Worship in Church

Worship in Church

Worship in church is a treasure. It is quite an experience living, serving, and worshiping with others who love God. Lifting His praises high with our voices and instruments and just coming together and using our gifts and abilities to serve Him is such a blessing. But sometimes church hurts. I have been a victim of church more than once. I grew up in an Independent Baptist church and was well-educated on how to have a performance-based relationship with God and with others.

The hurt that comes with living and serving with other imperfect humans can be devastating and even detrimental to our walk with the Lord. Even now, years later, I still struggle to really allow myself to get fully attached or jump all the way in when it comes to being involved in a church. God reminds me so often that the relationship that matters most is the one I have with Him-one of grace and mercy and forgiveness and lots and lots of chances. Whether I am involved in a church or not, that never changes. But all throughout Scripture there are examples of believers and followers of Christ coming together to worship and to serve. So even though it is not a “requirement” to be involved in corporate worship or attend church every week, there is so much to glean from doing so and even more importantly, we each individual and unique gifts to offer to the body of Christ.

God has called us to love as He has loved us. Loving people with the kind of love that we are called to as brothers and sisters in Christ requires giving and a huge amount of vulnerability without the promise of any return on our investment. The thought of loving someone who just might not love me back or who may mistreat me is terrifying. I often get completely swallowed up in fear of getting involved in a church or with other believers and then I start to notice more and more how messed up people in the church are. And then I focus more on that than anything else and before I know it, I don’t even want to go to church.

Again, church is not a requirement but I can’t imagine for a second that we will be segregated when we are all in heaven some day, the people who annoy us or that we think are doing church or life or their relationship with God all wrong are not going to be somewhere else in heaven. We will be united and we will join together in worship of our magnificent Savior. You might even be right beside them – who knows! Yes, there are messed up people in church. Maybe they don’t do everything just the right way and yes, it might hurt to get involved in church but God LOVES relationship. He created us for relationship with Him and He yearns for His people to be together and loves it when we glorify Him in our unity.

Remember that we are all broken, others are broken in a different way than we are, and sometimes it is more comfortable to stay away, but God has not called us to isolation and avoidance of others who are broken – He has called us to be united in Him. Even if just for an hour to an hour and a half a week we could set aside our fears and our judgments of others to come together and celebrate and worship the One who loves us all just the same, maybe we could get just a glimpse of what it will be like when we are all united with Jesus one day.

This week we have allowed the Lord into several areas of brokenness in our lives. We have chosen to worship Him in our suffering. If we continue to invite Jesus into every place of our lives as we have this week, we will yearn to be around others who do this too. My prayer for each of us is that this will become our way of life. That we will learn to open our hears and invite Jesus into every part of our lives and that we will do the same with His people. Unity is powerful and it does not exist without each of us individually offering our hearts to the Lord and to each other.

Application Challenge:

Ask God to show you what step towards unity with brothers and sisters in Christ He would like for you take. Go to church, join a small group, get involved in a community of believers! God has called you to it and He will be with you all the way through it! As you listen to the song today, close your eyes and imagine you are in the presence of Jesus Christ and with people who have hurt you or people you just plain don’t like. It is tough to focus on anything but Jesus when we are in His presence.

Reminder: Listen with no distraction to the music video. Remember that in Christ, you can walk in confidence through anything because of Him!

Listen:

Worship in Addictions

Worship in Addictions

I think most of us have in some way or another been touched by addiction and have thus experienced the hurt that comes with it. I have struggled with addiction and also been hurt by others who have struggled with addictions. No matter how addiction affects you today, remember that Jesus Christ is the only one who forgives all your iniquity, heals all your diseases, redeems your life from the pit, crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, and satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

We are never too far gone or too far in the pit for God to reach in and lift us right out. He will always rescue us as soon as we cry out to Him in faith! Praise God as you listen to the song today that He is the Great Physician, the One Who sees us right where we are, and the One Who loves us in our brokenness. God is not indifferent to what is going on in your life or the lives of those you love! He wants to heal you and He wants to heal your family member or friend who has an addiction. Never give up hope that they can be rescued from the pit.

