If we are to make God our priority, we must understand why we worship Him.
We are to praise and worship God for both who He is as well as what He does for us.
The Bible says: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3, and, “Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!” Psalm 150:2
This tells us that as believers, we are to worship only the living God, not saints, religious persons, angels, or shrines.
Many times, we associate worship with music and singing. That is a wonderful form of worship, but it is only one form. We are to live a life of worship and that can include prayer, fasting, obedience, kneeling, and so much more.
We worship God because of who He is and to express to Him our love, devotion, and dedication.
He is not the “big guy in the sky” or the “man upstairs”. He is the creator of the universe, the alpha, and the omega (the beginning and the end), the all-knowing and the all loving God.
We were created to live in an atmosphere of praise and worship to the Lord. Everything changed in the garden and Genesis 3: 9-12 tells us that the fall of man introduced self-centeredness and self- pity and that it stifled our praise.
Remember, the church was born in a worship service. At Pentecost, it was the worship of the Lord because of the miraculous that ushered in the power of God’s Kingdom.
Pastor Jack Hayford said “Just as God created man and woman in His image, the gods we choose to worship manifest their attributes in the worshiper. So, in deciding what or whom to worship, you are making life decisions regarding your values, your priorities, and how you are to live.”
We become like who we worship. So, the more we worship God, the more we become like Him.
Worship also allows us to move the focus away from ourselves and toward God. Our greatest blessings come when we take the focus off us and onto Him.
If you are having a bad day, facing a trial or difficult circumstance…worship! It changes everything because it changes our focus from our problem to the problem solver.
Let’s focus this month on increasing our worship of the Lord for who He is through music, prayer, the Word, thanksgiving and serving others. Let’s dig deeper into the Bible and study worship in both the old testament and the new.
Written by: Sherry Poundstone
For more from Sherry, go to www.sherrypoundstone.com.
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Worship is Warfare
There’s a story in 2 Chronicles 20 that is one of my favorite chapters in all of scripture and it has dramatically altered how I handle crises in my life. I’ll give you the reader’s digest version, but there are so many beautiful treasures hidden in this passage that I really want you to make sure you go read this short chapter this week and let the Word of the Lord minister to you, encourage you, embolden you, and empower you to listen and obey Him.
Here’s the cliff notes:
Judah (the southern kingdom) was about to be under attack by three enemy nations coming together to destroy them. King Jehoshaphat called for the entire nation to fast and pray together. God’s Spirit fell on a man named Jahaziel (whose name means “God gives visions” or “God sees”) and he prophesied that God would fight this battle for them, the location where their enemies would be hiding the next morning, and instructed that they needed to meet them at the battle lines and only hold firm while God rescued them. They obeyed and Jehoshaphat sends people to the front lines, not men with swords or shields, not warriors or champions, but singers instructed to trust God for victory and to sing praises to God. When they begin to sing praises, the enemy armies begin attacking each other until every single enemy fighter is dead. The Kingdom of Judah ends up taking three entire days to gather the spoils of war (money, precious jewels, etc.) because there were so many riches to be gathered.
In the New Testament, we see another similar story. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are thrown into prison, the inner dungeon with their feet in stocks so that they wouldn’t escape, after they were stripped and beaten severely. That evening they were praying and singing praises. Suddenly there was a massive earthquake that shook the entire prison. Their chains fell off and prison doors flung wide open along with all of the other prisoners’ chains and cell doors! They helped a prison guard receive salvation through Jesus and then his entire family and they were freed.
There are so many amazing things about both of these stories and so many treasures tucked into each passage of scripture for you to seek out, so please do that, but today we’re just going to talk about a few of them. Before anything else, I want to make sure we notice the response to the battle or trial that each of these three men took. First - prayer. They were met with the unexpected, the scary, the unovercomable, the impossible, the “end”, and they responded with prayer. The sought out God for direction as their first response, not last resort.
Ask yourself this right now: Have I been on my face before the Father seeking him out?
Jehoshaphat fasted. He even had his entire nation fast before the Lord. Have you considered fasting? Fasting is a denial of self to highlight our own brokenness and reliance on the Father. Fasting is intended to quicken our spirit to His voice and our heart to obedience.
