Having a Heart Just Like Jesus (6) –  A Worship-Hungry Heart

 

“Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, the brother of James, up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 While they watched, Jesus’ appearance was changed; his face became bright like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 Then Moses and Elijah[a] appeared to them, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you want, I will put up three tents here—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. 5 While Peter was talking, a bright cloud covered them. A voice came from the cloud and said, “This is my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with him. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:1-5 )

 

Do you come to church with a “worship-hungry” heart? Jesus did!

 

This study is about having what Max Lucado calls a Worship-Hungry Heart. In his book Just Like Jesus, Lucado says that We are on a journey, some of us are satisfied with a “predictable experience” but some of us want more than that from life and from worship. He contends that We should come to worship with a child-like enthusiasm, that we must prepare for worship - not just wake up and show up.

 

Some things that we should do to prepare for worship are: collect our thoughts, think about the questions and requests that we have for God, pray before we come, get plenty of rest the night before, read the Word before we come. Then when we come,  we should come hungry, come willingly, come expecting God to speak, and come asking “Can I see the pilot today?”

 

If my worship is what it ought to be and if I have prepared for it, it will change my face. Worry, shame and doubt, tension, anger, exhaustion that may have been reflected in my face, should all melt away. In keeping with the definition of worship, we magnify God, we enlarge our vision of Him, and we come to understand that he is able to handle all of the BIG issues of life. This change in our appearance is something that God does for us, not something that we do.

 

When we have a worship-hungry heart, other people see that reflected in our countenance and the way that we act and they want to become part of it. This is particularly true of children observing their parent’s worship.

 

In the personal Bible study, that I have alluded to in this series of articles, in which we used this book as a discussion guide, we discussed several aspects of our worship.  I will address each of these in turn in the sections that follow, hoping that you might benefit from them.

 

How Important Is Worship To You Today?

Is Worship More or Less Important to You Today Than When You First Obeyed the Gospel?

Human beings have a tendency to become complacent with those activities that they do repeatedly over a long period of time. Think of the attention you give to driving a car now, compared with the thought you focused on the activity when you were just starting out! Think about the passion you had for a field of study or for the effort you gave to learning to play a musical instrument. I think about the great desire my sons, Ryan and Tyler, had that their mother teach them to play the piano. They were excited about all that came with that. But after a period of time, the practice and the constant focus to posture and discipline required to become “good,” they became weary. Now, they view playing with about the same enthusiasm that they approach eating their vegetables at supper time!

 

As a Christian, your worship must be a constant focus of your life. It is not something you do just on Sunday morning when we are assembled together. But neither should our assembling together become that which we do without thinking. As I pointed out in a recent sermon, we must be constantly concerned with “why we do … what we do.”  “Worship-hungry” is a good way to describe the type of heart that God expects from his children. God told the Children of Israel on numerous occasions that He would teach the nations around them to respect Him and to “know that I am God.” (see

 

Also, as you examine the life of Jesus, you see a worship hungry heart demonstrated through constant prayer and communion with the Father. Jesus affirmed that he did nothing of His own will but only that which the Father desired. Is that our attitude? Do we ask, as we contemplate decisions and courses of action, “Is this God’s will or mine?”

 

Matthew 17:1-5 is indicative of the preparations Jesus made when He was to stand in the presence of God. He took companions with Him and went up on a high mountain so they could be alone with God. Jesus’ appearance changed, his face becoming bright like the sun and his clothes became white.

 

 

Does Your Face Reflect Your Heart?

When you come to worship God, do you do so with reverence and awe to be in the presence of the mighty creator of all things who stands above all the limits of time and power? Paul writes, “We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him.” (2 Cor. 3:18 ). Does your face reflect God’s glory?

 

What Happens to Your Face as You Leave the Service and Head to Work Each Week?

 

 

Do You Take That Look With You?

Would Anyone Know by Looking at You on Tuesday That You’d Been With the Master on Sunday? How?

 

 

Are You Presenting a Veiled Face to Others?

As you reflect upon 2Cor 3:12-18, do you sometimes present “veiled faces” or hearts as you worship? Why do you do this? How can you best “reflect God’s glory” this week? At home? At work? With friends?

 

 

I like the point that Lucado makes in a section that he calls “becoming the hands of Jesus” in the study guide. He suggests that, “Whether you’re the “official greeter” at church or not, consider making that one of your “mission opportunities.” Instead of waiting for visitors to make themselves known, put God’s smile on your face, and purposefully seek them out.”

