Worship Poured Out

Our individual and corporate worship and prayer times are an opportunity for pouring something out upon Jesus. An opportunity to minister to His heart and bring Him pleasure. I don’t think about this often but I do think about it. Our worship is twofold, for Jesus because He is worthy (worthy is the Lamb Revelation 5:12) and for us because it changes us and enables us to encounter His presence (Revelation 4:9-11).

We received Jesus’ nature in our spirit when we experienced the new birth, our spirit encountered the fullness of life. At the same time, by giving something of Himself to us, Jesus was and is in no way diminished. We now have something of Him that we can offer back to Him. We can worship in spirit and truth and live out of the reality of this verse.

26 “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26 (NKJV)

This love the Father has for Jesus was planted in us at conversion and we can now return it to Jesus. In pouring out worship not only is His presence in us not decreased, it increases! We experience more of His presence and He is blessed and pleased by what we pour out.  

You may wonder how we can affect any change in Jesus or the Father given scripture says “For I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6) or as it says in Hebrews,

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)

The answer lies in His consistency and faithfulness. When we read through scripture we see Yahweh’s jealousy, anger and sorrow. A full range of emotions. Yet at the same time they are all governed and motivated by love. We know from 1 John 4:7 that God is love, that is His essence. We see it in the most famous verse in scripture.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

            There are numerous verses in the Old Testament that refer to Yahweh’s pleasure at the sacrifices offered. The pattern continues in the New Testament.

15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NKJV)

18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. Philippians 4:18 (NKJV)

16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:16 (NKJV)

Thus, we can see that while pouring out our worship on Him will not change His essence, it will bring Him pleasure. Let’s do that!

 Misty Edwards Pour My Love on You with lyrics

A Right Focus

            I recently had an online debate with a fellow who was concerned that people in the church didn’t see themselves as sinners. He viewed it as heresy and dangerous if we didn’t focus on being sinners. That was how he saw scripture. I was unable to dissuade him of his views so left the matter alone after sharing my thoughts and scripture with him. I have learned over the years that continuing to beat my head against the wall only gives me a sore head, it doesn’t enlighten the other person. I do however recognize the importance of the issue so want to share what scripture presents to us.       

            My first point is that I see in scripture that as believers we will have a battle with sin as long as we are in this body. Paul said it this way.

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. Romans 7:15–20 (NKJV)

Paul acknowledged his ongoing battle with sin, something within him that wanted to lead him to wrong thoughts and actions. However, Paul didn’t stop there, he pointed us to the solution to the problem.

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:5–6 (NKJV)

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:12–14 (NKJV)

Paul’s teaching in Romans is parallel to his earlier teaching in Galatians 5:18-25 about walking with or by the Spirit rather than the flesh.

            I do think we are in a dangerous position if we deny that we have a capacity or propensity to sin. However, I also see in scripture that if we focus on sin and view ourselves as sinners, holding that as our identity, we are far more prone to sin. I have often used the analogy regarding repentance. Repentance is a change of mind and heart that produces a change in behaviour. We are often told that to repent means ‘to turn and go the other way.’ That is in fact the result or fruit of true repentance, not the repentance itself. Now, imagine you were a lost sinner, had a change of mind and heart (repented) and started following Jesus. You have done a 180 degree turn. Now imagine you keep looking back to where you were while trying to walk forward. It would occasion a lot of falling.

That is how I see our walk with Jesus. If I am focused on sin and hold onto an identity as a sinner, I am looking back. Scripture doesn’t teach that. Scripture says that if I am to walk in victory over sin I need to look to Jesus, the ‘author and finisher’ of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). Scripture makes provision for when we fail and do sin, it doesn’t tell us to hold onto an identity as sinners.   

7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:7–9 (NKJV)

Paul provides a further key to living rightly in our walk with Jesus.

