Worship with Will

Worship with Will

By Erin Bird

Alright, let’s get back to our series called From the Heart where we are studying the biblical idea of your “heart” (not the blood pumping organ) and how it helps you worship God. In the previous two weeks of the series, we’ve seen how the “heart” is the seat of your emotions as well as your thoughts. This week, we get to see your heart’s “will.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines a human’s will as “the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.”We see the Scripture provide a foundation for this definition in Proverbs 16:

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
(Proverbs 16:1)

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.(Proverbs 16:9)

The reason man makes his plans from his “heart” is because he was designed this way by God. In the book of Genesis, God created Adam and Eve with this “heart” to make decisions:

With their God-given will, the first humans made decisions, and put those plans into action. Likewise, whenever you make a decision and then put that plan into action, you are exercising your God-given will.

  • Headed to the gym to work out? Your will helped you make the decision to go.
  • Turning off the TV to head to bed? Your will is what you used to push the remote’s OFF button.
  • Saying “no” to dessert? Again, that’s your will in action.

So with this in mind, let’s talk about worship.

Worship with Who?
No, I’m not talking about singing songs to God with a friend named William. I am talking about using your “will” to worship God.

It is my belief that because God designed humans with a will, we should use that will to worship Him (and not use it to eat forbidden fruit!). After all, it is your will you use to get up, get dressed, and go to the Worship Gathering on Sundays. It is your will you use when you sit down to read the Scriptures. It is your will you use when you serve a neighbor or give a generous donation to help a person or organization.

In other words, your will is a key part of your worship of God.

But sometimes, if I’m being honest, I don’t always “feel” like doing some of those things. My sin-corrupted will can sometimes be selfish and tempt me to not worship God, but rather worship self or something else.

Thankfully, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are not alone when you exercise your will to worship God. Romans 8:11 informs us that, if you have placed your faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for the redemption of your sin, “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.” This is why the Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:13 that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

This means that exercising your will to worship God is more about surrender than effort. It isn’t about mustering up the strength and courage to worship. Rather it is about submitting yourself to God, allowing His Spirit to move your will/heart to give Him attention and glory even when you may not exactly feel like doing so.

One last thing: When you use your heart’s will to worship God consistently, it begins to become a pattern, a part of who you are, making it easier and more exciting to worship God rather than an internal battle. So let me encourage you today to do at least one small act of worship no matter your mood. It might be…

  • spending a moment contemplating a Bible verse
  • singing a song in your heart while doing chores or driving
  • stopping for 60 seconds to pray for a friend
  • or simply celebrating throughout your day by praying “God, thank you for Jesus.”

So may you worship God “willfully,”making a decision then acting upon that plan to give God glory and thanks in the midst of your everyday.

Worship with Your Mind

 

by Erin Bird

Last week, I kicked off a series called From the Heart. My goal through this short email-only series is to help you get a better understanding of what the Bible means when it refers to the “heart,” and by doing so, help you grow in your worship of God.

In week 1 of this series, we looked at the “obvious” part of your heart by looking at the topic of emotion. But I believe there is so much more to your “heart” than just your feelings. One of those other areas I believe includes our minds.

The very first book of the Bible states that our “hearts” is the place our thoughts come from:

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)

While that verse is commonly used by theologians to point out the depravity of humanity, it is also a great example to show how the Scriptures, even from the very beginning, use the word “heart” in place of the word “mind” at times. For instance, because the Apostle Peter was familiar with Genesis 6:5, he echoed its words in Acts 8 when talking with a “magician” named Simon. Simon wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit, but when Peter corrected Simon’s thinking, he didn’t refer to Simon’s head, but rather his heart.

This is why I said earlier that there is so much more to your “heart” than just your feelings. Your very thoughts, which you would say come from your mind, biblically also come from your “heart.”

Mindful Worship

Here’s what this means when it comes to your worship:

Worship doesn’t just come through how you “feel.” It also comes through how you “think.”

This is why a heavy proportion of the songs Jake picks each week for us to sing don’t simply repeat the same seven words eleven times (aka “7-11 Songs”). Not that there is something wrong with those songs (after all, some of the heavenly creatures sing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,” without ceasing (see Revelation 4:8).) But a steady diet of lyrically repetitive songs tends to lead a person (or church) to engage the emotional side of the heart more than the mental side. But because Jake and I want you to worship God with all of your mind (Mark 12:30), he selects songs that seek to engage your mind as much as your emotions.

This also means worship doesn’t just happen in song. To worship with your mind can also happen while

Therefore, I encourage you to grow spiritually by worshiping God with your mind. Keep seeking Him, growing in “knowledge and depth of insight” (Philippians 1:9-10), so that you may worship Him with ALL of your mind.

