Tag: Faith

Watermelon Seeds

20130403-153000.jpgOne year, about 25 years ago, I decided I would grow some watermelons. I bought a packet of seeds, prepared part of our back yard, mixing some sand into the Iowa dirt.

I planted the seeds according to the packet instructions and checked on my “crop” every day. I was excited to see the plants poke their way to the sunlight. Little by little the vines grew, and then the little melons started appearing. So cool!

A real good friend of mine named Mick, who’s now in Heaven, used to tease me about my melon patch. He knew a lot about gardening and always had a wonderful crop. And because I got a late start with my planting, he didn’t think the watermelons would develop enough to harvest before the first freeze.

But I was determined. I examined the plants and pinched off all but four of the little melons.

I waited.

Toward the end of September, on a Sunday Evening after church, Mick asked to see my melons. We lived just a half block from the church, so we all walked back to our house. We opened the gate to the back yard, played with our dog Joey for a short bit…

…and then I saw it. A piece of cardboard with the scripture, “According to your faith be it done unto you” written on it. It was on a wooden stake, poked into the ground, right next to a great big watermelon THAT MICK AND HIS FAMILY had placed in my garden. What a surprise!

Mick was also surprised. Because next to his great big watermelon lay 4 softball sized melons.

About a week later we ate those melons, and they were the reddest, sweetest, juiciest melons I had ever cut into.

According to my faith…

Faith? Yep, faith. Believing and receiving, according to God’s principles revealed through His Word.

Matthew tells the story of two blind men, determined to make their way to Jesus, determined to be healed.

“When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” And their eyes were opened.” (Matthew 9:27-30 NKJV)

Notice, the blind men FOLLOWED Him. Not just up and down the dusty road, but into the house! Not easy for a blind man to do.

Jesus asked them, “Do you REALLY believe I can heal your eyes? Yes? Okay, your faith has made it possible.”

When you KNOW something is true, don’t let anything keep you from enjoying the fruit of that truth! Do what you have to do in order to guard your faith. People may kid you, humiliate you, ignore you, and think you’re a true blue idiot.

I KNEW the power of sowing and reaping. I expected watermelons to grow. The blind men KNEW the Son of David was the answer for their blindness.

Mary KNEW God would perform the word the angel had told her. She received His word just as good earth receives seed sown into it. “Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:37-38 NKJV).

What do you KNOW? What are you planting? What word are you receiving?

According to your faith…

By the way, the picture above is the sign Mick made for me those many years ago.

Persuaded? Think about it!

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Persuade – to move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action; to plead with : urge

Think about it.

Have you ever had anyone try to persuade you to believe like them, take sides with them, agree to stand with them?

You had to think about it, didn’t you? Maybe for only a moment, but a moment none-the-less.

In order for you to be persuaded, a process of thought is necessary. Within yourself. Regardless of how many others you confer with, you make the final decision whether or not you’re actually persuaded.

You may follow the crowd, the bias of society, a particular political party or pseudo-party (for all you tea-baggers out there), or whatever. You can be a follower without being persuaded.

I “follow” different Twitter accounts, but I don’t necessarily agree with them. I “follow” people when I’m driving on the road, but that’s not an indication I’m persuaded they are leading me where I want or need to go.

People “follow” while it’s convenient, easy, affordable, and popular. But when following becomes costly and unpopular, belief trumps ease. Understand this; belief is only part of being persuaded. Belief that has passed the test of argument, study of the facts, has considered the ramifications if something is truth or error…that belief morphs into “persuaded”.

Think about it.

Heaven is for people who are persuaded Jesus is the only way to eternal life! Like I said, belief tested becomes “persuaded”.

Paul said in Romans 8:38, “I am persuaded…nothing can separate me from His love.” He told Timothy, “I am persuaded He able to keep (guard) what I’ve committed to Him…” He wrote to the Corinthians, “knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” And King Agrippa responded to Paul’s testimony, “you almost persuade me…”

Abraham said to the rich man, “if people won’t believe what Moses said, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”

When Abraham was told by God he would become the father of a multitude, he “hoped against hope…and was FULLY persuaded what God had promised He was able to perform.”

Life itself requires you and I to be persuaded about many things.

Think about it.

