Songfire

Sometimes someone else’s “songfire” is just what we needed to set us ablaze!

So what do I mean by “songfire”?

It isn’t just about singing, but the power of song is something universal that most people will understand. We’ve all heard certain songs and singer’s performances that reach out and captivate us beyond the pretty sounds and melodies and harmonies — that somehow touch us deep inside personally.

And fire is also another concept that we can grasp and understand how a little spark when fueled and stoked by the winds can level whole forests. And we’ve all felt how those internal flames can at times burn white hot and uncontrolled — and leave scorched earth in the wake of our careless actions or words in a “heated moment”. That’s even what we call it — a “heated moment” — acknowledging this universally understandable concept of “internal flame”.

So what is “songfire”?

“Songfire” is your worship. And whether you are religious or not, we all “worship” something.  It is whatever sets you ablaze and lights up your being. It is whatever captivates us and drives us in that unique way that sets fire to us and to those around us.

We see this in movies about love stories where we are spectators to others “songfire” being poured out onto each other, and it inspires and influences us.

We see this in addictions where people’s whole lives have become clearly centered around one thing and it is clear where the “songfire” of their life is being sucked out of them and consumed by their addiction, and it convicts us and serves as a warning.

We see people passionate about certain causes and standing up for their side of an argument strongly against others who are passionate on another side of an argument spewing their “songfire” at each other like arrows, stones and hellfire, and it opens our eyes to how the proper source and use of our “songfire” makes all the difference in our own lives — and in how our lives will impact others.

What lights you up?

What gets you excited?

What is your “songfire”?

What do you worship?

If it is things of this world, those things will pass away, rot, rust, decay or be destroyed eventually.

If it is a person, they will eventually let us down when we set them upon a pedestal high enough for them to fall from.

If it is riches, they will prove a neverending chase, with less and less true satisfaction — proving the more that we gain, the more that we will desire — if that is our “songfire”.

If it is pride and honor amongst others, that is also fleeting vanity and will not last — as loyalty amongst men is only as faithful as,”What have you done for me lately?”

However, if your “songfire” comes from the eternal flame of the spirit of Almighty God, what could ever extinguish such a fire? And who could stand in our presence and not be touched by the tongues of these flames if we are ablaze with such “songfire”?

Are you hungry for this type of “songfire” in your life?

Have you had a taste of it yourself, or felt the tongues of someone else’s flame, and you want more of it for yourself?

“Songfire” is worship. And worship is abandoning those other things that have been hindering or distracting us — giving up what is bad — or even giving up what is good — for devotion to what is best.

Decide today the source and focus of your “songfire” friends. It really matters Decide, and time is valuable and fleeting..

Decide today who you will serve, what your life will worship, and consider how that will impact all around you as well.

Talk to Jesus about this, friend. He is a wise advisor, an authentic advocate for what is best for you, and a friend whose “songfire” is warm and freeing to your soul and to those around you. His “songfire” will not leave scorched earth, but will refine your heart and remove the impurities and poisons that have been holding you back and stealing your joy. Amen.

1 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
Acts of the Apostles 2:1‭-‬4 NLT

23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:23‭-‬24 NLT

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1‭-‬2 NLT

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:12‭-‬17 NLT

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Matthew 5:14‭-‬16 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.

His Touch

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.4.24.NLT

There is an important difference between ritual and worship, between religious practice and communing with God, between learning about God and getting to know God personally.

If someone hasn’t been called by God, surrendered their life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit – they can participate in religious practice and ceremony, and they can even gain knowledge about the laws of God and see benefit from the divine instruction of His Word, but they are not yet entering into worship – they have not yet uncovered Truth – because they are only examining with their minds, not yet growing in their hearts from the touch of Christ living in them.

Continue reading “His Touch”

Can I worship?

http://bible.com/116/psa.15.1-5.nlt
Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.
Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord , and keep their promises even when it hurts.
Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever.

Continue reading “Can I worship?”