Bow Down

“Come, let us worship and bow down,
 and kneel before the LORD our Maker”
(Psalm 95:6)

Reflection:
I came across this verse again the other day. Reading it I felt moved to do what is says. So I knelt, bowed my head, and worshipped the Lord. They were very precious moments.

Our bodies are a part of us and we use them all the time to communicate our feelings. Their attitude at any one moment can also influence the way that we express ourselves. So kneeling humbly to the Lord is both an expression of worship as well as laying the foundation for the way that our hearts and minds and mouths themselves speak.

To worship the Lord from this verse, I found, is to acknowledge Him as the One True God, the Mighty Creator of Heaven and Earth. He is the One who gave us life and placed us here in an environment that He had prepared for us – and for which He had formed and equipped us. He has surrounded us with the most amazing beauty, variety and abundance – so much of which we can enjoy and appreciate freely. In it, and through it, He reveals so much about Himself to those who look and listen and feel and taste and marvel at the One who created all of it.

In these times we can become over casual in our attitude to the Lord. As good as some familiarity is it can take us away from the awe, wonder and reverence which should also accompany our relationship with Him.

Response:
Try it a few times and see. Let your own words come freely. If you cannot kneel then do so in your mind and heart.

Prayer:

Lord God You really are amazing, filled with beauty and love. Thank You for allowing us to share in the wonder of Your creation – and that we are able to do so. Please keep opening our eyes to new appreciations of Your glory. Amen.

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Worship the Lord

2017-02-13

“Worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness”
(1 Chronicles 16:29)

Reflection:
Praise and worship go hand in hand. However where praise may acknowledge what God has done – “Lord that is wonderful” –  worship goes beyond and honours who and what He is – “Lord You are wonderful”. Again it is vital not only because God deserves it but for the way in which it brings us to recognise and honour God Himself – and the effect that it must have upon our lives and living as it extends our understanding of Him.

Listen to the way in which Scripture speaks:

  • “O LORD? Who is like you– majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)
  • “Worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness” (1 Chronicles 16:29)
  • “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3)
  • “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8)
  • “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Psalm 95:6)
  • “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD ..” (Psalm 27:4)

And in that wonderful place of gazing and gazing upon the beauty of the Lord we will move from speech and song and dance to silence. There in a state of almost breathless wonder, scarcely daring or wanting to move or even breathe, we will feast our spirits upon the beauty and holiness of our Lord and Heavenly God.  Washed in His glorious Light, breathing in His Life-giving fragrance and soaked in the all-embracing beauty of His Love we will become more like Him. In this becoming we will begin to discover Who and What He really is. And we will have all of eternity in which to do so – for such is the wonder and glory and majesty and holiness and loveliness of our God.

Listen to a modern psalmist.

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvellous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depths of Your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty, enthroned above.

(Mark Altrogge)

Response:
Find within yourself the words with which to honour God for what His creation reveals about Him to you.

Prayer:

Lord touch me with Your Spirit and enable me to see and respond to Your revelation of Yourself in Your creation – and give me the words that will begin to acknowledge how truly wonderful and glorious You are. Amen.

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Now I see

2016-10-10

“He is the image of the invisible God”
(Colossians 1:15)

 

Reflection:
Paul in these next verses gives us a glorious vision and understanding of our wonderful Lord. He is writing about the Christ to others and so speaks of Him as ‘He.’ However by making them personal they become a beautiful expression of worship as they acknowledge His glory.

“You are the image of the invisible God”

Here is an enlightening truth. All that we might want to know about the Father is revealed to us in the Person and expression of Jesus Christ. He is Himself the author of this great truth for He said to His disciples shortly before His death.

