Joshua 6:2-5(NIV) Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

Six days of silently marching around a solid wall seemed silly to those who did not understand. On the seventh day, when the people broke out into a giant praise break, the enemy must have been very confused. There was no battle. There was no fight. However, through careful obedience the walls of Jericho fell completely flat. Could it be that in our mundane praise and mediocre worship that we have limited the Lord in bringing down the strongholds of our life and breaking all the chains? We are at the wall chiseling and hammering at it but God is telling us to stand back it will fall flat. Faith doesn’t mean fighting our own battles. Faith is believing that God has given us the victory. Waiting on it. Watching for it. It means praising God today for the victory that is coming tomorrow. It is to allow Him to heal the heart hurting from past battles and overwhelming storms. We must find our way to praise the Lord with all of our might again to bring down every stronghold and set all the captives free.

Psalm 8:1-2 (NIV) Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

True and valid faith will not allow us to live in the doldrums of life. In fact, according to Psalm 8, it is through praise of children and infants that God places a barrier of protection around our life. What does our praise and worship tell the next generation? Does it portray the Living God who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Are we showing them that faith is worth it? I want my children to love and serve God. If my witness to them that it leads to a mediocre life, will they want to know Him personally? Jesus wants to set our soul free today to prosper. He desires to give you inexpressible joy that cannot bear to be contained. It is not a change in circumstances, but rather a heart change. One that doesn’t base praise and worship on how we feel about life but our love for God and His Son, Jesus alone.

Psalm 149:3-9 (NIV) Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them—this is the glory of all his faithful people.

What would happen if our life was characterized by undignified worship every day? What if rather than complaining with praised the Lord for His Faithfulness? What if rather than taking matters into our own hands, we lifted those same hands to surrender all to the Lord each day? What would happen if our live was devoted to praising the Lord in all things and blessing His Holy Name? What if our praise and worship made its way out of the four walls called church and became the premise of each temple (we are the temples of the Holy Spirit)? I am challenged today to undignified worship. The kind that gets the enemy’s attention. It says that “praise of God can be a double-edged sword” in our hands. The Word of God gives credibility to our worship as it is the foundation of faith that produces hope in us. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness to find something…anything praiseworthy and boast of the God in us. We will never be truly free until faith in the Son of God sets us totally free. Prison doors open with praise, strongholds come down with worship, and chains fall off when we life our hands to the Lord. God has given us victory and the power to overcome in all things. Undignified worship will release it in our life.

Psalm 30:4-5 (NIV) Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Depth Perception

Depth Perception

I John 2:26-28 (NLT) I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

Who’s right? In world with a wide range of religions and opinions, how do I know that the God I serve is the one true God? How do I know that Jesus Christ is the only way? What a person believes dictates how they live? They can say anything they like freely but it is in our behavior, attitude and actions that our true colors shine through. Jeremiah 13:23 asks “can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots?” What is he saying? No they cannot and “neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil.”  Oh please don’t be offended. I am in no way implying that you or yours are evil. I am just examining my own heart for relevance today. My life has physical implications. However, unless I develop an understanding of the spiritual implications that impact my life, I can do nothing of importance or significance for the Lord.

As believers, we are given God’s Holy Spirit to live in us and promote spiritual understanding that becomes knowledge and once applied the wisdom that guides our life in righteousness. How we see the world is reflected by one’s depth perception in life. Do we see things only in the natural? Have we dared to peer into our physical state? Do we long for the eyes of our heart to be opened? Light that shines in the darkness reveals the secrets hidden there. Once a lie is exposed to truth it can no longer be entertained as anything else. So we tiptoe as far across the line of fear into faith possible while still maintaining our ignorance and naivety when God has given us the ability to see well beyond the natural into the supernatural realm.

Ephesians 1:7-9 (NLT) He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan.

God in His Rich and Loving Kindness maximized by His Grace purchased our freedom with the Blood of His Son Jesus. He forgave our sins – past, present and future – in that moment. How? God is omnipresent meaning everywhere at once, omniscient meaning He knows everything and His Omnipotent meaning all powerful. It is in His Absolute Sovereignty as God alone that He is able to determine the Sacrifice of Christ acceptable and apply it to our life. He bestowed this gift to humanity. Limited in perception beyond what the five senses, the Lord is determined to connect with us. He not only showered us in loving kindness but gave us ALL wisdom and understanding. God revealed His Mysterious Plan to us. No He didn’t? Yes, He did!

