Category: Worship


Watch the Lamb

As we approach Easter this weekend and celebrate the gift Jesus made available to us when He sacrificed himself on the cross, I want to focus on a song that touched my heart in a profound way many years ago (and still does today).  By the end of this song, I was in tears as I deeply thought about and felt in my soul the reality of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb who covered our sins with His blood.  If we are believers, we know Jesus is the Lamb of God who gave His life to wipe away our sins so that if we believe and accept His free gift, we can be saved and be part of His kingdom for eternity.

| For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

| The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NIV)

Do this in remembrance of Me

We know this truth ……….. in our heads ………….. but sometimes this realization hasn’t reached down into our soul to the emotional & spiritual core of who we are.  Easter becomes a holiday …… something common place (we do this every year) …….. and less than it should be.  But Easter should be the most holy of remembrances, for it is by His sacrifice that we can live in freedom as children of the Most High God.

The song, Watch the Lamb by Ray Boltz, moves me beyond intellectual acknowledgement of Easter into an emotional and spiritual place.  The song shows the Passover experience from the eyes of a father and his two sons who have traveled to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifice (Mark 15:21) — a sacrifice that ended in a much different way than expected.  Take a listen …….

I believe this father’s experience with the Lamb of God affected his life in a profound way.   Has it affected us in a similar fashion?  From our lives as modern Christians, I think we often look at Jesus’ sacrifice almost academically — we don’t really understand the pain and agony that Jesus went through on our behalf.  The mock trials, the beatings and scourging, the ridicule, the humiliation and the excruciating pain of crucifixion — all endured willingly by Jesus as the final sacrifice for our sins

|  Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” John 12:27

I have been listening to a devotion on the book of John — and with God’s timing, I happen to be at the point of Jesus’ death in my study during this week before Easter — making my experience listening to it all the more impactful.  Chuck Swindoll with Insight for Living (https://www.insight.org) describes the process of Roman justice — the scourging and crucifixion (the most humiliating, public and painful death imaginable).  It is horrific, with many not living beyond the scourging due to the blood loss and shock; then the pain and agony of being nailed to the cross and slowly suffocating as the condemned can no longer hold themselves up on feet nailed to a wooden cross.

Why would anyone else endure this for us, for me?  Because it was God’s plan from the beginning and the only way to bring sinful man into reconciliation with a Holy God!  For this reason, Jesus, Our Lord and Savior, gave His life.

He is the way

I am so grateful for His sacrifice, but there are still times when I go through my daily routine only to realize that this gratefulness doesn’t fully comprehend and isn’t fully broken by what the crucifixion meant in that day and time.  Or what He endured for me …… for me, an unworthy and sinful child …………. all because He wanted me to be part of  His family.  His sacrifice was the only way to wash away sins for all who would believe in Him ……..  once and for all!

| I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, NIV)

Has Jesus’ sacrifice become personal for you?  Or do you see it as an overarching sacrifice for all of mankind?  I ask this because when I think of Jesus dying for me — and only me — it blows my mind because I really can’t fathom why He would love me that much.  I can see His sacrifice more clearly when it saves all of mankind ……. but just for me?  I feel so unworthy.  But this is the crux of our faith!  Our acceptance of His gift for our individual sins ………. and then living for Him daily ………… walking as Jesus walked.

it is finished

Is the crucifixion real to you?  But even more so, is the resurrection real to you?  I am so grateful for the cross, but I am even more grateful for the empty tomb — because our God is not dead, He is alive!!!!  Death did not defeat Him — He defeated death for all eternity.

My prayer for you this Easter weekend is for you to have a very personal encounter with your Savior ………… really let yourself feel the sacrifice He made and acknowledge the pain and agony He endured for you.  Then joyfully worship and adore Him.  And if you don’t know Him in this personal way, I pray you ask Him into your life and accept Him as your Savior and Lord.

As you celebrate this most holy holiday, the very foundation of our faith, I hope you enjoy this Easter Medley from  Anthem Lights about our risen Lord ………. then top it all off by listening to the wonderful version of He’s Alive by Dolly Parton (brings tears to my eyes every time!).

