Don’t let the picture fool you, this is a VERY IMPORTANT truth to understand.
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.
There is a saying around our house when we think we are doing anything to “help God out” that reminds us it’s all Him and nothing of us; we’re just making cookies. Anything “good” or “useful” we do for God is Him working in and through us and not us at all.
As a young girl, I loved helping my mom bake cookies; especially my much needed role as taster <smiles>. In my young mind, I believed I was a much greater help than I actually was. It was ALL my mom’s doing. Yet, my mom graciously allowed me to delight in the fun of baking with her. She gave me little tasks to do like stirring the ingredients together, which she always gave a few extra swirls. Yet to me, I was making some of the best cookies in the world!
She encouraged me in “helping” her because it was a wonderful bonding time for the both of us. She wanted me to “help”, but it wasn’t for my amazing assistance but because she loved me and took pleasure in making them together and seeing my joy in playing a part.
We are like the child who is helping their mom make cookies. We don’t do anything of good on our own; it’s all God. He lets us take part because it’s a delight to Him and us. We are able to do what we do because He is governing, directing and performing all things for us. We can’t throw God off; we won’t mess up His plans; and He works out all perfectly. In every action and word, as His offspring we can trust He is faithful in directing and using us according to His ways, which are not our ways.
Psalm 138:8 The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
Establishing our own Righteousness
Romans 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
“Making Cookies” serves to remind us, we are not to be crafting our own righteousness, because we can’t. A twisted truth derived from the religious community is how we serve God. We want to be serving, working and doing for God because deep down it makes us feel like a better person; which is establishing our own righteousness. Instead of wholly relying on the righteous of God to fill and govern our lives, we are relying on ourselves.
Worshipping the Work of Our Hands
Isaiah 2:8 Their land is also full of idols; They worship the work of their own hands, That which their own fingers have made
This mentality leads to worshipping the work of our hands. It’s looking to our ability; as in to provide, protect, heal, redeem, teach, and fix situations; the essence of self-reliance, self-sufficient, being in control and independence. Matthew 7:22-23, Proverbs 14:16
Our Part: Abide
John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
God is spirit. We are flesh and spirit. To experience God in the flesh, we have to allow our spirits to be united, influenced and governed by Him. When we do, His nature manifests in our lives in the forms of peace, rest, power, joy, blessing, and righteous love.
Our part is to abide in unity with God. In fellowship with God that leads to unity, we are listening, obeying and gaining trust to relinquish all control to God’s ways and work. As our self-will steps aside, He runs our souls and lives. We cease to judge and work and He governs. If I didn’t bake cookies with my mom, then I wouldn’t have taken part in that bonding time with her or the fruit of our interaction, yummy cookies. God moves through us. But any goodness or good works are of Him, not us. Big difference. Are you getting it?
Rest is Power
Psalm 57:2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me.
Being attached to the vine and God moving through us as He wills is central to abiding in His rest. Hebrews 4:9-11 At rest, our self-will is nullified, and God’s will is ruling. We cease from our works and God works. In this rest, the power of God flows.
You see the true power of God, when you stop efforting and let Him work. To be governed (also used by) by God is to let go of all control, and let God determine each step; steps often counter to what you, religion, or the world would dictate. It’s letting go of all images of who and what you should be doing, and let God direct you daily. It’s following His still small voice, daily. Your life is His venue to work as He wills in you and others. In this our lives become a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1 In this state, we lack the awareness of what our left hand is doing from the right. Becuase its not us, but God.
Matthew 6:3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
This framework removes self-righteousness, because you aren’t doing anything but obeying His voice. It removes fears that you aren’t doing enough or did or said the wrong thing. In this truth, our hearts overflow with peace, praise and joy. So delight in making cookies and don’t make any more of it.
As you think about the New Year, setting goals and making resolutions, consider the one act that will affect you and your year more significantly and powerfully than anything else, where you worship.
What’s the temple(s) of your life? What do you give your resources to, energy and time, to cultivate in your life? How do you make your decisions and choices? What do you sacrifice other things and people for, including your sacred time with God each morning? What are your priorities that come above all else? Mark 12:30-31 What/who do you put above God and abiding in His truth? Matthew 6:33 What doctrines and philosophies are you truly serving and worshipping with your thoughts and actions? Write out the answers to these questions and be honest, it will reveal what you truly serve. True change follows honesty.
