About the Seasons of Life…And Avoiding the Convenient One

Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. What’s your favorite season? Depending on who you are, and no matter what your seasonal preference is, you’d have to admit that each one has its own perks. Look at winter. Winter has Christmas! Yay! The children say to that (and many adults too, I’m sure). Ah springtime! Melting snow, nasty cold weather slowly disappearing, along with the blooming of flowers–readying themselves for warmer weather. Then there’s good ‘ole summer! Schools closed, vacation time, warm days at the beach, and the park. Can you beat all that? Finally, the only season with two names. Autumn brings the promise of color! Those summer green leaves transforming into bright oranges, yellows and shades of brown; all falling to the ground. And not to forget, the children go back to school! Yay again!
Each season also has its downside. And once again depending on who you are, it’s too cold in the winter, too rainy in the spring, too hot in the summer, and too many leaves to rake in the fall. It’s all a matter of preference, but the simple fact is seasons come and seasons go–and that will never change. Read the Lord’s words in the first book of the Bible: While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22). That’s the promise. As long as this earth remains, there will be seasons. I believe this truth; and I believe this principle can also be carried over into our spiritual lives. The fact is that our lives in the Lord also consist of seasons.

God says that there is a time and place for everything. This is not as much a theological truth as it is a practical truth. All seasons however, must be seen in their proper perspective. In addition to these seasons or times we experience, there are several other seasons we go through that the bible speaks of both specifically and not so specifically; yet I believe most have experienced many of these seasons for ourselves.

  • There are seasons of plenty
    Ex. Egypt’s seven years plenty (Gen.41:47-49)
  • There are seasons of drought
    Ex. Egypt’s seven years of famine (Gen.41:54)
  • There are seasons of dependence
    Ex. Elijah being fed by ravens (1Ki.17:6)
  • There are seasons of doubt
    Ex. Lord I believe: help thou my unbelief (Mk.9:24)
  • There are seasons on the mountain
    Ex. Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1Ki.18:20:40)
  • There are seasons in the valley
    Ex. Elijah running for his life (1Ki.19:3)
  • There are seasons of transition
    Ex. Abram moving on from Ur (Gen.12:1)

All of these seasons, both good and bad, play vital roles in our lives and help to shape us into the persons we are and will become. The psalmist stated, ‘It was good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes’ (Psa.119:71). Ultimately, all seasons serve a definite purpose and are in God’s sovereign control. Once again, the Word declares: ‘…all things work together for good to them that love God…’ (Ro.8:28), and also from Eccl.3:11: ‘…He hath made everything beautiful in His time…’

The list of Seasons can go on and on. A thing qualifies as a season if you remain there for a significant amount of time. But there is another season-it’s a season you want to avoid at all costs. It’s a season you don’t want to step into. Yet many, because they are so zoned in to making it happen for themselves, willfully enter in to this season by giving God a rain check; and with a friendly ‘don’t call us we’ll call you attitude, walk away from God’s best for them. They have entered into the convenient season.

What is the convenient season? A convenient season is a time of your own making. It is putting God on hold. It is time and life on your own terms. It is a season that finds you attempting to undermine and derail the plan of God for your life. It is the sinners’ or saints’ excuse when under conviction and refusing to surrender to God’s will and way. It is a refusal to say, ‘Not my will, but thine be done.’ Read the words of governor Felix to the Apostle Paul after being convicted by the Spirit of God to change his ways: “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” (Acts‬ ‭24:24-25). Notice that Felix trembled after hearing the powerful gospel. This discomfort gave him all the reason he needed to remove himself from Paul’s presence. What he didn’t realize was that he was actually attempting to distance himself from God’s presence.  The truth is that you can never unhear the Word of God after the Spirit of God has impressed it upon your heart and mind. Felix’s response shows us that in addition to placing himself into a convenient season, he also entered into:

  • A proud season…when I(v25)
  • A presumptuous season…I will(v25)
  • A selfish season…makes it
    all about you
  • A deceptive season…he listened to Satan’s lie what other lies will he tell him?
  • A declining season…Whooping Goldberg  had a line in the Oscar winning movie ‘The Color Purple’ that went like this: ‘…till you do right by me, everything you think about gonna fail!’

Though not precisely scriptural, the statement yet has an aura of truth around it and here it is: As long as an individual chooses to remain on the opposite side of the will of God, whatever it is that they do will be tainted-it will ultimately come to naught-at least for them. This is because it will have the stench of disobedience upon it. That thing may be good and right; but it is not good and right for that person because it’s not what the Lord told them to do. The convenient season says, ‘I’m in my place, I’m in my time–I need to complete me before I deal with with God.’

The convenient season in all cases are seasons of procrastination. In all cases they are seasons of avoiding the truth. It is the result of running from God. Runners from God have a language all their own. They say things like:

  • I’m not ready
  • It’s not my time
  • I will later…promise
  • What if this way is not the right way?
  • I have other things to do…let me go and bury my father first (Lu.9:59-60)

Avoiding the convenient season is as simple as saying, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Except saying it is sometimes the most difficult thing to do. We have to come to the end of ourselves by concluding that God, in His infinite wisdom, knows what is best. God’s will is not a matter of convenience, it’s a matter priority. He must come first or I run the risk of following myself and not Him; and when I follow myself, ultimately I’m no different than the proverbial dog who chases his tail-getting itself nowhere.