4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, 5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. Philemon 4–6 (NKJV)

I want the good things in me in Jesus, to set my mind on things above, on Christ in me the hope of glory and recognize His ongoing transformative work in my life. What is your focus?


            We are likely familiar with the parable of the talents. There are two different versions. The first is found in Matthew 25:14-30 and the second in Luke 19:11-27. The versions are different because Jesus would have taught the same stories in different ways as He travelled about teaching. I am looking at Matthew’s version. When I have heard teaching on the subject the focus has always been on the outcome. Instead of that let’s start at the beginning. At points in my career, particularly in my management roles, there were sometimes ridiculous expectations rather than realistic goals. I once told my staff that what we were being expected to do was ‘change the tire while driving down the highway!’ Goals that stretch us are useful but they still need to be realistic. My response to the ridiculous was, “If you goal for me this year is to be able to jump over the building at the end of the year, we need a new goal as that isn’t going to happen.” In the parable of the talents Jesus presents the goal or task as realistic.

14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Matthew 25:14–15 (NKJV)

            Here we have a man who had servants and gave them responsibility according to their ‘ability.’ That is, the owner gave each servant an area of responsibility based on what he could realistically be expected to achieve. Jesus embedded a principle here. Our Father has given to each of us talents, gifts or abilities. When our lives are weighed at the end of this age, He will not compare what we have done with what someone else has accomplished. His assessment will be based on what we have done with what we have been given. The two talents servant wasn’t expected to achieve what the five talents servant accomplished. He was expected to achieve what he was able to accomplish with two talents.

            I think one of the problems we have in the church is a tendency to focus on or desire the talents of others without really seeing our own. For example, I may want to be a great preacher and look at great preachers I admire and wish I could be like them. However, that would be wasting my time, and my talent. I have often said over the years that I like neither giving or receiving lectures. I am a teacher not a preacher. I want to engage and interact with people not talk at them. If I look at and seek to learn from great interactive teachers that is a good use of my time. Trying to be a great preacher wouldn’t be.   

            Part of my teaching gift is writing, this being an example. Over the years my friend Wouter has spoken into my life a good deal about my writing and in heeding his advice my writing has improved. Wouter is a gifted teacher and taught high school English for decades. I would be foolish to not receive his advice and corrections. At the same time, though we both teach our styles are not the same and my goal is not to teach or write like Wouter, it is to teach and write well as Randy. I heard Josh McDowell say something nearly forty years ago. He said, “If you spend all of your time being someone else who is going to spend all of their time being you.” That has always stuck with me.

            Each of us have gifts and talents, each of us has a calling from Jesus. There are cases where people have developed gifts that weren’t obvious early on. I know of more than one person who felt called by Jesus to play a musical instrument and be a worshipper. They then just ‘did it’ with no formal training. Jesus calling them activated something He had put in them. A qualifier here, musical training and ability does not in and of itself make one a worship leader. I have heard skilled musicians in church who frankly do not understand worship nor can they lead others into His presence. (My next post will address the pairing of gifts and calling).

            Aside from worship and teaching there are many gifts and callings. We each need to discern ours through prayer, input from others and our inner sense of calling. When we do that and consistently live it out we can look forward to these words at the end of the age, ‘well done good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:21).

Walking Well

            Given the time of year there are a plethora of prophetic declarations regarding what the Lord is going to do in 2023. Most are promises of wonderful things that don’t come to pass but they are still put forth each year. Some are balanced and talk about the blessing of His presence in the midst of difficulties. Some are vague and general and some are very specific. A recurring one is the recognition of the need for revival and awakening in the church and prayer to that end. I hold to that promise and continue to intercede for it.

Now to my word for the year. I have had specific ones in the past. I don’t have one this year except something He spoke to me nearly three decades ago from 1 Corinthians.

2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)

To understand this, we need to look at the context, what we are to steward, and what it means to steward something. The context is Paul speaking of being a steward of the mysteries of God.

