Tag Archives: Christianity

Heartfelt Worship

I was twenty years old before I attended my first liturgical style church service. I was raised in a church at the opposite end of the spectrum. The songs seemed to be all from before the 1700’s, and we had to do responsive readings throughout the service. I remember thinking, “This is crazy! How can anyone get into this?” It was then that God directed my gaze to a woman across the church. I could tell she was enjoying it and was worshipping God through the service. God was saying, “There’s more than one way to worship me because worship comes from the heart.”

In Matthew 26, Jesus was close to the end of His ministry. He was having dinner with a man he had healed when a woman came in with a perfume worth a year’s salary. She broke it open and poured it on Jesus. The disciples flipped out and called it a waste because they could have sold the perfume and given the money away. But Jesus responded in verse 13, “I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed” (NLT).

I’ve been like the disciples and have complained about other styles of worship. Because God gave us different personality styles, we express our worship differently. God is looking for us to worship Him in spirit and in truth with our lives, not just at a church service. The woman in this story worshipped with all she had and we are still talking about it two thousand years later. Imagine what the Church could do if we quit worrying about how each other worship God and focused on our own worship. Remember God is looking at our heart, not our outward expression.

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When I was younger, I was a part of a scouting program through the church. Our motto was, “Ready. Ready for anything. Ready to work, play, serve, worship, live and obey God’s Word.” Each Wednesday night, we would repeat that along with the pledges. We would have discussions about what it meant to be ready. We learned that once an opportunity arose, it was too late to get ready (see the Parable of the 10 Virgins with oil in their lamps).

The Bible is full of reminders to us to be ready. We never know when a door will open, when God will prompt us to do something or when Jesus will return. The motto I learned as a kid wasn’t just a good thing for a teenager to learn, it should be our motto as the Church. I believe there is so much God wants to do through us, but we aren’t ready when the opportunity arises. Today, let’s make sure we are ready for whatever God wants to do.

Here are some Bible verses on being ready.

1. Be ready for whatever comes, dressed for action and with your lamps lit, like servants who are waiting for their master to come back from a wedding feast. When he comes and knocks, they will open the door for him at once.

Luke 12:35-36 GNT

2. But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy–acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.

1 PETER 3:15 AMP

3. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Romans 12:13 NLT

4. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 NASB

5. So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you.

Ephesians 6:14-17 GNT

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The Last Word

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

A few years ago, my in-laws were on their way to Mexico to visit family. A few hours or so after leaving home, their check engine light came on. They stopped to get it checked out. A sensor had gone out and needed to be replaced. As soon as the repair was finished, they got on the road. An hour later, the check engine light came on again. They stopped to have the same problem repaired. When they arrived at the border, the light came on again so they had it checked out. The mechanic said the same sensor had gone out a third time. They were frustrated, but they replaced it again so they could continue.

An hour or so after they crossed the border into Mexico, the light came on again. Six times they had this sensor replaced within several hours. When it came on again, they decided to pull over and talk about their options. If they kept going and the truck broke down, the chances were high that they would be far from help without cell service. They wanted to deliver goods to their family who needed them and to visit family like they had planned, but they turned the truck around. As soon as they did, the light went off and never came back on.

When they arrived back at the border, they decided to get some food at the usual places. While there, my mother in law remembered she had gone to the doctor several months prior and never heard back. After eating, they went to the doctor, and he told her he had been trying to get ahold of her, but couldn’t. He was glad she came in because her test results showed she had cancer. She needed immediate surgery to remove it, which they did that day. They also needed a blood relative there with her in case of complications. Her sister happened to go with them on that trip. God changed their plans and they had the wherewithal to accept it.

Proverbs 16:1 says, “We may make our plans, but God has the last word” (GNT). Many of us are so fixated on our plans that we fail to hear what God is trying to tell us. We press on despite his attempts to turn us around. In some cases, it’s for our benefit, and other times, it’s for someone else. We need to pay attention to what God is trying to say to us throughout our days. It’s ok to make plans and to want to accomplish them, but not at the expense of ignoring what God is trying to get us to do. We need to give Him the right to have the last word in our lives.

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The Seeds Of Good Deeds

When you think of Christians who are known for their good deeds, Mother Teresa usually tops the list. She is someone who gave her life to those who were less fortunate than herself. While she is certainly the most famous, she’s not the only Christian to be known for her good deeds. In fact, each of us should be doing things for others, not as a requirement for salvation, but as a fruit of it. Giving to others should spring out of our love for God.

