AWAKEN our WORSHIP
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
- Psalm 95:6
Every week, we gather together (online or in person), sing some songs, listen to a message, sing some other songs, and roll out. But what does it all really mean? Why do we do these things? Why do we have an entire portion of our church service devoted to worship in song? Worship is defined as a verb meaning to show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites.
We are very much aware of the fact that we worship with songs each week and have heard other religions that have special ways that the believer worships its god. However, contrary to popular belief, worship is not limited to a god or gods. You and I often worship other things every day without realizing it. Worship is a great from of love. It is unquestioning devotion to something. When you truly worship something, you want to spend every waking moment growing in it, pleasing it, talking about how great it is, or telling everyone about it. There are many things in our lives that take worship away from God. There are some who worship their careers. They don't stand in the lobby of their office building and sing, "Great are you, Job." However, they devote everything they do to it. They work to get ahead. Worship is a sacrifice and you cannot worship something without sacrificing something. With those who worship careers, it could be their families, their friends, or even their health that they sacrifice to get ahead. We can worship our possessions. Got to have the latest and greatest. They are willing to sacrifice everything to achieve this. Why do we often worship and go after these things so hard? If we are to look at the root, it is often centrally focused. We want to be seen. We want others to see how great we are so chase and worship things that we think will get people to see our greatness.
We were created to worship and as stated above, we WILL worship something. There is nothing we can do to stop it. The important thing is to know what to worship. When we worship other things besides God, the ultimate goal is to show others how great we are. When we worship God the right way, we shift the attention God and how great He is. As we also stated, a sacrifice must be made. The sacrifice that is made when we truly worship is the sacrifice of ourselves. John 3:30 tells us, "He must increase; I must decrease." That is worship. Lowering yourself and lifting God.
We worship with our devotion. But as we all know, we also worship with our lips. We express adoration to God for His love, to Christ for His sacrifice, and to the Holy Spirit for His comfort. Each week as we gather, we sing songs of worship as a body of believers. We have to get to the point where we are not just singing, but that we are understanding and meaning what we are singing. When we sing how great is our God, we have to believe it in our hearts. Worship also reminds our problems how big our God is. It is an acknowledgment that your problems are big, but God is bigger. It shifts your focus off your trial and on your Savior. Worship is not something that is limited to Sundays. You should live in a constant state of worship to God. When you face trials, I encourage you to find a worship album you enjoy and just take a moment to sign along to it, or just sit in silence as the words and God's presence comfort you. What about when you are blessed and good things happen? I encourage you to again take a moment to worship God. Listen to a few songs. Praise Him in prayer. Do something that reminds you and God is the supply of blessings and He is deserving of our praise for what He has given us. The next time you are in a worship service, take a moment to truly worship. You will be surprised how God will bless you.
Take a moment today to reflect on your life. Do you worship God or other things? Who is first in your life? Do you worship people or God? If your answer is not God, take a moment and repent for these things. Ask for His forgiveness and guidance to always put Him first. Reflect on how often you worship Him. There is no magic number, but we do know that we need to live a life of worship to God. Ask for a heart of worship and a desire to lift Christ high. Take a moment to create a playlist, get a worship album, or find music that you can already have ready to worship God when you are facing a trial or triumphing in a victory.
AWAKEN our THANKSGIVING
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18
If we're being honest here, over the past 12 months we have been through a lot of "seasons". We have all had seasons of uncertainty, some may have had one or several seasons of fear, some have encountered seasons of change, others endured seasons of loss, and some of us have even walked through seasons of blessing. You and I are guaranteed to endure a great about of seasons as we walk through this life. The bible assures us that we will have trials (John 16:33). The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
There is a season for everything. I have heard it once said: there are two types of people in this world – those who are facing a trial and those who are about to face one. Often it's not the trial we face that shows our faith in Jesus. It's how we act during the trial. Do we trust God even when we can't see? (See what I did there?) Do we grovel and complain? Do we stand firm that God is in control? Again, 2020 taught us many things. One of those lessons is that trials will come. Another is that even during trials, blessings can come too. How do you respond in these situations?
"Give thanks in all circumstances..." that's how you respond. I know it's easy to read, hard to actually apply. I know when we receive blessings or gifts it's easy to give thanks. What about when bad things happen? I am not telling you to stand in your driveway when the car won't start and say, "Thank you God for not letting my car crank." But I am suggesting that you shift your perspective. What if the car is not cranking to prevent you from leaving your house at that time? Also, even in the midst of a broken car, you are blessed. You are breathing. You lived to see another day. You likely walked out of your house so you have a roof over your head. You likely use your fancy cell phone to call work and tell them you will be late. Blessed. That is what you are.