1 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 1 Corinthians 4:1 (NKJV)

Paul saw his responsibility to be faithful with what God had entrusted to him and recognized his calling as a servant, an underling to the Lord. While none of us are Paul the Lord has given each of us callings and gifts and our calling is to be wise stewards of what He has given. I don’t know each of your specific callings and gifts. However, I do know for example that each of us have been called to live out Matthew 28:18-20, The Great Commission. Given that let’s take a closer look at stewardship.

There is a good example of failed stewardship in popular culture that has often come to mind for me. It is from The Lord of the Rings series. In the one movie the Steward of Gondor had been entrusted with responsibility for the city and surrounding country. His responsibility is to maintain and look after the city and surrounding area until the rightful king shows up. In the movie he is aware that the rightful heir to the throne is coming and that he is to yield the throne to him and serve him. Rather than functioning as a steward he begins to act like an owner and refuses to welcome or yield to the coming king. He instead focuses on his own food and comfort while the city he is responsible for was under attack and falling to the enemy. He has in effect attempted to keep his position while abandoning his responsibility! This is similar to the expression, ‘Nero fiddled while Rome burned.’ Nero had also been given a stewardship (Romans 13:1-3) which he miserably failed to carry out.

We do not want to function like the Steward of Gondor or Nero, we want to be found faithful. If our calling is to prayer let us pray. If our calling is to evangelism let us evangelize. If it is to encouragement let us encourage. Paul provides examples for us.

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6–8 (NKJV)

If we do respond to this with a right heart, we are faithful stewards. I know in my life that whether I see revival or need to remain in the place of intercession awaiting it, I plan to be faithful to do what I can with what I have where I am.

            In considering our own stewardship it may look different for each of us. What is consistent is the need to consider is our present degree of faithfulness with what He has already tasked us with doing. I spent my career in the social services field and there was an expression, ‘The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.’ If we have not been faithful in the past, we are not positioned to be faithful in the future. If that is our present state, we can shift our future through repentance (a change of heart and mind) that leads to engaging in different behaviour. Once we make this shift the best predictor of our future behaviour will be the new behaviour that we are engaging in. Let us be found faithful and this year will lay a foundation for continued faithfulness next year and beyond.

Mirror Resolutions

            We begin a new year tomorrow. Given that in our culture we tend to focus on New Years Day as a time of reflection and resolutions let’s apply that idea to this coming year. At present little discernment is required to see that we live in a very self absorbed and self focused culture, including in the church. A lot of time is spent looking in the mirror. There is a good biblical word for what led to this condition, sin. In reflecting back on Genesis 3 we see the immediate effects of sin entering the lives of Adam and Eve.

9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” 13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:9–13 (NKJV)

Two things happened in the Fall, a focus on self and ‘our’ condition and the shifting of blame to someone else when challenged. In essence Adam was now focused on himself rather than Yahweh and blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent and so it continues in every culture.

Yet, as believers our calling is different. Our calling is to be mirrors that reflect Jesus and His kingdom, not our culture. This is clearly portrayed in scripture.    

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

Think about the significance. In our mirrors we are to look into and at the glory of the Lord. We are to fix our gaze upon Jesus, seeing His glory in our mirrors, His face replacing ours. The result of that is that we then reflect His glory and others encounter Him in us.

            There is a practical way to do this. Back when I was much younger, I moved to Edmonton from Northern Alberta to attend college. I stayed with my sister and brother in-law that summer and my sister had a plaque on the bathroom wall, it was an old Sanskrit saying and I have always remembered it, “Yesterday is already a dream and tomorrow is only a vision, but today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”

So here is my proposal for the New Year. We can still make resolutions like losing weight or getting fit, yet we can also do something I think is much more important. We can resolve to live better among others. We can choose to look into scripture and to gaze upon Jesus, we can be changed into His image, walking in grace and truth, living in forgiveness and compassion. We can resolve to let Him shine through us, reflecting the fruit of the Spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22–23 (NKJV)

