Category Archives: Worship

4 Things Before Saying Sorry (The Lord’s Prayer)

Was thinking this morning about The Lord’s prayer – I love how God designed such a simple framework for us to be able to come to him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our [sins],
as we also have forgiven those who [sin against us].
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. ’
– Matthew 6:9-13

Yet for so many of us – as soon as we think about God or come to pray, we become immediately conscious of our unworthiness and the various ways that we have failed God and others. Yes, sin is a thing and it does have the effect of isolating us from God and people. We need God’s forgiveness and cleansing to be healed and made righteous for sure.

But what struck me this morning was how much there is in the Lord’s Prayer before you get to the lines ‘Forgive us our sins…’.

Think about it.

The Lord’s Prayer doesn’t start with ‘Forgive me Father for I have sinned…’ does it?

In fact there’s actually 4 things that we pray before we get to asking God for forgiveness. Interesting eh. I don’t believe this is a mistake on God’s part or that He overlooked something here.

The Lord’s Prayer wasn’t designed to be prayed by perfect Christians who’ve already got everything sorted out. No, it’s a way that anyone can approach the Father, no matter where they come from or what they’ve done.

Embedded in the opening lines of this prayer is a wonderful demonstration of God’s love and commitment to us as a good Father!

1) “Our Father…”

Regardless of where you feel like your life is at, these two words show us two things:

‘Our’ tells us that we belong to a group of people. I’m not a perfect husband, father, son or brother – but my status as a member of a family doesn’t change depending on my righteousness. Starting with ‘our’ reminds me that I always remain part of a group of people who call on the Name of God – regardless of what my life might look like right now.

‘Father’ tells us that His relationship to us doesn’t change. We don’t start with ‘Lord’ or ‘Master’ and then finally say ‘Father’ once we’ve gotten cleaned up through prayer. We start with Father. He is always ‘our Father’. It doesn’t change.

2) “Hallowed Be Your Name…”

This shows me that I can still give God glory and worship from an imperfect life. The idea that we have to get our lives perfect before we can come to God is a religious lie. It’s THROUGH prayer and worship that we become righteous.

I’m not condoning sin or saying it doesn’t matter – but just pointing out that Jesus deliberately put ‘Hallowed be thy name’ in the prayer ahead of ‘Forgive us our sins…’.

God has made a way for us to give Him glory even before our lives get sorted out and often it’s as we start to worship Him that we move into a place where He can deal with our sin.

3) “Your kingdom come, your will be done…”

This reminds me that about God’s overall mission on earth. This line gives me the WHY of my life… why I’m here, why God has given me the gifts and talents he has. It’s because He’s extending His kingdom.

I’m not just asking for forgiveness so I can stop being a ‘bad person’. My being cleansed and made righteous means that I can move and work in His kingdom more effectively.

4) “Give us today our daily bread…”

In natural human relationships, we don’t tend to do kind things for people who’ve upset us… at least until they’ve apologised to us!

But again God shows us just how different He is to us. Whether or not my kids behave doesn’t change my fatherly desire to make sure they’ve got what they need to survive.

God is a good Father! We can just ask Him for stuff. It’s not a matter of rooting out every little thing we might have done wrong before we can ask our heavenly Father for what we need.

Finally…

Obviously I’m not downplaying the need for us to ask for forgiveness and repent of our sin. It’s vitally important and one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to convict us and show us areas of our lives where things are out of alignment with Him.

I’m also not saying that living righteously doesn’t help us see our Father more clearly, worship more powerfully, understand His mission more readily or ask Him for our needs more effectively! Purity and holiness in our lives enable us to move in a closer way to God’s heartbeat and see things that we’d be blind to otherwise.

But I do believe this… that God has much more for our lives than just a constant cycle of ‘sin-repent-sin-repent’! Jesus died on the cross to cleanse us from sin so that we can get on with the real business of His kingdom and His plans!

So the next time you think about God or come to prayer, put your fears and unworthiness to one side for a moment and remind yourself that He’s STILL your Father, you can STILL worship Him, you’re STILL part of His mission and you can STILL ask Him for things.

His heart towards you and promises for you don’t change!

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An Acceptable Offering

“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor” – Genesis 4:3-5

I’m pretty passionate about worship! But in more recent years I’ve seen an increasing emphasis across the church seeing worship as something that ‘does it for me’.

Certainly, taking time to worship God has a positive effect on our lives – but it’s not the primary reason we worship, nor should it be our primary motivation. Worship isn’t about God pleasing our hearts – it’s about us pleasing His!

What I think is interesting about this verse is that God did not look on Cain’s offering with favour. It’s easy for us to think that God will accept an offering of worship from us, simply because we’ve taken the time to do it. Cain sure took the time to do it, and not only that but it was probably much harder work for him to dig up some vegetables and clean them up to bring to God, rather than for Abel to select a lamb and sacrifice it. Yet God was pleased with Abel’s offering, and not with Cain’s. He didn’t just take it because it was brought – he was looking for something in particular.

So just because we bring an offering – it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to please God’s heart. We have to look past just what we like, or what does it for us, and ask the same question that Abel did… what does God want? What does it for Him? For Cain, that would have meant getting outside his own comfort zone, and doing something that didn’t come as naturally to him.

The Call Of A Minister

“My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense.” – 2 Chronicles 29:11

Been really struck recently about how EVERY Christian is called to be a leader, a minister – ‘Senior Pastor’ of their world.  It’s a mindset change that is necessary for the people of God to get out of child mode and into maturity mode!

A few notes out of this verse:

* Ministers stand before God. They hang around him and are ready to do His bidding at a moments notice.  They live as servants firstly of God.  They belong to Him.