Will you do yourself a favor? Think about what you believe. Why do you believe it? Have you REALLY investigated the claims you believe to be truth? Or, are you following an idea because your peers say it’s true? Because it’s what you’ve always believed? What has persuaded you? How much research and “arguing” of the facts have you done?

Have you allowed your beliefs to be challenged, tested? Are you scared to investigate God’s claims? What are you afraid of?

Think about it. And don’t quit thinking until you are persuaded.

Fully persuaded.

“Drop Kick Me Jesus…”

“Drop kick me Jesus…” A cute little song by Bobby Bare.

God NEVER intended for His people to barely make it through this life and into the next, without a testimony of His power and victory evident in their life. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”(Romans 8:29-30 NKJV)

The word “predestined” can toss you around if you’re not careful. It does not mean God has already decided who will and who won’t be saved. God’s not willing any perish or go to an eternal hell. Rather He IS willing, and made it possible, for ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. So ANYONE and EVERYONE can become a new creation in Christ and spend now and forever abiding in His Presence.

“…He also predestined…” in the above passage could be paraphrased in this manner: “God knows who will come to Him through His Son, Jesus. And all who come to Him are destined to be changed into His likeness, His image. It’s an established plan. God won’t settle for any less.”

God desired to have a family, created in His image, after His likeness. Adam started out well, but ended falling way short. But Jesus, the Second Adam, brought mankind back to the place where fellowship with God is possible. Possible, through faith in Jesus. And our “destiny”, in Jesus, is to be changed into His exact likeness, His image; acting like Him in all ways, thought, word, and deed. As the Son is, so shall we be (see John 17 and Hebrews 1:1-3). “Pre” means “before” so think of it this way: God planned our destiny in Jesus before it was possible. He “prepaid” for our eternal hope and future.

I believe it’s time for us to see ourselves the way God sees us in Christ. Time for us to understand “this life” on earth is only separated from our “next life” by our earthly body. What God has, or hasn’t, accomplished in us while on earth will continue. “He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it.” 

So, enjoy the cute song. Especially if you like country music. But look into God’s Word and discover what He has already accomplished for you in Christ. And don’t be satisfied with barely making it through life. 

You are not a football. 

Faith Comes… (Relationship and Repetition)

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Let’s talk about something everyone has to deal with. Something EVERYONE has experience with.

Faith.

What’s that? You say you’re not a religious person? An atheist? Agnostic?
Well then, let’s just leave God out of this conversation; for a while, at least.

Faith.

Have you ever considered the dynamics of faith? Faith in a good friend’s word or promise? Or, faith in an enemy’s word or promise? How can their word be so important, so powerful? How is faith in someone developed?

Relationship and repetition.

It is almost impossible to believe someone you don’t know. Someone you have no experience with. Yet, though you may not have enough experience with someone to take them at their word, you still have a degree of faith where they’re concerned. You may actually know, or believe, that “someone” can’t be trusted at all! But that’s faith. That’s what you believe.

What you believe is so powerful, it controls your life!

My dad used to tell me, “I can’t make you do anything; but I can make you wish you had of.” Meaning, of course, I’d better consider my next step, for it will determine his. Though no one may be able to MAKE you, or FORCE you to do anything, what you believe will govern your actions throughout life. Like a lamb to the slaughter, or an eaglet flying for the first time. You will say things, do things, or not say or do something…because of faith.

There is only one thing in the universe stronger than faith. Love. Yet love and faith work side by side. When you have a hard time believing, faith is propped up by love. You want to keep believing because you love. Love, at times, must be held onto with the only grip you can muster; faith.

Who in your life do you believe? In whom do you trust? Why? Remember, we’re not referring to God at this moment. But why do you trust whom you trust?

Is it because you have experienced life together? Has the person you trust made promises to you and followed through, actually doing what they promised to do? Do you trust someone because of a faithful friend’s word?

Relationship and repetition.

The more someone is trusted, the greater the relationship develops, the more powerful faith is. This is where repetition comes in to play. You hear a word, a promise from your friend. You trust their word. They honor their promise. Your trust, faith grows. The more they promise, the more you trust. As long as they continue to honor their word, your faith in them grows and grows and grows and…

To where someday, during a time of fellowship with your friend, he tells you to take your teenage son to a certain mountain, and offer him as a sacrifice. Your son. The one who was given to you by your friend. The son whom your friend had promised was to be a blessing to all the world! And, because of faith, you do it! (At least you attempt to, until your friend stops you)

Now, let’s allow God to join us, eh?

