“A fountain of joy alive in you”: How Music Tunes the Soul
I recorded this collection during the month of October 2018. Having a clear calendar for the month, I felt the Lord telling me that there was a reason I had no ministry obligations for the entire month. As I asked the Lord ‘why?’ I felt led to record this project, coupling some of my favorite songs. Worship with me and find rest for your soul as you walk intimately with Jesus through these song. I AM LIFE-STREAM
A fountain that flows from above; I have passed from the waters of strife And come to the Elim of love; I have drunk of the heavenly well, In the depths of my being it springs. No mortal can measure or tell The gladness the Comforter brings.
Oh, come to the Fountain of Life, The fountain that never runs dry; Oh, drink of the boundless supply, For Christ is the Fountain of Life.
I have come to the Fountain of Blood
That for guilt and uncleanness doth flow;
I have washed in its sin-cleansing flood
And my garments are whiter than snow.
I count not my righteousness mine—
’Tis Jesus that lives in my soul.
I partake of His nature divine,
And in Him I am perfectly whole.
I have come to the Fountain of Health,
A boundless and endless supply;
’Tis a secret man’s wisdom or wealth
Can never discover or buy.
But the secret my Lord hath revealed
In the fountain that flows from His side,
In the stripes by whose pain we are healed,
In Himself as He comes to abide.
I have come to the Fountain of Joy;
His joy is the strength of my heart.
My delight is unmixed with alloy,
My sunshine can never depart.
From my spirit within flows a fountain of life—
The Triune God flowing in me;
God the Father’s the source, Christ the Son is the course,
And the Spirit imparts life to me.
And my soul-life at last I lay down;
O Lord, deepen the pure flow of life;
At Your coming may life be my crown.
In the fresh, tender grass Jesus makes me lie down;
He leads me by waters of rest;
No more struggle and strain; all self-effort is vain;
In the flow I am perfectly blessed.
Jesus called me one day to the Holiest Place,
To live in His presence divine;
Hallelujah, I’ve heard an encouraging word:
“Abide—you’re a branch in the vine.”
Who can satisfy my soul, like You Who on earth can comfort me and love me like You do Who could ever be more faithful and true I will trust in You, I will trust in You, my God
Who can satisfy my soul, like You Who on earth can comfort me and love me like You do Who could ever be more faithful and true I will trust in You, I will trust in You, my God
There is, who is a King (There is a fountain, who is a King) Victorious warrior (Victorious warrior and Lord of everything) My rock, my very own (My rock, my shelter, my very own) Blessed Redeemer, who reigns upon the throne, oh yes
There is a fountain, who is a King (Who is a King) Victorious warrior and Lord of everything (Victorious warrior) My rock, my shelter, my very own (My rock, yes He is, He is, my very own) Blessed Redeemer, who reigns upon the throne (Blessed Redeemer, who reigns)
Who could ever be more faithful and true I will trust in You, I will trust in You, I will trust in You, my God
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.
ONLY ONE PLAGUE, AND THE WORLD STOOD STILL. ONLY ONE PLAGUE, AND THE WHOLE GOVERNMENT IS HUMBLED. ONLY ONE PLAGUE, AND THE WORLD POWERS ARE CONFUSED. ONLY ONE PLAGUE, AND EVERYONE IS SCAMPERING FOR SAFETY. ONLY ONE PLAGUE, AND ALL ECONOMY SHUT DOWN. SCHOOLS SHUT DOWN. OFFICES SHUT DOWN. STREETS DESERTED . ONLY ONE PLAGUE, AND MECCA SENT BACK WORSHIPERS. JERUSALEM TURNED BACK THEIR TOURISTS. AND VATICAN CITY CLOSED DOWN. JUST ONE PLAGUE. CHURCHES ARE SHUT DOWN. MOSQUES ARE CLOSED UP. ALL SPORTS ARE POSTPONED. CLUBS ARE SEALED. ONLY ONE PLAGUE AND THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY IS GROANING MOURNFULLY . JUST ONE PLAGUE. “DON’T SHAKE HANDS AGAIN!” “DON’T HUG EACH OTHER!” STEP AWAY A METER’S SPACE” JUST ONE PLAGUE! BEFORE THE PLAGUE, THERE WERE NATIONS THREATENING NATIONS FOR WAR. THERE WERE COUNTRIES BULLYING COUNTRIES. THERE WAS WAR IN SYRIA, THERE WAS REVOLT IN IRAN. THERE WAS CRISIS IN TURKEY. THERE WAS PROTESTS AND POLITICAL UNREST. BUT THE PLAGUE SURFACES AND QUIETED EVERYTHING. WARS CEASED FOR THE PLAGUE. UNREST STOPPED FOR THE PLAGUE. OLYMPIC IS SHUTDOWN FOR THE PLAGUE. EVERYBODY RAN INTO THEIR HOUSES , EVERYONE IS HIDING AWAY FOR JUST ONE PLAGUE! BUT WHAT SHALL YOU DO ABOUT PLAGUES UPON PLAGUES, UPON PLAGUE, WHEN THE TRUMPET SOUNDS AND JESUS HAS COME AND GONE WITH HIS OWN BLOOD-WASHING SAINTS?? WELCOME TO DRESSED REHEARSAL
Q: This may be considered a silly question, but is there a difference between God’s presence and God’s glory?
A: It is not a silly question. There is a difference between God’s presence and His glory. Presence points to someone being present, or his or her person actually being in your midst as a means to interact (fellowship), influence (persuade or reason), and/or to lead (instruct and guide) you in some way. Glory points to the light, beauty or honor that actually distinguishes that person.
The difference between God’s presence and glory can be clearly observed in Moses’ life. Moses encountered God’s presence in different ways, but he could only behold the backside of God’s glory, while being hidden in the cleft of the rock. God’s presence will express itself in different ways as a means to establish a proper environment and response from man, but the fullness of His glory must be veiled in some way, so that man in his present state will not die when beholding it. For example, the fullness of God’s glory was veiled in the tabernacle in the wilderness, and in the humanity of Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we have the presence of God working in, through and on our behalf through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. For example, we are born again with the Spirit. This means we have the presence of God working in us. We are to follow after, be led by, and walk in the Spirit in the ways of righteousness. Such a walk points to a life that is surrounded by the presence of God. Finally, we are to be filled up daily by the Spirit, which points to God empowering our lives to walk out the Christian life according to His will, mercies and compassion. Such filling points to our connection with the throne of God.
