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Worship?


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New worship services

There was a congregation that decided to have four worship services each Sunday.

There was one for those new to the faith.

Another for those who liked traditional worship.

One for those who had lost their faith and would like to get it back.

And another for those who had a bad experience with church and were complaining about it.

They have names for each of the services: FINDERS, KEEPERS, LOSERS, WEEPERS.

 

*****

 

So, what does worship mean to you?  Does it mean bowing before a king?  Does it mean giving all your time to someone or something?  Does it mean singing songs for 25 minutes each Sunday morning?  Does it mean giving an offering when the plate is passed?  Does it mean standing and raising hands?  There are many possible answers one may receive if this question were asked to any given congregation around the world.  The Bible does, however, define it fairly simply.

 

Let’s, for the next few minutes, put this in a different perspective.  Something real world.  Let’s talk about worship from a perspective that is familiar to the culture we live in today.  Let’s use money as the object.  This should be easy right?  We often hear people say that they know or have heard of someone who worships the almighty dollar.  What do we think or say about someone who worships this thing called money?

 

Here are some things that come to mind when we picture someone who worships money.  They are always talking or thinking about it.  They work jobs to get it.  They may work multiple jobs at the same time to find it.  They may devour their paycheck to “win” more.  They see things that it buys as necessities.  They judge themselves against others who have more or less of it.  How secure they feel is based on how much of it they have.  When they don’t have enough, security isn’t found.  They count it often and study what they have or what they don’t have and dream of getting more.  People who worship money are sometimes rich, but sometimes very poor.  They either like keeping it or love spending it on things that will show that they have “it.”  How much they have, or how many things their money has bought them, will be the standard by which they define themselves.

 

That’s what we picture when we see a person or entity that worships cash.  Let’s move that over towards a God discussion now.  When we think about worship in the God environment we often think about a musical praise time on Sunday mornings…don’t we?…and sometimes not much more.  Let’s imagine for a minute how worship would look if we simply switched the monetary terms for God terms in the paragraph above.

 

Here are some things that come to mind when we picture someone who worships God.  They are always talking or thinking about Him.  What they do, they do it for Him.  Sometimes they will serve Him in many different ways.  They give all they have for Him.  They see things that He views as important as necessary.  They view Him as a huge blessing in their lives…even though His gift of His son was never deserved.  He is their security.  When they are far from Him, they feel less secure because they begin to only think about themselves selfishly.  They look at and read His Word often and want to know more about Him.  Anyone who knows God is considered rich by spiritual standards.  People who worship God love to learn about Him and spend more time with Him so they can “give” Him away more often.  They allow God’s nature and their obedience to Him to define them.

 

You know, I didn’t once talk about a prayer service, or a praise time, or about traditional, or contemporary, or time limits, or name recognition, or awesome sermons or dynamic preaching, or audio visual technical stuff.   Here’s what the author of Romans 12:1-2 says:

 

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 true 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.

 

So here’s the question?  How is our worship?

 

Questions for Growth:

  1. Have you narrowly defined worship for yourself?
  2. If YES, then how has if determined your approach to God?
  3. Should ‘good’ worship, according to this verse, be based on a feeling?
  4. Should true worship be defined by Spirit let choices?
  5. How can every minute of your day be based on worship?
  6. Did Jesus worship God 24/7 365 or simply on a regular basis?  Similar question…Was worship “life” to Him?
  7. Is Jesus our example for living?  ……..

These are tough questions because they call into account everything that we do?…action and choice oriented.   Yes, simple…but tough.

Have fun growing!  Here’s a verse that let’s us know God’s perspective on what happens when we get this worship thing right.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 says this:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
    or the strong boast of their strength
    or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

 

PS – I don’t consider myself an expert but just as someone who searching for truth and has found some nuggets to pass onto others.  If they’re helpful, pass them on too.

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Giving Me to Him

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment

***

Darren remembers accompanying his father out shopping in the toy department of

Hamleys one  Christmas Eve.

Dad said, ‘What a marvellous train set. I’ll buy it.’

The girl behind the counter looked pleased and murmured, ‘Great, I’m sure your son will really love it.’

