THE SURRENDERED LIFE: GIVING OURSELVES IN WORSHIP
'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.'† (Romans 12:1)
The next step in worship is the worship of a surrendered life.† It is the place of sacrifice and consecration.† This is a wonderful place of worship for the individual where he or she gives everything to God.† But the worship of individual consecration is not likely to produce a mighty move of God.† This can be difficult to understand because usually we expect everyone to be moved by our commitment to Christ.† Yet this is generally not the case.† When people come to the Lord they can sometimes be disappointed by the reaction of their close friends.† They have expected them to understand that the reason they have become Christians is because the gospel is true.† But instead the friends that they have known for a long time have looked upon them as strange.† When we decide to follow Christ, we must be willing to be regarded as strange even by those who used to be our close friends.† This is also true in worship.† We may expect our expression of love for Christ to inspire others to worship.† Yet sometimes our worship in sacrificial giving not only has no influence on others, it can also bring us into conflict with other believers.
The worshipper at this level offers his or her life as a living sacrifice.† It is love expressed in joyous sacrifice, cheerfully giving all because of love for the Saviour.† It is the pouring out of our lives because of our love for the Lord.† Many people who love the Lord with all their hearts have laid their lives on the altar, and gone out in Christian ministry in their homeland or in other lands.† This is a wonderful act of worship when it is motivated by love for Christ, but it is sad when the person does not go beyond this level of worship.† Christian work has often seen small results because the person in ministry did not rise above this level of worship.†††
The anointing of Jesus by Mary at
The worship of Mary in
Worshippers who joyously pour out their lives in worship will not be understood by those who have no desire to worship.† Many believers have had to face severe opposition from other believers when they have turned their backs on success and prosperity to serve Christ.† It was not the world that became angry at Mary's expression of worship; it was the disciples who became angry at her act of joyous giving.† When our brothers and sisters in Christ misunderstand our actions we must respond with tenderness and love.† If we lose our joy by coming into conflict with others then we will go down from the place of worship. The joyfulness of a surrendered life will be lost unless we learn to abide in the love of the Lord Jesus.† Many who have surrendered all to Christ have been led into conflict at this level. 'If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Fatherís commandments, and abide in his love.† These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.' (John 15:10-11)
Conflicts between believers can easily happen at this level of worship.† In the past years I have seen conflicts within the church and I have also been involved in some disputes.† We have had to learn many hard lessons through these conflicts.† The main one being that they are not productive and some people never recover from the bad feeling caused by them.† The Bible says 'Ö keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace' (Ephesians 4:3); we are one body in Christ.† But the surprising thing concerning disputes is that it is usually not the cold and half-hearted Christians who are involved.† Disputes that I have been aware of have often involved people whose lives were fully dedicated to the Lord.
Some churches are proud that they have no internal fighting, but sometimes this is due to lack of spiritual life rather than spiritual maturity.† A church that is active on a social and humanistic level, and inactive concerning spiritual growth is less likely to have a split than one that is spiritually alive. So then why does conflict happen in churches where people are spiritually alive?† This level of worship provides the answer.† Conflict among believers will happen when we stop worshipping and become defenders of what we believe.† Being a defender of the faith must never conflict with being a worshipper.† Worship must be in truth, but true worship is always in the Holy Spirit.† A worshipper cannot fight with carnal weapons.† We must beware that we don't go down from being a worshipper because of our zeal for truth.† The Bible warns us 'But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another.' (Galatians 5:15).
We grieve the Holy Spirit when we lose our joy and go down from worship to conflict.† A person who loves the word of God and has laid his or her life on the altar for the Lord must always seek to remain in the place of worship.†† Love for God's word should keep us from contention. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: 'But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.'† (1 Corinthians 11:16)† \\Jesus never compromised the truth neither did He ever compromise His relationship with the Father.† We cannot worship outside of truth, but neither can we worship if we are zealously defending our own opinions and beliefs. It is a sad loss if we spend our lives in contention over a particular teaching when God has called us to worship.††
Peter was willing to die for
Christ in the
This level of worship is also the place of brokenness where the Lord desires to teach us to be tender hearted, forgiving one another.† We can only rise to higher levels in worship when we learn to love those in the body of Christ who have spoken against us.† It is those who are closest to us who can hurt us the most. 'And be kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christís sake has forgiven you.' (Ephesians 4:32)
Some years ago I led a church where there had been conflict before I became the leader.† We had a small congregation, but I was involved in two splits before the church finally ended.† This experience taught me lessons I could not have learnt any other way.† I realised that each one of us in the body of Christ needs to have a spirit of brokenness so that we can rise above conflict and be tender hearted towards one another.† The sacrifices of God are 'a broken and contrite heart' and this is the only way to worship.† Probably this book would never have been written if I had not learnt this lesson of brokenness. I could not go higher in worship until I was willing to recognise that I had to change my thinking in certain areas.† If I had not been willing to change then I would not have been able to go beyond this level of worship to the higher realms of anointed worship.† There is a danger at this level of worship that many wonderful people of God never overcome.† They do not move beyond this level because the zeal to defend what they believe forces them back from being a worshipper.† Pride will also stop us from moving up to the anointing.
The most powerful form of preaching is to preach Christ with a heart that is filled with joy because of what Jesus has done for us. I remember a time when my wife used to say to me 'Why do you look so angry when you preach?' I would answer 'because the message is serious'.† I still believe this is true, but if we do not bring the joy of the Holy Spirit then our message can have the opposite effect of turning people away from Christ.† Of course this kind of preaching did not bring great results in my ministry.† It is easy to put the blame on the congregation and claim that people are rejecting the truth, but there will never be a great response if the message is preached without joy. I have now learnt that preaching cannot be separated from worship.† The pulpit is not just a place to speak; it is a place where the minister must learn to speak as a worshipper.† God has not called us to attack people with doctrine, but we are called to worship, and through the joy of worship to speak of the 'unsearchable riches of Christ'.
It is only those who have surrendered their lives as a living sacrifice who are able to reach this level of worship.†† It is the place of sacrificial giving because the worshipper knows that the Lord is his or her greatest possession.† Sacrificial giving is not just the privilege of the wealthy.† The poor widow was able to worship with sacrificial giving even though she only had two mites, the smallest coin in Bible days.† Her offering was special because she had nothing left.† She had given all she had and in her poverty she could reach to this height in worship. '...but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living'.† (Mark 12:44).†† The poor widow worshipped God in a wonderful way but it had little effect upon anyone else.† If the Lord had not brought it to His disciples' attention nobody would have ever known what she did.†† Worship at this level is often very personal, and even though it is a wonderful place of worship, its significance can pass without being seen.† Knowledge of what has been done through those who have totally surrendered their lives to the Lord can inspire believers to do great things for God, but this is different from being drawn to Christ because we have been 'cut to the heart' by the moving of the Holy Spirit.†† This happens at the higher realm of worship, the anointing.
The worshipper is able to move
higher in worship from thanksgiving and praise to the worship of sacrificial
giving.† When we give our hearts and
lives entirely to the Lord, we are only giving back to Him that which He has
given us.† We are stewards of our lives,
and we must learn to worship in sacrificial giving, and whatever we give to the
Lord must be given with joy.†† The joyous
giving of our lives to the Lord as an act of worship is very personal and can
be misunderstood by other believers.†
Mary's selfless act of worship in