Q: When you think of tools for worship, what comes to mind?
As we move into a more intimate relationship with Jesus, ultimately it is our entire lives that become an expression of our worship, for it is in Him that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). That being said, there are tools we can use within our life worship experience along the way. For the moment I want to draw your attention those that center around the heart:
- A heart that continually seeks Him
- A secret place
- A willingness to yield and give up your rights to yourself (dropped agendas)
When I was in my early twenties I remember sitting on the front steps of my apartment building with a friend. We were talking about all kinds of things, but one question my friend asked stuck with me most: “What do you think we will actually do in heaven when we get there?” She continued “I mean after we’ve had the day of judgement and reviewed everyone’s lives, what next? Do we sit around on cloud nine playing the harp all day?” “I don’t know” was my reply, to which she responded “well it sounds boring to me. I’d much rather stay here and enjoy life on earth as long as I can.”
At that time, I agreed, and looking back now on that conversation it is easy for me to understand how anyone who does not have a closeness or intimacy with Jesus could easily find life here with all its distractions more interesting. Although I knew enough not to want to choose hell instead, sitting around heaven all day did seem rather boring! But I slowly began to discover there are many scripture references that paint pictures of what we will do in heaven and none of it sounds boring.
I fully believe the Lord’s purpose for my life here just continues. Think of this life as a womb, and eternity as what happens once outside of the womb. As a believer, His Kingdom is within me, I am alive in Him NOW and I can begin living that life here, in this moment. Death for the believer is but a mere continuation of that life, and it will just flow from this realm into the next.
Q: How do you think we can develop that intimacy and life here in this realm, on this side of heaven?
Jesus tells us in Mark 12:30-31 that all the laws and commands can be summed up into just two: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.
Q: What does it mean to you, to love God in this manner?
Q: What does that look like to you?
Q: How are you currently going about it?
Step one towards loving Him like that is a heart that continually seeks Him. When we approach God, we must first of all believe that He is, and second believe that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6; Jeremiah 29:13). I’ve heard it said that God does not have favorites, but He does have intimates! This is without question backed up within scripture, as well:
“There’s a private place reserved for the lovers of God, where they sit near him and receive the revelation-secrets of his promises.” – Psalms 25:14, NLT
To diligently seek Him means setting aside our own ideas of who we think He might be or want Him to be, and embracing the truth of who He IS. He is God regardless, even when it means He offends our minds, allows our plans to fail, seemingly doesn’t appear to answer our prayers, or sometimes appears to be the cause of our broken hearts. It is in this process of recognition we begin to understand that He is worthy of our worship of Him not just because of what He gives, but because of who He is. Period.
In Hebrews 11:6 we learn that without faith it is impossible to please God, for we come to God in faith knowing that He is real and that He rewards the faith of those who passionately (or continually) seek Him. Here’s just a few of those rewards:
- A revelation of God’s love
“I will show my love to those who passionately love me. For they will search and search continually until they find me.” Proverbs 8:17
“What joy overwhelms everyone who keeps the ways of God, those who seek him as their heart’s passion!” Psalms 119:2
Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!” 1 Chronicles 16:10 and Psalms 105:3
- The goodness of the Lord
“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:25
- Perfect peace
”You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3
- A deeper understanding of justice
”Justice never makes sense to men devoted to darkness, but those tenderly devoted to the Lord can understand justice perfectly.” Proverbs 28:5
- Finding what you seek
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9
Step two towards loving Him like that is to remove all obstacles. Worship is a gift we give, our offering to the Lord. Matthew 5:23-24 reminds us that we need to leave our gift (or offering) at the altar and first be reconciled (with either God Himself or with others He is laying on our hearts). For our prayers to be effective and for our worship to be meaningful and not superficial, it is important that the obstacles standing in our way be removed. We can do this through the power of the Holy Spirit, who not only guides us, He also gives us strength when we’re afraid of the possible outcome, and He empowers us to walk in the freedom He has given through that forgiveness. How beautiful it is to stand before the Lord with nothing in the way!
A third step towards loving Him like that is to apply that passion and fervency to the other areas of our lives that are mentioned in Mark 12:30-31 (heart, mind, soul, strength – and our neighbors as ourselves). As we turn our hearts towards Him and begin to cultivate the oil of intimacy, it will naturally spill over into those other areas.
- Our Mind – everything which influences our feelings, beliefs, desires, and intentions. We find our thoughts continually turn towards Him and prayer becomes as natural as breathing. We become not only particular but purposeful with what we allow to fill our mind
- Our Soul – Our soul encompasses our mind, our emotion, and our will. But the function of our soul is to express God. In Luke 1:46-47, Mary said that her soul magnified the Lord. To magnify something implies that something hidden is made large, or expressed, for all to see. For more on the differences between soul and spirit, click here
- Our Strength – force, power, and ability. The original Hebrew is from the root word me’ōde, which is also translated as “greatly, exceedingly, and diligently.” This “strength,” also translated into English as “might,” is the effort and passion with which we love God.
- Our Neighbor – (see Luke 10:30-37). The ability to love our neighbor as ourselves comes directly from the oil of intimacy we have cultivated in our love and relationship with God Himself. It is ministry that flows from intimacy.