“3For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight… 7Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 9Don‘t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:3-4; 7, 9-12
It has been said again and again the season that we are in as a nation is the Year or Season of Jubilee. As I had shared in my earlier devotion titled “The 7R’s of Jubilee” you will realize that “Repentance” comes first before the rest. This is because, “There can never be a blessing where there is no fellowship.” and any broken fellowship can be restored through Repentance and Forgiveness.
Repentance is the ultimate goal of worship, which makes it the number one priority of our worship. This is the reason why God is always calling us back to Himself. Isaiah 1:18 says “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.”
This is the reason why we are calling back Kenya as a nation to God; thus the theme for this year “Re-establish Kenya back to God and decree a new dispensation for the next 50years”.
Metanoia is the Greek word commonly translated as “repentance,” but it literally means “changed thinking.” So, talk about truth that leads to change; talk about selecting a different option; talk about taking a divergent path—all these with the goal of leading people to repentance, which is a change of thinking and/or a turning from sin.
When we come before God in worship, one of the things we sometimes forget to do is repent. In the scripture above, David is confessing and acknowledging before God his sin of adultery, and that of having the husband of his partner in adultery killed. Not only is David acknowledging what he’s done, but he says, "My sin is ever before me." David knew what he had done and he wasn’t blaming anyone else for it.
When we come before God in worship (not "coming to church", but "worship"; the two are very different) we must see to it that we bring a clean heart before Him. David speaking in Psalm 24:3-4 said only those who have "clean hands and a pure heart" may stand in his holy place. You need to know that just about that anybody can praise God, not everyone can worship Him.
There are 4 things that worship requires:
a) Worship entirely requires TOTAL SURRENDER on our part.
b) Worship requires TOTAL FOCUS on God and His worth, majesty, and power.
c) Worship requires a TOTALLY CONNECTED heart with God.
d) Worship requires an ATTACHMENT to God, not just an ATTRACTION to Him.
Churches are filled every Sunday with people who are attracted to Jesus, but never become attached to Him through salvation and various available means of spiritual growth. A true worshiper not only understands what it means to worship God in spirit and in truth, but also understands that we cannot come to God any kind of way. True worship unto God requires from us a pure heart, and a humble spirit.
As a worship leader, never have the impression that weepy people falling on their faces at the altar is the only real evidence of repentance. While repentance does often take the form of a strong emotional response, it can also be seen in much smaller moments of realization. Repentance is any recognition of sin that leads to an alignment with God’s plan and purposes. Here’s my favorite definition of repentance from one of my favourite speakers: “Repentance is a willful, personal response to the continuing call to follow Christ that leads to a change in outlook, action, and obedience.”
We must remember that intellectual knowledge is just the beginning of transformation. Information plus inspiration plus action leads to transformation. God provides the inspiration; we provide the information and the call to action. Thus, there must also be a clear call to repentance and, most importantly, the congealing inspiration of God. None of us is in the business of creating transformation in people. God is the only one who can do that. Our job is to create an authentic environment and atmosphere through worship where the transformation can happen and intentionally invite others into God’s truth.
Repentance is not for God’s sake… it is not that He takes delight in watching us squirm; it is for our own sake. Sin becomes like a thick layer of calloused skin over our hearts that obstructs our spiritual sensitivity.
This is what sin does to you:
1) It reduces your pleasure in being in God’s presence;
2) It lessens your ability to feel it when you are getting even deeper into sin;
3) It keeps you from unimpeded closeness to the rest of God’s family;
4) Worst of all, it deafens the ears of your heart to the sound of God’s voice.
As a worshiper, you need to spend more and more time in God’s presence so that you can be able to know his mind and heart. This is the only way that you can be able to lead others into his presence -where you have been. But when you have sin harbored in your heart, thus, you cannot be able to get to Hid presence or even hear His voice when He is speaking to you.
This is the principle that David understood and he prayed in Psalms 51:10-12 and said: "cast me not away from your presence oh Lord; take not thy Holy Spirit from me, restore unto me, the joy of my salvation, and RENEW the right spirit within me."
If people aren’t seeing their lives transformed by the reality of Jesus Christ, we may not be doing our part to make sure the worship service is having the effect God wants it to have. People should be more like Jesus when they walk out of worship service than when they walked in, and every aspect of our services should be created with that goal in mind. When we come before a holy God in worship, He is not interested in our accomplishments, our status in the community, or how much money we put in the offering plate; instead, He wants to know we are coming clean before Him, confessing our sins and choosing to live life His way. God just wants us to get real with Him.
Of all the things we lay before God in worship, let us remember to make repentance one of them. Repentance is the deepest kind of worship.
