Worshipful Wednesday: Worthy of Worship, part II

He is beyond full comprehension yet invites us to know Him. (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

For this is what we were made for – to tell of His worth. What makes God worthy of worship to You? 

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 93:1-5
1″The LORD reigns! He is robed in majesty, the LORD is robed, he wears strength around his waist. Indeed, the world is established, it cannot be moved. 2 Your throne has been secure from ancient times; you have always been king. 3 The waves roar, O LORD, the waves roar, the waves roar and crash. 4 Above the sound of the surging water, and the mighty waves of the sea, the LORD sits enthroned in majesty. 5 The rules you set down are completely reliable. Holiness aptly adorns your house, O LORD, forever.”

Last week I was trying to put the finishing touches on a new worship song, “You Are Worthy” and today as I am driving home after three days recording in Nashville, I am completely lost in the idea of just how worthy our great God is.

I cannot wait for you to hear the song – it challenged me to sing more passionately than I have before, when I considered just how awesome our God is. The verses above were a part of my bible reading plan today – how fitting.

This great God who commands armies and rules over the entire earth has always been King. No one appointed him as such. He is beyond full comprehension yet invites us to know Him. He is the highest King of kings, yet He chose to be a poor servant and to die a sinner’s death. He chose to be our Redeemer before we ever were.

As I sat with the amazingly talented co-writers this week trying to convey God’s worth, I felt His worth more than I had before. Aching to write what was in my heart, God showed me that this ache to know Him more is never fully quenched. The longing in my heart begins to give me a glimmer of what it is going to be like when we are fully in His presence in Heaven, worshipping Him. For this is what we were made for – to tell of His worth.

As the lyrics were penned and I considered each word as it relates to why God is so deserving of my worship, new revelation came and things I had taken for granted before were now new opportunities to worship Him.

He longs to be our Deliverer, to show Himself strong on our behalf. To this soul, He saw me in shame, unloved and broken – and gave me a new name.

It seems only fitting to close today with an opportunity for you to join in on the worship – how about you – what makes God worthy of worship to You?

Oh God, You are great and greatly to be praised! I worship You, my Lord and Savior! Be glorified in me and in this world! We long for you, our worthy One!

 

Truthful Tuesday: Worthy of Worship

A casual acquaintance with God cannot reveal the deeper things of God. and play

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

A casual acquaintance with God cannot reveal the deeper things of God.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Samuel 7:18, 23-26

18 “King David went in, sat before the LORD, and said, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you should have brought me to this point? 23 Who is like your people, Israel, a unique nation on the earth? Their God went to claim a nation for himself and to make a name for himself! You did great and awesome acts for your land, before your people whom you delivered for yourself from the Egyptian empire and its gods. 24 You made Israel your very own people for all time. You, O LORD, became their God. 25 So now, O LORD God, make this promise you have made about your servant and his family a permanent reality. Do as you promised, 26 so you may gain lasting fame, as people say, ‘The LORD of hosts is God over Israel!’ The dynasty of your servant David will be established before you.


Dwelling on the truth of who God is overwhelms us but brings us to a new revelation where we can know Him more. I was wrecked again this morning, finishing a worship song in the wee hours. What a glorious moment it is, seeking Him and finding Him. But it costs to get there.

Writing songs, blog posts and now a book comes from a place of deeper worship. A casual acquaintance with God cannot reveal the deeper things of God. But we often still try to achieve relationship apart from it. Our flesh just flat out resists God’s presence. Silly us. But our graceful God draws us back to Himself, anyway. So patient, so faithful.

In this new song I have been agonizing how to convey how worthy God is. I know it sounds common – we all have probably said that God is worthy at some point. But have we meant it? Have we understood fully the worth that is truly due His Holy, mighty Name?

Although I sincerely worshiped Him this morning and hopefully reached my goal of provoking others to pause in awe of God’s worth, in reality I know I have only scratched the surface.