The purpose for God’s presence in us is to work the life of Jesus in us. We are to have His disposition, mind, and ways worked into our very being, attitude and conduct. In other words, we are to take on His likeness so that we can reflect His glory to the world. Keep in mind that God made man in His image for the sole purpose of reflecting His glory. By reflecting His glory, man would serve as God’s crowning glory in the midst of His creation. However, sin marred man’s inner being, causing him to become a reflection of the darkness of sin, self and the world. Hence enters the Scripture: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). (Emphasis added.)
The Holy Spirit’s responsibility is to work the life, light or glory of Christ in us. However, working this glory in us has four tenses to it. There is the perfect tense of this glory which involves suffering. The Apostle Paul stated that we must suffer with Him so that we may be glorified together (Romans 8:17). The past tense of His glory being worked in us points to the expectation that we possess due to being born again. Colossians 1:27b talks about the expectation we have been given: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We have the present work of His glory taking place, which is being made evident in us when we actually begin to reflect Jesus’ life to those around us. Second Corinthians 3:18 describes it in this way: “But we all, with open face behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The more we live in and according to the Spirit, the more our inner man will be changed to reflect Jesus’ glory. As we are continually changed from glory to glory, we need to realize that such change is preparing us for our future glory, where the fullness of Christ’s life will be completely realized in us as we live in His unhindered majesty, knowing that our fellowship with Him will be unbroken and eternal, and that we will also rule with Him in the next age to come (2 Timothy 2:11).
Many times people are seeing God through a man and not seeing God Himself. They know God because of a man who is being used by the anointing. Instead of building a personal relationship with the Father, they rely on what a man says. They go to the Father indirectly.
For them it is very hard to receive because they always want someone to minister to them. When they need healing or deliverance they wait for someone to pray for them instead of directly seeking God and receiving from Him.
We see this in the Bible when Moses had a relationship with God but the people of Israel only knew God through Moses.
God showed the people His glory, which is His goodness, but never manifested His presence.
So what is the difference between God’s glory and His presence?
The glory of God is the manifestation of God in a specific moment showing something of the person of God Himself.
In the glory of God everything is at its fullness.
Fullness of joy
Do you need a relationship with God to see His glory?
No. God’s glory is shown to those who do and don’t have a relationship with Him. That is because His goodness is what will lead you to repentance.
Have you noticed when you sinned, God continued to show His goodness in your life?
God will keep showing you His goodness until you repent and then He will show Himself to you. But DO NOT take His goodness as a license to keep sinning, it is a reminder for you to repent.
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” – Romans 2:4
What is the presence of God?
It is an atmosphere. It is where God reveals Himself.
Why can’t you feel His presence?
When you are not right with God, He will remove His presence. He will not allow you to see Him unless you repent.
The absence of the presence means there is no relationship.
God’s glory is shown to all. He allows people to see His goodness so people can repent. But His presence will only be manifested to those who have a relationship with Him. You must actively seek Him and learn to receive directly from God.
The glory of God’s presence is revealed when God’s children come together in unity.
The presence of God transforms your life.
When you experience the glory of the Lord’s presence, His power becomes more real to you.
Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34-35)
The glory of God’s presence is revealed when God’s children come together in unity to worship the Lord. The glory of His presence in any environment causes upliftment and transformation in the life of everyone present. No wonder the Psalmist declared:
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Psalm 133:1-3)
The presence of God transforms your life. At the mount of transfiguration Peter, James and John experienced the glory of God’s presence so much that Peter said to Jesus:
The glory was so overwhelming and fulfilling that they didn’t want to leave. That experience transformed Peter’s life forever. In fact, he referred to it many years later, in his letter to the churches. (2 Peter 1:16-18)
The Bible says:
“The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.” (Psalm 97:5)
When you experience the glory of the Lord’s presence, His power becomes more real to you and all your problems melt and fade away. It dawns on your spirit that God is truly bigger than your adversaries.
The Psalmist described it as “the dew of Hermon” (Psalm 133:3) thus, in the presence of the Lord, your life is condensed with His blessings; you’re divinely rejuvenated.
No wonder the Bible says times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19)
There, you’ll find answers and solution to your nagging concerns and doubts. In that presence, you’ll see a new picture of yourself—you’ll see yourself the way God sees you in His Word. This is why you can’t afford to miss your church services, for the Lord is in the midst of His people:
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
One drop of water on a rock has little effect, but a steady dripping will eventually wear a hole into a seemingly impenetrable stone. Singing the Doxology every week is like getting a steady drip of life-giving Trinitarian water over hardened hearts.
James K. A. Smith, in Desiring the Kingdom, reminds us that the very form and rituals of worship have a shaping effect on us. We don’t just become more godly by learning the theology of the songs and imbibing the propositional content of the sermon. Our desires and habits, as we move along the path of the liturgy, are shaped to more subconsciously and instinctively move along the direction of that path. For instance, I have been in a context where I have experienced the same weekly liturgy of Confession, Assurance, and Repentance for over ten years now. I now find that I have new instincts and desires when I slip into sin. With nearly Pavlovian certainty, my heart drops to its knees, I acknowledge it before God, I preach the good news to my heart of God’s assurance of my pardon through Christ, and I find greater strength to turn and re-commit myself to God’s service. Repeated liturgy makes you love it and live it every day of the week. There are many things that we could point out about the shaping effect of the Doxology. I will mention three.
First, the Doxology shapes us into whole worshipers.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him, all creatures here below;
The first line gives us the “why” of worship (because of what He does). But next is the “who.” First, “all creatures” are summoned to God’s praise, and suddenly our minds are blown about the fact that worship is not merely a human activity. It is an activity of all creation. Before the fall, somehow all creation was more attuned to the worship of God, and there was a sense of solidarity between human beings and creation in the act of worship. ”Praise Him, all creatures here below” is a summons toward fall-reversal, saying to the earth, “Return, and worship the One who made you.”
When we realize this, singing this weekly shapes us into a people dissatisfied with a hyper distinction between sacred and secular. We become a people who grate against our society’s bifurcation of our private, personal religion and our public self. God’s demand for worship has equal authority in our schools, homes, and workplaces as it does in the sanctuary. Our worship is whole, because the summons isn’t “Praise Him, all Christians here below.” We become a people who are passionate about the reclamation and return of all of the earth’s worship to its rightful Owner and Object.
