I’ve always wondered how Jesus knew the perfect thing to say. Maybe it’s because he was so in tune with his Father. Or maybe it’s because he wasn’t concerned what his peers thought about him, but without fail, he seemed to say the most amazing and wise things. There were times when he was silent. Times when religious leaders tried to trap him and ended up caught in their own snare. He sent away the woman caught in adultery, telling her to go and sin no more, and almost daring anyone else to cast a stone at her. He even offered the woman at the well living water. Who says things like that, ‘living water’, what an awesome thought? He spoke in parables that craftily made their point to those who would hear it. But he was also capable of such phrases as ‘get behind me Satan’ and you ‘brood of vipers’, and how about turning over the tables of the money changers calling them a ‘den of robbers’?
Sometimes I feel like I say the opposite of the right thing. Or looking back on a conversation in hindsight, I see how I could have applied the teachings of Jesus in a much more eloquent or effective way. Thankfully, Jesus is forgiving! But I also need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit much more. What if I were in tune with the Father the way Jesus was? Romans 8 tells us the Spirit helps us in our weakness. When we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us. Luke 12 recalls Jesus telling the disciples that when they stand before the rulers and authorities, not to worry about what they will say because “the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say”. The Spirit seems to play a key role in our ability to speak to both God and man. I pray this week the Spirit would make our words sweet and fruitful.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21)
I got a little choked up in Wednesday night class this week when we sang Blessed Be Your Name, a Matt Redman song borrowing from this verse in Job. When Rebecca miscarried our first child years ago, I remember driving down the highway by myself with this song blasting as loud as it could. I rolled down my window, and threw my hands in the air and sang along through tears “You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name!”. What else could I do at that point? When everything was taken from Job, he tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell to the ground and worshipped God. In that moment, I think I kind of understood that.
Sometimes we can be pretty fickle, allowing our actions and responses to be dictated by the changing tides of life. We can go quickly from happy and energetic to frustrated and sad. It gets complicated between school and friends, the opposite sex, misunderstandings with parents, and just getting older and being more responsible. But through all this, God is calling us to Him, and sometimes our most genuine worship comes when we feel the worst. Maybe there’s nothing left to lose, or we just have no place else to go, and we turn to God.
My challenge to you (and to myself) is to stay there in that place of worship. Whatever else is going on with us, the Lord is worthy of our praise. He is holy, and our lives at their best will be an act of worship, a reflection of His glory.
For comment: what song draws you closer to the Lord?
“Sing to the Lord a new song.” There is some excitement in these words from Psalm 98. How can we make these words come alive in our worship at Cherry Street in 2013? Jesus told us that true worshippers will worship in Spirit and in truth, but sometimes we miss an aspect of truth when we come to worship with our ‘church mask’ on. We may cover up our true spirit, our true self, because we are afraid to let people get too close. We don’t want them to know about our sin or guilt, and maybe even hide our dreams for fear of what others will think of who we really are.
You had an argument with your parents, you’re angry with your siblings or a friend, you’re not doing so well in school, people pick on you, you’re insecure about your looks… the list goes on. When we spend more time together in close quarters (think of church camp or a retreat you’ve been on), these things come to the surface. We find that there’s healing in letting our walls down and letting Christ (and our Christian brothers and sisters) in. As our ‘church mask’ falls away, we enter into worship in a new way, in Spirit and in truth. We sing a new song to God (or maybe an old song with a renewed spirit). Let’s learn to live in that spirit of worship!
Just for fun: If your life were a song, what would it be called? Here are the names of the top 10 songs this week on Billboard’s top 100. Not sure my life’s song is on this list (though #6 is pretty close… ha, just kidding!). How ‘bout you? Please comment!
- Locked Out of Heaven
- I Knew You Were Trouble
- Ho Hey
- Beauty and a Beat
- Gangam Style
- Die Young
- One More Night
- Thrift Shop