Wednesday, July 9, 2008

30 Days of Praise - Day 3

I'm going to be brutally honest here and admit that this idea that I started in the midst of a spiritual high is proving to be more difficult than I imagined.

As I have made this decision to spend 30 days choosing to focus on the Lord and praising Him, I find myself struggling against my flesh and its very resistance toward worship.

I've been trying to bring more worship into my day, praying, praising, listening to worship music. And yet repeatedly I found myself angst-ridden and uncomfortable. Dissatisfied? Perhaps that's the word. Honestly I'm not sure, but I know my desire to worship the Lord is being greatly resisted. It's a spiritual battle right within my own, mind, body and soul.

It's curious to me; it makes me wonder what is in the storehouse of my mind that the Lord would like to clean out. I sense that there's something there. Tonight I had lost all patience with my oldest son and his ungrateful attitude of late. I was jumping on his case about his recent chronic attitude of self-entitlement. (Honestly, isn't that par for the course of most teen-agers?) Yesterday when I asked him to put a load in the wash he made a comment about it being MY job to do HIS laundry (it's something I had him doing for himself for quite some time but took back because it just worked out better, easier for me.) And then today he made a demand about me having to add an errand to my schedule in an already busy tomorrow, something that he could have told me about for weeks, but now has to be done immediately. I heard myself saying things like, "who do you think you are?" "Where do you get the idea I'm here to serve you?" Can you sense the ouch that was coming?

Perhaps it is my own issues of self-entitlement that are a source of my struggles to praise. What right do I have to be annoyed by the neighbor who parked in front of my house in "Neal's" spot? Why should I be agitated by someone driving too slowly (in my opinion) in front of me? Why shouldn't my son expect that I would do his laundry? (That's a hard one to swallow, but one worth considering.)

Honestly I am confused in the midst of all this; these ramblings are an attempt to figure this all out for myself. Perhaps this is the reason the Lord Himself taught that we should lead by serving, not by demand.

Let's look at this passage of scripture together from John 13:3-17

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”

So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

This passage is fascinating truly. Jesus has shown His disciples a very specific form of worship.

Read Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

The New King James version refers to the "spiritual act of worship" as "reasonable service." It really is the least we can do.

The most challenging mystery to resolve is this, in my "spirit man," I want nothing more than to worship the Lord, and yet my flesh fights against it. What do I do to resolve the battle?

A couple verses from the Psalms came to me as I pondered this thought. Psalm 73:25-26 says this: "Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." This seems to me a perfect description of what I am struggling with. My flesh and my heart fail, despite my desire for Him. Did you see the key? GOD is the strength of my heart.

Is it possible that even the power and strength to worship come from God alone? I think it's so. Read John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

What a sad and desperate people we are. How can we not praise a God who loves us and gives us so much despite our failure, weakness and ineptness?

As for me, tomorrow I hope to worship the Lord not just with my lips, but with my reasonable service, even my son's laundry, no matter how he does or does not show appreciation. After all I am called to serve as Christ did, and I am realizing all the more how much He blesses me despite my own wicked heart.

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