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Some thoughts for worship:

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! Psalm 32:11

As the eastern sky begins to glow with the dawn of a new day, I rejoice in you my Lord. The tasks before me today are great. I’m sure there are surprises of varying degrees that await me. But my rejoicing isn’t based on the activities, events or people who cross my paths.

My rejoicing comes from you.

People change. Activities can sap our strength or go wrong. Even when they go well, they end and in their ending leave a void. People, even those closest to me can’t fulfill every corner of my soul. Sometimes, people fail me.

Not only do I rejoice in you, I’m glad because in your eyes I’m righteous. Thank you Lord that righteousness isn’t based on my ability to meet the expectations of you or others. You aren’t surprised by my weakness; others will never be satisfied with who I am. My righteousness is based on Jesus’ blood and forgiveness. Holiness, oh God, isn’t perfection, but knowing how to handle sin when it attacks me.

I sing! I sing to you my Father with words that I often can’t express in notes and words. My song comes from my heart! We fight over what songs should be sung, what instruments should be played and how ‘worship’ should be accomplished.

The best worship, O Lord is the worship of my heart. In the midst of my doubts; in the midst of my fears; when I feel overwhelmed by the tasks before me, my heart sings for I know that you will see me through if I rely on you for my strength.

Today, I rejoice in you. Not because of what lay ahead of me, but because I know you will go with me. My heart sings for I know my allegiance to you will empower me for the day ahead. Amen.

You have turned my sorrow into joyful dancing. No longer am I sad and wearing sackcloth. I thank you from my heart, and I will never stop singing your praises, my Lord and my God. Psalm 30:11-12 (CEV)

A prayer of Praise and Worship:

Heavenly Father,

I come to you today in worship and praise for all you have done for me. I thank you that during those darkest times of my life, those times when I couldn’t feel your presence at all, I know you were there. I praise you for protecting me from my own decisions, and the evil actions of those around me.

I continue to be amazed that you, the Creator God of the universe loves me the way you do; that you have forgiven me of my past, understand the weaknesses that still haunt me, and promise me that my relationship with you will last for eternity because of your Son, Jesus Christ. All, this and because of my position with you, I can call you my daddy.

Like David, I dance before you today. Whether I am in silent worship or a rousing service of praise and worship, my soul dances before you. I can’t contain myself. The praise of my heart finds no words to express themselves. My Spirit will always sing your praise because my worship of you isn’t a time, place or activity. My worship of you is a very part of my essence.

Lord, I am surrounded by many things that still cause me to worry; things that shake my faith at times; actions I take and words I utter that I know are displeasing to you. Forgive me for my weakness. Empower me to praise you during the hard times that still attack me as well as the times of victory and prosperity.

You, O Lord, are my God and I will praise you from the depths of my heart forever and ever. I look forward to the day when my worship is face to face. Amen.

Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2 (NKJV)

To the preacher/speaker it’s the accolades of those who have heard his/her latest presentation. To the author it’s seeing your work in print, or better yet on the best sellers list. To the builder it’s seeing the superstructure rise to the sky as planned. To the parent it’s watching your child receive that diploma (whether it be for a doctorate or kindergarten graduation). To the young bride it’s coming home to flowers and chocolate from her husband for no apparent reason. To some, it’s the beauty of wildlife living free in the wild, for others it’s the euphoria of the successful hunt.

Each of us, in whatever role of life, has those things that bring us joy. Those things that say “all that hard work was worth it.” It’s paid off.” They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that’s true in so many areas of life. I have friends who love to knit and find beauty and fulfillment in a new scarf or handbag or whatever else you can knit. While I admire their work and ability, to be honest I have a hard time finding the beauty in fancy string (sorry knitters).

On the other hand, the things I find beauty in may not be the things you find beauty in. That’s a part of human nature. We each find beauty in those things we have a special connection to.

