Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hope


It's just a small word, isn't it.

Hope.

It opens up many avenues to think about. A person can ask for hope. Someone can give hope to another. We can hope for good weather. A student can hope they get  good grades on their next test.  For those of us who live in Florida, we can hope for a silent hurricane season.

A mother can hope their child grows into a responsible adult. A child can hope for many presents under the Christmas Tree. A father can hope for the bonus he's expecting at the end of the year to be a good one.

Do you hope?

Do you believe in hope?

Do you hope to be a person of significance? Do you want to make your mark upon the world? What impression do you want to leave?

In Colossians 1:27 it reads, "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ i you, the hope of glory."

Through faith in Jesus, you become a person of significance, importance, magnitude.

Is't that a wonderful statement?

Did you ever feel like you didn't count for much for were insignificant? Did you feel like no one noticed you?

You don't have to think like that anymore. Following Jesus makes you significant.

You are an amazing person.

Yes, I said it. You. Are. An. Amazing. Person.

Believe in it.

George Herbert said this, "He that lives in hope dances without music."

Doesn't that bring a wonderful image to your mind?

It's all about your mindset and believing in God. You must trust Him completely. He does not take His love for His children lightly.

"Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put hope in you." Psalm 25:5

Hope can move mountains.

Hope is in the tiniest newborn's cry.

Hope is in the eye of a child sitting on Santa's lap.

Hope is in you.

I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas and find all the love and laughter meant to make your life full of joy.




Image credit: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Worship - Why and How?

First, do we all know what the definition of "Worship" is?

According to Merriam-Webster:

: the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god : the act of worshipping God or a god
: excessive admiration for someone


In the context of this blog post, we are going to be talking about Worship as it relates to God. So, I ask again, Is there a Right Way to Worship God?

Or maybe I should define the question further, is there only one right way to worship God?

Where did worship come from? If you look in the bible it starts with men finding a place to build an altar and offer either burnt or fellowship offerings.

Deuteronomy 27:5-7 "Build there an altar to tool upon them. Build the altar of the Lord your God with your God. Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord your God."

The first mention of the word "worship" in the bible appears in Exodus 39:2-7 "They made the ephod of gold, and of blade, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. They hammered out thin sheets of gold and into strands to be worked into the blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen - the work of a skilled craftsman. They made shoulder pieces for the ephod, which were attached to two if its corners, so it could be fastened. Its skillfully woven waistband was like it - of one piece with the ephod and made with gold, and with blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and with finely twisted linen, as the Lord commanded Moses. They mounted  the onyx stones in gold filigree settings and engraved them like a seal with the names of the sons of Israel. Then they fashioned them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel, as the Lord commanded Moses."

The reason for the fancy clothing were intended to show dignity and honor. The elaborate designs served to elevate the priests to a position of stature in the eyes of the people. The garments may also have helped the people esteem the worship of God and an awesome and mysterious privilege.

So, as far as I can tell so far, worshiping consisted of altars and elaborate and fancy clothing of the priests to show the people how much a privilege it was to worship God.

With me so far? I hope so, we haven't even begun yet.

In Deuteronomy, the Bible showed that God commanded an altar be built of plain stone without using tools. It was their simple beauty that became the frame for the awesomeness of our God.

Sacrifice. Fellowship. Rejoicing. All characteristics that are core to who God's people are and how it teaches us that "worship" is vital.

In Women Opening the Word Living Stones Casandra Martin defines worship this way, "Worship begins with God. The first steps into worship begin with awareness. ... Worship begins by opening our eyes and hearts to the truth that we are entering the presence of God. He created the pathway to worship. He opened its door, covering the way with the blood of His Son and inviting us to draw near to Him. In worship, we meet God." To Casandra, "That is the most defining, amazing thing about worship. It is the place where we come to heart-to-heart with our Savior."

What do you think? Does worship begin with God and offer us an opportunity to have a one-on-one with our Lord?

Do you think that is the right way to worship?

Being aware of God's presence, to me, means that I'm close to God. That we are communing together in an intimate way. That it's a personal association I have with God that I have with no other.

By being personal, I think that it brings in a uniqueness to my worship. My worship is unique.
Your worship is unique. Someone else may worship entirely differently. We are all unique and in being so have unique relationships with our Lord and God.

So,  must be be joined together in some type of union to worship God? Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Does God only listen to our worshiping when we are with others? I don't think so, I think whether we worship on our own or with others, God promises to hear and answer our prayers in line with His will.

However, according to Jesus, in 1 John 5:14-15 we can find a special sense of His presence and power during times of united prayer. "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us - whatever we ask - we know what we have what we asked of Him."

So, what happens when we truly worship?

Should we expect to be changed?

How so?

By surrendering. Casandra Martin says, "Every time we come into worship, we should expect to walk out different from how we arrived. Within that expectation is a challenge. Are we willing to be changed? Surrender is the deep call of worship."

God wants to work in our lives. He uses our worship time to do so. God is always on the look out for ways to transform us. Transforming us so that we are more like Jesus.

And, guess what? The more we look and act like Jesus, the richer our worship experience becomes.

When we worship, our eyes are opened to who God is and who we are. With God's help, we are becoming more like Jesus. God thinks that's the greatest gift we could ever give Him.

What do you think?

By worshiping, truly worshiping, we can strip away all the masks we use on a daily basis that hide us from each other and from God and we can delight in God's grace. With God's grace on us, we have the power to transform into the likeness of Jesus.

By surrendering to God, we give up the ordinary path we've traversed, with so much difficulty, and take on God's sense of direction and pace. We now follow God's lead. We are His.

Wouldn't you much rather go on a journey where you know God is leading, than anyone or anything else?

So, I'll ask you this question: Why do you come to worship?

Have you surrendered yourself to the power of worship?






Reference: Women Opening the Word - Living Stones by Casandra Martin
Image credit: gelpi / 123RF Stock Photo

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Best Way to Know God

God asks that you let your body, mind and spirit relax in His Presence. He loves you. Can you imagine how much God loves you?

I bet you can't.

I know I can't fathom the depth of God's love.

Although He tells us how much.

First, let's find out why. He tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."

How much does God love us? We have to search Ephesians 3:16-19 where the apostle Paul writes "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with the power through His Spirit in your inner being. So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Can you imagine now?

I still can't.

But I can feel. I can feel God's love.

Think of the deepest ocean, the highest mountain, the widest valley, the longest road and you still wouldn't come close to how much God really loves us.

Thank God for His love. Thank God for His blessings. Thank God for Him.

I thank Him for you.

When you sit quietly in God's presence, you are opening yourself to receive God's blessing.

Can you feel it enveloping you and making your heart swell?

God travels with you through all your journeys. The high road. The bumpy road. The rough times. The good times. Everything you do is because of Him. Can you understand that? Can you accept that you need God?

When you have learned to thank God for all the hard times and the good times. When you have learned to thank God for your difficult journeys then, and only then, have you realized that to need God is the key to knowing Him, intimately.

That is the gift of all gifts.

This is how God loves us. "He tends His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:11




reference: Jesus Calling by Sarah Young