The second response these men had to their trial: Praise. Notice it’s not the word for worship. It’s both the greek and the Hebrew word for praise - “humneō” which is a celebratory song (used in Acts) and “hâlal” which means to shine, to boast, and to act like a madman (that’s my favorite description - used in 2 Chronicles). They weren’t singing songs that were begging God to rescue them, to see them in the middle of their mess, to comfort them - at least that’s not what is recorded. What is recorded is that they were singing songs of celebration, boasting about God’s beauty and holiness, and acting like madmen while doing it! There was some joy to be found in those songs of praise! Not sorrow or fear or worry.
These were songs of declaration - not desperation!
Ask yourself this right now: Have I been weeping or rejoicing in my trial? Have I been declaring or despairing in my trial?
It was the praise that made way for the breakthrough! It was the praise that invited God to come and do what only He can do! And sis, you need a miracle right now, don’t you?
If that’s you today, I want you to boast about our God and make him shine right where you are, right this moment, whether you are alone in the car reading this, sitting in your living room with a horde of children, or wherever you find yourself right now. If you are ready for God to come and do what only He can do with the battle you face, girl you better start praising like a madwoman! You better start praising like you believe He is fighting on your behalf. You better start praising like you know He wins every war he wages! It's time to celebrate! There is a reward for that kind of faith! Jehoshaphat was rewarded with riches and treasures, Paul and Silas were rewarded with freedom and salvations. What reward is hidden in your victory?
Ask yourself this right now: Do I believe that God has a spoil of riches for me to receive through the battle I am facing now once I let Him fight for me?
When you focus on the praise, God wins the fight and rewards our trust in Him. What kind of great spiritual treasures are hidden in the battle you are facing? What precious truths and gems of wisdom are in the victory spoils of the fight you face? I can’t even begin to imagine what beauty God will bring from our enemy’s defeat, but I know it’ll take you more than three days to carry back all the spoils from the victory!
I want to leave you with some really solid truth so that when you are tempted to despair, you can arm yourself with scripture that will empower you to praise! Here are some of my favorite passages…
“But I promise you, no weapon meant to hurt you will succeed, and you will refute every accusing word spoken against you. This promise is the inheritance of Yahweh’s servants, and their vindication is from me,” says Yahweh.”
“A thief has only one thing in mind - he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect - life in its fullness until. You overflow!”
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
“Who could ever separate us from the endless love of God’s Anointed One? Absolutely no one! For nothing in the universe has the power to diminish his love toward us. Troubles, pressures, and problems are unable to come between us and heaven’s love. What about persecutions, deprivations, dangers, and death threats? No, for they are all impotent to hinder omnipotent love, even though it is written:
You can’t sustain what you don’t feed so start feeding yourself God’s truth! Pray and seek His face. Give him the kind of praise that makes him shine, boasts about Him, and makes you act like a madwoman. Start speaking God’s truth over your life and believe Him for the victory. If you are overwhelmed, tired, scared, or anxious as you look at the battle in front of you, then it's probably time to start celebrating the goodness, the holiness, of God!
This is something I have declared over my own life that I want to share with you. I hope it is just another tool in your tool belt to help you stand firm in Truth, sing praise, and watch God win your fight! Declare this over yourself today… I am declaring this over your life too.
I am made for supernatural life. In your presence, I have total joy and you reveal the path of life. Your Spirit compels me to greater levels of love and power. I am aware that you are with me and I release your presence in every situation and to every person I encounter. What you say is true forever. Miracles, signs, wonders, power, and love follow me as I move through trials into triumph. You win every war you wage and you are winning my battle today. I receive the spiritual riches you have won for me that will empower me to pursue you wholeheartedly. Thank you for the victory!
WRITTEN BY: LYNDSAY TERRY
Read more from Lyndsay @ www.lyndsayterry.com.
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The Essence of WorshipRead Now
What’s worship really made of? Is it a list of pre-planned songs we sing at our Sunday morning services? Or is it our devotion to diligent Bible study and prayer? Or is it so sacred and beautiful that it’s hard to define? I’ve been asking myself those questions these days because my life has taken a turn in a direction I never expected. Let me back up so I can paint the picture for you.
I used to be a traveling worship leader and Christian music artist. In those days, the essence of worship meant singing mostly. I thought worship was all about congregational singing, as well as my own private singing unto the Lord, and of course, church attendance. Our lives were full of sacrifices and discomfort as we led worship services on very little sleep or convenience sometimes.