 

Trust & Obey

 

My pastor recently gave a series of sermons on becoming men and women of faith. He said that to become a person of faith, we need to believe God’s word so deeply so that we have a level of conviction resulting in obedience – we need to take action and obey what God leads us to do (1).  Yikes!  Most of us are probably OK with the believing part – I know I am most days.  I believe God is good – I believe He is always there for me – I even believe He will turn all circumstances to His good (it may be rough getting there though).

But according to my pastor, belief falls short.  Even the demons believe.  What makes us different as followers of Christ is taking action – actually doing what Christ tells us to do and going where the Holy Spirit leads us.  This is where it gets sticky, doesn’t it!

If you are like me, you probably feel like you’re a good person and obey the big commandments. But living a life of faith requires so much more than that and I have recently seen so many devotions, sermons and posts on that very topic come across my newsfeed and in my email.  Is God trying to get my attention?  Yep, I think He is.  Why do I think this?  Well, let me tell ya……..

For the past few months (or even longer), I have been praying for guidance on a couple of issues and haven’t really felt like I have gotten an answer. So of course, I’m wondering if He just hasn’t answered yet (not time yet, God?) or if I just didn’t hear Him (more likely).  Because I think the problem is with me (I’m just not being sensitive enough to hear His answer and this is the probable reason for my lack of clarity), I have also been praying for a burning bush kind of answer – put it on a billboard, hit me over the head kind of answer.  Don’t we all wish we could get those?  I sure do.  But no, crickets and more crickets.

What should I do God_

So after the sermon mentioned above, I asked God again for clarity because I really want to obey Him in these areas – I want to take action. Yippee – I felt an answer…….but lo and behold, it wasn’t on the topic I had prayed about – see I want to take action on the things that are worrying me, but His answer was about something totally different.  It was actually about this blog and the lyrics to a hymn we used to sing in church when I was a kid!  The song is “Trust and Obey” and the message I received was – why aren’t you writing your blog like I told you to do?  Snap – busted!

I posted my first “comeback” blog back in the fall and since then I have had several ideas and songs and insight I know was provided by God. But, and this is a big “BUT”, I never followed through.  I created the posts in my head lying in bed – and boy were they good! – but they never actually made it to the computer.  I had to ask myself why?  Why didn’t I do what God had clearly given me inspiration to do – I mean He has brought this blog to my mind many times over the past five years and I have started it a few times only to let it die from neglect and lack of attention.  He keeps bringing me back to it – is that a clue that I need to pay attention?  YES!

eureka  So why haven’t I? Why haven’t I spent time on this blog?  After some soul searching, I think for me there are two main reasons.  The first deals with my priorities.  Where are my priorities – on stuff that affects me or on what God has asked me to do?  Just being honest here – this was like a V-8 moment where you smack yourself on your forehead and say, Eureka!  

One reason I haven’t been obedient to God is because I have been focused on my own priorities (work, TV – stupid one, Christmas, relaxing, sick) and telling myself I don’t have time to sit down and write, when in reality I have plenty of time to write – turn off the TV for a little bit.  It goes back to the mindset that “what is really important to you, you will find time for”.

The second reason directly leads to the “why” I haven’t re-prioritized. I really feel like I haven’t spent the time on the blog because in my mind it wasn’t that important:

  • I don’t have a following so who is really going to see it.
  • Because no one will see it, the blog really won’t make a difference.

The soul searching I did led me to realize that the “importance” isn’t for me to determine.  If God told me to do it whether anyone else sees it or not, then it is my responsibility to be obedient and do what He has told me!

Do I want this to reach someone and help them in some way?  You bet I do.  I’d like it to reach a lot of someone’s but even if it doesn’t, that isn’t a good reason for lack of follow through.  My calling is to be obedient – it’s in His hands to take it from there according to His purpose.  As we used to say in the military (and you’ve probably heard it in old movies), ours is not to reason why – ours is but to do or die! (2) I should put all of my effort into doing what God tells me to do – as an act of obedience and worship! Now I will trust Him to use this offering as He sees fit.

somebody in need

So here is my post. Here is the baring of my soul.  Here is my act of obedience – yes, really!!

As Terri Savelle Foy says “somebody in need is waiting on the other side of your obedience.” (3).  For me, that puts a really different spin on my obedience!!

So — I pray He uses my words to reach others because somebody may be waiting on the other side of this blog.  But even if He doesn’t, my act of obedience has grown me!  And I’m sure it will please my Father.