So when faced with the choice to do or go God’s way, or your own…don’t settle for convenience. Avoid it at all costs. You’ll be glad you did.

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Paying Attention?

PAY ATTENTION

We live in fast paced world. Everything and everyone is on the move, and everyone seems to be busy doing something, and who’s to say what’s being done is not important? But with all the things there are to do, who has the time? With things pulling you in every direction, and everyone wanting a piece of you, what’s important? What is worthy of your valuable time? What do you pass off, and what do you pay attention to? Because as should be obvious, we do need to pay attention to what’s going on around us.

When we look at it from a spiritual perspective, it all becomes even more important to pay attention. Scripture is full of admonitions to ‘take heed’, which means not just to pay attention, but to pay careful attention. Both Old and New Testaments speak at length about this often looked over discipline. We read in Deuteronomy 4:9:

  • Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life…

And then in Hebrews 2:1:

  • Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

Whether you are a babe in Christ, or have been living for the Lord for any number of years, paying careful attention to our walk should not be underestimated.

One of the reasons why so many Christians struggle, is because they live loose, slipshod, and raggedy Christian lives. What I mean by all that is that they live on a ‘whatever sounds right is right’ mentality. A little bit from here, and a little bit from there; a little dab of this and a little dab of that. When it comes to their daily walk, and trying to make practical application of these ‘spiritual tidbits’, the struggle ensues, because what it all amounts to  is what resembles a patchwork of belief systems, pulled in from different places to make a whole with no solidity and no root; just a runny doctrinal mess. It needs to be understood that an improper doctrinal foundation will only lead to trouble down the line. For this reason, and several others we will explore, we need to pay careful attention. Are you paying attention?

WE NEED TO PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO OUR COVENANTS & COMPANIONS

  • Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: Exodus 34:12

This speaks of our relationship with the world. The Lord is saying that we should not make, or have any close, intimate alliances with the world. We cannot ‘sleep with the enemy’, so to speak. Here’s how the New Testament breaks it down:

  • Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

The Israelites were prone to backsliding; they were easily beset by the sin of compromise. The danger lied in becoming  too closely entangled with the people and their ways and allowing those ways to become their own. This challenge is also ours: to be in the world, and remain unspotted from the world. I don’t believe any of us do it to any perfection because as one preacher puts it, ‘the clinging vines of the fall’ are not easily broken. However, who you surround yourself with and who you allow into your space  matters. We need to pay careful attention to our covenants and our companions. Are you paying attention?

WE NEED TO PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THE COMPASS OF OUR HEART

  • Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; Deuteronomy 11:16

The Lord says that we are to pay careful attention to our hearts, because simply put, as the heart goes, so goes the life. King Solomon put it this way:

  • Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us that,

  • The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Wherever and whatever our hearts are drawn to, will be the place where our affection lies. Jesus himself said:

  • For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21

All this means that we need to pay careful attention to our heart’s trajectory. Where does it lean? In what direction does it constantly point you toward? Which way do you find yourself turning? If we do not get a handle on this, we will slowly find ourselves turning aside, running to, and embracing those things which can only bring us back into bondage. Are you paying attention?

WE NEED TO PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THE CARES OF THIS LIFE

  • And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. Luke 21:34

When there’s too much going on in our lives and around us, our minds and hearts can become dulled, and numbed to it all. Once again, the heart is referenced as we’re told to pay careful attention to our hearts (which can be translated, ‘mind’ here), so it doesn’t become weighed and bogged down with,  ‘stuff.’ It is not just our alliances that ought to be selective, but also our activities. We may not have issues with partying or drunkenness, as spoken in this verse, but we all have cares in this life. These are the things that cause us to take our eyes off what is most important. Jesus said that the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life will choke the Word out of our lives and make us unfruitful (Lu.8:14). Are you paying attention?

WE NEED TO  PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO OUR COMMUNICATION

First, we need to pay careful attention how we communicate the Word to others:

  • And he answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put in my mouth? Numbers 23:12

We all feel we have something important to say, and what we have to say is important, except when what is being said clashes with His Word. That’s when my words are no longer important. His word rules.
When speaking, relating, explaining or proclaiming the Word of God, we must be careful to speak what the Lord has spoken. In our verse, Balaam speaks this way because he had already proven himself to be willing to tickle the people’s ears for a price, and God found it necessary to chastise him. We must never make the mistake of muzzling, softening, changing, adding or subtracting anything that God has spoken or has done.

Secondly, we must pay careful attention how the Word is communicated to us:

  • And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. Mark 8:15

When I say ‘how’ the Word is communicated here, I don’t mean the manner in which it is done, but rather the content of what is spoken. Is it truth? Does it line up with the Word of God? It’s important to note also that scripture usually uses the word ‘leaven’ to illustrate sin. Here it means ‘doctrine’ or ‘teaching.’ Jesus says to pay careful attention to, and be on guard for the teachings of two groups: the Pharisees and the Herods.

The leaven of the Pharisees can be defined as, ‘the hypocrisy and religious traditions that overturn and set aside God’s righteous commands, and both invalidate and make of no effect God’s Word and God’s will.’ The leaven of Herod can be similarly regarded as, ‘the spirit of secularism and worldliness, along with the attending immortality and corruptness that accompanies them.’

