How does one live an abundant, joy-filled life? Do we understand that each of us was created uniquely to impact the world around us? Have we discovered what brings us satisfaction and freedom? Life is a journey that is meant to help us discover the treasure God has placed within us to bring joy to our lives and the lives of others. As I contemplated these questions I was reminded of a story or allegory written by Richard Bach called "Jonathan Livingston Seagull." Jonathan, the gull, found himself caught in a dilemma. His flock spent their days searching and fighting for food, a lifestyle he found completely unsatisfying. However, he discovered, more than anything else, he loved to fly. His passion for flying grew as he perfected his techniques and became an expert at it. Jonathan was so thrilled with flying that he told his friends he discovered "there's a reason to life." This alienated him from his friends, so they cast him out of the flock.
Since Jonathan could not continue in the meaningless gull lifestyle of conformity and limitations, he returned to his new-found love of flying, practicing until he reached the pinnacle of his abilities. Just as he thought he could go no higher, he met two gulls who took him to a "higher plane of existence." Here a society of gulls spent time perfecting their flying skills. He was told, "You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way." Jonathan fine-tuned his own flight skills, learning much from his primary teacher. As his expertise increased, so did his desire to return to earth and share what he had learned with other gulls. His teacher explained that there is a key to success: "Keep working on love." Jonathan could not be free without the ability to forgive and shed any hurt feelings. Before he could help others, he had to be released from the bondage of unforgiveness. A new Jonathan Livingstone Seagull returned to earth and found other gulls who desired to know the freedom he was experiencing. He became a coach and mentor as he taught the fine skills of flying and helped others have a sense of their own freedom.
How does this story speak to the family of faith in God? Jonathan understood that there was something different inside of him that he needed to pursue. It became his passion. We too have unique qualities in our lives that are meant to help us live the abundant life, full of joy and freedom. Jesus spoke to his followers about this lifestyle. I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!" (John 10:10 -TPT) Only as we live out our purpose will we be able to soar. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31 - KJ)
As Jonathan lived the way he was intended to live, he punctured the ceiling that held him down and lived in a place with like-minded gulls. The apostle Paul reminds us of our true home. "So, you are not foreigners or guests, but rather you are children of the city of the holy ones, with all the rights as family members of the household of God." (Ephesians 2:19 - TPT) We live as aliens in this world; our home is in heaven. It is up to us to live accordingly.
Joshua Silverberg, musician and producer, once said, "God has created us uniquely to touch His heart.
We have a unique worship to give Him." I would like to suggest that one of the ways we touch Him is when we use what He has placed within us to help others grow in their freedom and identity. This was the outcome of Jonathan's journey to live the way he was created to live, soaring in the heavenlies. May I encourage you to ask yourself, "What makes my heart sing?" In discovering this, you will find the pathway to follow that will bring you joy and freedom.
Cheshvan is the eighth month on the Hebrew calendar, eight being the number of new beginnings and revelation. It is associated with the Hebrew letter NUN, symbolizing Messiah. Since there are no holidays during this month, the Jews say it is reserved for the time of Messiah. Messiah, Yeshua hamashiach, came to bring heaven to earth and demonstrate a new way to live that is counter to the ways of the world. Love begins with God. He was so grieved by the way that sin separates us from Him that He sent is Son to breach the gap. "For this is how much God loved the world—He gave His one and only Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes Him will never perish but experience everlasting life." (John 3:16 - TPT)
Our Messiah, Jesus, demonstrated the way of love during the three years of His ministry whether it was by touching a leper to heal him, raising someone from the dead, feeding the hungry or teaching about the way of His Father. He always pointed others to the love of Father God. Here is what Jesus said: "You heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven...If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" (Matthew 5:43-47) "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." (Luke 6:27-28)
The October issue of "Charisma" Magazine features a story about some people who take the message of the love of God seriously. They travel to some of the most dangerous areas of the world to reach out to those who have followed radical Islam. Sean Feucht, a Bethel worship artist and founder of "Light a Candle" Ministry, uses his music to break into dark territory and shift the spiritual atmosphere. He has taken his songs into the war-torn regions of Iraq where refugees huddle in fear and terror. He brings songs of hope and redemption. In love, he prays for them so that they see the manifestations of the love of Jesus.
