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Posts Tagged ‘worship’

If you were forced to be silent for 9 months – what would the first words out of your mouth be?

In Luke chapter 1, you can read the story of Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth. Verses 6-7 tell us, “They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.”

The angel, Gabriel, came to Zacharias and told him that Elizabeth would bear a son who would be called John. Zacharias was full of doubt and Gabriel told him that because of his unbelief, he would “be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place” (vs. 20). God blessed this couple with the child they had longed to have, and their friends and family wanted to name the child after his father. Zacharias still was unable to speak, so he had to write the child’s name. Verse 64 tells us that as soon as the words “his name is John” were written on the tablet, Zacharias’ mouth “was open and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.”

Luke 1:68 says,  Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people!

The first words out of Zacharias’ mouth, after being silent for 9 months, were in praise to God!

What a testament to his faith! Oftentimes, even when things are going great, I don’t find the first words out of my mouth to be praise to God. In Zacharias’ shoes, I’m afraid that the words out of my mouth may have been more along the lines of “Finally! I can’t believe I had to wait until I was this old to have a kid!”

Looking back at the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), Jesus opens with words of praise to the Heavenly Father. In your prayer time today, I encourage you to open with praise to God. You might be going through up times or down times, but God is on His high throne!

Dear Heavenly Father, we lift up Your name. You are higher than the highest and greater than the great. You are the most high Creator, and we magnify Your name. Lord, I ask that You bless the woman reading this blog today. Please protect and guide her as she seeks to give You glory. In Your name we pray, AMEN!

 

 

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The average person who is interested in observing Lent will know about the discipline of fasting.  They just go together!  There are many facets to this discipline of restraint, and many different ways people choose to observe a spiritual fast.  We would love for you to join the conversation!  Please leave a comment and share what God has taught you about fasting.

One woman of Biblical note,  who participated and led a whole nation in this discipline, fasted in the face of a potential holocaust.  Queen Esther’s full story is found in the Old Testament in the book of Esther, and in chapter 4:16 she charges her uncle Mordecai with this command:  “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day, I and my maids will fast as you do….”  

As intriguing and terrifying as Queen Esther’s circumstances were, we can completely understand her need for additional support and emotional strength from God and fasting seems a smart move given her situation.  But what about you and I, in our normal run-of-the-mill and day-to-day existence.  For most of us, I am willing to bet a death warrant hasn’t been signed with our names on it as it was for the Jews in Esther’s day.  Most of us don’t have high level political decisions that alter the course of a nation.  Is fasting still a good discipline for you and me?

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do,

for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.

I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

But when you fast,

put oil on your head and wash your face,

so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting,

but only to your Father, who is unseen;

and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:16-18

Jesus Christ addressed this topic for a reason.  Fasting is an important personal discipline for Believers in the worship of their God.  I read in this an assumption that fasting is to be a normal part of a Christ-followers walk.  Jesus says, “When you fast” not “if you fast.”

Traditionally, fasting mainly has to do with setting aside food or drink for a designated period of time for the sole purpose of focusing on worship of the Lord and prayer.  Some people have felt led to fast from a specific type of food for a time period as a symbol of sacrificial love for the Lord.  Fasting can also mean setting aside a hobby or habit and replacing it with a valuable spiritual exercise of some sort, whether it is extended prayer time, good works, or more time to study the Scripture, etc.

The main idea throughout Scripture is that fasting relocates our human desires and needs to a position of inferiority and elevates God in our lives as the main focus allowing us to more clearly hear His voice and direction in our lives.

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2 Samuel 6: 14-15 says this,

“David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”

This week our Daily Devotionals encourage us to worship God everywhere, in the temple, in the desert, in the kitchen, while in prison… because He is Spirit, we have access to him at any time.  Today, we end this topic of where we worship with the example King David gives us on worship and leading others in worship.

The ark of the Lord, God’s dwelling place, was in hands of enemies.  Shortly after David had established his kingdom in the City of David, he set out to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord into the City of David ( 1 Chronicles chapters 15 & 16) and organized the people of Israel to bring up the ark of the Lord to the place he prepared for it.  King David, leader of the kingdom, led the procession of people praising and worship God, with musical instruments such as lyres, harps cymbals, and accompanied it all with dancing and shouting in the streets.   King David, out of the thankfulness of his heart, without reservations or intimidation, worshiped God freely and encouraged others to do the same.  He told of the mighty wonders of God praising, shouting, and singing for the Glorify God.

God brings us out of hard circumstances and brings us back to the heart of worship.  With each circumstance, He instills in us a desire to praise Him, with thanksgiving and worship.  Our praise for God encourages those around us to do the same.  God gives us people in our lives who we lead, at home with our children, as a professional at work, in our relationships or within our circles of influence.  We all have the ability to lead or direct others towards God through sharing all the great things that he has done, so let’s get up on our feet and dance.

Friend, where can you lead the dance of worship?

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name and make known among the nations what He has done.  Sing to Him, sing praise to Him, and tell of all His wonderful acts.  Glory in His holy name and let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.” 1 Chronicles 16:8-11.

 

 

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Acts 16:25 says this:

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  At once, all the prison doors flew open and everybody’s chains came loose.”

Paul and Silas, while on a missionary journey, were stripped and beaten, severely flogged and in prison for teaching, spreading the gospel, and performing miracles of healing. While in an inner cell, treated as dangerous criminals in a high security prison and having committed no crime, Paul and Silas did the unthinkable…they worshipped God by praying and singing hymns.

