Tag Archives: worship

We Don’t Know What to Do…

I don’t know about you, but all the craziness that’s come in 2020 has tempted me to worry a lot. I keep wondering what I can do to change things, but feel completely powerless to do so. It seems like nothing I could do would make a bit of difference. I’d be completely overwhelmed, except for the fact that I’ve been in impossible situations like this before, and those times taught me to cling to the God of the impossible. He has shown up for me in miraculous ways on multiple occasions.

I love this story from 2 Chronicles 20. Basically, God’s people were surrounded by a vast army that was too powerful for them. The king stood up and prayed this “we don’t know what to do” prayer. He confessed his powerlessness, and then proclaimed that their only hope was in God. As the people stood before the Lord and waited, the Spirit of God moved on a prophet who proclaimed, “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s” (20:15). On hearing this word the people bowed down in worship— they began to praise Him “with a very loud voice” (20:19). This praise continued as they went into battle the next morning. Scripture says, “When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against [their enemies]..so they were routed” (20:22). Not one enemy escaped while the people of Israel did nothing but praise.

I’ve been feeling particularly powerless lately. Can you relate? I’ve wanted to fix it, to find some magic bullet, to post some wise words on social media that will make people to come to their senses, but I know it would be futile. However, there’s one thing I know to be true. It isn’t futile to set my eyes on God, to proclaim my utter dependence on Him and to make Him bigger than the multitude of problems I face— and that we face as a nation. I believe the outcome would have been far different for the people of Israel if they’d taken matters in their own hands. In fact, scripture is filled with examples of that happening. And I believe our outcome now depends on making a choice to invite Him to come and take over and to drop our prideful desire to control things.

Psalm 22:3 tells us that God inhabits the praises of his people. He shows up when we put our hope in him and elevate him above the obstacles we face, and our own flimsy, pride-laden solutions. Right now you may be at a crossroads. I know our country is at one, and we must make a decision. God’s people can act like the world by seeking to control the situation, or we can confess just how weak and powerless we are. Rather than trying to control things, we can invite the One who perfects his strength in our weakness to take over (2 Cor. 12:9). He is our only hope. Will you join me in praying that He will come and help us now?

Mighty God, things are spinning out of control! It’s really scary right now and we don’t know what to do! All our efforts have amounted to nothing, and without you we are sunk! But we choose not to allow circumstances to define or control us. Rather, we choose to shift our attention to you to give you all the glory and praise. You are worthy and you weave all things together for your good purposes (and for ours) as we seek you first (Matthew 6:33, Romans 8:28-29). We need you desperately!

Father, I confess that I’ve been seeking answers more than you. I’ve been making the problems bigger than you, and I’ve been acting like I actually have the power to do something about them. Without you, I can do nothing. I have no power Lord— only You do and I ask You to take over. I relinquish any desire to fix or control it. Only you God can save me. Only you can save this nation. We praise you because of who you are. We worship you, because you are worthy. You are far more worthy to take up space in our minds than all the strife and trouble we are seeing. We praise you because nothing is impossible for you! We praise you because you cared enough about this broken world to come down and be broken on our behalf. Thank you! Come and inhabit our praises Lord and route our enemies and we look to you. Amen

Note: Since someone asked this does not mean we sit back and do nothing, or that we don’t vote. It simply means our first course of action is to look to him and allow him to direct us (notice the Israelites still marched out to battle). It means we make him bigger than all the problems and trust him whatever happens. We don’t have to live in fear. Genuine faith is accompanied by action.

Living in Dread…

I often tell people that whatever we fear is what we serve, so that the object of our fear basically becomes our god. This morning a passage in Isaiah reminded me of that truth.

“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me, and have neither remembered me nor pondered this in your hearts? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?  I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you. When you cry out for help, let your collection [of idols] save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But the man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.” (Is.57:11-13).

“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me…” I’m not sure how much more clear that could be! At the heart of being unfaithful to God is usually a fear of something else (no matter what that something else is, I’d call it an idol). An idol is anything we meditate on, and spend our time trying to appease. For years, I did the dance of fear trying to keep an abusive husband happy so he wouldn’t lash out. I feared him much more than God, and the result was I served him rather than God. In fact, he became my god, because of the way I served him.