We have to pay careful attention as to who we allow to speak into our lives. With the myriad of voices around us claiming to have a ‘word from the Lord’ we must be very selective. New believers need especially to arm and equip themselves with basic foundational teaching. But what is right? Who is right? When it comes to doctrine, everything that glitters is not gold. Much of the church’s teaching nowadays can be classified as ‘fool’s gold.’ It looks right, it sounds right, but if I may use the vernacular–it ain’t right. The key is not accepting views of those who preach human ideas, unbiblical traditions, or a secular humanistic type of gospel.

  • Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8

Once again the admonition is to be on guard. Receiving and accepting this type of teaching will bring weakness to the church in general and to your personal walk with the Lord. False teaching, properly labeled, ‘doctrines of demons’ in scripture, will always seek to drive a wedge between the Christian and truth. Are you paying attention?

FINALLY, WE NEED TO PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THE CROSS

  • How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; Hebrews 2:3

This great savation is all about the Cross. It is the Cross that saves us, it is the Cross that sanctifies us, and it will be the Cross that keeps us.

  • Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5

The Cross is the power of God, because it was there, at the Cross, that Satan was defeated, and remains defeated. If we neglect and overlook the Cross, we do ourselves great harm. We must embrace it and keep it at the center of all we do, because it is the center of who we are. Are you paying attention?

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

Your Place In The Son

crossandsun

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. John 17:4

Purpose: The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

Your purpose. These are words that are used often in today’s church. They’re used to describe the place or thing you need to be doing in order to receive the greatest joy, peace, or even recognition. Too many times when we speak about our purpose, we mean the thing that brings us the most happiness or satisfaction. Let me make it absolutely clear what I don’t mean by ‘your purpose.’ I am not speaking of one’s dream, or life’s ambition, or the thing you’ve always wanted to do or be.

There’s a great illustration I found, that speaks in relation to what the Lord has put upon my heart today. I pass it on to you:

Consider a hammer. It’s designed to hit nails. That’s what it was created to do. Now imagine that the hammer never gets used. It just sits in the toolbox. The hammer doesn’t care.

But now imagine if you can that same hammer with a soul, a self-consciousness. Days and days go by with him remaining in the toolbox. He feels funny inside, but he’s not sure exactly why. Something is missing, but he doesn’t know what it is.

Then one day someone pulls him out of the toolbox and uses him to break some branches for the fireplace. The hammer is exhilarated. Being held, being wielded, hitting the branches — the hammer loves it. At the end of the day, though, he is still unfulfilled. Hitting the branches was fun, but it wasn’t enough. Something is still missing.

In the days that follow, he’s used often. He reshapes a hubcap, blasts through some sheet rock, knocks a table leg back into place. Still, he’s left unfulfilled. So he longs for more action. He wants to be used as much as possible to knock things around, to break things, to blast things, to dent things. He figures that he just hasn’t had enough of these events to satisfy him. More of the same, he believes, is the solution to his lack of fulfillment.

Then one day someone uses him on a nail. Suddenly, the lights come on in his hammer soul. He now understands what he was truly designed for. He was meant to hit nails. All the other things he hit pale in comparison. Now he knows what his hammer soul was searching for all along.

It’s very easy for us to believe, without ever actually saying it, that God is required to make my life go according to my plan, and that He must fall in line with my will.We sort of have a picture of what we want our lives to be, and then fall into the trap of believing that God’s job is to make our pictures become reality.

The problem is, as long as we live with this “God make me happy in my will” mentality, we will find it not only counteractive to our joy in Christ, but it also will not bring any type of lasting fulfillment to our lives. Like the hammer in our story, until we are doing what it is we are created and called to do, there can be no lasting fulfillment.

First of all, there is an individual or specific purpose and there is a common purpose. By common, I mean those things which are understood and shared by everyone in the kingdom. If you don’t know your specific purpose, go about doing what you know. These things are at best, quite basic and should be obvious:

* Proclaim the gospel (be a witness)
* Love/serve one another
* Read your Bible
* Pray at all times

Above all, Christ must remain the absolute center of our lives. All things will flow from here because everything we have or ever will have is a direct result of what Christ accomplished through the Cross. This includes His will and purpose for our lives.

When we take a look at the word purpose in the original language (Greek), we see that it means, ‘to set forth a thing’ or ‘to place a thing in view.’ The Lord has set forth His purposes; laid them out in plain view–they are not hidden. However, in order to get access into His purpose, sacrifice and submission are necessary; and that means setting aside our own dreams and desires. Remember that His will is always the perfect fit for our lives.

Jesus said in John 17:4, ‘I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.’ Has this been your experience? Is this your goal? Has the overpowering trajectory of your Christian life been to be active in, about and accomplishing God’s purposes? My friend, until you are busy doing the Father’s business and not your own, you will chasing after peace; but never able to grab hold of it.

Someone once stated that there is a ‘God-shaped hole’ in everyone. I believe it. This void is responsible for the restlessness that persists in the soul of man. Man tries to fill it with all sorts of things, people, plans and parties, only to find that nothing works. There’s an old song from many years gone by, that moves me whenever I hear it. Though not a Christian song, I believe that it conveys perfectly the idea of the endless restlessness that exists in the hearts of men without Christ. The words go like this:

Like a long lonely stream
I keep runnin’ towards a dream
Movin’ on, movin’ on
Like a branch on a tree
I keep reachin’ to be free
Movin’ on, movin’ on

‘Cause there’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
And before my life is done
Got to find me a place in the sun

Like an old dusty road
I get weary from the load
Movin’ on, movin’ on
Like this tired troubled earth
I’ve been rollin’ since my birth
Movin’ on, movin’ on

There’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
And before my life is done
Got to find me a place in the sun

You know when times are bad
And you’re feeling sad
I want you to always remember

Yes, there’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone…
Gotta find me a place, in the sun.

