Monday, July 28, 2014

Worship and Obedience . . . Can't Have One Without the Other

I’ve been learning a lot about obedience and worship this summer.  It’s been a remarkable journey.
There’s been an area of my life that I have been stiff arming God.  I’ve surrendered so many other areas of my life, it's been easy to rationalize keeping this one to myself. 
But there’s this thing about surrender . . . it’s not really surrender unless it’s complete. 

If only half of an army’s troops surrenders in battle, is it really a surrender?

This wrestling with God has been going on for quite some time. 
God patiently asking and me . . .  defiantly refusing.
 I’ve been miserable, tormented and harassed by my own thoughts.  I’ve rationalized, justified and defended my stance.  And where has it got me?  Stalled out.  Ineffective.  Unproductive.
Finally, late this spring . . . I dropped to my knees and waved the white flag of surrender.  Feeling like I was stepping into a place of bondage but knowing I couldn’t live like this any longer. 
And what a surprise God had waiting for me in the letting go!
My object of surrender was with eating better and exercising.
As I released the grip and began to ask God what it would look like for me to exercise,  I came to the conclusion that running was the best option for me.  Can I just say, I HATE RUNNING!  But I was ALL IN and I wasn’t looking back.
I bought an app for my phone which helps an individual work up to running a 3K and so began my journey . . .   The app had me running for two minutes straight – something I never thought I could do.  I got winded just running to the mailbox and back but remember, I was all in, so I thought I would give it a try.

I ran my first two minutes and made it!  Never thought I could but the surprises weren’t over yet.  The plan had me running two minutes and walking three minutes, four times over.  While I was running the first two minutes, I thought . . . I’ll never be able to run two more minutes.  But I walked for three minutes, caught my breath and started again.  It was on my third two minute run that it happened . . .
Every step - excruciating, each breath – agonizing.  I knew I wasn’t going to make it.   I cried out to God, “Lord, You’ve got to help me.  Give me strength for each step.  Because I’m doing this for You . . .”
I’m doing this for You!  It echoed in my head.  I’m doing this for You. 
I’m being obedient and in my obedience I’m worshipping You.  My running is worship!
That was a new concept.  I’d never thought that my actual running could be worship.  Previously my thinking had gone kind of like this:   I worship God by listening to music or praying while I run.  It never dawned on me, until that moment that my obedience was worship!  My running was worship! 
It changed everything for me.  I’m not running to lose weight.  I’m not running to look better or feel healthier.  I’m running to worship my God.  To bring glory and honor to Him through my obedience. 
Clarifying.  Purposeful.  Satisfying.
What about you?  Is there an area in your life where you’re stiff arming God? 
For me it was exercise and eating right but maybe for you it’s the things you’re allowing to fill your mind.  Or maybe you’re refusing to forgive someone.  Or you’re holding tightly to material things.  Whatever it is, I challenge you to surrender it to God.  Pry your fingers off and let go!
2 Kings 17:36-38 (NLT) says, “But worship only the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt with great strength and a powerful arm. Bow down to him alone, and offer sacrifices only to him. Be careful at all times to obey the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands that he wrote for you.” 
God doesn’t want your worship without obedience. They go hand in hand – you can’t have one without the other. 
(Note:  This weekend I will be running my first ever 5K race and I'm now running thirty minutes straight -  it's a miracle!  Truly a miracle – only by God’s grace am I able to do this.  God is good.  May He receive all the glory and honor and praise.)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dare to Believe!

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
    the God of Israel is our fortress.  Psalm 46.7 (NLT)

In first Samuel, chapter one we are introduced to Hannah, a woman unable to bare children.  While she is at her yearly visit to the temple she makes a vow to Jehovah Sabaoth that if He will give her a child, she will give him back to God for all of his days. (1 Samuel 1.11)
It’s interesting that she doesn’t use the name Jehovah Jireh (The LORD provides) or Jehovah Rapha (The LORD heals).  Instead she chooses to use a name that proclaims the might and power of God.  Jehovah Sabaoth; the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
Hannah called on the LORD of Heaven’s Armies in her time of great need because she understood through His might and power, nothing was impossible with God.  By calling on Jehovah Sabaoth she was reminding God of His superiority over all things and declaring her faith in His almighty power to open her womb.

Do we dare to believe in the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of the Impossible, the Supreme Ruler over EVERYTHING, like Hannah did?  Or are we secretly afraid He can’t or won’t come through for us? 
Do we dare pray like Hannah, asking God for the seemingly impossible? 

This past year a group of ladies from our church decided to take God at His Word and pray the impossible.  At the end of the eighth month period we had twenty-eight “impossible” prayers answered!
What insurmountable burden are you carrying?  Will you choose to believe like Hannah and pray the impossible?

Oh LORD of Heaven’s Armies, teach me to trust; not just say that I believe but readily and wholeheartedly take You at Your Word and pray the impossible.  Give me eyes to see how you will answer.  Amen.
Action Point:  Begin today to pray for the “impossible” request in your life that you have doubted would ever get answered.  Pray daily and look expectantly.  Don’t limit God.  You just might be amazed at how He will answer your prayer.