We have the Holy Spirit. He is our guide. He is our teacher. He is significant in establishing depth perception in life that sees beyond the natural to embrace the supernatural. His Understanding reaches past the physical things to take hold of spiritual confidence. We are told to walk by faith and not by sight in a world that defines seeing as believing. Lord help us. Open our eyes to Your Glory, God.

Depth perception is the ability to perceive spatial relationships. It is the ability to determine the potions of objects in association with one another. This is heavily influenced by the development of the human brain and how it sees distance etc. It is also decided by experience. If an animal is exposed to a glass floor, it struggles to walk on it because it challenges their depth perception. If a person who is afraid of heights is given the opportunity to cross the same floor, they may be unable to do so because fear cannot see the floor just the distance between their feet and the ground. The distance between mankind and God is not as far as we think. In fact, it is not far at all because Jesus Christ lives inside of us. He has given us His Spirit to open our spiritual eyes, increase supernatural understanding, and prosper us from the inside out. However, human logic often talks us out of faith. Natural understanding defies the existence of God to the extent of its intelligence. It is because of ignorance that God’s People perish every day many thinking that they know a God that they have yet to see.

John 9:1-5 (NLT) As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus is the Light of the world. Light is the very thing that allows the eye to see. Without light, there is no sight. Light has a complex interaction with our eyes and brain that illuminate our world. Light reaches the eye and signals are sent to our brain. Our brain deciphers the information in order to detect appearance, location and movement of objects. When considering Jesus in such context, He is spiritual light. He shines brightly inside of us shedding light on our heart and soul giving us an opportunity to apply His Love, Grace and Power to all aspects of our natural life.

When Jesus saw the man blind from birth, the man was not crying out to the Lord. He was just sitting there. The disciples asked Jesus, “Why was this man born blind?” We are all born blind due to sin. We have the opportunity to have our eyes opened if we are willing to believe. The Lord used this man as an example. Note the reason that Jesus gave them, “This happened so the Power of God could be seen in him.” Well then… God will use whatever means possible to open the eyes of our mind, and the recesses of our heart, so the Light of His Love can expose anything that is keeping us from God’s Very Best.

A miracle happened that day. Now one might think this would be a happy ending to a life of disappointment. You know everyone would celebrate wildly and declare Jesus as Lord. Not exactly. One man’s healing sent a spiritual wave moving through the synagogue that day. The man’s friends questioned his miracle. Some discredited it as a mistake and that this was not the man they knew. They couldn’t comprehend such a miracle. It made its way to his parents who are called before the Pharisees. They agree that they have no idea what happened. They tell the religious leaders to ask their son essentially telling them to leave them alone. This miracle was quickly becoming their misfortune as their religion was now compromised. The Pharisees asked the man over and over again who repeated the same story. The man was ultimately thrown out of the synagogue.

Jesus met the man just outside of religion and other relationships. He asked the man, “Do you believe in the Son of God? The man answered the Lord, “I want to believe in him.” The man accepted Jesus in that moment. I believe that this occurs regularly in the modern day church when the miraculous overtakes our natural understanding. When Knowledge of God becomes too incredible to accept and His Doing too much to absorb, do we discredit the Lord among people unknowingly. The Lord is doing more than we can ask or think. We must think differently to make revival a reality or miracles will be dismissed by mindsets.

I Corinthians 2:13-15 (NLT) When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.

We must gain depth perception in Jesus Christ. We must understand the spiritual implications in our life. The Light of His Love shows us the areas of our life that are working with God’s Plan and sabotaging it as well. It is through knowledge and understanding that the opportunity for true wisdom to arise. The rippling effect of the blind man’s healing that day is no different than that which occurs in the modern day church every day. God moves and does the miraculous which is quickly shutdown. We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. Is anyone talking about the Blood? Where are all the testimonies?

Growing up Southern Baptist, I was inundated with the Word of God, scripture memorization and constant Bible study. However, the Holy Spirit was assigned the title of silent partner and the Book of Acts kept safely shut. It was quite frustrating to spend all that time in God’s Word but remaining powerless in life. Like a tiny boat tossed in a raging storm, my faith was weak and hope nearly gone. When I became filled with the Holy Spirit almost twenty years ago, something changed in me. Suddenly the Word of God began to make sense and became instantly applicable to my life. The more I read the more I wanted to know. The more I prayed the more I listened for His Voice. My life in Christ came together when His Spirit and His Truth began to commune in my life. All word and no Spirit sets up rules and regulations unattainable because there is no evidence of grace other than implied. All Spirit and no word is a highly emotional relationship status that will not be consistent or fulfilling because it lacks promise. The Word is the promises God keeps. We must live with a healthy balance of both to know and understand what the Lord would like to do in us and for us.