So have you found your place in the Son, Jesus Christ? Are you seeking Him? Are you doing His will? Seek Jesus. Come to the Cross. There is a place for you there.

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

The Right King

crown

1Sam.8:4-7
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

I’m reminded of two songs of not so recent memory that you may recall. One was Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’. This song, uplifting to many, spoke about the glories of determination and self-will. ‘The story goes, I took the blows, and did it my way’. Sounds so good, right? The other song, Billy Joel’s ‘My Life’, is a simple little ode to rebellion. Check out some of the words:

I don’t need you to worry for me cause I’m alright
I don’t need you to tell me it’s time to come home
I don’t care what you say anymore this is my life
Go ahead with your own life leave me alone

The operative word in both songs is ‘my’. That’s who we are. We want our way, because we know what’s best for us. After all, it is our life right? We don’t need anyone to tell us what to do, how to do it or even when to do it. We got this. While the world spouts a message of pseudo-freedom, independence and self-reliance, scripture tells us that we need a Saviour. Someone to take us by the hand and lead us. Someone to show us the right way and help us to avoid the wrong way. Someone to navigate and govern. Someone to be the king of us. God. Oh how we need Him!

Israel was a theocracy. A theocracy is defined as, a form of government that is led by God or by a person or persons who rule by divine authority. Are you being led by God? Is He your king? As stated in our scripture, the Israelites wanted their own king. In so doing, they were rejecting God as their king. This means they were forfeiting:

1. His will                                                       3. His approval
2. His blessings                                          4. His peace

We need to see ourselves as living under a theocracy. He wants to rule. He wants govern. He wants to lead. We reject Him as King when:

1. We want to be our own king
This means doing our own thing; doing what makes us happy.
2. We want the king others have
This happens when we want approval and choose to follow the status quo and be like everyone else.
3. Through pride, think we can handle things on our own.

When these things happen, we in essence squeeze God out, while pushing ourselves to the forefront.

Solomon’s Folly

We read in 1Ki.11:1-4 of Solomon: But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

Solomon’s problem? He formed alliances with the enemy to keep the peace and by doing so he placed himself in bondage. Though God should have been his king, he foolishly fraternized with the enemy, and paid the price: they became his king. The things we won’t let go will wind up being the things we can’t let go. They will be our king.

To Each His Own

The times of the judges we’re some of the darkest days in Israel’s history. God had not given them a king of His choosing yet, but the people should have been following God. We read in Ju.17:6: In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
We read these words no less than three times in this book, which means God is trying to tell us something.
The people had a ‘to each his own’ mentality. Each person did whatever they thought was right for them. A careful reading of the book reveals that this mentality led to anarchy. We surely do need a king, but not ourselves.
Imagine being able to do whatever you wanted to do, whenever you wanted, not having to worry any repercussions? What would you do if you knew you could get away with it? Most people would call that freedom. I call it bondage. Being the king of your own life may seem to have its perks. The reality is, living this way squeezes God out while pushing self to the forefront. Is that really how we want to live?

As a Christian, I want my every waking moment to be filled with the knowledge of His presence. I not only want Him to reign over me, I want Him to reign in me. Jesus be the King of my life. When I am tempted to take over, shake me loose from my pride, so that I can see. Being my own king means that I have lost sight of you. Reign over me Lord.

I see the Lord, high and lifted up
Sitting on the throne of my life
You are holy
You are holy
You are holy
Sitting on the throne of my life
Is he sitting on the throne of your life? Is He your King?

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

To Christmas or Not To Christmas? That is the Question

JesusIsTheReasonForTheSeason

Rudolph. Santa. The elves. The lights. The tree. The toys. The songs. One popular song touts it as being ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. Yes, obviously I’m talking about Christmas. As a child all these things and more, were a staple around my house. And all those cartoons! I can still remember them all! And ‘The Yule Log’! Just sitting and watching that fire burn as the music played, or just having it on in the background as you moved around the house. I enjoyed it all so much!

As a child growing up, I knew nothing about Jesus. I remember going to church on Easter a couple of times, but that’s about it. When I got saved at the age of fifteen, everything changed. Christmas took on a whole new meaning. Now I really understood what Linus was talking about at the end of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ I learned what a manger was from that song and I found out that the three wise men may not have been just three after all. And now, on a more serious note, I began to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Call me naive (though I don’t think I am), but up until several years back, I thought all Christians celebrated Christmas in one way or another. I was surprised to find out that this is not the case. The reasons many Christians don’t celebrate it varies. They range from ‘It’s not in the bible’, and, ‘Jesus never told us to do it’, to ‘Christmas is a pagan holiday,’ and ‘Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th.’Allow me to briefly address each; not so much theologically (though I will use scripture), but from a more practical standpoint.