Read: Psalm 103

Application Challenge:

We are not always aware of our addictions, and we are not always aware if we are enabling or contributing to the addictions of others. Ask the Lord today to show you if there is anything in your life in relation to addiction that He wants you to be aware of. Pray for deliverance from this sickness for someone who has hurt you in some way as a result of their own addiction. And ask the Lord to help you see those who struggle with addictions the way He sees them so that you can love them as He does.

Reminder: Listen with no distraction to the music video. I have included two songs today. One may be a little outside of what you are used to, but I hope that you will listen to the lyrics since they are very relatable. Additionally, Surrounded: This Is How I Fight My Battles is an anthem that is good to remember in your spirit each and every day. It may look like you’re surrounded, but you’re surrounded by Him!

Listen:

Day 5: Worship in Famlies

Day 5: Worship in Famlies

Let’s face it – family can be challenging. Even on our worst days, my family is pretty amazing. I am so blessed to have some of my family members also as my best friends. It is not always like that now and it definitely has not always been that way. God has healed my family in many ways over the last several years and given us the desire to be healthy individuals and in turn our relationships with each other have become much healthier. But there are still times of difficulty. And there are some family members I have to spend a little less time with than others to maintain my sanity.

Honestly, when I am having a conflict with a family member, I tend to avoid them and the thought of them altogether. And then there’s the pain of losing a family member. I lost my oldest sister a few years ago, she was killed in a car accident and this type of pain feels unbearable. There are still days I think of her and find it tough to breathe. Brokenness in our families comes in all forms. We all have it and it hurts.

When I was reading Job recently, something that jumped out at me was that he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings on behalf of each of his children in case they had sinned. Later, his whole family died and I can’t imagine that level of suffering or pain, but I think what touched my heart about it was how much Job must have loved his family to have prayed like that for them every day. I want to love my family that much, even the ones I don’t like a whole lot. What better way to worship in our families than to pray for each other?

Read: Job 1

Application Challenge:

Set aside 10 minutes today to pray for each of your family members by name, even the ones you don’t necessarily like – especially the ones you don’t necessarily like. As you pray for them, however God leads you to pray otherwise, give praise to God for them, thank Him for them and ask Him how you can love them better.

Reminder: Listen with no distraction to the music video.

Listen:

Day 4: Worship in our Thinking

Day 4: Worship in our Thinking

I have come to recognize over the last few years that my thoughts are hugely important. I learned through counseling with Stephanie Baker and God’s word that what we believe forms our way of thinking which then controls our feelings which then determines our behaviors. It has been really awesome to see how renewing my mind with God’s Word has changed my life. Somewhere in my mind I have this way of thinking that makes me want to be finished with growth. As if once I learn something and then put it into practice, I’m done, or I’ve arrived. God will grow me in some area of my life and then I guess I start to think, “Ok, thanks, I’m good now. I’ve got this.”

Time and time again I get to that place, and then a new struggle, temptation, or hardship comes up and my mind goes haywire. I get stuck in trying to think about how to handle it or what to do or how to fix it. My mind races and I just completely wear myself out. I feel like Paul did when he said, “I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.” I know the right thing to do is renew my mind, focus on God, not my circumstances, but it is a lot easier said than done. I don’t want to take away from the significance of spending time in God’s Word every day to renew the mind, but I do want to point out that there are more ways to do so. I have found that worship music is a great way to do this as well.

Kari Jobe is my all time favorite worship singer because her music focuses on God and His character and they include a plethora of scriptural truths. When I get to that place in which my thoughts are spinning out of control, I have a go-to playlist that I listen to that I entitled ‘Worship’. It helps me to renew my mind; to trade in Satan’s lies for God’s truth in moments that I can’t necessarily read or study the Bible. God has used this to help me ‘take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ’ and to ‘be still and know that He is God’.

I have included two songs today. Much like life often is, life can be heavy. While I believe firmly in the importance and healing power of grief and tears, I also think it is dangerous to dwell in that place. Sometimes it is good to just lighten up the mood with some upbeat worship music!

Day 3: Shame and Worship

Day 3: Shame and Worship

I am a worship leader and in my head, I understand what it means to worship. I understand that it’s not just singing and lifting our hands on Sunday mornings and that true worship is a matter of the heart. I think Webster’s dictionary nailed it, “Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission.” Recently I heard a message at my church about it and I was so convicted that I was moved to tears at the thought of how short my life falls of true worship of the Lord. Yet each time this happens, I don’t really feel like much changes. I get it in my head, but I still can’t seem to get to the place that I know I’m honoring the Lord with extravagant love and extreme submission.