Second, the Doxology blows open the supernatural nature of worship.
When we begin worship, I will often start by reminding congregants that today’s worship attendance numbers are larger than they appear. If the folks tallying our worship count were really being honest, every week, they’d write “myriads upon myriads.” Revelation 4-5 reminds us that when we enter into gathered worship on earth, we step into the already moving stream of the perpetual worship of heaven – the elders, the heavenly beings, the white-robed martyrs, the saints that have gone before. In the Doxology, we sing:
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
The Doxology does not allow us to tally worship attendance based on who is seen physically in the room. We are forced outward and upward. The Doxology shapes us into heavenly worshipers. The antiphonal, back-and-forth calls bounce from heaven to earth: “Hey angels, praise Him!” “No, you earthlings, you praise Him.” It’s an inspiring vision that is not without effect. The Doxology tunes us in to heavenly worshipers, shattering our culture’s implicit naturalism. We’re no longer allowed to be a people who can stomach the notion that all we see is all there is. We are a people who have been places you cannot see and touch but are nevertheless just as real as our terra firma (or perhaps, as John Jefferson Davis would argue in Worship and the Reality of God, even more real).
Third, the Doxology makes us a Trinitarian people.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Is the Trinity just an esoteric theological construct, or does it have existential import? In other words, what good is it to us in our day to day lives that our God is one, yet three? To tease out just one implication, it reminds us that because God exists in interdependent community, so should we. The Doxology challenges our American rugged individualism. It shapes us into a people who crave community and authentic relationship, because such desires reflect the heart of our great Triune God. The Doxology beats “Lone Ranger Christianity” out of us. Each week we sing it, our individualistic selves receive another blow that reminds us, “You are not enough.” The Doxology makes us more instinctively Trinitarian, and therefore instinctively communal. This, in turn, helps us to deal with sin and to grow in Christ. Authentic community just does that.
So how can we worship leaders allow this shaping to take greater effect? If we lead and sing the Doxology weekly, we can pause for twenty seconds before we sing it and share one insight like some of what’s above. We can perhaps send out a “value added” email to our congregation during the week about what the Doxology does to us. And we can certainly minister the Doxology to folks in our one-on-one meetings and pastoring. Things like these help make the implicit shaping turn into more explicit formation. Who knew that so much could be packed into four lines?
Doxologies are an expression of praise to God. In the Christian church, we often hear them sung or chanted. They are a tradition that has meaning and importance for all Christians. Since the early church, doxologies have been a way for Christians to express their love and thankfulness for what God has done in their lives.
What Is a Doxology?
Merriam-Webster defines the word doxology as an expression of praise to God, usually liturgical. This word is comprised of the Greek words doxa and logos. In the Greek language, doxa means glory, splendor, or grandeur while the Greek word logos means word or speaking. The word itself goes back to the 4th century and is most known today as the term used for the last paragraph of the Lord’s Supper.
A doxology will be heard at the end of canticles, psalms, and hymns. They are a short hymn of praise one will find in various Christian and Jewish worship services today.
The word itself is not found in the Bible. The doxology practice was passed into English from the medieval Latin word “doxologia” and the Greek language. It is used to clarify certain scriptures. Essentially, the word doxology helped Christian leaders to group psalms, hymns, and Scripture verses just as books of the Bible are grouped into the Old and New Testaments, poetic books, the Gospels, and prophetic books.
This group of doxologies is believed to be important to how early Christians worshipped. As time passed, composers wrote hymns that became doxologies in the church. The belief that music was a critical part of worship has led to the use of doxologies in churches around the world.
Examples of doxologies are bountiful in the Bible. One such example is the most well-known. It is the last paragraph of the Lord’s Supper. Matthew 26:30 says “After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” We may not know what hymn they sang, but we do know they felt that it was important to praise God and what He had done for them. God was allowing His son to die on a cross to save all people. The disciples and Jesus knew praise was important.
Other biblical examples of doxologies include:
Ephesians 1:3 – “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ.”
Ephesians 5:14 – “Get up sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Romans 11:36 – “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”
1 Timothy 3:16 – “He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
This is not an exclusive list, but one can see that the prominence of doxology praises and hymns in the Bible make them important in our worship today.
How Are Doxologies Connected to Scripture?
Doxologies and Scripture are interconnected by a bond that cannot be broken. They are prominent in many facets of the Christian faith. Because Jesus grew up in the Jewish culture, we know that He would have heard doxologies sung. Jews used doxologies then and still do today. These have been passed down and adopted by the Christian church we have today.
Doxologies in Other Faiths and Denominations
A Jewish doxology most known today is the “Yigdal,” explained here by the Jewish Virtual Library. This doxology is comprised of thirteen stanzas and is often heard at the conclusion of the Friday evening service in Sephardic congregations. The inspiration for the words of the Yigdal comes from the first two of the Ten Commandments. The importance of this doxology stems from the inspiration it gave Thomas Olivers when he wrote “The God of Abraham Praise.” Olivers adapted this Jewish doxology into a Christian hymn that is sung as a doxology today.
Catholicism has embraced the use of a doxology in many parts of their worship services as well. During Mass, a doxology can be heard. Other times a doxology can be heard are when the clergy enters the sanctuary, communion, and the presentation of oblations. One such doxology is the Gloria Excelsis, explained more here by Father Daniel Callam. Known as the greater doxology, it has and continues to be prominent in the Roman Catholic and Anglican church. It is sung in Latin but used in a contemporary translation in Roman Catholic liturgy. It may also be heard in Lutheran and Protestant churches.
The Gloria Patri, or lesser doxology, is thought to have been written in the 2nd century while the author is unknown. It is believed to have been based upon the trinitarian baptismal formula found in Matthew 28:19. This doxology is always sung at the completion of the entire portion of the Psalter. It is also sung at the morning, noonday, and evening prayer. Traditionally, Gloria Patri was used to climax or conclude psalms related to liturgical actions.
Likely the most well-known doxology was written in 1674 by Thomas Ken. He entitled it “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” Thomas has been called “England’s first hymnist.” The beginnings of the words came from a hymn he wrote for the boys living at the school he worked at. He wanted to build up their devotional habits. All songs ended with the same stanza that we now know to be a doxology. It is often sung at the conclusion of communion and time of tithes and offerings. The connection to scripture comes from Ephesians 1:3.