6 1-3 “So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!” (Romans 6:1-3 MSG)
Nobody likes death, but yet it is the gateway or passage to the other side of life (eternity or hell) and whether we like it or not, we will die. The bible says “And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27 AMP). But what counts is how we live here on earth and thus we do not have to fear death. Jesus said “most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.” (John 12:24 AMP)
Similarly, we also need to die to SIN so that we can live in Christ. It is only through our DEATH to SIN that we can have LIFE in Christ Jesus through his death and resurrection. Paul speaks to the Roman church and asks them if they wanted to continue living in sin so that the grace of God could abound… But he goes ahead and gives them reasons why they need to quit living in sin and how their death to sin translates to life. Paul refers to our baptism as death to sin and resurrection in Christ and thus we ought not to go back to sin anymore.
Once someone is dead, they are dead and they aren’t active at all. Then the question is why are you actively living in sin if you are already dead to the same? That means that there is a part of you that aren’t dead. There are two things that death brings:
- End of life – once you breath your last and die, it means that your life has come to an end and thus, we do not expect to see you anymore. Thus, same applies to sin. Once you accept Christ and you die to sin, then, we do not expect to see traits if sin or even the fruits of the flesh manifesting in you in any way.
- Forgetting: Once you are dead, people tend to forget you after a while. All what people remain with is a memorial of you through photos posts and writings and more importantly your deeds. Thus, if we die to sin, we need to forget the pleasures that we enjoyed and ask the blood of Jesus to cleanse you.
Paul shares some insights of our death to sin resurrection in Christ into life and shows several key principles that I believe that are key for us to know and adhere to so as we can be victorious over sin and more so, die completely unto death.
1) Repent your sin, renounce it and leave the camp:
"So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good?" (Romans 6:1-2 MSG)
Many of us renounce sin and we profess Christ as Lord and saviour of our lives, yet in the bottom of our hearts, we know that there is something that we haven’t let go from our past. Paul says, sin is sovereign and it rules over our lives, and when we renounce sin, it’s like we are moving houses and we pack all our belongings and leave for good since we aren’t going to live in the same house again… But some of us leave something’s in the "old house of sin" that keeps calling us back. If you choose to leave sin, Repent, renounce it and leave the camp completely.
Consider this: "For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him]. Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:10-11 AMP)
2) Do not yield to the desires of the flesh:
“Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness.” (Romans 6:12-13 AMP)
Apostle James writes and says "But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions)." (James 1:14 AMP) Note that it is your desires that lead you to be DRAWN away from other brethren, ENTICED by sin and then BAITED into the same and then find yourself deep in sin. This comes with you yielding yourself to the desires and the lust of the flesh.
Paul exalts the Romans not to yield themselves cravings, lusts and evil passions of the flesh and thus offer themselves and their bodies to sin as instruments of wickedness. But instead, they should offer themselves unto God as implements of righteousness. This is what Paul writes to the Romans: "I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship." (Romans 12:1 AMP)
3) Know and exercise your power over SIN:
“…you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God” (Romans 6:12, 14 MSG)
I love the words that Paul uses… “…you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life.” That means that many times, it is us who joke around with sin and give it a foot hold and once Sin gets a loophole to penetrate into our lives, it starts ruling us… but you need to exercise your power and dominion over sin.
How do we exercise dominion over sin?
- Hide the word of God in your heart:
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalms 119:11 NIV)
- Flee from Sin… Do not entertain it.
“Shun youthful lusts and flee from them, and aim at and pursue righteousness (all that is virtuous and good, right living, conformity to the will of God in thought, word, and deed); [and aim at and pursue] faith, love, [and] peace (harmony and concord with others) in fellowship with all [Christians], who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22 AMP)
- Tame/master your desires and lust of the flesh:
“Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).” (James 1:13-14 AMP)
“God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.” (Genesis 4:6-7 MSG)
· Confess victory over the same
“And they have overcome (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony…” (Revelation 12:11 AMP)
· Be accountable to someone/Get accountability partners.
“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James 5:16 MSG)
I love the amplified bible version, it says: “Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].” (James 5:16 AMP)
Just like a seed, we all look to live a productive life and more so leave a legacy, but unroll we die to self, we will never be able to replicate ourselves to beget others who will carry on the work that we start to the finish. And I would echo Paul’s clarion call to the Hebrews saying "THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]." (Hebrews 12:1, 2 AMP)
Brethren, the journey of faith to heaven isn’t easy but yet, we can make it. All that we need is to make sure that we master the sin that is crouching at the door before it masters us, and thus we can live a victorious Christian life.
Guard your Doctrine!!!
