Tag Archives: Hillsong

Worship is for God

Say to all your people and your priests, “During these seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and in early autumn, was it really for me that you were fasting? And even now in your holy festivals, aren’t you eating and drinking just to please yourselves?”
Zechariah 7:5b-6, NLT*

True worship is a heart-and-spirit response to the Living God.

Sadly, we can lose focus and make our Christian gatherings about us instead. Congregations can take sides over music styles, service format, formality of prayers, etc.

It becomes all about us – what pleases us, what we deem the best way to express ourselves. It becomes our activity – the routine we follow for personal satisfaction.

But God wants first place in our hearts. When the structure or control of the event means more than He whom we gather to honour, we have a problem.

When we fight amongst ourselves over it, we have a problem.

When we’re there for what we get instead of Who we worship, we have a problem.

We need to worship God privately and corporately. Different people will bring different styles and ways of expression. Our focus must always be on God, not on personal gratification or on how well we’ve “done the job.”

It’s the pure hearts He’s looking for, not the people who are trying to make it all about themselves.

God who is King over all, help me not seek to worship for the experience, although may I experience You. Gathering with other believers, help me not to insist on my preferences in song and structure at the expense of others who know a different way. Join our hearts to desire and to bless You, and unite us in worship that is pleasing to Your heart.

This week’s song is “Lord, I Give You My Heart (This is My Desire),”  from Hillsong.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Hypocrisy vs. Holiness

Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy. The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.
Luke 12:1a-2, NLT*

This is Jesus’ warning to His disciples. He’s just been to dinner at a Pharisee’s house and confronted the religious leaders about their hypocrisy (Luke 11:37-54). Perhaps some of the disciples were there too.

Jesus often called out the Pharisees for their showy ways and love of public admiration, and for the burdens they laid on the people performance-wise. One thing He said at the dinner was this:

What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. (Luke 11:42, NLT*)

Now He’s warning His disciples about the Pharisees’ contagious example. The point I’m taking for myself and this generation of the church, which has its own stain of hypocrisy, is this: Do the outward acts, the tithing and good deeds (The Book of James has a lot to say about that) but “do not neglect the more important things.”

What’s more important than doing? Being. (click to tweet that)

Being right with God. Close to Him, my spirit lined up with His, listening to Him and obeying. Worshipping. Living confidently in His care.

If inward purity is important – and it is – and if we’re cultivating “the more important thing” of a close relationship with God, it’s bound to show in our character and in our actions.

Not that we’ll be perfect. When we slip up, it may look like hypocrisy, but it won’t be. It’ll be a humbling opportunity to be open with the people around us about our – and everyone’s – need to rely fully on God’s grace, forgiveness and strength. We can’t allow fear of failure to keep us from shining for God, but we must be careful to shine to please an audience of One. Not for the people around us.

God our Father, You call us to grow in the image of Your Son, whose righteousness grew from His relationship with You. The outward life is easier for us to measure, but You see our hearts. Call us deeper in faith, love and obedience, purify and renovate us within, so that what comes out of us will be pleasing to You.

May God help us to pray this song back to Him and to really mean it: “Refiner’s Fire,” sung here by Hillsong.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Fixing Our Thoughts

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8b-9, NLT*

It’s so easy to dwell on the negatives. The hurts or injustices. Sometimes we do it because we’re sulking or just plain cantankerous, but I think it’s often out of fear (what’s this world coming to?) or discouragement. After all, we see so much, so often; it wears us down.

The Christians in Philippi were experiencing persecution, and their beloved Paul was in prison. His letter encouraged them to keep focused on Jesus as their help and their hope. With Christ as their anchor, they needed to keep their broader focus positive and filled with gratitude.

This verse doesn’t ask us to deny the bad things in our lives. The context of Paul’s letter makes that clear. But after acknowledging the circumstances, bringing our needs to God in grateful prayer that He cares and will help (Philippians 4:6) we’re not to stay focused on the needs or the waiting.

We’re to cultivate an awareness of the good, in the middle of the struggle. If we focus on the darkness, it swells to fill our vision. If we focus on the light, with our Saviour at its centre, the darkness reduces to its true size. A size which is smaller than God.

Mighty and compassionate God, protect and deliver us from spirits of discouragement, despair and hopelessness. Remind us that You are greater than our hardships, and that Your creative grace can take even the worst and bring something positive from it. Doubt would tell us that’s impossible, so please help our unbelief.

Hillsong’s song, “The Potter’s Hand,” is a lovely way to refocus our thoughts.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Will We Wait?

When the people realized that Moses was taking forever in coming down off the mountain, they rallied around Aaron and said, “Do something. Make gods for us who will lead us. That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt—who knows what’s happened to him?”
Exodus 32:1, MSG*

Moses has gone up on Mount Sinai in personal conversation with God. The same God who so dramatically brought the people out of their slavery in Egypt. The same God whose thunder and lightning from the mountain made them plead for Him to talk only to Moses—not to address them directly.

On the mountain (chapters 25-31), God has been revealing to Moses how the people are to live, how they can remain in His holy presence.

Below the mountain, the people make this ridiculous request to Aaron—and he goes along with them.

It makes me sad. They’re so close to intimacy with God and they throw it away, unknowing.

Are we any different?

As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. He can be quiet, though, and it’s easy to forget He’s there.

We may not go looking for other gods, but don’t we chase other answers to our problems, other advice, when maybe if we waited for God’s timing and His communication we’d be far better off?

He is our Good Shepherd, after all.

Holy and mighty God, You keep reaching out to draw us to Yourself, and we get distracted and pursue everything but You. Thank You for Your grace that forgives, and that keeps calling us. Make us people after Your own heart, quiet and able to wait for Your voice. Let us truly live with You and not just go through the motions.

This is new-to-me music from Hillsong: Eagle’s Wings.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Quiet Times with God

My child, eat honey, for it is good,
and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste.
In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul.
If you find it, you will have a bright future,
and your hopes will not be cut short.
Proverbs 24:13-14, NLT*

I love the invitations to wisdom we find in the Bible, and how they’re free to those who will seek God and draw near to Him. They’re not conditional on our latent intelligence or on our spotless pasts, but they’re based on God and His love for us.

In these verses we’re encouraged to look for wisdom rather than waiting for it to magically appear. The honeycomb illustration implies an eager, childlike search for something we know we’ll like.

Where do we find wisdom?

From God, and through His Book. We need a daily quiet time with Him, to read, pray, listen and learn. It’s not enough to know about Him. We need to know Him.

Daily quiet times are hard habits to get into, and easy habits to break. There’s no point getting legalistic over them or guilting ourselves, but if we can find even five minutes to get alone with God, we’ll be the richer for it.

Morning, after lunch, bedtime, whenever works best for you. Consistency helps, but some schedules won’t allow it. I heard of one person who linked his devotional moments to his morning coffee time—something he looked forward to and something he made sure happened each day.

Often we don’t have time to stop and pray, but I find as I get myself out of bed a bit earlier for my quiet time, the rest of the day goes smoother. We can’t bribe God into giving us pleasant days, but if we’re aligned with His Spirit, we’re better prepared to face what comes.

Father God, what a privilege it is to spend time with You. It’s more than our minds can grasp, but You invite us and You enjoy us. Help us make this a priority in our daily lives, not as an obligation but as a respite, a delight, and a time of refreshing and nourishing. Thank You for Your grace and Your love for us.

A good, soul-quieting song is “Draw Me Close to You,” sung here by Hillsong.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.