Simply Jesus: This Is Worship!

JesusWorship

“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?

Do You Believe In The Impossible?

FaithImagination

The Bishop stepped to the podium with a determined stride. It was evident to all in the building that something had stirred him and they were about to hear it. With a scowl on his face, Bishop Wright, in holy indignation, boldly rebuked the College President who had just spoken.

“That is, without a doubt, one of the most ludicrous things I have ever heard,” began the Bishop, and he didn’t stop there. He continued,  “How foolish for any man, much less, an educated man to make such statements as One day in the future men may fly through the air like birds.” The Bishop went on to tell the Methodist gathering, “If God had intended for humans to fly, He would have created them with wings!”

When Bishop Wright returned to his home in Ohio, he related the foolishness of the College President to His wife. He also told her how he had set things straight and soundly rebuked him in the hearing of the entire gathering. They smirked over the preposterous idea that men would one day fly through the air. What foolishness!  Although they scoffed at this ludicrous idea unable to see it’s potential, two of their sons, Orville and Wilbur,  would one day dream the impossible dream.

“What if?” the boys asked. “Could it one day be possible that men could fly through the air? What if? True, God did not create us with wings, but did he give us the power to create wings with which to fly?”

These two young men dared to dream the impossible and through their diligence opened the door for one of the great marvels of the modern era. Flight!

Although I have taken liberties to reconstruct the conversation, the above story is factual. By all I have read, Bishop Wright and his wife were faithful Christians and wonderful parents. They just couldn’t see! This man of God could not see the jet age which we now experience. But, Orville and Wilbur dared to dream an impossible dream and birth it into reality. If we hope to make a difference in our generation, we must also dare to dream the impossible.

I love how little children dream. Have you ever watched a small boy with a toy train? He’ll make train noises as he moves it around the track, complete with whistles and bells. He’ll load the cars then chug around and around, deliver the load and start all over. How about a little girl with a doll? She’ll talk to that toy, wash it, hug it to herself, discipline it, and change its diaper, and want you to help her take care of her baby. This is not mere child’s play; it is preparation for the future.

I don’t believe God wants us to grow up and forget how to use the power of imagination. It is a God-given gift to prepare us for ever better and bigger things. Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible.” [Mark 9:23] Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” [Proverbs 29:18]

We were created to dream. Or as Walt Disney would say, “Imagineer!”

Here are three keys to dreaming God’s way:

  •  Dream big! It honors God when we believe HE is big enough for us to imagine big, ask big and act big. As Dwight L. Moody said, “If God be your partner, make your plans big.” The Apostle Paul wrote, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us.” Eph. 3:20
  • Dream God’s dreams for your life. We must surrender our thoughts and let Him birth His ideas in us. How do you know it’s God’s vision? “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” [Ps. 37:4]
  • Hold on to the dream and don’t give up! If you hold on to the promise, the promise will hold on to you! One way to hold the dream is to write it down. God said, “Write the vision, and make it plain…” [Habakkuk 2:2]

Keep dreaming! What past generations could not even imagine, you may be the catalyst to make it a reality. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” [Luke 1:37] If you stopped dreaming, let God resurrect the Imagineer in you. Let’s become like childlike, and let God train us for the preferred future He sees. It is filled with mind-blowing possibilities! Through Jesus, we can and we will accomplish the impossible!

Snooze and Lose

awakeningJosiah Generation

Is the alarm clock your enemy or your friend? If I am real, most of my life it seemed more like an enemy than a friend. What about you? Are you a “morning person?” I’m not! At least, not naturally born. I often need to set my alarms [yes, plural] an hour in advance of when I need to get up. And for some crazy reason, sleep seems sweeter after you are supposed to be up. Crazy! Whoever invented the snooze button is my friend for life!


Once I am finally up physically, it still takes me a good bit of time to wake up. My voice doesn’t sound pleasant for at least 30 minutes, and the closest I want to get to a conversation is, “Spark, please.” However, I discover that when I am looking forward to the day, it is so much easier to wake up. The alarm clock, my enemy from the day before, is my friend today because of what awaits me. Motivation is of vital importance to my perspective.


Our generation is in trouble. A brief review of the news on any given day speaks of the myriad of challenges facing us. The world is spiraling downward further and further into the chaos of wars and rumors of wars. Peace and true love appear out of reach. The truth is no longer considered a constant but a moving target that varies with the mood of the moment. There is an all out attempt to redefine borders and reassign morality.


The truth is no longer considered a constant but a moving target that varies with the mood of the moment. Click To Tweet

There is an answer! It is the Church! Jesus said, “…On this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” [Matthew 16:18] The Church is the body of Christ in the Earth: His hands, His feet, and possessing His heart and Spirit! And yet, If you look at what is happening around the world, the church appears to be falling way short of the intended goal. What’s the issue?
It isn’t an issue of authority or power. The church today is not powerless, just asleep. The problem isn’t that we don’t know the Bible. The church is not Biblically illiterate, but asleep. It isn’t that the church is not loving; but, sleepy people care more about their comfort than the needs of others. The issue is that too many in the church are asleep!