His greatness cannot be confined on a page or contained in a lyric. His Holiness impossible to accurately convey, who can reveal God’s splendor that we might adore Him fully?

Contemplating what was meant by “Lord of hosts”, I melted into wonder and joy. Our self-existent God Who needs no one or no thing chose to call Himself a Redeemer. Who would redeem enemies who don’t recognize your worth or the magnitude of your sacrifice –  God slaying Himself for our gain? Oh God, I am undone.

He is the universal Ruler over every force – all the Hosts of Heaven and everything underneath. Why would he notice me? That’s just Who He is. All good. Selfless. Gracious. Forgiving. Lover and Healer of our souls. Worthy of worship.

Lord, I worship You. You are too great for my mind to fully grasp, but I worship You, nonetheless. You are our awesome, Holy, most gracious God. You are worthy.

 

 

Truthful Tuesday: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

respect

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we understand that we are all on equal footing, respect is a natural default for how we treat others.

Scripture of the Day:

Isaiah 66:2

“My hand made them; that is how they came to be,” says the LORD. “I show special favor to the humble and contrite, who respect what I have to say.”

1 Peter 2:17

“Honor all people, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

Respect is almost a dirty word today. No one wants to be humbled, yet it is the truly humble that God elevates. When we recognize that anything good in us is truly God alone, we cannot view anyone else as less than ourselves.

Treating one another respectfully is a beautiful response of love to those we value. It is saying, “you are valuable and worthy”. We each have worth before God because He chose each one of us and died for us.

Respect does not demand or expect that others treat us a certain way; instead it views others through God’s lens, each one precious and unique.

The loving system of authority God set in place was not just so youths had to respect their elders, but so their could be loving guidance, trust and care in a special relationship. Marriage is not just about a wife respecting her husband, and employment is not just about an employee just respecting their boss. In all these examples, both mutually respect one another. In this way, God is glorified and each person is encouraged and built up in Christ.

Paul said it beautifully in 1 Corinthians 12:23-24, “and those members we consider less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our unpresentable members are clothed with dignity, 24 but our presentable members do not need this. Instead, God has blended together the body, giving greater honor to the lesser member.”

When we consider how we have been treated unfairly by others, remembering that Christ loved people who hated Him. The Ruler of all the earth, He chose to stoop and wash our feet though He was King of Kings and we should have bowed down before Him.

Lord, thank you for modeling perfect humility. Help us to remember the undeserved grace You have so abundantly given us so we can extend Your grace to others.

 

 

Thoughtful Thursday: True Obedience

True Obedience is true freedom.png

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God deserves our very best – not because He’s picky, but because He is worthy.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Samuel 13:12

I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down on me at Gilgal and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt obligated to offer the burnt offering.”

1 Samuel 15:8,9,19-21

“He captured King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but he executed all Agag’s people with the sword. 9 However, Saul and the army spared Agag, along with the best of the flock, the cattle, the fatlings, and the lambs, as well as everything else that was of value. They were not willing to slaughter them. But they did slaughter everything that was despised and worthless.” 19 “Why haven’t you obeyed the LORD? Instead you have greedily rushed upon the plunder! You have done what is wrong in the LORD’s estimation. 20 Then Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the LORD! I went on the campaign the LORD sent me on. I brought back King Agag of the Amalekites after exterminating the Amalekites. But the army took from the plunder some of the sheep and cattle – the best of what was to be slaughtered – to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.”

Obedience – that ugly word our flesh recoils at. It seems old fashioned. Uptight. Legalistic. Or at least our rebellious culture tells us. But God’s design of authority is intended to be loving and kind, because He sees the dangers of stepping outside the pleasant boundaries He has placed for us.

Saul was doing all the right things. At least from the outside it appeared so. He sought the LORD’s favor and offered a burnt offering. Except his motivation had some problems – first, he felt obligated. Not feeling the love on that attitude. It also smacks of a manipulative kind of obedience – he had to do it and did it to get what he wanted – the favor of God. The only problem is, God sees what is going on in the inside.

