The True Heart of Worship

 

“Worship at church wasn’t that great today.”
“I really didn’t feel anything during the worship time.”

Sadly, these phrases are uttered week in and week out across the fabric of most Western church cultures. The problem isn’t the choice of music or the way in which a worship service is carried out; the real problem is our lack of understanding what real worship consists of.
My goal here is not to exhaust the term “worship” and its many facets, but rather to examine the role of worship as it pertains to personal discipleship. People enter church with the false perception that worship is about their experience rather than their obedience. We obey by responding to who God is through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, but we tend to make the mistake of viewing our worship through the lens of our corporate experience rather than as an extension of our personal time with God.
Worship at its core is a way of life. That way of life is expressed by King David in Psalm 63:1 – “O God, you are my God; early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for you.” Here we get a glimpse of a man who intimately knew God. David wasn’t sitting in the temple when he wrote those words. He wasn’t in some religious ceremony with hundreds of other people. Instead, he was in the wilderness of Judah.
Part of our worship means that we find ourselves alone before God with His Word in hand. It’s the Word of God that should inform our worship, not a feeling or experience. The apostle Paul writes, “[We] ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10).
Paul shows us that it’s necessary to understand God through growth in knowledge. This is a key component to discipleship and worship. Also notice that as we grow in knowledge and understanding we begin to walk in a manner that is worthy of the Lord. Paul further exhorts, “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” (Romans 12:1 NIV). So, true worship comes from a true knowledge of who God is according to His Word. And that knowledge allows us to offer up our lives to reflect the glory of God.
Corporate worship is certainly essential to our discipleship, but we must be careful not to ascribe to it more than God’s Word authorizes. We should not allow the culture or current trends to define proper responses to worship, but rather the Word of God. And we must also be careful not to allow worship to become merely intellectual. Like David, we must earnestly seek him and love him. That is the true heart of worship.

Article written by Corey Franklin. Featured in S.R. Discipleship Issue

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How to Love the “Unlovable”

7 Things

Seven Things to Keep in Mind When Dealing with a Difficult Person

1. Commit to forgive. If you are a child of God, forgiveness is not optional, nor is it easy. But it is beneficial. “And the peace of God, which transcendsall understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 NIV).

2. Forgive quickly. Don’t let the hurt and anger fester or you will be in bondage, giving power to others’ negative words or actions. “If you are angry, do not let it become sin. Get over your anger before the day is finished” (Ephesians 4:6 NLV).

3. Stay in your Bible. Get a red-letter edition, and read the words of Jesus. Savor them. Let them breathe life and peace into you as you embrace the very mind of Christ. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had” (Romans 15:5 NIV).

4. Pray for those who irritate or torment you. Nothing will help you flip the switch from anger to compassion faster than praying blessings on those you’d rather smack in the face. Take it to the Lord in prayer. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44 NIV).

5. Be kind. If it doesn’t come naturally to show kindness to a mean-spirited person, think in terms of killing him or her with kindness. When we practice forgiveness, we preach without words. The tone you set may even serve as a catalyst that will inspire other someone else to forgive.  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).

6. Remember, it’s not about you. Forgiveness is not about you and your emotional pain. It’s about God’s sacrificial love and your willingness to apply His example to your life. As a child of God, you are required to: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above [yourself], not looking to your own interests but . . . to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV).

7. Forgive in God’s strength, not your own. To forgive as far as east is from west, you’ll need divine intervention. Connect to Christ at a root level, and let Him do the work. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:5, 10 NIV).

Article written by Candy Abbott. Originally published in SR Forgiveness Issue 

Suffering Well as a Living Sacrifice

In the current spiritual climate we are told that if we have enough faith we need not suffer.  That we can be healthy, wealthy, and free of pain if we just believe hard enough.  This “prosperity” gospel, while widely popular, is really just another false gospel that dilutes the true teachings of Jesus Christ.  Think about it.  Can a gospel that excludes Jesus ever be true?  For He surely never had great material wealth and he certainly suffered greatly.  Jesus even tells us to expect suffering: “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Notice how He not only leaves his followers with a warning but also a promise of comfort.  This sentiment is echoed throughout the Bible.  Though we may face times of great trials, God never abandons us and we can take great comfort in the fact that He  is our source of peace.

devotionals

Inevitably in these situations the question arises, Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?  Before answering this question I think we must first realize that we live in a fallen world.  God did not bring suffering into the world.  Rather, it came as a natural consequence to sin.  When Adam and Eve chose to willing disobey God they forever brought pain, suffering, and death into the world.

Secondly, I believe we need to see that there is purpose in our suffering.  Romans 5:3-5 states “ … we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope; and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”  And James 1:2-4 adds, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Clearly, we can see in the midst of our suffering that God is using it to refine and grow us, sanctifying us for His purposes.

In no way am I trying to diminish the reality of any pain we experience.  Certainly the hurt we endure is physically and emotionally tangible.  I am simply pointing out that we are not alone in our suffering.  We do not serve an unfeeling God.  He cares deeply for us and shares in our pain.  “Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested” (Hebrews 2:18).

Remember also that “Jesus wept.”  These two words are found in John 11:35 and are famous for comprising the shortest verse in the Bible but should be remembered more for their significance, for they show so much about the heart of our Lord.  He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but still He shed tears.  Why?  Because He was wholly sympathetic to the grief of those around Him.  His heart was filled with sorrow for the pain of His children.

Suffering is an inescapable reality of life.  Yet, how we choose to approach it can define its ultimate outcome.  We can become self-absorbed and bitter, cursing God for our pain, allowing our trails to be in vain.  Or we can choose to seek out God and allow Him to use our suffering for His Glory and for our good.  We can choose to inspire and encourage those around us through our understanding and steadfast faith.  We can trust that His promises are true and that we will one day share in His glory.  The decision is ultimately yours.  I pray you choose to suffer well.

Excerpt from Signet Ring Suffering Issue  by Kyle Hubbard

Who Am I?

Who Am IWhoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, yet before our relationships and lives can truly be filled and fulfilled by Jesus Christ, our identity must be found in and through His own Identity.  Both an improper view of self and an improperview of God will result in a distorted understanding of our unique roles within the Body of Christ; however, such distortions are vanquished when “we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 5:20).  

Since the beginning of His public ministry nearly two thousand years ago, the Carpenter from Nazareth has prompted countless souls to ask, “Who is this Jesus?”  The answer, of course, will always lead to another profound and personal question:

Who am I?

Consider your answer before you read on.

Though formidable, this necessarily reflective inquiry is best satisfied by the response to an additional three:

Where did I come from?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…”  (Genesis 1:1, 26-28)

Why am I here?

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.  He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick… So they went out and preached that people should repent.  And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them. (Luke 9:1-2; Mark 6:12-13)

Jesus came and spoke to them [the disciples], saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” (Matt. 28:19-20)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

Where am I going?

“I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God… And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.  God Himself will be with them and be their God.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away… And He said to me, “…I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.  He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.  There shall be no night there: for the Lord God gives them light.  And they shall reign forever and ever. (Rev. 21:1-7; 22:4-5)

Article by Jon Birch

Excerpt from Signet Ring Magazine Discipleship Issue

The Latest Addition of Signet Ring Now Available

Signet Ring, God is love!
Signet Ring, God is love!

The Latest Addition of Signet Ring “God is Love”

Love is the heartbeat of Christianity. This world desperately needs His love; not religion, not a check list, not a social club, but love. The crucible of our faith in Jesus is not found in church, credentials, or connections, but within our hearts. Read and find authors defining and displaying His love in this great issue!