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”
(John 14:9)

Everything about Jesus is a revelation of the Father. As examples –

  • There is the Majesty with which the Father commanded creation into existence –
    • and the Majesty with which Jesus exercised power over that same creation in calming the storm, feeding the 5000, healing the sick and raising the dead.
  • There is the Intimacy of God walking in the Garden to find Adam and Eve, calling out to them and then clothing them before they left the Garden –
    • and Jesus dealing with the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the ‘sinful’ woman anointing Him, His story of looking for the Lost Sheep and His conversations with His disciples
  • There is God’s desire to save and bless expressed in His faithfulness and commitment to Israel, forgiving, saving and restoring them again and again –
    • and Jesus touching and healing the leper, giving sight to the blind, raising the dead, healing the lame, healing the sick and forgiving the sinners
  • There is the love of God expressed in His plan of salvation that was in place from the beginning and expressed in His response to the Fall despite the cost involved, and the prophetic example of the near sacrifice of Isaac by his father –
    • and Jesus facing the horror of the Cross through Gethsemane and the day that followed

Jesus said of Himself that He only spoke the words that the Father gave Him and did only the things that the Father showed Him – and summed it all up by saying,

“I and the Father are one”
(John 10:30)

Response:
Use it in worship through the day – “You are the image of the invisible God”

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, You are indeed the image of the invisible God, our glorious Father. Thank You for revealing Him to us. Help me to see Him in and through You and Your revelation. Amen.

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Had to be birds

2016-09-20

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands”
(Psalm 19:1)

Reflection:
Honouring God in praise and worship is an important part of our relationship and communication with Him. In it we recognise Him for Who He is and for what He has done. We also remind ourselves of these things and in so doing increase our respect and vision of Him as well as building our own faith.

Many  find this difficult even although they readily praise others for their achievements –  such as sportsmen and women and entertainers.  In fact the world finds it important to recognise and praise such people – often to excess. In doing so they show very clearly their need for heroes and heroines.

We are surrounded by the works of God, all of which tell us something about Him. We have a Bible filled with details of His revelation of Himself and the great things that He has done. We belong to a Church that remembers and celebrates the greatest of these acts – and we have our own lives in which He has been active as well.

I wake early and recently sat and listened to the birds as they too awoke and began their early morning songs and choruses. I marvelled at the beauty and variety of these songs, the different voices that they had – some a liquid loveliness that appeared to pour out from their throats without limit. They sang singly and then joined together in a feathery chorus that awoke the dawn.

Instead of limiting myself to listening I reached for my Ipad and began to write – thanking God for the wonderful gift of birds and for their glorious songs. I recognised each voice as a separate creation, each song an individual poem, each tune a specific composition. I marvelled at the clarity and reach of these morning expressions, coming from such small creatures and winging away over fields and valleys and homes – seeming to reach up to the very heights of the heavenly places themselves.

And I saw that there just had to be birds in the whole scheme of creation – and that they just had to be the songsters and the praise singers of the Lord. And I marvelled at Him and thanked Him for such wonderful gifts.

Response:
Look around you and you’ll see.

I find the act of writing draws vision and understanding out from me – perhaps it will help you too.  Just write from the heart.

Prayer:

Lord God help me to open my eyes and my spirit to the wonder and beauty of Your creation and works – and to what they say about You. And help me to laugh in joy and wonder and turn to thank and praise and worship You, my wonderful Creator, Saviour and Friend. Amen.

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Worship the Lord

2016.08.25

 “Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness”
(1 Chronicles 16:29)

 

Reflection:
Archbishop William Temple, writing in his Readings from St John’s Gospel, shared some of his insights on worship.  The headings are his.

  • Worship is the submission of all nature to God.” We must journey with Him to the point where we bring everything in and about us into submission to God’s authority and love. Our hopes and fears, our health and well-being, our successes and failures, our world and our families, our beliefs and doubts – everything. Obedience and trust embrace each other.
  • Worship is “the quickening of conscience by His holiness.” As we contemplate and worship Almighty God the comparison between His pure, light-filled ‘otherness’ and our shadowy and compromised reality will become apparent. We acknowledge it before Him in confession and a new focus.
  • Worship is “the nourishment of mind with His truth.” His truth is revealed to us in and through His creation, His word in Scripture, His Living Word Jesus Christ and by His Holy Spirit who witnesses to our spirits and leads us into all truth. Worship feeds our minds with a truth that also reveals the untruths that we have received from the world.
  • Worship is “the purifying of the imagination by His beauty.” Our minds receive, create and carry all sorts of images within them which are fed by our memories and the emotions that they conjure up. The beauty of God is cleansing, compelling and transforming – lifting the spirit away from the things of the world and into the sacred sanctity of wonder, love and praise – leading to light-filled silence and breathless awe.
  • Worship is “the opening of the heart to His love.” The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given to us. (Romans 5:5) The world makes our hearts calloused and hardened through the fear of rejection and pain. Step by step we must learn to trust and open them to His love – the unconditional fullness of which is revealed in the cross and resurrection.
  • Worship is “the surrender of will to His purpose.” So we begin to understand more fully the beauty and meaning of the prayer that Jesus taught us – “Hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” – and starting with me. It is the only way of Life.

