I believe that God wants us to live an ABUNDANT life. A VICTORIOUS life! He wants to be magnified in us. He desires to be evident in all we do. He wants our lives to glorify Him. Whether we are at home, at work, at school, in our cars…
I love to worship. Whether I worship while I am leading songs, worshipping God in the privacy of my own home, or in public alongside of others, worshipping Him through prayer, or worshipping Him through my daily tasks in caring for my family… I love to worship the Almighty. When I worship, and focus on all God has done for me, His love for me and my love for Him, I recognize that I am so blessed. My favorite time of personal worship and devotion is in the dark, quiet hours of the morning…right before the sun rises and the birds begin their flurry of songs, and before any of my children start to stir – this is a precious time between me and Jesus.
Worshipping alongside of other believers can also be a great experience. There have been times of worship when I feel as if the rest of the world seems to fade away. In those very moments the cares of this world completely leave my mind and my heart, and the only thing that matters is the encounter I am having with God. In those times I sense His pleasure, His presence, His peace. I feel passionate about Him and I feel His passion for me. I love experiencing the manifest presence of God. As great as these experiences can be, only encountering God in this way during a church service or conference is not enough.
After all, there are 168 hours in a week. If I only worship God in this manner for 30 minutes on Sundays and Wednesdays, that would only be an hour a week. I need more of His presence than that…I need to experience His presence daily in order to have a growing, thriving, intimate relationship with my Maker.
I must always keep in mind, that it is not just about me seeking Him out and me spending time with Him…the Creator of all wants to spend time with me! He longs to see me worship Him through every trial and every victory.
Worship is a lifestyle. We were created to glorify God.
Luke 4:8 “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”
John 4:24 “God is spirit and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Ephesians 5:15-20 “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This scripture instructs us to speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. As we sing and make music to the Lord, as we worship Him, it is that worship that will consume us. It is difficult to allow the cares and concerns of this world consume us when we are singing in our hearts, and with our mouths.
What consumes us anyway? What keeps us from times of worship? Is it fear, anxiety, worry? A general sense of being overwhelmed? Are we distracted by the cares and curiosities that this world has to offer? Television and movies offer a picture of where our society is at in terms of seeking an adrenaline rush, suspense, fear – there is a market for anxiety producing material. Extreme sports, drama, suspense, murder, criminal behavior, sexually explicit content all seem to draw a crowd in our media driven culture. People like the feeling of suspense, facing the unknown, having their hearts race as the plot thickens. Then they are hooked! Television and movies also play to the supernatural curiosities of people as well. There is quite a market for vampires, angels and demons. The daily news leaves us with a sense of “what if?” Stories of the economy, war, terror, theft, abuse, earthquakes, destruction, poverty. All these worries and fears can consume our thoughts, and keep us bound to worry rather than being released to worship.
As a counselor, I loved to see people living victoriously and being set free. I had the privilege of working with families, couples and individuals. I enjoyed working with adoptive families, both parents and children. Many issues that were addressed in counseling sessions had anxiety tangled in its roots. When people were dealing with sexual addictions, there seemed to be an extra measure of being consumed. There was the constant bombarding of the images resurging in their mind; the re-exposure of things they had seen and allowed themselves to entertain. There was also the compounding worry and fear they carried. Fear of who would find out, compounded yet again by the shame they felt. These issues were all-consuming and painful for those dealing with them.
Given the statistics, I realize that people reading this blog may be dealing with their own issues in these areas. I wish you could hear the sound of my voice and see the look on my face as I write and speak about these issues. I hold no judgement or condemnation for you. I wish we could talk story about the places we have been in this life. We all walk through many difficult seasons, and many of us have or will walk through a tremendous amount of pain. I will say that in my own life there have been times of painful circumstances, and difficult situations. Times when fear gripped me in such a powerful way, that I felt consumed. I can say that God in His grace has truly set me free and blessed me be transforming my mind. I thank God that He has delivered me from fear.
There are times when fear raises its head in our lives. When we recognize that we have a choice to make. Will I be concerned about this issue, or will I let it consume me. There is a difference in being consumed or concerned. When we are concerned we are prayerful, and because we are praying we can patiently await the victory. During the process of praying and believing our faith is often increased. In contrast, being consumed keeps us in a place of anxiousness. We do not want to allow the worries and cares of this world to steal our peace and our joy. If we have concerns about finances, relationships, health, or our children we want to pray and worship the Lord through all circumstances. As we are walking in wisdom and making the most of every opportunity, we will make the most of worshipping our Lord.
