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Archive for the ‘Lent…Who We Worship With’ Category

During Lent this year we are in a series on worship here at Given the Time.  Yesterdays blog, Worship Alongside Other Cultures, continues today as our hearts remain softened for the hurting people of Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

As believers, why do we (should we) care about a disaster half way around the world from us?  There are so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that our Creator God cares for them and so should we.  Just like us, He loves them and died for their sins on the cross so He could be in relationship with them.  Someday He will come again and together you and I will stand alongside other nations worshipping Him in all His glory. (Revelation9:9,10)   When we commit to pray and we provide what assistance we can it is an act of love and worship to the Lord.  As we petition the Lord for the needs of other nations, as we pray for peace and for their salvation, we allow our hearts to be drawn ever closer to the heart of the Father.

The following is a verse of encouragement that a lady in our church passed along to missionaries on site in Japan who are actively working to bring relief to those hurting.

1 Kings 19:11-12:
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.  Then, a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”

The Lord was in the whisper.
Let’s join in prayer for Japan and for other cultures as we ask for ears to hear the Lord’s voice, leaning forward eagerly to hear His whisper.
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The air was oppressively  hot, but the open windows and doors in the building kept things bearable.  The engine noises on the road right outside combined with the barks of dogs and the bleat of a goat.  All around me voices were raised singing loudly a tune I wasn’t familiar with and using words I didn’t understand.  Bodies swayed and space was tight, but it didn’t matter as I was worshipping alongside them.  I was in a Haitian church experiencing for the first time the unique bond between believers regardless of race, sex, age, culture or language.

That was over ten years ago and yet my mind can take me back there in an instant and I can almost smell the smells, feel the heat on my skin and hear the Haitian worship songs echoing on the cinder block walls.  Why did it impact me so deeply?  Because I had never experienced so vividly the powerful bond of Christ to cross cultural boundaries and it gave me a glimpse of what is to come in the future.

“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:  ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'”  Rev. 9:9,10

In this season of Lent as we look at who we worship with, have you stopped to praise God for the bond He has given believers in Him that has no geographical borders?  Have you taken the time to appreciate the cultural diversity that is perhaps sitting across the aisle on Saturday night or Sunday morning? Praise Him that His sacrifice on the cross enables us to worship Him alongside other cultures now and in eternity!

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“Church is full of hypocrites.”

Well, yes!  Having growing up in the church, almost literally, I can affirm that the statement, though cliché, is quite true.  The church is full of real women, real men, and real children who are intensely human and fail daily in God’s standard of living.  But before we get too caught up in that train of thought, it is only fair to remember that the church is also full of people unified by a common need…the need for a Savior…and who have joined together in faith to seek a closer relationship with the One person in all history who is not a hypocrite.  Jesus Christ!

This week we are looking at Lent and ways we worship.  Today’s conversation is about the reality of worship with other believers in an imperfect church.  Here are some Scriptures to think about:

Acts 4:32 – “All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”

Acts 6:1-5 – “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’ This proposal pleased the whole group…”

Hebrews 10:23-25 – “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”

All three of these Scriptures display aspects of Real Life worship in an imperfect church.  We have the fun stuff in the first passage, kind of the icing on the cake.   The next passage shows a picture of painful real issues arising and a unified solution amongst different people with same goals.  And the last Scripture is the reminder that “He who promised is faithful” so we can persevere and move forward together in worship even as we blend our various personalities and preferences.

This Lent season, as you ponder worship and in particular worship in an imperfect church, how can God grow you up in His ideal?

 

 

 

 

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We are in the midst of a series on Lent and Worship.  Yesterday we talked about family worship and today we zoom in closer to look at worship and marriage.

The woman married to a husband who is also interested in spiritual matters has a tremendous blessing. With both spiritually on the same page, the Lord is able to work in great ways in their family circle and also in the world we live in.  The following verse encourages the idea of partnership in ministry.  “When Priscilla and Aquila heard [Appolos], they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” Acts 18:27  For this couple, God intended their ministry together to involve hospitality and teaching.  In doing this, they worshipped the Lord by placing His will on the throne of their life.  In what ways can God use your marriage partnership that perhaps couldn’t be done just by yourself on your own?

For the woman married to someone uninterested in spiritual things, the following verse can be a life line of hope. “Wives, in the same way be submissive [respectful] to you husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” I Peter 3:1,2  Is this scenario “real life” for you right now?  This verse encourages us that as our husbands observe our respect for him and our active worship for God in the way we live our life, he is seeing the Real Truth played out in living color.  Our actions are often the most valuable communication tool we have to display Who we are worshiping on the throne of our life.  How are you communicating Who it is that you worship?

Inter-faith marriages also hold unique challenges. Click here on Two Hearts Drawn Toward God to read one woman’s story of how God worked in her marriage.  Today this couple worships hand in hand, serving God and others in a beautiful way

How is God leading you to worship within your marriage this Lent season?  Feel free to leave a comment and join in our conversation!

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“I am reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”  2 Timothy 1:5

As a mom or a grandma, we can hold a tremendous influence for good as we worship with our family and lead them by our example.  This verse tells me that sincere faith living in us, a faith that results in genuine worship of the Lord, brings about fruit in our children’s spiritual life.

Do you wonder how Lois and Eunice passed this along to Timothy?  Did they tell him stories from Scripture around the breakfast table?  Did trials test them and Timothy watched them lean on God for strength?  Did these two women bring other believers in to his life as additional influences?  Did they send Timothy to a special class?  We don’t get specifics of how God used these two women in Timothy’s life but Scripture reveals a family heritage that encouraged his faith.

We were meant to worship the Lord together in community and one of the first places togetherness happens is in the family unit.  Do you have family worship times?  Do you set aside other demands to focus your family’s attention on that most important priority of God?

Here are some practical ways to begin combining family and worship.

~Have your kids sit with you in a church service.  Ask them if they know why you give in the offering plate, or why communion is practiced, why baptism is observed, or why we sing, why we pray together…  It is important they understand the reason behind certain acts of corporate worship. Are you not sure about the answers to these questions?  Don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone who can direct you in these things.  We are never to stop learning and growing no matter our age!

~Ask your child to read a short devotional in the car as you wait for the bus before school.  My child gets ready early to guarantee we have at least five minutes to talk and pray before the bus arrives.  If I forget, she reminds me!  There are many great devotional options for all age brackets at Christian book stores online like CBD or Lifeway Christian Stores.

~Pray together before meals and/or at the close of the meal.  Taking turns in prayer encourages a comfort zone with this important aspect of worship.

~Ask your grandchild or child if there are any special concerns you can pray for them.  You demonstrate your love and concern and they see your faith in God’s power.

~Schedule a fun family time, purposefully including a Bible lesson or principle as part of the time together.  It doesn’t need to be long or drawn out…simplicity is often the key.

~Is your family not interested in spiritual things?  Don’t force it down their throats in such a way that they are turned off, but certainly  don’t give up!  Ask God to lead you in your personal life in such a way that your family will desire to grow spiritually.  Ask Him to show you creative ways to gently incorporate a better spiritual environment in your home.

Have you found other ways to encourage family togetherness and worship?  Leave a comment…we would love to hear your ideas!

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