So what does God find beauty in? Generally, beauty is found in those things closest to our character. God, Jehovah God, by the very nature of his name tells us what he finds beauty in. The name Jehovah, a name so beautiful, so powerful that the Hebrews dare not even say his name, brings us a picture of mercy, love, power, and wisdom. These are the things that make up our heavenly Father, and they are the things that are beauty to him.

The priests in the OT/NT times wore robes. Beautiful, elegant robes to approach Jehovah. Growing up in the church, I saw certain standards that were to be met to approach God. Men wore suits and ties, women wore dresses. Some pastors wore robes.

Today we have moved beyond that in some circles. Shorts and T-shirts are perfectly appropriate for church goers, although some still hold pastors to a different standard of ties/suits or robes. But does God see beauty in those things? I think not. Our Father is far less concerned about how we adorn the exterior than he is how we dress up our hearts.

We come before him this weekend to worship him for his mercy, love, power and wisdom. Does he see those things in us? Let me vent just a little here. Over the years we’ve fought for position over what kind of ‘worship’ we do. Do we follow a lectionary or experience ‘free worship’? Do we hold to traditional worship or move towards contemporary worship. Do we allow pastors to wear shorts and T-shirts in the pulpit or require they dress more ‘suitably’?

The question isn’t how our worship looks to each other. The question is, is our worship beautiful to God. Worship isn’t one day a week, or a segment of our weekly club meetings. Worship is wearing the character of God in such a way that there is no question of who we belong to. That’s true beauty to God. That’s true worship.

PRAYER: Father, here I am to worship you. I confess my worship has been shallow and surface based. Empower me with your spirit to show the world your beauty. In Jesus name, Amen.

Anyone who doesn’t breathe is dead, and faith that doesn’t do anything is just as dead! James 2:26 (CEV)

When the idea of praising God comes to your mind what do you see? A worship service where people are gathered together singing songs of praise? People with raised hands proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ? Praise has been tied into worship in many of our church circles. 

“Okay,” we say to ourselves, “the band is out, the worship leader is starting to sing. It’s time to praise Jesus and all his wonderful works.”

Some view worship as quiet, reserved with hymns and scripture and testimonies. Others say worship has to be loud. “It’s a celebration of all that Jesus has done,” they’ll tell you. They may even quote a few instances in the Bible where the angels are singing praises to God constantly.

But the best praise we can give to God doesn’t involve a single note. Not a single drumbeat or a raised hand. Not a single word being spoken to God. The best praise and worship to God is action. It’s not confined to the walls of some worship center, it’s found in the soup kitchens of the inner city. It’s not played by skilled musicians it’s carried out by people who stop to help a motorist in distress, or a crying child who is lost in the store, or a total stranger that spends their spare time in a hospital or Seniors center or jail ministry.

James tells us that active faith is just as important to the believer as breath is to our body. Without some action on our part our faith is as good as dead. The Apostle Paul gives us another idea of what faith really is: But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NIV)

Did you see that? A pleasing aroma. An aroma that smells so good that you know it must be Jesus. One of the things I love about riding my motorcycle is the aromas. Granted, riding through the country, some of those aromas aren’t so good. But the good ones are great! You can smell the neighbors grilling. You can smell the sweet aroma of campfires or mom’s home cooking. Pleasant to the nose. Enjoyable. Comforting. Peaceful.

What aroma can you praise God with today? Maybe you can finally forgive that person who wronged you. Not for their benefit. Not just for your benefit. But as an act of praise to your heavenly Father.

Maybe you can call an old friend; send a note of encouragement to a teenager in your church; visit a senior citizen center and listen to stories of their past; stop in at the local jail; give the server that just messed up your order a bigger tip.

Songs of worship? Not really. More like acts of praise. Acts of praise that are a sweet aroma to the Father and the very breath of our faith.

Good worship songs are important, but good worship action is what changes lives. Touch someone’s soul with your faith today. Make your thoughts and actions an act of praise to Jesus. It just may bring eternal rewards.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me make my life a life of praise by the way I live among those who need a breath of fresh air in their lives. May the actions I take today be a sweet aroma to you. Amen.

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