Below is just a sampling of the temples we build, sacrifice for and thus worship at … when these are our temples, there is one outcome …
Relationships with other gender
Self-righteousness/being right & fair
Consumed in the darkness of the lies of this world, we build, sacrifice, serve and thus worship at a myriad of temples, like those above, trying to create the rest, fulfillment of hope, purpose, peace and love we desperately long for. Yet, God in His love for us has shown us how to obtain what we truly long for exceeding our expectations. For the life we seek, God instructs us to forsake and destroy all other temples in our lives, and take part in building His temple. Mark 14:58 It’s the temple of truth in our souls in which God’s spirit dwells. Eph 2:19-22 It’s the kingdom of God within us. When this is our temple, then all else in our lives follows as it should and as we deeply desire.
The temple(s) of your choosing will lead to one of two outcomes because there are only two paths in this earth pilgrimage; one of truth and one not, one of life and one not, one of God and one not. If you choose temples like the ones listed above the outcome is of increasing angst, hardship, worry, fear and stress. If you choose to build God’s temple within you, the outcome is growing peace, rest, joy and love.
What are you experiencing, which outcome? The outcome reflects the temple(s) you are currently worshiping at. If it’s the results of angst and fear, are you going to continue to build and worship at the same temples and get the same results?
Not only does only one temple bring the life you truly seek, but there is only one which will stand as all the rest are cast down.
1 Corinthians 3:13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is
In the Day of the Lord, all temples, the work of our hands, will crumble except the One. As the Day of the Lord dawns, now is the time to examine and realign your life to build the everlasting temple, the kingdom of God within you. If the presence of the living God is within you, you need nothing else for His presence manifests every need and desire as it should be.
As you decide your path for this year, meditate on these verses …
Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.
Psalm 34:10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
John 6:28-29 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
For the past couple of months the Holy Spirit has been teaching me various mindsets to have in order to be able to listen and follow to Him throughout the day. When we learn to listen and follow the Spirit, our lives become truly powerful as we are consciously connected to Him, operate according to His will not ours, and act in His strength not ours.
Celebrate Each Day
The first mindset the Spirit taught me is to celebrate each day because it’s the only one we have. We will never have the opportunities we have today to love, give, learn, impact someone’s life and so on. We are to enjoy, embrace, and share what we have been given. We can’t go back and repeat a day, what we make of it is what it will forever be, and what we do today affects tomorrow. When you consider the impact and finality of a day, it’s amazing most of us live like we can repeat them. Today is what’s real, which leads me to the next lesson learned.
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Stay in the Day
In my early twenties I tried to live by the phrase, live in the moment. Back then, it meant to enjoy each day and not get caught up in the past or future. But the Spirit’s recent instruction brought a bit of a different slant and importance to this mindset. When we are in the moment or stay in the day, as a friend calls it, we are more connected to the Spirit because that is where the Spirit is, therefore that is how we have a spirit-lead life. When our mind is elsewhere we aren’t engaged with Him and not listening to His voice and instruction, which is what we need to live by. 2 Corinthians 10:5, 1 John 2:27
The past is done and the future is unknown, but many of us live in one or both of these places mentally and emotionally. The past does affect our current moments because what we experienced and choose put us where we are today, but too often we are bounded by it. And one common way is through un-forgiveness. For years I had un-forgiveness in the form of “justified anger and pain” from things that happened in the past; it plagued my days sucking true life from them. When we don’t forgive someone and harbor ill-will against them, then that affects our current decisions, mindset and health. Un-forgiveness is a thief of life, freedom and joy. But how do we forgive truly? For many years I wanted to forgive but couldn’t. We forgive by the power of God working in us. As I cried out to God, He brought forgiveness into the depths of my soul, it was a process.
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
The flip side is dwelling in the worries of an unknown future. (Blog I wrote on worry, Irrational Worry )We get caught up in worry about what might happen that we live this present moment in a future that doesn’t exist and that also is a rancid thief. There is a balance between being responsible and making good decisions that affect the future, and being consumed with worry about it. The former comes from a mindset of trust the other from fear. To overcome consuming worry requires trust in God, the One who is sovereign over everything. Trusting God is the fruit of cultivating a relationship with Him. Only by spending time getting to really know Him, can we truly trust Him. When we do the worry begins to cease and trust takes over; trust in Him, His love for us and His promises. We need to be listening to the Spirit, not worrying.
Matthew 6:24 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
When we stay in the day, then we can attune to the Spirit’s active leading. When we engage Him it changes what happens in our lives as His direction is perfect and complete for us. Take time to invite the Spirit into your thought processes.
