It is a daily task to remind myself that I can’t think like the world or get praise from the world and call myself a child of God at the same time. The two cannot coexist in any peaceful manner within me. One or the other is going to get the short end of the stick.
I was reading John 12 the other day. It is a familiar part of scripture where Jesus is teaching and performing miracles. The time frame was right before the crucifixion. Many people in the land were starting to believe and to follow Christ. The many included some Jewish leaders too. However, they were afraid to openly confess that they were following Christ. They were afraid of being put out of the synagogue.
The scripture says: for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:43
Have you ever been in that situation? Afraid to speak up for God, afraid to publicly say you follow Christ. I recall a friend saying once, “I believe in Jesus but I’m not some Jesus freak.” I chuckled at that. I never explored fully what the friend meant. My guess is that the friend was worried about what people would say about him. He was more interested in the praise of people.
In my mind, to be totally sold out, wholeheartedly following Jesus, you would be seen as a freak. To live wholeheartedly for Christ means you aren’t following the world. That alone makes you the odd man out. It is an every day, every moment commitment to follow Him wholeheartedly. I don’t know about you but the things of the world have a strong and familiar attraction to them. And as creatures of habit, aren’t we comforted by the things that are familiar? Stepping outside our comfort zone takes work and effort. I have to work at it and I don’t always get it right. But I try.
I have faced the challenge of how I am viewed among friends and acquaintances. I believe right now those who have known me for years – friends and family included – are probably thinking I’ve gone off the deep end. But I have seen and I have experienced His love first hand like no other kind of love. Not even the love from my parents – and I know they loved me. They put up with a bull-headed (my mother’s term for me) child.
So whose praise would you rather have – man’s praise or God’s praise?
I don’t know about you but music is so important in my Christian faith. It is a means by which I get my encouragement. I am certainly encouraged by the Word of God, but music comes in a close second.
Right now our church is without a worship leader. We have had a series of musicians and artists come through each Sunday to lead us for that day. We have our regular praise singers and the praise band. And I am very thankful for them. They are a very talented group of individuals that have been able to follow our ‘guest’ artist without flaw. Among those who have come through to lead us, I have enjoyed them all and some I have really enjoyed. I have also heard from a few other people that say they liked some better than others. But it doesn’t matter who is leading on Sunday morning, my worship is every day. I don’t wait for Sunday morning to get my praise on. I have church every day with my iPad and the hundreds of songs in my play list. So if the songs at worship were a little off or not inspiring me, I have my own worship every day to encourage me.
And oh how I love iTunes radio and the different stations. I can enjoy the Praise and Worship station or the Gospel Choir station and the Christian R&B station. They are different styles of music but each station offers great music.
I listen to my music in the morning getting ready for work. And at work I have my ear buds in just worshipping and praising the Lord. I work in an office that has an open concept. We are in workstations – cubicles. But I am swaying and praising God (literally) throughout the day.
We all should have church every day.
Psalm 100 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He, who made us, and we are His; we are His people the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 34:1 I will extol the Lord at all time; His praise will always be on my lips.