“So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”
(Romans 10:17 NLT)

Faith in God comes the same way we discussed earlier. Relationship. Even a “little” relationship, one filled with doubt, skepticism, anger; whatever. It’s a start.

Relationship and repetition.

Telling God you don’t believe in Him, let alone trust Him. Yelling at God in anger over the loss of a loved one…

Relationship and repetition.

Will you say to God anything and everything you want? He knows you want to. It’s part of relationship. And will you allow Him the honor, and the opportunity, of speaking into your life. A word here, a promise there. The more He speaks, the more you listen, the more He acts, the more you believe. The more you believe, the more you act upon His word.

Relationship and repetition.

Rest and Contentment

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Rest and contentment.

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9 NKJV)

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.“ So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me”.(Hebrews 13:5 – 13:6 NKJV)

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content (1 Timothy 6:6 – 6:8 NKJV)

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NKJV)

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength… (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him… (Psalm 37:7 NKJV)

…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. (Philippians 4:11 NKJV)

Rest and contentment.
Really kind of hard to have one without the other.

Rest and contentment.
Content to let the Master’s grace cover, empower, establish, provide, and defend.

Rest and contentment.
A matter of trust, of total abandonment to “not my will, but Thine be done”.

Rest and contentment.
Waiting and listening, ready to obey the Master’s next command.

Rest and contentment.
For all those who live in the Master’s House.

Rest and contentment.
Casting all of one’s cares upon the Master.

Sure, there are plenty of reasons to worry, to pace and fret. But those reasons are greatly diminished for the one who has rest and contentment.

The Younger Son A Story – chapter two

A Story

As I have said before, everyone has a story, and every story should be told. Here’s one Jesus told about a father and his two boys.

“To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet and kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” (Luke 15:11-24 NLT)

Here’s the story of a father and two sons. Notice, two sons. This chapter will discuss the younger prodigal only. I’ll reserve comments pertaining to the older son for the next chapter.

Note that Jesus told this story to further illustrate a point He made earlier, which was “there is great joy in Heaven when something lost is found.” And if there’s great joy in Heaven, there should be great joy here on earth as well.

If you lose something as common as a paper clip, not much effort is exerted in finding it. Why? Because it is easily replaced and has so little value. But if you lose something, say, your wedding ring, you will not stop looking until it is found. Then, when found, you rejoice with joy unspeakable! The value of the thing lost determines the degree of gratitude.

Remember this: most of the time the thing lost doesn’t realize it’s lost until it’s found. I didn’t understand how lost I was or how much He loved and valued me until He “reached down” through His Son Jesus, and made me a new person.

“A man had two sons. The younger son told his father…” Say what you will, but I really doubt the younger son intended, or planned, on living a wild life separated from his home. He did not plan on getting “lost” anymore than you or I do when we start on a trip with or without directions. Part of growing up is developing independence, which would include trying to make it on his own. Whatever the motive, the father granted his request and divided his wealth between his two sons. Shortly afterward, the younger one hit the road and traveled to a distant land.

Distant land. Ever visit one? So exotic, so appealing, and so much fun! Meet new people, try new food, take gobs of pictures, and experience a side of life many, if not all, of your friends and family have never known.

But this young man didn’t buy a round trip ticket to the distant land. His trip was not a vacation, but a permanent move. He was going to make something of his life. He soon began to walk, talk, think, dream, spend money, and party like the locals. And for a while, all seemed fine.

It’s amazing how well and how quickly the young man could adapt to such a different way of living. Though new to the area, he learned the customs and culture of the land that was far from Father’s Farm.

Popularity. My, how popular this young man became. All the city leaders, merchants, and entertainers welcomed him. His winsome smile, bulging pockets, and small town ways made him an easy target for their schemes designed to separate the man from the money.

Women! He’d never even dreamed of a world like he was experiencing! Why hadn’t his father told him about this side of life? Did his father even know such a place existed? What about his older brother, the “never-spend-a-dime-of-my-own-money” guy? What was he doing with HIS inheritance? Probably the same thing he’d always done with his money. Nothing!

Well, he wasn’t going to act like his older brother! No, sir! He was going to get the most out of life, even if it killed him!