Another interesting thing about this passage is “I will expose your righteousness and your works…” Very often people do good works out of fear—they worry what people think and are trying to impress them rather than God. This fear of man is idolatry of the worst sort. It becomes works-based rather than love-based. God does not desire our feeble efforts; he desires our love. From that love, genuine works of righteousness will flow naturally. The ones born of fear of man are wood, hay, and stubble mentioned by Paul in 1 Cor. 3. These works may look wonderful to people, but they cannot stand before the Judge.

This passage should be a wake up call to the people of God. The warning here is not based on actions, but on misplaced fear. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and when we are more worried about pleasing him than people or unpleasant circumstances, that is wisdom. Then we will be like the man who built his house upon the rock in in Matthew 7:24-25. No matter what life brings our way, we can overcome because we know the One we fear is in control and his love casts out sinful fear. We can stand firm knowing he is in charge. Sinful fear dreads losing control, and that is why the Israelites sacrificed to idols. They believed that appeasing them would make things run smoothly, and that if they didn’t sacrifice things would go badly. When we live in fear of man, we have a similar mentality. “If I can just…” everything will be ok. We’re trying to maintain control. Yet, the Lord calls us to leave the control in his hands. That is what the fear of the Lord does. It trusts in his goodness for the outcome, and we have nothing to dread.

Lord, help me never dread anything more than I desire to love and please you. Help me to avoid the trap of misplaced fear. Nothing on this earth is more powerful than you, so I need to reserve my fear for you alone. Yet, it is a different sort of fear than dread. It is honoring you above anything else, and resting in your control rather than trying to be in control. You are worthy of all honor and praise. Nothing on earth can ever cause me to be consumed with fear as long as I am consumed with you. Amen

Missing God’s Best

For years I lived in a state of divided worship. My main goal in life was to secure God’s blessing on my agenda. Sure, I loved him, but I’m afraid I loved myself more. Worship was all about me, and what I could get from him, rather than surrendering myself to him. Funny thing is that my agenda kept me in complete bondage, because idolatry leads us to a state of total fear. When we direct our worship to anything other than him, our peace and joy are totally dependent on the temporary circumstances we desire. We constantly fear losing the objects of our affection, and that fear controls our actions. True freedom is only found in true worship. When we surrender all to God, we have nothing to fear. He is never changing and eternal. He is all loving, and has a good plan for us, so when we learn to rest in that knowledge, we no longer feel threatened or afraid. We are free. God does not merely demand true worship for his sake, but for ours. He knows that all other forms of worship will lead us back into bondage. His ways are so much higher than ours, and following them is the path to blessing.

The passage that stood out in my reading this morning stressed that truth. Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. Offer them only at the place the Lord will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you. (Dt. 12:13-14)

 As the Israelites took possession of the land, it wouldn’t be a lack of worship that would be their downfall; instead it would be improper worship. The Lord gave specific instructions on how they should worship, but they had their own ideas of how it should look. God warned them not to take on the practices of the nations surrounding them, but it did not take long for them to follow their detestable practices. Within generations they would even be sacrificing their children in the fire.

God calls us to surrender all to him—that means giving up our own agendas. However, far too often our worship becomes an effort to convince God to bless our selfish plans. We sacrifice our children to idols of convenience and pleasure, and there is very little self-surrender involved. To the contrary, we end up surrendering everything good and holy to our desires for comfort and blessing. Basically, we are worshipping, but we are not worshipping God. Our idolatrous desires steal our affections away from him, and rob our lives of his blessings. We reach out for what we think we need, and all the while are throwing away his best for our lives.