A gentleman who had his own life transformed by the love of Jesus went from being "a hardened Marine into a devoted missionary." Victor Marx says that the love of Jesus transformed his heart and "his hatred for the Arab people turned into passionate love." He goes undercover into the heart of ISIS territory and meets high-ranking Muslim leaders and their families. He goes into camps in Syria that house the wives and children of ISIS members. He quotes a staggering figure of 64,000 wives and children in one camp.
Marx believes in the strategy of Jesus to win many people to the Lord: "Love your enemies." Here is how Marx sees it: "Politically, we're limited. Militarily, we can't kill an ideology...But what will work is love." As Christians operate from a place of love, hearts are changed. Victor Marx shows himself as a safe and loving individual so that when Muslims he has befriended begin to ask him questions, he will have credibility with them.
Believers must be set apart as those who demonstrate unconditional love. "Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:8) We must carry the love of Christ wherever we go and commit to praying for those who boldly go into enemy territory to bring God's transforming love to the world. For those who ask, "How can I love my enemies and those who persecute me?"—Paul has some advice. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Last year I placed a large pumpkin on the ground by my front door. After only two weeks the bottom of that pumpkin rotted. My husband attempted to pick it up and carry it to the dumpster in our community. Bad idea!! The bottom fell out of the pumpkin and rancid, smelly liquid and moldy seeds poured out all over the sidewalk. It took us a long time to clean up the mess. The rotten smell remained for quite some time even though we poured boiling water on the residue. Knowing that God always has spiritual lessons for me from natural experiences, I asked Him what I could learn from this event. This is what I heard: "That is how the demonic realm works. It weakens the foundation and transforms the soul into a smelly mess. Then it impacts everything it touches." So true!
Everything that is established on the earth has a foundation. Frequently we think of a foundation in conjunction with a building. It is the first layer of a structure that provides a stable base for the rest of it. In Matthew 7:24-25 Jesus says His words that are put into practice are like a wise man who built his house on a rock foundation (bedrock). His house would not be shaken because its foundation is on the rock. Scripture tells us that the earth rests on a foundation. The power of the Lord is revealed in Psalm 18:15 and 2 Samuel 22:16. He exposed the foundations of the earth with a "blast of breath from His nostrils." According to Psalm 104:5, "He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved."
As Christians, we have a foundation in the Lord, as stated in 1 Corinthians 3:11. "For No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." We also are building on a foundation that has been established through those in the faith who have gone before us. "...You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the chief cornerstone." (Ephesians 2:19-20)
Our nation was built on a foundation of Christian principles. But what has happened to us? What are the ramifications of a crumbling foundation? What is built on top of a crumbling foundation also crumbles. Foundations are laid with great care. They must be plumb and sturdy. Our forefathers, when writing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, used the Bible as a model in writing them. They knew that if we built upon the bedrock of Scripture we could not be shaken, and we would prosper. Here is what the Lord told the people of Israel: "Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess." (Deuteronomy 5:33)
It is essential that Christians only build upon the foundation of the truth of God's Word. Otherwise, we will be pulled into the ways of evil and impact the world around us in a negative way. It is my belief that the soul of our nation is soiled and sick because we are not building upon our original foundations. As individuals, we are warned by the apostle Paul to put on "the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes we may be able to stand our ground..." (Ephesians 6:13)
1 Thessalonians 5:22-23 is an admonition to all of us. "Avoid every kind of evil. May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." How do we do this? Stay on the foundation that was laid for us by the Lord. "See I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a pure foundation. The one who trusts will never be dismayed." (Isaiah 28:16)
The Lord's appointed festivals are first described in the book of Leviticus, Chapter 23. The Feast of Tabernacles is particularly unique because it last for seven days and God's people are instructed to live in temporary shelters for seven days as their ancestors did when they were brought out of Egypt. Leviticus 23:40 tells us, “On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees--from palms, willows and other leafy trees--and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days." Here is how Deuteronomy 16:15 describes this joyful festival: "For seven days celebrate the festival...for the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete." Reading through the Old Testament, one can see how faithful the Israelites were to follow the law when it came to celebrating the feasts. The exiles who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple settled in and "began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it..." (Ezra 3:2) In the seventh month they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. (Verse 4)
In my opinion, the most interesting reading concerning the Festival of Tabernacles occurs in Nehemiah 8:14-16. "They found written in the Law...that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month...'Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees to make temporary shelters'--as it is written." The unique part of the festival celebration with Nehemiah is that they cut branches from the olive tree and the wild olive tree. What a picture of the apostle Paul's dissertation on grafted in branches!
