June 23 – Worship: The Golden Thread – Worship and Discipleship

Read 2 Corinthians 3:18 and Matthew 7:17-20

Jesus’ final instructions to us at the end of Matthew read: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.  Known as the “Great Commission”, this seemingly simple instruction encapsulates the entirety of what we are to strive for on behalf of the great gift of grace given to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus.  Making disciples is the job of a Christ-follower.  But what does worship have to do with discipleship? 

Everything, as it turns out.  

Our American vernacular sometimes unintentionally distorts the meaning of words which can have drastic consequences for those poor souls unaware of the word’s original meaning.  In the church, “worship” has sadly become this.  What do you think about when you think about worship?  Do you picture singing songs in church, or in your car driving to work?  Do you think about a church service?  Sitting in your favorite room praying and talking to God?  All of those are examples of things that are most certainly worship. 

However, many believe that worship is only doing one or more of those acts, or acts like them.  According to Webster, ‘worship’ can be a noun or a verb…the FEELING of reverence or adoration (noun) or SHOWING reverence or adoration (verb).  True worship of Jesus is best exemplified by the verb form.  We know this because in Matthew 7:17-20 Jesus teaches us that healthy trees bear good fruit, and we can recognize good trees by their fruit. SHOWING our devotion and adoration to Jesus is how we recognize, display, and offer true worship (our ‘fruit’).  Absent our acts of worship, Jesus’ gospel is merely another good-sounding idea, or philosophy of living to an unbelieving world.  

Please don’t be discouraged if you think you’re not living a life full of worship…reading this devotion is an act of worship! Even if your life lacks visible signs of worship, you can take steps to worship more freely! Simply devote some of each day to showing your love of Jesus by changing some of your actions, words and tasks already present in everyday life! Pondering worship is an act of worship! Worship can be prayer, acts of service, singing, scripture memorization, encouraging a friend, sharing God’s love, and so on. Our worship is a life serving Jesus.  Praise God that THIS particular path is so wide!

When thinking about effective discipleship of lost friends, it is IMPOSSIBLE to do this without a life devoted to worship. Is it more authentic and real to merely talk about the hope and peace Jesus offers, or for people to see your worship and wonder why you are so in love and devoted to Jesus?  Which speaks more powerfully?

Lord, we love you, and we want our lives to show it!  Let our lives show a lost world who is the only One truly deserving of our worship! 

Craig French

June 22 – Worship: The Golden Thread – Worship and Evangelism

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:9

“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;

I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.

The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear,

Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear;

And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,

For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.”

Edgar Guest

Example is the best teacher. Are you an excellent example of Christianity?

I had heard the word of God in a Christian church growing up through childhood. But I never tried to put it into practice until the day my wife, Birdie’s mother, passed away from a stroke two years into our marriage. It was what I would call a “wake up call.” I had some knowledge of the Bible but I started putting it into practice, including worship and evangelizing by example.

In the year 51, Thessalonica was a thriving city in Greece. The good news of Jesus Christ rang out in the city. Today it is the second-largest city in Greece after Athens. Paul started his ministry there and he wrote 1 Thessalonians.

He wanted to encourage new Christians (3:3-5) and evangelize the community. How can we do this today?

We can be an excellent example of how to live as a believer in Jesus Christ. We can ask new Christians how they are doing with questions like “How is your spiritual life lately?” or “Have you heard any great sermons or podcasts or Christian songs lately?” I can add: “I have. I heard a sermon recently about how life is too short and we do not want to miss the most important relationship on this planet (2 Cor 13:5) which is a relationship with God.”

We can worship with new Christians and encourage them. Share what is encouraging and inspirational to you. Just be yourself! By encouraging others, you are giving them courage. 

By worshiping with them you are evangelizing by example.

The 12 disciples (without Judas but with Matthias) were witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, and their goal was to share the gospel of Christ, start new churches and teach sound doctrine.

Can you live and share the gospel with someone today?

Paul had met the resurrected Jesus and was given a commission by Him to be the messenger to the Gentiles in planting churches. We can be messengers today. Are you a messenger?

Paul called himself an apostle. He held to the fact that the church of God was built on Christ as the chief cornerstone and on the apostles as primary foundational stones. He wanted to tell others.

What kind of example are you living? What kind of example are you showing others?

Tom Weckesser

June 21 – Worship: The Golden Thread – What is worship anyway?

Read John 4:1-26

When I was in junior high, my parents told us we could sit anywhere in church…anywhere – as long as we sat in front of them (and they normally sat in the first 5 rows).  That didn’t give us a lot of options, nor did it keep us from mischief.  One Sunday evening when the service was going on longer than I felt it should, my friends and I were getting a little out of control.  I soon noticed a small paper airplane fly over my shoulder and land in front of me.   I opened up the precisely folded paper and read the word “Behave!”… my dad, always creative, even in discipline!

