The Word & Worship

Worship – what is it exactly?  We Christians talk a lot about it, but I am afraid we fail to grasp what it is and what it is not.  When asked, most people would answer the question, “What is worship?” with something like, “it is when we meet on Sunday morning” or “a style of music.”  But, I have learned that we can be involved in a meeting and sing a style of song but fail to enter into true worship.

Through all that God has been teaching me over the past couple of years, the most important thing I’ve learned is that there is a strong bond between the Word of God and the worship of God.  I do not believe that we can worship God for who He is and what He’s done to save us apart from the reading and studying of His Word.  “Why is that?” you ask.  The answer is that the only way we, as humans, can discover and understand who God is, is through what He has chosen to reveal to us about Himself through the Bible.  Not only that, we also learn about ourselves and our great need and dependence upon God for our salvation.

And there you have it – salvationThis is the crux of worship –  the understanding and acknowledgement of the saving acts of God in the lives of man.  You see, when those who have believed that Jesus is the Christ, Messiah…Savior, begin to read about, discuss and meditate on the Words of God something uncontrollable takes place.  This is called WORSHIP!  The awesome thing about true worship is that it takes many shapes and forms but it is all in response to the fact that God has saved us!  We have realized that we cannot save ourselves and our hearts are stirred with gratitude and humility.   This realization permeates our being and we seek to make Christ known to all Peoples!

To those of you believers who feel that you gain nothing from gathering together with the body of Christ each week; I challenge you to seek God and find Him for He longs to be found.  Surround yourselves with His Truth and relish in the lavish love He has poured out upon you and celebrate that with other believers each week!

To those of you who feel that there is nothing to this Christianity thing you’ve heard so much about; begin at the beginning of the Word of God and read the fascinating, incredible story of the love that God has for all mankind and the way of Salvation He has made through His Son, Jesus.

Oh brothers and sisters, seekers and saints, doubters and believers…I urge you, no I implore you to run to the Word of God and know the one, true God.  He loves you with an eternal love and desires a relationship with you.  In doing this, worship will be true, undefiled and everlasting.

“All the people gathered together at the square in front of the Water Gate.  They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses that the Lord had given Israel…He read out of it from daybreak until noon before the men, the women, and those who could understand.  All the people listened attentively to the book of the law…Ezra opened the book in full view of all the people, since he was elevated above everyone.  As he opened it, all the people stood up.  Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, “Amen, Amen!”  Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”  Nehemiah 8:1a; 3; 5-6

Free from Fear

For as long as I can remember, I have been a fearful person.  It seems to be my default.  I can remember as a little girl being afraid of all the bugs outside, afraid of learning to ride a bike, afraid of climbing the monkey bars and afraid of doing the wrong thing that would get me in big trouble with my parents.  I was also afraid of being left alone.  I remember needing to ride the bus home one day (By the way, I was also afraid of riding the bus).  It was my turn to exit and when I did, I didn’t see my mom’s car at the house.  Immediately I began to cry.  “I’m all by myself” I thought.  As I got to the door, afraid I would not be able to get in, there was mom!!!!  She quickly noticed that I had been crying and asked what was wrong.  I told her that I was crying because some glitter had fallen off the craft I had made at school.  Now, I was upset about the glitter, but I was more embarrassed to tell her that I was afraid of being alone.  She was gracious to me and gave me lots of hugs and didn’t make it known to me that she knew the reason I was upset.

I wish I could tell you that I’ve outgrown my fears, but that would be a lie.  I still deal with a fearful nature and at times it gets the best of me.  My husband recently delivered a sermon at church called “Choosing Faith over Fear.”  It was a sermon that made me squirm because I live there daily.  Fear is a natural response to adversity, danger or the unknown.  Faith is a choice that each of us makes to believe God’s word and be obedient to Him.