All doxologies have some connection to Scripture. The words of the Bible give inspiration to composers and writers. This inspiration leads people as they worship to remember the greatness of God and praise Him for what He has and will do in their lives.
What is the Importance of Doxologies?
The importance of a doxology can be summed up in Paul’s word of Ephesians 5:19-20. They state “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing, and making music with your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.”
These words spell out the purpose of singing praises to God and submitting to one another. We are to gather and worship in song and speech. Our theology cannot be separated from our doxology. An article by Ken Easly, a Biblical Studies Professor at Union University, states “when we experience something or someone good or true or beautiful, we can’t help but offer admiration and appreciation. It’s built into the nature of who we are. We naturally overflow with expressions of praise.”
Throughout Scripture, we encounter stories of those who have experienced the greatness of God. They sing out praises to Him. Speaking or singing the words of a doxology is copying what they did. The people who lived and worshipped in the early church felt the importance of giving praise where it is deserved. They knew God deserved all their praise and gave us this great example to follow.
Bringing it All Together
Essentially the meaning of the word doxology is to speak glory and praise. As we do this each day in our quiet time or corporate worship, we cannot help but to want to know more about the awesome God we serve. It is an instinctive feeling within us.
As Christians, we are called upon to worship in a way that brings glory to God. The use of a doxology is a beautiful way to say to God and others that you know where your blessings come from. You love a God that has it all under control and will never leave your side. It is a powerful and important part of worship and serves to fuel our hunger to know more about our Lord.
When Christians talk about abundant life in Christ, they share some common beliefs and have points where their ideas diverge, as a Wikipedia article attests! But Scripture is clear that our new life is a reality. Second Corinthians 5:17 talks about this life when it says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. Old things have passed away and new things have come.” And Jesus calls that life “abundant” in John 10:10.
So what does this new life look like? Ask 10 Christians to define abundant life and you will get 14 answers. And perhaps they are all right in some way, but, if we are being true with Scriptures, the new life given to us in Christ must mean more than merely materially blessings.
Jesus said, “A thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). People often talk about God doing “exceeding abundantly, beyond all we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
Throughout Scripture we see God blessing people, and promising blessing to people. The books of Joshua and Psalms speak to the fact that we can be prosperous. Several of the Proverbs reveal ways we can become prosperous.
Is God trying to tell us that abundant life is the result of having been made new? Is prosperity the sign of abundant life? Because many in the Bible and throughout history have had lives of struggle, suffering and pain, yet seemed to experience abundant life.
Abundance is not What Some Think
The powerful passage of Hebrews 11 highlights people of great faith and blessing, but also tells us that many believers were tortured, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, destitute, mistreated and homeless. The writer says the world was not worthy of these saints. They were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised. Does that sound like abundant life? Is that prosperity? And yet, we find that these struggling people spoke of a deep-seeded joy.
Paul himself, who penned the oft-quoted “exceedingly abundant” phrase, did a fair amount of writing of joy and peace in the middle of his own difficult circumstances. He used terminology like, “My God shall supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory.” Paul found his life sufficiency in Christ. But what are these “riches in glory” to which he refers?
We know there are some things that can only come from God, not Walmart. God gives peace that passes all understanding. Jesus and Paul promise there will be trouble in the life of a believer. Some of this trouble comes to everyone.
The rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
Actually, some believers deal with some problems because of our relationship with Christ. Their new life in Christ costs them physical and materials abundance; yet, Jesus says we have abundant life!
Always, we are promised a deep abiding peace. This peace is beyond what we can work up on our own by breathing deeply and counting to ten. And have you noticed that peace during these times is the most outrageous blessing ever?
Abundant Opportunity & Responsibility
One way of viewing abundant life is to see when people have been changed by the power of Christ; they live different lives, which affects all aspects of their experience. In missiololgy, we call that “redemption and lift.”
This isn’t just true individually, but can also be on a cultural level.
So, spiritual change, accompanied by better decisions, does often lead to better circumstances financially. (Sometimes it get’s you arrested and martyred, so don’t miss the point here.)
However, this is what the book of Proverbs touches on many times. Good decisions, often undertaken because of spiritual decisions, leads to greater prosperity.
Here are a few examples:
“Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest; then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)
“Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise. Without leader, administrator, or ruler, it prepares its provisions in summer; it gathers its food during harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8)
“The diligent hand will rule, but laziness will lead to forced labor.” (Proverbs 12:24)
“The slacker craves, yet has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied.” (Proverbs 13:4)
So, that’s not the prosperity gospel, but greater prosperity can come from a gospel-centered life and worldview. It’s not because of our “seed faith,” but because we see our faith lived out in a new kind of life.
While everything in my financial life may not be increasing in measurable ways, the gospel is truly prosperous.
In other words, don’t get hung up on money when you see the word “prosperous.” James 1:17 tells us every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights.
What about Financial Miracles?
I don’t think we need to be afraid of the fact there are times when people are blessed materially in Scripture, sometimes even is response to their acts of faith. The question is, “Is this the norm, a common occurrence, or is it the exception?”
Maybe we should ask why God blesses some with more material things than He does others. Is He rewarding faithfulness with more opportunity? Is God trying to show faithfulness in some people through the fact they don’t have as many resources as others?
We want to be thankful for what God has given us and we want to recognize that God blesses others. We also shouldn’t be mad at people who are blessed materially. We all must remember that we’re blessed—as Abraham was—to be a blessing.
When we live this way, we will become conduits of the blessing of God. Some Christians seem to think God has made them containers, complete with a lid. A container stores resources, but a conduit delivers them. We should continually be pouring out into others what God is pouring out into us.
Acknowledging that people prosper when they are changed by the gospel because they become better at their jobs is obvious. That’s a form of Christian prosperity.
Believing that God can and does bless financially for His own purposes makes sense—and we should respond as those who are blessed by being a blessing.
The key is understand that we will not automatically receive materials blessing and to acknowledge that we can be remarkable blessed, and live an abundant life, in the midst of difficult circumstances. Poverty and persecution cannot overcome the prosperity that God provides for us in Christ.
Abundant life is not about what we have. It’s not about what we get. It’s not about what we claim. Ultimately, abundant life is about what we receive as a gift from the Lord and to live knowing we are stewards of the blessings of God.