Perhaps you can relate to Paul and Silas and are also in prison right now.  Maybe you aren’t in a physical jail but there are other types of confinement that compare to physical prisons.  Do you find yourself in a place of confinement, where you would rather not be?  Maybe for you, your prison-like circumstance is a deep depression, or a grieving process due to a loss of a close family member. Perhaps your prison is substance abuse, or emotional, mental or physical abuse of some sort.  Financial pressure, failing relationships or major health problems can also be types of prison.  All of these situations lead to “solitary confinement” and leave us feeling as though the prison walls are closing in on us and we have no way out.  This is what Real Life for Real Women can look like.

But the Real Truth is this:  freedom is on the way, whatever prison-like circumstance you endure. We can set our mind on God through a heart of praise and worship, even if it means singing praise to God in a situation that feels hopeless.  Not only will God empower us to overcome despite the prison walls, we will help others by our example of praising Him through all of life’s circumstances.  Like Paul and Silas, we can draw others to Christ, the Great Deliverer.

God had already delivered Paul and Silas spiritually from their prison of sin through Jesus’ death on the cross.  Though they were imprisoned, they were emotionally freed to worship as they turned their eyes upwards and sang praise to God.  And with the same power God used to physically free them from their jail cell, God has the power to remove the chains of bondage from our life whatever they might be. We can praise God in all circumstances.

Psalms 147: 1 says this, “Praise the Lord, how good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him.”

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The majority of women spend hours of the day in the kitchen…working their home business, paying bills, helping with homework after school, cooking, cleaning dishes, and in general, serving others.  Real Life for Real Women seems to happen most in this room of the house.

This week’s Lent devotionals focus on where we worship God and we have discovered that God is not limited to a particular place, but rather we have access to Him at any time.  Since we are not limiting our worship of God to a building, we will find that with a heart of pure gratitude for what Jesus does in our lives, we worship Him with all that we are, even when we are in the kitchen serving others.

Matt 8:14-15 says this:

“When Jesus came into Peter’s house, He saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.

He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on Him.”

In the days that Jesus walked on the earth, He performed good works and miracles displaying the power of God as He healed the blind and made them see, made the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, cleansed the lepers of leprosy and demon possessed were set free.  In every circumstance, those who witnessed the miracles were in awe of God’s power and could not wait to share what Jesus had done.  Peter’s mother-in-law experienced healing first hand, and like other’s she was eager to express her gratitude to Jesus for what he had done for her.  She responded to Him and began to wait on Him.

In the same manner, when God’s performs good works in our lives, we are in awe of His Power and long to worship Him to express our gratitude for the power that He displays in our life.  Let your response to God resemble that of Peter’s mother-in-law, with gratitude, a heart of worship, serving Him with what He has given you.

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Our Lent devotionals this week focus on where we worship God.  Sunday’s blog talked about how God is spirit and we worship Him everywhere, and yesterday was about how we worship Him with our temple (our body) when we honor Him by the way we live our lives before Him.  Today, we will discuss how God, in his holiness, has the power to rescue us from any desert which we are in because He has the power to help us overcome.

Do you find yourself in an emotional desert?  Do you feel abandoned and separated from people who love you and feel as though no one can understand what you are going through?  God knows exactly what you are going through and desires to rescue you from any circumstance in which you find yourself struggling.

Moses knew what it was like to spend time in the desert.  But Exodus 3:4-6 says this:

“…God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’

And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’

Then he said,

‘Do not come any closer, take off your sandals,

for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’

Then he said,

‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham,

the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’

At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.”

Prior to his encounter with God through the burning bush, we understand that Moses had major life issues to overcome.  Pharaoh’s princess daughter raised Moses though he was an Israelite, and he lived in Egypt during the time that the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites.  Moses witnessed an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and when he thought that no one was looking he murdered the Egyptian. Pharaoh heard about what Moses did so he tried to kill him, but Moses was afraid and fled from Pharaoh to live in Midian, a foreign country.  Moses finds himself in an emotional desert abandoned by those who raised him, living in a foreign country separated and isolated from his own people, living with the guilt of the murder he had committed. (Exodus 1 and 2)

As Moses encountered God through the burning bush, God displayed His glory and his power to him; He rescued Moses from his turmoil, shared His plan to rescue the Israelites from their slavery and appointed Moses as the person to lead them away from the captors.  With the same power, God will deliver you, set you free and reveal his plan for you.

Worship Him, though you are in a desert, and He will display His glory to you.  He is Holy.

For a Real Life story about how God rescued one woman from the desert of depression, go here.

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Oh be carefully little hands what you do….”

Reflecting and praying about worshipping my Lord and Savior with my physical body, of course brought to mind hands, specifically the famous praying hands sculpture by Albrecht Durer.  If you have never read the story behind that incredible sculpture, I encourage you to do so.  http://www.moytura.com/reflections/prayinghands.htm

Equally, the line quoted above from a familiar child’s song offers a different picture.  Looking at my own hands and wondering how much longer with my arthritis will my hands be able to perform certain tasks…all these urge me to consider what God might want me to do with my hands.

Throughout Scripture God’s chosen were called to examine their hearts (their hands) for purity in thought and action.  Recognizing the application of this principle today allows the opportunity not only to examine whether we do things with our hands that honor and worship our Lord Jesus Christ, but also to re-evaluate whether we are more like the priest, temple assistant or the Samaritan who was willing to get his hands dirty to help a stranger.  (Luke 9:30-37).

It takes so little today to encourage another—a smile, a handshake, a cookie or word of praise.  But no matter the action step we take—it requires we act with an aspect of our physical body—with our voice, with our strength, or with our hands.

Today, I invite you to be a woman of action today.   Stretch out your hand figuratively or literally reach out and touch someone with God’s love today.

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