It Starts With Love (Worship Series Part 11)

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Photo Credit: online, original source unknown.

We worship what we love. We were made by Love, to be loved, to give love. When we worship something or someone, we are expressing our love for that person or object or ourselves. When we are worshipping something or someone other than God, I am convinced it’s because we don’t realize how much God loves us.

Money can’t save us.
Parents, spouses, or children can’t save us.
Being beautiful or fit cannot save us.
Physical pleasure cannot save us.
Having the biggest, most influential church or ministry cannot save us.
Food cannot save us.
Having the most material possessions cannot save us.
We cannot save ourselves.

You see no one other than Jesus saves. If we don’t obtain relationship with Him, in this life, we are doomed for all eternity.

God gave His best to the world out of love. For God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…John 3:16. He would’ve entered the world if you were the only person who needed salvation. He would’ve given His life for one. God’s love isn’t a blanket love that just covers the world. It’s individualized love. He knows every hair on your head, every tear you’ve cried, every pain you’ve suffered, your dreams written on His heart, He knows you and loves you. Psalm 139 says, “Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, God knew you!” What matters to you, matters to Him. He’s the Universe’s best Father.

God demonstrated His love for humanity on the cross. Jesus was innocent, yet marred beyond recognition to pay for our sins. He did not look human when they were done beating Him and ripping His flesh from His body. It’s graphic, yet I am so thankful someone loved us enough to die for us while we were still guilty.

No boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, parent, child, friend, job, pile of money, or anything else cares enough for us to endure what He did. There’s nothing and no one holy enough to be worshipped above God.

When we realize how much God loves us, worship of Him is the response.

Our idols reveal who and what we love. And though we don’t often admit it, we believe those idols love us or benefit us more than God.

Our world problems can be traced back to one thing; the absence of Godly love. People who don’t love who they are cannot love God, you, or anyone else. We can only give what we have first received. A naked person cannot give you a shirt. God continually pours out perfect love, yet it must be received. A gift still belongs to the giver if the recipient will not accept it. It’s only when we know God and abide in His love that we are able to love ourselves then others and worship Him fully. We tell people to love God & others & miss the most important step, receive love first from God. Those who do not love, have missed step 1.

The order of love: 1. receive God’s love, 2. Love God, 3. love yourself, 4. love your neighbor as yourself.

Where there’s an absence of love, there’s hatred, indifference, racism, sexism, bigotry, prejudice, murder, lust, greed, pride, selfishness, oppression, insecurity, control, manipulation, jealousy, envy, strife, lawlessness, perversion, idolatry, war, gluttony, casting off restraints, vanity, immorality, & chaos…

Sweet friends, as Paul prayed, may we know the height, the depth, the width, and the vast expanse of God’s love for us! On the heart level, not just the head level. In Jesus powerful name, Amen.

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So Amazed By You (Worship Series Part 9)

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The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.

Psalm 24 in it’s entirety. God is magnificent and worthy to be praised. He created the world with His words. He spoke and it was. As you look around the earth you see the glory and splendor of God. How awesome are His works. How glorious are His deeds. How beautiful is His heart. How excellent is His creativity.

He created mankind in His image, formed Adam from the dust and breathed His life into Him. We are unlike all other animals because we have God’s breath in us. God formed Eve out of the side of Adam.

God gave all creation natural order and beauty.

God knows and calls all the stars by name. There are approximately a septillion stars… “And so, if you multiply the number of stars in our galaxy by the number of galaxies in the Universe, you get approximately 10^24 stars. That’s a 1 followed by twenty-four zeros,”~universetoday.com.

We can’t recall probably a thousand or ten thousand names. God can recall them all!

God knows every hair on our heads and has collected every tear in a bottle.

How awesome is our God? He’s beyond awesome.

There’s nowhere we can go that’s hidden from His Presence. There’s nothing more powerful than His love. There’s no one who stands above Him. He is great, powerful, good, holy, awesome, and amazing.

This is the God we worship. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God who led the Israelites out of captivity. The God who performed many miraculous signs and wonders to free His people. The God who fed the multitudes manna from heaven. The God who spoke to Moses through a burning bush. The God who overshadowed a virgin to conceive His Son. The God who raised Jesus and Lazarus from the dead.