It’s not a sin to be rich (though it might be missing the point if we die rich). Furthermore, stewardship is not measure by what we have received, but by what we have given.
At the end of the day, perhaps that is how we know we have an abundant life—when we have shared our life with others. When we have enough of the blessings of God (mercy, peace, love, grace, wisdom, etc.) to share with our others, and then actually do it; that’s when we truly have abundant life.
Sometimes, God sends us pain so we could be strong
God sends us failure so we will become humble
God sends us illness so we will take of ourselves
God takes everything away from us so we learn the value of everything
This morning I have the good news and the bad news..actually your perception of today’s message shall dictate the outcome…Well, it ’s always great when God replaces something painful with something wonderful, when He turns water into wine, when he makes a way through the wilderness, when everything that you want in that season seems to work out…In short, when WE ARE “USING GOD!” But when God takes away something we enjoy or even something we need, when He allows something bad to invade your something good, when he wants to reproach us, when God wants to save you from yourself, when God wants to glorify himself through our lives, when God needs your pain to be someone else’s gain…In short, when ”GOD WANTS TO USE US!” we instantly turn to angry, spoilt mode, we all over sudden see God like a deadbeat dad who is busy giving free samples of sweets of life and then removing them after the cravings have their hooks in your heart…Many of us have become addicts, addicts of the fruits of grace BUT not the GIVER of grace…Our love for the blessings only came to reveal how addicted to blessings we have become…Even in my greatest test of pain and doubt especially when I want to USE GOD but nothing’s happening, I am learning to believe with all my heart that He is the Giver of all gifts and sovereign in all things, in all seasons, at all times whether I understand it or not…I am also learning that you can’t live your next chapter if you keep on reading the last…So, I am learning to live for the new wine looking ahead, seeing God glorified in my pain & my discomfort, seeing God blessing the work of my hands, seeing the stalled buildings in my life spring back towards completion, learning while this happens that there is a huge difference between waiting on God’s blessings and waiting on God..and that many times waiting on God will mean things that break God’s heart, break mine too…it also means that God can break my heart to save my soul & when God takes something away, sometimes I don’t have to know why!
I read a quote that goes like this: ‘Sometimes God breaks your heart to save your soul.’ Whether you’re religious or not, I think these words are pretty powerful. They imply that everything happens for a good reason; a higher purpose. Even the relationships we were rooting for, that failed, will appear to be blessings in disguise as we move along our journey.
The idea of God was introduced to me very early on in life. I was always told to pray when in trouble because God had my back. But, what never made sense to me was why we suffer in the first place or why when I pray, I have not answered right away. Why would an unconditionally loving higher energy want me to go through what I did?
Growing up, I looked over every religion and every spiritual or esoteric idea to find answers. The purpose of this post isn’t to go over all my views. However, it became clear to me that we always want our situation to be fixed, without realizing that we’re given the situation so we can be fixed.
Metaphorically, we’re all a little broken inside; through our sense of perception. Put it this way, if you emanated unconditional love from your being, all the time, your life would be perfectly imperfect. Happiness, success and everything else would find you. You would see no flaws, even if they existed to others, because your love for everything and everyone, would be present without condition. You would love and act like how most of our world religions portray the Divine.
The reason why we find it hard to be like this is that we are wounded from everything we face – and our wounds are making us wound others. These actions then create more of the same and give the cycle continuity. The only way to escape this is to act from a place of love, when that which seeks to wound you, arrives. It’s almost like each challenging situation is a test to support your growth. The only way to pass it is to act from a higher state of awareness. This is what it means to evolve.
Life can be painful, but our experiences can shape us into better people. In the loss, failure, and suffering, there is always an opportunity to find your greatest self.
WHEN GOD BREAKS YOUR HEART
There it was glaring out from the computer screen. The words I never thought I would see. I had been so confident in how God had directed me. For a moment I could not breathe. “We regret to inform you that…” I couldn’t read the rest of the email. The tears suddenly gushing down my face had obscured my vision. The email shattered my dreams. My heart, that desired so badly to serve God in this particular way, crumbled into pieces.
I could not understand how this had happened. I prayed so hard. I prayed all of the right things “… God, Your will be done. God, give me a desire for the choice you want me to make, and take away all desires for the other options. God, confirm this if it is your will. God, shut the doors that I do not need to enter. God, I want this badly, but I want you more … ” He took away my desires for every option but one. He confirmed over and over again that this was what He had for me. He closed every door and window except for this one.
And then he closed this one.
What do you do when God breaks your heart?
The pain was so great that I couldn’t bear it alone. Somehow I found myself driving, brushing away tears as they clung to the edge of my sunglasses. Swallowing sobs, I tried to concentrate on driving, but my only thought was, “Oh God, what now?”
I ended up at the home of a lifelong friend. “Why,” I asked angrily, “Does God tell you something and then all of a sudden change his mind?”
“God is truth.” She said, opening her Bible. “Everything God tells you is truth. Remember, He sees things different than you do.‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.’” (Isaiah 55:8)
Why does God break our heart?
1. Because our hearts lead us astray.
I am a planner, a card-carrying member of the list-bound masses. We are very goal oriented…. It is how we make it through the day. So when God gives us a future goal, we work toward that point as if our life depended on it (because we think it does). And somewhere along the way, the goal can become our god. And God becomes an afterthought that we occasionally ask to bless our efforts. And just like that, our hearts have led us astray.“The heart is deceitful…who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
2. Because God is a jealous God.
Often, the goal becomes our God.We make it into an idol and organize our life in worship to it. Whether it is a relationship, career path, academic degree, status symbol, or to-do list we are determined to complete, when that goal becomes the ruling authority in our lives, it is an idol. And God is a jealous God. He wants to be number one in our hearts and lives. Because He is God – that is His right. That goal or list may be your security blanket, but it is powerless to save you from the sentence of your own sin. “You shall have no other gods before me…for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:3-5)
3. Because God loves us.
In breaking our hearts, God is rescuing us from ourselves. God breaks our hearts, not to hurt us or because He enjoys our pain – no! God breaks our hearts when we have become so focused on some goal, rather than on Him. He breaks our heart because it is the only way He can save us from ourselves. He breaks our heart because it is the only way to remove a dream that is not His best for His daughter. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Prov. 16:9)
So had I heard wrong? Had I misunderstood God for all these years? No…and Yes.