I hope my soul searching and message from God, along with this inspirational song, inspire you to take whatever action God is leading you to take in obedience to Him.

  • What comes to your mind when you hear “obedience”?
  • Is there anything you know God has told you to do that you haven’t followed through on?
  • Who is waiting on the other side of your obedience?

Let me know in the comments below.  We can pray for each other! 

Song Background

The song “Trust and Obey” was written from inspiration Daniel B. Towner received during an evangelist meeting (I think about a revival meeting) conducted by D.L. Moody in 1885.  Mr. Towner said that “One night a  young man rose in a testimony meeting and said, “I am not quite sure—but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.””  Mr. Towner wrote this down and sent it to a friend, Rev J. H. Sammis, who wrote a poem based on the statement.  Mr. Towner then wrote the melody to the poem which became the classic song “Trust & Obey”. (4)  ………  Take a listen.

References:

(1) Sermon, Pastor Pat Finley, 1/28/18,  https://www.facebook.com/196097083753618/videos/1900059993357310/

(2) Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Charge of the Light Brigade”, 1854, first published in The Examiner, December 9, 1854.

(3) Foy, Terri Savelle.  The Power of Now.  CD.  http://www.terri.com

(4) Excerpt from “Then Sings My Soul:  150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories” (2011), Robert J. Morgan, p. 220.

give thanks branded

God has an amazing way of changing our plans and pointing us in the direction He wants us to go — if we are willing and open to Him.  Even though it is Thanksgiving weekend, I hadn’t planned on writing a post about gratitude and thanksgiving – I was actually planning to talk about a Christmas song as we are heading into that season.  But my plans aren’t always God’s plans and He had another idea…….

I was listening to my church service this morning and the topic was on gratitude toward God and thanking Him for his blessings – for the good blessings and the darker things in our lives.  I was cruising along with the service, nodding at each point, confident I had been thanking God for these areas in my life – in fact, I had thanked God in my prayers last night for these very things – family, faith, friends, daily provision (new job), health and healing, my salvation, and His strength to get through the hard times.  This was the good blessing section of the sermon.

Then the pastor moved on to thanking Him for the darker things — “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”  Ephesians 5:20  and that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  I felt like I was still on track – I mean I had thanked Him for my challenges over the summer after I was laid off and my job was eliminated because I knew He had a greater purpose for me and He would “give me a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).  I knew God was growing my faith and a new depth in my relationship with Him during the challenging time.  So check.

But then whammy!  The pastor started talking about a verse we normally consider during the Lord’s Supper (and typically more around Easter).

luke 22-19 branded

As the pastor talked about this verse and Jesus’ suffering, God broke me right there.  The Holy Spirit touched my soul and I just wept.  When Jesus was talking to His disciples during the Lord’s Supper, He knew the depth of the suffering He was going to be facing and He knew He was going to make that sacrifice to pay the debt of sin that we all carry.  I know this — I have known this for all of my life — but today, with the touch of the Holy Spirit, it took on a fresh significance.

Remember the 3 hours of total darkness that descended when Jesus hung on the cross?   Jesus was in hell — he was separated from His Father and suffering the torments of the damned for us — for me.  He suffered an eternity in hell for our sins — for my sin.  I am so humbled and so grateful that Jesus would do that for me.  I am about to start weeping again as I write this.

There have been many times in my life where I have felt unworthy, unattractive, and even unloved — but Jesus, My Savior, loved me so much that he suffered and died so that I could join God’s family and be with Him for eternity.  “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be  holy and without fault in His eyes.  God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ”  Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT.  

As I was thanking God with tears flowing down my face because of what He gave to me, I thought about a song that I used to sing as part of the worship group.  We don’t sing this song much anymore in the churches I have attended or visited but it sums up what I was feeling and how my heart was overflowing with gratitude.   I hope you can sing along and praise the Lord God for His many blessings.

I wasn’t planning to write a post about thanksgiving — but how could I not write about my thankfulness for Jesus’ sacrifice?  How could I not overflow with gratitude that the God of the universe so loved the world (me) that He gave His one and only Son so that I would not perish but would spend eternity with Him (John 3:16)?

I did weep.  I did feel my salvation again in a fresh way.  I am so thankful for the many blessings God has provided.  My prayer is that you also know Jesus’ salvation and His provision and feel God’s loving touch on your life — in the good times and the bad.

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart…..