So…

With every pretty girl hitting on him, merchants and peddlers selling him everything but what he really needed, it didn’t take too long to waste his money, lose his companions, and find himself alone. Alone. Something he hadn’t experienced since leaving home. Alone.

Kind of funny, the things you think about when you’re alone. Memories continue to wash over your mind like waves upon a shore; washing away the hamburger wrappers, used napkins, beer cans and cigarette butts left over from last night’s party. Cleansing your mind, revealing memories of life like it used to be. Life with love. Life with father. If only…

“God Has Favorites” A Story – chapter one

A Story

I believe my parents had favorites!

I have two brothers and two sisters. Some of them could do no wrong. They got away with everything!

If you’ve had brothers or sisters, you probably know what I’m referring to. I’m not bitter nor am I casting stones. I’m not even saying I’m right in my belief. I’m only stating a fact, as perceived by me. Why do I believe they were favorites? Because they seemed to get away with more wrong doing than I.

Whether God has favorites or not, this fact remains; we perceive God has favorites because He seems to talk with others more, show more interest in what they’re doing, give them bigger allowances (allowing them to get by with more stuff), or He has them in a bigger, better, more lucrative ministry or job than us.

It isn’t fair, is it?

However, one doesn’t have to read very much scripture to understand even God’s “favorites” weren’t perfect, and were held accountable to doing things God’s way. Let’s look at a few of God’s “favorites” and see if there are some things we may identify with.

The first one, of course, is Adam.

Gen 1:26-28
26 Then God said,”Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them,”Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen 2:7
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Adam was created by the Triune God, after Their likeness (spirit, soul, and body – 1 Thes. 5:23). God’s best creation was given authority over all the earth as God’s representative. God blessed Adam and his wife with everything that pertained to life and godliness. All they had to do was walk in the instruction of the Lord God.
Imagine how proud Father God must have felt! Walking around the garden with Adam, hearing the angels say to Him, “my, Adam looks just like You!” “A chip off the ol’ block”. “I do believe Adam has his Father’s eyes.” You know, things you like to hear as a parent.

But Adam failed to obey completely. Genesis 3 states that Eve was tempted by the serpent and, giving in to the suggestions and insinuations the serpent made, took the fruit from the forbidden tree, took a bite, then gave the fruit to her husband who was standing right beside her. This may not mean much to you, but I believe that while Eve was tempted, Adam sinned willingly. He knew what God had said to him and disobeyed anyway. Ever done anything like that?

Anyway, their wrong doing started mankind on a course of destruction which has affected every human being since. Paul wrote that “death reigned from Adam…”(Rom 5:14), and so it is still today.

The next favorite of God’s we’ll look at is Moses. The great prophet of God, Moses. The leader of the children of Israel. The mighty deliverer, worker of miracles, signs, and wonders. The one whom the Lord spoke with face to face (Ex. 33:11). The one commissioned by the Lord Jehovah to bring the children out of bondage into a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses, who stood boldly before Pharaoh and said with Heaven’s authority, “Let My people go!”

It was this Moses who killed an Egyptian, hiding him in the sand. Wrong number one. And in order to keep from standing trial, Moses took off to the back side of the desert. Wrong number two. Later on, he did wrong number three and had to finish his ministry a little early.

Our third example of a favorite of God is Jonah, the prophet. The Lord had used Jonah as a prophet before his great Nineveh crusade (2 Kings 14:25). Jonah had grown to recognize the voice of God and the heart of God. As a matter of fact, because Jonah knew the heart and nature of God, he decided to not have any part of the Nineveh revival.

So Jonah did wrong. He ran.

The last favorite we’ll look at, for now, is Peter. One of the first disciples handpicked by the Lord Jesus. Peter was the one who gave his boat to Jesus’ ministry. He’s the one who stepped out of that boat and walked on the water to Jesus. Peter is known to many as the loud mouthed disciple; the one who always said more than he should. But Jesus didn’t see him that way. He saw Peter as someone who was beginning to understand who He was and how Jesus fit into his present world view. Peter is the one who said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus didn’t rebuke him for shooting off his mouth. No, He blessed him.

But Peter did wrong. He denied the Lord.

Each of God’s favorites had a time in their life when they failed Him. They did wrong. But wrong won’t necessarily keep you from God. Oh, I realize He is Holy and dwells in the light no man can approach, but read this again and mark it down.