Worship with Emotion

Worship with Emotion

By Erin Bird

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our culture is overly fascinated with the “heart.” No, not the physical organ beating in your chest right now, rather some nebulous part of you found within. It has to do with emotion, but it seems to be more than that. For instance, when a recording artist sings “I love you with my whole heart,” we realize (or at least hope!) it is more than just the feelings the singer is having in the moment. But what exactly is meant?

My goal through this new little email-only series I’m entitling From the Heart is not to define our culture’s understanding of the word “heart,” but rather to help you see what God teaches us through the Scriptures. Over the course of the next five weeks, I hope you will see that God teaches us in the Scriptures He has made our “heart” the seat of our emotions, our minds, and our will, from which come our words, actions, and even our worship of God.

Heart of Emotion
This week, I want to start with the most obvious aspect of the heart – emotion.

Some people are very emotive, while others are more reserved. For instance, one person might leap to their feet in applause after watching a great performance while their seat mate might smile and politely clap.

We see this in worship through song on Sunday mornings. Some people raise their hands while singing the lyrics at the top of their lungs, while others keep their hands at their sides mumbling the words so low the person next to them can’t hear them. What sometimes happens in these moments is the emotive person thinks the non-emotive individual is less in love with God than them, and the non-emotive person thinks the emotion-filled individual is a bit cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

So let me talk to both of these people.

To the non-emotive person…
I want to point out that God created humans with emotions. How do I know? Well, God has created us in His image, and He has emotions. We see in the Scripture that the Triune God experiences joy (Zephaniah 3:17), sorrow (Genesis 6:6), anger (Deuteronomy 3:26), grief (Ephesians 4:30), and more. So if our Divine Creator has made us in His image, then we too should experience emotion. Which means it is more than okay to worship God in a way that your emotions are touched.

To the more-emotive person…
I would caution you to be careful to not be controlled by your emotionor to even chase after certain emotions. In several of Paul’s letters (I’m thinking particularly of Ephesians 5 and Galatians 5), we are instructed to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. We may have been created as emotional beings, but sin often tries to twist our emotions, leading us into sin rather than worship. True worship isn’t just about getting a certain feeling, it is about ascribing worth to God. So what we chase in worship is God’s glory, not a certain emotion. (Which means, the less-emotive person might be deeply worshiping God even though their hands aren’t raised.)

To end, let me draw your attention to a story from the book of 1 Samuel. In chapter 16, the prophet Samuel was instructed by God to go to the household of a man by the name of Jesse to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel. Several of Jesse’s sons looked quite impressive, but God told Samuel, “No, these are not the one.” This confused Samuel, but God reminded the prophet in verse 7 that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

When you worship on Sundays through song, or worship by serving out in the community, or even worship God quietly while sitting with your Bible and some coffee, remember God isn’t nearly as focused on your outward appearance as He is your heart. So engage with Him by bringing your honest self before Him, which includes your emotions.

Worship Fully this Christmas

Worship Fully this Christmas

By Erin Bird

This week, we conclude our Advent Conspiracy series, looking at the final tenet of “Worship Fully.” And to help us contemplate how to do just that, here is the blog post from the Advent Conspiracy team:


For many of us, the time of year when focusing on Christ should be the easiest is often the hardest. Our calendars are full of activities, the to-do lists are getting longer, the stores are getting busier, and an overwhelming stress has crept into our hearts. And it doesn’t help that this time around we are facing a pandemic.

So how do we get back to the heart of the Christmas narrative?

For starters, worship. Each year, Advent brings an opportunity to worship the miracle of the Incarnation when God revealed himself to people in a new way. If you read the Christmas narrative, nearly every character who encountered the infant King had the same response: worship.

Excitement, anticipation, hope—each of these emotions swell around the object of our dearest affection. The reality is that we spend our time and energy on what matters most to us. Notice what you’re spending your time and energy on. Is it drawing you closer to God or is it distracting you from something else?

Here’s a tough question: Does the way we spend our time, money, and energy testify that we worship God incarnate? Sit with that today. Ask God to open your eyes and heart to the truth.

Some activities to help you Worship Fully:

  • Make the most of the last week of Advent by reading some Advent Devotionals or Advent Liturgies.
  • Call a friend  and see how they’re doing. Listen well.
  • Have your kids read the Christmas story while setting up the nativity or before opening presents.
  • For one night, unplug from all technology and social media. In a world full of noise, be intentional about quiet time.
  • Turn the radio off in the car and spend 10 minutes thanking God for the ways He has blessed you.
  • Listen to the Advent Conspiracy playlist on Spotify. Let the lyrics settle into your heart.
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