 

 

May I urge you to be just like Jesus? Prepare your heart for worship. Let God change your face through worship!

 

This study is about having what Max Lucado calls a “God-intoxicated heart.” In his book Just Like Jesus, he describes how we are workers together WITH God and as such are always in His presence.

 

 

 

If my daily communion with God never ceased, I would have the “sense of being led by an unseen hand.” Lucado quotes extensively in his book from a journal of reflections written by Frank Lubach and recorded in a book titled Practicing His Presence. Lubach became dissatisfied with his spiritual growth and, at the age of 45, resolved to take action. While engaged as a busy, dedicated instructor, he penned these words,

 

 

 

“I am feeling God in each movement, by an act of will – willing that He shall direct these fingers that now strike this typewriter – willing that He shall pour through my steps as I walk … This sense of being led by an unseen hand which takes mine while another hand reaches ahead and prepares the way, grows upon me daily … sometimes it requires a long time early in the morning. I determine not to get out of bed until that mind upon the Lord is settled.”

 

 

 

And I may well feel as Lubach that “for a day I saw a little of that marvelous pull that Jesus had as He walked along the road day after day ‘God-intoxicated’ and radiant with the endless communion of His soul with God.”

 

 

 

If I am like Jesus, I don’t just make an appointment with God but I am constantly aware of his presence. I don’t commit any deed or make any decision without consulting God. Lucado characterizes this frame of mind as being “so close that he can literally speak through you and all you need do is translate; so close that tuning in to him is like putting on headphones; so close that when others sense the storm and worry, you hear his voice and smile.” (P. 62)

 

 

 

I act differently from those around me because I can hear what others do not hear. I hear the voice of God calming my soul, slowing me down and helping me to see what is really important in this life.

 

 

 

As repeated several times in this book, God loves me just the way I am but refuses to leave me there. He wants me to be just like Jesus! He desires the same abiding intimacy with me that he had with Jesus!

 

 

 

David describes it so well in Ps. 139:1-6 (NLT).

 

 

 

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

 

 

 

 

 

The secret to living in constant communion with God:

 

 

 

    • Give him my waking thoughts – before I even get out of bed
    • Give him my waiting thoughts –being silent with God
    • Give him my whispering thoughts – time at stoplights, opening junk mail, looking for lost stuff – standing in various lines
    • Give him my waning thoughts – as I end my day give thanks for the good and ask questions about the hard parts – seek mercy – seek strength

 

 

 

I have the following poem sitting on my desk at home to remind me that, if I ever begin to think that I am too busy to come into God’s presence, I need to re-evaluate my priorities.

 

 

 

The Difference

 

 

 

I got up early one morning

 

and rushed right into the day.

 

I had so much to accomplish

 

that I didn’t have time to pray.

 

 

 

Problems just tumbled about me

 

and heavier came each task.

 

“Why doesn’t God help me?” I wondered.

 

He answered “You didn’t ask.”

 

 

 

I wanted to see joy and humility

 

but the day toiled on, gray and bleak.

 

I wondered why God didn’t show me.

 

He said, “But you didn’t seek.”

 

 

 

I tried to come into God’s presence.

 

I used all my keys at the lock.

 

God gently and lovingly chided,

 

“My child, you didn’t knock.”

 

 

 

I woke up early this morning

 

and paused before entering the day.

 

I had so much to accomplish

 

that I had to take time to pray.

 

 

 

God wants us to enjoy the same intimacy with him that he has with his Son. How do you try to keep parts of your life hidden from others? What would you like to keep hidden from God? Does it embarrasses you that you are tempted in ways that should not tempt you? Or are you not so much embarrassed by your weaknesses as you are about YIELDING to the temptations in those areas where you are weak? Do you try to hide those weaknesses from others because you think it is an admission that you are not as strong spiritually as you should be? In the light of this lesson, if you approach every moment of your life as if God was standing right beside you, it should help you shun those things that he would not have any part of. When you fall into sin, you are acting as if you are keeping those sins hidden from God.

 

 

 

Consider every moment in your life a potential time of communion with God. How is your sense of worth affected by knowing God will never leave you? If you can truly keep that in the forefront of your mind, you approach every incident and every decision with confidence and with calmness of spirit. You realize how important that work is that God and you do together.

 

 

 

First Corinthians 6:1 names believers as God’s “fellow-workers” or to put it more commonly, God’s “co-workers.” What would happen to your everyday work ethic if you truly believed yourself to be working right alongside the one true God? Would you work harder? Would you do your best at everything with God at the next workstation?