Lord, I have wasted too many years focused on false gods, and worshipping in my own way. Help me to be fully surrendered to you, and to worship in spirit and truth. Do not let me be deceived into thinking that anything in this world can offer true satisfaction. Only you are the Living Water that can satisfy the thirst in my soul. Forgive me for ever trying to replace you by digging my own broken cistern that won’t hold water (Jer. 2:13). You are worthy and good. I choose your ways over my own. Amen



Sacrifice & Gratitude

And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ ” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. (Ex. 12:26-27)

Up until this point, the Israelites had seen God’s hand moving on their behalf, but final deliverance would mean the death of many firstborn sons. Their freedom was purchased at a great cost, and their worship here seems to indicate they recognized that reality. They had to realize that God seriously loved them. “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life” (Is. 43:3)– what a sobering thought! Surely they must have had relationships with many of the families who lost children. They acted as their servants, and interacted with them daily. Now they would not only gain their freedom, but also plunder the treasures of the ones they served, and leave them grieving their lost children. Of course, this foreshadows God’s sacrifice of his own son on the cross. My thought is that the Israelites must have felt so unworthy of the sacrifices made on their behalf. I know that is how I feel about Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf. It is beyond comprehension that a life, especially a life so precious would die to give me life. Interestingly, many of the lives that were sacrificed in Egypt were the most innocent- babies died. Surely, they did nothing worthy of death. Again, the reality had to be extremely sobering. The only logical response would be worship.

When I think about the great sacrifice of Jesus on my behalf, I am often overwhelmed. It’s something that never gets old for me. Even as God told the Israelites to keep this event as a special memorial, we are to keep the cross ever before us. Passover became the beginning of the year for Israel, and salvation is the beginning of our new lives. Out of death comes life, and the recipient of life should respond in utter worship.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Rom. 12:1)

Lord, help me to keep the cross ever before me, and to remember the sacrifice made on my behalf. I did nothing to deserve it, and yet you loved me enough to do it anyway. I stand amazed. Let my life be a constant act of worship, knowing that you loved me so much you gave up your only Son. Thank you!! I am so grateful, and I bow down before you now. Amen

Waking up to Worry…

Do you ever wake up worried? I know I do! In my case, it’s usually because of people. Either something they did or didn’t do leaves me wondering how I can change the situation. To be more honest, I’m really wondering how I can control it! I know I should simply submit the problem to God, and roll back over, but my mind won’t let go. Don’t these people care? Don’t they realize their action or inaction is affecting me? Honestly, they probably don’t. They are usually wrapped up in their own worries, and have no idea that I’m lying awake fretting—which makes the whole exercise even more pointless! Not to mention the fact that God has instructed me to cast my cares on Him. It amazes me that I even allow my mind to go there after all He has done for me. Daily I see evidences of his grace and provision, yet I freak out when things aren’t going according to my plan. It’s a little “Martha” of me. Basically, I’m thinking “Lord, don’t you care that these people aren’t helping me?” Then I remember Jesus’ words that cut right to the heart of Martha’s worry. “Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary” (Lk. 10:41-42). That one thing is to spend time in the presence of the One who is in control of everything. Although He will never force anyone to change, His plans cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2), and that means I can trust Him, even when people fail. It means that I need to be directing my thoughts towards Him rather than worrying about imperfect people. I have no power to change them, so it’s a complete waste of time. When you think about it, worry is almost like a negative for of worship. It is allowing your mind to mediate and dwell on bad rather than good things (Ph. 4:8).

Worst of all, I am sure it’s just plain sinful to worry. At the heart of the problem, I really am saying, “Lord, don’t You care?” I’m not only filled with doubt in people, but the bottom line is that my doubt is aimed at God too! I am failing to trust His ability to accomplish His good purposes in my life in spite of people, or even through them. Perhaps He wants to use their faults to teach me more about His amazing patience and grace towards me. Maybe they are actually instruments in His hands to help grow my faith. It certainly wouldn’t be unlike Him to use negative circumstances for good. In fact, I would say that’s His specialty! On numerous occasions throughout my life, He has given me beauty for ashes, and yet I still wake up worrying as if He doesn’t care about the latest difficulty. I don’t know if I should cry or laugh at myself. I know I should ask for forgiveness for questioning His goodness. I also need to replace worry with truth! “If God is for me, who can be against me?” I know He will work all things together for my good! (Rom. 8:31, 28). I will not let my heart be troubled or afraid (Jn. 14:1), because in the end, worry really is a choice. It’s a choice to be anxious and distracted about many things when the Lover of our souls is inviting us to come and sit at His feet. It’s a choice to tune out the still small voice of hope, and to make temporary things a priority over the eternal (2 Cor. 4:17-18). We live in a world that is filled with trouble, but we have a God who has overcome it. He took on suffering and death to secure our place in His family, and our Daddy loves us with an everlasting love. His perfect love should dispel all fear (1 Jn. 4:18), and worry is nothing but fear. I refuse to let it remain in my heart this morning. Right now I am casting all my cares at the feet of the One who cares for me, and am choosing to replace unholy fear with true worship. He is worthy and able to guard everything I entrust to Him forever (2 Tim. 1:12).

