[Mia, Daddy & Friends] “Mary’s Song”

A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.

Luke 1:39‭-‬56 NLT

Worship in Love


“keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
– Jude 1:21 NKJV


TRUTH

“Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”

Psalms 95:8-11 NKJV

[We were once in the wilderness, a part of the rebellion, an enemy of God – interested in our own ways and desires and not His.]


HOPE

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to  be the propitiation for our sins.

I John 4:7-10 NKJV

[God loves us. In fact, this is our ONLY hope,  that God loves us, because we have proven to ourselves and to others many times in our actions and our words that we are imperfect, flawed sinners. It is only through His love,  His sacrifice that we find salvation, that we learn love.]


FAITH

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

– Psalms 95:1-2,6 NKJV

[Our response to His love, to His mercy towards a people undeserving of His love is grattitude, is thanksgiving, is praise. Praise not just in occassional religious ceremonies, but in our daily lives,  even moment to moment throughout our day.]


LOVE

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

I John 4:11-16, 20-21 NKJV

[Yes, He teaches us love through His life,  through His Word,  and through His Holy Spirit that lives within us believers. And our purpose is to demonstrate this love, to testify to this love,  by accepting it and pouring it out onto those around us. We are called – yes, we are even commanded – to Love God,  and to Love others. And this isn’t a burden, but a blessing.]

PRAYER

Lord God, plunge me into your love so that I can love you with all that I am. I know that I’m asking you for the very thing I’ll give right back to you,  but my heart feels small and shrunken;  I struggle to live you well or even love at all. Immerse me in your love so that my heart, soul, strength, and might find their true home, and I will find the room in my heart to love my neighbor. Amen. (WSC 42)

Will we enter in? Do we want to?

O Lord , who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
 
He who walks blamelessly
and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart; 
who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 
in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the Lord ;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 
who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things shall never be moved.
Psalm 15:1-5 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.15.1-5.ESV

Can we see some of the words about His followers:
Blameless, righteous, truth, heart, keep oaths, lend

Can we also see some of the words about His enemies:
Slander, wrong, slur, vile, accept bribes

And can’t we agree that we know what is right from what is wrong? Can’t we agree that we have the opportunity to make choices each day between doing right or doing wrong?

And deciding to do right instead of deciding to do wrong has a name in scripture,  and it is called repentance. It is a step that is taken in a new direction,  it is a turning away from our old path as we decide to turn to a life seeking the Lord’s purpose and direction for our lives.

Yes, our deciding to change direction is the beginning of our journey and not the end. Because if repentance under our own power was out goal – if fighting against these old urges to keep them under control and in compliance with the law was all that we had to rely on, wouldn’t everyone turn back from the burdensome curse of the law?

And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.
Acts 19:1-7 ESV
http://bible.com/59/act.19.1-7.ESV

We can see that there is more than just repentance. We can see that there is more than just putting on an outward mask of compliance while wrestling to keep our carnal nature hidden under the wraps of religious exercise. That is not a place of peace, but one of fear, because how could those living that way “speak the truth from their hearts” while still meeting all of the other descriptions of a believer?

You see, it takes a divine intervention,  not just our own turning in repentance.

Yes,  it requires or repentance AS WELL, so please do not misunderstand me to be justifying grace as a license to sin. I expect that some itchy ears will seek out the false teacher they desire if that is the message they seek. But I pray that you would instead remain to hear the truth (even if it proves uncomfortable and convicting) that I share with you from the Word of God rightly divided and Holy Spirit led.

There is a point at which repentance shifts from striving against our old nature into a life of praise and worship to God for what He has done and is doing in our lives. That shift comes when we are made a new creation through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

And I encourage you not to get hung up on which spiritual gifts you have and which you do not, whether you speak in tongues or you do not, whether you prophesy or you do not,  whether the Holy Spirit fell on you like Paul on the Damascus Road, or whether you received it from the laying on of hands like these disciples at Ephesus, or whether you were born with it and grew in it like John the Baptist – because we each are different parts of the body of Christ with our own callings,  seasons,  and purposes.  But I do encourage you to test yourself to see whether or not you are walking in the Spirit and living the life of one “who may dwell in” His sanctuary,  “who may live on” His holy mountain.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:12-17 ESV
http://bible.com/59/rom.8.12-17.ESV

We have much to celebrate, child of God! We have such a great reason to celebrate in praise and worship over what the Lord has done for us!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.118.24.ESV

Guilt or Conviction?

Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
1 John 3:21-22 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1jn.3.21-22.NLT

I’m learning that guilt is a corruption of conviction and a trap of the enemy. Yes,  I’ve known this intellectually,  but I’m beginning to understand it in my heart. You see, guilt is dwelling on past things that we cannot change, just like anxiety is dwelling on the future that we cannot yet affect. Guilt and shame paralyze us and bring no honor or glory to God. They are perversions of God’s wonderful gift of conviction.

But conviction is one of those amazing gifts and blessings from God. Conviction identifies those dangerous and poisonous things in our lives so that we can:

1) Ask forgiveness for past shortcomings
2) Accept Christ’s atoning blood that washes away our sins
3) Ask for deliverance and guidance as we repent and resist temptation
4) Believe. Know that He will overcome.
5) Trust Him to prove himself faithful and true, even when in His time and not ours
6) Rest in the peace of our faithfulness,  remembering the price He paid, and the value and purpose of our life as part of His Kingdom

Conviction is an opportunity for transformation now,  in our hearts. It moves us forward,  it presses us on toward our goal. Conviction leads to prayer,  to communication and a drawing into the presence of God in that humble position before God that allows us to worship God and receive His grace and mercy fresh and new.

And His grace poured out upon these old bones, as our hearts cry out to Him,  “Great are you,  Lord!” What a blessing is this conviction that leads us to praise our Lord and rely upon Him as our comforter,  as our protector, as our Savior,  and as our Lord.

So I encourage you,  friend,  do not run from conviction – for it is the light that shines down and offers us the blessing of His touch. Do not fear the light revealing your imperfections, because His refining fires will burn away the imperfections,  His blood will wash over the wounds and heal and restore you. Stand with confidence in His presence,  friend. Not because you are worthy or proud, but because He is worthy and His promises are true,  and He will forgive you. He will restore you. He will redeem you and deliver you.

Let Him make you brave, friend. Know that He is for you and not against you,  friend. Even as the waves crash against us, He is our rock and our foundation,  and He will not be overcome.

Receive everything that you need to walk in the path that He has set before you. Walk in His will and see the enemy conquered and defeated and see His hand upon the lives around you as you learn to love and serve, as you grow to be more like your teacher,  as you accept the imprint of Christ who lives in you upon your life choices and actions.

Live,  bride of Christ. Arise to meet your Love in the heavens. Come,  Lord Jesus,  come. Rescue us into your presence. Release us from our waiting,  from our yearning for your face, deliver us together as one into your eyeball courts,  to sing your praises eternal.

We are no longer lost,  we are no longer blind,  we can see the love in your example,  Lord – in your grace you are revealed to us,  and we are humbled at your feet. Amazing grace,  that saved a wretch like me – so sweet a sound, to be found in your arms, even a prodigal like me. Your mercies reach so deep into the darkness to rescue even me,  Lord. Even me.

Even me.

Even you,  friend.

Am I lifting Him up? Or just expecting to be lifted?

TRUTH
How many of us treat God like a genie with our prayers? Only calling out to Him about the things that we want and need? Forgetting to praise and worship and honor Him for all of the blessings we have already received – and like a spoiled child only thinking about the blessings ahead that we want?

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Psalms 115:1 NLT
Not to us, O  lord , not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Continue reading “Am I lifting Him up? Or just expecting to be lifted?”

Where’s the party?

Psalms 100:1-5 NLT
Shout with joy to the lord , all the earth!
Worship the lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people,
the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him
and praise his name.
For the lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

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Continue reading “Where’s the party?”

Will our dog or cat “out praise” us?

Psalm 150:6 AMP
Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

Revelation 5:13 ESV
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

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Continue reading “Will our dog or cat “out praise” us?”