God gave a command. Very clear and simple. Exterminate the Amalekites – I know, it sounds cruel, but they were a wicked people and God knew they would turn the hearts of His people. Here we see another problem with Saul’s response. Whether or not Saul understood the “why” to God’s command, he should have fully obeyed, but instead the word tells us that he was “not willing” to slaughter the animals. His will overrode God’s command. Sounds pretty awful, yet we can be guilty of the same thing.

Rationalizing the grey areas away when the Holy Spirit convicts us is no less of an obedience issue than Saul’s. In the name of freedom we can redefine what God has said, yet we are shackling ourselves to the chains of compromise instead. Turns out partial obedience is not obedience at all.

Samuel later said it was the motivation of greed that was a stumbling block, as well. Saul made it appear pious by saying he spared the sheep so he could sacrifice them to God, but half truths don’t stand to well before a Holy God. You just can’t fool Him. He will not be mocked.

Fear also cropped up as a valid reason why it was ok to twist God’s word. Didn’t God see the vast army? Surely He would not expect obedience to such a command, would He? Excuses, excuses. Mercy – I understand it, because my flesh likes to excuse itself, as well. Fear points to a lack of trust in the God Who called us in the first place.

Pride was Saul’s downfall, as well, and yet another aspect of Saul’s response that hindered Him from simple obedience. Samuel even finds Saul building a monument to himself. Every time we obey on our terms it leads to big trouble. It is prideful to think that we know better than the Omniscient One, and God knows fully the consequences of trying to accomplish something in the flesh instead of according to His perfect way.

Lastly, Saul pulled the famous “blame game” and scapegoated the army. They were the ones who kept the sheep and items of value. Clever. But the one in charge is responsible for those under his command.

Much like the attitude of Cain, whose offering was not what God required nor his best, we need to guard ourselves from thinking it is okay to define what is acceptable to God on our terms. He is an unchanging Holy God Who deserves our very best – not because He’s picky, but because He is worthy. Worthy of us delighting to obey the One Who created us in the first place.

Lord, please forgive us when we forget Your expectations or try to do things our way. Help us to live lives worthy of how awesome You are and to do things Your way. You know best.

Thoughtful Thursday: Our Transcendent God

Photo Credits: lightandlifewomensbiblestudy.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
lightandlifewomensbiblestudy.blogspot.com

Jeremiah 23:23-24 (NET)

23 “Do you people think that I am some local deity and not the transcendent God?” the LORD asks.  24 “Do you really think anyone can hide himself where I cannot see him?” the LORD asks. “Do you not know that I am everywhere?” the LORD asks.

Isaiah 55:8 (NET)

8 “Indeed, my plans are not like your plans, and my deeds are not like your deeds, 9 for just as the sky is higher than the earth, so my deeds are superior to your deeds and my plans superior to your plans.”

Job 11:7 (ESV)

“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?”

Romans 11:33-36 (NET)

33 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? 35 Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay him? 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.

Psalm 113:5-6

Who can compare to the LORD our God, who sits on a high throne? 6 He bends down to look at the sky and the earth.”

John 8:23

“Jesus replied, “You people are from below; I am from above. You people are from this world; I am not from this world.””

How do I even begin to write about God’s greatness?  How is it that such grace has come to us that we can know Him? Today I am struck by how much higher His ways and thoughts are from ours.  We do not even recognize how small and needful we are, apart from His grace and the Holy Spirit revealing our soul’s heart cry for someone greater than ourselves.

Fans of movie stars are in awe at the sight of what they consider greatness, but those stars are merely creations. So many things in this world grab our attention and worship, but none of them are truly worth such devotion.  Only our living God is worthy of such respect.  We worship a God Who is greater than us – truly worthy of our worship.

All at once we are undone that God can see into our inmost soul – our thoughts before we conceive them, our motivations, our every action.  To be so known and yet accepted by a Holy God is too much too completely comprehend.