So, is Christmas in the bible? I think it depends on what you mean. Will you find any of the trappings and traditions the world embraces there? No. Will you find the word ‘Christmas’ there? No. What you will find is the birth of Jesus Christ, including the events that led up to that magnificent event. The Holy Spirit through the writers go to great lengths to describe and capture the mood of the times, along with the various people groups involved. Mary and Joseph. Herod the King. The shepherds. They all played their part in this wondrous story. His birth matters.

But in spite of all this, should we celebrate this birth? First, let’s define the word:

celebrate=to publicly acknowledge a significant or happy day or event…to commemorate; observe; to honor, keep or remember

Isn’t this event worthy of all this, seeing that it centers around our Saviour, Jesus? The wise men thought so. They came a great distance to do so. They unabashedly proclaimed to Herod, ‘…for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him’ (Lu.2:2). We read further that when they saw the star that they followed, standing over where young Jesus was, they responded by rejoicing with exceeding great joy (Mat.2:10). This means that they were absolutely enthralled beyond measure over what had taken place! Is this not cause for celebration? And what about the angels? Lu.2:13-14 says,’…And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’

If the angels, who wish to look into these things, because they have no understanding of salvation and its implications (1Pe.1:12), can honor Him in this way, based on His mere presence, ladies and gentlemen I believe I ought to honor, praise, worship and celebrate the fact of His coming! I am a recipient of the results of His grace!

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (Jn.1:14)

As to Christmas being a pagan holiday, I am very well aware of this argument. I will not take the time to go into detail, but whatever the reasons those involved did what they did, it has nothing to do with me now. I know many don’t see it this way. I am not guilty of trying to take something evil, wrap it up in good, and make it alright. I believe the birth of Christ ought to be celebrated; along with His life, His death, and His resurrection. I know I won’t change anyone’s thinking on the matter, and that’s not my purpose, but if we could all take into account that these are things that we should remember daily, not just a couple of days out of the year, and that He is so worthy of it all! Even if your mind revolts against the word ‘Christmas’, celebrate Him. Of course we know Jesus was not born on December 25th (shepherds would not be out in the field with their sheep on a winter night), but if I choose to honor Him on this day, or any other day or days for that matter, I do not believe my Lord takes me to task for this. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (Col.2:16).

Each year around this time, we hear the usual rants from various churches, and individuals, warning us about the ‘evils’ of Christmas. We know the history. Ad nauseam. What I want to know is, what do you do with His birth then? Ignore it? Downplay it? Treat it with scorn? Tell people they are sinning if they acknowledge it? No tree. Fine. Away with Santa (after all, Santa is ‘Satan’ spelled sideways, sort of, right?). No problem. And don’t get caught up in all of the commercialization. Good job. But–do not forget Jesus. I know folk praise and worship Him ferociously for this and that, jumping, shouting and the like and rightfully so, but you cannot then turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the greatest miracle we’ve ever known; that is, the Incarnation. Our very salvation was made possible because of it. Unfortunately, folk get so caught up in keeping the letter of the law, that they step over the spirit of the law. Celebrate Jesus! 

In the final analysis, you can forget the fact Christmas means nothing more than a few days off from work for some, or an opportunity to embarrass oneself at the annual office party. That’s the world. I stand for Jesus. If He did not come, I would not be here; or else I would be here with no hope.

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Cor.9:15) That’s Jesus. Praise Him!

What grace is this that brought my Savior down,
That made Him leave His glorious throne and crown.
The one who made the earth, the sky and sea.
Who put the stars in every galaxy!
What condescension, Oh how can it be!
What shame He suffered oh what agony!
And then the death He died,
For sinners crucified,
What grace is this! What grace is this!

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

What To Do While You Wait

Eagle Isaiah 40v31 KJV  Isa.40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Psa.27:14 Wait on the Lord: Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Have you ever noticed some of the things people do while they wait? For instance, when waiting on an elevator, we keep pressing the button. It doesn’t help. Or when stuck in a traffic jam, we honk the horn. It won’t help. When waiting on line, we try going from line to line. Stay put. And when we’re put on hold for a long period of time, we hang up and try again. Bad move.
And some of the more mindless things we do while we wait: we suck our teeth, sigh, tap our feet, pace back and forth, hum, whistle, even pick our nose (yes, I’ve seen that!)–all of these things are done for one reason, and one reason alone–we are IMPATIENT! WE JUST DON’T LIKE TO WAIT! Almost to a person, we want what we want when we want it; and that’s usually right now or yesterday.

Waiting is an unavoidable part of life. Its one of those things that everyone has to do whether they want to or not. Some would go so far as to call it a necessary evil. Necessary, yes. Evil? I don’t think so. Patience needs to worked out in our lives. We need to let it happen; and let God do it.
Ja.1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Yet, our impatience persists. And what about God? We’ve prayed, but He has not answered. He’s promised, but hasn’t responded. We’ve prayed some more, but no breakthrough seems near. What to do? Wait. The very thing we don’t want to do, is the very thing we’re commanded to do. The danger is that even while we wait on the Lord, we begin to do things that we should not do. While we wait on God we tend to:

Wonder
We begin to question. Did God hear me? Does He care? How long Lord? We have to be careful not to question God’s tactics and timing.
Psa.34:6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
Eccl.3:11 He hath made everything beautiful in his time…

God promises to do what needs to be done at the proper time…His time.