It was a dream of mine since childhood to write and share the music God gave me with the church at large. I got to live that dream out for a few years. But then, life for my husband and myself changed dramatically. Within one year, we closed our business, church that we pastored and eventually my dream ministry crumbled. It was overwhelmingly challenging to pick up the pieces of my broken life and move on. But somehow, by God’s grace I pressed on to the next season.
That season involved a banking career that served to polish some of the rough places in me. I refer to that time as a providential prison. I felt trapped and I couldn’t escape no matter how hard I tried. Perhaps you have been in one or currently find yourself there. If so, hold on because God has a purpose for you there.
One of the things I truly learned in my prison season of confinement was the foundational truths about worship. It’s more than a song, more than a religious service, more than a script we follow. Worship is a complete and total lifestyle that flows from a heart of adoration fueled by obedience. Simply put: we worship God by being obedient in whatever He tells us. It’s how we express our love for Him and to Him.
I want to back this up by looking at Abraham’s life of obedience and worship. After 25 years of waiting on the promise, God gives Abraham a son. I can only imagine the tears of joy Abraham and Sarah shed over their bouncing baby boy. I’m sure Abraham carried a gleam in his eye when he met new people and said, “That’s my boy, Isaac” with a lump in his throat and a shaky voice. “We waited a long time for him!”
I’m sure fatherly pride spilled over into everyday life when Isaac did even small things well, like watering the sheep, or cleaning up their pens. Abraham probably went overboard with his parental praise of Isaac. How could he not? Isaac was the child of promise. To say Abraham was a doting parent would probably be an understatement. Wouldn’t we all feel that way?
So we can all feel the stab of pain in Abraham’s heart when God issues the strong command in Genesis:
Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.
“Whom you love so much”........
Whom you waited so long for.....whom you cried over for many years.......your pride and joy.........your promise
Has God ever asked you to take the very thing He gave you and lay it down on the altar as a sacrifice? Perhaps a ministry that you care deeply about and waited for a very long time for? Or maybe it was a career you loved and you were at the top of the world there? What about a relationship you thought He brought into your life that was a promise fulfilled? But now He is asking you to put it on His brazen altar.
Friends I have been here. Actually, I am here right now. It’s not easy and it doesn’t make sense. But this is the essence of true worship: obedience flowing from a heart in adoration of God.
Abraham defines his act of obedience as worship:
The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
Abraham didn’t say he and Isaac were going to sacrifice an offering, he said “we are going to worship.”
We can make sacrifices all day long to try and show God our love and devotion, but that’s not worship. Those are nice and all, but it is obedience that moves God’s heart. Think for a minute about Saul when he refused to wait on Samuel to make the sacrifice but took matters into His own hands and made the sacrifice. He thought (as we mistakenly do sometimes) that God would honor the sacrifice because it cost him something and showed his piety and earnestness toward God. But as we all know, God was angry and declared that He would remove the kingdom from Saul. And just 2 chapters later Samuel says this:
Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
And with those words he pronounces judgment and the removal of the kingdom from Saul. Sacrifice is not always worship friends; obedience is.
I believe the reason God chose David over Saul was his heart of obedience and worship. Yes he made mistakes, but his track record of obedience is quite astounding. He rarely EVER prematurely acted without a word from the Lord and then he always followed through with swift obedience. That’s why God referred to him as “a man after my own heart.”
Friends, just because something seems sacrificial and hard doesn’t make it the thing God wants from you. Sometimes whatever God is asking of you might involve sacrifice (like it did with Abraham) but even in that He provides what is needed! Just like he did with Abraham and the ram caught in the bushes, which by the way was a symbolic foreshadowing of Jesus, God will provide the sacrifice. Your act of worship is the obedience part. But sometimes God may be calling you to a quiet life of a wife and Godly mother to your children, but you really wanted a platform ministry. So you think sacrificing, staying up late, working really hard to get opportunities is what God wants from you and that it’s your duty to build this ministry, career, etc. But what if God is calling you to obedience to focus on your spouse and children right now? Can you do that?
The truth is that when you obey God to lay down your own ideas of sacrificing for Him and instead obey Him, He considers that worship! And He blesses and honors that. You will have the privilege of experiencing His presence in such a powerful way. In all of my years on this earth, no calling or success has ever compared to experiencing His powerful and beautiful presence in my life.
