The Benefits of Personal Worship

April 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

The Book of Psalms is filled with the passionate, personal worship of David and others. Its variety gives us confidence that God desires us to sing to Him in both the good and bad times, with transparency of feelings and genuineness of faith. God desires and deserves to be worshipped by surrendered followers for both what He does and for Who He is.

But could there be supplemental benefits to our acts of worship, such as the praise we offer in song? I believe there is. There are two similar passages of Scripture found in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. Both refer to singing or speaking to ourselves and others in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”

During the years of worship wars, both have been used as proof texts for worship styles. However, in the context of both passages, I found an interesting similarity. Both are sandwiched between texts that speak about the difficulties of being conformed to the image of Christ and living out our faith in the context of family relationships.

True personal worship is achieved when what we believe about Who God is and what He has done is allowed to change us and then lived out. Many of us know it is often most difficult to live out our faith in the context of family relationships. So what does this have to do with personal worship through singing songs?

God has given us the gift of music to help us not only praise Him, but to also help us remember and apply His Word. As the words of biblical truth pass from our minds through our lips to the melody of whatever style best fits our personality, it often gets to our heart. And when those words of truth are consistently engaged, they begin to be used by the Holy Spirit to change us—transform us—into the image of His glorious Son.

Recently, one of our kids picked up a guitar and learned a few chords. It is amazing how fast they learn and progress.  He tries to get his sisters to sing the praise songs while he plays, but often ends up going solo—not always singing on key. But over the past few months, I have noticed a difference in how this group process has impacted relationships in our family. There is more singing in the house and car. And the phrase, “I love you” is being said more. Sing on!

AUTHOR QUOTE: “True personal worship is achieved when what we believe about Who God is and what He has done is allowed to change us and then lived out.”

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16 NASB).

Today’s devotional is by Art Fulks, a church planter / pastor at Connection Fellowship in Greenville, South Carolina. Married for 22 years and father of four, Art is a graduate of The Ohio State Univeristy and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a passionate Bible teacher, speaker, musician, worship leader, and life coach. Read more at http://www.connectionfellowship.org or walk the journey with him daily on Facebook., a refreshing oasis in our journey today.

Walking Before God in the Land of the Living

April 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By James H. Pence –

Not long ago, some dear friends of mine received news their son had died suddenly. If this wasn’t bad enough, their youngest son died in an auto accident about ten years ago. Another friend of mine learned last year that his eight-year-old daughter has an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer. Someone else I know lost his wife and two sons to murder. Nevertheless, in spite of their terrible tragedies, all of these people are praising God in the midst of their grief. More than that, they are taking that sorrow and using it to bring glory to God and influence others for him.

How is it possible to praise and worship God when you are experiencing unspeakable pain? The psalmist gives us a key when he writes, “For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:8-9 NIV).

Believers in Jesus Christ can worship and praise God in the midst of tragedy because He has worked a three-fold deliverance in our lives. First, He has delivered our souls from death. We know that when this brief life is over, we will enter into God’s presence and enjoy Him forever. Through His death, Jesus Christ removed death’s sting, and that has a powerful impact on our outlook.

Second, God has delivered our eyes from tears. The Bible reminds us on many occasions that God will wipe all tears from our eyes when we’re in heaven. But it also says He is our comforter now. Paul told the Corinthians that God is “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2Corinthians 1:3-4a NIV). Because God is constantly wiping the tears away from our eyes, we can press on through trial and tragedy, bringing Him glory.

Third, God has delivered our feet from stumbling. While it’s true that all believers stumble and fall at times, God always raises us up and heals us. Jude reminds us that God “is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 24 NIV). Even though our circumstances may feel unbearable, we can rest assured that our God will preserve us through them and bring us safely home.

AUTHOR QUOTE: Because of the ongoing, sustaining grace of God, His people can pass through the worst fires human experience has to offer and come out victorious.

“How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:12-13 NIV).

Today’s devotion is by James H. Pence. James is an author, speaker, singer, and gospel chalk artist, but prefers to be known as a storyteller. To learn more about James and how he draws the stories of your heart, visit his website at: www.jamespence.com.

Can’t Keep A Good Man Down

April 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Jarrod Spencer –

One of the things I enjoy doing is playing. I enjoy playing around with my family. I enjoy playing sports. Because I’m human, I cannot just go and go and go; there are times when I need a rest. However, I enjoy playing so much that even after a bit of a rest, I want to be right back in the middle of things. A little “out-of-breath” is not going to stop me from continuing to participate.

Jesus also slowed to take a rest. He left His Deity and allowed His human side to rest. I use this word to describe a momentary time between humanity and ascension. Jesus needed to give up His weak flesh for our sake. Jesus died and was put in a tomb, taking a rest. This period of time allowed people, both good and bad, to wonder. They wondered if He would rebuild as He said He would. They wondered if people would try to steal His body. Others probably just wondered. However, their wondering didn’t change His plan. They all discovered that a little death was not going to stop Him from participating in eliminating sin.

The following are lyrics from the song “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” by Newsong.
“When they nailed Him to the cross
by His hands and His feet
and they put Him in the ground.
Three days later
everybody found out
that ya can’t,
No you can’t keep a good man down.”

The word “good” in the title is not quite strong enough to describe Jesus. A stronger word like awesome, magnificent, unbelievable, first-class, superior, overwhelming, breathtaking, amazing, or remarkable, may have been a little bit closer to a description of our Savior.