The church today is not powerless, just asleep. Click To Tweet

It is time for the church to wake up! It is past time! The alarms are sounding, and we have hit the snooze button for far too long. Look at the way Kenneth Wuest translated Paul’s admonition in Romans 13:11, “And this, knowing the strategic season, that it is an hour now for you to awake out of sleep, for now our salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.”


This is one of the most strategic seasons of our lives! We cannot afford to sleep through another day. If we snooze we will lose a generation! The prophetic promise of Isaiah 60: 1-3 is upon us, “Arise, shine: For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” The Church must rise up in the light of His glory! We will stop hitting the snooze button and motivated by the Glory, we rise and shine.


This is one of the most strategic seasons of our lives! If we snooze we will lose a generation! Click To Tweet

Mark writes in his gospel the account of the Synagogue leader Jairus’ daughter’s illness. {Mark 5} In numerous ways this generation of young men and women resemble Jairus’ daughter. Many voices are declaring that they are dead and saying all we can do is mourn their demise. But I believe that Jesus’ words concerning the little girl are relevant and prophetic of today, “The child is not dead, but sleeping.” [Mark 5:39] The same anointing is available now to awaken a generation. This anointing is working right now to awaken a generation that is destined to experience His greatest glory! Stop hitting the snooze button! Make the decision! Pay the price of the discomfort. Pull the covers back, throw your legs over the edge and get up! A generation is waiting!



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What Size Is Your Heart?

Keith NIx

Years of labor by dozens of skilled craftsmen with an incredible budget produced one of the most beautiful and exquisitely decorated ships ever. Also, armed “to the teeth” with bronze cannons it was arguably the most powerful vessel in the world. King Gustavo Adolphus sought to lift Sweden to the ranks of the great naval powers of England, France, and Spain in the 17th century. It appeared accomplished on August 10, 1628, as the newly commissioned Vasa set sail with great fanfare and over 100 members of Swedish nobility on board.

Tragically, the Vasa sailed less than one nautical mile before a gust of wind pushed the top-heavy vessel dangerously close to tipping. The sailors were able to correct it only to have a second gust of wind push it over again this time with water filling the open gun portholes. Within a matter of minutes, Sweden’s finest ship lay beneath 100 feet of water in the Stockholm port with more than thirty dead. The Vasa became a maritime disaster!

The greater tragedy is that it didn’t have to happen. An Admiral had earlier tested the Vasa’s seaworthiness and found it to be too top heavy. Others who worked on it knew that the weight of the cannons added with the opulence of the decorations created a disastrous future. They knew the Vasa could still be a mighty vessel, but they needed more time to make the necessary adjustments. None would dare approach the King with their concerns. Aldophus was unapproachable. His ego would not allow questions. His demanding attitude would not allow for more time. The smallness of his heart would cause him to be remembered more for failure than success.

The smallness of his heart would cause him to be remembered more for failure than success. What about you? What will your legacy be? Click To Tweet

What about you? What will your legacy be? Is your heart large or small? Of course, I’m not asking about the muscle that pumps blood but the spirit that is the real you. Is your heart large and loving or small and suffocating? Is your ego bigger than your heart? Or do you live with an increasing sense of God living big inside you and enabling you to live big?

Live big? What does that even mean? It simply means to live the life God intends for you to live. The Psalmist prayed it this way, “I will run the course of Your commandments, For You shall enlarge my heart.” [Psalm 119:32] It isn’t possible to live God’s way without the Lord expanding your heart’s capacity to receive and love.

If your heart is small, it is suffocating the life in you and those around you. If your heart is large, it is allowing life to flow freely through you – increasing you and those around you. A powerful way to gauge the size of your heart is by asking yourself this question: How do I react when I am questioned or challenged in what I believe? Do I become defensive and argumentative? Do I turn off and away from anything that suggests I need to take a fresh look at something? Or do I listen with an openness to learn and a willingness to yield to reason?

If your heart is small, it is suffocating the life in you and those around you. Click To Tweet

James instructs us that so-called “wisdom” in a heart that is envious, bitter and filled with selfish ambition is not true wisdom but originates from an earthly, sensual and demonic source. “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure (undefiled); then it is peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle.) [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits; it is wholehearted and straightforward, impartial and unfeigned (free from doubts, wavering, and insincerity.)” [James 3:17 Amp(c)]

I encourage you today to check your heart. Ask the Lord to make it larger. Stretch yourself out before in Him in humility and honesty. He delights in growing us up into His thoughts and ways!

Stretch yourself out before in Him in humility and honesty. He delights in growing us up into His thoughts and ways! Click To Tweet

Take some time to listen to the full message I taught recently at The Lift and let God STRETCH YOUR HEART:


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