Simply Jesus: This Is Worship!

Keith NIxThe Lift Church

“One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. She had put it aside, one cent and then another and then another, in her careful buying of meat and other food. Della counted it three times. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was nothing to do but fall on the bed and cry. So Della did.”

So begins the classic tale titled, The Gift of the Magi, written by O’Henry and published December 10, 1905. It has been in print ever since and adapted multiple times and ways in books, theater, and movies. You most likely remember the story of a young couple entirely in love with each other who each wanted to buy the other something meaningful for Christmas. They were living on the edge of poverty and had no money to purchase what they wanted, so Della sold locks of her beautiful hair to buy Jim an exquisite chain for the expensive pocket watch given to him by his grandfather. Meanwhile, Jim pawned his precious pocket watch to purchase hair combs for her hair.

Although they were each holding gifts that were no longer useful to them, the irony of their extravagant purchases paled in the light of the love they held for one another. Jim and Della Young powerfully demonstrate that true love is unselfish and sacrificially giving.

The great missionary to India, Amy Carmichael, said, “You can always give without loving, but you can never love without giving.” I am in awe of the Magi. They traveled 900 miles motivated to worship simply Jesus. They considered it the highest honor to see the baby and to give Him gifts. They weren’t inspired by what they would receive but what they could provide. This is worship.

Whenever someone says, “I love you.” There is in the statement an implied question, “Do you love me?” Think about it. We love our children unconditionally and communicate our love in a myriad of ways they will never comprehend until they grow to our age. And still, when we say, “I love you” to the little darlings, we enjoy hearing it returned to us. I know Margie, and I do.

God has emphatically declared His love for us in a myriad of ways, but the highest expression is on the Cross! There on Golgotha’s hill, Jesus forever shouts, “I love you!” to all humanity! Corrie Ten Boom once said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not it’s duration but it’s donation.” How do we measure the life and love of God then? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16]

Corrie Ten Boom once said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not it’s duration but it’s donation.” Click To Tweet

Our response to God’s “I love you” is called worship! Worship is our “I love you, too!” Its expression includes singing, the raising of hands, clapping, jumping, and dancing. But worship is far more than what typically defines it in modern Christianity. In reality, worship is a lifestyle.

The lifestyle of worship includes singing and all the above, but at its core, it reaches further inward. Holiness is worship. Prayer is worship. Devotion is worship. Giving is worship. Doing good for others is worship. Simply put, the way I live my life every day when no one is looking is the expression of my worship. Loving God with my life is my response to God’s great “I love you” to me!

Worship Isn’t Always Convenient

I am in awe of the Magi. They traveled 900 miles! Simply to find Jesus and worship. [See Matthew: 2:1-12] The leading religious leaders and scholars were a mere five miles away from where Jesus was born but never made an effort to find Him. Moses didn’t encounter the Almighty in the burning bush until he turned aside from his usual path. [See Exodus 3:3-4] King David, who understood worship like few others, declared that He would not offer anything to God that didn’t cost him personally.

Worship Is An Offering

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” [Acts 20:35] This phrase, especially in the Aramaic, carries the idea that those who try to give more than they receive are the blessed ones! Indeed this is true of the Magi who made the inconvenient and uncomfortable journey to Bethlehem. They came to worship! And they worshipped by not only bowing low before the King, but they gave gifts of their substance to Him. Gold in recognition that He is King. Frankincense was acknowledging that He is the Great High Priest. And myrrh, rejoicing that His death would bring life to all who believe and receive!

Worship Is Its Own Reward!

Like the Magi of old, true worshippers today consider the blessing of worship to be the right of participation! There is no record of anything they received. We don’t even know if the Child smiled at them. I, of course, assume He did, but I don’t know for sure. What did these men who invested so much of their time, substance, and energy hope to receive from their act of worship? Their joy was merely in the knowledge that they were privileged to recognize Jesus and give themselves to His purpose and plan. THIS IS WORSHIP!