We must shift our perspective. If you look at the verse, you will see that the first word is not capitalized. This is because it's not the first word in the sentence. There is more to the story. Verses 16-18 tell us, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." If we look at it using a different translation, The Message, it says this: "Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live." God wants us to be cheerful. He wants to pray all the time. No matter what happens, He wants us to give thanks. Why? Because when you shift your mindset to focusing on the good and what you're thankful for, you'd be surprised how it can help turn your situation around.
Today, take a look at your life. Are you living a life of thanksgiving? Better yet, are you living a life of thanksgiving.... at all times? Pray and as God to remind you in the tough times to come up with reasons to be thankful. They are there, you just have to ask God to reveal them to you. Today, you can AWAKEN your THANKSGIVING.
AWAKEN our TRUST
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding
- Proverbs 3:5
Have you ever played the trust fall game? You know the one. Someone stands there with their back facing everyone and the person crosses their arms and just.... falls backward. Then the people or person standing behind them catch them (or be terrible and let them fall). At the moment they let themselves fall backward the person has no idea what the person behind them is doing. Are they on their phone, moving out of the way, or getting into position to come to the rescue?
Often times in our lives, we are playing trust fall whether we realize it or not. God is behind us but what do we often do? We try to catch ourselves and solve it on our own. We talk big game and tell others we trust God with our whole heart. We try to tell everyone that we have faith the size of a solar system, but when it comes down to it, we really don't trust God to solve our problems. 2020 showed many of us just how little we truly trust God. All of these things started happen and we began to doubt if God was in control. We couldn't see what was happening next and we began to thing God couldn't either. We couldn't understand what was going on and didn't know what to do, logically God must've be going through the same thing right? In 2020 many of us lived in fear (which is not the same as living with caution or safety), and allowed fear to stop trusting that God is still in control. Our verse tells to not lean on our own understanding. If we try to convince ourselves that we are in control and we know what's going on, we are going to quickly find out how wrong we are.
Going back to our game, what happens when the person falling tries to catch themselves? Most often they block the person from catching them and they still fall. If we are not careful, when we don't trust God and try to figure it out on our own, we can block a blessing coming our way. So what do you do? How do you trust God? You move forward. You say, "God, I have no idea what I am doing here but You do. You are in control and I will walk forward knowing that you got my back." You don't allow fear to take over. You tell your mountain how big your God is. Rather than filling your head with the possible negative outcomes, you fill your head with praise. Listen to worship music. Sing out to God. You may not see it, but God is getting in position to catch you. All you have to do is have faith and fall.
Today, examine the past year. Have you trusted God? Do you truly believe He is in control? Do you allow Him to be in control or do you try to take the wheel? Ask God to reveal the areas that you are lacking in trust and how you can improve. Today, let's AWAKEN our TRUST.
AWAKEN our COMMITMENT
And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by His decrees and obey His commands...
- 1 Kings 8:61
Going back to those New Year's Resolutions you made a few short weeks ago to get in shape, eat better, be nicer, save money; what is something they all have in common? They require you not to quit. You say you're going to do it, but that's not enough. You actually have to do it... day in and day out. You do it when it's convenient, and when it's not. You have to work hard every day. You have to decide that the results are worth the work.
Today's the one you knew was coming, but probably hoped we could skip. Today, let's talk about commitment. I want to get a little real today and talk about the importance of commitment in the life of a believer. If we were to be honest, our society has a hard time with commitment. People can't commit to staying at a job when it gets hard, more marriages are ending in divorce, and getting rid of a tattoo has never been easier. The word commitment has lost its power as it has become a word that we say to add emphasis but never plan to see through. Today's verse tells us we should have our hearts fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by His decrees, and obey His commands. We should be committed to the Lord. You accepted Christ, but are you fully committed to Him? Are you so dedicated to the cause of Christ that you spend every waking moment trying to advance His Kingdom? Does the thought of people dying and spending eternity separated from Christ break your heart? Do you earnestly want to live by God's Word and do at It commands? Honestly answer those for yourself. Can we improve? I bet so. The Bible teaches us that where our treasure is, there your heart will be also. So going back to the verse, if your treasure is not fully devoted in God, your heart cannot be committed to Him. I will briefly go over three things that we need to commit to God.