Wrong won’t necessarily keep you from God.

Of course, none of the favorites can hold a candle to King Manasseh, where wrong doing is concerned. Neither can we. That should make us feel real good about ourselves since we’re not as bad as someone else. But just because there’s someone “worse” doesn’t guarantee us good standing with the Lord. God doesn’t grade on a curve.

There’s a phrase I’ll use throughout this book; a phrase to help us approach God with faith and humility. The phrase:

“there is no one too good to not need Him, and no one too bad to receive Him.”

Whether Manasseh, Peter, or your sweet, godly old grandmother; everyone needs God. Including you and I.

Have you ever stopped to consider that YOU are one of God’s favorites? If you are alive and living on planet earth, YOU are a favorite of God. How do I know? God showed us by the offering of His Son.

I understand that truth now. But for a good while I didn’t. I was frustrated, jealous, sometimes just plain mad. I felt others were getting a better deal from God than I was. I felt they were the favored ones. Guess what? Just like a kid acts up to get attention, I’ve had my times of acting up, though maybe unconsciously, to try and get Father’s attention or approval.

Bad thing. It feeds the flesh and sows seeds of doubt, bitterness, and discord. Trouble is inevitable.

Trouble is very much a part of my story, but not the whole story. My story includes me acting out my longing for attention, whether the attention of my parents or my God. It can be seen through the life of the younger prodigal, trying to make it big but living small. Trying to be everyone else’s favorite but not realizing I had a place in God’s heart all along.

I was well on my way to throwing away everything for the approval of a few, not understanding the offer God really had for me. Not realizing my value, my place in Him.

The story of the prodigal is next. I want each of us to know how the Father looks at each of His kids. The good ones and the bad ones. Take a good look at the One Who keeps looking at us. How does He see us. How far can He see us? Can we run too far for Him to see? How far can He reach? How do we treat those worse than us, when it appears God’s not seeing things correctly? How come others get the goodies, and we’re stuck with all the work?

A Story continues…

The Worship Leader

Worship

I felt prompted to share some thoughts regarding the ministry of the worship leader. Almost every Christian church has one, though they have varying titles. Some are called Song Leaders, while others could be referred to as Worship Pastors, Music and Arts Pastors, Psalmist, or maybe one I haven’t heard of. I’ll use the term “worship leader” though, for the purpose of this blog.

I’ve been a Christian for 37 years. I’ve been a worship leader for about 30 years. I’ve led songs for 37 years. What? Why the difference in years? Because leading songs and leading worship are two different things, the same way singing and worshiping are two different things.

Remember when King David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? It took him two tries before he was able to “secure” the Presence of God. The first attempt (read 2 Samuel 6) was very festive to begin with, but resulted in fatality. They attempted to carry the Presence of God using the latest vehicles, gadgets, most people in the choir, service scheduled to the minute second, everyone wearing the best robes Israel had ever seen, and the instruments were second to none. But even with all they had going for them, they didn’t follow God’s instructions. They didn’t find out what He wanted. They presumed to know, presumed to believe that God would “show up” just because they did. Wrong.

Dead wrong.

David was a man after God’s own heart, according to Acts 13:22. He desired to not only sing to the Lord, or about the Lord, but he desired to worship the Lord. To me, the difference between singing and worship is this: singing to or about God is simply using my physical and mental faculties to express something. Worship comes from my heart, the deepest part of my being. I may use my mind and thoughts to help express what my heart wants to say, but worship comes from the heart.

Remember that Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”? He also said, “God is Spirit. They who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” Again, Paul wrote in Romans, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” In other words, a person cannot worship with only their mind and voice, just like one can’t become a Christian because they repeat the “sinners” prayer. It’s a matter of the heart.

Worship is a matter of the heart.

David took a little time and rethought the matter. Somehow it dawned on him that God must have some thought on the subject. David discovered he had been wrong. So he assembled the procession again. This time he would lead the worship procession in spirit and truth. His whole being, spirit, mind, and body, became involved in “leading worship”; making a place of honor for the Lord. The priests, the “worship team” if you will, accepted the responsibility for carrying the Ark of the Covenant. David was in front of the procession worshiping with all his might. Not everyone liked what David was doing, but God did. David led worship by worshiping.

Remember, worship is a matter of the heart.

