Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Make it count

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” (John 4:24 MSG)
Prayer is part of a life of worship - worship is part of a life celebrating what God's grace has accomplished on our behalf - trust is at the core of both. Grace makes little difference in a life if there is no trust it will "count" or "last". I have received good gifts on occasion that I just know won't last. It wasn't that they were flawed in anyway, but that they were either designed to be consumed, or they wear out because things don't last forever. Grace is based on what God does - on who he is at the 'core' of his being. That makes grace reliable (trustworthy) since he hasn't failed us even one time! True worship engages our spirit in the pursuit of the truth that God exists, loves us, and has our best in mind in all he allows/does in our life.
To truly 'engage', one must be so attracted to the object of their attention that it is almost impossible to place attention elsewhere. God's desire is that he be in that place in our lives. He wants nothing more than that we 'engage' - being ourselves all the while, not parading any kind of religious facade before him. It is our "true self" God desires - not some 'made up form' of us! This sets the stage for a true exchange of what is on our minds and in our hearts, and for him to heal both! When we worship with engaged minds and hearts, not afraid to be our true selves before him, we find he is more than willing engage with us in exactly the same manner!
Maybe we haven't been very honest with God lately. It is easy to hold back whenever we think we aren't really doing "all that well" in our walk with him. It is easier to tell ourselves we don't "measure up" than it is to really lean into his grace so that we will actually stand as "fully measured and found lacking nothing". Prayer and worship go hand-in-hand because both require a laying down of whatever we think will keep us AWAY from God and then going for it with all the boldness of grace-redeemed kids that brings us CLOSER to him and FURTHER away from whatever has been keeping us apart in the first place! Worship isn't just about raised hands, bended knee, and soft music. It is about a heart-connection that begins in just sharing what is on our minds so that they can be unburdened and able to engage with him fully.
It may have been a very long time since your were your "true self" before anyone, much less God. It isn't that you don't want to be, but that you don't feel you will be accepted if you are. Let me just remind us of a couple of examples of those who weren't afraid to be exactly who they were and just how much God embraced them IN SPITE of their imperfections:
- David, the leader of Israel, committed adultery and then had the husband of the woman murdered when she conceived a child through his sinful action. God didn't reject him, but fully restored him - not because he deserved it, but because he had no way to redeem his misdeeds on his own!
- Rahab, the harlot, took in the spies from Israel late one night, not because she was seeking righteousness by her "good deeds", but because it was the thing she was moved to do. God didn't judge her as "unworthy" of protection when the walls would come down in that city - in fact, he counted her as worthy of the greatest protection in the form of grace!
- Peter, the disciple of Christ, was always going around popping off about this or that, even to the point of chopping of a centurion's ear because he thought Jesus needed defending. God didn't reject Peter for his flaws, but called upon him to be one of the most influential founding fathers of the New Testament church!
Grace calls us inward, to the heart of God. Prayer is our way of unburdening our hearts so we can actually connect in worship with the heart of the one who beckons to us. Just sayin!