Waver
We begin to doubt. Doubt is an indication of a lack of faith. Faithlessness prevented the Israelites from entering the promised land. It prevented many people in Jesus’ own hometown from receiving the fullness of what He provided. And it will not help you as you wait on God.
James 1:6-8 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Wither
We get tired and weary. This in turn causes us to lose heart, and then we’re tempted to give up.
Gal.6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
The principle here is not to give up doing the right thing. Waiting on the Lord is the right thing.

So how should we wait on the Lord, and what should we do while we wait?
Stand firm
1 Cor.15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Don’t be moved by what you see or experience. Stand your ground.
Take courage
Buckle up; don’t be afraid. It may be a bumpy ride.
Trust
Believe that the Lord already has it worked out; class is still in session. There are still things to be learned.
Expect
This is the proper attitude. We are to wait in hope. Hope in the bible is never an ‘I hope so’ kind of hope; but is always an ‘I know so’ kind of hope. One is insecure; the other is assured.
Praise
Praise is blessing Him for what He has done–even if I don’t see it. This keeps me in His presence while helping to keep the enemy in his place.

What can be expected when I wait this way?
Added strength
…he shall strengthen thine heart
Renewed strength
…they that wait…shall renew their strength. God will restore and revitalize, and refresh your old strength.
The ability to soar above the situation
God wants us to see our unique circumstances from His perspective.The eagle’s strength lies in its wings, and He will give us new feathers.
The ability to move forward
…they shall run, and not be weary…they shall walk and not faint. Our forward motion will not be impeded with the strength that comes from Him.
Waiting teaches us to trust God and rely upon Him. No matter how long it takes, we can rest in Him and His Word.

That’s The Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

Authentic Worship

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Worship. Underrated and undervalued. How does it happen? Can anyone engage in it? Is there a wrong way to do it? One thing is for certain: worship needs to be real. Authentic.

However, before entering into a larger discussion concerning our topic, I’d like to first offer an explanation of terms. Those two terms are: 1) Praise and, 2) Worship

I believe sometimes we make the mistake of using the two terms interchangeably. However they are not the same. While there may be elements of each within both of them, let’s take a closer look at the differences.

There are several words for praise in the bible, and without getting bogged down in the original languages, suffice it to say that the definitions range from blessing and thanking Him with our mouth, to lifting and spreading the hands to bowing the knee, or even dancing. Having said that, let’s take a look at several scriptures.
Psa.33:2 Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
Psa.149:1 Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
Heb.13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

According to these scriptures, praise can consist of song, music, or words, and should be done consistently, even when it is a sacrifice.
Depending on which version of the bible you use, where the word praise is seen in the KJV, you may read ‘rejoice’, ‘thanksgiving’ or ‘declare’, among others. These words are all reflections of what praise is.

Here’s one more great verse concerning the power of praise:

2 Chr.20:22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
This is a great truth! When we praise, it not only serves to fend off the enemy, but also enables us to walk in His power and protection. There is victory through praise!

Worship, on the other hand is defined as, ‘to make obeisance, do reverence to; to serve, or give homage.’
Take a look at these verses:
1 Chr.16:29 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Psa.95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
Psa.96:9 O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

As we see in these verses and in so many others, worship is not necessarily singing and such (though of course it can be), but it is more of an action taken in acknowledging the Lord in who He is.
Worship goes beyond praise; it is an act of bowing down and honoring Him. Worship is also an act, for example in our daily work or our giving. We even serve others as a way of worshiping the Lord. Our lives should be an act of worship.
The difference between praise and worship can be stated this way: praise is about what God has done; but worship is about who God is.

This subject is much to exhaustive to be treated here, and I am by no means an expert–but I am a participator. Please allow me to offer a few thoughts on this important matter.

So how do I worship God authentically?
I’m going to make a startling statement. Anyone can praise. Anyone can shout, dance, or lift their hands. Praise can also be fickle. To be fickle is to constantly change loyalties or affections.  At Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the praises went up, and the garments went down. There were no doubt genuine praisers in the crowd. But among them were many who would shout, less than a week later, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ This is not meant in any way to demean praise, and place it on a par below worship. Both worship and praise are absolutely essential elements of every Christian’s life, and both need to be authentic. But because of the nature of worship, it being a way of life, authentic worship can only flow from authentic people of God.

Jo.4:23-24 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

According to this pivotal verse, God is not seeking authentic worship; He is seeking authentic worshipers–if God gets this, He will get the other.

What does it take to be an authentic worshiper who offers authentic worship? Several things must be in place:

Authentic worship is dependent upon authentic relationship
As stated earlier, authentic relationship cannot happen apart from salvation. I must know Him, serve Him, and appreciate His goodness in order to worship Him.
Authentic worship must be in response to God’s awesomeness
When I am confronted with God’s greatness, I am filled a desire to honor Him. Worship has to with the worth of its object. Worship is ‘worth’ship. He is worthy!

Rev.4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Psa.145:3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.
One version translates a portion of this verse as: ‘and most worthy to be praised’

Authentic worship should have the heart as its source
Mat.15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (also Isa.29:13)
Worshipping the Lord with our heart is synonymous with worshipping Him ‘in Spirit’

Authentic worship must be transparent
We must come to Him as we are, not trying to be who we’re not. In John 4, the woman at the well was never going to enter into proper worship of God until she came clean about who she was.