How do we know this awesome God, whose face we cannot behold, lest we perish?  Whose presence cannot be contained?  Whose Holiness is so foreign to our fleshly mortality?  Who is sovereign over all activity on earth?  Who, in His genius designed every aspect of creation down to the smallest particle?  Who is Omniscient, knowing all?  Who is outside time?  Who has always been?  Who would establish righteous laws and then fulfill them by choosing to come live among a corrupt, spiritually bankrupt people and lay His life down for them?

This mystery of God’s revelation of Himself to us is miraculous and not able to be fully understood.  Our eyes were blind to His supremacy and our need of Him until He drew us to Himself and caused us to understand.

How beyond words is the fact that we are invited, finite and poor, to fellowship with the Holy One, the Omnipresent and beyond the highest riches – our transcendent God.  But why does His transcendence matter?  Because we were made to worship and though we are easily fascinated with substitutes trying to fill that vacuum, our inmost being longs to worship Someone higher than ourselves.

When we consider a God that is not easily defined or understood, a sense of awe is pervasive within our souls.  To pause and seek what truly matters and to worship the One Who is, Who was, and Who is to come, we are worshiping the One Who is higher than any other entity on this earth for all eternity.  It is in worshiping the Almighty God, the Creator of this universe, that we are doing what we were made to do and find our greatest joy and sense of purpose.  Worshiping the Only One Who is awesome and far above us causes us to rise out of what is perceived as an ordinary life and see the spiritual realities all around us.  It is in worshiping our transcendent God that we are enabled to live in a way which glorifies our Maker and transcends ourselves beyond merely living for the here and now.

Lord, You are awesome, Holy, so much higher than us.  Thank You for drawing us to Yourself. Help us to know You more and to worship You with sincere hearts, lost in Your greatness and found by You.  Give us understanding about how great You are that we would never stray from You. 

Worshipful Wednesday: Who is Worship For?

Photo Credits inbythroughhim.blogspot.com

Photo Credits
inbythroughhim.blogspot.com

Psalm 9:1-2

“I will thank the Lord with all my heart!  I will tell about all your amazing deeds! 2 I will be happy and rejoice in you!  I will sing praises to you, O sovereign One!”

John 4:24

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Hebrews 13:15

“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”

Hebrews 12:28

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”

Thank you for stopping by on this Worshipful Wednesday!  Worship is often misunderstood as a part of the church service alone, but it is a lifestyle of thanksgiving to the One Who has given us every blessing we have.  As a worship leader in churches for over twenty years now, I confess that contemplating God’s Holiness, goodness and character in song is one of my favorite things to do.  I say one of, because just reading and listening to His Word fills me with an inner joy that cannot be contained.  But I fear our worship is lackluster in comparison to what God deserves.

Worship is cultivating gratitude from a heart that recognizes our own dependence on God.  It is in the very act of worship that we draw nearer to God.  Affection in marriage or in the parent/child relationship is the most essential aspect of those relationships.  A child and a parent both want to know they are loved and adored.  We can become hardened in this world and begin to think that receiving adoration is our highest goal, though.  God knows we need affirmation and love, but our greatest joy is found in giving that highest worship to Him.

I remember as a new believer not understanding why God would require us to worship Him.  It seemed a little vain to me at the time, though I did not want to even think such a thought.  But if God had not commanded us to worship, we would worship far lesser things.  What our hearts are set on to worship affects greatly how we live on this earth.  Practically speaking, when we worship created things which cannot compare to the greatness of our God, our aspirations are lesser than what God could accomplish in us.

Until we grow deeper in our relationship with God and see that He is worthy of the highest praise and adoration, it does not make sense to us in our humanity.  Certainly contemplating all that God has done makes Him praiseworthy, but in our pride we can be deceived into thinking we deserve what God has done for us.