Like the Magi of old, true worshippers today consider the blessing of worship to be the right of participation! Click To Tweet

What about you and me? Are we more focused on what we will receive than what we can give? Does the auditorium need to look a certain way? Does the music have to be our style? Does the attire of the singers have to be pleasing to our eyes before we can enter in and truly worship? Are we conscious of His presence in the ordinary mundane moments of living or only in a more important setting with a concert feel?

Do we need convincing of the return on our investment before we can let it leave our hand? Do we need our names on plaques of recognition to motivate our generosity? Are we gladly scheduling family gatherings, office parties and gatherings with friends during the holiday seasons but reluctant to add worship services, prayer gatherings or ministry outreaches?

I am in awe of these unnamed Magi who vanish in history after their act of worship to the King who was but a babe when they saw Him. I too, want to be a wise worshipper and love God as they did, only more! I pray the core of my life will always be, simply Jesus. How about you?

3 Truths I Learned From The Wise Men

Keith NIxThe Lift

Have you ever seen a satellite in space? Most likely, you have and didn’t realize it. I recently read that twenty-seven satellites on six different orbital planes at an altitude of 12,400 miles circle the earth at 8,640 miles per hour. They each circle twice a day, with four of them visible at all times everywhere on the planet, sending signals to radar stations around the world. These fantastic machines form the Global Positioning Satellite system which is amazingly accurate and help make this the most mobile generation in history.

Many people travel more than 30 miles each day, but in the time of the birth of Christ, the average person never traveled beyond a 30-mile radius of their birthplace; this makes the story recorded in Matthew 2 all the more amazing:

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who was born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are no longer least among the princes of Judah; for out of you shall come a Governor, who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, carefully inquired of them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring me word again, so that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed. And the star which they saw in the east went before them until it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great excitement. And when they came into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Mt. 2:1-11 MEV

While most believe this happened as just part of the Christmas season, in reality, these wise men didn’t show up at the birth of Jesus but at while later. Sorry, but they were not gathered with the Shepherds around the manger while the cattle were lowing. I take the time to point this out because the lessons I want to share with from the Wise Men are much more than sweet little Christmas devotionals for December.

THE WISE SEEK HIM

The first lesson seems quite obvious and has become a cliché: “Wise men seek Him!” Or another way to phrase it is: Wise men and women go out of their way to encounter God! The religious scholars lived just 5 miles away from where Jesus was born, but not one of them traveled that short distance to see Him. Meanwhile, these Magi went at least 900 miles, not in a beautiful, comfortable Cadillac but on a camel’s back. It had to be uncomfortable, but they determined it was well worth it! How about you? Are you ready to allow some discomfort in your life in this next season? Why ask this? Because the last time you were uncomfortable was the last time, you grew! To get in better shape physically requires a measure of discomfort. The same is true emotionally, mentally and spiritually. As we enjoy this season and look to enter a new year, we need to make a quality decision that being in His presence is worth every mile, every dime, every discomfort. We will spend ourselves to encounter Jesus like never before!

THE WISE LIVE BY FAITH

The second lesson is also a very familiar one: Wise men and women travel this journey with FAITH! There is no way these men would risk their reputations, their lives, and their fortune if they did not believe prophecies concerning the star and the King it represented. Faith is crucial in the lives of the wise. Hebrews 11:6 teaches that “Without faith, it is impossible to please God…” It isn’t just difficult, it is impossible, to live a life that pleases God outside of the faith place. More than once the Bible instructs that the righteous “shall live by faith.” [See Ro. 1:17, Hab. 2:4] Corrie Ten Boom described the power of faith this way, “Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” Faith honors God and God honors faith. Therefore, let’s make a quality decision that we will live like our God is bigger than our enemies and any circumstances we face. We will live like He is faithful to fulfill every promise He makes. We will live like there is nothing impossible for Him. Let this next season be the season of the big ask! Ask big, believe big and receive big for His glory!