When I finally stopped crying, I remembered that God had set me on this path, but had not promised the endpoint. In my itty-bitty human mind, taking a path only had one outcome….reaching the goal. But God is not bound by my small-mindedness. He guided me to work toward the goal, but He never promised I would achieve it, I just assumed… “For my thoughts are not your thoughts… declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8) Many times God may lead us down a certain path toward an unknown door. We, of course, are focused solely on the door at the end of the journey. When we reach the end, we may find that the door is locked. God did not lie. We may be distracted by the human goal, but God was leading us toward an eternal goal – a closer relationship with Him.
Then how are we supposed to plan?
Does this mean that plans are evil and we cannot make lists?
No. It means we should not structure our lives in worship of the “Almighty List.” It means never setting a goal above God in our hearts. It means we are to make plans in humility, submitting every hope, dream and earthly goal to the Lordship of Christ. We must hold the things of this earth loosely. Our only immovable goal should be God Himself. (James 4:13-16)
What do you do when God breaks your heart?
When God breaks your heart….hand Him the pieces.
Because He is good and trustworthy and He will always do the best thing. God is good, and even though my dream was dead, my heart rested securely in the arms of my Savior. Looking back, I see now that God had to break my heart to remove that dream so that He could guide me to a far better dream. God was acting in my best interest, even thought it hurt. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” (Prov. 3:5-6)
stage is the time of life when one is young and often means the time between
childhood and adulthood(maturity). According to youth dictionary, it is defined
as the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc characteristics of one who is
young. Youth is an experience that may shape an individuals level of
dependency, which can be marked in various ways according to different cultural
perspectives, personal experience and individuals cultural norms and
traditions, while youths level of dependency means the extent to which they
still rely on their family emotionally and economically.
useful is to be of a valuable or productive kind. A youth must therefore not
only be full of strength, you also need to be productive. This means that a
youth should be a man or woman of value, adding positive impacts to the society
and the world at large.
our generation has gotten to a point where everyone is so interested in jumping
into success without labor, the youths of this generation are eager to reap
where they never sowed. We are becoming incompetent and giving more time and
attention to things that doesn’t matter forgetting that ones living is measured
by the values added and impacts made. We are becoming lazy and eager to make
riches and fame without labour.
at the lives of David and Joseph in the scriptures, they were useful youths.
David in his youthful stage was useful to his parents in helping to tend sheep.
Through this, he acquired the strength and boldness to confront Goliath and
save the whole nation from shame. The skills he acquired as a teenage shepherd
boy guided him to being a great king. Joseph special gift of interpretation of
dreams brought about economic empowerment for the nation. Even Jesus Christ was
a useful youth. He was busy about his fathers business and fulfilled his
purpose here on earth at the youthful age of 33years. How about Esther, a
fearless lady who saved her people from destruction and Nehemiah the nation
builder. All these people among several others were useful youth that impacted
or added value to the society.
3:27 says; it is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Success is
a gradual process which requires labour and hard work to earn it. That gift in
you, that special skill may be what society will need for a time like this. It
is better to labour now and enjoy the fruit of your labour later than
manipulate and enjoy in your youthful age and gnash your teeth later.
itself is all about adding value, be useful in your youthful stage
YOUTHS IN THIS CHANGING WORLD: A PARADIGM SHIFT TO WHAT?
In our country Nigeria, we see two level visions of people: we see those visionary, creative, innovative, inventive and energetic young men and women who have risen to greatness and fame by claiming the margins of their lives in their professions; people who have made progressive leaps in the development and realization of the worthwhile purpose of their lives; people who have a burning desire, an unflinching commitment and a passionate determination to attain their goals and to realize their visions. We see young people of illuminating intelligence and great aspirations whose ideas and money rule the world; people who are consumed by the desire to make a difference; young people who have followed the compass guiding their lives of purpose.
On the other hand, we see a bandwagon of young people who have lost focus, who have no vision for their lives, people who are tossed by the winds of change and the tide of time; young men and women whose lives have become stale and have lost the steam of purpose. We see young boys and girls whose lives have become citadels of immorality, permissiveness and corrupt behaviour. We see a host of young people given to the free reins of drug, crime, prostitution, abnormal sexual behaviour (homosexuality and gay-marriage). We see young men who have no fire burning in their bellies, people with not hope, and no vision for the future, no initiative, no creativity, people who live life as it comes!
While on the first level, we have people who are striving to live a fruitful and successful life, on the second level vision, we have people who have failed to live life fully and fruitfully. And between these two groups of people, there is a great gap, the gap between the achievers, the leaders and the spectators and wanderers. We may ascribe many efficient causes to the reasons why some people are successful and others are not. For some poverty is the cause, for others, poor background, lack of the basic necessities of life, lack of the resources for good education and a host of other social and cultural conditions. These are the reasons they advance for their failures in life. For those who succeed in life, what are their reasons? Many of us will probably say they came from wealthy homes with good background, they were well exposed; they had the best education and so on. In general fashion, people tend to identify successful people with their wealthy family background while they identify people who are not successful in life with a cycle of poverty down their family line. This is a traditional fallacy we have to break out from.
The real gap between the successful people and the not successful people is not wealth or poverty but simply ATTITUDE. We are familiar with the maxim that “Your attitude determines your altitude.” It is the way you see and visualize life that determines how far you can climb on the ladder of success and how long you can sustain yourself on that ladder. No one climbs the ladder of a successful life hands-free. You have to commit yourself, and that commitment is attitude. William James, the famous American pragmatist and psychologist once remarked that “The greatest discovery of my generation is that people can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind.” Attitude is everything. Between stimulus and response, man has the ability to choose. Within the freedom to choose are those endowments that make us uniquely human. In addition to self-awareness, we have imagination– the ability to create in our minds beyond our present reality. We have conscience– a deep inner awareness of right and wrong, of the principles that govern our behaviour, and a sense of the degree to which our thoughts and actions are in harmony with them. And we have an independentwill– to act based on our self-awareness, free of all other influences.