Paul said these words to his Spiritual son Timothy “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” He emphasizes to him the importance of taking care of hi life and doctrine and above all to give himself and continue in them because in doing so, he would not only save himself, but also the people that heard him and the ones he also led. Remember timothy was the youngest bishop of the church history.
Worship is our call and doctrine. This year’s theme clarifies it all. “Real Worship, Real Life” Your worship lifestyle is what will shape your mode of day to day living in this earth. And in this case, you and I are the Timothy’s of today. God has called you and has gifted you with the ability to praise and worship him and above all, lead his people into his presence through your gift. I don’t know how you realized your gifting in worship but for timothy, it was through laying of hands and also a word of prophesy. This is the reason why Paul urges him to guard that. This is the same way that we ought to guard ourselves.
Take a look at the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-42. She is a good example of someone who had taken heed to worship lifestyle though she did worship what she didn’t know. She knew where and how the Samaritans worship but she wasn’t sure of whom or what they worshiped. You and I know whom we worship, thus we should guard this with all diligence knowing that it has life in it. When Jesus shared the truth about real worship to her, she couldn’t hold onto it alone; she had to let her brethren know. This is how Paul was telling Timothy that his doctrine would affect others who hear him. Your lifestyle is an example and speaks load more than your words do. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:3 “Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it – not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives – and we publish it.” Again Jesus said that we are the salt and light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden – In this regard, your worship filled lifestyle should be emitting light unto the world.
Daniel is a perfect example to follow. (Daniel 6:10) He accustomed himself to a worship filled lifestyle and he was consistent to watch it and keep in it. He worshiped and prayed three times a day facing Jerusalem and this made the other scribes and leader in the Babylonian kingdom conspire against him. They searched for anything to accuse him of but they found his life was faultless and the only thing that they could use to accuse him was in line with his worship lifestyle and thus they made a decree but nevertheless, he wasn’t affected because he went ahead and worshiped as he always did. This made him get into problems that put his life at stake but god was there to deliver him.
Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it, comes the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 Your heart is the custodian of all the decisions that you make in life, thus why Solomon said, from the heart, springs forth the issues of life. When you take care of your heart, you will find it easy to watch over your doctrine and this comes with some benefits in it:
a) It brings life to you and others – through our worship, we are able to speak to the people around us the truth about God whom we worship and this transforms others. When Jesus shared the truth about worship, the Samaritan woman was transformed and thus she went and called others so that they could also hear and be transformed. Your lifestyle will attract people to Christ.
b) God fights your battles – There are things and issues in life that we struggle with in life, when we are ion tune with God, He will fight the battles for us. Daniel didn’t have to start begging for a pardon from the king, instead, he was thrown into the lion’s den but God fought for him. When the King comes in the morning, he asks Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20b and Daniel answers him and says he did. Make it a habbit to let everything to God and He will fight for you. Remember King Jehoshaphat? He faced the armies with praise and Worship and God fought for him.
c) Your day to day lifestyle is set - Some times we really struggle to get some time to speak to God. Daniel didn’t have to struggle. It was his lifestyle and thus he knew when the time came for him to go and pray. When the spirit is in tune with God, even the body follows suite and obeys. Once you develop this, you will be finding yourself doing what you are meant to be doing and when time for prayer comes, you won’t struggle. Remember Peter and John in Acts 3:1-3 it was their custom to go to the temple to pray.
d) It gives you identity – I totally love this. Rev. Tom spoke about fatherlesness and its relation to worship. The Samaritan woman didn’t have an identity when it came to the issue of her husband (Who is a father figure); but when Jesus spoke to her, she found her identity in Christ. She goes back to the village and tells the people “come and see the man who told me everything about my life” through their deep conversation with Jesus, she found identity in Jesus and true worship of the Father in heaven.
e) God is glorified in you and through you – Not only did the Samaritan woman know God alone, she also led the whole village to believe in God. Daniel too made God to be known and proclaimed through out Babylon that He was the only God worthy to be worshiped simply because Daniel chose not to compromise in any way.
It’s my prayer that we will choose to guard our ministry and the gifts that God has given us and make effective use of them and thus they will not only help us but also those who watch and hear us.
The Alabaster Box!!