Mindset of Praise
The third mindset is to be praise-oriented, which means to praise God throughout the day for Him, His promises, the things around us, and so on. This mindset is the ultimate worship of God, because it is real, true, heart-felt, and active.
This mindset isn’t about denial of what’s happening. It’s looking at a situation from a different perspective. For example, many are in the midst of a financial trial. This type of trial is a tremendous test and refinement of trust in God’s ways not ours, His provision, and sovereignty. We can either dwell in the mindset of being frustrated and complaining, or recognize God’s control and work, God taking care of our present needs, and seeking the Spirit’s counsel. Praise isn’t to be forced or contrived, but real. God cares about the heart. And praise without denial glorifies God. It shows we know Him, trust Him that He is faithful to do what He promises. It reveals we understand His perfect love for us and working in our lives. To gain a heart of praise comes from truly knowing Him and trusting in Him and His promises.
When God is our God there is always a reason to praise because of His love and care for us. We may not feel that in the moment, but our feelings aren’t reality. They are the sum of a whole host of things. The truth is the former.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Connecting the Three Mindsets
A praise mindset helps us to celebrate each day and to stay in the day (so that we can be spirit-lead) because we are aware and thankful for what is right before us. We are outward focused not self-absorbed and therefore more readily available to listen to and be used by God.
Considering these new mindsets, how do you change your thought patterns? Have you ever tried? It’s very difficult on our own. We don’t do it; God does it in us. When God instructs us, and we heed His instruction then He enables us. God rewires our brains. He has done it many times in me. Our part is to pray and keep these truths always before us. Acts 5:32
Through this instruction, I realized how much I’ve missed out on by living in the past or living in the future. I realized how ineffective I’ve been by being absorbed in those and not listening to the Spirit because my mind was busy somewhere else. Those are powerful motivators to drive me forward in what the Spirit has taught me. God is amazing in how perfectly He instructs and leads us to walking in the abundant life He came to give.
These are some powerful New Years resolutions to consider if you’re looking for some.
People talk about needing to be in or part of a church for many reasons and one a often hear is so they can participate in corporate worship, something they feel God has commanded them to do. But what is it that God wants and not what has man engrained in us? I believe God desires worshippers in spirit and truth and it is no longer about a building. John 4:20-24
John 4:23-24 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Worshippers in spirit and truth are those who have a spirit life born of God and those who seek Him to know Him and His ways so they can be united to Him and honor Him in truth.
Worship means to bow down with affection. When we bow down before someone we are recognizing their sovereignty in our lives with adoration. Bowing down is turning over our lives to God’s reign and doing it in love. Only those born of the spirit can worship Him because only those of the spirit have surrendered (bowed down) lives to His Kingship.
Once spirit, only when we are dwelling in a spirit-mindset and not a mindset of the flesh can we worship Him. When we live in the spirit we worship Him and when we live in the flesh we don’t. Romans 1:9 The spirit is surrendered to Him; the flesh rebels against Him. Romans 8:7
Second He calls us to worship Him in truth. If we don’t exert the energy to intimately know Him and to learn His ways, then how can we worship Him? We are praising some image of Him. Our objective is to venerate Him and not our image of who we want Him to be. To suppose He is whoever we want Him to be is nonsensical, then He wouldn’t be God but we would. We all make assumptions and believe things this very moment that aren’t true about God and don’t know the things that are. We stereotype Him; we fit Him into what we can accept, what we want to believe and what fits our lifestyle. But do we accept this lack of truth or do we passionately search for all He is being mindful that there is much more to be gained?
Acts 17:24-25 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
God is seeking relationships not just creatures to worship Him. Coming to Him in spirit and truth is about being in a relationship with Him. He desires an intimate union with us, our heart engaged with His. When we abide in that union, we worship Him with our lives. We don’t worship by simply singing a song, but with hearts born of Him who abide with Him in truth. All we do in our spirit lives: thoughts, actions, words, songs, and prayers worship Him or not. True worship is a state of the heart. Matthew 15:8
Worship as the Body of Christ
As spirits we make up the temple of God, a temple built without hands that holds the Spirit of God. Those of the spirit are united together because we are of one spirit and our lives worship Him. Wherever we are, we are part of the true church and whatever we do in the spirit we worship God together with the rest of the spirits born of Him. Churches are full of believers and non-believers. Only those who are born of the spirit and abiding in truth can worship God so it isn’t about the physical location, it is about those united together in His spirit worshipping with our lives.
It seems that man’s definition of worship is gathering in a building and singing songs with emotion and God’s definition is coming to Him in spirit and truth as the true temple and worshiping Him with our lives, songs and all.