I’ve listened to and seen a lot of different worship leaders over the last 37 years. God used several to show me and teach me how to worship and lead others in worship. I’m not saying I’ve learned it all, not by any means. I just know what I know. And, I’ve heard some say that leading worship has changed, and it’s totally different than it used to be. I disagree. Leading worship has not changed. Leading songs, has. Songs have changed, instruments have changed, all the outward stuff is different, more hi-tech, etc.

But worship is a matter of the heart.

It was that way when Abraham walked up the mountainside with Isaac to “go and worship”(Gen.22). It was a matter of the heart when David sat on the hillside, watching over his sheep, singing, “the Lord is my Light, and my Salvation…”

Worship has ALWAYS been a matter of the heart.

So, if you are going to be a worship leader, take a tip or two from David. HE worshiped, He led as HE worshiped. You cannot drive people to worship. You can’t beat them into worship. Worship isn’t submission to the worship leader, it’s submission to GOD. You can’t pick just the right songs to get people to move a certain way, because worship can’t be coerced or manipulated.

As David did, you have to worship if you are going to lead worship. Even if the guitar is out of tune, the projector burns out, the microphone is crackling, you have to worship.
Worship is a matter of the heart, not the sound system. If necessary, throw away the stuff so you can worship!

If you are the only one worshiping, great! Don’t stop and scold the congregation! Be kind of like the doorman in a fancy restaurant. Every time he opens the door for a customer, the fragrant aroma of the restaurant invades the parking lot. So, as a worship leader, worship; hold the door open and allow the fragrance of God draw the whole congregation in.

When you minister out of your heart, a heart full of worship to your God, it will affect others. Because…

Worship is a matter of the heart.

Developing the Faith of a Champion

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This post is from one of my best friends, actually, my spiritual dad. My wife and I have known Dr. John and his wife, Rebecca, for close to 40 years.
For more information about their ministry, please go to http://www.rfiusa.org.

Developing The Faith Of A Champion
By: Dr. John Polis

“And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go
and fight this Philistine”. 1 Sam. 17:32

Young David went to face the “champion of the Philistines”. As the “unofficial champion” of Almighty God, he had a “champion faith” which enabled him to “take out his adversary”. You and I will need that kind of “champion faith” in these last days as well, because Jesus said in Luke 21:26 that “…men’s hearts will be failing them for fear” as they look upon their adversaries.

Think about David as he looked at all of Saul’s army hiding in the trenches, shivering with fear because of Goliath’s roar of blasphemy. He wasn’t overcome because everyone else was, but on the contrary, their cowardice made him angry and more determined to destroy the enemy whom he knew was already a defeated foe. “ And all men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid”. I Sam 17:24. “And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel?” vs.26. David had one thing on his mind and that was the fact that this was not just “ his enemy”, but Goliath was defying Almighty God and therefore in deep trouble. David knew that God would need someone to use executing vengeance upon His enemy, so he stepped up to the plate and said it might as well be me.

Praise the Lord. We should remember that our enemies are God’s enemies because we have a covenant with God. He will defeat them by using one of us as His Champion, just like He did with Jesus when he walked this earth. Jesus was God’s Champion, who through the Holy Ghost, defeated every enemy he faced who was threatening the future of the people of God( Acts 10:38).

YOU CAN DEFEAT THAT WHICH STANDS IN OPPOSITION TO GOD”S PLN FOR YOUR LIFE!

What are some of the steps we can learn from David that will help us develop this championship faith as well? What made David different from all the rest of his contemporaries that brought him to his great destiny in God?

First we should note that David was a “youth”, a mere boy of about 15 years. This tells me that David didn’t wait until he was an adult to get to know God. David was not a “time waster ” when it came to his spiritual life. During those early years while herding his fathers sheep, he developed qualities that enabled him to “step up to the plate” when his opportunity for advancement came.

Many people are unprepared for the day of opportunity because they have wasted so much time after becoming a beliver. Instead of pressing in while a “spiritual youth” through prayer, fasting and study of God’s word, many have allowed the cares of life and an unbiblical value system rob them of time needed for preparing themselves for God’s plan in the future. God is preparing you for the day of battle, because the day of battle is also the day of advancement. Don’t forget that after this battle (David & Goliath) a nobody became a somebody!