 

 

 

Try letting that concept drive your behavior. At times in my own life, I have been guilty of believing that I could not really be a co-worker with God when I am engaged in “ordinary work.” I have changed that view and now believe that I can. I work an ordinary job in the oil & gas services industry, but I am influencing the people who work for me and I am trying to mentor, coach and serve them. We can all work to develop the servant’s heart that Jesus had.  When I lived in the Kansas City area, I was involved in a school-based mentoring program as part of my attempt to influence a couple of boys who needed a positive male role model in their lives. I am mentored a third-grader who lived in a broken home, whose father was dying of cancer and whose step-father had been deployed to Guam. He was having a tough time getting interested in school. I also tried to approach my work in the local church there with that same mind-set of service. I tried to greet as many at services as I could. When I came to Park Hill, the elders asked me to serve as a deacon and to take on the Treasurer role. I continue to view all of these opportunities as working together with God to do what I can to grow and to assist others to grow spiritually.

 

 

 

Next Month: Having a Heart Just Like Jesus (6): A Worship-Hungry Heart.

 

 

Having a Heart Just Like Jesus (4): A Listening Heart

By Randy Sexton

In previous articles in this series, we have talked about having a forgiving heart, and a compassionate heart. This article is about having a listening heart. Max Lucado, in his book, Just Like Jesus, likens our ears to one of the types of soil depicted in the parable of the sower. We can have ears that are “like a hard road” and unreceptive to the seed. We can have ears that are “like rocky soil” and we hear the Word but don’t let it take root. We can have ears that are “like a weed patch” and are overgrown, and too thorny. Or, finally, we can have ears that hear: well-tilled, discriminate, and ready to hear God’s voice.”

Here are some things to ponder, as you consider whether you have a heart that is ready to hear and obey God’s voice:

  • If we are not giving God “a portion of undiluted, uninterrupted time listening for his voice” we are missing the lesson that Jesus taught us. Jesus “spent regular time with God, praying and listening.” I like to follow Jesus’ example of beginning his day in this way. I like to get up while the house is still quiet, before anyone else gets out of bed, and spend time with my God and His Word!
  • “Listening to God is a firsthand experience. When he asks for your attention, God doesn’t want you to send a substitute; he wants you!
  • The tools we need to use in learning to listen to him include: a regular time and place, an open Bible and a listening heart.
  • As we study the Bible we need to study it a little bit at a time, choosing depth over quantity.
  • Let me add a personal observation to the above thought. I also believe in reading through the entire Bible periodically. I have done this several times and plan to do it again in 2013. Some years I choose to read from a different version than I customarily study from. I am prepared to begin a read-through-the Bible-in-a-year plan in January. I will be following the 5 Day Bible Reading Program in 2013 and reading from the New Living Translation. This plan may be downloaded from www.BibleClassMaterial.com. This type of study covers a lot of ground but does not offer the deep study afforded by a slower, detailed study like I do for my Sunday and Wednesday Bible classes. I believe this provides a good balance by doing both.
  • This is a new concept to many of us that God wants us to be still and let him sing over us. Zephaniah 3:17 says that He rejoices over us!
  • I like the point made in the Study Guide that Jesus “cleared his calendar” in order to speak with his father. Christians in America have a problem with over commitment that drives them to neglect to clear their calendars to spend time with God. Most of us will find that some weeks are better than others but we must accept the challenge to keep that time slot open for time with Him!

We will continue our study next month as we present some thoughts about being led by an unseen hand, having what Lucado calls “a God-intoxicated heart”.

(Uploaded 1/4/13 @ 9:50 AM?)

 

Having a Heart Just Like Jesus (3) - Being Compassionate

 

 

By Randy Sexton

 

 

We know that God wants us to be a compassionate people. And most of the time we are. But occasionally we forget and we allow ourselves to get wrapped up in our own self-interests. This study is about having a compassionate heart.

 

Using Max Lucado’s book Just Like Jesus as a study guide, my personal Bible study with a hurting brother a few years ago brought out the following points about how we can demonstrate a compassionate heart. We considered the power we have in our hands for good or for evil, we talked about the example of Jesus dealing with the ultimate outcast in the New Testament – the leper, and finally we prayed about the power a “Godly touch” can have on the lives of others.

