Tag Archives: Worship

Wholesome and Clean

Ezekiel 37:23b – I will wash away their sin and make them clean, and I will protect them from everything that makes them unclean. They will be my people, and I will be their God. (CEV)

There is a major house renovation going on close to where we live. Actually, it has been in progress for weeks and weeks – new roof, insulation, siding, windows, doors, sunroom and storage addition – a complete overhaul! I don’t know, because I have not seen inside, but I have to assume that there is a great deal of updating, repair and cleaning being addressed inside the home too: and I assume this due to the time it is taking to complete the work.

I recall when my husband and I, were looking for a home in this park, that we viewed one particular unit that was in a beautiful location, the price was amazing (it would have left a great deal of ‘spare’ cash for renovations) but the condition inside was nothing short of ‘disgusting’: how anyone could have lived in the home in the condition it was in, was beyond our comprehension.

We had agreed that we were willing to move into a house of our choice and do work while living there, but the filth and the updates needed in that particular house, were way too bad for us to even consider moving in and living there in – there was far too much to do to make it habitable.

When some people are challenged to give their lives to God and invite Jesus into their hearts, they recognize the truth that they have sinned before God. As a result, they want to clean up their lives before they issue an invitation to Jesus. They don’t yet understand that God comes into our lives to clean us up, precisely because we can’t do it for ourselves.

Isaiah 64:6a – But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags. (NKJV)

The good news is that God loves us just as we are. So when we become willing to accept God into our lives, thankfully, He does not shun our dirty lives like we rejected that dirty home. He welcomes us and cleanses us. He does not leave us as we are, with our disparaging thoughts, our criticism of others, our idolatry of all things material, and all our major and minor sinful ways. This process is called “sanctification”.

 Isaiah 1:16Wash yourselves clean! I am disgusted with your filthy deeds. Stop doing wrong. (CEV)

Just as the house we viewed had much to clean up before being habitable, so God needs to clean up our lives, thoughts, and actions, so that we become a true reflection of His Son, Jesus, in our hearts, minds, and spirits.

James 4:8 – Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you people who can’t make up your mind. (CEV)

Prayer: Abba, make us aware of all that is in our lives, our thoughts, and our deeds, that is unworthy of Your presence within us. Wash us clean, and renew our spirits and hearts so that we are wholesome, presentable, and welcoming to all who look at us and the ways that we live. We want to be acceptable to You and winsome to them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

http://pepeprays.wordpress.com

 

Leaping To Conclusions

The receiver stretches and reaches the goal-line.  The referee raises his arms straight up. “Touchdown!”  Everyone on the team leaps in the air for joy.  Oh, but wait.  The play must be reviewed.  In seconds, excitement evaporates.  Adrenaline dissolves.

It’s not all that hard to get excited when your football team scores a touchdown, your ball-team hits a homerun, or your basketball team sinks a 3-pointer in the final second of a tie ballgame.  It’s not a struggle to celebrate with like-minded enthusiasts.  They are loyalists– loyal to their team–just like you.

Yet, it makes me wonder.  Every time I see the celebration, the frivolity, the joy, I muse. Why do Christians exhibit so little joy when their Savior is praised in Sunday worship?  Shouldn’t we be just as excited, and happy, as thrilled when we see a lost person come to Jesus? When we hear a soloist sing a powerful song of praise extolling the amazing grace we have in Jesus, why do we know raised our hands in praise and joy; our sins are washed away!  We have victory in Jesus!  We’ve overcome the world through Him! Are we not on His team?

“The LORD is my strength and my shield;

my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.

