Worship That Pleases God

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.- Mark 12:30 (NIV)

God wants all of you. God doesn’t want a part of your life. He asks for all of your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. God is not interested in halfhearted  commitment, partial obedience, and the leftovers of your time and money. He desires your full devotion, not little bits of your life.

Where you worship is not as important as why you worship and how much of yourself you offer to God when you worship. There is a right and wrong way to worship. The Bible says, “Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please Him”.-Hebrews 12:28 The kind of worship that pleases God has four characteristics:

God is pleased when our worship is accurate. People often say, “I like to think of God as…”, and then they shared their idea of the kind of God they would like to worship. But we cannot just create our own comfortable or politically correct image of God and worship it. That is idolatry.  Worship must be based on the truth of Scripture, not our opinions about God. “True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks”-John 4:23-24. To “worship in truth” means to worship God as He is truly revealed in the Bible.

God is pleased when our worship is authentic. When Jesus said you must “worship in spirit”, He wasn’t referring to the Holy Spirit, but to your spirit. Made in God’s image, you are a spirit that resides in a body, and God designed your spirit to communicate with Him. Worship is your spirit responding to God’s Spirit. When Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart and soul”, He meant that worship must be genuine and heartfelt. It is not just a matter of saying the right words; you must mean what you say. Heartless praise is not praise at all! It is worthless, and an insult to God.

When we worship, God looks past our words to see the attitude of our hearts. The Bible says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”.-1 Samuel 16:7 Since worship involves delighting in God, it engages your emotions. God gave you emotions so you could worship Him with deep feeling-but those emotions must be genuine, not faked. God hates hypocrisy. He doesn’t want showmanship or pretense or phoniness in worship. He wants your honest, real love. We can worship God imperfectly, but we cannot worship Him insincerely.

Of course, sincerity alone is not enough; you can be sincerely wrong. That’s why both spirit and truth are required. Worship must be both accurate and authentic. God-pleasing worship is deeply emotional and deeply doctrinal. We use both our hearts and our heads. Christians often differ on the most appropriate or authentic way to express praise to God. God wants you to be yourself. You don’t bring glory to God by trying to be someone He never intended you to be. 

God is pleased when our worship is thoughtful. Jesus’ command to “love God with all your mind” is repeated four times in the New Testament. If worship is mindless, it is meaningless. You must engage your mind. Jesus called thoughtless worship “vain repetitions”. 

God is pleased when our worship is practical. The Bibles says, “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship”. Why does God want your body? In worship we are to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices“. God wants us to live for Him! One thing worship costs us is our self-centeredness. You cannot exalt God and yourself at the same time. You don’t worship to be seen by others or to please yourself. You deliberately shift the focus off yourself.

When you praise God even when you don’t feel like it, when you get out of bed to worship when you’re tired, or when you help others when you are worn out, you are offering a sacrifice of worship to God. That pleases God. 

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God’s Power in Your Weakness

We are weak…yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.”-2 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV).

And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.- 2 Corinthians 12:9

God loves to use weak people. Everyone has weaknesses. In fact, you have a bundle of flaws and imperfections: Physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.  You may also have uncontrollable circumstances that weaken you, such as financial or relational limitations. The more important issue is what you do with these. Usually we deny our weaknesses, defend them, excuse them, hide them, and resent them. This prevents God from using them the way He desires. 

God has a different perspective on your weaknesses. He says, “My thoughts and my ways are higher than yours”, so He often acts in ways that are the exact opposite of what we expect. We think that God only wants to use our strengths, but He also wants to use our weaknesses for His glory. The Bible says, “God purposely chose…what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful”,-1 Corinthians 1:27. Your weaknesses are not an accident. God deliberately allowed them in your life for the purpose of demonstrating His power through you.

God has never been impressed with strength or self-sufficiency. In fact, He is drawn to people who are weak and admit it. Jesus regarded this recognition of our need as being “poor in spirit”. It’s the number one attitude He blesses. The Bible is filled with examples of how God loves to use imperfect, ordinary people to do extraordinary things in spite of their weaknesses. If God only used perfect people, nothing would ever get done, because none of us is flawless. God using imperfect people is encouraging news for all of us.

A weakness, or “thorn” as Paul called it, is not a sin or a vice character defect that you can change, such as overeating or impatience. A weakness is any limitation that you inherited or have no power to change. It may be a physical limitation, like a handicap, a chronic illness, naturally low energy, or a disability. It may be an emotional limitation, such as a trauma scar, a hurtful memory, a personality quirk, or a hereditary disposition. Or it may be a talent or intellectual limitation. We’re not all super bright or talented. 

When you think of the limitation in your life, you may be tempted to conclude, “God could never use me”. But God is never limited by our limitations. In fact, He enjoys putting His great power into ordinary containers. The Bible says, “We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us”.  -2 Corinthian 4:7 Like common pottery, we are fragile and flawed and break easily. But God will use us if we allow Him to work through our weaknesses. For that to happen, we must follow the model of Paul.