Everything and everyone else pales in comparison. In order to be fully free of idols, we must glorify the only One worthy of worship. It is God alone that we worship. Nothing and no one created is worthy of worship.

Only God can save.

Only the power of God can heal and deliver.

Only the love of God can radically transform a life; give people true, unshakable identity and a completely new nature.

Only God can hold the world together and cease to fail.

So I ask, who and what will you worship?

The church can’t save people. Spouses and friends can’t make another person whole. Money can’t purchase lasting joy. Ministry cannot provide sustaining life. Politicians, pastors, and mere men/women can’t save anyone and deliver the world from all evil. Earthly pleasures cannot replace the goodness and pleasure of God.

Since the beginning of time, the war has been over worship. For we become like the object of our affections. Lucifer wanted the worship given to God. It got him thrown out of heaven. We were made in God’s image to worship Him. As we worship Him, we become more and more like Him.

What’s stealing your worship? What do you love or want more than God? Whatever it is, it leads to destruction. Idols don’t give life; they take it.

Father whatever we worship other than you, may it be laid at your feet. You alone are worthy of worship, adoration, and pure devotion. You are good and your steadfast love endures forever. Thank you for loving us. Please forgive us for the sin of idolatry. Help us to glorify you in all things. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

When People Are Our Idols (Worship Series Part 3)

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You shall have no other gods before me,~God.

If you ask most people if they are an idol worshipper, they’d firmly tell you no! However, our culture elevates mere human beings to “god” statuses. Celebrities, actors, athletes, musicians, sports teams, politicians, models, even pastors, evangelists, and prominent people in ministry are elevated to a level above most common folks.

It doesn’t have to be a well known person. Some people idolize and worship their spouse, children, parents, friends, best friend, coworker, or themselves.

I’d say the most common idol is self.

The people we idolize are our source of identity, comfort, joy, pleasure, and some place their hope and confidence in others or themselves.

What lets us know we’ve made an idol of someone.

1. That person consumes our thoughts, time, energy, resources, money, attention, and we want the person more than God Himself.

2. We see the person as able to save us, help us, and choose their assistance over Gods.

3. We seek their approval over God’s approval.

4. We agonize over what the other person does. We expect perfection from them or ourselves when only God is perfect.

5. We begin to imitate the one we worship. How would they do this?

6. We are devastated when the person fails us.

Note: if your spouse cheats, a person betrays you, there is going to be pain. If the pain stops you from living all together, the person was an idol. Humans are flawed and will fail or disappoint you in some way. They are not God.

7. You want to be with them more than God.

8. You define yourself by what they say instead of what God says.

9. You can’t function without them. I’ve heard people say, “I can’t live without you.”

10. You tolerate abuse because your person is “god” to you. Therefore, you have no worth not defined by them.

11. You know more about them than God or yourself.

12. You are more concerned with your way or doing what people want than doing God’s will.

I’ve seen people in churches bypass getting prayer from the person next to them because they want the pastor, or someone with a big name to pray for them. Truth be told, I’ve seen children get breakthrough and new believers. The Holy Spirit is not impressed by name tags! He will work through anyone. He’s the Source, not people.

I’ve also seen people devote their lives to following a human, celebrity, sports team, pastor, or church body thinking a person can save them, bring satisfaction, and comfort. You know what happens, people fail them and they are completely devastated. People are not God and will never be God. People are never to be elevated above God. Never, ever, ever!!!! We are never to be elevated above God.

What’s consuming your life? Who is your main focus? Is it God? Who are you serving? Who are you worshipping, imitating, devoting time energy and all of yourself to? Paul said follow me as I follow Christ and rebuked people for worshipping him. We are not to worship the people God uses. We honor them. We do not elevate them to a status of a god. People can’t save anyone. We were created to worship God alone. He’s our Savior, hope, comfort, joy, peace, deliver, healer, everything! Who is your everything? If it’s not God, I ask you pray this prayer with me.

Father I ask you reveal any person in our lives we have elevated to the level of a god. Search our hearts. Please forgive us for the sin of idolatry. Wash us and cleanse us. Help us to love you with all our hearts, souls, minds, and with everything! You alone are worthy! In Jesus powerful name, amen.