My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.” Psalm 28:7

I thought I was going to come apart last week when a soloist sang of God’s amazing grace and how He’d covered his sin and forgave him despite his rebellion.  My mind jumped up and down with joy!  God so loves us.  He’s won the war with Satan.  He’s overcome the world.  He’s wiped out death. He forgives my sin.  His grace is abundant! I get to spend an eternity in His glory and presence!  Then, I shared that joy outloud.  I clapped my hands and said, “Amen! Amen! Praise God!”  Another lady in front of me turned to see me.  She clapped her hands, in a moment, she wiped tears from her eyes.  She knew.  She grasped the import of the praise and glory due the LORD.  Our hearts joined in exultation, as most sat in ho-hum silence.  How do we sit silent during a clarion call to praise to His holy name?

Oh, I know we all have problems.  I know there are difficulties in lives I am unaware of.  I know that some people just are not emotionally demonstrative.  Yet, I am not talking emotion.  I am talking knowingly giving God glory for what He is and what He’s done, and what He’s doing in our lives.

Fans leap to conclusions with enthusiasm at the prospect of a silly score, yet barely crack a smile when they know, without a doubt, the conclusion of our mighty God. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to sit on the sidelines waiting for the referee to review my faith.  I don’t want to sit idly by and walk out of the stadium the same way I came in.  I want to leap for joy! After all, “leaping to conclusions” is a sure thing…when it comes to Jesus.

Hariette Petersen, SelahV Today, 2011

 

Joy

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart” (Where?) Down in my heart (Where?) Down in my heart to stay!”

I sang that song in Sunday School. I grew up in the church. So many classic Sunday School songs come back to me now and minister to my heart – just when I need them.

Some things are just timeless. Their lessons –albeit simple – are resounding.

I’ve been thinking about joy lately. How it seems to escape so many of us. And this simple Sunday School song came flooding back to my mind and to my lips.

Oh, how confidently a child can sing out that they have joy! They don’t shoulder the cares and burdens of a life filled with responsibility, hurt, and hard decisions that need to be made.

But deep inside this adult heart – still lives that child. And still lives that joy. That joy may just have been pushed deeper, but it’s still there. For I don’t believe God can exist in a heart aside from joy. For it is a part of who He is.

Joy. Joy gives us our strength. It helps us laugh through pain. It brings us hope. Love. Peace. Perspective. Focus. That’s joy. It reminds us who we’re living for.

I’m on a journey. A journey to dig deep and grab hold of that joy that has been pushed down underneath all the other “stuff” of life. I’m ready to set it up on top of everything and let it lead me in life. Let it fill me.

How about you? Where is your joy? Has it been pushed down too deep inside of you? Is it time to bring it up out into the open again?

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalm 28:7

~ Dionna Sanchez

http://beautyinthestorm.blogspot.com

 

What Is The World Coming To?

People wonder.

In light of the recent crop of wars popping up in the Middle-East nations, people wonder.

With the speculations of Apocalypse, Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, people wonder.

Yesterday, I read about the burning of 69 churches in Ethiopia, 30 Christian homes, a Christian orphanage, a Christian office building, and more.  Blatant sin is touted as okay by NFL greats, million-dollar actors, and yes, everyday average people.  Christians succumb to sexual immorality.  Society accepts and tolerates more and more sin as the new norm: “addiction”.

Indeed…what IS the world coming to?  That was a question posed on a friend’s Facebook status wall tonight.  I was first out of the gate to answer:  “An End.”

Others chimed in with similar gloom and doom.   One recalled a childhood saying: “to hell in a handbasket, whatever that means.”

The forthcoming reply:  Handbaskets were for picnics.  So it means that it’s going to hell and no one cares.”

Then there was the clarion shout, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”

Longings.  Sighs.  “I’m ready.”

Finally, a self-described “contrarian” voice of profundity admonished:

“…It’s coming to a glorious rebirth! I’ve never quite understood why we Christians allow the temporal brokenness and sinfulness of the present order to overshadow the promise of all things made new.” Paul Littleton

A pin dropped and I heard it.  Pow!  Thud!  What is the world coming to?  Rebirth.  A new Jerusalem.  Peace.  Goodness and Glory.  Majesty!  A kaleidoscope of colorful beauty!  Wonder of wonders!

Praise when the voice is weakest.

