Tag Archive | Worship

An Easter Reflection

© Depositphotos/ kevron2002

“It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.” Luke 23:54

Isn’t it interesting that the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is the Sabbath?

It’s Saturday, a holy day. For the Jewish people, Saturday is the Sabbath. People go to the temple and there is no work done.

Jesus is dead. He’s been crucified. Just a few short days before, people were shouting His praise on Palm Sunday. He was their King come to save them. And over the course of the week, everything changed.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday everyone is going about their business. The Passover is coming and there are preparations to be made. Jesus is still teaching and His messages are bold and convicting. He appears steadfast and confident, unwavering in His purpose. Of course He’ll succeed. The Jewish people will soon be freed from their oppression.

Thursday comes and Jesus is betrayed and arrested.

“Wait. What’s going on? Who’s been arrested? How can that be? I thought…”

By Friday, Jesus has been convicted. He’s nailed to a cross to die a criminals death.

“NO! This can’t be happening! He was supposed to become King. He was supposed to save us. How do we move forward? How can we move forward? Everything we had hoped for is gone. Is there even any hope left?”

Saturday comes and so does the Sabbath. Nothing can be done. And even if something could be done, they can’t do it. The law doesn’t allow it. All they could do was seek God, go to the temple and wait.

Did the disciples of Jesus go to the temple? Or did they remain in the upper room, quiet and afraid, uncertain of their fate should they show their faces?

Regardless of where we are or where we go, one of the most holy things we can do is seek God and wait on Him. When everything is falling apart around us, or seems to be, we seek and wait. We pray and trust.

On Friday, Jesus said, “It is finished.” And He’s right. There’s nothing left for us to do, but rest.

And then Sunday comes. Answered prayer. Truth revealed. A miracle. Hope is restored in a way even better than we could have imagined!

Too often though, we want to skip from Friday to Sunday. We want instant answers and results. And while the truth of what God does on Sunday solidifies the foundation of our faith, our faith is grown on Saturday. And sometimes, Saturday lasts a long time, much longer than we like.

This is a constant pattern in our life. Everything is great. We see a bright future ahead so we go about our business assuming we know how it will all work out. Then, out of no where, we are blindsided. We don’t know what’s going on, how it happened, or what to do next. Time passes. We do what we can feeling like it’s not enough, feeling like there’s no end in sight. And then, God breaks in. Something changes and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is renewed.

As Christians, this week, Holy week, is our state of living all wrapped up in each day. We know Jesus is King and has come to save us. We go about our business in this world steadfast and confident, unwavering in our faith, boldly teaching and preaching through the power of Christ in us. We prepare because the hope on which we wait could come at any time. And when times get tough, almost unbearable and there’s nothing else we can do, we seek God. We rest in Him. We pray, trust and wait.

Sometimes the weight of God’s word, His glory revealed through His word is heavy. I can’t speak. I can’t think. I can’t process. In the presence of the Lord, Isaiah recognized His sinfulness. He thought for sure He was done for. Daniel lost all strength and felt completely helpless. He trembled in the presence of God’s messenger. Saul, on the road to Damascus, fell to the ground at the flash of light and the voice of Jesus. Even the Apostle John, who had walked with Jesus on earth, fell as though dead in the presence of the transfigured Christ.

This is my struggle: to get the words out when the weight of God’s word overwhelms me. It is so good, and it is so, so important. I had meant to post this going into Good Friday. Maybe it’s good that I didn’t. Maybe it’s good that we don’t just get on with our day once Easter is over, the dishes are done and the crowds have gone home. Every day is Holy. Every day is an opportunity to consider and reflect on what “Sunday” will bring.

Something to Consider…

As you think about the different days of Holy week, where do you find you spend the most time?

  • Are you looking to the leaders of the world to solve your problems?
  • Are you going about your business assuming you know how things will turn out?
  • Are you feeling like your unsure of what’s happening in your life, like you’re trying to hold on, but are losing control?
  • Maybe you’ve lost hope and feel defeated. You don’t see a way out.
  • Maybe you’re unsure of what to do next, where to go or what to do.