Admit your weaknesses. Own up to your imperfections. Stop pretending to have it all together, and be honest about yourself. Instead of living in denial or making excuses, take the time to identify your personal weaknesses. If you want God to use you, you must know who God is and know who you are. Many Christians, especially leaders, forget the second truth: We’re only human! If it takes a crisis to get you to admit this, God won’t hesitate to allow it, because He loves you.

Be content with your weaknesses. We want to be freed from our weaknesses, not be content  with them! But contentment is an expression of faith in the goodness of God. It says, “God, I believe you love me and know what’s best for me”. Whenever you feel weak, God is reminding you to depend on Him. Our weaknesses also prevent arrogance. They keep us humble. God often attaches a major weakness to a major strength to keep our egos in check. Our weaknesses also encourage fellowship between believers. 

Honestly share your weaknesses. The more you let down your guard, take off your mask , and share your struggles, the more God will be able to use you in serving others. It can be scary to lower your defenses and open up your life to others. When you reveal your failures, feelings, frustrations, and fears, you risk rejection. But the benefits are worth the risk. Opening up relieves stress, defuses your fears, and is the first step to freedom. We have already seen that God “gives grace to the humble“, but many misunderstand humility. Humility is not putting yourself down or denying your strengths; rather, it is bein honest about your weaknesses. The more honest you are, the more of God’s grace you get. You will also receive grace from others. 

Glory in your weaknesses. Instead of posing as self-confident and invincible, see yourself as a trophy of grace. When Satan points out your weaknesses, agree with him and fill your heart with praise for Jesus, who, ‘understands every weakness of ours,” and for the Holy Spirit, who “helps us in our weakness”. Sometimes, however, God turns a strength into a weakness in order to use us even more. If you want God to bless you and use you greatly, you must be willing to walk with a limp the rest of your life, because God uses weak people! 

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What Drives Your Life?

Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of the spirit-Ecclesiastes 4:4

The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder- a waif, a nothing, a no man”– Thomas Carlyle

Everyone’s life is driven by something. Most dictionaries define the verb drive as “to guide, to control, or to direct”. Whether you are driving a car,  a nail, or a golf ball, you are guiding, controlling, and directing it at the moment. What is the driving force in your life? Right now you may be driven by a problem, a pressure, or a deadline. You may be driven by a painful memory, a haunting fear, or an unconscious belief. There are hundreds of circumstances, values, and emotions that can drive your  life.

Many people are driven by guilt. They spend their entire lives running from regrets and hiding their shame. Guilt-driven people are manipulated by memories. They allow their past to control their future. They often unconsciously punish themselves by sabotaging their own success. When Cain sinned, his guilt disconnected him from God’s presence, and God said, You will be a restless wanderer on the earth”- Genesis 4:1-16. That describes most people today-wandering through life without a purpose. We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it. God’s purpose is not limited by your past. He turned a murderer named Moses into a leader and a coward named Gideon into a courageous hero, and He can do amazing things with the rest of your life too. God specializes in giving people a fresh start. 

Many people are driven by resentment and anger. They hold on to hurts and never get over them. Instead of releasing their pain through forgiveness, they rehearse it over and over in their minds. Some resentment-driven people “clam up” and internalize their anger, while others “blow up” and explode it onto others. Both responses are unhealthy and unhelpful. Resentment always hurts you more than it does the person you resent. While your offender has probably forgotten the offense and gone on with life, you continue to stew in your pain, perpetuating the past. Listen: Those who have hurt you in the past cannot continue to hurt you now unless you hold on to the pain through resentment. Your past is the past! Nothing will change that. You are only hurting yourself with your bitterness. The Bibles says, “To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do” – Job 5:2. 

Many people are driven by fear. Their fears may be a result of a traumatic experience, unrealistic expectations, growing up in a high control home, or even genetic predisposition. Regardless of the cause, fear-driven people often miss great opportunities because they’re afraid to venture out. Instead they play it safe, avoiding risks and trying to maintain the status quo. Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be. You must move against it with the weapons of faith and love. 

Many people are driven by materialism. Their desire to acquire becomes the whole goal of their lives. This drive to always want more is based on the misconceptions that having more will make more happy, more important, and more secure, but all three ideas are untrue. Possessions only provide temporary happiness. Because things do not change, we eventually become bored with them and then want newer, bigger, better versions. It’s also a myth that if I get more, I will be more important. Self-worth and net worth are not the same. Your value is not determined by your valuables, and God says the most valuable things in life are not things! The most common myth about money is that having more will make me secure. It won’t. Wealth can be lost instantly through a variety of uncontrollable factors. Real security can only be found in that which can never be taken from you- your relationship with God.