Jesus died for our lying, cheating, murders, denials, addictions, etc. Jesus didn’t just die on the cross and then put in a grave to stay forever. Jesus escaped the grave allowing us to escape the nastiness of sin’s sentence to the grave. Because He escaped, we do not have to remain in the grave. How can we respond to something of that magnitude?

“God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good.”

PRAYER: Dear God, I am eternally thankful that I do not have to remain in the grave because You raised Jesus from the grave many years ago.

“‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him’” (Mark 16:6 NIV).

Today’s devotional is by Jarrod Spencer. He is a seeker of God’s surprises in everyday life, looking for ways to be used by God to minister to others. He has a passion for encouraging people through the written word and exercises that passion with blogging and sending out a weekly text of encouragement. You can read more of his writings at http://jarrodspencer.blogspot.com and his church’s website is http://www.colbychurch.com.

Gems in the Rummage Heap

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Robin J. Steinweg –

Thrift stores, garage sales, rummage and yard sales—oh joy, oh rapture, their season approaches!  For years I have felt like the Proverbs 31 wife of noble character. She rises while it is yet night (to get to the best sales early) and provides for her family (like-new clothes for my boys, for pennies). She’s not afraid of snow for her household (not when I managed to find warm boots and water-proof mittens in the right sizes). She makes linen garments and sells them (well, at least I repurposed items and sold them at a profit from the scraps and bits I picked up). Her children rise up and call her blessed (“Thanks, Mom!”); her husband also (“Have I told you how much I appreciate all you do to save money?”), and he praises her.

I have combed countless piles of despised, rejected or outgrown cast-offs to find the right style— the perfect size. My car, sans GPS, knows the route to at least ten thrift stores. I’ve recorded the addresses of clean garage sales whose owners have children a year or so older than mine so I could recognize next year’s sale.

Treasure hunting, that’s what it is. Sometimes the items look anything but gem-like. They might need a good cleaning or even a redo. But when I’m through, they are valuable. It takes a sacrifice of time and energy. It takes a practiced eye (or at least a persistent one) to spot them.

My Jesus has such an eye. But He doesn’t choose people who are gems—He makes gems out of the ones He chooses. He has such a loving eye. He calls me His treasured possession. Belonging to Him is what gives me worth. And His sacrifice was not of time or energy, it was His own life-blood.

So I rise up and call Him blessed. I am grateful. He understands what it’s like to be despised and rejected. Praise the Lord! “All my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion” (Psalm 103:1b-2; 4 NIV).

PRAYER: You found me and rescued me, Jesus. Because of Your incredible love, You lifted me from the rummage heap and made me Your treasured possession. Now You have given me a new song: one of praise for You, my Lord!

“You are the children of the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 14:1a, 2b NIV).

Today’s devotional is by Robin J. Steinweg. Robin’s life might be described using the game Twister: the colored dots are all occupied, limbs intertwine (hopefully not to the point of tangling), and you never know which dot the arrow will point to next, but it sure is fun getting there!

The Lord is My Portion—I Shall Not Want

March 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By James H. Pence –

Have you ever thought of God as your portion?

The scriptures use many metaphors to describe God and our relationship to Him. Among other things, God is described as a rock, a refuge, a shepherd and a fortress. But one of the most powerful metaphors for God found in the Bible is portion. Nowadays, we don’t often hear the word “portion” used outside of the context of dieting. But in the Bible, portion is a word rich with meaning. It occurs frequently in the Old Testament and can refer to someone’s share in a meal, part of a sacrifice, a soldier’s share of the plunder, or someone’s inheritance. But when the word is used to describe God, it takes on a whole new depth of meaning.

In Psalm 73, Asaph has been struggling to understand why the wicked prosper when righteous people suffer. As he navigates his way through this question, he finally concludes that, although the wicked may prosper in this life, God has placed them on slippery ground and they will eventually perish (Psalm 73:17-19). But Asaph doesn’t stop there. He realizes that it doesn’t matter how much the wicked prosper because his inheritance, his portion, is not on earth.

Near the end of the psalm, Asaph writes: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26 NIV). As he looks around and sees how unfair this world seems to be, Asaph remembers that he is only a pilgrim on earth. He has an inheritance—a portion—that is greater than any wealth the wicked possess. His portion is God Himself.

Four times in the Psalms and once in Lamentations, the scripture writers describe God as their portion (Psalm 16:5, 73:26, 119:57, 142:5, Lamentations 3:24). Each time it is a reminder that whatever happens in this world, we have a possession that transcends all trial, tragedy, and difficulty.

We live in a world that is increasingly filled with trouble and violence, and it’s easy to become discouraged with the circumstances we must daily face as Christians. On those days it is helpful to remember that God is our portion. If we have Him, we need nothing else.

PRAYER: God, thank You for being my portion and my inheritance. Help me daily to remember that I have no one in heaven but You and that, having You, I should desire nothing on earth. My heart and my flesh will indeed fail someday, but You are the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.

“I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him’” (Lamentations 3:24 NIV).

Today’s devotion is by James H. Pence. James is an author, speaker, singer, and gospel chalk artist, but prefers to be known as a storyteller. To learn more about James and how he draws the stories of your heart, visit his website at: www.jamespence.com.

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