Israel is frequently referred to as an olive tree. The people of Israel are the branches. Paul recognized that many of his people did not receive the good news of Jesus as Lord. (Romans 10:16) Because of it, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear..." (Romans 11:8) "Because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” (Romans 11:11) Paul uses an analogy, describing the Jews as olive branches and the Gentiles as wild olive branches. "If some of the branches have been broken off, (Jews) and you, though a wild olive shoot, (Gentiles) have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourselves to be superior to those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you." (Romans 11:17-18)
One day the olive tree will flourish with the natural branches and the wild branches both grafted in. We read in Ephesians 2:15 that God's "purpose was to create in Himself one new man..." Jew and Gentile will live together in peace, both reconciled to God. As the Jews in Nehemiah's day laid the branches of the olive tree and wild olive tree on the top of their temporary shelters they would have been looking up at a picture of the future. One day Jew and Gentile together will worship the King of kings during this festival. (Zechariah 14:16-19) When and how this will come to pass is unclear. What is clear is that we will be worshiping The Lamb together in joyful celebration. What a day this will be!
The journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness for 40 years is recalled during the celebration called The Feast of Tabernacles, Ingathering or Sukkot. That celebration will begin at sundown tonight and is the greatest harvest feast of the year. The Jews build and dwell in temporary shelters called sukkahs or booths. The tops are open and covered with tree branches that allow those dwelling in the booths to see some of the stars in the sky. For seven days they have their meals or sleep in these temporary shelters. The Jews are taught to pray that God will send rain for the coming year since none falls between May and October.
In Israel, the borders of the Sea of Galilee have shrunk because of drought. Much of the land is desert and, its inhabitants are keenly aware of their need for water. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles the Temple priests performed the Water Libation or Pouring Ceremony. During this time, impassioned prayers were lifted to God by worshipers for abundant rain. It is significant that water was collected from the Pools of Siloam (meaning sent or sending forth) and brought to the Temple in Jerusalem where the priest would pour it out, along with wine, onto the altar. While this pouring was taking place, the people and the priests sang Isaiah 12:3-6. "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say, 'Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.'"
For those of us who know Jesus as Savior, this Scripture is particularly meaningful. Yeshua is the Hebrew word for salvation. For us to have the abundant life that He offers we must draw deeply from the "wells of Salvation." The wells of Yeshua will never run dry. In fact, here is what He proclaimed: "Then on the most important day of the feast, the last day, Jesus stood and shouted out to the crowds--'All you thirsty ones, come to me! Come to me and drink! Believe in me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says!' Jesus was prophesying about the Holy Spirit that believers were being prepared to receive..." (John 7:37-39 - TPT)
Just as the Israelis cry for the physical rain, we must use this season to cry out for the rains of the Spirit to saturate us. Yeshua has already poured out blood and water from His side as He hung on the Cross. He was poured out like a drink offering so that we could have eternal life. He wants us to draw deeply from Him for deep calls unto deep.