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” Revelation 21:2

Hope when the world is blackest. 

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21:5

What is the world coming to?  A new dawning.  A glorious new day.

Prayer:  Oh, Lord, whatever the world does, we know those who trust in You will see a new earth filled with your glory and majesty.  As the world rebels against your will and way, and false prophets rise up to confuse and lead others astray, we know You will not abandon the children who stand firm in their faith in You.  We praise You, exalt You, and rest in You, oh Lord our King and Redeemer.

© Hariette Petersen, SelahV Today, 2011

Mountain Top Feeling

“As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” – Luke 9:33

This morning I’m crawling out of my sleeping bag on the floor of a church in Central Florida. I’m surrounded by the sounds and smells of 15 middle school boys. Later today we will be wrapping up the final day of a 2-day conference for middle school students that has challenged them. It has taken some of the students to a place in their walk with Christ that many of them have never been. Some of them made decisions last night and some will make decisions later today today.

I’ve been to dozens of these types of conferences/retreats where on Saturday afternoon when we are packing up to come home we will have the feeling that we want to stay right here. We’ll sacrifice sleeping in our comfy beds, going to bed on time, showering, and having access to Facebook; to simply stay here.

These conferences reveal a glimpse of what heaven will be like. What it will be like to do nothing but sing praises to Jesus for all eternity. It is easy for us to express ourselves in worship when we’re surrounded by hundreds or thousands of others who are doing likewise and we don’t have to worry about being made fun of for being a Christian. We want to cling to every chord and lyric that is sung because we know we have to go soon, but it is when we leave and take the News that we just heard and put it into action that we’re changed.

We take the Gospel to the people who desperately need it. We take what we learn and share it with a generation that is crying out for someone to show them love. In Matthew 28 we are commissioned to “go and make disciples.” That is what we do when we leave these conferences.

My prayer for today is that not only will these 29 boys and girls get it, but that everyone who reads this will get it as well. That we’re not to stay up on the mountain, but we come down and share what we’ve been blessed with.

 

How To Worship God

My 4 year-old granddaughter Kinsey graduated to “big church” from the pre-school department. Now she gets to stay with us until the welcoming time and then she goes to children’s church with the older kids. Today she was swaying to the combined choirs and singing along. She was so happy to be part of the worship time like her older sister. This introduction into corporate worship is exciting for her.

Sometimes people get all caught up in mechanics, methodology and emotions when worshipping. Some folks think they have to feel a certain way, to act a certain way, to respond a certain way. Some are told their worship is invalid because they do not raise their hands; their hearts are cold because they do not offer continual “Amen and Praise the Lord” in response to music and preaching. As Kinsey begins to learn the meaning of worshipping God, she will watch what others do. She will mimic at times. She will have many questions. But the sweetest thing today was that she wanted to participate. As I watched Kinsey’s expressions, her enthusiasm made me think of what Jesus said about worship:

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

Our spirit combines with God’s Spirit the moment we believe the Truth. God breaks through our surrendered will and ingrafts His Life with our soul. Once we are regenerated by His grace, we are never without the ability to worship our Creator. Unlike Kinsey, we may have times we feel dead. We may be in crisis and incapable of feeling–but our worship is as genuine as the day we were saved because our spirit bears witness with His eternally. Our faith in Christ and our gratitude for Him is our true worship. And when we cannot muster our broken hearts to praise, the Holy Spirit holds it up to the Father and offers prayer in our behalf.

Do we become complacent in our joy to worship our Lord? Do we care more about how worship affects us and pleases others? Or is our priority in having a prepared heart, and an open mind to hear His voice and how much praise and adoration He deserves for who He is?

PRAYER: Thank you for making it possible to worship in spirit and in truth through Your Son’s sacrifice. Lord, keep us ever mindful of the glory of Your grace and mercy. Let our hearts be open to receive You and surrender our will to Yours and love You for all You are.

© Hariette Petersen, SelahV Today, 2011