Real Worship! Real Life! mmm… this is a theme that I have loved and I am striving day by day to live by it and make it my habit and lifestyle. I believe that so far, you have gained something from AFLEWO and your life has not been the same as it was when we started this season. There are two things that will shape your life and character day by day in this walk of faith: Prayer and fellowship with God trough worship. We can only reach the heart of God through worship, and that’s the only means and ways to get hold of him. A singer sang and said, I will seek you first Lord, you will my voice; early in the morning and late in the night… this means that it doesn’t matter what time of the day it was, he had purposed to offer himself to seek the Lord till he found him and had a fellowship with him. Worship should be part and parcel of our day to day life and every moment that we find for ourselves, we should strive to have time with God and fellowship with him. Worship is not a noun. It is not something that we go to. It is not something we attend. It is not something we observe. Worship is not an event and neither is it entertainment. Worship is a verb. It is something that you and I do. It is a lifestyle.
Talk about Real worship; Real life… This is a life of releasing and loosing yourself from what entangles you and giving yourself wholly unto God and allowing him to take control over your life. He alone knows you since he is the one who created you and the purpose for your creation was one – WORSHIP. Nothing else; All other things that we do to God are secondary. The primary purpose was for us to worship him and declare of his wonders and works. David knew this very well and in psalms 84:2 we hear him say that he longs for the day that he will find himself again in the temple of the Lord just to worship him and behold at his beauty. His flesh and soul/heart cry out unto him. This should be our daily longing; to be where his presence is and be found in him and him in us, saturated with his love and lost in his presence.
An alabaster box was a box that contained a costly perfume that was worth so much to Simon and the disciples of Jesus. When Mary came and broke the box and anointed the feet of Jesus, they were very unhappy that she could have sold the expensive perfume and use the money to help the needy among them. In the same manner, our bodies are alabaster boxes. They contain the Spirit and the soul which connect to God. They are meant to harbor and contain the presence of God. Paul reminds this to us by telling us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should also strive to offer our lives as living sacrifices to him, HOLY and ACCEPTABLE. Mary had a longing in her heart that could not be quenched by anything else, rather than coming and crying at the feet of Jesus. She came and broke the box that contained the perfume that she used and offered it as an ointment to Jesus’ feet.
It is until our physical bodies, status quo, pride and everything else that surround, entangle and easily beset us are broken; then we can easily and comfortably worship God. This can only happen when we come to a point and allow Jesus to take lead in our lives and work them out as he wishes. This is a step that is not easy. I believe it had taken Mary a bold step to come to Jesus feet and pour out her heart unto him. This is clearly reflected because after Jesus told her that her that her sins were forgiven; she dashed out of the house so fast before anyone else could say a word to her. A word from Jesus was enough for her soul.
When we worship, there are several things that happen to us:
a) We receive healing – Our hearts, souls and bodies are sick. Not only physically but also spiritually. It is only when we worship that’s when we receive our healing. Mary was healed of her spiritual sickness of her heart after she came and worshiped at Jesus feet. We have witnessed miracles of instant healing during sessions of worship. A good example is during Kaberia and the Klan recording a week ago.
b) We receive forgiveness of sins – After Mary had poured out her out at Jesus feet, Jesus tells her that her sins are forgiven. It is only through worship that we can only empty out our hearts wholly unto God and allow him to search our hearts and mend the missing links between us. When David had sinned with Bathsheba and God spoke to him through Prophet Nathan, he chose to go before God in worship and repent his sins and he was forgiven. Our brokenness and true repentance is clearly or well indicated when we worship and God honours it.
c) We are restored back to God – Mary was an outcast according to the Israel customs. She was an unclean woman and she was not worthy to be where Jesus was leave alone to touch him. That is why you see the disciples and Simon the Pharisee murmuring when Jesus allows her to touch him. We are also sinful and not worthy to appear before God before of our sinful nature. But God chose to allow Jesus to come and die so that we can be able to approach the throne of God with confidence knowing that he will accommodate us. It is through worship that our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled with God. We see in the Old Testament people used to go and offer a sacrifice for atonement and forgiveness of sins. Through the oil that she anointed Jesus with, it was a sweet smelling sacrifice to God and thus her sins were forgiven.
d) Our burdens are taken away – we carry so much load(s) and burdens that we shouldn’t be carrying at all. This is simply because we do not want to let down our ego or our self esteem. Mary wasn’t even worthy to come near Jesus and touch him at all. But she says in her heart that it doesn’t matter if people see me as a prostitute, all I need is the potters touch and I will have it when I pour out and release out what I treasure most. Most of us do not want the alabaster box that contains our ‘excuses’ why we don’t want to approach God in worship to be broken. As hard as it is, painful as it is. Shameful as it may be – you have a chance to take it unto Jesus through your worship and prayer to him. He is the only one who will never cast you away.
What else are we waiting for? Make worship your lifestyle and you can be sure that you will live a victorious life in Jesus name. Do not let this season pass without you cultivating this lifestyle in you. Remember “A Real worship lifestyle will be the determining facter of how real your life will be”