Our flesh can be overwhelmed with worshiping God for all eternity – it seems tiring and repetitive.  That is when we realize that we have not really gotten a glimpse of Who God is.  We need to worship Him to know Him more.  We can be fans of people on this earth, but they will ultimately all perish and their splendor will fade.  But God – the great I AM, is not like us. No, He is Holy, perfect in all He does, without beginning or end.

We need to worship someone greater than we are.  Worshiping the creation could never fulfill us like worshiping our Creator – the only One truly worthy of praise!  We need to be transformed and that happens in His presence.  Our hearts and minds easily falter and can be divided.  Worshiping God aligns our will with God’s, and helps us to focus on what really matters and to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives: knowing Him.

The irony in God’s command for us to worship Him is that He does not need our worship – it is we who need to worship.  It is in love, not selfishness, that He is requiring us to worship Him.  We are harassed and helpless sheep who need direction. Thank God that He has shown us Himself and our need to worship Him alone.  Worship Him now.  Contemplate all that He has done for you.  Set aside the barriers that hinder sincere worship.  He is worthy.

Lord, help us to worship You in humility and truth.  You are worthy of all our praise and adoration.

Sacrifice of Praise

Photo Credits  thedeepcalls.com

Photo Credits thedeepcalls.com

2 Samuel 24:24 – “…I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt sacrifices that cost me nothing.”

Hebrews 13:15 – “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

Romans 12:1 – “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 your true and proper worship.”

I missed blogging one day this week and as I was driving, the Lord whispered to my heart, “bring me the sacrifice of praise”.  I started to ponder this word sacrifice and wondered if my praise was truly a sacrifice – truly what God desired.  I am grateful that we no longer need to offer animals to pay for our sin.  I think our family dog is grateful, too.  I tease my family that we would be having barbeques 24/7 if we were still under the Old Testament law, to cover all of our iniquities.  Not barbeques with meat we casually purchase on sale from Wal-Mart, no, live animals slaughtered because of our sin.  I fear, though, that we are so far away from the Old Testament that the meaning and significance of sacrifice is lost today. Do we take for granted the high cost paid for each and every sin committed?  I want to be ever mindful of God’s very life laid down when I am tempted to sin.  I do not want to cheapen the grace given to me by permitting or excusing sin, no, the sacrifice which was completely free to me was much more costly than that kind of treatment.  It is this awareness that makes me so grateful that I burst into praise and meditate on God’s unparalleled greatness and mercy.  A sacrifice of praise.

Perhaps most of the time, though, I can go through the motions, if I really am reflective enough to consider my praise.  I have been worshiping God for over 26 years as my Savior and even though every time I have the privilege of leading worship at church and have moments of being in awe of God, I daresay it falls short of a sacrifice.  Sacrifice speaks of cost – it is not easy, it is not mere duty.  Much like a spouse would not be thrilled with a passionless love, our God deserves an all-consuming passion; He deserves our very best.

Abel understood what it meant to give his best – he was thrilled and eager to do so.  David, too, said he could not give something if it did not cost him.  How beautiful.  Today, when I am cognizant of my sin and need for God’s covering, I cannot slaughter an animal, but I can die to self.  To be a living sacrifice – dying daily to the flesh, consecrated to the Lord moment by moment, that is something that glorifies God.  The symbolism of the death in the Old Testament is lived out today as believers no longer live for their own way, but offer themselves to God and let Christ reign in them.

Mankind was the same then as today – people sometimes tried to offer crippled animals or not the best of what they had to pay the required atonement.  May God help us to never grow too familiar with His amazing gift and to endeavor to live lives worthy of His perfect sacrifice.  May we fear God and seek to give Him our first fruits and not rationalize our actions away that fall short of His glory, but instead run to Him and offer our sacrifice of praise, praying that He will once again cover us with His love.

Lord, thank You that You have forgiven my sins and shown me how to love sacrificially.  Help us to honor You with our very best and never lose our zeal.  May we worship You with all our hearts in full abandon.