When I truly worship, I encounter the living God who fills me with such love I become undone. Let me give you my real life example, if you would be so kind to hear me out.
A couple of months ago, a group of us felt the call to start a prayer room. Within a month we were hosting multiple worship and intercession sets during the week and I was helping lead several of them. I enjoyed it immensely, but it was a sacrifice. Some of the sets were at 5am. We were interceding for our communities, churches, nation, the world etc.
I thought that God must be pleased with our sacrifice, surely. But then I started to feel a tug at my heart. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I wasn’t being a caring wife or mother. I was so focused on the prayer room that my family was getting crumbs from me.
The tug on my heart started to turn into overwhelming conviction. My husband works out of town and rarely comes home. I decided to decrease my outside ministry drastically and go be with him several times a month. I did it because I love him of course, but also because I felt the Lord issue a command to me. As a wife and mother, I feel my primary calling is to help my husband and care for my daughter as well. So I am obeying the Lord and focusing on my family.
That’s worship to the Lord, friends. It’s a beautiful, sweet smelling scent that is rising up to Him. Don’t cave in to the pressures of this world’s view and systems that tell you what’s important and that you have to sacrifice to get what you want. No, you have one need: to be obedient to your God. Sacrificing to get something from God is manipulation. Ouch! It’s counterfeit worship in real terms. That’s the reason God cannot accept it.
So I encourage you today to rethink your view on worship. Get into alignment with God and how He defines it. Let your worship and love for God flow from your obedience and experience His beautiful presence in your life. This is what it means to worship in spirit and in truth.
Written by: Shana Strange
Shana is a recording artist, worship leader, speaker, writer, and podcaster (and so much more)! Catch up with her on Facebook or her website: www.shanastrange.net
There's been this aching in my chest and this tension in my shoulders for the past several weeks. This year thus far has been a challenging one for our family and it seems now that no one is exempt from difficulties and uncertainty and fear of the unknown as we navigate a pandemic and all of the facets of quarantine.
When my focus is on all of the unfamiliar that lies ahead of us, on the sheer vastness of what lies ahead of us and the sheer lack that I have, on my inadequacy and incompetence, it is as if I am drowning. My gaze has wavered...
The Lord is my shepherd.
I have what I need.
I feel out of control as I am sinking and I desperately want to control something. I am grasping at everything and anything in order to feel capable, enough. My head and my heart know better, but I almost cannot stop myself from spiraling, from spinning and toiling...
He lets me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters.
Still everything seems unmanageable and I wonder why. I wonder HOW. How is the cry of my heart as the things around me that used to be my firm foundation have now crumbled and I am stripped bare, vulnerable and exposed without the things of this world to run and hide in. There's not much that FEELS good right now and I wonder how in the world my troubled, restless and aching heart could be a part of the plan, how any GOOD could come from all this turmoil..
He renews my life;
he leads me along the right paths
for his name's sake.
But still, this doesn't make any sense! Everything is falling apart. I feel like I can't see, can't breathe, can't sense You here. My shoulders are throbbing from the weight of it all and my heart is crushed and as much as I want YOU, to hear my cries and to not delay a moment longer, to pull me from this desolate pit, from the muck and the mire, I feel scared and alone as the darkness creeps nearer and...
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for you are with me;
you rod and your staff- they comfort me.
This wrestling with my present circumstances through this psalm, I'm realizing now as I type well into the night... the Lord has woven this into a remembrance of the His goodness and faithfulness. You see, the things that have my heart overwhelmed in this season are not the things that have poured out of me tonight. The feelings are similar, this season very much a wilderness.. but what has happened is that God has recounted for me, called to my mind, a season of unspeakable grief and sorrow, of paralyzing fear and anguish.
And doesn't that seem backwards? To call to mind a time when your world crashed around you while your life is crashing down around you in a new, different sort of way? A couple of years ago, life as I knew it ended. There was suddenly a great divide: life before the accident and life after the accident. I felt like I was suffocating, like I couldn't press on one more day, hour, moment.. Yes, every bit of it hurt worse than anything I had experienced before; yes, it is true that there was a long stretch of doubt and unbelief..
But that's not all. That is certainly not the end. In fact, it was only the beginning.