Did you ever wonder why you have had the seemingly “tough training” during your formative years as a Christian? This could be the reason, Satan will be there to “defy you” when it your time for promotion. You will not get to your destiny without defeating the Goliath that stands in your way, therefore, you will need “championship faith” in that hour.

What are the four qualities David developed that enabled him to win his “big battle” and “breakthrough to destiny”?

1. He was faithful in his “fathers house”.
2. He had a tender heart of worship.
3. He understood covenant concepts.
4. He understood faith principles.

David was “tending his father’s sheep. He learned to be “faithful in the house of a father”. Submission and obedience are implied in this message. We see David being faithful to duty at this time in his life obeying the assignment his father had given him; to watch the sheep and to take “lunch” to his brothers on the battle front. It is important that believers learn to be faithful to duties in the local church right away and develop the ability to stay under authority and do a good job while there. Many people downplay this important part of “preparation” and roam about “looking for opportunity” that never comes. David was called “the sweet singer of Israel” because he developed “intimacy” with God while tending the sheep. He learned to draw near to God through praise and worship allowing his heart to become tender to God. This tenderheartedness is what caused him to be so grieved when he sinned, and to immediately seek restoration with the Lord. Many today have no “grief” over their sins, but continue in hardheartedness and denial of their wrongdoing. A tenderhearted worshipper cannot stay out of fellowship with God for long, but will repent and seek God’s presence.

David also learned the key of “covenant relationship” while a youth. He understood that Goliath was an “uncircumcised” Philistine. Circumcision was the entrance to covenant in Israel. No uncircumcised person could partake of the covenant blessings of God promised to the people. God is “cutting away the flesh” that hinders us from entering “covenant” with others that have been placed in our lives for further maturity and impartation. Have you allowed “circumcision” in your life at the hand of a “skilled work man” who takes the “sword of the spirit” delicately to those areas that need “cut away”?

Lastly, David learned to “speak the word” in faith when he faced the enemy. He said,
“The Lord delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, HE WILL DELIVER ME OUT OF THE HAND OF THIS PHILISTINE”. I Sam. 17:37 “So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him. AND THERE WAS NO SWORD IN THE HAND OF DAVID” VS. 50. But there was a SWORD IN HIS MOUTH.

When we have learned these four indispensable traits, we will be ready to both defeat our adversary and move into promotion.

God’s Ultimate “Yes!”

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“As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us” (2 Corinthians 1:18-22 NLT)

Ultimate-“of the greatest or highest degree or quantity”.

If you would, if you could, try and remember all the promises God has EVER made to ANYONE at ANYTIME. How about one or two? Such as the Promise God gave to Noah. He promised that He would never again destroy the earth by flood. “As long as the earth remains, there will always be “seed time and harvest…” (Gen.8) Or how about the word He spoke to Abram (Gen.12) saying, “I will bless them that bless you and curse them who curse you.”

There’s something about the promises of God we must understand. If it is a promise, it is as good as done. Whether or not you or I see it fulfilled.

Okay, let’s try another one. If you would, if you could, try and remember EVERY PROMISE God EVER made to you. Alright, one or two. How about, “believe on The Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.” Or, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, a Christian, they are a new creation; old things passed away, all things are new.”

Again, let’s talk about the promises of God, including ones we may have a hard time “seeing”.

Have you noticed we don’t have a hard time believing the promises we can understand? Or, if we can somehow have a backup plan, just in case the promise doesn’t work, we don’t seem to get so worked up trying to “believe.”

I know I haven’t always trusted the promise He’s made to me. I haven’t always understood how He could possibly keep His promise for my predicament.

But the passage in 2 Corinthians is a good one to grab hold of. It says to me that there is only ONE PROMISE that I need to believe and remember. Only ONE PROMISE that I must declare above all the rest! “For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!””

The ONE PROMISE is God’s Ultimate “YES!”. Jesus Christ. Whatever the need, whatever the situation, Christ! He is the “YES” for each and every promise. He is the “YES”, whether I can figure Him out, or my situation out.

The Lord did not make believing Him a hard thing, though at times it appears to be. I think it’s because we get our eyes, our reasonings; all of our senses, onto the things happening around us. But God’s ultimate “yes” made it so there’s only ONE PROMISE we must keep our eyes on…yes, I’ll say it again, Jesus.

“Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith…”

We can do this! The ULTIMATE “YES!” says we can.

Say Amen, somebody!

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