1. Time. Our time is important. It is a currency that we spend everyday on what we deem important. We never know how much we will get and once it is spent, it is gone. God calls us to spend time with Him. How do we do that? We pray. We read His Word. We attend church. This pandemic has seen a stark decline in church attendance across the board. We understand that there are needs to be safe and that's not what we are discussing here. We are discussing devoting time to be in God's House whether that be in a church building or turning your living room into a sanctuary through online church. At Elevate we believe we should honor the 11 o'clock hour. What does that mean? If you attend in person, get to church. If you attend online. Commit to your family, that we honor this hour. We are gathering as a family at this time and we are going to worship God, together. Do this for prayer and reading His Word. Make a commitment to honor God with your time.
2. Talent. God has gifted all of us with talents that the Church (we talked about this yesterday) needs. God has created you for a specific reason. He has called you to serve and grow His Kingdom. Serving in your local church is VITAL to the spreading of the gospel. If there was none talented and serving in our Children's Ministry, our children would not hear the Word and would not accept Him. There are so many areas you can serve with your talents. If you feel like there's not a place for you to serve, that's likely God tugging you to begin a new ministry in your church that can help reach even more people. Christ came to serve. We should make it our goal to do the same.
3. Treasure. Here's the kicker. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. If your treasure is wrapped up in money, it cannot be wrapped up in God. If you are soo scared to give because you are afraid you will one day need it, you will be no different than the man who hid his talent and was punished for it. You worship God in everything you do. One of the big ways we worship is our giving. Why? Because of how important treasure is in our lives. Most of us do not just go around and give everything away. We are strategic and plan, and save our money to have enough when we need it. You must commit your treasure to God. If He is not the Lord of all, He's not Lord at all. You have to give to Him. It must be a sacrifice. Worship is sacrificing something. This is no different with worshipping with giving. Commit your treasure to God. He will bless you for it.
Today, take a moment to reflect on your commitment to Christ. Do you commit your time to Him? Do you set aside time to spend praying, worshipping, and growing in Him? What about talents? Do you faithfully serve the body of Christ? Do you work to help reach those far from Christ? Your treasure, does it captivate your heart, or does Christ? Pray that God will do a deep dive into these three areas and reveal where and how you can grow in each.
AWAKEN our MISSION
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
- Mark 16:15
Have you ever tried a new ice cream flavor or restaurant that you absolutely loved and wanted to shout it to the world? You wanted everyone to know how amazing it was and if they had not tried it, they were missing out? We've all been there... "Come on! We can go right now!" If you've never said that, it wasn't that good. We update our social media pages, post us eating the food, and try to figure out a way to bring it into every conversation we have. But, why wouldn't you? It's amazing and everyone needs to try it, right?
Let's think about something else. Think back to when you accepted Christ. He changed you, accepted you, and adopted you right where you were. You wanted to tell everyone, right? You wanted to know more about Him, worship Him, and share Him with others? You may have talked to your friends, invited co-workers to church, post scriptures on social media. The list can go on and on. But what is clear, you wanted to expand the Kingdom and share Christ with others. Our focus verse today is one you hear often, but it's message doesn't change. We are commanded to go and preach the gospel. God calls unique individuals to pastor, but He has called ALL of us to preach. Preach is defined as to publicly proclaim or teach (a religious message or belief). God has called us to spread His Gospel.
Elevate Church has a clear mission: to reach those far from Christ and His Church. When you read that, you may think to yourself that we are talking about our building or our organization. While we believe God has called us here for a specific purpose and to reach a specific people, we are very intentional with our mission. Look closely... the word "Church" is capitalized. Why is that? Because we are referring to the global Church or the bride of Christ. At the end of the day, if Christ's Church is increased, that is all that matters.
God has called us to preach the gospel to every creature. That is a command to every Christian. God doesn't do anything on accident. You are where you are for a reason. Your "world" needs you. Your "world" needs the saving message of Jesus Christ and you are there to share it. Remember back to when you first became saved. You had a passion for Christ. You wanted to draw closer to Him and tell others about Him. It's time to get back to that.
Today, take a moment to reflect on your life. Are you as excited and passionate as you where when you first accepted Christ into your life? Do you preach the gospel? Pray and seek God and ask Him who He has sent you to reach. Who has He placed into your "world"? How can you better reach them? Pray for courage to spread the gospel and openness of others to hear the message.