Colossians 2:7-9 (NLT) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.  For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.

If our spiritual life has no depth and is not applicable to our natural life, miracles can happen in us, through us and around us that will go unnoticed. Explained away by chance, fate or misperception and we will miss the fullness of God living in us working its way out of us. Religion must give way to an intimate relationship taking God’s Word applying it to our life liberally and allowing His Spirit to have the freedom to work it through our life unrestricted. Our life cannot be supernaturally inclined without Spirit and Truth. Our life will not worship God without these two key ingredients either. Our perception of God must gain depth in our soul. Roots must grow in us connecting our heart and mind with Christ and His Kingdom rather than trying to make our life in Christ purely natural. If you do what the Word of God says, your life will prosper naturally. If you allow His Spirit to move you along there will be blessing apparent in your life as well. But if what we desire is the truly miraculous when all impossibilities become possible in Christ, we must gain depth perception that allows us to walk by faith and not sight. It will free us from human thinking and release us from bondage to empty philosophies as the Fullness of His Love reaches the inner most hidden places of our heart.

Philippians 1:9-10 (NLT) I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

Lord, give us greater depth perception of Your Love today. Life our tired hands to praise You and all wonderful things you are doing that we cannot comprehend but hold fast to in the Word. Strengthen our weak knees by Your Grace to stand in faith guarding our hearts and mind until You make it come to pass. Lord, may your Spirit mark out a straight path for my feet so I will not walk lame or limping again. Give me the courage to walk boldly in the Light of Your Amazing Love. To know You more and make You know throughout my realm of influence today Lord. Let me press harder to know how wide, long, high and deep that Your Love truly is. Let me see my life as You see it, live as You designed it and be fulfilled. Open the eyes of my heart Lord that I may live according to Your Word and Your Spirit. I give you the Glory for taking me deeper Jesus.

I John 5:20-21 (NLT) And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.

 

Rushing Water

Rushing Water

Revelation 19:6-9 (NIV) Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

What will Heaven be like? Do you ever wonder? Will it be like a great reunion? Will it be a big and vast open space? Will there really be streets of gold and mansions all around or is that just a way to entice people? Will it just be Jesus sitting on a throne surrounded in light? Will it be all these things? Our church hosted a worship night. A time of worshipping the Lord without a real order of service or programmed agenda. Just a time of moving a little bit closer to Jesus as far as each individual was willing to travel. Whenever I am in such a service, I find my thoughts wondering. Lord is this what it will be like forever with you. A place where time stands still. Time passes swiftly but seems like only a moment. Flowed with peace. Overcome with joy. Every burden lifted. Yet, we are still here. Once it is over, we walk out the doors into a cold and dark world filled with challenges, temptations, trouble and tragedy. We want Heaven. The more it is tested our taste is refined. The world is no longer satisfying and does not bring contentment only a greater thirst to find one moment or two to bask in the Light of His Love and be filled to overflowing again.

I was looking for the word “Hallelujah” today. It is the word that connects us to the Lord by accepting His Sovereign Power, submitting to His Supreme Purpose and surrendering to His Perfect Will. I find that it reminds me I am not in control of my circumstances, but praise God, no one else is either. I live under the divine authority and complete control of Jesus Christ so that no matter what weapon is formed against me – I will prosper – Hallelujah! Greater is He who is in me than He that is in the world – Hallelujah! I am blessed beyond any curse and His Promise will endure – Hallelujah! Hallelujah is a lot like “amen”. It is the acceptance of God’s Will and commitment to His Plan but submission of our life to His Authority. It is the highest praise. It is translated many ways such as praise the Lord and thanks be to God. Hallelujah is the sound of Heaven as men and women gather together in one accord to worship the Lord in all of His Holiness.

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting…” The Kingdom of God is not quiet in its celebration of the Lord so why are we? I wonder sometimes if the “order” indicated in the early church has somehow been mistranslated and traditionally handed down.  The sound of Heaven is loud. It is exuberant. It is committed to a kind of worship that connects with Jesus. There will be no sideline worshippers in Heaven on those who choose Spirit and Truth as a way of surrendering to the Lord completely. I believe that how we worship in this place is the ultimate audition for our entrance into Eternity. Will we be ready and able to worship the Lord as indicated in Revelation? Will our response be Hallelujah? Will our worship be radical enough to join others.