Where Passion Flows out of Worship

Lord, I am giving this day to You. Today I choose to reject my own ways and my ability to trip myself up. I choose to walk in step with your Spirit, and choose to listen to your voice above all the others vying for my attention. I will look at people through your eyes, and seek to love them with the love only you can give. I will reject my impatience and wait on You. All my efforts are futile if you aren’t with me. Thank You for being so willing to receive me in spite of my imperfection. It blows my mind that such strength and perfection would choose to dwell with flawed frailty. Change me! Make me more like Jesus, and help me make a difference in this dismal world. Help me shine with your light and amazing love. I don’t want to waste time, but that seems to be my specialty. I am always busy, but am not sure I am always accomplishing anything. Guide me and make me ever sensitive to your leading. I yield! Lead me. Overcome me! I worship You—all mighty, all wise, all worthy and sufficient One! Forgive me for ever looking to anything or anyone beside You for satisfaction. You are truly enough to satisfy my thirsty soul. Thank You for your living water!

Dear one, I see your heart’s desire. All the effort in the world will not help you achieve it, but if your delight yourself in Me, I will give you the desires of your heart. Your desire is a good one, but your problem is that you are seeking it rather than Me. You know it is more important to be than to do, yet you trip yourself up with “to do” lists. If I want you to sit still and do nothing, that will be more worthwhile that all your doing could ever be. You are moving in the right direction when you choose to sit at my feet and worship. Cease striving—be still— know that I am God. Know Me and let Me guide your day. Stop fretting about things the world sees as important. I know your needs, and promise to take care of them if you seek my kingdom first. Keep in step with my Spirit and you will always be exactly where you need to be. You will also accomplish what you need to accomplish. Do not be anxious. Instead come abide in my presence, and find peace that surpasses your understanding. You have passion, but it has made you anxious. Now come to Me. Learn to find that place where passion flows out of worship. There can be no anxious thoughts in my presence, so enter in and rest. 

My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works. Ps. 73:26, 28

See Ps. 37:4, Luke 10:38-42, Mt. 6:33, Gal. 5:25, Phil. 4:6.

Walking & Running with Him

Lord, this morning I come to You discouraged. All my best-laid plans seem to fail.  All I can think to say is “Help!” Life swallows me up from day to day, and I feel so useless for your kingdom– like all my attempts are small and feeble. I feel like a hamster on a wheel, constantly spinning and never going anywhere. Teach me to abide in Your presence in spite of life. I know it is possible to walk victoriously even in the midst of busyness, but when the details of life start piling up, and I find myself not being able to get to everything I stress. Even now, my mind wants to dwell on the long “to-do” list that stands ever before me. I feel guilty when I take time from work for personal things, and it even seems like I can’t afford to take quiet time with You. But I know that is so untrue. It is my quiet time with You that keeps me from being utterly defeated. I do find You in many ways from day to day. Today I ask that You would make me more aware of the spiritual side to every task and conversation. I know that can happen, because I have been there before. I know much of it stems from a heart of worship, so now I bow before You and praise You with all I have and all I am.

My dear child, why do you fret about things You cannot control. You are only responsible for the things I call you to do, not the outcome. I am in control of that, and you must trust Me for it. Do not despise the day of small things (Zec. 4:10). Remember, I rarely begin things with pomp and circumstance. That is the way the world would do it, but I use humble beginnings. I chose a shepherd boy to defeat a giant and rule Israel. I chose lowly fishermen to bring my message to the world. My first moments of life in the flesh happened in manger with Mary, Joseph, and a handful of lowly shepherds. There were angels all around, but not everyone saw them—even as you do not see everything that is happening in the unseen realm now. Trust and obey. My timing is perfect, and can never be rushed. Wait on Me, and you will not be disappointed. In the interim, learn the lessons that come in waiting.