The Psalmist cries out, "May the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14) We must agree with this cry as "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." (Psalm 18:21) What we verbally agree with will manifest. We want to agree with the Kingdom of God with our mouths and should be especially aware of this in the season that we are in. All the prophets seem to be pointing out that we are in a new decade on the Hebrew calendar (5780) and likewise on the Greek calendar when the year 2020 begins. The Hebrew word "Pey" is representative of the number 80 and is a picture of a mouth. Prophets tell us that this is the decade of speaking and of prophetic declaration. Just as God used the power of His spoken words to birth the world, we have the power to create with our words.
How can the words of our mouths be pleasing to God? Many Bible verses give us insight on this. For example, "...gracious words are pure in His sight." (Proverbs 15:26) and "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life..." (Proverbs 10:11) For us to use our tongues in a way that delights the Lord, we must ask for wisdom. The book of Proverbs comes from King Solomon and includes many verses on wisdom. At the beginning of his reign as king of Israel, Solomon understood the great responsibility that had been handed to him by his father, King David. With a heart of humility, Solomon said to the Lord, "...I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties...So give Your servant a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong..." (1 Kings 3:7-9) The Lord's response reveals His pleasure in Solomon's request. "I will do what you have asked, I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be." (1 Kings 3:12) We need wisdom to know what to release from our mouths.
Here is something to consider as written in Luke 6:45. "For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." If our words flow from our hearts, we must learn to "guard our heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23) The apostle Paul gives us some insight on how to guard our hearts. "...in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding; will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7) From these two Scriptures, we learn to guard our hearts and that peace, manifest through prayers and thanksgiving, will accomplish this.
The Holy Spirit has been given to us to guide us in all truth. (John 16:13) His purpose is to bring glory to Jesus by taking from what is His and making it known to us. (John 16:14) Another important aspect of knowing how to speak in a way that pleases the Lord is to listen to His Spirit. James says, "Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak..." (James 1:19) 2 Corinthians 10:5 describes another aspect of listening. "...We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ."
Finally, we must grab hold of a promise that Jesus made at the Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6) Psalm 37:30 explains why we should do this: "The mouth of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just."
I believe the Lord wants to release words of guidance, encouragement and life through His children. That is us! We can be part of God's grand plans for bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth as we speak in a way that pleases Him.
We were designed to go from strength-to-strength (Psalm 84:5) and from glory-to-glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18) God's desire is to release blessings into our lives so that we can grow in our understanding of who we are as His children. Growth happens in cycles, which is one of the reasons God ordained for us to follow His Biblical calendar. As we align ourselves with the Lord's timing and purposes, we will grow to be more like Him. The cycles God set up are meant to lead us into greater intimacy with Him and higher levels of blessing.
Psalm 84:5 says, "Blessed are those who strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." Holman's Dictionary defines pilgrimage as "a journey, especially a religious trek to a site at which God has revealed Himself in the past." In the Old Testament we can see how the Israelites went to Bethel, Gilgal, Shiloh, Beersheba and Mt. Horeb in their quest to find God. After David relocated the ark to Jerusalem, it became the place to go to commune with the Lord. Three times a year adult male Israelites were required to appear before the Lord for the major feasts. (Exodus 23:14-17, 34:18-23, Deuteronomy 16:16) These three journeys to Jerusalem are known as the "pilgrim feasts."
Those who have traveled to Jerusalem know that the City sits on a high elevation. In the journey to honor God one had to go up. This is called "Aliyah" or "the going up." In every year, season and circumstance of our lives, we are called upward. We must always choose the higher path as it leads to greater strength and greater glory.
The three pilgrim feasts in the calendar year include Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. A transaction and growth occur as we celebrate each one, and the journey mirrors the walk through the Tabernacle. At the first stop to the Outer Court we meet with the Passover Lamb who redeemed us and cleanses us so that we are ready for the next stop. Without the atonement and cleansing there cannot be the anointing by the pouring out of the Spirit of God. The second stop in the Holy Place is where we receive provision for our journey and empowerment by the Spirit of God. Now we are ready to travel to the most blessed season of our journey. It is the time when we get to come into the Presence of God—to tabernacle with Him in the Most Holy Place and to celebrate with joy the glory of the Lord.
