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Worship through Mourning

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

© DepositPhotos/efired

© DepositPhotos/efired

The past few days I’ve been feeling a little heavy-hearted. We have all the regular holiday festivities going on: shopping, Christmas shows, gatherings, food, and exchanging of gifts. We’ve been sharing memories and making new ones laughing through most of it.

So why the heavy heart?

As I think about Jesus being born in the stable, I can’t help but remember that He was born to die. He had one purpose: To make God known and provide a way for us to have eternal life with Him. That required His death.

There are a couple of questions that come to mind as I work through this feeling knowing that there is ultimate and complete joy because of all Jesus endured.

  1. If Christmas is all about the birth of a baby, why think about death?
  2. If life in Christ is all about joy, how can we worship when we mourn?

It’s easy to gloss over His death, especially at Christmas. “Yeah, He died, but He rose again and we have life. Right now, He’s just a baby. Let’s celebrate!” But…

Jesus was not born so He, God, could visit us human beings. The reality is that Jesus was born because we were in desperate need of a Savior. Jesus was born to die so we could live.

Death is the consequence of sin even for Jesus. The difference is that it wasn’t His sin that brought about His death, it was ours. The corruption and wicked desires of man’s heart nailed Him to the tree.

We mourn, experience godly sorrow, when we recognize our sin and need for Jesus. My sin put him on that cross as much as the sin of those living at the time, as much as those who were yelling, “Crucify him!”

Understand this as well: mourning is not the same as sadness. I equate the feeling of sadness to the feeling of happiness. It can change based on our circumstances. Where mourning is a response to godly sorrow, a true understanding of the sin that separates us from God.

What do we learn about God through the death of Jesus? Sin is serious and it’s real. Sin as no place in God’s kingdom. At the same time, there is no length He won’t go to bring you home. There is nothing He won’t sacrifice so you can live in peace and freedom with Him. He is good because not even death can separate us from His love when we trust Him, choosing to turn from our sin.

Our worship of God is complete not just because we are happy that God is good. Our worship is complete because our joy is increased when we recognize the goodness of God toward us even in our sinfulness. We can more fully experience His joy when we allow ourselves to more deeply mourn.

Something to Consider…

How does knowing Jesus was born to die affect how you view the Christmas season: activities, events, and your own worship during this time?

Do you find it natural or difficult to allow yourself to recognize your own sinfulness? Are you able to process the truth of your sin or do you tend to ignore or deny the seriousness of it? If this is hard for you, find a trusted Christian friend you can talk with. You don’t necessarily need to share all of the details of your sin, but share your struggle and let God’s love and grace be experienced along with His truth.

How does knowing Jesus was born for not just your sins, but for the sins of the whole world affect how, during the Christmas season, you interact with others who may not know Jesus?

 

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason available now!

What new thing is  God calling you to do out of worship for Him? How is God growing you in your relationship with Him? Is God asking you to sacrifice to serve Him and others in a greater way? Do you celebrate the fullness of all God has done when you come to Him in worship? Christmas is the beginning of God’s plan coming to fruition. It may not be realized until Jesus dies on the cross and is raised to new life, but today we have the gift of a baby. God has come to dwell with and save His people.

PCH Front Cover

 

 

 

Visit www.marikeisling.com to check out other studies available.

The Feet of Jesus

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!” Psalm 95:6 (ESV)

© DepositPhotos/ Anetlanda

© DepositPhotos/ Anetlanda

As I think of kneeling before the LORD, I can’t help but think of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. There are days when I could sit and read, pray and listen all day. And I believe there are times of rest when this is just what needs to take place. Our spirits need to be renewed and refreshed, reminded and strengthened in the truth that God is still with us, God is still at work in our world, our workplace, and our homes.

But the feet of Jesus don’t sit still for long. Sometimes our worship and our bowing down takes place in our movement, not our stillness.

There were people who came to Jesus. There were those who sought Him out to hear His teaching such as Nicodemus and others who had real needs they hoped He could meet like the official with the son who was ill. There were also those who listened to trap Him such as the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.

And then there were those He met as He moved. There was the Samaritan woman at the well and the lame man at the pool. He came upon the man born blind and ten men with leprosy. He showed up on the road to Emmaus and the road to Damascus.

Jesus life was not just one of teaching with words and lessons, it was one of action. His life was an example for us to follow.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:3-5, 12-17

We like to find loopholes in these types of situations and lessons. “In our culture, we wear shoes so we don’t need to wash feet anymore.” Or maybe this one, “I’ll pay for them to have a pedicure.” Our feet don’t move and our hands don’t get dirty, wet or touched.

You don’t have to travel out of your city to come across people with needs in their lives. You don’t need to get on your hands and knees to comfort, console or care about the people you meet. You just need to show up. You need to be willing to love and encourage. Compassion from a distance is easy, but get up close and personal and it can become very uncomfortable.

When we seek God we will become uncomfortable. We will be stretched beyond our natural desires and our human understanding. Our character will be changed, transformed and made new.

I’ve realized lately that I bow down and worship my time. I covet every minute and in the process waste too much of it. I sit at the feet of a false idol. After all, what is time when eternity is waiting?

I want my worship to be active and passionate. I want to kneel at the feet of Jesus by getting up and going out. I want to see people as I’m “on my way” to wherever I think it is I need to be. It’s easy to get caught up in my own plans, so this will take intention. This will require an awareness of my surroundings. As I keep my eyes focused on Jesus, I trust Him to show me what He sees and help me respond with His heart.

I want my life to be a reflection of His example. That’s my hope for this time.

Something to Consider…

What do you worship? What stops you and causes you to “bow down”? We don’t have to let these things guilt us or control us. When we understand that we are giving ourselves to something less than God, we can make different decisions and move forward grateful and encouraged.

How is God calling you to sit at or move with His feet? Is there a next step that you are struggling to take? How can knowing Jesus has been there and done that help you trust Him as you move out of your comfort zone?

 

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason available now!

What new thing is  God calling you to do out of worship for Him? How is God growing you in your relationship with Him? Is God asking you to sacrifice to serve Him and others in a greater way? Do you celebrate the fullness of all God has done when you come to Him in worship? Christmas is the beginning of God’s plan coming to fruition. It may not be realized until Jesus dies on the cross and is raised to new life, but today we have the gift of a baby. God has come to dwell with and save His people.

PCH Front Cover

 

 

 

Visit www.marikeisling.com to check out other studies available.