In this way we can make, “every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”

Walking in the Spirit/spirit Part 4

In concluding this series, I have some final thoughts on the importance of paying attention to and engaging our spirits. This relates to character, the growing of spiritual fruit. If we have been a Christian for any length of time, we likely know some version of these two verses.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

A key aspect is the connection between our spirit and His Spirit. While these fruits appear to be the character of Jesus on display, which I think they are, we need to look at how do they grow in us. Paul says we are to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25) and to be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18). In practice there isn’t anything mysterious here. We display love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control through submitting our will to His and following His leading.

This is a two part process. Our submission requires the engagement of our spirit, paying attention to the inner promptings He gives. When we want to respond with anger or impatience and choose not to because of His leading we are submitting to Him. When we then take the next step and respond in patience and gentleness, we are following His leading and manifesting the fruit of submission to Jesus in us. In essence hearing and bearing are connected. As we hear and respond to His voice and presence inside of us, we produce the fruit of His presence. Jesus described this same process elsewhere.

4  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. John 15:4 (NKJV)

A story that illustrates well this abiding and bearing fruit is something that happened in the life of the great Corrie Ten Boom. Her father and sister died in Nazi concentration camps. After the war she wrote, travelled and spoke, sharing the love of Jesus. People would often come up at the end of events to speak with her. One time a man walking toward her had been one of the guards where she and her sister were imprisoned and where her sister Betsie died. She shared how difficult it was to first not respond in bitterness, to choose in the moment to forgive and then reach out offering her hand in friendship and forgiveness.

Most of us are unlikely to need to forgive something this horrendous. However, we are all called to submit to His inner voice and conviction and demonstrate the fruit of Jesus character in our interactions with others. In short, we are to walk in the Spirit/spirit.

A Heavy Heart

Generally in Western culture when we refer to someone having a ‘heavy heart’ we are speaking of someone dealing with grief or deep sadness. The Lord has a different perspective.

2  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts. Proverbs 21:2 (NKJV)

When He speaks of weighing the heart the Lord is examining our motivations. From His perspective a heavy heart is one that carries His presence.

In the New Testament Paul said his afflictions were working in his life the eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Paul was a Hebrew and a former Pharisee. His comment on the ‘weight of glory’ is a reference to the Hebrew word kabod, which literally means ‘heavy’ but is used it in a figurative sense to mean glory, honour or splendour. The reason Paul spoke of the weight is twofold, one is that the primary meaning of kabod is heavy or weighty. The other is that we can see the tangible result of the weight of His presence in the lives of believers.  

The context for Paul talking about the weight of glory is our transformation into the image of Jesus.

18  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

As Christians we carry His presence. When we respond correctly to whatever is happening in our lives the ‘weight of glory,’ His presence, increases in us. I am sure all or most of us have met someone in whom we see Jesus. Those are people that from His perspective have a ‘heavy heart.’ They get that way by how they respond to circumstances. When Paul talked about beholding Jesus I believe He referred to sitting with and before Him, fixing the gaze of our heart upon Him. I also believe, based on what he wrote in chapter four of his afflictions and what they were working in him, that another aspect of beholding Jesus and being changed is seeing Him in whatever we are going through and looking for His presence there.

So what is the Lord looking for when He weighs our hearts? He is looking for Jesus. Are we also looking for Jesus in our circumstances no matter what they are and thus carrying and releasing Jesus splendour, glory and character wherever we go?

Joined to the Head Part 3

In my first few years of walking with Jesus I read a lot of A. W. Tozer, a prophetic voice to a generation and a friend of Jesus. In an article where he talked about drawing nearer to the Father in intimacy he said one consequence is, “Others may, you cannot.” The idea being that the closer we draw to the Father the more the ways of the world fall away and our path becomes narrower.

He has built into our relationship with Him a structure that carries weight in the spirit realm. The closer we come the less we care about other things.

