Mock worship

It was during the crucifixion trial of Jesus that he was mockingly worshipped (Mark 15:19). It was on the cross that he was reviled and ridiculed (Mark 15:32), even by the thief who would ultimately repent. It was the Roman soldier who understood that Jesus was the Messiah (Mark 15:39). 

 I think thoughtless worship is no better than mocking, reviling ridicule. When I come to church with any other reason than to worship my King, it is the cross all over again. I can fellowship with friends and family other times. I can talk about how things are going other times. 

And, though I can worship at other times as well, there is something precious about God’s family coming together to worship the Lord together.

It is absolute and irrevocable surrender that leads me from the facade of worship to that which is real. 

An undue amount of thought and consideration for myself is what keeps me from making that decision. I must become determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone.

Lord, you know how easily distracted I am. Help me worship you with my whole heart and life. Free me from thoughtless worship. May I worship you here and now as I will there and then.

Transformation

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

IMG_0832Transformation takes time. In Mark 4 Jesus teaches about the mustard seed, illustrating the Kingdom of God. Starting small, growing best in arid, poor conditions, it sluggishly matures into a tree. Transformation is like that. Even with small beginnings, even in poor conditions, transformation is possible.

Transformation requires preparation. Jesus mentions hard ground on which the seed can only lie; birds come and take it. Other seed falls on rocky ground, shallowness; the seed dies. Other seed falls on thorny places; its choked by other priorities. Other seed falls on soil that is prepared for it; it thrives.

Transformation is not always desired. In Mark 5, people ask Jesus to go away from them after he heals the demon possessed man. Astonishing! The work of God was not wanted. Also in this chapter is a woman healed and a child raised. Jesus transforms through his touch. Question, how much do I want to be changed?

Transformation prepares me to connect with God and others. Isolation is diabolical and deadly. The enemy desires disconnection from God and others. I am transformed by God’s comfort to comfort. I live authentically to connect with others who walk similar paths. None of this will happen if I am disconnected from my Lord. Sadly, if I try to connect with my friends but am not connected to the Lord in fellowship, I have nothing to offer.

Transformation prepares me to do the hard work. Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the crowds of needy people. Though inconvenient, even when they had nothing to offer or give, Jesus served.

Lord, I’m not sure about what transformation means for me, or what it might cost. But, I ask that you do this work in my life. I surrender to you because I trust you.

Discipleship

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24

All is intended for God’s glory. Soli Deo Gloria is a wonderful way to end the year and begin a new one. May I submit to His lordship – this is the essence of discipleship.

The world does not need a Christianized copy of itself. It does not need a diluted Jesus. What they need is a disciple of the Lord Jesus who is radical, distinctive and has a pure devotion to what He desires. True discipleship looks at others and asks, “What is it that I would need if I were them?” And, then does it. Discipleship touches life and lives with His grace, joy, and love.

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:10-13

What an amazing challenge. These six sentences portrait discipleship. Living life for God’s glory s about quality, motive, intentions. It’s not about quantity or results. Christ is always pursuing the heart. Living for His glory is the unending pursuit of Him.

Lord, help me touch all of life and every individual I meet with your grace, joy and love. Help me pursue your heart as diligently as you seek mine.

Transformed Mind

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

A transformed mind focuses on Jesus Christ as the sovereign Lord of all. There are many distractions, but truly one focus, Him! Being transformed results in a deep awe of God and His works. Surface shows, wearing masks – all gone. I am in awe of God.

Through His transforming work I become most able to know Him, resemble Him and enjoy Him. God has the right to do as He wishes around me, in me and for me. He doesn’t need to explain Himself. I can trust Him, not knowing, because I know Him.

The ultimate goal of all God does in and through me leads to one destination – fearing the Lord, loving Him, living for Him through my obedience.

Lord, thank you for loving me so much that You would transform me into Your likeness. Do what You desire to make me like You. Help me remember that all my happiness consists in loving You and being holy as You are.

Freedom

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 ESV)

I am learning that the battle against my freedom is fought in the secret place of prayer. The world seeks to sap my freedom. Busyness, demands, opportunities all attempt to get my attention and entice me to perform. The true work of God to me and within me is found in the secret place.

To live in the freedom of Christ, I must give prayer the priority it deserves. I live by trusting; and, this life is nurtured by prayer. Do I have a God-sized definition of prayer?

When I consider the finished work of Christ for me as well as for the entire world, how can I boast about what I have done? How can I discriminate against another? How can I not rejoice that through Him I am set free?