The Idol of Marriage (Worship Series Part 1)

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Exodus 20:1-6

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Worship can be defined as “worth-ship.” What do we deem worthy of our attention, affection, devotion, time, the best of us…worship is the exaltation of someone or something. When we worship something or someone, we find our security, hope, and happiness in it or them. We expect who and what we worship to save us, complete us, fulfill, and please us.

The problem with idolatry is that we often don’t realize we have exalted something or someone to the level of God or even above Him. It’s often subtle. Yet, it’s dangerous.

Idols bring bondage. If you read in the Bible about all the people who worshipped false gods, they were disappointed, enslaved, and they hurt the heart of God. God doesn’t bless idolatry. It will keep many out of heaven.

Some believe God doesn’t care how we treat Him. This is not truth, nor is it Biblical. God went to great lengths to demonstrate to the Israelites He cares greatly about the way we interact with Him. He alone is worthy to be first in our lives. And He alone is God.

Today our culture (especially in some Christian circles) idolize marriage. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the divorce rate is just a high for Christians as non believers. Idols always disappoint. There’s always devastation in areas where we place something or someone above God.

Why the idol of marriage is dangerous:

1. Spouses are set up to be gods instead of people finding identity in God.

A spouse can’t save anyone. If people seek out marriage for a savior, identity, security, selfish means, there will be devastation. No human being can complete another person. They can compliment, but not complete. Yes God pulled Eve out of Adam, and two became one again. Yet they were both designed to put God first and worship Him, not each other.

I know a few people who made their spouse “god”. Their spouses are miserable and so are they. They are constantly disappointed when their spouse fails to meet their expectations and the person elevated to “god” status is resentful of the high expectations.

Spouse does not equal God.

2. Marriage is sought out to “fix” singleness and get sex, rather than a commitment to love, die to self, serve, and be a blessing to someone else.

God sets up relationships to build love. There’s no part of love that is selfish. When two selfish people get married, there’s a rocky road ahead. Love requires compromise. Paul encouraged people to consider the problems marriage would bring.

People who have taught marriage cures lust have misunderstood Paul’s statement, “It’s better to marry than burn with passion.” There’s a difference between sexual desire (God given) and lust (deeply selfish and self seeking). Marriage doesn’t cure lust any more than going to a bar cures alcoholism. Lust is a heart issue and a spiritual issue. If you have strong desires to be married or procreate, that’s not sin. If you’re seeking marriage only to get your needs met, then you may be confronting lust and/or insecurity.

3. It separates instead of unifies. God considers the Body of Christ family. When society or churches only say or only treat couples and their kids as family, you leave out millions of singles, widows, etc..,

I’ve grown up in church. My dad is a pastor. My mum was my Sunday school teacher. Our church operated like a big family. It wasn’t married people in one section, singles in another. Everyone was family, no one left out. We mourned and celebrated and served each other.

I’ve been to churches where you have no community if you’re a single person. I’ve heard sermons on why you should get married. I’ve seen and experienced losing friends once they got married. God never intended for us to segregate. Many things and priorities change with marriage; the Body of Christ should still be a place where ALL people despite social status are loved as family.

4. It sends a message that if you’re not married, something is wrong with you.

I tell you, I’ve been engaged and I thank God often I did not get married. It would’ve been the marriage from hades. It’s better to bypass marrying at the wrong time or the wrong person, than to have a lifetime of suffering. I know about a dozen couples who are just enduring; enduring their controlling spouse, enduring being neglected, misunderstood, and taken for granted, enduring a painful, hellish, loveless marriage. Sweet friends, it’s not something to jump into without prayer, wise counsel, and an understanding that it may not be happily ever after.

Apostle Paul and Jesus were both single and did amazing things in the earth! Single is not a disease to be cured; it’s a part of life to live without any hinderance to devotion to Christ. He’s glorious.

5. There’s minimal focus on the challenges of marriage and how to overcome them.

This idol is romanticized and dressed up. It’s glamorous. If you pull back the veil, you can see that there are times of joy and pain. You can see there are days of laughter and days of tears. You can see two people continually dying to self to be the best for Jesus and the other person. Many don’t talk about the challenges for fear it’s damaging. I’m fortunate to have quite a few people willing to be transparent.