Jesus is returning. A new Sunday is coming. How does this truth affect how you spend your time? How does this truth change the day in which you live?

May you know and believe, seek and trust, while finding your rest in Jesus. We can live every day in the reality and truth of Easter.

 

Be Transformed

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

Woman thinkingWhat is the pattern of this world?

Ecclesiastes says there’s nothing new under the sun. Everything that has happened will happen again … and again … and again. We think we’ve learned our lessons from life and death, war and peace, and yet we find ourselves repeating our mistakes. Maybe a generation effectively passes on to another what they’ve learned, but then a generation or two later, it starts all over again. Why?

The corruption of the world caused by evil desires. Or, put more simply, sin: Disobedience to God.

So Paul says, rather than be disobedient to God, let Him transform your thinking. Let Him renew your mind. Let Him show you and teach you a different way to live. What does this way of life look like? Here are three ways of living that will change as your thinking changes.

1. Sacrificial Living

When we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, we nail to the cross our old ways, that old self we talked about in my previous post. We let Him weed out the evil and deceitful desires that fill up our hearts and minds. Some of these weeds have long and deep roots. The deeper He goes, the more painful it can be, but when we allow Him space to work, the soil of our hearts moves more freely. We give up what we want for what God wants for us. We let Him remove the bandages we’ve put in place to protect ourselves and let Him heal the wounds and broken places within us. We deceive ourselves when we allow our desires to draw us away from God’s protection and provision. And while we seek Him, sacrificing anything that gets in the way of our relationship with Him, we will find that He gives us the good and perfect desires of our hearts because He’s the one who has put them there.

2. Holy Living

It seems that as the world is more and more connected, this is harder and harder to do unless we completely unplug. As we consecrate ourselves to the Lord, we are not only separating ourselves from the world, we are being set apart for His work. And more often than not, His work will require us to be in the world. As we are taught how to be in the world, but not of it, we are learning to test or discern what is God’s perfect will, putting into practice what we’re learning. God grows in us the desire to live His way, not our own nor the world’s.

3. Worshipful Living

In Matthew 22, Jesus is questioned about paying taxes. Jesus asks whose image is on the coin. It was the image of Caesar. Jesus says, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) What is meant by (give back) to God what is God’s? Whose image is on your heart? What do you hold precious in your heart? Everything you do begins and ends with worship to Jesus Christ when it’s His image, His Spirit that resides in your heart. And our worship is true and proper when we live sacrificially for God and His will. We don’t grumble and complain about what we don’t have or can’t do, but rather rejoice that we are able to serve God’s purpose in this world wherever we are. We get to give back to God our gratitude through a lifestyle of worship.

If in Christ we are whole and complete, then every part of our lives must be grounded in and moving the same direction with the same purpose. When we hold back even one part of ourselves, our whole self is affected.

Something to Consider…

In what ways has your thinking been renewed in regard to the ways of the world and the ways of God?

Where in your life are you challenged the most when you think of living a sacrificial, holy and worshipful life? In what areas are you encouraged and joyful?

As new creations, possessing everything we need to live God’s way, we need to remember there is a process of learning, growing and choosing Him over all other things.

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.

Jesus: The Real Deal

704630_443730492347160_1248831165_oI just saw an article titled Santa Claus: The Great Imposter. And while I didn’t read it, the title brought me to Scripture within seconds. As my husband knows, one thought leads to another, and to another and so on. So here goes…

  1. Who is he a substitute for? Jesus
  1. Why would he be a substitute for Him? Because people believe they know the story of a real man who did kind and thoughtful things for children (people) and they want to be like him. We can put him on a pedestal as a great example. And while we can say that in a way Jesus did the same thing, He (Jesus) requires something of us that Santa Claus (St Nicholas) doesn’t: Submission. We can do things that are like Santa Claus such as give gifts and be jolly, but he doesn’t set a standard of how we are to live our lives otherwise. Fun is as far as Christmas needs to go.
  1. Very quickly, my mind was brought to Scripture.

