Looking Back

This evening I head off to Uganda. At this time I would normally be looking forward, seeking God for a word regarding the next season. This time God is doing things differently. This time He has me looking backwards.

The past few days God has been reminding me of all that He has done in my life. I’ve been reflecting on how He brought me to Africa for the first time in 2008 (I used the word “never” – I never wanted to go to South Africa, because of the horror stories I’d heard from ex-pat’s – and as we know, that is a dangerous word to use with God!). In the past 5 years He has changed my life around. He has changed what I value and what I strive for. He has redefined who I am and given me a purpose in life; to follow Him.

I have seen His provision every day of my 25 years. I have known His healing after trauma or heartbreak. I’ve felt His presence during the lonely times. I have known His touch when I need a hug and His strength when even my reserves were dry. I have known His love in every season.

God has taught me to worship with tears, singing, dance, walking, fellowship, and much more. He has taught me of His character and this in turn brings me courage. I have learnt that God is good; God is God (and there is no other); and He is love.

God has given me joy; proved time and time again that He is faithful to His promises; and has held me safely in the palm of His hand.

It is by looking back over these things, and many more, which enables me to step out boldly into the next season.

We are often advised not to look back, but to keep our gaze forward. Sometimes this is good advice, when working towards a goal. But it also pays to look back occasionally, because in doing so we see the work of God clearly displayed in our lives.

Let us worship Him for He is a living God, active in the lives of men!

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip.

For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you, that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah.

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me! (Psalm 66:8-20)

Junk Mail Character

Oh Character – that dreaded word! Why does God so like to work on our character? I fall into the habit of striving for God, forgetting that He doesn’t actually need any assistance from me. And then He brings it back to what He cares most about – that I give Him praise and that I am becoming more Christ-like.

Last week I took up delivery junk mail around our local area to help a little with support raising for my next trip over to Africa as I have been unable to find a job as an Occupational Therapist since coming home. Talk about humbling!

I was none too impressed when the folding of the leaflets and brochures took twice as long as the lady had suggested it would. I was even less impressed when the distribution aspect took three times as long. Who wants to lug around heavy backpacks for four hours at a time? I certainly don’t!

And then God’s gentle voice broke in on my grumbling: “It’s building character, Shannon”. Hmpf!

But amazingly, those words acted to pull me back into a right focus. The following day I still struggled and had to constantly remind myself, “It’s character building…  It’s character building…   It’s character building…”. The day after that one, however, saw short bursts of praise and worship begin to flow out from my spirit. And then, on the fourth day, I had a blessed four hour quiet time with God, and revelled in the exercise.

I had started the junk mail rounds with a bitter heart and yet God had turned them into wonderful times of fellowship with Him, intercession and worship. How great is our God!

Character building is never pleasant, but the fruit is worth it! God doesn’t do it to dishearten us but to transform us into the likeness of His Son. And I am so grateful that He did not leave me in my place of initial bitterness, but rather, brought me into the joy and peace of His Presence.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 6-9)

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

Looking at Worship

Worship is love
– Man was made for worship
– Love of God is to be our obsession
– Love leads us to worship

What is Worship?

Worship is Obedience:
Walking out what He calls us to do

Worship is Walking in LOVE: Love = to choose the highest good for you, your neighbour and God, regardless of emotions.

Worship is to Surrender: To surrender = to yield (possessions, will, emotion, position etc). Question: Why do we need to surrender to the Father? Let’s just compare Him to us for a second, shall we? He is stronger than us; He is wiser than us; He is more loving than us; He is PERFECT and we are not… Seems a bit of a no-brainer to me!

Worship is to Copy: Christ told us to do as He did; just as He copied the Father.

Worship is Passion: God wants people of passion. Christ was so passionate that blood came out from His pores with the sweat! We will always be most passionate for what we most value. (Matt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also). God is the most valuable treasure we can seek after! Look at the life of King David. He was so passionate for God that his wife was embarrassed by his worship.

However, be warned that passion requires Risk. Love is the biggest risk; love is all about risk. Faith is about risk. We should be risking every day. Passion also requires sacrifice. It requires that we give our best. Our best is acceptable worship to God when brought with a humble heart.