 

The Power That We Have in Our Hands for Good or for Evil

In his book, Lucado asks us to picture someone filming a documentary on our hands – telling our story based on the life of our hands. The film would depict the innocence of youth when the hand is wrapped around a mother’s hand for guidance, then stroking a father’s face affectionately. Before long, however, the hand is seen aggressively exerting its own will against a brother or selfishly taking a toy from another. Lucado sums up his analogy, “Oh, the power of our hands. Leave them unmanaged and they become weapons: clawing for power, strangling for survival, seducing for pleasure. But manage them and our hands become instruments of grace…” (p.26).

Notice the words of Annie Johnson Flint’s song, “The World’s Bible.” This song captures beautifully the influence that we can have on the lives of others by the way we live before them.

 

Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today;
He has no feet but our feet to lead men in His way;
He has no tongue but our tongue to tell men how He died;
He has no help but our help to bring them to His side.

We are the only Bible the careless world will read;
We are the sinners gospel, we are the scoffer's creed;
We are the Lord's last message, given in deed and word;
What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?

What if our hands are busy with other work than His?
What if our feet are walking where sin's allurement is?
What if our tongues are speaking of things His lips would spurn?
How can we hope to help Him and hasten His return?

The Ultimate Outcast in New Testament Times Was the Leper (Mt. 8:1-4)

The leper was to be pitied indeed. The leper is infected by a condition he did not seek, rejected by those he knew; avoided by people he did not know and condemned to a future he could not bear. Lucado tries to capture what might have gone through the leper’s mind as he faced these humiliations.

 

“Their horror of my disease was greater than their concern for my heart – so they and everyone else I have seen since, stepped back.” (p. 29)

 

“… I will never forget the one who dared to touch me. He could have healed me with a word. But he wanted to do more than heal me. He wanted to honor me, to validate me, to christen me. Imagine that … unworthy of the touch of a man, yet worthy of the touch of God.” (p. 33)

The Mark account of Jesus’ encounter with the leper, says that the man told others in spite of what Jesus said about not telling anyone. Why did Jesus command the man to be silent? What happened when the man spoke out?

 

The Power of the Godly Touch

Consider the “Godly touches” that you have experienced. Remember the time that you were discouraged and someone offered you a message of hope? Have you ever been having a particularly frustrating day and someone gave you a smile and told you a story that inspired you to reach down for that little extra?

Can’t we offer the same? “… to pray over the sick and minister to the weak… writing letters, dialing phones, baking pies.” (p. 34)

“We fear saying the wrong thing or using the wrong tone or acting the wrong way. So rather than do it incorrectly, we do nothing at all.” (p. 34)

Do you rememember periods in your life when no words came, but a touch said it all. I have such memories; when Lora died; when my sister died; when my father died.

I must face my own feelings of awkwardness of what to say after one is baptized, confesses sin, or needs visiting in the hospital, or at a visitation or funeral. Tradition at many congregations is to gather up front to express words of encouragement. Many times I have gone to the person later or sent a personal note – sometimes these are more comfortable ways for me.

 

Conclusion

What a powerful ending to Lucado's book:  “Aren’t we glad Jesus didn’t make the same mistake? If your fear of doing the wrong thing prevents you from doing anything, keep in mind the perspective of the lepers of the world. They aren’t picky. They aren’t finicky. They’re just lonely. They are yearning for a godly touch. Jesus touched the untouchables of the world. Will you do the same?” (p. 34). The Apostle Paul tells us, “… clothe yourself with compassion…” (Col. 3:12 ). To fulfill that command requires a deliberate act that we intentionally do! Compassion never “just happens.” And, as we do it every day, it becomes second nature. Think of someone who has a compassionate spirit? How is this spirit expressed through his/her actions, speech, and demeanor? With the Lord’s help, we can all work at better showing compassion.

 

Baptism is a controversial subject. While true that there are many ordinances administered by the denominations that are called “baptism” the Bible recognizes that there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5 ). The “one baptism” of the New Testament must have the right action, immersion, and the right subject, a penitent confessing believer, and the right element, water.

As I mentioned in my first article in this series, I engaged in a personal Bible study, in the fall of 2007, with a brother who was struggling with failing health and difficult medical challenges. He also needed encouragement to faithfulness after a strained relationship with a brother whom he felt had wronged him. I suggested that we meet for a weekly Bible study, using Max Lucado’s book, Just Like Jesus as a guide for our discussions. 
Chapter 2 of Lucado’s book gets right to the heart of one of the things that was troubling my brother.

Contact Info

Park Hill church of Christ
3536 Grinnell
Fort Smith, AR 72908
(479) 782-2415

Schedule of Services

Sunday Bible Study @ 9:30
Sunday Worship @ 10:15
Sunday Worship @ 5:00
Wednesday Bible Study @ 7:00

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