In the New Testament the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle points to the throne of grace in the New Testament and the main theme of the book of Hebrews is explaining Jesus role as priest of the heavenly tabernacle compared to the earthly one of the old covenant. The invitation of our new High Priest is to come boldly.  

16  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

We are called to come boldly because we come in Jesus righteousness, not our own. At the same time while the writer of Hebrews again talks about our freedom to boldly enter in because of Jesus sacrifice (Heb. 10:19-22), he also warns us of the danger of presumption (Heb. 10:26-27) and says further.

31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31 (NKJV)  

In the encouragement to enter in, something we can do at any time, there is an encouragement to be more sensitive to His presence in the call to serve Him (Heb. 12:28-29).

One way we serve, as we are joined to the head, is pursuing a growing and deepening sensitivity to His presence. This is something we can regularly pray for and pursue. For example, a fruit of pursuing this sensitivity it that while writing this there was a sense of a call to simply sit with Him and experience His presence so I stopped writing and did that. No flashing lights, no great emotional experience, just a deep awareness of His refreshing presence.  

This past Sunday at church there was a sense in the spirit of a prophetic mantle hovering over the congregation. I came into agreement with His purpose and prayed for it to be released. Perhaps others did as well. At the end of the service the pastor had an altar call for people to lay things down that were getting in the way in their relationship with Jesus. An unusual event there and it did not happen in the second service. This is shared simply to illustrate what can happen when we recognize we are joined to the head and seek to walk in that reality.

A key to this is pursuing His face and asking Him to deepen our sensitivity to His presence and calling and believing that He will. This is how He has structured our relationship with Him. He has much to share but wants us to value and pursue it. Let us come boldly with a sensitive heart!

Jason Upton captures something of this call in the first 3-4 minutes in this clip.

Walk in the Spirit

Scripture encourages us in many ways. One encouragement Paul provides is as follows.

16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)

In our Christian walk the Holy Spirit is our leader. His job is to lead, ours is to follow. At times we will be on a well-established trail with clearly marked directions. At other times the trail will be faint or very difficult to follow. As a general principle we need to always be paying attention to His leading to walk with Him. We need to hear when He tells us to pause, to turn, to press on, to stop and rest.

His leading will not always make logical sense. Years ago a fellow shared a story of how the Holy Spirit trained him to listen. He said he was directed to drive around town and given a sense of when to turn and where. This may seem like it was a pointless exercise but he said he learned to be attentive to the Holy Spirit leading him. The benefit came when one day he was driving and had a sudden sense to stop as he came to a green light. He hit the brakes and someone came tearing through the red light and would have broadsided him had he not stopped.

I’m not suggesting this is the way He will train all of us. Just as good coaches develop individualized plans based on the developmental needs of their players, so He knows what we need to learn and seeks to draw us into His specific training program for our lives. I know in my walk it is more about my thought life and speech. At times I have a sense, ‘say this’ or ‘don’t say that.’ I find when I listen I experience His peace resting in and on me.

While peace is one indicator if we want a broader look at how well we are doing He has provided us with a diagnostic tool in Gal. 5:19-23. Here Paul shows the fruit of walking after the flesh in contrast to walking after the Spirit. While we may be in and out of either way of walking at times, the more we submit to His leading the deeper the habit of waling with Him becomes established in our lives and the more of His fruit we manifest.

Recently I was walking with a younger man on an established trail and I was breaking off some overhanging branches that were in the way. I explained why and he joined me. Whenever I hike, even if I don’t think I will ever be on the trail again, I habitually clear branches and remove small rocks and sticks. I believe it is a basic function of leadership to improve the path for others. In a similar manner the Holy Spirit is always leading us in ways to better clear and establish the path of our lives. He wants us to work with Him to remove branches that will entangle us or rocks and sticks that may trip us up. So, let’s focus on staying in step with Him.