YOUTHS AND THE TEMPTATION OF FREEDOM: YOUR LIFE IS YOUR DECISION
Definitely, as young people we desire freedom, to live stress-free lives; to enjoy everything, and to have it all. We have forgotten that we cannot eat our cake and have it back. We are therefore created to be youthful and useful in the hands of God. It is not that we will be prayer warriors or spiritual singers or prophets and prophetesses. But we must live a life that changes others. We must be men and women of value. It is even said that we are not living until we are of value to our society, our community, and our world. Many youths are filled with talents but they have decided to use those talents for the devil. Many talents like singing, persuasion, talking, but all these have been used for the devil. The decision is yours to make your life the way it will be. The way you lay your bed shall you lie on it. The values you appreciate and uphold now will definitely shape the future of our country that is why the youths are regarded as leaders of tomorrow; the more reason why the Church has painstakingly taken interest in the youths of the society. It is simple, if the youths are neglected, the future of the church is neglected, if the society fails to train her youth, it is joyfully preparing for a doom that will be both catastrophic and diabolic.
THE THREE LEVELS OF USEFULNESS
Useful as an adjective can be construed as having a practical or beneficial use. Synonyms could be noteful, serviceable, and utilitarian. Usefulness has three tiers
Usefulness to oneself: The bedrock of frustration is when one is useless to himself or herself. There is no communication of usefulness to the environment when one cannot in himself ascertain that he or she is happy and fulfilled. As a matter of fact, everything we do in life tends towards making ourselves happy and useful to ourselves first before any other entity. One is useful to himself when he sees that his achievements have met his desire or in line with his desire- when his decisions lead to his development, growth and advancement. On the other hand, you are useless to yourself when you seek to destroy yourself by your actions and decisions.
Usefulness to the society: The second rung of usefulness is to the society. An individual is never an isolated being. His life is intertwined with the society. He cannot in anyway divulge himself from the community. In order not to be repugnant in the society, he must be useful. And there comes the obligation to be useful in the community. When an individual has a pragmatic beneficial importance in the community then his usefulness can be ascertained.
Usefulness to God: “Remember your God in the days of your youth”. The creator did not put us in the world for nothing. He said we must bear fruit. The third tier and the most important is usefulness to God. Usefulness to God comes in dual dimensions as the summary of the commandments, that is, the love of God and love of neigbours. If we must be useful to God, we must be devoted to him, faithfully serve him, and keep his commandments. We must translate that same love of God to the betterment of the society.
SUCCESS: YOUTHFUL ENERGY COMBINED WITH A SENSE OF USEFULNESS
· Success starts in and from the mind. The key to a successful life is to realize that living is a learned habit, an acquired skill. Learning begins at conception and ends in death. Earl Nightingale says that “You become what you think most of the time.” Have a vision, an imagination of your life’s purpose and begin to work towards it. In order words, you must have a goal, a focus, an aspiration- the purpose driven life, not the life tossed around by every wind of change.
· Success is a product of your constant, continuous and consistent effort. Never take a break from your success journey; do not stop for rest or reward too soon. When you stop at the first signs of success, you become lazy, stagnant and begin to decline. As your efforts produce results and rewards, work even harder. Success and achievement only come through continuous work. The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
· Be willing to change your life completely. You must make your life congruent, consistent and in harmony with your desired success. Is there anything you feel or think about yourself that will frustrate your success efforts? Low self-esteem, fear of the unknown, etc.
Nine Rules of Success
1. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE
2. DO IT NOW
3. STAND ON YOUR TWO FEET
4. DO NOT FEAR FAILURE
5. DO NOT SELL YOURSELF CHEAPLY
6. DEVELOP A GOAL ORIENTED HABIT
7. VISUALIZE YOUR GOAL AND BELIEVE YOU CAN ATTAIN IT
8. PLAN YOUR WORK AND WORK YOUR PLAN
9. DO NOT QUIT: Winners never quit and quitters never win
SOME SELF-RENEWAL PRINCIPLES IF YOU WANT TO BE USEFUL
Four Dimensions of Renewal
PHYSICAL RENEWAL- The physical dimension involves caring effectively for our physical body- eating the right kind of foods, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular basis. Exercise, nutrition, stress management are the key points. A healthy eating habit/dieting regular exercise. “There is no real excellence in all this world which can be separated from right [and healthy] living” remarks David Jordan.MENTAL RENEWAL- Most of our mental development and study discipline comes through formal education. But as soon as we leave school, many of these disciplines fall away. We let our minds grow cobweb. We no longer do any serious reading; we don’t explore any new subject in real depth outside our action fields; we don’t think analytically; we don’t write. Instead we spend our time watching TV. A recent Television Survey shows that people spend as much as 45-50 hours a week watching Television, far more than they spend at work or in activity. TV has many high quality entertainment and educational programs. They can enrich our lives and contribute meaningfully to our purposed and goals, but there are many programs that simply waste our time and minds and many that influence us in negative ways if we let them. Like the body, TV is a good servant but a poor master. We need to know how to effectively manage and maximize our time. Your time, the hours you spend on earth are your most valuable asset. It is unrepeatable and irreplaceable. How you spend your time will determined the level of success you will experience. You waste your time when you spend it in unproductive activity or with unproductive people; and this will manifest in your experience. Organize and execute your life around priorities. Effective time management is putting first things first. Goethe will say that “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” A better and more refined way to look at how to allocate time is to speak in terms of investing your time rather than spending (or wasting) it. To spend gives a sense of finality, something that will never return. When time is spent, it is gone forever, but when you invest your time, there is a return on the investment.
The Four Badges of the Universal Law of Value
1. Do not waste your time on thoughts, people or actions which are not worthy.
2. Do not waste your thought on ideas that are not worthy.
3. Do not waste your energies on activities which are not worthy.
4. Do not waste your money on that which is not worthy.
Continuing education, honing and expanding of the mind is vital mental renewal. It is extremely valuable to train and educate the mind. Training without such education narrows the mind and eventually closes it. That is why it is valuable to read broadly and to expose yourself to great minds. There’s no better way to inform and expand your mind on a regular basis than to get into the habit of reading good literature. “The person who doesn’t read is no better off than the person who cannot read.” Reading, visualizing, planning, writing are the key points here. Develop an active reading habit and a writing culture.
SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL RENEWAL- Our social and emotional lives are tied together and they are demonstrated in our relationship with others. It can be a normal everyday interaction with people. Making people happy, putting a smile on someone’s face, serving others and making them feel important are nice ways of social and emotional renewal. There is a deep security that comes from living interdependently. The meaning and purpose of our lives must be sought outside us. The great cause upon which we devote our lives is something that is higher than we are, something that transcends us. “Happiness is a perfume you cannot put on others without getting some drops on yourself.” Eldon Tanner says that “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on earth.” Service, empathy, synergy, and intrinsic security are the key words. George Bernard Shaw writes: “This is the true joy in life- being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one….I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” Let me offer you Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the former American President’s interpretation of happiness. He says: “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.” The root word for ‘ministry’ is the Latin ministerium and it means service. In the final analysis, happiness consists in serving others. This is what I call the Principle of Creative Cooperation.
Nine Ways to Improve your Relationship with Others
1. Make yourself likeable.
2. Always remember people’s names.
3. Express appreciation for what others do.
4. Be lavish in your praise.
5. Listen intently to other people’s words. “God has given us two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as we talk.”
6. Let the interest of the other person be the subject of your conversation.
7. Make the other person feel important.
8. Do not criticise destructively.
9. Always believe that there is a way to achieve the best results.
SPIRITUAL RENEWAL- The spiritual dimension is the core, your center, your commitment to a value system. It is a very private area of your life and a supremely important one. It draws upon the sources that inspire and uplift you and tie you to the timeless truths of all humanity. Stephen Covey says of himself: “I find renewal in daily prayerful meditation on the scriptures because they represent my value system. As I read and meditate, I feel renewed, strengthened, centered and recommitted to serve.” Immersion in great literature or great music can provide a similar renewal of the spirit for some people. Value clarification & commitment, study, meditation are key words here. Spiritual renewal takes an investment of time. Religious leader David O. McKay teaches that, “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul.” Socrates complements this by saying, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
CONCLUSIONLike someone said ‘youth is only a journey, a phase that we pass through to fulfill our assignments here on earth’ we will not remain young forever. To be youthful is a medium a chance for us to deliver our mandate on earth by being useful to ourselves, the community and especially to God. Remember God in the days of your youth, it is only when we remember God in our youthful age that he can make us useful in life. No matter what we are chasing in life, the time for our youth is the energy we have, but vanity it will be if we are chasing vanity, because we would have used our youthful age for nothing. I will like to conclude by saying “enjoy your youth, do all that your heart desires, eat all that you want, but remember God will judge all your actions”.
A growing movement exists in the religious world to broaden the common conception of what worship is. Rather than worship being limited to specific activities, many are embracing the idea that worship is a lifestyle; that every moment of our existence is to be an occasion of worship. Are Christian service and worship synonymous, or is there a distinction to be made?
Worship As A Lifestyle? The desire to worship the Lord is most commendable. As mentioned in a previous article, our worship is to be “altogether momentous, urgent and glorious.”1 For the Christian, worship is a primary concern and activity in life. However, those who are of the “lifestyle worship” persuasion affirm that worship is not confined by time, place or practice, but can be and is in all that we do.
One writer has stated, “Worship is a lifestyle not an event.”2 Again, we read that worship “…is not what we do, but who we are and what we are about, it is (or should be) our life … Worship is the day to day relationship that we have with Christ.”3 Singer and author, Darlene Zschech comments, “As a true worshipper, your heart will long to worship Him at all times, in all ways and with all your life.”4
Does The Bible Distinguish Between Service And Worship? All robins are birds, but not all birds are robins; all canoes are boats, but not all boats are canoes; and all sandals are shoes, but not all shoes are sandals. Equally, all worship is service to God, but not all service to God is worship. The Bible makes a recognizable distinction between the two.
In John 4, the Samaritan woman was not inquiring whether one should live at Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem, but whether one should worship. When the Ethiopian eunuch went to Jerusalem, it was to worship, not to live (Acts 8:27). Likewise, the apostle Paul had gone to Jerusalem for worship (Acts 24:11), but clearly his service to God was elsewhere (Acts 9:15; 13:47; Romans 11:13; 15:16). Each of these reveals a distinction between our daily service and worship.
Daniel and his friends served king Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:3-7, 19), but they would not worship him nor his gods (Daniel 3:12-18). Daniel faithfully served Darius (6:1-4), but would not obey a mandate
served Darius (6:1-4), but would not obey a mandate which forbade petitions to anyone but the king (6:6-11). Their experiences declare plainly that faithful service and worship are not synonymous. Nebuchadnezzar was not satisfied with their steadfast labour as his subjects; in addition, he sought worship. In like manner, our diligent service before God is not accepted by Him as worship. Beyond our faithful walk as His people, God requires (and is due) our worship.
Service As A Lifestyle, Worship As A Habitual Practice That our life is to be devoted to God, there is no dispute. Solomon clearly instructs, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Such a charge will inevitably include worship, but the nature of our service before the Lord reaches beyond our worship.
Paul implored the Roman brethren, “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1). The apostle urged these brethren to be faithful in their daily lives to the Lord. In the verses which follow, we are to keep ourselves from the way of the world (v 2), use the diverse gifts with which we are been blessed (v 6-8), show kindness to all (v 10-16), and overcome evil with good (v 17-21). Such exhortations deal with our moment to moment service before the Lord, not worship.
Before going to the cross, Jesus warned the apostles, “…the time is coming that whoever kills you will think he offers God service” (John 16:2). Jesus employs the same Greek word (latreia) which Paul used. Surely, the Jewish leaders didn’t consider putting men to death a form of worship, but they believed they were serving God (Deuteronomy 13:1-11; Acts 6:13-14; 7:57-58). They would certainly have differentiated this “service” from their worship.
A centurion described to Jesus the manner of service which he received from those who were under his command. He stated, I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant; ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (Matthew 8:9). So is the nature of our service to the Lord. As the Lord speaks, so we do (Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46). This faithful obedience is not worship, but is our “reasonable service” to the God of heaven.
May we be cautious of extremes. Every aspect of a Christian’s life is to be service to God, but not all service is worship. However, let us also be careful not to limit our worship to 3 or 4 hours of assembly time with the Lord’s people per week. We ought to habitually set time aside to worship the Lord privately (Matthew 6:6). Recall, Jesus made it a habit to worship the Lord individually in the mountains (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; John 6:15). What a blessing to be able to express our thanksgiving and adoration to the Lord through prayer and song (Colossians 4:2; Psalm 69:30). If we will do so, it will bring glory to God and elevate our faith in Him.