Tonight, Jews will begin celebrating the three fall feasts—The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. This month is one of great celebration for God's people as they blow the shofar 100 times in their worship service. This is a season to celebrate what God has already done and to rehearse what has been promised. (Believers recognize that Passover and Pentecost have been fulfilled, but the fall feasts remain to be fulfilled.)
The blowing of the ram's horn during Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year) is done as a call to repentance. Genesis 22 is traditionally read in synagogues—the story of God providing a substitute atonement for Isaac after Abraham placed him on the altar of sacrifice. Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets, the most holy day on the calendar is celebrated—the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. Even though the Jews read about the substitutionary atonement provided for Abraham, many do not understand that the ultimate sacrifice was already made on Passover through the blood of Messiah Yeshua.
All of us need to set our hearts on pilgrimage so that we can grow closer to God. As vessels that carry God's glory, we carry the light of His love on our journey so that we bring others into God's Kingdom. One day the Lord will return for His Bride, the Church, to the sound of the trumpet. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) We want to be ready!
If we were to study the growth cycle of different kinds of plants, we would be in awe of the systems that God developed for them to mature into beautiful specimens. Such is the case for the sunflower. Have you ever driven by a field of sunflowers with their golden heads all facing the same direction and wondered why? There is an internal mechanism in these plants that enables them to turn to the sun. The scientific term is "heliotropism"--"helio" meaning sun and "tropism" meaning turn. This is also called "solar tracking."
The sunflower only has a single blossom so its goal is to grow a head that can produce as many seeds as possible. Inside the green parts of the plant is a hormone called "auxins" that are sensitive to light. The auxins migrate to the shaded part of the stem and behind the bud head to stimulate cell growth so that the shaded side of the plant grows longer and faster than the rest of the plant. Then the flower head follows the arc of the sun. At night, it repositions itself so that it is east facing and can begin the process of following the sun all over again in the morning. Note that even on a cloudy or rainy day the sunflowers still follow the sun.
By turning its face toward the sun, the sunflower takes full advantage of the light for photosynthesis, the process whereby it obtains energy for growth. Once the flower matures, it no longer tracks the sun but faces east all the time. By facing east, the flower is warmed by the morning sun and attracts pollinators, primarily bees, who travel from head to head and fertilize the centers so that they produce seeds. Is this not fascinating?
I see a correlation between the sunflowers and our growth as Christians. First, God planted each of us in the ideal place for relationship with Him. "...He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." (Acts 17:26-27) Then, He placed within us the desire to worship. Everyone has their own "auxins," so to speak. David recognized this and expressed it in Psalm 27. "My heart says of you, 'Seek His face!' Your face, Lord, I will seek." (Verse 8) In Psalm 105:4 it says, "Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always." Even when we go through dark times and the Lord is not so visible, we need to turn toward Him to help us in our time of need.
As we seek the Lord and find Him, we will be growing in the likeness of Him. God delights in watching us produce the fruits of His Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22. (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) It is through our growth in the Spirit that we will begin to plant seeds in others so that the Lord will have a magnificent harvest. When seed is planted in good soil it "produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." (Matthew 13:23)
One day the Lord will return for His harvest. Scriptures tells us He will come from the east and all of us will face toward Him, our Lord and Master. Matthew describes how it will look: "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (Matthews 24:27) What a glorious day it will be! We must keep facing the Son to be ready for that day.
Did you ever ask God about your reputation in heaven through your worship on earth? Tommy Tenney, in his book Finding Favor with the King - Preparing for Your Moment in His Presence, suggests that we do so. He asks, "What would happen if the church established a reputation for extravagant excellence with her King and Bridegroom?" "Is God eager to suspend the schedules of His Kingdom to attend our worship services, or does He rarely show up in His manifest glory?" Tenney continues: "Nothing attracts God's presence and His intervening power like focused and single-minded worship...When you focus your attention on the wrong thing, you are actually worshiping it...Worship is never more important than when the enemy launches a plot to destroy your destiny! Learn to worship with the enemy at your table...If you have the heart of the King, then your enemies become His enemies and your problems become footstools for Divine Solutions."
