Tag Archives: worship

Little Obediences (further thoughts on worship)

I realize that “obediences” is not a word because my spell check won’t let me forget it.  But its the best word to describe what I want to say about worshiping God when we least feel like doing so.  I believe it takes obedience to worship God sometimes.  Sometimes it is easy, like when things are going great.  Its when things aren’t going so great that we forget that we are told numerous times in scripture to live with thankfulness towards God, no matter our situation.  (Eph 5:4, Col 2:7, Col 3:15-16, Col 4:2, 1Thes 5:18, Heb 12:28)

If we can learn to worship God in the difficult times when we don’t feel like it, we will be given a greater gift of faith to make it through those tough times.  Our fear is turned into trust, our doubt into faith, our sorrow into joy that can only come from the Lord.  But maybe you’re wondering what it looks like to cultivate a heart of worship.  I have a few thoughts on that I would like to share.  

First, worship is so much more than singing songs in church on Sunday.  Worship is also an attitude.  I have heard it called, “An attitude of gratitude.”  As I said before, even if it doesn’t seem like we have anything to be thankful for (and I’m sure that is not the case for the majority of us) we can still be thankful for who God is.  We can praise him with our mouth, singing songs or praying prayers of thanksgiving throughout the day.  And let me tell you, the best times to do that are when its the hardest.  Trust me in this!  Did you just lose your job?  Praise God for his faithfulness and provision.  Did you just find out you have an illness?  Praise God for his peace that passes all understanding.  Having trouble paying bills this month?  Praise God for all that you have and he has given you thus far.  Carrying anger and bitterness towards someone?  Praise God for his unconditional love and forgiveness and (dare I say it) pray a blessing over that person.  It is when we act in the opposite spirit that the enemy loses his grip on us.  If we refuse to praise God in difficult times and instead choose to blame him, we are joining with the enemy on the wrong side of the war.

There are many other things that we can do that you might be surprised to realize are worship to God.  Even our suffering can be a sacrifice of praise to God.  Are you lamenting like we see in the Psalms?  Cry out to God.  Confess your doubt and even your anger towards him.  He can handle it.  It is worship to him.  As Amy Grant says in her recent song “Better Than A Hallelujah”:

We pour out our miseries, 
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

I have found this to be true.  I have also found that in my times of utter brokenness or even deepest doubt, a cry to God ushers in his peace like roaring waves on the sea.  

Something else we can do is serve others.  Do you find yourself in a desperate situation that seems hopeless?  Is it consuming your thoughts and your life?  Why not focus on someone else’s pain for a while?  Pray for someone else who is going through a difficult time.  You will be amazed at how God changes your perspective on your own situation.  Serve someone else.  Take a meal to a sick friend, visit a prisoner, read a book to a lonely elderly person in a nursing home, mow your neighbors lawn, pay for the food of the guy behind you in the drive thru.  Do something for someone else to show God you can be faithful in hard times.  It gives substance to the term, “sacrifice of praise” when we choose to forget about ourselves and focus on someone else.

You see, it is in these little “obediences” that we are changed.  It is through these little ways of worship and focusing on God that a heart of worship is cultivated.  And these “little” things are not so little in the grand scheme of things because these little things are what give you roots of deep faith in Christ.  You will find that the next time you go through a valley, praise and worship will be your natural response.  That is cultivating a life of worship.  The added bonus?  You will also find greater joy in your corporate times of worship on Sunday mornings.  It will be so much easier for you to enter the Throne Room because your heart will already be there.  You will sense the Holy Spirit so much easier and quicker because He is always there, moving and breathing on us, ready to touch our hearts  and connect us to the Father.  This will also prove to enrich your body life.  Your corporate times of worship will be sweeter, deeper, more intimate and they will bring you closer to your brothers and sisters in Christ who are worshiping alongside you.  

I know that worshiping God when you don’t feel like it is hard.  Let me say it again, I know.  But trust me on this.  I’m speaking from experience.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain if you give it a try.  I would love to hear stories of how this became truth to you!  