Today, let's AWAKEN our MISSION.
AWAKEN our PASSION
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.
- Colossians 3:23-24
Have you ever been to a little league game, and as you sat there you heard this parent yelling like they're at the Superbowl? What about that time you saw a fellow employee treat their job as the most important thing in their life? They worked to do their job the best they could. They worked late, came in early, and was always ready to help where they could. What is something that these two share? You guessed it, or you looked at today's title, PASSION. A definition of passion is "a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything." There are different reasons to have passion for something, but it's often clear that you are passionate because somewhere down the line, there is something you love in the mix. The parent yelling has passion for the sport, having the best player, or maybe being able to make their team the best around. The employee may have passion to do well, or even to make the company the best it can be.
It's clear that the early church was full of passion to spread the gospel of Christ. Threats, challenges, and even death were not deterrents from advancing the Kingdom. Their love for Christ along with the realization that they were helping others avoid an eternity in hell, sparked passion and enthusiasm to work every day and fight through obstacles as they arose.
Today's verse tells us "whatever you do, do it enthusiastically..." Everything we do each day should be done with passion. We should work hard at being a husband. We should do everything we can to be a great wife. We should be good children, neighbors, and friends. Why? because it's "as something done for the Lord and not for men..." We aren't doing anything for the reward of men. We serve the Lord Jesus Christ and what we do each day should reflect Him and we should strive with passion to be the person He has created us to be. As we discussed yesterday, God should be our PRIORITY. He should be first. Therefore we should have a passion to please Him and work in everything we do to advance His Kingdom. Be a great husband, wife, son, daughter, employee, christian, and volunteer. Serve others with a passion knowing that you do not do it for others, you do it for Christ. What could happen if you spent one week living out your whole life with passion? It could impact others to live a passionate life. Their lives could lead others and in the end you could spark a move that impacts the whole world.
Today, take a moment to dwell on your current passion level not only in your life, but in your relationship with Christ. Are you living a life of passion or a life of indifference. Do you work to make an impact or work to get by? In your walk with Christ, do you seek to advance the Kingdom of God or just work to make it to heaven? How can you spark passion? Pray that God will give you a passion for your life and for His Kingdom. Pray that when you're lacking in passion, He will renew it for you. Today, we make a stance to AWAKEN our Passion.
AWAKEN our PRIORITY
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. - Matthew 6:33
When we rang in the new year, many of us made resolutions to eat better, go to the gym, be nicer, or a variety of things. It all starts out great, right? You eat the salad at lunch on the first day, you buy the running shoes, and you greet the person as you walk into the store. Feels good right? We're on top of the world. We are accomplishing something. But then after a few days... we forget to pack the salad, it's going to be really cold on the way to the gym, or someone cuts you off at the red light. Next thing you know, you have wilted lettuce in the fridge, membership dues coming out of your account, and that guy in the office deserved what you said to them. What happened? You lost focus, you stopped making it a priority, other things took its place.
With a new year, we start out soo strong with many things. However, we often never finish strong because what we set out to do doesn't remain a priority in our lives. Today's verse is very clear... "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..." We have to focus on God. We have to seek Him, His kingdom and not our desires. He must remain the focus as we face this year, fight our battles, and celebrate triumphs. God MUST be first. And just as getting healthy or being nice takes constant work, seeking God first is not a one-time thing. For Him to be first, He must stay first.
The verse goes on to say, "and all these things will be provided for you." What will be provided? I am glad you asked. Let's look at was was said before. Verses 31 and 32 say: "So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? ’ or ‘What will we drink? ’ or ‘What will we wear? ’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them." All too often we let our needs, our challenges, or our giants take priority in our thoughts and hearts. We've all been there... unable to focus on what we're doing because we're too focused on our problems or what we need in our lives. What does the verse say? It tells us that God knows what we need. Not only do we know He knows, we know He provides. I have heard it often said, "Don't tell your God how big your mountain is, tell your mountain how big your God is." Seek God. Get in His Word. Pray to Him. Listen to the worship songs. Dwell on Him. Take a walk. God is there.
Today, take a moment to dwell on how much a priority seeking God is in your life. Pray that God will open your eyes to see how you can seek Him and to guide you to keep Him a priority in your life. If you haven't already, take a few minutes to read His word. If you haven't started a plan, might I suggest you start at Matthew and go from there. Today, AWAKEN your PRIORITY.