Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Worship Language

I continue to be blessed by the memory of praying with a brother and sister at church, each in a different mother tongue. We prayed together primarily for the purpose of beseeching God, but also for edification and fellowship. It wasn't their words that stick with me (I admit to being a limited American), but the heart, the expression, and the greatness of our God who sees, hears, understands, and knows apart from our very real limitations.

It would seem that those who minister to others and seek God--seeing the best and worst--would have a practiced worship language. A way to reach out to God, focusing mind, heart, and body as a product of God's personalized, individual design.

The Word. Yes, the Word is central, tantamount to worship. Jesus is the Word made flesh. God communicates through His Word. The Word of Christ is necessary for growth. We are dependent on God's Word to save us, change and transform us. The Word is to be in us, abiding, implanted.

So how does the Word come out of you ? How do you say thank you, praise Him, or cry? Do you pray, write, sing, play an instrument, dance, draw, run? What is your worship language? How do you express your heart to God when it is full of praise, full of pain, full of need?

I am concerned that many of us are distracted, failing to develop skills and discipline to worship God well. To offer our best. To give of that which is costly for the glory and praise of God; which can only be achieved through sacrifice, effort, and diligence. It is not only natural ability, but natural ability combined with the Spirit's empowering for the edification of all. 

How will you invest in glorifying God today with all that you are? May He be praised and honored by our gifts of praise.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:1-8)

Monday, January 4, 2021

Got Trouble?

Trouble is not new. Our English word, "trouble" covers everything from a rogue raccoon to a destructive relationship. Trouble. Hardship. Trial. Tribulation.


There are different ways to think about trouble. It's usually unexpected. Unpleasant. Difficult, even.

Some trouble comes against us personally. Some is situational, or circumstantial. It could be serious, life-threatening, or annoying. It may come as a result of our own sinful choices or have nothing to do with us at all.

The word James uses is "peirasmos" (pronounced, "pi-ras-mos") which means a trial or temptation.

In James 1:2, this is something that just happens. You fall into it. You didn't see it coming. You didn't do anything wrong, necessarily. Like Mr. Magoo, you simply walked into the manhole of a peirasmos. 

God wants us to know what to do with these moments. Look what the rest of the chapter says:

  • Use it. Squeeze the living daylights out of it. Milk it for all it's worth because God sent this as a gift. It has a purpose and that purpose is to make me perfect, complete, not lacking any good thing. I can say, "Thank you, God, for sending this my way at this time. I may not know how you're going to use it, but I trust that you are good and you will use this for your glory." (James 1:2-4)

  • Admit that I have no idea what to do next. "God, you sent this trial, this difficulty, and I know You know all. Please help me respond in a way that pleases You. Help me know how and what to do, how and what to say. I can't figure this out on my own, but You have promised not to criticize or judge me when I admit I don't know what to do. Help!" (James 1:5)

  • Ask expectantly. If I don't really believe God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do, I'm no different than the lazy servant who buried the talents. I can't just sit and do nothing. I must keep moving, keep trusting, keep obeying. Trust is demonstrated by obedience. (James 1:6-7)

  • Do not depend on my resources. This is not about how much money I have or how many people I know. This is about learning to trust God with everything, in every circumstances (James 1:9-11).

  • The goal is endurance. Not perfection. Just hanging in there. Day after day. God will give the grace I need for each moment--not tomorrow, not yesterday, but today, right now. (James 1:12)

  • Watch my choices. It's easy to turn to  gifts apart from God to bring comfort and relief. God says, "When you're hard-pressed and suffering, examine your heart. Your desires, contrary to Mine, will lead to death."
    Instead,  I must exercise trust that God will provide exactly what I need when I need it--He is the Giver of every good and perfect gift. He saved me by His Word, He will keep me by His Word. He will not fail regardless of the circumstance. (James 1:13-18)

  • Anger is and indicator something's wrong--but be careful. Not getting my way leads to an angry response. I have to ask if I'm angry because God's rule was broken or because my rule was broken? As I examine my anger in the light of His Word and and accept God's provision instead of my own, I will experience the saving work of His Word (James 1:19-21).

  • The proof is in my response. Hearing the Word, is not the same as keeping the Word. The sermon I heard doesn't count. The radio station or podcast I listen to doesn't count. My pastor, small group leader, and accountability partner don't count. The only thing that matters is if I, myself, arm obedient to the Word of God. Obedience ultimately leads to blessing. (James 1:22-25)

  • Finally, I can say all the right words and look like a "good Christian," but if I don't keep my mouth shut and help those no one else knows about or sees, people with legitimate needs, my religion is worthless. I've got nothing. Go back to verse 2 and start over. (James 1:26-27)

Got Trouble? God's has answers. Help. Grace. Anything that makes me dependent on Him is a good thing.