I will end with these powerful scriptures from the New Living Translation:

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.  Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”  Colossians 2:6-7

“Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.”  Hebrews 12:28  



Praise Wins (my thoughts on doubt)

We have been talking about honest doubt at church and house church the past few weeks. Maybe you’re more familiar with the term “crisis of faith”.  We have been trekking through the Gospel of Luke and just reached the part where John the Baptist sends his messengers to Jesus (because he’s in prison) to ask if he is the promised Messiah.  Any of us who have been walking this faith journey long enough could probably tell a story or two about times of doubt in our lives.  Sometimes it seems so much easier to doubt than to have faith, especially when it seems we have to wait an eternity on God, or when he doesn’t appear to be moving and acting the way we expected him to.  (John must have felt the same.  He had this image of a Liberating King who sets captives free, yet here he is locked up in prison!)  When we place so much faith in God, our eyes and our hearts fixed on him, our stake of trust grounded in his faithfulness, we feel we have wagered everything on him coming through.  It only makes sense then that we expect him to come through!  So what happens when we face those times where God asks us to wait?  He may not answer right away or respond the way we expected by doing what we know he can do.  He may answer and respond but not the way we hoped.  We can face real disappointment when this happens and with disappointment comes doubt.  What should we do?  I have a suggestion…

You have to make a choice to trust in God’s sovereignty even during times of uncertainty. And its in those times you must choose to worship God for who he is.  Don’t worship him for what he’s done or because you want something from him…worship him for WHO HE IS.  If you need a reminder of who God is just turn to the scripture.  And don’t forget that GOD IS LOVE.  He doesn’t just love us…he IS love.  He can’t be anything but love in everything he does.  He can’t do anything but love you in everything he does, including making you wait for his response or doing the opposite of what you asked him to do.  If you can start to worship God for who he is then you can worship him in any circumstance because he never changes.  If that doesn’t give you something to praise him for then I don’t know what does!  Let me also say that worship isn’t just singing praises to God on a Sunday morning at church.  Let me tell you from personal experience, if you fix your heart on God and submit everything you are, everything you have and everything you do to him (even your doubt), that doubt will turn to faith and that faith will grow.  You will find the next time you face doubt it will be easier to trust God through that doubt.  Then your faith will continue to grow even more!  Some of you may need a fresh revelation of who God is.  All you have to do is ask and when he reveals himself to you, your response must be worship!

I was reminded this week of King Jehosephat. You can read the story in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 but I will try to sum it up for you here.  Jehosephat was the King of Judah.  He was a God fearing man who loved his people.  In this part of the Story he finds his people surrounded by enemies much greater in number.  He became fearful of the opposition, seeing no way to defeat them.  His first response was to seek God and declare a national fast to gain God’s favor.  God assured him that they would not even have to raise their weapons and still they would be victorious.  Now lets just try to put ourselves in his shoes for a moment.  Picture yourself a part of a small army of 10 people (this is not true to the biblical account but I am just trying to paint a picture here).  Now picture yourself completely surround by an army of 1,000 people made up of all sorts of tribes from different places, all hell bent on wiping you out.    

Would you doubt God’s promise that you wouldn’t even need your sword?  I know I’d want my sword…and I’d probably be the one saying we’re toast.  But Jehosephat believed.  Do you know what he did next?  He got his army together to go and face the enemy (it doesn’t really say if they suited up or not) and…this is the best parthe put  his worshipers up front to lead the way.  Not his biggest, burliest, toughest shield and sword wielding warriors…HIS WORSHIPERS.  He appointed singers and instrumentalists to lead the way because he believed God would do what he said he would.  I think you can guess what happened.  They didn’t even have to fight.  God confused the other armies and they turned on each other until there were no survivors.  This is a beautiful reminder to us of the POWER OF WORSHIPespecially in the face of a bleak situation that most certainly would cause us to doubt!  So I challenge you, if you are facing hardship and doubt in your life, bend your heart towards God and WORSHIP HIM FOR WHO HE IS.  You can command your soul to worship God even if you don’t feel like it.  David commanded his soul all the time in the Psalms.  You will be changed, I promise.

I want to leave you with a Psalm that one of our house church members pointed out last night as we talked about honest doubt.  Its comforting, sometimes, to read the Psalms and realize that doubt is a normal part of life with God.  But I challenge you to focus on David’s final thoughts after expressing his doubt.  May we have the same heart in the face of our doubts.

Psalm 13
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? 
   How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts 
   and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
   How long will my enemy triumph over me?
 3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
   Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
   and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
 5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
   my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise, 
   for he has been good to me. 

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