Worship is Honesty: God is absolute love, He is absolutely secure, and He can handle our honesty. Honesty Involves Risk but His love is unconditional. Often when we are honest, we are hurt in the process by people. But God won’t be hurt and He won’t respond in hurt and He won’t cause wounds to our hearts. We are safe being honest with God. Take off the ‘Christian mask’.

Worship is Creativity: God created and He placed creativity within us. He delights when we use our creativity in worship.

Worship is Celebration: We have the Good News! Genuine worship will be celebratory and will impact the whole community around us.

Worship is Hope: We hope in God’s promises. We trust in Him to work on our behalf. This enables us to come into His peace, joy and life.

Worship leads to Action: “You get busy living or you get busy dying, because there is no other choice”. No fence sitting! God hates the lukewarm. (Rev 3:15-16 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth). Be hot or be cold but don’t be lukewarm!

Worship Has a Price: Christ humbles us. We risk the scrutiny of other people. (Just as Mary was when she anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair – John 12:3). He calls us to be seen in our worship; regardless of what others think of us. When the natural and the supernatural collide it just looks weird! But, its supposed to be.

Some thoughts to chew over:
• Worship involves revelation: something is revealed
o The collision of the heart, soul and mind
o Music often brings the collision between what we know in our head and an experience of God (Heart/ Soul)
o We need restoration in our spirit in order to bring revelation in our hearts and minds
o The response to these revelations = worship
• Life was not meant to be compartmentalised. All things can be worship except for sin.

Who are you worshipping?

This week the lecture topic was the Nature and Character of God. What a week! It is wonderful to take a step back from the “me” and just sit in His Presence. I love meditating on who He is. What an awesome God we serve!

Something that struck me this week was Psalm 115:1-8:

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.
(See also: Ps 135:15-18)

It is true that we become like the God (or gods, idols, …) that we worship.

Process of Sanctification:
• Rom 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

People become like the God they worship:
• Col 3:9-10 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
• Mat 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
• Php 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
• 1Jn 3:2-3 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Jn 3:9-10 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Our foundation is vital
• We need to be founded on a sound knowledge of the character and nature of God. We need to ever be expanding our understanding of who He is.
• Mat 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock… does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
• When you know God, on a personal level and have an intimate relationship with Him, people see the difference.

Our view of God:
• Determines our attitude towards God
• Determines our attitude towards men
• Determines our actions/ outputs (incl thoughts etc)

It was wonderful to take this teaching into our study of God’s nature and character; seeing more of who He is, and that we are being transformed ever more into His likeness through the renewal of our minds. It is so important to reflect on His attributes when we study the Word of God!

See “That’s My King” Sermon By The late Dr. S. M. Lockeridge!

“That’s My King” – by Dr. S. M. Lockeridge

That’s my King

The late Dr. S. M. Lockeridge, a pastor from San Diego, California said
these words in a sermon in Detroit in 1976:

My King was born King. The Bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews – that’s an Ethnic King. He’s the King of Israel – that’s a National King. He’s the King of righteousness. He’s the King of the ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that’s my King.

Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don’t try to mislead me. Do you know my King? David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of the shore of His supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King. He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s saviour. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s honest. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. He’s the grandest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism. He’s the fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He’s the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That’s my King.

He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He’s the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He’s the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek. That’s my King.

Do you know Him? Well, my King is a King of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislatures. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King.

His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you . . . but He’s indescribable. That’s my King. He’s incomprehensible, He’s invincible, and He is irresistible.

I’m coming to tell you this, that the heavens of heavens can’t contain Him, let alone some man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King.

He always has been and He always will be. I’m talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor. There’s nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. You can’t impeach Him and He’s not going to resign. That’s my King! That’s my King!

Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Well, all the power belongs to my King. We’re around here talking about black power and white power and green power, but in the end all that matters is God’s power. Thine is the power. Yeah. And the glory. We try to get prestige and honor and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His. Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever. How long is that? Forever and ever and ever and ever. . . And when you get through with all of the ever’s, then . . .Amen!