The Binding Tie

The final thing that ties all this together is the fact that worship is sacrifice. Read these crowning words from scripture:

Rom.12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Rom.12:1 (Expanded Bible) So [Therefore] brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I ·beg [urge; appeal to] you to offer your ·lives [selves; L bodies] as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be ·only for God [holy] and pleasing to him, which is the ·spiritual [or authentic; true; or appropriate; fitting; or rational; reasonable] way for you to worship.
This verse makes it plain that authentic worship is to be:

An offering of ourselves
This statement lines up with Jo.4:24. It states that we are to worship ‘in spirit’. This means that we are to worship God with all that we have: mind, body, soul and spirit.
Exclusive to God
Only God is deserving of and is worthy of this type of worship.
Isa.42:8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
God does not share His glory with another, and neither should we.
Pleasing to God
Our main goal as Christians, as it pertains to God, is to please Him. This means obedience. Jesus said ‘…why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?’
When it comes to authentic worship, you cannot be a member of the ‘eighteen inch club’. Eighteen inches is the approximate distance between the brain and the heart. To worship Him authentically, I must not just know Him: I must know Him. Listen to David’s heartfelt cry:

Psa.27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
Psa.27:4 (Amplified Version) One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple.

Is this where I am? To please Him, to dwell in His presence and simply gaze upon the greatness of who he is? Ladies and gentlemen, this is the attitude of authentic worship. We all fall short because we are all still wrapped in this flesh; yet God sees graciously sees our hearts. Even now, let us begin to enter in to his presence by lifting up holy hands. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. (1 Ti.2:8)

The Art of Sight: Not Looking at What You Can See-And Seeing What You Can’t

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While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor.4:18)

So there it is. You’re faced with what looks like an impossible situation. There is no way around it. No need to downplay it. The situation is bad. It is a bonafide crisis. It feels as if things couldn’t get any worse. The more you think about it, the more it brings you down; and you can’t help but see it, because it just won’t go away.

Whether you’re seeing what looks like insurmountable circumstances, an onslaught of too many bills and not enough money, or just dealing with unsaved loved ones, there is a greatly overlooked principle in scripture, that if gotten hold of and applied by faith, will bring peace and a great measure of relief from whatever it is that you just can’t seem to get around.

The apostle Paul held no punches when it came to speaking about the things he had suffered for the name of Christ. He was never ashamed about it and did not become bitter concerning his trials. Rather, he considered himself blessed and humbled that Christ would use him the way He did.

What were some of the things Paul suffered while laboring for the advancement of the gospel? Let’s take a look at 2 Cor.11:23-27: Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Did you get all of that? This man was beaten eight times, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked three times, and it goes on and on. How was your day? The things this man endured were unparalleled when compared to others, and yet for all of this and more, this is what he had to say: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (2Cor.4:17). Light affliction? Really? Is that what he calls it?  You see, Paul knew that nothing is as bad as it could be, because he knew he was in God’s plan and in God’s hand. He’s saying that hard times won’t last forever and that they are producing in us something greater than what we can comprehend. How was he able to see everything in the light of eternity? Paul had mastered the art of sight. He was able to see the things he couldn’t and not see the things he could. Yes, you read that right. An art is defined as ‘a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice’. Paul had learned through repeated trials and testings, not to see the difficulties before him. He did not ignore them or keep his head in the clouds as if they did not exist. He simply did not allow the things he saw to remove his vision from that which was greater. Look at what he said: While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: Paul surmised that what he could see was only temporary, and he would not be deterred by them. The things which were not tangible, but real nonetheless, were the things he chose, and needed to focus on. Things like God’s grace, mercy and power. We cannot put our hands on these things, but by faith we grasp them and do not let them out of our sight.

The art of sight. Have you mastered it? Have I?  At the time he wrote 2 Corinthians, Paul had been in ministry for over thirty years. For him, it had been a nearly life long process.  I cannot imagine it would be any different for us. As we go through difficult times, our prayer should be, ‘Lord, strengthen me to keep my eyes on you.’

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace!

That’s The Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses: Do You Have One?

Excuses-2

In spite of the bumps and bruises along the way, and the ups and downs, some of which I have been personally responsible for,  giving my life to Jesus over forty years ago has been the single greatest thing I have ever done. I have not done many great things in this life: I suppose, possibly none–but this one thing shines above everything. And yet, in spite of it all, I cannot take credit for anything. To God be the glory! I cannot imagine living this life without Him! I am married, I have children, and for all of these I am most grateful and thankful. However my salvation-my life in Christ, has had a greater impact and has affected my life more than anything else I’ve ever done.

This may all sound strange to some. ‘We understand the importance of God in a life, some may say, ‘but more important than family and accomplishments?’ O Yes, yes…a thousand times yes! Jesus is the one who died for me. Jesus is the one who saved me. Jesus is the one who took my sins away. He is the one who keeps me. I could go on and on. You just don’t understand who my Jesus is!

In the final analysis, in the natural, I don’t know how anyone manages to live without Him. On the surface it all seems very innocent, and Satan would have us to see it that way. ‘To each his own’, people say, or ‘that God stuff is all good for you, and I’m glad for you, but it’s not for me’, and now the more popular mantra, ‘You must live in your truth.’ So now truth is whatever I say it is? This is not a new idea, but it is very dangerous. Truth is what God says it is. But, I digress.

