I saw this morning that Matt Padula (a worship leader at The Well church in Landrum, SC) had just finished a 5 day study plan called “True Worship” on the Bible app, and it caught my eye and called to me this morning.
And the devotional content hit home quickly for me during this season, as we have been dealing with first the financial impact on my wife’s business and income as a gig worker — and then the additional challenges of my losing my job more recently:
I wonder how often my prayers, my thoughts, and my worship has been focused on MY need instead of HIS sufficiency, on MY burdens instead of HIS strength and faithfulness.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29 ESV
I wonder how often I have not entered into the rest of knowing that God’s plan and purpose is not for harm but for good when I face storms, mountains, or fiery trials — because my focus has been on ME and not on CHRIST?
We encounter a wonderful opportunity for surrender during challenging seasons. And new territories of our lives, of our character, of our habits — can be handed over to Christ to be infiltrated by the Kingdom of God ruling freely in our hearts and lives.
I had written all of the above and realized that I needed to hurry to get to 4 Points Church in Greer, SC this morning to get all of the technology ready for the kid check in, giving kiosks, 4Kids rooms, etc. that I’ve been helping Josh Scott with these past few Sundays.
The shock of hopping into a cold shower, seeing a low tire on my vehicle, finding the gas gauge on empty, thoughts of financial challenges, thoughts of upcoming job interviews this week — any of these could have been a burden or offense that would have gotten in the way of my worship on the way to church. And as each one of them tried to distract me from my worship — I listened to “Here” by Kari Jobe until I could sing it to Him and not drift off into distraction of listening to anything else. I knew that I needed tho renew my mind so that my eyes were on Christ, not on my circumstances.
And after helping get things ready at the church, I hurried to enjoy breakfast with my family and our newly found friends at the Waffle House on Hwy 101 in Greer, SC. And there was a spirit of joy, of community, of love in that Waffle House. A family was sitting there with twin 2 year olds with Waffle House crowns on their heads in such joy, that we all remarked that it could have been a TV commercial. We shared together some of our challenges from the week, and God received glory from multiple people for getting us through yet another week again faithfully. And the BMW fire department pulled up in the big red truck and even took the toddlers and their parents on a tour of the bright truck that catches the eyes and imagination of kids of all ages and sizes. The Norman Rockwell morning we were all having together was in extreme contrast to what politics and media outlets seem to be trying to convince us to otherwise.
And we arrived at church to a packed house, where extra chairs were having to be brought in for all the people looking to lift high the name of Jesus. And there was such diversity in the people there — no family looked “all the same” — but every individual reflected the image of God and was there lifting up the name of Jesus and worshipping freely. And at the end of service, as person after person — even whole households came up — to be baptized, and as children ands loved ones crept up as close as they could to the tank where this miraculous demonstration took place of begging lowered into the water and raised back up — there was great rejoicing, and love, and celebration, and community amongst diverse people who are family and friends in Christ.
I guarantee that every person there came in with something that could have been burdensome, offensive, or shameful if they had decided to carry it that way. It could have trapped them and torn them apart like the caught mice Mark Pangel described in his sermon. But Jesus…
Somehow all of this — from the waitress who had been done wrong by a mechanic the week before, to every challenge mentioned today — God weaved it all into a day of “True Worship”. And I saw people encouraged, touched, moved, and impacted for the glory of God — and I was one of them.
Because we saw people releasing their burdens instead of clinging to them. This isn’t the work of mere humans just choosing not to be disrespectful jerks to one another. This is the power of the Holy Spirit of God who lives in and through His children. There is a mighty move of God happening — and the fertile ground of challenge in this time is fostering both rapid growth ands rapid decay. Where sowing to the spirit is taking place, great territories in people’s hearts and lives and in those around them is bearing an amazing harvest. And where love is not abounding, bitterness, hatred, division, and all kind of wickedness is being revealed so clearly and distinctly in the light as being “of another kind”.
Do you see Christ at work mightily in this time?
Or have you been distracted by the noise?
Let’s reach that place of True Worship, and long to only leave that place, that mindset, that rest to acknowledge the glorious work set before us — amazing opportunities that to our eyes might seem clothed as trials, challenges, even suffering — but that our Spirit, confirmed by the Holy Spirit, knows are amazing testimonies, amazing worship, amazing opportunities for God to be glorified. Amen.