John 4:10 (NIV) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Jesus told the woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you Living Water.” We must receive Living Water from Jesus to produce it in our life. Jesus went on to share with her that whoever drinks the water He gives will never thirst. They will be satisfied. Are you satisfied today? Have you asked the Lord to fill you with Living Water? The water that Jesus gives us will be like a spring of water welling up to eternal life. When God created the earth, He did not make rain at that time. No, the world was watered from within. You were not created to be “watered” or sustained by the things of this world but to be solely dependent on the Living Water inside of you.

In John 4:23-24 (NIV), Jesus tells the woman how we should worship. We must worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth. These are two vital commodities to successful entrance to the Kingdom of God because these are the ingredients of worship that cannot be avoided or ignored. The very attributes that change praise into worship. Do you have the spirit? I am not asking about manifestations of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in other tongues. This is God’s Power flowing out of you. It will not happen without the Fruit of His Spirit cultivated in us. Do you worship the Lord in Spirit? Relying on His Guidance and His Direction. Coming to Him with our weakness. Conversing with Him in crisis. He is our Helper. He was sent to teach us to move deeper in our faith and hold on to hope. The Word of God is truth. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh, therefore, He is Truth. Worship cannot be produced without a connection to Christ and His Word. When God speaks – He speaks His Word. It is definitive. He cannot and will not contradict Himself. Jesus died and as raised again so that God’s Word could be active in our life again apart from sin. This is true perfection achieved in His Love and by His Grace which is the reason that we can move from praising God to worshipping Him successfully.

John 7:38-39 (NIV) Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Our commitment to know the Spirit and Truth applying it to our daily lives begins to produce change in us. It is a stirring deep within. Whoever believes in Jesus will start to feel rivers of life surging in their belly looking for a way out. Flowing to find a source greater than its own content. An ocean to connect with. More water to feed its flow and increase the current. The rivers of living water that Jesus promised are directly connected to His Spirit. As we begin to allow Living Water to make its way through us, it begins to create a need for greater sustenance. It is power rushing through us ready to explode like a geyser in our soul. This is worship getting ready to be expressed. Not just any worship, but the kind that blesses God’s Heart.

When Jesus was glorified, it marked God’s Acceptance of His Sacrifice. This is the very thing that allowed His Spirit to be released to help us and live in us. It was the moment that our praise turned to worship making it significant to God and worthy of His Kingdom. It’s not any sound that my head tells my mouth to produce. It is the Lord’s Spirit rising out of my belly, rushing through my heart, making its way out of my mouth that connects to His Kingdom entering the very Presence of the Living God. I want to live there. I don’t ever want to leave that place.

Psalm 42:7-8 (NIV) Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.

I wonder if it is possible to truly worship God and not surrender or submit to Him. I only say that because His Will is perfect and His Word is true. His Power is Sovereign. He does not waver or change His Mind. When deep calls to deep it is in the roar of His Waterfalls. God’s Love for us is unfailing and unrelenting too. A waterfall’s current becomes inescapable the closer you get. It sucks you in and pulls you over the edge. Maybe that is why worship is scaring to people so they only persist in praising God for what He has done rather than totally trusting and surrendering to worship Him.

God’s Love is sweeping over you today. It is live waves urging us deeper as the current goes out. He directs us with His Love. At night, He sings over us a love song. I wonder if it is like the sound of the ocean when staying in a beachside villa. Opening the doors, the breeze blows over you and the sound of the waves on the surf woo you into peaceful sleep. The Love of God is as unfathomable as the depth of the deepest sea. It feels dangerous and overwhelming sometimes. But those who trust the Lord will make the connection that is vital to move us from here and not to forever with Jesus. Worship is essential. It is our key.

Psalm 63:1-5 (NIV) You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

 

“Like the roar of rushing waters…” Heaven sounds like rushing water. Of course, it does. When the Living Water flowing in us connects with the Rushing Water flowing from His Throne, worship bursts forth like water through a dam. I cannot live in Heaven…yet. However, there is an opportunity among believers to worship in Spirit and Truth right now. Right here. To experience such a Presence of God that His Satisfaction will satisfy our dry and thirsty soul. Reaching all the dry and dead things with Resurrection Power. He is ready to revive us again but are we thirsty enough to seek Him in such a way. To surrender to His Overflow in our life and be watered from the inside out. It is our opportunity to connect with Jesus and bring Heaven to earth but we miss it week after week, day after day and moment to moment ignoring the deep crying out to deep within us. My connection to Christ fills me. United with likeminded believers creates the opportunity to increase the flow. Those who thirst for more will continue to press in until Living Water flows from the church again. It is a must. It is the sound of Heaven beginning in each belly and filling the world. Worship moves us closer. Takes us deeper. It changes us so we can encounter Him more. Am I doing my part? Are you doing yours? Lord I want to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Lord, may living water make it from my belly and wash over my world. My worship matters. Our worship matters. It connects us together forming His Bride. I want to go deeper. I want to know you more. I want to worship like they do in Heaven right here on the earth.