Many people are driven by the need of approval. They allow the expectations of parents or spouses or children or teachers or friends to control their lives. Many adults are still trying to earn the approval of unpleasable parents. Others are driven by peer pressure, always worried by what others might think. Unfortunately, those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it. I don’t know all the keys to success, but one key to failure is to try to please everyone. Being controlled by the opinions of others  is a guaranteed way to miss God’s purposes for your life. Jesus said, :No one can serve two masters“. 

There are other forces that can drive your life but all lead to the same dead end: unused potential, unnecessary stress, and an unfulfilled life. Without a purpose, life is motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason. Without a purpose, life is trivial, petty, and pointless. Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life. We were made to have meaning. When life has meaning, you can bear almost anything; without it, nothing is bearable. Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope. 

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The Reason For Everything

For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. A-men’.-Romans 11:36 

The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. -Proverbs 16:4

It’s all for Him. The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God. It is the reason for everything that exists, including you. God made it all for His glory. Without God’s glory, there would be nothing. What is the glory of God? It is who God is. It is the essence of His nature, the weight of His importance, the radiance of His splendor, the demonstration of His power, and the atmosphere of His presence. God’s glory is the expression of His goodness and all His other intrinsic, eternal qualities.

Where is the glory of God? Just look around. Everything created by God reflects His glory in some way. We see it everywhere, from the smallest microscopic form of life to the vast Milky Way, from sunsets and stars to storms and seasons. Creation reveals our Creator’s glory. In nature we learn that God is powerful, that He enjoys variety, loves beauty, is organized, and is wise and creative. The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God”-Psalm 19:1.

Throughout history, God has revealed His glory to people in different settings. He revealed it first in the Garden of Eden, then to Moses, then in the tabernacle and the temple, then through Jesus, and now through the church. It was portrayed as a consuming fire, a cloud, thunder, smoke, and a brilliant light. In heaven, God’s glory provides all the light needed. The Bible says, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light”- Revelation 21:23

God’s glory is best seen in Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the world that illuminates God’s nature. Because of Jesus, we are no longer in the dark about what God is really like. The Bible says, ‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory”-Hebrews 1:3. Jesus came to earth so we could fully understand God’s glory. God’s inherent glory is what He possesses because He is God. It is His nature. We cannot add anything to this glory, just as it would be impossible for us to make the sun shine brighter. But we are commanded to recognize His glory, honor His glory, declare His glory, praise His glory, reflect His glory, and live for His glory. Why? Because God deserves it! 

We owe Him every honor we can possibly give. Since God made all things, He deserves all the glory. The Bible says, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created everything”-Revelation 4:11 Jesus honored God by fulfilling His purpose on earth.  We honor God the same way. When anything in creation fulfills its purpose, it brings glory to God. Birds bring glory to God by flying, chirping, nesting, and doing other bird-like activities that God intended.

There are many ways to bring glory to God, but they can be summarized in God’s five purposes for your life: 

We bring God glory by worshipping Him. Worship is our first responsibility to God. God wants our worship to be motivated by love, thanksgiving, and delight, not duty. Worship is far more than praising, singing, and praying to God. Worship is a lifestyle of enjoying God, loving Him, and giving ourselves to be used for His purposes. 

We bring God glory by loving other believers. When you were born again, you became apart of God’s family. Following Christ is not just a matter of  believing; it also includes belonging and learning to love the family of God. It is your responsibility to learn how to love as God does, because God is love, and it honors Him. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”- John 13:34-35

We bring God glory by becoming like Christ. Once we are born into God’s family, He wants us to grow to spiritual maturity. What does that look like? Spiritual maturity is becoming like Jesus in the way we think, feel, and act. The more you develop Christlike character, the more you will bring glory to God. The Bible says, “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like Him and reflect His glory even more”- 2 Corinthians 3:18 God gave you a new life and a new nature when you accepted Christ. Now, for the rest of your life on earth, God wants to continue the process of changing your character. 

We bring God glory by serving others with our gifts. Each of us was uniquely designed by God with talents, gifts, and skills, and abilities. The way you’re “wired” is not an accident. God didn’t give you your abilities for selfish purposes. They were given to benefit others, just as others were given abilities for your benefit. The Bible says, “God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you…Are you called to help others? Do it will all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given the glory”. 1 Peter 4:10-11

We bring God glory by telling others about Him. God doesn’t want His love and purposes kept a secret. Once we know the truth, He expects us to share it with others. This is a great privilege- introducing others to Jesus, helping them to discover their purpose, and preparing them for eternal destiny. 

Living the rest of your life for the glory of God will require a change in your priorities, your schedule, your relationships, and everything else. It will sometimes mean choosing a difficult path instead of an easy one. Even Jesus struggled with this. Knowing He was about to be crucified, He cried out: ‘My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, “Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour, Father, glorify Thy name. God will give you what you need if you will just make the choice to live for Him.

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