When you worship, you’re serving God

Psalm 134:1 NKJV

The last verse of the last psalm in the Bible says, “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 150:6). That means as long as you are alive you are called to worship God. But some of us are more wired to be worshipers in the church, while others are more wired to be workers. While all of us are called to worship God, some of us are more inclined to do it through works while others are more inclined to do it through worship. And with God, both count as acts of service. The psalmist said, “Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who by night stand in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord” (Psalm 134:1-2 NKJV). Note the words “servants of the Lord.” How were they serving Him? Through worship. The Westminster Confession of Faith says, “The chief end of man is that he might glorify God.” And there are many ways to do it: “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me” (Psalm 50:23 NKJV). Worship acts like a thermostat; it creates a climate in which God’s presence can be experienced and enjoyed. David said: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2 NKJV). What a benefits package! Forgiveness, healing, deliverance, and protection. How do we receive these benefits? Through worship. When we bless the Lord, He blesses us. So when you worship, you’re serving God.

Soul food: 2 Sam 14:21-17:13; John 3:1-21; Ps 89:15-37; Prov 23:15-18

Pull down that stronghold!

2 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV

The story of Joseph the prisoner becoming Joseph the prime minister teaches us that we can rise above the circumstances, overcome the challenges, and live in the fullness of our God-given potential. His journey was a long one, and yours may be too. But if you don’t take the first step, you’ll remain stuck where you are. Sometimes your “stronghold” was established early in life. Family pain is the deepest pain, because it’s inflicted so early and involves people who should have been trustworthy. You were too young to process the mistreatment. You didn’t know how to defend yourself. Your dad, mom, uncle, big brother – they towered over you, usually in size, always in rank. When they judged you falsely, you believed them. All this time you were operating on faulty data: “You’re stupid…slow…dumb like your daddy…fat like your mama…” Decades later those voices of defeat still echo in your subconscious. But they don’t have to! “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” Use the “reject and repeat” strategy and you’ll win the victory in your thinking. When negative, fearful, guilt-ridden, inferior, condemning thoughts arise, reject them and begin to repeat what God says about you in His Word. As God’s Word comes to life within you, your old thoughts will begin to die and lose their control over you. Today pull down that stronghold and let your healing begin.

Soul food: 1 Sam 24-26; Matt 28:1-10; Ps 51; Prov 22:12-16

You will get through this

Job 8:21 NIV

Sometimes when our heart has been broken, we struggle to understand why. But often the healing comes first and the answers come later. Job may never have fully understood all the losses he experienced in life. But there came a time when he was able to look back at the time of pain and say with confidence, ‘He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.’ And that’s God’s promise to us too. For every trial and trouble we face in life, God has sufficient grace to carry us through. Every need we have, God will provide. He has answers for every problem. And He has comfort and healing for every hurt we experience. So when we are walking through a valley, we need to be trusting that God will come through for us and will bring us out the other side. We often want God to take us out of situations, but sometimes we need to walk through them to grow, and to give God the glory. After recalling everything God had brought him through, Jeremiah concluded, ‘There is nothing too hard for You’ (Jeremiah 32:17 NKJV). God looks for opportunities to show us what He can do on our behalf when we put our trust in Him. It’s through our trials that we really understand the power and love of God. In situations where we feel surrounded or that seem impossible, God can show us how He can do all things. When we are hurting, disappointed, or discouraged, we need to look to God. Sometimes it’s the last thing we feel like doing, but looking to God is the way we will make it through whatever we are facing.

1 Sam 14-15; Matt 27:11-31; Ps 91; Prov 21:28-31

Doing right by your children

Proverbs 22:6 CEV

A mother who smokes passes on the nicotine to her baby in her breast milk. Unintentionally she pollutes her child with her own vices. And it’s the same when we pass on things like bitterness, guilt, and insecurity to our kids. That’s why we need God’s help; only He can bring healing to the root of our problem and break the cycle. No one else can teach faith to your children like you. The foundation must be laid by you and built on by them. And don’t just teach them your doctrine; expose them to your faith. Tell them Who brought you through the tough places. That way, when they encounter their own tough places they’ll be armed with more than a set of religious rules; they’ll have confidence in God for themselves. And stop beating yourself up over past mistakes; there are things all of us wish we’d done differently. The truth is that God can alter the effects of your past and prevent tragedy in your future. He’s the God of restoration who makes “all things new” (Revelation 21:5 NKJV). He can bring right out of wrong, good out of bad, and enable you to pour His wisdom and love into your children. This is your chance of a lifetime – seize it! Let go of yesterday and take hold of tomorrow. Your children are your tomorrow; they’re being shaped by you. Give them a taste of the things of God when they’re little, and when they grow up the world will never satisfy them.

Soul food: Ezek 27:25-30:26; Matt 23:1-12; Ps 112; Prov 20:1-4

Problem-solving (2)

Psalm 28:7 NKJV

Secondly, we must identify the real problem. Some of the problems we have in life can actually have deeper roots. Dealing with the surface problem is very important, but we also need to deal with the deeper-rooted issues causing the problems. If insecurity is our deeper problem, we need to ask God to remind us who we are in Him. We need to be feeding our minds with the truth of our identity, which we can find in the Bible. We need to hold on to verses such as 1 John 1:3. If we are struggling with not feeling enough, we need to remember that our salvation can’t be earned, it’s a gift. The Bible says: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8 NIV). If we have lost our hope that things can ever get better, we need to ask God to renew our hope and show us that He’s always doing new things. When God called Gideon, He first had to deal with Gideon’s hopelessness, insecurity, and doubt. Gideon questioned how God could have been there when so many bad things had happened, he questioned how God could use him when he was the weakest in his family, and then he tested God multiple times to make sure he was hearing Him correctly. But God was patient, and dealt with each issue (you can read the full story in Judges 6). And He’s patient with us too. He’ll help us dig out the deeper problems in our lives which stop us from doing the things He’s called us to do. He brings healing to the places of our lives which we think are beyond redemption.

Judg 19:16-21:25; Matt 18:10-20; Ps 119:97-104; Prov 18:6-8