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Archive for March, 2013

I started reading a book recommended by our local Christian radio morning show that dealt with removing the excess from our lives.*  What caught my attention was a verse from the gospel of John:

 

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30 (KJV)

The author made the point of saying that when she decreased the “stuff” in her life, God was able to come in and increase His work in her.

 

Immediately, the word “worship” came to mind.  The second part of worship is possibly the most important, yet works hand in hand with the first (giving God our very best).  It’s the excess of self, meaning the attitudes and motives of why I do what I do.

 

It is hard to have a wrong motive in doing household chores but, a grumbling attitude can certainly crop up.  Even attending church can bring about a complacent attitude.  For crying out loud, I have been going to church for 43 years.

 

The Israelites lost their “awe” of God and the reason why they were to do things a certain way.  Even the tithe or lack thereof was selfishness.  They wanted to keep the best maybe out of fear of not having enough.

 

I find myself, at times, losing the same “awe” struck wonder in worshiping God. I go because  it’s what I do (habit), not because I have joy to go and worship God with fellow believers.

 

In the book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira saw tons of people selling everything they had for the spread of the gospel.  They thought “Well let’s sell all we have, but they don’t need all of it. We will give most so we can look good but keep some for ourselves.  Besides no one will know.” (Christine’s edition)

 

Problem was God knew, and He wasn’t pleased.  He didn’t care if they kept some, but it was the deceit of their hearts.  They wanted to look like holy people but their hearts were full of pride and lies (the excess of self) that it killed them, literally.

 

As a writer or Bible study facilitator it’s easy for self to increase and become puffed up, if I’m not careful. Even as a parent, comparing myself to others can allow haughtiness to grow.  “I would never let me child to that!” or “My children don’t act that way.  It must be the way I raise them.”

 

There is another side of me that can turn to excess of self and that is affirmation. I have a great need to be affirmed.  Words of affirmation are my “love” language.* But it can also go to the extreme. What once was an outpouring of love from another can quickly turn into pride in my heart.

 

When I take self out of the equation– whether it be desires, or motives–my heart says, “Yes Lord, take control, do what You will.” He becomes more visible to those around me and I become invisible.  My lifestyle of worship will be acceptable to Him.

 

When I decrease (my attitudes, my motives, my desires), God will certainly increase and that is the way it should be.

 

How about you?  What motives and attitudes do you have when doing everyday activities? Work?  Ministry? Or going to a church service?

 

Ask God to show you any hidden motives that are hindering Him working in and through  you. Then ask Him for the strength to get rid of self so others can see Jesus.

 

 

“All a man’s ways seem innocent to him,

But motives are weighted by the LORD.”

Proverbs 16:2 (NIV 1984)

*Jen Hatmaker “7: An Experimetnal Mutiny Against Excess”  

*Gary Chapman “The Five Love Languages”

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When I started studying the book of Malachi at a women’s Bible study, my understanding of “worship” went to a whole new level.  Worship is based on who I am in Christ, what I do on a day to day basis, a lifestyle.

 

After one session, a precious lady asked to describe worship because they did not have a Spanish word for the description presented in the video.  I gave the pat answer, “It’s a lifestyle.  I hate laundry but worship is saying ‘Thank you Lord that I have laundry to do.’ instead of complaining.”

 

In the first chapter of Malachi, God confronted the Israelites with the fact that their sacrifices were defective and therefore unacceptable to Him.  They were also told two chapters later that they were robbing God by not bringing the tithe. Seeing this caused me to be unsatisfied with my response.

 

The next morning I prayed, “Father, what does a life of worship look like?  I don’t see how their sacrifices relate to me in the here and now.”  Immediately Romans chapter twelve came to mind.  It says:

 

“Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”  Romans 12:1 (NIV 1984)

 

When I compared my life to the Israelites sacrifices I cringed.  My life can be just as defective.  When I don’t give God my best whether in doing my household chores, parenting, in ministry and even with time management everything becomes unacceptable.  And if it’s not acceptable to Him, it should not be acceptable to me.

 

There is a need to be careful, it does not mean He won’t accept me.  He will always accept me for who I am because I am His child.  But it’s similar to a parent who loves their child.  The love is unconditional but if the child is not doing their best whether it be grades or chores it’s unacceptable to the parent and changes need to be made.

 

After I made this connection the question became,  what is to be done to make changes?  I believe the next verse gives the answer:

 

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2

 

It’s a matter of priorities.  Change comes “by the renewing of your mind.”  When I’m reading the Bible  my perspective changes.  The need to do everything God’s way becomes the priority.  I find activities are dropped in order to put God’s priorities and desires ahead of mine.  The chores and ministry duties are done with my whole heart.  I give it my all,because I am doing it for Him.  This is my spiritual act of worship.

 

How about you?  Do you find the temptation to do the everyday things with minimal whatever you do effort or to do them because you have to?  Have you lost the joy in ministry?

 

Perhaps you have lost some perspective on why you do them.  Start with renewing your mind by reading His word.  Ask Him to direct you on how He wants you to spend the day.

 

The way you live your life is your living sacrifice, your spiritual act of worship.

“And, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, Giving tanks to God The Father through him.” 

Colossians 3:17 (NIV 1984)

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