Usually, when I get up to lead worship, I am distracted by thoughts about how I look, how my voice sounds, if my arms look fat when I raise them. Off the stage, I am convinced that the reason I am still unwed at the age of 32 is due to my physical appearance. I am concerned with how my hair, makeup, and clothes look, if my house is clean and organized enough, that I’m not doing a good enough job at school or work or let’s be honest – life. I want to be consumed with worship in my life and on stage. But the only time I really ever feel free to worship without those concerns is in the shower when I am literally naked. It is always such a special time – there is no-one else around – just me and the Lord and for a few minutes, my fat rolls and stretch marks don’t matter; I am exposed and unashamed and I am able to truly express my reverence and adoration for God.

Why am I most comfortable worshipping when I’m naked? I don’t think it is just because I am alone with God, although that also makes for some wonderful worship experiences driving down the road in my car or just at home alone dancing and singing before Him. But no worship experience matches those during shower time. It occurs to me that Adam and Eve were unclothed and unashamed before God until they sinned. Even then, God didn’t tell them they were naked and they were ashamed before they even knew that God knew what they had done. The Bible says God made garments of the skins of animals to clothe them. What stands out to me is that God did not inflict shame on them, on the contrary Adam and Eve stood naked before God after they had sinned against Him and instead of turning away from them or walking away disgusted by their flawed nakedness, He sacrificed a part of His own precious creation to clothe them so that they would not feel ashamed.

In Psalm 139, David shares with us just how much God knows about and sees of us, to put it simply – everything. Before He even knit us together in our mother’s womb, he saw what we would be in our nakedness, he saw that we would be flawed and that we would need garments to cover our imperfections, and He sacrificed His very own Son so that we could be dressed in righteousness and unashamed. He doesn’t want us to be ashamed. As His children, He doesn’t even see us as shameful any more.

There is no-one else that would accept me that way, call me lovely and flawless, even in my nakedness and I can’t help but express reverence and adoration for someone that loves me that much! Today, I want you to remember that shame hinders us from true worship and that shame does not come from God. If you want to really express reverence and adoration for God, stand before Him knowing that in your nakedness you are spotless, flawless, and righteous.

Read: Psalm 139

Application Challenge:

Take your phone in the bathroom with you and listen to today’s song as you shower. Lift your arms in worship as you stand unclothed and unashamed before the one who shed His very own blood to clothe you in His righteousness.

Listen:

Day 2: Openness in Worship

Day 2: Openness in Worship

One of the hardest things in my life is being open about my flaws. I am a perfectionist and even as I have written this devotional, I have struggled. I want everything to be just right and I don’t ever want to look like I don’t have it all together. I can acknowledge where some of these tendencies come from but it certainly does not fix it quickly. There is a lot of damage to my heart and just to be open and honest about it, I don’t want to open my heart up much of the time. I am extremely selective about who I am open with. I want to keep it protected and safe and comfortable and that’s that. But I think I miss out on so much by keeping it that way, and I don’t believe that’s how God intended for it to be.

I know from Genesis 2 that God does not desire for us to be alone – He created us with relationship in mind, first with Him and second with others. To have healthy relationships, being open and honest is mandatory, first with God, and then with others. I believe the best place to start is being open and honest with God. It builds trust with Him to just talk to Him about everything, even the unpleasant stuff. He does not always talk back, usually doesn’t, but just verbalizing things to Him is such a relief. It is also essential to have people we can share with and talk to this way.

People are imperfect and they will not always accept everything we say or do the way that God does, but I think if we start small and become intentional about being open, we can learn that opening ourselves up to others isn’t as detrimental as we might think. This is a challenge I face on a regular basis and I have included a song today that reminds me that I am allowed to be, and supposed to be, broken. There is no reason to hide it or try to cover it up or try to appear to be something other than that. I hope it helps you today to be reminded of that, too.

Read: Psalm 34

Application Challenge:

Talk out loud to God today about anything that is on your mind. Talk to one person that you trust today about something you would normally keep to yourself

Reminder: Listen with no distraction to the music video.

Listen:

 

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