fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

The Gift of Worship

The Gift of Worship by Julie McAllen

Why worship? Why praise? What does it mean to worship?

Jesus said to the woman at the well that the Father was looking for ones to worship him in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24). In this we learn we’re really not able to worship God without His Spirit. It is a provision then. Something He gives us. We tend to think of worship as something we are giving to Him, and it’s true that we are, but He made it possible and we receive strength in doing so. I only understood that when I felt unworthy to worship. The focus on my failings left as I focused on Him in worship. What a wonderful provision it is to be given a new Spirit in order to worship the One worthy of our praise! It is the air I breathe, to quote a worship song. He breathes His Spirit into us, and we breathe it out in worship. As long as we keep breathing, we’re alive! HALLELUJAH. Praise our God, giver of life.

Worship can be expressed in ritual but limiting it to the duty of attendance is blocking the full potential of the power of God’s Holy Spirit given to strengthen us. Have you ever given into sin and felt too unclean to worship God? Take heart, that is why God forgives sin. We are weak, fragile creatures prone to sin which separates us from God who is able to impart the strength to overcome. When we make a decision to praise Him even in the storms of life, we are trusting that forgiveness. Worship helps us get over feelings of unworthiness as we come into the presence of God. Does God need our praise then? No, we do. That is why God is so bent on forgiving us! Let’s face it, praises do not come easily out of our mouths if they’ve recently been used to curse. That weakens us. And so, we must go to God in prayer trusting that He forgives us, leave it behind and WORSHIP. Truly, this is the refreshment for which our souls thirst.

The accuser loves to steal our faith by reminding us of our failings. He desires to shut down our praises to God. Any enemy delights in his opponents weakness, so why give him more power by aligning yourself with his accusations? There is a balance in airing out our grievances then. We should not hide our pain, and it is good to confess our sins to others and ask for prayer, however, consider the amount of time you spend on each. Do you praise more than complain? Have you ever noticed how weak you feel after grumbling and complaining? Do you want to be made well? What’s the Great Physician prescribed? Praise!

From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
(Ps 8:2)

God ordains praise, not just for Him, but for us to use as a weapon equipping us with power against our foes–whether the foe is an actual person, situation or our own negative thoughts. Relief comes when we praise God. And the joy of the Lord strengthens us (Neh 8:10). We know what weakens us and we have an adversary whose more than willing to accompany us in our pity party. And why not, he wants us weak. But we’ve been given a Helper to strengthen us. It is up to us who to obey.

9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:9-12)

We have one mouth and it is not made for both cursing and praising. We choose how to use it. One choice weakens us, the other strengthens us.I used to read about the wicked tongue in James and think it only hurt the person who was the object of my cursing. I didn’t realize it could hurt me. Even if someone else does not hear our cursing against them…say like when we write it out in our diary or gossip to others about them…we have none the less been dwelling on negative thoughts toward them. Whose spirit does it crush? Theirs or ours?

4 The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life,
but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
(Proverbs 15:4)

It hurts us, our own spirits are CRUSHED. Devoting an unbalanced amount of time in retelling the wrong done against you by someone does not heal you, it hurts you. Your own tongue has deceived you then as the king of perversity claims dominion over it. Give your tongue over to praise. The enemy has nothing to work with there, no foothold, no open door. It is no wonder the enemy wants us yelling at one another. Our mouths become an open invitation when we curse someone (whether they hear it or not). Or we can choose to use the Helper of the Holy Spirit as a weapon against him when we praise God!

Lord, forgive me. It is so hard to surrender all. Break me Lord. Lead me in repentance of thoughts, tongue and action. I am perverse. Cleanse me. You are the rightful Lord and King over my these. Help me to surrender this death-dealing tongue to you. Father, discipline me with love and justice as you empower me to see your wisdom and ways. Hallelujah, you are God! My tongue is to praise you always. There is power in this tree of righteousness, this tree of life heals. Praises silence the foe. Aligning my tongue with the enemy only invites the darkness to steal my spirit. Your word is a protection over me. I pray Father what you have given me, “a wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” In the name of Jesus who owns this temple, I SHOUT this perversity out! Make room for the King, glory to God. I consecrate my tongue to His praise alone. This temple is a house of prayer and praise, the enemy has NO RESIDENCE here. There shall be no perversity in this tongue, for it belongs to the King. Come Lord Jesus, I lay it down at your cross. Crucify what is of the old nature and rise up renewed in Christ. By faith I receive it. Thank you Jesus, Lord of all. Amen.

Worship Music

I just marvel at the mass communication available to us all now that was not conceived of a few years back. We share worship music and Bible discussions via internet. Many modern churches post the lyrics on a screen as opposed to hymnals, and electric guitars are replacing organs. As one who grew up on rock music, it doesn’t offend me, yet I can clearly see how someone whose formative years were more conservative could not relate. Our world is always changing and with change comes some discomfort.

In selecting worship music, Christians have personal preferences. Contemporary or traditional? Contemporary Christian music is just another rock concert devoid of reverent worship some would say, but attendance at a conservative church singing traditional hymns can be irreverent also. It’s not about what kind of music, it’s the heart of the person worshiping. Look at Christmas songs. People annually mouth the words “Hallelujah” or “precious Jesus” to classic hymns and yet may have no reverence for God. So it is with traditional hymns or contemporary worship songs. Do we just mouth the words or actually worship? And is it wrong to give into passionate feelings? Some people use their bodies more expressively than others, while some keep their arms to themselves while welling up inside in silent praise. David gave into heartfelt worship and was despised by Michal for it. I can’t say that I ever despised anyone’s show of worship as Michal did, but I know I have giggled at the way some people worship and I know I also have been giggled at. But what appeared to be irreverent to Michal was heartfelt worship to David unto the Lord.
14 David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, 15 while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
16 As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.
17 They brought the ark of the LORD and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.
20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
21 David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.
(2 Sam 6:14-23)

I think David would rock on at a contemporary Christian concert don’t you? I’ve been to plenty of secular rock concerts in my day and know a crowd can be stirred up by the lights, electric guitars and pounding drums giving their message a follow-along chant. If we agree rock music has an enormous influence persuading young people into unhealthy lifestyles, then why not contemporary Christian music? It influences action also. The time spent in worship spills over into our Christian lives leaving us more hungry to pray, study the Bible, commit to ministry and charity. Worship music is intended to produce a sacrifice of PRAISE in contrast to some secular rock songs whose clear intention is to glorify self gratification. So, why not give into praise? When I raise my hands to Him in praise and proclaim “Holy, Holy, Holy” it is because I know He is far more worthy of that title than me. Deep feeling is involved and it releases me from my own shame and sin to give Him that praise. God alone is Holy. He raises us up to silence His enemies and renew our spirits.

So I’ve come to view worship as a gift from God. One I give back to Him regularly. And as with any other religious practice, we’re encouraged to ask, “why am I doing this? Is it for me or for God?”
 

4 Then the word of the LORD Almighty came to me: 5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? 6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? 7 Are these not the words the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?’ ”
8 And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’
(Zech 7:4-10)

Whether in fasting or feasting, who are we doing it for? Are we conservatively fasting for self or God? Are we exuberantly worshiping for self or God? It shows us how far from holiness and true love we are if we only perform but are without the true worship God intends. And true worship relates to the administration of justice, mercy and compassion (James 1:27). It is not that we fast or feast, worship this way or that way or with that music or this music, but that it brings forth the desired heart of God within us which translates into love towards others.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name. (Heb 13:15)

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

June 28, 2010 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions, Prayer Requests | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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