Dad replied with a glint in his eye, ‘Maybe you’re right. In that case I’ll take two.’

***

It’s Christmas and the focus is on giving.  Doesn’t matter if you’re a follower of the Christ child or not…watch the commercials.  Many of them even have the phrase that pays, “It’s better to give than to receive!”  In our world and culture, for the most part, the value of the gift is the price that was paid.  By price I strictly mean dollars and cents.  Another way that gifts are valued is if it’s what the receiver specifically asked for.  Many kids will be handed elegantly wrapped expensive gifts that will be tossed aside as they continue to look for that one thing they circled and highlighted in three colors on their list to Santa.  It won’t matter that someone worked extra hours for that gift, it wasn’t what they wanted.  And gosh darnit, the TV announcer even said, “It’s what they really want this year.”  We place a lot of value on ‘wants’ and ‘price’ don’t we?  Gifts that come from the heart…well, they are uncommon, rare, and even unusual in our fast paced ‘keep up with the Jones’ world.

 

So what gift goes above and beyond?  What gift can’t be out valued or undercut?  Is there such a thing as a gift that is so personal that no money can be stacked against it?  Is there a gift that doesn’t just say “Merry Christmas” in a season but says “God loves you” everyday through the year?  What could a gift like that look like?  Simple answer.  It’s you.  It’s me.

 

I know what you’re thinking…sounds like a Hallmark Card.  I know it does…but it’s the truth.  We’ve talked in the past two weeks about sacrifice and service.  Both of these items are about giving.  Sacrifice is when we give beyond what is average.  Service is when we know we have something, like talent or time or energy or something tangible, that would be of use to someone else…and we serve with that thing.  Both are out of our very own lives.  And when done in the name of Christ and for His glory and purpose, we give Him us.

 

What’s it take to live a life that is given to Christ?  The first thing it takes is believing that He first gave all of Himself to us.  The Creator (John 1:1-3) came as a baby (Merry Christmas!) and put on flesh like we our own to walk with us and be an example for us.  That baby grew to be a man who would ultimately sacrifice this earthly life we’re familiar with so that we could be with Him again in Heaven.  Jesus simply asks us to do the same for those around us.  If we give to Him like He’s given to us, we will do the things we have record of Him doing.  We will love others through our actions and words and ideas and strengths.  Our sacrifice and service will be evidence of our choice to lay our lives in His hands…as a gift to Him.

 

So what’s that look like for you?  What’s that look like daily for you?  Do people around you see that you’ve given your life to Jesus?  Do your choices, words, and expressions mirror the relationship with Jesus you claim?  When we give our life to Christ, we’re saying to Him that we trust Him with it…and however he wants to use it, we’re game.  Many compartmentalize our faith in Christ …me too… so that our Christianity is only part of our full life.  For example, I’m a husband, a dad, helper with Cross Country, house owner, and church service attendee.  From His point of view, our relationship with Him is everything…everything we do, think and say grows out of us giving Him everything we are.

 

Think about how you life can be a gift, each and every day, with whomever crosses your path.  Trust that He directs your ways and gives you opportunities to share yourself…the self that you gave to Him.  Trust that whatever is asked to be sacrificed or given in service will be supplied to you.  You know that smile you see when I child receives a gift so special they can’t help but show their pearly whites?  That’s what you’ll see on God’s face.  : – )

 

Merry Christmas Everyone!

ed

 

 

Thinking about Sacrifice At Christmas

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

***

Musical Instrument + Reindeer = Organ Donner

Really Quiet + Armed Crusader = Silent Knight

Snow + Frankenstein = Snowball Fright

Reindeer + Cow = Sleigh Bulls

Rope + December 24th = The Knot Before Christmas

Christmas Carols + A Dozen Flowers = The 12 Daisies of Christmas

Christmas Carol + Money = Jingle Bills

The 25th of December + A Girl’s Name = Christmas Carol

Telling Santo Your Wishes + Computer = Santa’s Lap Top

Snowfall + Chinese Cooking = Shovel the Wok!

***

 

Isn’t Christmas wonderful?  It really is.  It always seems to approach too quickly and is over before we know it.  However, for those of us who remember the reason we truly celebrate, we know that the offer of sacrifice is the best gift of all.