Proverbs 12:25 tells us that worry weighs us down! Fear is never a friend. Worry keeps us bound to our circumstances. Worry actually pulls our thoughts away from God by pulling us into our own consuming thoughts. There are so many things in this life that are beyond our control. There are many issues we face and troubles that come our way. When troubles, temptations or times of discouragement come, we have to know how to seek God and worship our way through every trial.
In John 16:33, Jesus shares about the troubles of this world and that we must find peace in Him. “I have told you these things so that in me you might have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.”
Our youngest son had significant medical issues as an infant and several hospitalizations. After two different diagnoses, and significant concern, we had times of heavy realization, recognizing that our sweet son could die. There were so many times that I felt devastated. Fear would grip me in a way that I felt I could not escape. At times, this fear would completely overwhelm my thoughts.
After several hospital stays, he had a major surgery to re-sect part of his bowel and create a colostomy. After this initial surgery, the stoma was not working. Our son was not responding. He was lethargic, not speaking, not wanting food…his stoma was not effective, and the surgeons began to discuss the possibility of having to re-do the surgery. My husband and other five children were in a hotel room in a strange city as I stayed in the hospital with our son. I was lonely and desperate for God to move on behalf of our child. I was sending out text messages and voicemail asking people to pray. It had been over a week since our son had eaten. His stoma was turning black and there were many different theories about what could be happening. I felt exhausted and overwhelmed and afraid!
That night I wept before the Lord and begged Him to hear my cries. I journaled and prayed and felt His presence. God spoke clearly to my heart. He told me to get up and worship Him. He spoke to me about praying over our son, speaking blessing over him, and reading the Word over him. The Lord told me to speak LIFE over my son. As I wept, worshipped and prayed, the worry began to lift. I spoke out specific scriptures over my son’s lifeless body. I read Psalm 139 and repeated verses over and over again about my son being fearfully and wonderfully made! I continued to speak scriptures over my son from Jeremiah 29 as well. I read aloud about God having a plan for his life. Plans to prosper him and to give him a hope and a future. I prayed for the doctors, that they would know exactly what to do with out another surgery and I believed that God spoke to me that night that I was to continue worshipping Him through this and that our son would not need another surgery, he was going to be fine.
The next morning the doctors came in as a team. This was a teaching hospital and 6 or more doctors would do rounds each morning. This morning they had an idea to try something so simple, and it worked! Our prayers were answered, our son’s stoma began working, by the next day he took a few bites of food. Our faith as a family was strengthened and our worries diminished. As our son has continued to have other medical issues, God has continuously whispered to my heart, reminding me to worship rather than worry. This is not just a reminder for me. As I share this, I pray that it ministers to you, too. That you choose to worship through your circumstances.
Sometimes our fears change overtime or we tuck them neatly away, and try to ignore them. Or, maybe our fears no longer look like fear because they have manifested in different ways like anger, insecurity, or addictions. This creates another issue for us, because compound fears can develop. If we worry that someone may find out how we really feel, or what we are really like, or find out about some deep dark sin that we have really struggled with, we start to worry about our reputation. We can become concerned about someone being disappointed in us, or liking us less. This thinking, can make us fearful and longing for the approval of others. In turn it takes the focus off of worshipping the Lord, and can leave us worried and wondering about others.
Our loyalty belongs to God alone. We do not serve man, we serve a mighty God. We are called to love Him deeply, serve Him wholeheartedly, and pursue a lifestyle that glorifies Him. When we love deeply, that love consumes us. When we serve God with everything we have, well…serving him with everything leaves no room for anything else. And when we choose to pursue Him, we spend the time to seek after Him, investing in our relationship with Him, loving Him and looking for His response. He will answer us as we seek Him.
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fear!” Psalm 34:4
“Whoever listens to me will live in safety, and be at ease without fear of harm.” Proverbs 1:33
The Apostle Paul lays out a wonderful plan for us in Philippians 4:4-7. He tells us to be anxious about nothing, to be prayerful about everything, and to be thankful for all things. He continues in verse 8 by telling us what we should surround ourselves with…whatever is true, right, pure, lovely.
Praise God about everything! Pray about everything and in every circumstance! Practice being a worshipper…and let God’s peace wash over you! We serve an awesome God who loves us and wants us to live a life-style of worship. A life free from fears and worries and anything else that would detract from the abundant, victorious life he has planned for us.
**Books that were referenced as I studied for and gleaned information for this teaching were:
The Guideposts Parallel Bible (King James Version, New International Version, Living Bible, Revised Standard Version), Originally published as The New Layman’s Parallel Bible, 1981
The Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Second Edition, 2007
Having a Mary Heart in Martha World, Chapter 3, Joanna Weaver, 2000
Imagine your Life Without Fear, Max Lucado, 2009
The Unquenchable Worshipper, Matt Redman, 2001