Spiritual Discipline #1 – Study of Scripture

When thinking about studying Scripture, it is essential to have a clear picture of the goals. Remember, spiritual disciplines are practices that are a “guaranteed place of communion, transformation, and healing.” These practices become a strategic place to hear the voice of God as He calls you into action. So what is the goal of studying Scripture? There can be so many. Here are some surface-level targets to aim at while getting started in the discipline of studying Scripture

3 Targets While Studying God’s Word

-To Know God
There is a difference between knowledge and knowing. I’m sure many of us have explored a little Facebook stalking of people. With a few clicks, we can gather quite a bit of information about people. We can learn where a person lives, who they are married to, where they work, how many kids they have, and what they had for dinner the last few nights. Facebook stalking produces some knowledge about a person, but we all know that you don’t know them. What does it take to know someone? Time, commitment to listening, and a little face to face time. When we have those actions with people, we move from a basic knowledge of who they are to truly knowing them. The desire for us would be to commit approaching Scripture with a desire to know God, not just have some facts.

-To Understand God
More questions, how do we understand something so incomprehensible? How do we understand something that was written in another language for a different audience? When these questions creep into the mind, they tend to sap the desire to even dig into Scripture. The lack of desire is a real enemy to understanding the character, beauty, and enormity of God. God so wants to reveal Himself to us, and God wants to deepen His relationship with us, God doesn’t want us to be confused by Him, but to understand Him truly. That is why it is incredibly important to seek understanding before reading anything. Try praying this prayer each time before opening up the Bible, “God help me to understand who you are more deeply when I read the Word today.”

-To Hear God
Isn’t this the ultimate goal? God, what do you desire? When the voice of God is clear, the mission of God is clear. One of the regular events in the Fazel home is someone standing at the base of the stairs yelling up the stairs asking questions, and the person upstairs isn’t hearing any of it. Every member of the family is guilty of this. The person upstairs receiving the question is completely distracted by something. That distraction is many times a solid core door. The person at the bottom of the stairs gets louder and louder to no avail. It is ridiculous. Now put that into the context of hearing God. What type of distractions exists to where the voice of God is impossible to hear? What barriers are there to prevent the hearing of God’s voice while studying Scripture? Distractions and obstacles are a variety of things; some are great, others not so much. To truly hear God’s voice while practicing the discipline of the study of Scripture, barriers and distractions have to be minimal or removed.

These thoughts are not a comprehensive look at a spiritual discipline of studying Scripture. It is merely a push to get the juices flowing.


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Thinking About Worship – Part 2

This past Sunday one of the most important things happened in our worship gathering since my arrival at our church and I’m not sure anyone even noticed. I know right now you are all filling your mind with that question – what happened? What did I miss?

Typically pastors are fantastic in their hyperbole. Pastors speak in a strange way they say things like:

 

This is the greatest

You are the best

This is the most amazing book

We have never done it that way

I will never do that

You are the best church

 

And on and on with the super hyperbolic descriptors. You all know what I’m talking about. Well, let me assure you when I say “the most important thing” I’m not using pastor speak. It truly was important. Has your interest peaked? Sorry, I’m not going to tell you what it was, but I’m going to share the reason why it happened and hopefully, these types of situations will continue to occur.

Setting the stage for something more –

 

Hunger

Are you hungry for something more from God? Do you want to drink from a deeper well? Our spiritual appetite will set the stage for a deeper worship experience. This is a positional attitude before the Lord. Come to worship hungry for the nourishment that only God can provide. Set the stage for your worship experience by increasing your hunger.

Clean Heart

This seems to be a consistent topic in my writings and teachings. Clean hearts – CONFESSION! What sin, bitterness, hurt, etc need to be confessed before the Lord? Is there a relationship that needs to be reconciled? Having a clean heart gives you the freedom to worship without hindrances. The heaviness is removed and the soul can sing to the Lord.

Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me

Take a Step

Within the worship setting, the Spirit of God is active. He is nudging you, calling you, comforting you, and asking you to take step towards Him. Taking that step is a risk. It is uncomfortable to respond to God, but I’m asking you to do. Respond to the Spirit’s leading by taking the step towards however He is speaking to you.

I believe these three things took place this past Sunday and something more happened in the room that was incredible. Set the stage for something more in your life and the life of the church by hungering for God, coming before him with a clean heart, and having the courage to take that next step in your walk with the Lord.

 

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Thinking about Worship

Worship is such a funny phenomenon. Like most things in our western culture, we have filtered worship through our gadgets, microwaves, smoke machines, and 21st-century technology mindset. The result is worship being spit out looking nothing like what we intended it to be. Worship has become like everything else in our current culture – Selfish!

We express our attitude towards worship in these phrases:

“Worship is what I define it as” “I get to determine what worship looks like” “This is real worship. . .” “That’s not what real worship is”

Our current cultural has claimed that our expression is the primary value in humanity. This way of thinking has found its way into the church and has infected the way we worship. We seem to only worship as much as we can enjoy it. We will always struggle to engage in life-giving worship of God when we only worship what we like; we are tipping on the precipices of idol making.

Worship has lost its potency within humanity. Approaching worship with the current mindset of the 21st-century person creates a dangerous slope, and we lose the fundamental aspect of what worship is supposed to be.

AWE!

Two suggestions to make AWE your foundation in worship

I am a huge proponent of personal expression. God gave us gifts and abilities to use to glorify Him. I will explore expression in worship in the next couple days. These thoughts are to guard us as we develop our church culture while living within the 21st-century. My desire is for us to shape the culture around us and teach people how to live. My two suggestions are counter-cultural to this world, but provide great clarity when it comes the origin point of worship, AWE!

Start With Confession

Confession is a starting point to experience a deeper life in the Lord. The verbal acknowledgment of the need for Jesus in your life puts you a position to truly engage in worship. You need forgiveness, you need help, you need love, you need stability, you need freedom from guilt, and you need Him. When you confess, your heart sings(worships) for all that He has done for you and continues to do for you and in you. Confession generates a longing in the Spirit for Him who can satisfy your soul’s unrest. I believe that a natural response to that satisfaction and hunger is worship. Try confession this Sunday or in your own space during the week. Confess your need for Jesus and see if that alters your worship.

Submission

Submission is all about control. We don’t submit because we don’t want to relinquish control. In the worship setting within the church environment, this is especially true. We tend to complain about style, methods, or song selection. When these discussions take place, we are devolving to being just like our culture. My wants are more important than anything else. I will speak to style, methods, and song selection at a different time. On a personal level, we need to submit to the Spirit of God to lead us into worship. Control prevents that in our lives. We don’t want the Spirit to guide us. What areas of your life are you unwilling to relinquish control? How is your worship hindered because it’s hard to submit?


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