As I was growing up, the idea of worship seemed to revolve around sitting in a pew that wasn’t comfortable, singing songs I didn’t understand and sitting through too many spoken words…way too many spoken words.  Fortunately, Jesus set the record straight in John 4.  As He spoke with the woman at the well, He told of a time where people would be able to worship anywhere – not just in the temple of Jerusalem or on the mountain Gerizim where the Samaritan people had worshipped for centuries. Jesus said that God was spirit and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.

The concept of worship simply means to revere and adore God. As Jesus explained this to the woman, He said this worship should flow from our hearts, in conjunction with the Spirit, and in the context of the truth of His word. This worship is not only an inward offering but also something others can see.  Paul writes in Romans 12:1 “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” When we back up our worship “talk” with our living sacrifice “walk” God is glorified!

One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 5:10 – it simply says “and find out what pleases the Lord.” The Randy version reads like this “figure out what makes Jesus smile.” Let me encourage us to spend some time today pondering what it means to please the Lord… does the way I worship with my time, treasure and talent make our King smile? Does the way I live resemble a living sacrifice or does it revolve around what I want? 

Let’s work hard on worshipping with our lives and doing the things that please Jesus during the week; that way when we come together on Sunday, our corporate worship will truly bring honor to our King!

Randy Moomaw

June 20 – Worship: The Golden Thread – Unified through worship

Read Romans 12:3-8

When I think of worship, the words to this old hymn come to mind:

When we all get to Heaven

What a day of rejoicing that will be

When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!

These words depict what unified worship will look like when we stand before our Savior. I imagine it will be energetic, full of light, and a celebration like nothing we’ve experienced before on Earth. We anticipate that day when our worship will include people from all nations, races and languages. At last, the created will worship the Creator in Heaven.

Worship takes the focus off of our differences and focuses our attention on the One whom we have in common. When Christ gathers all of the believers together in Heaven one day, there will not be sections reserved for different groups of people. There won’t be divisions based on nationality, style of worship, or amount of worship. We will all be accepted based on WHO we worship.

Believers from all over the world, and from all walks of life, worship the same God, but in many different ways. What one person is capable of, another may not be. So each individual must worship God as he or she can. God uniquely designed us each to use our gifts and talents to bring Him glory. Some have the gift to sing or teach. Others have the gift to encourage, while others handle finances in a way that honors God and makes His name famous. In this way, we all worship through different means, but exalt the same God.

Worship takes many different forms throughout our lifetime. A child might worship by singing songs of praise to Jesus or memorizing Bible verses. A teen may worship by serving in a community center or talking about his or her faith with a friend. Adults can worship by tithing their income, preparing a meal for a family or friend in need, or helping a community rebuild after a natural disaster. Worship, according to Romans 12, can look different for each person.

How has God wired you to bring Him glory? Don’t feel bad if your gift looks different than someone else’s. Don’t judge someone else’s worship style if it isn’t like yours.  Our focus should be on proclaiming the name of Jesus and pointing others towards Him. We can look forward to that one day when we will gather in Heaven for the biggest worship celebration ever; but until then, our worship should draw others to Him.

Tammy Finney

June 19 – Worship: The Golden Thread – Transformational

Read Romans 12:2

Being a worship leader, the act of worship is one of my favorite subjects to discuss when it comes to the Bible and what it has to say. My love for music and the art of musical worship has been in my heart for a while but worship is more than the songs we sing and more than the chords or keys we hear. The act of worship should transform us. 

I recently heard Taya Gaukrodger, worship leader and writer for Hillsong United, say,

“The first time worship is ever mentioned in the Bible is when Abraham turns to his servant and says ‘you wait here, Isaac and I are going up to worship’…it had nothing to do with song or music, it had to do with obedience to the voice of God and sacrifice regardless…that is what worship should be regardless of the 20 minutes we have on a Sunday”.

This is one of my favorite statements because it points to not only the obedience of Abraham’s life but points out that, because of Abraham’s love for the Lord, he was transformed and praised His name. Then as He followed the voice of God in obedience, He was transformed even more.

Just like Abraham’s life was transformed through worship, Paul tells us that the true act of worship is to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds” … renewing our minds.

How does one do that?!

Simply by spending time with the Lord, whether it be in song or the Word, in company or solitary, while talking or being still. When we spend time with Jesus, our perspectives change, we begin to see things as Jesus sees them, we begin to notice the light in it all and it begins to transform our lives. 

