Friday, January 31, 2014

Ideas on worship

We’ve been making some changes in our worship service at church.  Yes – we touched a sacred cow.  How dare we do things differently.  Some people aren’t happy. 

Our goal in worship should be to connect the people with God Almighty.  Worship is a verb and it needs an object.  Only something worthy of being worshipped should be that object.  Don’t worship “the church”.  Don’t worship the “service”.  Don’t worship the “worship”.  Worship the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.

Worshipping God is the reason for which we were created.

I was reading in Isaiah 6 this morning.  It gives a great example of worship.  Isaiah was mourning the death of his friend, King Uzziah.  Then he had a vision and in that vision he found himself in the middle of a heavenly worship service. 

He says, “I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne”. 

He goes on to describe the seraphim and he says that they call out
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Their voices were loud and shook the whole place and then the temple filled with smoke – symbolizing the presence of God.  I can’t imagine what that would have been like.  I think I would have fainted. 

Go back to what Isaiah said.  He said, “ I saw the Lord.”  He was seeing the worship service but not really participating in the worship service.  Do we have people like that in our church?  They attend the service but they watch others worship.  They don’t actually participate in it themselves. 

How do we move people into worship?  We don’t.  How did Isaiah get moved into worship.  God showed up.  Isaiah moved into worship when he saw God. 

Look at verses 5 – 8.

““Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

When God showed up, the first thing that happened was Isaiah recognized his sin.  When we come into the presence of a holy God, our sin is more than we can bear.  God doesn’t point out our sin to condemn us but he shows it to us so we can be forgiven. 

Look at what happens to Isaiah next.  He goes from a sideline spectator of worship into a participant of worship.  In the matter of a moment, he was suddenly ready to do whatever God wanted him to do.  (and he was enthusiastic about it)  That's the amazing change that God can make in a person’s life when they see Him for who He is.  They repent and then worship.

This can happen in our worship services but we need to pray for it.  Pray that people see God.  Don’t pray that the music goes well.  Don’t pray that there aren’t any mistakes.  Pray that people come into contact with God.  The God that loved them so much He sent His Son to die for them. 

2 Chronicles 16 tells us that God is searching the earth not to support those who can sing the best or shout the loudest.  Rather, he seeks for people whose hearts are fully committed to him.  As worshippers, that must be our foremost goal.


* A final note – I am not making excuses for lousy worship leaders.  We should practice and do our best.  There are plenty of references in the New Testament that talk about whatever we do, to do it as unto the Lord.  We are to bring our finest offerings unto God.  I’m merely saying that our hearts are the most important element in our worship.  So, yes – you can pray that God will help you do your best as a worship leader but more importantly ask Him to take your best and use it for His glory.  If our heart isn’t right, nothing else matters.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mustard Seed


image“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”  Matthew 13:31-32

Mustard seeds are tiny.  A mustard seed is so small that if you dropped it on the ground, you would probably have a hard time finding it.  Yet it grows into a plant so large that birds can perch on its branches.

What does that have to do with the kingdom of God?

When Jesus started his ministry, he had no followers.  It was just him.  Think how lonely that would have been.  Then he saw two fisherman, Peter and Andrew, and he called out to them, “Come and follow me,”  They immediately followed Jesus.  One by one, Jesus called more disciples until there were twelve of them.  That is a pretty small beginning.  Jesus sent out the twelve and they brought others to Jesus and the kingdom grew.  From a small beginning, the kingdom has grown until it has spread throughout the entire world.

As I think about this parable, I am reminded of the fact that planting mustard seeds in a garden was actually forbidden in Jewish Palestine.  Having spent 25 years of my life in the Atlanta area, I relate well to the analogy that mustard was the “kudzu” of the ancient world. It would grow and spread and take over anything in its path.  So, by planting mustard seed, the farmer would eventually be left with a garden that was overrun by the weed and it would eventually take over the entire garden plot.  Nothing could kill it.  This is similar to the Christian faith – despite persecution it grew on. 

The small beginning of the kingdom was not what the Jews were expecting.  They were looking for a Messiah that would lead the Jewish nation to a military victory over the Romans.  They were hoping to become a powerful independent nation.  That wasn’t what God had planned. 

God’s intent is for the kingdom of heaven was to start small and then to permeate the entire world.  And, like the mustard plant that grows and spreads from one seed, so does the kingdom of God. 

So take the seed and spread it everywhere you go.

Friday, January 24, 2014

They made me think …

I met with some girls at a prayer meeting this week and they read:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Matthew 13:45-46

I really had to think about this parable before I really came up with what I thought it meant.

At first I thought the merchant was the people. That we were seeking the pearl (Christ) and that we would give all we had for Him.  While this made sense to me at first, I soon realized that we don’t have anything to give.  Romans 3:23 says we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  There’s nothing we can do on our own to get to God.  (For it’s by grace you have been saved through faith.  Ephesians 2:8)

What makes more sense to me is that the merchant represents Christ.  He is seeking the pearl.  The pearl represents the church.  Eventually he gave His life (all he had) to purchase that pearl.  (1 Corinthians 6:20 “for you were bought with a price.”) 

The one pearl represents the idea that the universal church is the family of all believers.  (no denominations, no groups)   (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)  He didn’t look for a pearl necklace with multiple different pearls on it.  We are one body in Christ.

Now on to think about the second question.  How is the kingdom of God like a mustard seed….

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


A friend recently asked my why I haven’t posted my New Year’s resolutions.  I’m not a big fan of waiting until January 1 to make changes in my life.  I try to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit and if I need to change something in my life, I do it then. 

With that said, I do think that it is a good idea to take some time and review where you are in life and where you want to be and then make some goals that will lead you on that path.  You know the old saying, “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” 

And so, I did set forth some goals for the coming year.  Here you go ….

1. Make prayer a priority.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Psalm 145:18; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2)

2. Believe God for the impossible.  (See #1)  (Ephesians 3:20)

3. Pray for my marriage and try to love and appreciate my husband in real tangible ways.   (See #1)  

4. Pray that I will be a living sacrifice …. totally surrendered to the Lord.  (See #1)  (Romans 12:1)

5. Listen more for the Holy Spirit’s voice and then obey.  (See #1)  (John 16:13)

6. Be bolder in sharing my faith with others.   (Not without #1)  (Acts 4:12)

7. Whole heartedly seek God.  (See #1)   (Matt. 22:37)

8. Laugh loud and often.   (Proverbs 17:22; Psalm 126:2)

9. Protect my personal time and be sure to have quiet time every day.  (See #1)  (James 4:8; Psalm 1:2; Psalm 46:10)

10. Memorize a Bible verse a week.   (Psalm 119:9 –11; Joshua 1:8)

Some of these are going to be easier than others.  Many relate back to #1.  I am committed to working hard towards these goals but know that my accountability for accomplishing these lies with God.  God sees my heart and knows what I deepest desire. 

I didn’t make any goals about blogging.  I have not blogged as much recently.  This is partially due to busyness but also to the fact that I haven’t felt the freedom to share over the internet some of what God has been teaching me.  And so going into this next year, I don’t have a blogging goal but I will share as I feel led from the Lord to do so.

What are your goals?  How did you come up with them?