Life Lesson:

Many years ago I met a lady who kept telling me to get married. She bragged on how awesome her marriage was. She encouraged me to settle down because I would finally be complete, etc. I thought, “Wow, she has the perfect marriage.” Well, years later I found out she had been cheating on her husband for years. It was challenging for me as a young adult, to have a person claiming to love God and her husband found to live a double life. I don’t judge or condemn. I was sad. The image didn’t match reality.

Lastly:

If you’re single and you want to be married, I’m praying for you that God’s perfect will be accomplished and you’re prepared for what’s to come. You are not the freak of the world if you’re single. Devote your life to Christ and keep pursuing Him. Being single is far better than being married to the wrong person.

If you’re married, please know your spouse is not God, nor will they ever be God. They are human. Please be kind and considerate to singles. Use appropriate boundaries for members of the opposite sex, but don’t treat singles like aliens with a disease that needs to be cured. And while people are happy for you, continuous bragging about your spouse or kids is not helpful to those who long to be married and have kids.

Father thank You for giving us the gift of relationships. I pray we’d keep them in their proper place. Cast down the idol of marriage and help us worship You alone. For those single and married, I pray for unity, compassion, and love. Break off our selfishness, and help us to find identity in You alone. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

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Worship (Only God is Worthy)

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Worship Definition

n. noun
The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.
The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed.
Ardent devotion; adoration.
v. verb
To honor and love as a deity.
To regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion.
To participate in religious rites of worship.

Jesus told him, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,~Matthew 22:37.

We were made to worship and we all worship something!

We will become like the one we worship,~Bill Johnson.

The Gods we worship write their names on our faces; be sure of that. And a man will worship something … That which dominates will determine his life and character. Therefore it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming,~Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I’m quite passionate about worship. I’m passionate about worshipping God, giving Him honor, love, praise, thanks, devotion, and all of my life. It sounds overboard, but He’s everything. I’m often consumed with thoughts of Him. It hasn’t always been that way and though I love Him, there are still some days I’m lost in my own thoughts or zoned out from fatigue.

This new series on worship will hopefully draw us both into deeper intimacy with God! There’s always more with God.

Worship is so important. It’s so important it was coveted by Lucifer and he’s spent his days trying to divert worship away from God. If he cannot get people to worship him directly, he attempts to lure people to worship themselves or created things. We live in a world where beauty, youth, sex, fitness, relationships, entertainment, social media, status, money, music, food, family, wealth, celebrities, fame, children, even pastors, churches, and ministry are worshipped over God.

Social media is a good place to see the idols of our day. The things we talk about, gravitate towards,…show what we deem worthy of our time, devotion, and praise.

The problem with worshipping created things is that it’s idolatry. It’s caused all kinds of problems for people. It angered God with the Israelites and many others we can learn from in the Bible.

Oh those pesky idols…

Our idols cannot save us. They enslave us. Only the worship of God frees us.

The worship of money makes us greedy.

The worship of food makes us glutenous and often obese.

The worship of fitness, youth, and beauty makes us vain.

The worship of pleasure and comfort makes us addicts.

The worship of people makes us slaves to their opinions.

The worship of self makes us selfish.

All our “gods” do is provide empty cisterns that never fulfill us. They keep us coming back for more and more and we are never satisfied. Idols keep us in a cycle of perpetual discontentment.

I know something has taken the wrong place in my heart when I can say to God, “I will be happy when…” Fill in the blank. It’s great to ask God for things, yet when things become the source of contentment, there’s a problem. One of the idols I constantly have to cast down is comfort. I don’t like suffering. I feel as though in my short time on earth, I’ve endured my share. When being comfortable becomes more important than honoring God, I’ve placed comfort above Him. He frequently draws me out of comfort into unsure waters. It’s not fun, but He is Lord. He’s number one, above me. He also empowers whatever He calls me to do.

Lastly, this series isn’t intended to bring condemnation, but to hopefully reveal the joy in worshipping God. Theres no condemnation for those who are in Christ.

There’s great blessing in worshipping Him. He’s worthy! I hope you stay tuned as we investigate God’s worth.

Father, we live in a world full of distractions and temptations to worship something or someone other than You. Please help us to worship You in Spirit and in truth. Deepen our awareness of Your love and the beauty of Your presence. Amen.