The reasons people give for not serving God are many. What they amount to are excuses.They are weak and hold no water and will ultimately doom them to a Christless eternity. Let’s take a look at some of these excuses from scripture. These excuses are what ultimately stood between their soul and the Saviour. Do you have one?

The Rich Young Ruler

Mk.10:21-22 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
This young man couldn’t get out of his own way. His material possessions were keeping him from an eternity with Christ. In spite of this, notice Christ’s attitude toward him. He loved him. Romans 5:8 comes to mind, which says, But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 

Those Certain Men

Lu.9:59-61 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
These men seemed to have had good intentions, but the cares of this life were more important. No noun should keep us from serving God. No person, place or thing, that is.

The Chief Rulers

Jo.12:42-43  Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
This particular group believed on Jesus, but secretly. They cared more about appearances and were concerned about what others thought. This is also unacceptable. They were secret agent Christians; undercover brothers. They needed to ‘come out of the closet’, so to speak, and serve Christ in the light.

The Real Reason

Whatever the excuse people give for not serving God, there is only one legitimate reason; and scripture tells us plainly what it is.
2 Cor.4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
There it is! Satan himself has caused a blindness to come upon the very minds of the unsaved! This is why, in layman’s terms, they just don’t get it. They may think they understand why they don’t serve God, but the problem is much deeper than they can see. The enemy does this because he wants to keep them away from the Light, and away from the Glory. He has seen firsthand, what the power of the gospel can do!

These words speak to both saint and sinner alike:
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blessed
And have peace and sweet rest
As you yield Him your body and soul.

No more excuses. Serve Him. All the way.

That’s The Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

Keeping Back Part: God Wants Full Custody and Nothing Less

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Acts 5:1-2 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles feet.

There’s a phrase I read some time ago that said, ‘God doesn’t want weekend visits–He wants full custody.’ The statement obviously speaks of our physical presence in God’s house–the fact that our Christianity should not be reduced into a two hour visit on Sundays. Christianity is actually a twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week lifestyle. God wants our whole being; not just a certain part. He desires full custody and nothing less.
There is no doubt that this was a willful, intentional and dishonest act. But the real crime of it was in not giving what was expected. They were to take the entire amount and lay it at the apostles’ feet. All was required; only a certain part was given.

When you get right down to it, what type of person would withhold parts of their life from the Lord? The words to a popular song say,
My life (I give you)
My love (I give you)
My all.
However, is this really the case? More than we would like to admit, we are at times guilty of keeping back part of our lives for ourselves. But, as stated, who would do such a thing?
1.  A stubborn person
This is true because the act of keeping back part is an act of the will; it shows a determined intention to do as you want, regardless of the consequences or effects.
2.  A selfish person
The act of ‘keeping back part’ is concerned mainly about personal profit or pleasure. Selfishness is about keeping what you believe is yours, yours. It’s no longer, ‘Thy will be done’, it’s ‘my will be done.’
3.  A conniving person
Dishonesty reigns in the life of a conniving person. Hiding is easier than coming clean, as they see it. Keeping back part is a deliberate, calculated and pre-conceived action; it can’t be done by mistake because the Spirit of God will let you know if you are doing it.
4.  A daring person
Keeping back part is also a dangerous action. It sabotages your spiritual well-being, diminishes your peace and will block your blessings. Would you be willing to forfeit these things just to have your own way?

Besides the obvious things, like commitment and devotion, what does God desire from His children? Let’s make no mistake about it; what God desires—He deserves.

God desires undivided worship
Mat.15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
These are the words of Jesus quoting the prophet Isaiah. God does not deserve lip service; He deserves true heartfelt worship. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (Jn.4:24)

God desires unlimited and unshackled praise
Psa.34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
This is something that is not easy. Does it mean that I am to shout, ‘Hallelujah, praise the Lord!’, each time something bad, contrary or unexpected happens? Well, yes and no. Before His praise can be in my mouth continually, I must first learn and promote an attitude of praise in my heart. To be sure, opportunities will arise for me to flex my ‘praise muscles’ and the more I do so, His praise will naturally and continually be in my mouth. We need to praise Him more and more.
Psa.142:7 Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name…
Some people don’t praise God because they won’t; others don’t praise God because they can’t. Many are shut up in a prison built brick by brick by the enemy and in some cases by themselves. Whatever the case might be, God desires praise in a never ending, unchained flow.

God desires uncompromised service
1Cor.16:15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
It is to be noted that this word ‘addicted’ here simply means ‘devoted’. They were totally committed to serving the saints. This same commitment and devotion to one another should be on display even more so towards God. He above all, deserves our utmost service.

God desires unrivaled love
Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
This often quoted verse may arguably be at the root of all we do for Christ. Our service, our praise and our worship will flow from our love for our Saviour. Our love should flow from a heart of absolute gratefulness, based on what He has done for us. What has He done for us?
Col.1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son. What else can we ask for? If He doesn’t do another thing for me, He has done enough. We love Him, because He first loved us (1Jn.4:19). Our love for Him should have no rivals. No one can love us like He can. No one can love us as much as He can. No one can do for us what He can.

As we live and allow the Lord to order our steps, let’s be mindful to give God all He desires and deserves—simply because He is worthy.

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee, my blessed Saviour
I surrender all.

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.