As Christians, we know that one day long ago our king was born.  He was born to die.  At the appointed time, He chose to sacrifice himself for us.  And I believe we all know that story…we get that picture.  But when it comes to sacrifice for us on a daily basis…as a gift to those around us…we sometimes don’t know what that really looks like.  Some of us do.  Myself, I sometimes need reminded.  Here are a couple of pictures of sacrifice.

The story this week, even though it is the Christmas season, doesn’t focus on the one called the Son of David…Jesus.  This focus of sacrifice is taken from two stories in the life of King David himself.  The first is taken from 1 Chronicles 11:15-19.  The short version of this story is follows.  David is resting between battles with the Philistines.  He is thirsty.  Three of his closest friends and advisors broke through enemy lines to get their king, their friend, a drink.  When they brought back the water, David took it and poured it out on the ground before God.  He realized that these men had risked and even offered as a sacrifice their very own lives on his behalf.  He felt that he was not worthy of their sacrifice.  He had done nothing for it…so he gave their sacrifice symbolically to God.

The next story comes from 1 Chronicles 21:22-24.  The story here sets up the chosen future site of the Temple of God.  Long story short again, David has sinned before God and has retreated to bow before God and offer himself to the Lord knowing that his sin has cause heartache for the nation he leads.  The land he is on is not his.  It is owned by a farmer.  An angel of the Lord is there.  The farmer and his sons, who were seemingly caught off guard by the whole situation, bowed before David his king as David is praying to God and talking to the Lord’s angel.  David, after experiencing God’s mercy, is determined to build an altar there as a way to honor and worship his Lord.  The farmer bows down and on the spot gives him, King David, the building they are in and the land it is on…as well as oxen to sacrifice.  This man shows true humility before David and God…offering nearly all he has minus his family as a gift/sacrifice.  David said to the farmer in 21:24, “…I will not take for the Lord what is yours, neither will I sacrifice burnt offerings I have not paid for.”

Here we have two stories of sacrifice offered on David’s behalf and for his sake.  Because of the weight and value of each, he makes sure his heart is pure in view of them both.  True sacrifice, as David found, has value, comes from the heart, and can’t be asked for or coerced.  The first story wasn’t about a drink of water.  It was about 3 men willing to give all they had for their friend.  Christ later defines the truest love as when one lays down their life for another…willingly.  The second wasn’t about the gift of land and oxen.  It was about a man who willing gave without being asked, nearly everything he had, out of honor and loyalty.  King David realized that this was from someone else’s heart.  He had no sacrifice in it.  He had to pay for it in order for it to be from him.

Do we sacrifice for others around us like David’s ‘mighty men’?  Do we offer all we have on the spot when presented with the opportunity as the farmer did?  Do we recognize what true sacrifice is, as David did in both circumstances, to accept them as holy and with great value?

Let’s let our sacrifice grow this Christmas season to be holy and pleasing to God.  Let’s not wait for New Year’s Eve to make a resolution to live new lives of worship.  Let’s set our hearts today to be open to sacrifice when called and when our gut says give.  This is the truest story of Christmas.  The story of Christmas isn’t for us to keep; it’s for us to give away.

Merry Christmas!  He has been born!  He has been born indeed!

Ed

 

Questions for Growth:

  • When has someone truly sacrificed for you?  Do you remember anyone sacrificing for you?
  • When have you sacrificed for someone else?  Now, I know that most of us won’t even want to mention this out loud because it’s not about us.  But how did you feel when you did sacrifice?  I remember getting calls in the middle of the night and saying, “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”  I remember seeing people who needed something I had and I reached in my pocket and pulled out what they needed…not thinking of what I’d be missing.  You probably have too.  Isn’t our goal to have daily experiences like these…both giving and receiving?  There’s so much that goes into this, but for now, true understanding of who owns everything and how much we have to be thankful for will suffice.
  • Explain in your own words why Jesus isn’t just a story for us to hold dear, but for us to give away.  (Genesis 12:3b)  How do we live it daily?  How will you live it this week?
  • Is God specifically calling you to sacrifice on his behalf or someone elses right now?  How long will you wait before you do it?

Just give something.

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

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