 Response:
We need times of quiet reflection and worship – where we look at God and allow Him to look at us with His eyes of love.

Prayer:

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name (Psalm 103:1)

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Beautiful God

2016.08.11

Praise be to the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ”
(Ephesians 1:3)

 

Reflection:
Many people find it fairly easy to praise others but difficult to praise God. Our praise of others is often our delighted response to something they have done. It could be a child with a good report, a sportsperson after a special achievement, an artist for a beautiful composition, a musician in response to a lovely performance, a cook for a delicious meal and many others.

Once we stop to think, and to look around us, we find that we are surrounded by things for which we can sincerely praise the Lord. From glowing sunsets to magnificent waterfalls, sparkling seas to stately trees, soaring eagles to darting swifts, sun-kissed leaves to fragrant roses, majestic mountains to trickling streams – the list is endless. Then there are the miracles of new-born children, the soul-stirring beauty of music, the breath-taking grace of ballet dancers and the life-changing reality of love – not to mention all the modern conveniences that we enjoy.

For all these we can indeed turn to God with not just a ‘thank-you’ but more. It shows not merely enjoyment but deep appreciation as well – of both the object and the One from whom it came. Something like, “Father that … is so lovely; You created it and allow me to enjoy it; You are so special.” Or “Lord I needed that – encouragement/medication/opportunity – and You were behind it. Your love is amazing.”

As we become increasingly aware and seek to honour God we will find that He appears to become more present in our lives. Through the recognition and appreciation of what He has given us and done for us our understanding of His great power and love grows. But most importantly we discover that He is, in fact, worthy of praise and it becomes our joy and privilege to give expression to it. For everything He makes and does is a reflection of both who and what He is.

 You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvellous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depths of Your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty, enthroned above

 And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You

(Mark Altrogge)

Response:
Our prayer life needs a balance of praise and petition. Honour God first.

Prayer:

Help me Lord to discover more about the wonder of You – and to rejoice in You. Amen.

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Sing!

2016.05.18

“The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.”
(Psalm 118:14)

Reflection:
‘The Lord is my song.’

Humans have over the years composed many songs, not a few of which have been to glorify themselves. However, as our eyes are opened to the wonderful truth of the Lord, and our hearts and spirits respond to the revelation of His love and salvation, we may discover that one song rises joyfully above all the others.

The worship of God is the sweetest of all, and often it is enough just to sing out the name of Jesus. For me true worship must rise like a soaring eagle up into the heavens, and then descend into complete and holy silence  – where it is enough just to whisper again and again the one precious ‘name above all names’ – and then to be completely silent and silently complete in the stillness of the Spirit.

Also, and whenever I can, I love to ‘sing out’ in speech the wonders of this God of Love and of the love of God. He is truly ‘beautiful beyond description’ and, when I let Him, ‘my all in all.’ I have many stories to tell of God’s relationship with me – of His love, presence, help, forgiveness and sharing of Himself. They all form a part of ‘my song.’

Response:
Recall and record some of the ways in which God has blessed you. Thank and praise Him for them. There are some wonderful songs and hymns that can be downloaded from ITunes – and the lyrics will be on the Internet. Use them if you wish as an aid.

Prayer:

Touch my spirit Lord with Your beauty and Your love. Help me to respond as You lead me into worship and the wonder of Your presence. Amen.

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Phot0: (c) Catherine Bondonno

 

Bow Down

2016.04.26

“I will bow down towards Your holy temple
in awe of You”
(Psalm 5:7)

Reflection:
For all our intimacy with God Scripture frequently reminds us that we should not treat Him lightly or casually. David picks this up when he speaks of bowing down in awe of the Lord.