“What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” 1 Corinthians 1:12-13

“For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings?  What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.” 1 Corinthians 3:4-5

When we choose to imitate Santa Claus, whether we believe he was a real human being or an ideal picture of a generous grandfather figure, we imitate a man who was a mere human being or even less, a thought or idea. We may be imitating someone who was possibly a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, but still just a person like you and me. In truth, we should be worshiping, celebrating and imitating the true Lord and Savior. This means our service does not stop at a Christmas gift or meal for the sake of being nice and thoughtful, but continues through to the purpose and message of the Gospel.

God gave us the greatest gift ever given: His Son Jesus Christ who came to die for our sins and be raised to new life, so that we could be made right with God and enjoy eternal life with Him. At Christmas, we celebrate the beginning of God’s plan of reconciliation becoming a reality. We worship Him and Him alone. We submit our lives to Him out of reverence for who He is, not just the nice things He’s done.

God has been growing me through the season and celebration of Christmas. Every year I remove more of the Santa figures and ornaments I’ve had in our house. Some are fancy, some are sweet. Some have fond memories tied to them as gifts from various people in my life. It can be hard to remove things that seem harmless on the surface, maybe even good. But when I make someone else the center of a celebration that belongs to God, I set up a false idol – an imposter. Jesus Christ is the real deal and is worthy of my sole attention.

Who will you celebrate this Christmas? Where will your attention be focused? Will you settle for and spread the lies of an imposter or will you rejoice in and share the truth of the Savior? Christmas focused on Santa falls short of the glory of God shown through His Son, Jesus Christ.

 

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

PCH Front Cover

It’s Saturday. Now what?

SCAN0104“It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and watched how Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb. Then they went to prepare some sweet-smelling spices for his burial. But on the Sabbath they rested, as the Law of Moses commands. Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus, and they did not know what to think. Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, ‘Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? Jesus isn’t here! He has been raised from death.'” Luke 23:54-24:6a (CEV)

What happened on Saturday?

None of the Gospels address the activities of the disciples on Saturday except to say it was the Sabbath and they rested. Jesus Christ, the King of kings, Messiah, the Christ, Son of God is dead. And we have no idea what they did except that they rested.

How? Why? Because God commanded it? Really?

He was supposed to redeem His people, conquer the enemy and set up a new kingdom. Peace is supposed to reign and justice prevail. Everything they had put their hope in was gone. And not just gone, but dead and gone. In the ground … dead, buried and gone. Behind a rock and sealed gone. What happened?

The unexpected happened.

We’ve all been there at some point at some time. Everything is moving forward, life is good, and your best laid plans are coming to fruition.

And then?

The unexpected.

Everything just … stops.

We do get a glimpse of what those who didn’t follow Jesus were doing.

“The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, ‘Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.’ Pilate replied, ‘Take guards and secure it the best you can.’ So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.”  Matthew 27:62-66 (NLT)

Those who wanted Jesus dead also wanted to make sure He stayed dead. The disciples rested and the religious leaders continued to plot.

We must each decide what to do when Saturday comes because you can’t get to Sunday without Saturday. You can’t have victory without a battle. You can’t overcome without being under; without being down-and-out. Your response on Saturday will depend on what you believe, who you follow and in what or who you put your hope.

Something to Consider…

It’s Friday: This is the day of preparation. Everything had been going well up to this point. How could things go so wrong? Are you doing what you need to today so you  can be ready for tomorrow? Are you prepared for the One who was, is and is to come? Friday’s happen. Turning points come. And as hard as it is to believe, Friday’s end and it may not be how you expect. Will you be ready? Jesus is available now to help you prepare for tomorrow.

It’s Saturday: The unexpected has come. You wake up and it’s still true. You can’t believe it. What now? What’s next? In this time of uncertainty, confusion, and pain – rest. Worship and praise your Father in heaven. He knows what has been and what will be. Trust Him now.

It’s Sunday: The sun has risen and so has our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. A new day has come and Jesus has redeemed. He makes all things new bringing life and hope to our seemingly dead dreams. His light makes a shadow out of all that was before. Expect Sunday to come! Jesus is risen!