 

Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Acceptable Worship

Acceptable Worship

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

“This is truly the way to worship Him.” Backing up, “let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind that he will find acceptable.” What is acceptable worship? What if I am going about it all wrong? Does my life and love please the Lord? Does it copy the behavior and customs of this world? There is a fine line in the new church culture. In the good intention of reaching the nations rather than releasing an outpouring of God’s Spirit, there has been a watering down of the Gospel. Church is not a social club or civic organization. It is a fellowship of believer’s whose intent is becoming one with Jesus Christ…or at least, that is what it should be. I want to know that my worship reaches and blesses the Heart of God the Father and His Son, my Lord, Jesus Christ.

His Grace is sufficient for me. It fills me with the transforming power that brought Jesus from the grave when He handed me the Keys to the Kingdom. What will I do with such power? How will I handle this responsibility? God’s Love has reached me. Will it be without purpose? Will I remain powerless? Will my salt become salty? Will the Light of His Love burn brightly within me? Will I be established as a “city on a hill”? Worship is the rising platform that takes me from this world into the Presence of God. It is the very thing that transforms me and changes me for His Glory. It changes my mind, attitude and the way I think. Worship allows me to know God’s Will which is good, pleasing and perfect. I must find my way to acceptable worship so that I may be a living and holy sacrifice.

Psalm 118:24-29 (NLT) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Please, Lord, please save us. Please, Lord, please give us success. Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

Growing up in a Southern Baptist Church, it was not acceptable to lift one’s hands in worship. In fact, there was not much emotion put into the hymns of the red-bound book that were used each Sunday to usher in the Presence of God. Since that time, I have watched services in the same church and know that it has changed completely as the Lord has answered their cry to know Him more. The first time I heard “How Great Thou Art” in a congregation that did find such worship acceptable all I could do was cry with outstretched arms throughout the entire song. I don’t know why lifting my hands created such a release in my life. Maybe it was to experience freedom to worship the Lord responding as my heart indicated rather than what doctrine specified. There are still churches today that do not allow worship to be expressed certain ways. It makes me sad.

This is the day that the Lord has made. He woke us up today. He continued to allow His Breath to flow through us maintaining our natural life. For those who are filled with His Spirit, hearts were quickened to make it count for Christ. We prayed for Jesus to save us and give us success. The Lord God has His Eyes on you. He is shining upon you. With what purpose? Is He waiting for your sacrifice? Is He watching for worship? Will I take the sacrifice of my life, convenience, comfort and bind it to the altar with commitment? The way that we live expresses our intent to worship the Lord. Our pursuit of Jesus. Our passion for Him. Our persistence in seeking Him with our whole heart. This is acceptable worship. Nothing less will do. Finding new ways to express our love for the Lord as He desires.

Psalm 51:15-17 (NLT) Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

If only worship were a song, but its not. If it were some tangible gift or offering, how much easier that might be? The only thing that the Lord desires is my heart. All of it. God desires a repentant heart intent on receive His Grace. A heart that continuously turns from sin to seek righteousness. A heart that is intent on the Light of His Love rather than sneaking back into the darkness. This is not human nature therefore requires a change. In response to our repentance and the breaking of our heart, God gives His Grace to us. The moment that we identity our overwhelming need for Jesus and respond to it, we have fulfilled the Lord’s Desire for us. (Matthew 9:13) Though many flood the altars each week, few will leave with the realization of the magnitude and complete necessity for God’s Grace and Love each day. Our heart must change to provide acceptable worship to the Lord. Our worship is expressed in faithful obedience. It responds only with love, grace, and forgiveness no matter how grave the offense choosing not to take hold of it. (Matthew 5:23-24) Until our life emanates worship beyond the three or four songs sung each Sunday and the occasional Wednesday – it is worthless.

I Chronicles 21:21-25 (NLT) When Araunah saw David approaching, he left his threshing floor and bowed before David with his face to the ground. David said to Araunah, “Let me buy this threshing floor from you at its full price. Then I will build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.” “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, and the threshing boards for wood to build a fire on the altar, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give it all to you.” But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” So David gave Araunah 600 pieces of gold in payment for the threshing floor.