I return to a bound life when I do not glorify the Lord through my disbelief. There is no justifiable reason to doubt God’s promises. Only when we glorify Him through belief is freedom ensured.

Dear Lord of freedom, through you I am free. I am free unto you; you call me your child. I am free from all that separates us. My sin is cleansed, my heart restored. Thank you for freedom.

Love, Belief and Joy

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV)

Love Him…believe Him…find your joy in Him. Simple, yet profound words for my new week. I see them as foundational to my living. May all I love be founded upon my love for Him. May all I believe be founded upon my belief in Him. And, may all my joy be founded in the joy that comes from Him.

Loving God, believing Him and finding joy in Him means that I must seek His glory, His approval and His presence in contrast to seeking my own life goals or doing what I desire (Romans 2:7-8).

To love Him, believe Him and find my joy in Him, I must be willing to live all of life at the deepest possible level; it’s not just behavior, or the heart behind it, or the thoughts behind the heart but even the intentions of those thoughts.

Come, Lord Jesus
Abba Father,
I trust you
I surrender to you
You are more than enough
Set my love in order

The Heart

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24 ESV)

What destroys the most beautiful expressions of love? Answer: a corrupted heart

What keeps us from doing the unexpected for the undeserving so that we might watch God accomplish the unbelievable? Answer: an prideful heart

What interferes with my remaining faithful and steady when unwarranted treatment comes? Answer: a distracted heart

What absorbs my heart so much that I can nearly forget the Lord? Answer: a divided heart

What discontents my heart that I crave for more and more? Answer: an ungrateful heart

My heart is fragile, easily broken and damaged. As natural as this might be, the Lord protects my heart regardless of my situation. He purifies, humbles, focuses my heart by and on himself. There is no shifting ground that can make me stumble when he is my foundation.

A contented heart remembers the essentials. At birth and death, the essentials are food and clothing. Between birth and death is the challenge; shall I be content with what the Lord gives, even if it is just the essentials? A lifestyle of craving ends when I am content with my Lord’s giving.

Lord, You alone must be my one desire (Psalm 27:4); I, the underserving dwelling in your presence always, seeing you intimately, meditating about you intensely. I, the underserving with you as closely as humanly possible – this must be my one desire.

Sustaining Grace

…he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. (Hebrews 1:3)

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:5-8)

God is a sustaining God. His strength is all I need for every situation. By his commands, he sustains me.

Paul desired relief from a God given limitation; three times he asked for deliverance. God’s response was simple, “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 2:7-10). Why the limitation? Wouldn’t God want his children free from such limitations and fully free to live and work? Yes, to a point. The point in Paul’s situation was pride. He was given the limitation to keep him from becoming proud; he says it twice in these verses.

To keep me from becoming proud, God gave me ____________ AND grace to sustain.

This raises another question: how can I know what is really inside me? How is God’s work not only sustaining but revealing? I believe He not only reveals Himself to us but ourselves to us through His Word.
So, I must be still and get to know Him (Psalm 46:10). I must cease striving and let Him reveal how He is sustaining me, leading me to victory through the battles and limitations I face.

Lord, You are the Great Sustainer with your words and through your Word. Thank you that I can cease striving and depend on you totally. I trust you and surrender to you.

Contentment and Blessing

Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. (1 Peter 3:8-9)

The challenges are both internal and external. Internally, I desire to live a contented life. Externally, I desire to respond with blessing, regardless.

Contentment

There are unceasing attacks against contentment coming from all sides. Attacks come from advertisements, which I am quick to judge, but also comparisons I make, which I am a bit more hesitant to admit. Honestly, it could be the thoughts of comparison that are the most difficult to fight. Seeing another as ________ more than me is really unwarranted. I cannot be someone else nor can anyone be me. Understanding and accepting uniqueness is vital for contentment. And, the key is embracing the truth that my Lord is more than enough.

Living contentedly rests upon the truth that Christ is enough, always. Everything else floats between need/supply, lack/abundance, full/empty, have/have not… It is during  times of need that I learn that Christ is enough. I suppose that is why the Lord allows needs in His children. It’s not so much learning how to go without, as much as it is learning that I always have all I need in Christ.

Humility

Living with contentment opens the door to living humbly. Do I have the attitude toward _________? Can I give up privilege and adopt a position of humility? Can I see in everything a chance to die to selfish desires?

Lord, You are truly more than enough. I joyfully accept your decisions and limitations knowing that all You do is defined with Your definition of “best”. Help me remember these lessons and live my life in the greatest bounty of Your joy and provision.