THE WISE ARE WORSHIPPERS

The third lesson we learn from the wise men is regarding worship. The wise men were bold in proclaiming that their purpose for making the journey was merely to worship. Wise men and women understand the true essence of worship! For many today worship is about what God does for us and what we get out of it. But the wise men understood two essentials of true worship: First, true worship is not about being served but about serving. Second, true worship is not about receiving but about giving. They traveled nine hundred arduous miles to simply see the baby and give him gifts valuing hundreds of thousands of our common currencies. What did they hope to receive from their worship of Jesus? Only the honor and joy of serving and giving to Him. They considered it the highlight of their life and worth all it cost them to be part of God’s plan. They counted it an honor to use their resources for His glory.  This is worship! I pray that you and I will make a fresh and quality decision to live the lives of real worshippers.

My prayer for you is that in this season and the upcoming year, you will walk in a new and ever-increasing level of wisdom. As you put these three keys to work in your life, you will become known in Heaven and the earth as someone counted among the wise.

 

Worship While You Fast

Keith NIxThe Lift Church

When we think of fasting, it is usually only regarding what we need to receive from the Lord. And it is true that fasting moves us to the place where we can receive what God already desires to release to us. But fasting should be more than us just doing without and pleading with God for breakthrough’s in our lives. There is a fascinating passage regarding fasting found in Acts 13! The writer gives us a list of prophets and teachers at the church in Antioch and then tells us that “One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them, and sent them on their way..” [Acts 13:1-3] This is a fascinating passage because it makes a direct correlation between fasting and worship.

How often do you connect worship with fasting? I believe worship is one of the most overlooked elements of effective fasting.  As you fast, I encourage you to set aside time to wait in His presence and minister to the Lord only. I am amazed by the idea that we can “bless” the Lord. King David commanded the people of Israel to, “Bless the LORD your God.” [1 Ch. 29: 20 NKJV] Typically; it is the greater who blesses, the lesser. However, there is a genuine and tangible way in which we, who are the lessers, are called to be a blessing to the Greatest!

Worship is one of the most overlooked elements of effective fasting. Click To Tweet

Worship is not about stroking God’s ego. Thankfully, He is not an egotistical maniac! Neither is worship about bribing God, so He will give us what we want. He is just as much God without our worship as He is with it. And He is just as good before we worship as He is after. Yet, our worship blesses Him. Our service ministers to His heart. It seems He enjoys spending time with us as much as we enjoy spending time with Him. WOW. What a privilege! What an honor for our presence to be so valued by the One who has fulness of joy [fulness of all things] in His presence. [See Psalm 16:11]

It seems He enjoys spending time with us as much as we enjoy spending time with Him. WOW. What a privilege! Click To Tweet

In Antioch the prophets and teachers took some time to go without food and just spend time worshipping the Lord. It seems they had no agenda but to minister to the Lord and love Jesus. Andrew Murray said, “Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.” They fasted to let go of the visible, natural things and they grasped hold of the King of the Kingdom. Worship is a key element in setting yourself in a position to hear the heart of God. During your days of fasting, set your heart above everything else to pursue the presence of King Jesus.

They fasted to let go of the visible, natural things so they could grab hold of the King of the Kingdom. Click To Tweet

Let your reward be Jesus. His promise to Abraham is His promise to you, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”  [Gen. 15:1 NKJV] As you learn to value His presence and seek Him you will soon discover that all you need is in Him.  When you get Jesus, He is what you need! As they worshipped with fasting, the Holy Spirit gave them instructions that would change the course of multitudes, indeed the course of history!  The instruction to appoint and send Saul and Barnabas to the Gentile world proved to be the key to the release of multitudes! Think about it: their time of worshipping with fasting, literally changed the world and is the reason you and I are followers of Jesus Christ! If Paul had not taken the gospel to Rome, it would not now be known in the United States where I am writing, and many of you are right now reading. This one instruction affected all of humanity from the first century to the twenty-first.

I wonder what might happen in our lives as we delight in delighting His heart through worship with fasting? I set myself in agreement with you that as you worship while fasting, you will experience breakthrough! As you bless the Lord, you will be blessed! As you minister to Him, He will minister to you! As you lift your voice to Him, He will speak to you! Keep your focus on Jesus, and you will rejoice as you rest in the fulfillment of His promises to you, in you and through you.


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