Monday, September 28, 2009

Worship in Truth

Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus answered him, Because you have seen you believe? Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe.

John 20:28&29

Believing is a difficult thing to explain isn’t it? Come to think about it, it’s a bit difficult to personally understand as well. It’s kind of like being “all grown up”. Kids can hardly wait for the day when they are grown up until one day they are there and can’t understand where all the time has gone.

Likewise, belief is something we can often see in others but, at times, feel woefully inadequate in our own lives.

This makes a life of faith challenging. A joyful life requires faith!

So how do we go about increasing our faith?

We have all read the books or seen the movies wherein hope is slipping away and despair is growing by the moment. The horizon has been repeatedly scanned for possible escape; any help! Suddenly, miraculously over the distant hill we see the cavalry, the townspeople, the lone stranger, the long lost love… Hope turns to unfettered joy as desperate hopelessness turns to victory!

The Psalmist might have had an initial similar expectation as he begins his thoughts (Psalm 121)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come?

He continues:

My help comes from the Lord who made the heaven and the earth.

He will not allow your foot to slip;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps [you] will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper

The Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.

The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in

From this time forth and forever!

So how do we increase our faith?

Worship is the key!

Let me hasten to point out that we too often have the view that worship is music or singing. While music and singing are often present at worship and sometimes vehicles of worship, it can as easily be an escape from true worship!

In a discussion with a woman who attempted to deflect confrontation about her private life Jesus said, “…true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth” John 4:23&24

Worship in truth”…what, if you were sincerely honest would you really say to God?

Until we are willing to deal with truth we will never enter into the truth of worship. The Psalms are great examples of honesty. (For example, read Psalm 10 looking for the truth and for the turn around in faith.) It is only due to the courage of the psalmist in laying his heart bare before the God who knows him better than he know himself that his perspective begins to change.

Once we experience the deep release of truth with God we will be set free to worship!

true worshipers shall worship the Father (John 5:23) in spirit and truth!

It is within this type of worship that we find the boldness to live a life of faith!

Monday, September 21, 2009


Life is so ______________. (fill in the blank)

_______ (choose your own word)

We have the best of intentions to pray, to spend time with Jesus, to prioritize our lives but, and this is a big BUT, _______________________ (see above).

Vacations have been dreamed up by those who understand that life is __________! A change of place, a change of activities, and change of schedules, vacations are all about changing from the things you continually do toward things you don’t normally do.

Most people look forward to vacations with great expectations and eager anticipation.

There is a type of vacation in the realm of prayer as well. As is the case with the other vacation, it is all about change.

We enter the story with a group of people desiring to take a prayer vacation. …on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside where we were supposing there would be a place of prayer…Acts 16:13

Explore a new opportunity. Find someone who you could invite to go to a food court, a park, a mall, a street corner, a school yard or somewhere else unusual to pray. You will experience a new vibrancy and life to your prayers. There is certainly nothing wrong with doing this by yourself but, as with the other vacation, it is much more enriching when you take someone along.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Waiting is Grating

Waiting has become a national irritation; perhaps it is one of yours as well.

Lines in banks or in stores, late friends or family members, sitting in the “waiting” room too long past the appointment time, spouse issues too many to mention; waiting grates and pushes against our sense of what is “right”.

Waiting is a BIG thing for our God as well. The meaningful difference between how we tend to see waiting from how God sees waiting is that He sees waiting as a good thing. No, not that waiting itself is a good thing, but that waiting indicates a good thing.

Just moments before He left His friends, Jesus told them to wait:

And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait…

Not that waiting is tough enough by itself but Jesus asked His friends to wait around in the very city where He was horribly treated and crucified just days before. The religious and political rancor was at extreme high; the danger was palpable!

…wait for what the Father had promised. “Which.” He said, “you heard from Me; for John baptized you with water but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”.

So that which “the Father” had promised was going to be delivered but there was evidently a prerequisite to the receipt of the gift. Clearly, the Father could have delivered the promised gift in any manner He chose. For some reason He chose to deliver it to those who “waited”.

There is a scripture that is probably very familiar to us; familiar to our minds perhaps but far too unfamiliar in practice.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired and vigorous young men stumble and badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:29-31

Once again waiting seems to be the path to the promised benefits. Waiting is the ultimate illustration of our faith!

The psalmist knew this depth of this display of faith:

To Thee I lift up my eyes, O Thou who art enthroned in the heavens!

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master. As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to the Lord our God until He shall be gracious to us! Psalm 123:1-2

Before ending this discussion it is important to address two levels of waiting. The first is waiting for some specific relief, a specific blessing or a special need. The second is where we begin to touch the essence of the inscrutable God, the presence of waiting for whatever He has in mind for us.

Waiting takes time. Time is the only thing that we have that once spent cannot be replaced. It is the greatest, most personal thing that we can offer.

When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect, Thou didst come down, the mountains quaked at Thy presence.

For from of old they have not heard not perceived by ear, neither has eye seen a God besides Thee Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him
. Isaiah 64:3&4

Monday, September 7, 2009

Four Hundred Years

An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. And Zaharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear gripped him.

So opens the communication, once again between the Creator and His creation!

400 years; that’s a long, long time.

400 years had been how long it had been since God had spoken to mankind. No prophets, no angelic appearances, no visions, no dreams; absolutely no communication whatsoever!

Silence, how does that make sense. Mankind left to himself leads only to degradation; nothing good comes from this type of silence.

Do not be afraid” were the first words from God in over 400 years. “Do not be afraid”; four words that speak volumes.

-God chose to open is communications once again with one single man.
-God did not allow the urgency of the message to be delivered to override His care for the individual.
-God chose to speak to an individual who was available; just doing his assigned duties.
-God re-opened communications with the physical presence of an angel to confirm the message.

So, how long has it been since you have heard from Him? The good news is that, at least, it couldn’t have been 400 years. Schedule some time to hear from Him soon! He will show up.