While I can lay out all of the devastation of that season, I can also recount every bit of beauty that came forth from those ashes.
When I was rocked by the unexpected, I found that my God was not caught unaware. I found that my God had gone before me, grounding me deep in His Word, preparing my heart for the battle that was ahead.
When my heart and flesh failed, when I felt I couldn't go on, my God sustained me.
When I felt alone and unseen, my God opened my eyes to see how many ways He had been pursuing me.
When my heart was hardened and when all of the ugliness was pulled out into the open, His mercy covered me.
When my shame weighed heavy, His grace was weightier still.
When I was sure there was no way, HE made a way.
As backwards as it seems, this sort of bone-deep remembrance is exactly what our hearts need. When we can't see a way out, we remember all the times before that we stood in this exact place of disorientation and watched as Jesus made a way where we thought there was none.
Sweet friend, one of the greatest things you can do with your brokenness, with all your confusion and questions, is to remember. Right where you are, sister. Speak His goodness and faithfulness over your weary and burdened heart and let His rest wash over you. Declare His goodness and faithfulness over your circumstances. He was good and He was faithful then; He certainly is right now. Speak it right back to Him.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows
Only goodness and faithful love
will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
as long as I live.
written by: Olivia Caldwell
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What is Worship?
If someone asked you “what does the word worship mean?” how would you answer that? Would you have thoughts of church services? People bowing down to an object? People raising their hands while singing? This word can be so many things! When I was younger, worship was a list of things we did in church: sing, pray, commune, listen to a sermon. Simple, straight forward, and boring. There was no emotion outside of wishing I were somewhere - anywhere else. After being married for several years my husband, oldest daughter, and I found ourselves in a new town away from family and looking for a place we could call a church home. We visited several places close by and even took far-fetched suggestions from people who really loved their own congregation. None of these places was what we were looking for. It was a formula that we had somewhere in our minds. When we gathered to WORSHIP (there is that word again) we wanted it to be truth, love, community, youth, experience. It was hard to find for some reason! Then it happened - we walked into a service in a high school auditorium and the word WORSHIP was not only alive, but for me, redefined.
Worship should be alive. In Romans 12:1 we are told that we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice and that this is true and proper worship. In John 4:24 we are told that worship has to be in spirit and in truth. And in Matthew when we read the story of the birth of Christ we are told that wise men and shepherds traveled to worship. All of these verses are full of a sense of action.
When we walked into the auditorium at this new place, we were surprised at how many people kindly greeted us. We were surprised so many people were gathering in a make-shift church setting. It was totally foreign to us. Service began and it didn’t take long for me to realize that this group of people had what I wanted. They completely allowed themselves to be immersed in the moment and were truly worshiping God in spirit and in truth. Now, this is not to say that other people in other congregations were not. I could just feel it in a real sense in this situation. It was what my spirit needed - had been craving. Eyes were closed, hands were raised, people were singing at the top of their voices songs of love and praise to God. People were really coming to the presence of God’s throne to worship. There was a sermon and it was so applicable and so rooted in the truth of the Bible. As the sermon ended people went forward and prayed with one another and tears fell from my eyes. This was such an experience. I wondered if it was like this every week, or was I just hungry for a church home? As positive as the experience was, it caused me to really question. Were these people for real? How can you maintain this? Was this something I could be a part of?
We continued going to this congregation. The feelings of true worship in the presence of God continued each week. I was home.
Now, circle back to my original question: What does the word worship mean? To me, it was coming into the presence of God during a time each week with fellow Christians. It can also mean coming into God’s presence on your own. It can involve singing, praying, sermons, meditation, and other things as well. I think the common threads we need to recognize are that it is coming into God’s presence, a spirit-lead experience, and rooted in truth. Why these three things? We have to remember who we are worshiping! The one true living God. The author of life. He deserves our attention and in order to worship him we have to enter into his presence. The spirit was given to us to help us on a daily basis, but also to guide us in ways of prayer and worship. And finally, we are told of the many aspects of worship in the Bible - which is full of truth. As we explore worship this month I hope you will continue to think about what it looks like, sounds like, feels like, and means to you. I feel like my definition of worship has changed even since this experience of redefinition. It will probably continue to grow as I grow in my knowledge and understanding of God and what he wants for us and from us.
written by: angie reese
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