Two of my very best friends are worship leaders. Our son-in-law is also a worship leader. They have dedicated their lives, time, talent and energy into inviting God’s Presence into church services weekly. Our son-in-law writes praise and worship songs sung in congregations. I know the investment that they make to seek the Face of God and invite His Holy Spirit to come into our midst. I have attended many services with each one leading. They are anointed in their gift and called to serve the Lord. This is their sacrifice to the Lord.

“I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord…” When I read this passage today, I thought about each of these men and women of God who are dedicated to the Lord’s Work. It occurred to me that if I attend services and participate in worship with them singing in unison, it is not necessarily acceptable worship. It becomes acceptable only when I invest my life, time, talent and energy into ushering God’s Presence into my life just as they have. I am not called to music ministry. I am called to lay down my life for Jesus Christ. It is my God-given opportunity to participate in acceptable worship. It is the freedom to be transformed day by day. But if my worship doesn’t cost me something personally – and is only manufactured by another than it is of no use to me. Maybe that’s why when we lift our hands in worship and speak to the Lord in the awkward silences when the voices hush but the music plays on that we feel the Presence of the Lord finally come. He is waiting for us. He wants us. The Lord steps into our life when we offer a sacrifice of something. Anything? He consumes us with His Love even more.

Matthew 21:12-15 (NLT) Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But the leaders were indignant.

Worship without sacrifice is worthless. When Jesus entered the Temple to see the market, He got mad and cleared it like a madman. It would be remiss not to mention that our churches have become convenient. They are comfortable. We package worship on little discs or price it in fancy uploads so that it is easily accessible. This is not the worship that the Lord is after just tools to take us there. What He desires more than anything is the kind of worship that allows His Spirit to come and do the miraculous. Faith that ushers in the impossible. Hope that points to the Heavenlies. When Jesus cleared the temple of its worthless worship, He filled it with His Presence. The Lord was there. People were healed. He messed up their plan. He interrupted their program. He disorganized their order. What happened? The leaders were indignant. True worship wrecks our religion to allow for a relationship with Jesus Christ. It heals our broken heart. Making us complete and whole. New vessels are created to hold His Spirit and dispense it to this world. This is worship. To sacrifice convenience and comfort exchanging the controlled to enter the Presence of the Lord.

Philippians 3:7-11 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

There is a story in I Samuel 5 that recounts the story of Dagon. The Philistines had captured the Ark of God which carried His Presence. It contained the Spirit of the Living God just like is carried in us. They placed the Ark next to the carved statue of Dagon. The next morning the idol lay on the ground. It did not just fall over but somehow was now positioned facedown before the Ark. So the people hoisted it back into position. The next day, Dagon had fallen facedown before the Lord again except this time his head and hands had been broken off. We carry the same power in us thanks to Jesus Christ who released it to us immediately following His Death. Now think about it, if we have the Power of God in us it would only make sense that by carrying His Presence into our homes, workplaces and, yes, even our churches that worthless idols would begin to fall down.

As our worship becomes internal and intimate, it makes us salty and effective again. It turns our spark into a Light worthy to be placed on a hill for all to see. There is no report in I Samuel of thunder, lightning or earthquakes yet each morning a lifeless idol fell to a Superior and Supreme God. Imagine if all the strongholds, barriers and obstacles along with every chain began to silently fall away and you were free to live in the Promises of God and complete fulfillment – what then? Revival. Radical worship in complete abandonment of self to be absorbed by the Lord causes Resurrection Power to flow from our lives.

Psalm 89:15-17 (NLT) Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong.

My salvation is priceless. It costs God everything. (Romans 3:24-26) The only way that my life is of worth is when my worship is acceptable. Worship is not what we do but rather who we become in Christ Jesus. Our heart should be so full of Him that it spills over into our life. I cannot sing someone else’s song and call it my worship. I must live a life song. I must speak my own words of thankfulness. I must confess my salvation. My life should represent the transformation of my heart in the Lord. What did my worship cost me? What did I do to shine my Light? How much am I willing to give to this thing called “acceptable worship”? Faith is worship. Trust is worship. Obedience is worship. Prayer is worship. The giving of any part of my life to the Lord for His Fulfillment and His Use is worship. Worship is a regular occurrence for those who love the Lord and desire His Presence. “Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship for they will walk in the Light of Your Presence. It pleases You to make us strong.”

Psalm 50:14 (NLT) Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.