Remember that you live and move and have your being in Me (Ac. 17:28). Stop striving, and rest in that knowledge. I will keep you in perfect peace as you keep your mind stayed on Me (Is. 26:3). Remember when your children were little? They ran in circles around you, but you were still there with them watching, and delighting as they learned about the world around them. They made you laugh sometimes, and other times they upset you, but you were there side-by-side walking through it together. They weren’t constantly looking at you, but they knew you were there and looked up to share new discoveries, pains, and thrills. Do the same with Me, my daughter. I delight in you, and am not nearly as upset about the busyness as you are. As you know, I could remove it today, but I choose to use it to mold you into a more useable vessel. Walk and run with Me. Share your new discoveries, your pains, and your joys with Me. Let me use this time for good. It will not always be this way, but in each and every circumstance you must learn to be content before moving to the next (Ph. 4:11). Wait, trust, and rejoice in Me as we walk through this time together. I love you. 

Rewire Me, Lord!

Good Morning, Lord. I have been so busy lately that I asked You to wake me up early this morning. Here I am, but I’m having such a hard time keeping my eyes open. As I’m half-awake, it amazes me how easily my mind meditates on things of this world—the cares of life really do seem to choke out the eternal things that should be my focus. How I hate it! Lord, like David, I want to ask only one thing of You, and that I want to seek, “that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple” (that’s me!). Why is it so difficult sometimes? It’s my greatest desire, but I can’t seem to find the balance. I have to work; I have family and household obligations. As much as I long for Your presence, my flesh seems to have a default setting on the cares of life, and I have to force myself to do the very thing I long to do. It makes no sense! I guess it’s a struggle we all have; Paul certainly seemed to indicate the same struggle in Romans 7.

“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate… For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want… For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner woman, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched woman that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 7: 15,18,22-8:2)

That is the answer Lord, I need to walk in Your Spirit. I suppose that involves more yielding than striving. Teach me to sit still and yield. I have never been very good at being still. It’s partly my wiring I think, but nothing is impossible with You. Of course, I have had many victories; many times when I overcame my weak flesh and entered into pure worship; times when I heard your sweet voice. That is where I long to stay every moment, and I don’t think it’s impossible. I think about that book I read by Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence—they made practicing your presence a priority, and trained their flesh to do it. I know that whatever You ask me to do, You empower me to do. Help me tap into your provision—your Spirit! Help me to yield my mind to You—moment by moment, and in the midst of the cares of life. Thank You for your provision!

Child, I am waiting with open arms. Run to me, remembering that I am your life. Without Me, you can do nothing, but with me all things are possible. That includes overcoming your weak and scattered nature. Come! That is all you must do. As you come into my presence with thanksgiving and praise, I will meet you to strengthen and empower you to live beyond life’s concerns. Your strength comes in quietness and trust. Rest in my goodness. You know it, and victory simply requires tapping into what you already know. So many are blind to who I am, to my love and goodness, to my heart for them. Though you see dimly as through a looking glass, you see enough. Be thankful— I have removed the scales from your once-blind eyes. Realize what a rare blessing that is in this dark world. The majority of people stumble in darkness. You have eyes to see and ears to hear. Use them, and let me shine my light through you. Learning to abide isn’t just for your benefit. It is your duty to a lost and dying world. Take that commission seriously. I loved the world so much that I gave my all. As my disciple, you must be willing to surrender all as well. Yet, when you surrender, you lose nothing and gain everything. It is a beautiful paradox that the world cannot understand. You are not of the world though. You understand the joy and peace that comes from dying to self and living to Me. Come to Me with these truths in the forefront of your mind. Let go of all the worries and concerns. I see them all, and will help you as you walk in my Spirit. Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything (every stressful and worrisome circumstance) come to me with prayer and petition. Be thankful to Me as you make your requests known. As you give your burdens to Me, I will replace the worries with peace that transcends human understanding (Ph. 4:6-7). Come now my child. I am here.