Praise and worship has become such an important part of my spiritual journey and that of my wife. It allows us to set aside those daily distractions and bring us back into fellowship with Him who loves us. We go to sleep at night singing praises and wake up with that “peace that surpasses all understanding”. Contemporary Christian songs have become the hot keys to His Word that helps me remain calm in a world full of storms.
THE LORD IS GRACIOUS AND COMPASSIONATE God uses praise and worship to call me back from my worldly ways, my arrogance, my pride, indifference, lack of compassion, and so many other faults I struggle with daily that keep me from receiving the fullness of His love. He is so kind and compassionate in gently reminding me that He lovesme just as I am with all my faults, but that He loves me too much to leave me where I am.
I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS When I joined the church in 1992 I thought I had to learn everything I could about God and the Church as if I was studying for some kind of degree. I was able to satisfy every question that I could think up to use as an excuse to not join, and thanks to a very loving pastor and several others I just came to know that I belonged to the church that Christ founded almost 2000 years ago. This started me on a very safe and comfortable journey, getting involved in all the activities the church had to offer. Very satisfying from a human perspective, but I always seemed to be missing something spiritually.
IF YOU EVER WANT ME, YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND ME There came a time when God said to me, “I am not asking how much you know about Me. I want to ask you, do you really know Me? Do you really want Me?” Imagine the Creator of the universe caring if I wanted Him or not. Well, He did not have to wait long for my answer. I began at that time to get just a taste of what Unconditional Love was and could be. I didn’t know how to express my love for Him, I just knew that I couldn’t go back to just taking Him for granted.
MY STRENGTH IS IN YOU, LORD About a year later I attended a Life in the Spirit seminar put on by some of you incredible servants of God. It excited my soul to finally be open to praise and worship the way I felt God deserved to be praised. The only problem was that some of my friends wanted to start a prayer group, and if that wasn’t scary enough, they wanted me to lead it. I remember the first one we ever had and afterward gathering around a table joining hands and one of my dear brothers in the Lord asked me to pray. I was so scared and I think I even asked him “what should I pray?” What you have to realize is that I had never been comfortable in a group larger than about 3 or 4 people, so the last thing I wanted to do was lead a prayer group. That is when I learned that God does not always call the qualified. In fact he taught me the ‘virtue of zero’. With God less is better and nothing is best. He told me that He can’t fill me up if I am full of myself. He reminded me that I have to let go to receive. I have to give up to get back.
WANTED-PRAISE AND WORSHIP LEADERS Here is God’s want ad for who he wants to lead his people; His worship leader qualifications, if you will.“Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being may boast before God.” 1 Cor. 1;27-29. Well, I am certainly weak, and I am becoming more and more foolish for Christ. He reminds me that I should not be concerned about what people think when I worship. I only have to be pleasing to him. I remember reading about a young king that was dancing before the Ark and his wife ridiculed him. The story goes on to say that she became barren until death. Ouch!
BETTER IS ONE DAY IN YOUR COURTS Praise really takes us to places Satan can no longer go. David certainly knew this. He knew how to get access to God’s property. “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is he who has made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.”Psalm 100. Thanking God will get us through his gates, but praise gets us into the King’s court. You see, Thanking God is wonderful, but praising him is even better. Praise is not linked to what he has done, but to who He is.One day I asked the Lord“ How much praise and worship is enough?”His answer was very clear. “MY CAPACITY TO RECEIVE WORSHIP IS ALWAYS GREATER THAN YOUR ABILITY TO DELIVER IT.”OK, Lord.
I’M LIFTING UP HOLY HANDS. I once did a teaching on lifting our hands to the Lord so that people would understand it is not only acceptable, it is very scriptural. It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument. 1 Tim. 2:8. I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name. Psalm 63:5. Christ tells us to come to Him as little children. What loving parent do you know that would not melt when he or she looks down upon the upraised hands of a child? Well, if we as parents in our imperfect love can be touched by the upraised hands of a child, how much more must our Heavenly Father who is Perfect Love be moved when one of His children reaches out to Him. Sometimes I can feel myself being spiritually lifted up and placed in my daddy’s lap. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:4-6.
CAN YOU HEAR THE SOUNDS OF HEAVEN? Once in a while when I am able to really let go of my distractions, I can hear the angels joining in as we sing songs of praise. One time I looked to heaven (with my spiritual eyes) and saw God on the throne. He was surrounded by a choir of angels. He got off the throne and began to descend to us. One of the angels asked Him; “Lord, why would you leave our perfect worship to be with their imperfect worship?” And the Lord said to the angel, “you have no choice but to worship Me. My people worship Me because they choose to. They love Me because of a choice they have made.” WOW!!! I can understand why the head of the worship angels would become jealous of the love God has for us because He first loved us . I WILL MAGNIFY THE LORD. Our job as worship leaders is to magnify the Lord. I asked myself how are we, the created, supposed to make the Creator of all things bigger than He already is. Well, the answer is, we can’t. We cannot make God bigger than He is, but BY HIS GRACE we can make Him appear bigger to those who have not yet experienced his fullness. We can be like holy binoculars.
LIGHT OF THE WORLD “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others; that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. Matt 5:14-16. The Lord didn’t speak these words just to give us a catchy song title. He is telling each one of us that we are His light to a fallen world. We are each chosen to be Christ to a hurting people. We are to bring glory to God in ALL things.
My dear friends, The Lover of my soul wants to give each of you a message. Jesus wants you to know that your praise is His love coming out of each of you. He will be there every day to pick you up when you fall, wipe the tears from your cheek, and fill you to overflowing with joy. What will it cost you? The price has already been paid. All you have to do is say His name and He will be with you. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.Amen
Jim DeLong Servant of Christ
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