The enemy's plan is to distract us from worshiping the King. He knows that worship is the gateway to intimacy with our Lord. We are told in John 15:7, "If you abide in me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (NKJV) In an article by Patricia King in April 2006, she writes about this subject. "Intimacy—this is the battlefield. This is what the enemy desires to steal more than anything! If he can steal our intimacy with the Lord, he gets everything..." She discovered in her desperation that she carried unbelief. "I was hoping to be intimate, but was not believing I could be." Pat recalled Hebrews 11:6. "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must first believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." "I began to worship from a different perspective. Instead of hoping to be intimate, I believed I was. This was not based on what I felt—it was based on what was true."
In Psalm 23:5 King David wrote, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Tenney tells us that our worship must focus on the King alone. "If you learn to worship while the enemy sits across from you at the same table; if you learn to pay such close attention to the King that you forget about the enemy staring you in the face...Then you win." No matter how we feel, and no matter what we are facing, we must give the Lord our highest worship. Mary demonstrated this when she poured out the entire content of her alabaster jar to anoint Jesus. The crowd that had gathered witnessed Mary's selfless act of love, but they were offended by her lavish devotion. Jesus told them, "I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." (Matthew 26:13)
Some characteristics of highest worship include the following: It is all-consuming, it is humble, it is done in brokenness, it is sacrificial, and it costs us everything. We see this in the relationship that Jesus had with His Father. While on earth, we have opportunities to give the Lord the highest worship. This happens when we give him the sacrifice of praise in the dark night of our souls, amid loss, sorrow and pain. Jesus said that Father God seeks worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and truth. (John 4:23) Our sacrificial worship has a fragrance that is different from any other. It rises above the worship of heaven.
Remember that God is the one who placed a yearning for His Presence within us. He wants us to be overwhelmed with the desire to run after Him with all that is within us. We must say like the Shulamite in Song of Solomon, "Draw me away!" "Set me as a seal upon your heart." And saying these things, we must be prepared to give it all. Jesus gave it all for love and His intercessions are prompted by love. We have a promise from God that we must embrace: "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
In the movie called "The Ten Commandments" we hear an interesting conversation between Moses and his wife Zipporah. Moses is questioning why God had not delivered his people. Zipporah responds, "Can a man judge God? No Moses! We cannot see His whole purpose." We can see in Scripture part of God's plan and what he instructs Moses to say to Pharaoh, who will not release God's people: "But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." (Exodus 9:16) God even had a purpose for Pharaoh!
We do not see things from God's perspective. He knows the end from the beginning. "...I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning; from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purposes will stand, and I will do all that I please...What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do." (Isaiah 46:9-11) Our perspective on a situation is not complete; God's is. "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’" (Isaiah 55:8-9)
During a recent family vacation, I got an interesting understanding of this concept. The Horseshoe Falls of Niagara Falls are situated between the United States and Canada. In the United States there is another set of falls called The Bridal Veil Falls. The Falls are fed by the Niagara River that is split by a large island called Goat Island. There are two bridges between the island and the United States Niagara mainland and one bridge between the American and Canadian side of the Falls. As we walked around on the first day, I was totally confused about the layout of all of this. It was not until we ate dinner on the Canadian side of the Falls at a restaurant with a revolving observation tower that I could understand the layout of all the sites and how to move from one location to another. At this higher elevation I had a full perspective.
All of us have had or will have a situation in our lives that we do not understand, and we may be tempted to question God about what He allows or ordains. We may even be angry with God because we think we have a better way of doing things. This is where faith and trust in the love of God comes in. Everything He does and says is driven by love! He is invested in our welfare and partners with us to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.
The end of Psalm 23 is so comforting and encourages our belief in a compassionate and loving God who is always looking after our welfare. Verse 6 says, "So why do I fear the future? For Your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life..." (TPT) King David praises the Lord's purposes in Psalm 33:10-15. "The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth—He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do." We are blessed to have the God of the Universe watching over all of us and lovingly directing our lives. As the writer of Proverbs says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Joan E. Mathias