The songs we sing on a Sunday morning, whether contemporary or traditional hymns, are born from God’s Word and, because He breathed the words that we read in the Bible (2 Tim 3:16) , we can breathe in and out the words of the songs we sing in the hope that it transforms our hearts and enlightens our thinking.

The act of worship is simply being yourself, striving to live like Jesus, engrossed in His words and allowing the growth from who we once were to the people He intended us to be to take place. 

Personally, musical worship has always been a place where the Lord and I connect most. Through a verse I lead or sing, I get to go before Him, I get to praise His name, I get to pray over you, our church family, I get to surrender it all to Him. After that time of worship through song, I always walk away with a new perspective, a new challenge and am transformed because what is breathing in and out are His words and His heart.

The question is, do you live your life continually being renewed because of God’s Word? Are you constantly being transformed by knowing His Truth? 

If you can’t answer yes to either of those, I challenge you to sit with this notion of transformation worship. What do you do day in and day out that causes your life to be changed because of who Jesus is? 

Kelly Lawson

June 18 – Worship: The Golden Thread – Misconceptions

Read Romans 12:1

God wants worship to make up our lives. He wants our lives to be the worship.

Worship. It’s “reverent honor and homage paid to God”, according to dictionary.com.

The original Greek word can be translated as “sacred service” or “priestly ministry,” and it’s only found five times in the entire New Testament. It’s the word associated with what the high priest did in the tabernacle when presenting a guilt offering for God’s people, which God called the most holy of sacrifices. 

It’s the word God uses to describe yours and my proper response to His life-giving, death-conquering, all-forgiving love that secured the more-than-survival kind of living we get when we trust Him with who we are.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1)

It’s easy to mistake the word “worship” for what we do on Sunday mornings when we all stand up and sing a song or to think it only applies to praise music. But Paul says worship is actually a life completely surrendered. In fact, according to Romans 12:1, the kind of worship that makes God smile is when we offer Him the reins and let His Holy Spirit direct all that we do, everything we say. True and proper worship is the sacrifice of our very bodies as instruments of our souls, which are surrendered to God.

God wants us all-in for the moments and the hours and the days between Sundays. A life of worship hands Him the control. It points to Him, knows Him so well it can’t help but adore Him. Worship is living that flows from the depths of amazed and straight into doing the stuff God leads us to do.

Like loving a neighbor even when it’s awkward. Or refusing to jump in on the office gossip even when it’s really funny. Worship is our very lives presented to God in a way that follows His plan. Like changing a diaper for a mom whose day has gone sideways and she just. needs. a. moment. It’s sensing the Holy Spirit’s nudge and obeying when He gives you a no-brainer opportunity to talk about Jesus and the hope He offers. 

Worship is not just a song. It’s a life surrendered to God Himself.

In what way are you going to live more surrendered to God today?

Bria Wasson

June 17 – Worship: The Golden Thread

Read Matthew 15:8-9

Have you ever done something where your heart really wasn’t in it?

I remember my senior year of high school basketbal,l playing in the district championship at Wooster High School. For reasons that I don’t have the space to describe, I was done. I think it’s safe to say my heart just wasn’t there the majority of my high school playing career. I simply couldn’t wait to be done and out of this season of my life.

During this championship game, we were getting blown out by the other team and they were shooting free throws to basically close out the game and my high school career. I look over to the stands and see my three best friends with huge smiles on their faces as they got their coats on, getting ready to play video games all night together, which we were planning to do if we lost. If your heart’s not in something, if you don’t have the backing of your soul, you’re putting on a facade.

This is, unfortunately, the case with many “Christians” today.

Our reading today talks about how people honor God with their lips. They go through the motions, say the right things, and appear that they are model believers. However, Jesus says that these kinds of people’s hearts are far from Him and that their worship is in vain.

I’m going to go out on a limb and speak for all of us and say that we don’t want that!

Over the next week, we are to be talking about true worship and the truth that it is the golden thread that keeps us united with Christ.

Whenever, I write one of these intro-type devos to kick off a series, I encourage us all to open our hearts and prepare to hear from God for the next several days.

Why is this important?

Speaking of going through the motions, if your heart isn’t open, you’re going to read the next several devotionals just to cross them off your to-do list. However, if you open yourself up to the leading of the Holy Spirit, there is no telling what He will convict you of and how your life will change as a result!

God, I pray for all of those beginning this journey with us. I pray that we would be able to spend some quality time with You each day in the midst of everything that is on our plates. I pray that You would quiet the noise, if only for a few minutes. I pray that we would all prepare to hear from You this week. I pray for conviction and a people that are dedicated to true worship that is honoring to You!

Jake Lawson