God is a living Person. He is the Lord God Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and all that is. He is described as being so holy and glorious that no one can see His face and live. His power and authority are absolute and, as He put it very simply,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
(Romans 9:15)

David also says,

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.”
(Psalm 130:3-4)

Isaiah’s reaction to his vision of the Lord was not one of joy but of horror. For having seen something of God’s glory he also perceived more of his own fallenness and sinfulness.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips,
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
(Isaiah 6:5)

And then the Bible tells us how there will be other such times.

  • “Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendour of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.” (Isaiah 2:19)
  • Then “`they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”‘  (Luke 23:30)
  • “They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” (Revelation 6:16)

Our God of love is at the same time a God of terrifying holiness, absolute majesty, blazing glory and supreme power.

Response:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”(Revelation 4:11)

Prayer:

“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

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Foundation 2

2016.02.23

“The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”
(Luke 4:5-7)

Reflection:
In the second temptation it seems as if the devil was offering Jesus the very things that He had come to recover as part of His kingdom, but without the hardship and effort involved in the way of the Cross. Here was a short cut that made it easy and which, on the face of it, only the two of them might know about.

The problem of course was that all this was not the devil’s to give. In addition the cost involved was to turn from God and worship Satan. It would be easy to try and say that the end justifies the means, but the truth is that you cannot have a good result in God’s eyes if the process is flawed.

We live in a world which appears to offer us everything we want on the easiest of terms. Too often people have found that in accepting the offer they have lost something which is very precious – their own integrity and self-esteem. Once again, through putting their own desires first, and listening to the seductive promises of the world, they have missed out on who they could have been as a son or daughter of God.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8)

Jesus knew that the only response was the one that placed God first. We cannot truly worship God with our lips if our lives tell a different story. In our pursuit of happiness, wealth and significance it is easy to try and cut corners, looking for the quick and easy options. However, personal integrity and the honouring of God our Father are not things that we can buy or lightly lay claim to. They are easily lost and some are never regained. Yesterday can never be re-written, it must be lived properly today.

 “It is written: `Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'” (Luke 4:8)

Response:
Where am I acting dishonourably before God? Affirm your integrity.

Prayer:

Father, please help me to discern the lies of the world and to live to Your honour and glory. Amen.

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Beauty of Holiness

2015.07.10

But just as he who called you is holy,
so be holy in all you do”

(1 Peter 1:15)

Reflection:
The Spirit is referred to as the Holy Spirit. As God He is holy. He is focussed on holiness and His intention is to make us truly holy.

As believers we are made holy – set apart for God. He intends that we should reveal more of His truth and likeness in our life and living as we are grown and developed by the Spirit in the likeness of Christ – the perfect model and expression of holiness. Our growth is progressive – “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). In this everything that we do, both internally and externally, should become increasingly holy – something which honours God.

In so far as we are open to the Spirit’s influence

• He helps us to live life God’s way – not the worlds
• He pours the love of God into our hearts (Romans 5:5)
• He produces the spiritual fruit that is the evidence of His grace (Galatians 5:22)
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
• He liberates and uses the gifts that He has planned for us (1 Corinthians 12)
• He empowers us for the life, ministry and mission of Christ (Acts 1:8)
and for the good works planned for us in advance (Ephesians 2:10)

‘The Spirit will not sanction our coming to Jesus singing ‘Just as I am’ – and then remaining just as we were!’ He is focussed more on our characters than our comfort – and in the kind of people we are, and are becoming, than in what we accomplish in the world. It is what He will accomplish in us and through us that is of paramount importance.

It becomes really exciting for us when we begin to discover the wonder of worshipping God ‘in the beauty of holiness.’ There is the awesome wonder and delight of His beauty and glory – and then the emotional discovery that we can worship Him in truth from the areas in our own lives which are being touched and transformed by His love.

Response:
The Spirit will help us in every area of our life – to live it God’s way.

Prayer:

Lord God, it is Your Kingdom and Your will that has to be the most important. Please help me to trust and follow You in all areas of my life – and to grow in my knowledge and love of You.. Amen.

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