This lesson is one that God has been helping me to think through lately.  I have stepped into a position at church that has caused a twinge of fear.  I love to speak to groups of people.  I enjoy standing before a large crowd and speaking to them or singing to them.  It’s something that I have a passion for and I love to do.  On the other hand, the smaller the group the more uncomfortable I become.  To add to this situation, I am having to study to prepare a small lesson every week.  I have led a small groups in the past but always with a prepared study and where I basically push play on the remote and guide the class in discussion.  But this is very different.  I have nothing but a blank page and a Bible.  If that doesn’t make you afraid, I don’t know what will!  I have had to learn to choose faith and not give in to fear.

There are also new fears that seem to be working their way into my thoughts.  Fears of how to pay for college for our firstborn.  Fears of how to make ends meet as we need to add another car to the fleet.  Fears of failing to figure out where God wants to use me during this season of my life.  You know, normal, universal fear.  But as I have all these fears and more, I also have a peace that God will provide all that I need and much, much more.  He has used the Bible study that I was afraid to teach to build up my faith and strengthen my relationship with Him.  So, for this day and at this time – I am not afraid.  I am totally turning things over to the only person that has control over any of the situations I face.

How about you?  Are you fearful?  Are you facing a situation that seems totally hopeless?  Have you tried to worry your way through all the scenarios that might fix the problem and yet, you have found no answers?  Well, I invite you to do what I have done – read God’s Word and put your faith in His ability and not your own.  I double dog dare ya!

“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear…” -1 John 4:18a 

Am I a Temple Builder?

I will have to be honest with you, teaching the Old Testament is not an easy task!  It can become quite difficult to apply verses like, “…don’t boil the baby goat in its mother’s milk.”  What?!?  Thankfully, there are many helps and guides along to the way to bail poor Bible study teachers like me out of that theological quandry.  Recently, it has been much easier now that my class has moved passed the law and the endless begatting that went on there for a while.

We have been studying the life of King David and are moving into the reign of  his son, Solomon.  This week, I read a passage that I’ve never put much thought into before (this is not unusual), but it literally jumped off the page.  It is found in 1 Chronicles 28 and is the charge that David gives Solomon to build the Temple.

David’s heart was after God and desired to build a permanent house in which God would abide.  David didn’t understand why he himself should have such a fine palace while his God dwelt in a tent.  After converstations with God, David understood that he would not be granted the honor of building the Temple because he was a king of war.  God did reveal to David that his son, Solomon, would inherit the throne and build a dwelling place for the Almighty.

I admire the heart of David.  He accepted the decision that God made even though he desperately desired to be the chosen builder.  I also admire the fact that David did all he could to insure that Solomon would not fail in the task of Temple building.  For the rest of David’s life, he gathered supplies, counseled with officials, craftsman, artists and priests so that Solomon would have all that he would need to complete the building campaign.

This story reminded me that God has taken over the building process.  I know what you are thinking, “Wait, Solomon did  build the temple!”  You are right, but when Christ came and died on the Cross, the work began on a New Temple!  A temple not made by human hands and one that will NEVER be destroyed!  “Where is this temple, you say?”  Well, if you are a person that has accepted the gift of forgiveness and grace that is offered to you through Christ Jesus, just look in the mirror and you will see the most magnificent temple ever built!!!  You see, we are now the temple of God.  His Spirit dwells within each soul that has received the salvation that comes through faith is in Son, Jesus.

Realizing this, the story of David stirred my thoughts on the temple being constructed within me.  Do I desire to let God build what He desires to build or do I keep trying to persuade Him to build what I want?  Do I desire to bring glory to God more than glory to this temple?  Do I desire to live life by God’s blueprints rather than my measly, thrown together pencil drawing that I think is so important? Am I one that tears down the temple brick by brick while God is laying the foundation?  These are good questions and ones that I don’t always have good answers for.  But I desire to allow God to complete the work in me that HE has started and that He alone can complete.

David told Solomon that God would never leave or forsake him and that God would complete the work of building the Temple through him.  God held to that promise and makes the same one to each of us.  So on this day I declare:  “I am not a Temple Builder – God is!  I am the Temple…a work in progress!”