* Ministers minister to God.  Not for Him but TO Him.  His pleasure and delight is the focus of their ministry.  They give their devotion and affection to the Lord.

* Ministers minister with a sense of God’s closeness.  They minister ‘before Him’ – although their ministry may be to people, their eyes are firmly fixed on God.  They live for the applause of One.

* Ministers burn incense continually.  Incense speaks of prayer.  They live with a continual connection with God.  There is always a sweet fragrance coming off their lives.

Breaking Open Historic Wells

From there they continued on to Beer, the well where the LORD said to Moses, “Gather the people together and I will give them water.”  Then Israel sang this song: “Spring up, O well! Sing about it, about the well that the princes dug, that the nobles of the people sank– the nobles with scepters and staffs.” – Numbers 21:16-18 (NIV)

In their journey towards the Promised Land, the Israelites came to a place where God promised to give them water.  It was called ‘Beer’ (which in Hebrew means ‘water’) – but interestingly it doesn’t seem like there’s any water there – as God has to specifically tell Moses that He will give water to the people.  So the people sing, and the princes and nobles dig, and the water flows. 

Leadership Principles

There’s some keys in this passage for those who are leaders – as every leader in some way is a shepherd, with the responsibility of both feeding the sheep and leading them to water.  We feed them with the Word of God, but in order to water them, we must bring them into places where they encounter His power and presence.  Churches and leaders need both the Word and the Spirit working simultaneously in order for the ‘sheep’ to be healthy.  So how do we get a ‘well’ going for our people when it seems like it’s all dry?

Key 1 – Find An Historic Well

The Israelites came to a place called Beer, called water.  There may not have been any water there when they arrived, but there must have been water there at some point in the past for it to have received the name it did.  God has ordained a whole lot of different ‘wells’ for His people to drink from, but many of them have been stopped up or stopped flowing over the years.  But the water is still there, under the ground – ready to be tapped.  Some of these wells include salvation, healing, revival, worship.  When these wells get tapped then power begins to flow and the people of God get refreshed. 

Key 2 – Gather The People Together

The power of unity is well documented in the Word of God – and is an essential key if we’re going to get a well going.  The people must be gathered together, and given a common focus and plan.  Without a united group people – no well will be opened.  But when the people are together – then God’s blessing quickly comes upon the work.  We unite the people by showing them why they need the well – and what has happened historically when that well has been opened.

Key 3 – Sing To It

Worship has supernatural power to unblock wells.  One of the best ways that we can start to unblock a particular well is by choosing songs that we sing together about that well.  For example, if we want to see a healing well unblocked – then it’s important that we’re corporately singing songs about God’s healing power.  The worship not only ‘speaks’ to the situation with words of power, but worship also carries God’s transforming power to change the hearts and minds of those who worship.  Worship gets into the hearts and minds of the people.  Whatever we sing to will spring up in our midst! 

Key 4 – Get The Leaders And Nobles Digging

The final key is to get those who have visible leadership – the ‘leaders’ and ‘nobles’ – to get them ‘digging’ alongside you.  Get them committed to prayer & fasting, and to speaking and encouraging the others.  Get them investing in it. 

In Conclusion

When Israel rocked up to Beer, there was no water there.  But they left behind them a flowing well.  God is calling us to be people like that too – who come into situations where there is no life, and not only get life flowing in our time, but leave behind us a legacy for those who will follow as well. 

The Inheritance Of Sons And Servants

Ezekiel 46:16-18 – “Thus says the Lord: If the prince give a gift to any of his sons, it is his inheritance, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance.  But if he give of his inheritance a gift to one of his servants, it shall be his to the year of liberty; then it shall return to the prince [..] Moreover the prince shall not take of the people’s inheritance, to thrust them out of their possession…”

God is a giver of great gifts!  But just as important as the gift given, is how we receive the gift that has been given. 

This passage shows us that if we receive the gift as a son – then the gift is ours to keep and remains an inheritance for our families.  But if we receive the gift as a servant – then the gift is returned to the Lord when our service ends. 

The difference between a son and a servant, is that one receives as a right of a member of the household – the other receives as payment of services rendered.  The servant must work to retain his gift, but the son does not need to work to retain his.  

It all comes down to how we receive from God.  We must endeavour to receive His goodness as sons, and not as servants.  Then what we have will never be taken from us. 

This sheds some new light on what Jesus was referring to in Luke 10:42 – with Mary and Martha.  Jesus said of Mary that what she had would ‘not be taken from her’. 

It also connects with the temporary nature of some of the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).  If our identity is completely wrapped up in these things, then we are servants and not sons. 

Unity In Worship

2 Chronicles 5:13 – “it happened, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord […] that then the house was filled with a cloud”

Note that the trumpeters and singers were as one, making one sound to be heard in praise and worship.  Unity in worship that builds on unity in the leadership prepares a house for a move of God. 

There are some natural differences between singers and musicians on a worship team.  But when they come together as one – God responds in awesome ways!

The Secret Of His Presence

Psalms 31:20 – In the shelter of your presence you will hide them from the plotting of man. You will keep them secretly in a dwelling away from the strife of tongues.

There are times in life when we will certainly face opposition from people.  If we have resolved to live a life that pleases God, it’s something we can bank on! 

Yet in the midst of this, God makes a great promise to us – that in the shelter of his presence he will hide us from two things – the plotting of man, and the strife of tongues. 

The presence of God is our refuge.  When we make the decision in crisis to run first to Him, he brings the plotting of others to nothing and hides us from the curses and words that are spoken in these kinds of situations. 

Jesus told us – when you pray, go into your room and close the door (Matthew 6).  It’s here that we’ll discover the secret of His presence, and find the strength to continue our battle on!