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Isaiah 58

by Ria

I read thru Isaiah 58 this morning and the particular bible I read also had a devotional for that particular chapter, specifically v. 1-14. It speaks of serving God thru serving others despite of the challenges it presents at times. Pastor spoke of being in a “rut” at the meeting yesterday and as well during devotions at practice and I think we all have experienced being in a rut, or maybe we’re in a rut now, but i think this passage encourages us to press on–even suggestions on how to focus on others. It reminds us that when we align ourselves with God’s will, a sense of joy in serving will rise and overcome the rut that’s dragging us down.

A perfect example would be the SF food bank event last week–it was inspiring to listen to those who work there speak of the purpose of the food bank and to be able to help hundreds of unknown faces, while getting to know members of the congregation I normally don’t get to spend much time with because of our responsibilities on weekends was really awesome, for a lack of a better word. It did something to my spirt that no amount of pleasing my own desires could ever do. Anyway, back to Isaiah, I particularly appreciated the following verses:

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Don’t Quit When Things Get Tough

There are many days when I want to walk away from the things I work on. I received this blog post from John Maxwell (one of my favorite pastors who teach about leadership). June marks the middle of the year where I look back and analyze where I am with my goals. At that point I want to quit many of the things I think I’ve failed. This post just inspired me to keep going.
Many people make decisions when things aren’t going well. They look for relief in the despair of the valley instead of waiting for the clarity that comes from being on the mountaintop. Why? Because it takes a lot of effort to get to the mountaintop. And when you’re experiencing the darkness of the valley, it’s always tempting to make changes that you hope will relieve the discomfort. My advice may be counter intuitive, but quitting during a struggle is rarely a good idea. The best time to make decisions is when you’re succeeding. If you fight your way through the valley, you’ll make better decisions at the top of the mountain. Here’s why:
  • You can see your situation more clearly.
  • You are moving to something, not just from something.
  • You leave those around you in a better position.
  • You decide using positive data, not negative.
  • You are more likely to move from peak to peak instead of valley to valley.
So what should you do in the valley? Persevere. If you keep fighting, you’re likely to get your second wind, just as distance runners do. And it’s said that only when runners are exhausted enough to reach that place do they find out what they can truly accomplish. If you keep persevering while you are in the valley, not only will you likely make it to the higher ground where you can make better decisions, but you will also have developed character, which will serve you well throughout life.

References: http://johnmaxwellonleadership.com/2010/06/03/dont-quit-during-training/

What is Worship?

The following is a devotion led by Ria during our February 2010 meeting.

When I was younger I really had no idea. I remember being at children’s church, or at a Sunday service with lola and being told that we’re about to worship. Which meant I had to try to pay attention or to be quiet. The idea of worship bored me because I didn’t understand. All I knew was that I had to sit still for what seemed like hours listening to some guy talk. When I got a little older…9-11 years old, I got the impression that worship was the first 30 minutes of church…when music was sung and played…I usually fell asleep in the pews right after the music. But in my mind, I participated in the worship part..that’s good right? A little bit older still and I’m now part of the worship team. I was told we usher people into the throne of God. One of the worship leaders who would train and guide me told me there were levels/thrones I had to enter, til I reached the ultimate worship place. I never understood that…and I still don’t. During that time, worship was also synonymous to slow songs. Back to my first sentence, I still had no idea of what worship was…

Fast forward a decade or so…

I’ve slowly learned that worship is actually much simpler. Stripped to its simplest definition, it basically means to bring God pleasure…by glorifying Him in our daily lives, exciting stuff and the mundane. When we do things that please God, we are worshipping Him. The role of a pastor, usher, the one who sings and children’s church teacher, bathroom/church cleaner are all acts of worship when done with a heart for God.

Worship is an expression of our love for God

You don’t have to sing well, or play well to worship God. When we do things to please God, we are worshipping Him. It’s our way of honoring God. The death of Christ brought to us the gift of grace, the undeserved gift that extended God’s forgiveness…and though we cannot do anything to earn this gift, we can honor God by worshipping him in our daily lives, through simple acts with authentic intentions to show who God is to us. We love God, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
1 Peter 1: 8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Worship is for God’s benefit, not ours:
Psalm 147:11 CEV The LORD is pleased with those who worship Him and trust his love.

For this, I thought specifically of our ministry. I thought about how each weekend we come to church, to prep on Saturday and minister on Sunday…that none of this is for us. It’s not some emotional high to achieve, or show off our skills…but really to honor and glorify God. What a blessing to be called to honor him through music. The bible mentions singing, praising God a few dozen times and it goes to show the importance of giving glory to God. The goal is to magnify His name, to make Him bigger, the biggest part of the service. (Which is why I think prepping (musically + spiritually) is so important so that the flow of worship is smoother and the focus isn’t taken away from God. God deserves the best that we can offer…not what’s convenient for us to give)
Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Worship comes from the heart

In the old testament, God made a covenant to Abraham…that if he obeyed God’s instructions to circumcise the men in his household, God would hold up his end of the deal by giving Him heirs. This practice became the physical difference between those who were part of his covenant. This was essential to separate those who worshipped God and those who didn’t…however, over time, only the physical aspect of their circumcision were obvious…it no longer affected the heart, which is what mattered most.
Ephesians 2:11 NLT Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.

This applies in our ministry…that the song of our hearts, must be louder than the song of our fingers and voices.

The birth of Christ brought us grace…and the grace extended to us has come to represent that idea of circumcision…it allows God to been seen us. Our actions, our worship is a direct representation of who it is that live in our hearts…
John 4:23-24 (New Living Translation) 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Worship is a lifestyle…which means it’s a lifelong journey

When we worship God wholly, completely, it means there’s no room to worship anything else. At any given time, our heart + mind is occupied by so many things. It’s easy to divide our attention…but when we keep our eyes focused on one thing, it’s easier to not be distracted. The goal of our walk is to keep our eyes on pleasesing God, essentially worshipping Him. I don’t think God expects us to fully comprehend the meaning of worship overnight. It’s a process that reveals itself as we delve deeper into the Word to learn more about God…and through conscious effort.
Psalm 105 1 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. 2 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. 3 Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord. 4 Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.


 


Philippians 3:12-14 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Greatest Commandment and Great Commission

The Greatest Commandment
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
-Matthew 22: 37-40
The Great Commission
“Jesus came to [the disciples] and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
-Matthew 28: 18-20

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