When I look at my own circle of friends, I’ve got friends who care for orphans, feed the homeless, provide disaster relief around the world, are surrogate mothers for those who can’t have children, run foster homes, who give money sacrificially, are missionaries and so much more. Jesus said we would be known for our love and our fruit. To do good deeds, you don’t have to do big things that change the world. Just do something that changes the world for one person at a time.

Romans 7:4 says, “And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God” (NLT). When we become Christians, each of us are capable of producing a harvest of good deeds. The only way to get any harvest is by planting seeds. Look around you today. See where you can plant seeds of God’s love in other people’s lives through a good deed. This world needs to see more of God’s love, and you and I are the ones He’s called to do it.

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Letting Go

The other day, my son was trying to pick up something that was too heavy for him. As he was struggling, I offered to help. He declined and kept trying. Again I offered help, but still he refused. He was determined to move it himself. Finally he asked for help. As I picked it up, he yelled his disapproval. Confused, I asked how he wanted me to help. He said he wanted to hold it, but I had to pick both of them up and carry them. He wanted me to carry the weight, but he wanted to be holding onto it.

I laughed, but I also thought, “How many times do I cry out to God with a heavy load, but want the same thing?” If you’re like me, you find yourself carrying loads that are too heavy for you. God is there wanting to help, but we want credit for carrying it. We want God to help, but we want Him to do it our way. We hold onto our troubles because we’re afraid to let them go, but God wants us to give them to Him. He wants us to release them so He can carry them.

Psalm 55:22 says, “Pile your troubles on GOD’s shoulders— he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out” (MSG). God wants to help us with our heavy loads, but we have to be willing to let go of them if we’re going to cast them on His shoulders. Letting go is the hardest part and it’s why so many of us want Him to carry us while we’re holding on to the troubles. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Let go and let God.” Maybe it’s time we started doing that. He’s more than capable of carrying your troubles if you’ll just let them go.

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A Holy Fire

There are some lyrics to a song we sing at church that keep burning inside me. They say, “Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of you, God.” We had sang that song at church many times before, but on a balcony in Haiti, it became my prayer. As we were having a time of worship in Gonaives, we sang that song and I started listening to the words. I began to internalize what they meant. I began to sing the song with more of a passion than a compulsion.

What does that look like to have a fire set in your soul? What does that feel like to have it burn without bring able to control it? What would happen to me if I truly wanted more of God in my life? Do I really, truly want that and what is the cost? We sing songs and read scriptures a lot without giving much thought to the words we are saying or reading. We rarely dig down deep and plant those words in our heart and mind.

God gives Himself to us to the extent that we allow room for Him. Too many Christians are like the inn keeper in Bethlehem. They have no room for Him, but they want Him, so they put Him in the stable of their lives. He doesn’t just want to be in your stable. He wants the entire inn of your life. He wants to come into every room you have locked up. He wants to fill you up, but you have to make room which means you have to get rid of things.

For me, I want more of Him than I have today. I want to give Him the keys to my inn. I want to kick out the guests of sin, control, security, lack of faith and fear. I want to be like John The Baptist in john 3:30 and say, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (NLT). The only way for that to happen is to set a Holy Fire within that gets rid of selfish desires so I can embrace all He has for me.

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Tough Choices

A couple of years ago, God asked us to move to a different church. It was one of the most difficult things to obey. I didn’t want to switch, but we felt Him speaking it to us over and over. We tested it by praying, “God, if this is you, and we’re hearing you right, then let these things happen.” After they happened, I reasoned those things could have “just happened”. We prayed again and asked for more signs, and He gave them. This went on for months because we didn’t want to move. Finally, I agreed to move, but told Him it was only going to be temporary.

It’s a difficult thing to follow God when it’s not when or where you want to go. People don’t understand why you’re picking up and moving. Others feel like you’re abandoning them because they don’t understand why either. We like to think going where God wants us to go is easy, but many times it isn’t. We like having roots planted, but if we are following where God leads, we have to be willing to be transplanted at any given moment.

After the children of Israel left Egypt, they followed God into the desert. Many times they questioned Him and wanted to return to where they came from. Over time, they learned to follow where He led. The Bible says, they followed God’s Shekinah glory wherever and whenever it lead. Numbers 9:22 says, “Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on” (NLT).

They learned what you and I have to learn. We need to follow where God leads us whether it’s for a short while or a long time. If we are surrendered to His plan and purposes, we must always be willing to move. It’s not easy at times, but following where He leads results in growth, blessings and expanded territory. If God is calling you away from where you’ve been, it’s time to break camp and move. You may not know why or where God is leading, but following Him is always the right choice.

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