Tend the Fire

firepitPersonal Worship Lesson 6

By Claudine Lehman

How deeply did you drink this week? Did you find yourself still taking small sips or are you learning to drink deeply—drink it all?

We’ve been trying to define and understand what it means to worship. Personal worship is a life-long activity. Your first concern is to know God intimately and personally . . . to practice his daily presence . . . to go hard after knowing His character.

You can’t effectively share God’s love with others until you’ve made personal worship a “way of life.” There is a principle involved here. In her book High Call High Privilege, Gail MacDonald wrote, “Untended fires soon die and become just a pile of ashes.”

Have you ever felt like you were living out of a pile of cold ashes? We have to make the choice to “tend the fire within” to keep it burning. Christ started the fire. It burns within Himself and He calls us—as He did His disciples of long ago—to Himself to be fed, affirmed, instructed and sent forth

And we have to return daily to the fire—to God Himself—so our inner fire will not burn out or we will find ourselves living life out of a pile of dead ashes. You can take people to the fire with you, but you cannot tend their fire for them. We each have to tend our own fires.

In our last lesson, I listed 4 fundamental truths about worship. Today I’d like to leave you with 4 more.

  1. God desires and is pleased to communicate with us. Amazing! Unbelievable! How thankful I am that it is God’s desire to lead me into depths and heights of knowledge of Him. He says, “My daughter, come on in. Let’s get acquainted. I have so much to share with you. I want you to know my heart. I know all about you. You know so little about me. So come on in. Sit here by me and let’s share our hearts.”—That’s a Quiet Time.

God communicates with us through our minds, wills and emotions. A. W. Tozer puts it this way:

    • God wants to lead me on in my love for Him because He first loved me.
    • He wants to cultivate within me the adoration and admiration of which He is worthy.
    • He wants to reveal to each of us the blessed element of spiritual fascination of true worship.
    • My Father wants to teach me the wonder of being filled with excitement in our worship.
    • He wants me to be entranced with the knowledge of who He is.
    • He wants me to be astonished at the inconceivable height and magnitude and splendor of Almighty God.

Ladies, what excites you? NU football? Going on a cruise? A new car?

                What do you adore or admire? Some speaker, movie star, a friend or parent?

                What are you fascinated with? A new hobby or project?

                What do you marvel over? Awards and accomplishments?

                What does it take to astonish you?

All these elements—love, adoration, admiration, fascination, excitement, astonishment, enchantment—all add up to what the Bible calls the “fear of God.”

Frederic Faber, a 19th-century hymn writer, described the fear of God as “astonished reverence.” A gasp upward and then . . .  bowed heads.

We start with the terror of a guilty sinner before a holy God and go on to the fascinated rapture of the worshiping saint.

God says to me, “Claudine, I want to dwell in your thoughts. I want to make your thoughts a sanctuary in which I can dwell.”

Wow! God wants to dwell in my thoughts? Are my thoughts a fit place for God to be? Do I want Him dwelling there? This realization leads to my next point.

  1. Worship is a purifying experience. Are my thoughts always a fit place for God’s presence to dwell? No. Do I ever lose this close fellowship with Him—this awareness of His presence? Yes. Often. Too often.

I lose this awareness whenever I fall into wrong thinking. I have found that God will not dwell in proud, selfish thoughts . . . or in covetous, lustful, bitter thoughts . . . or in quarrelsome, picky, contentious thoughts. I’ve found my vain imaginations—my “what ifs” and worries—can crowd Him right out. There is also no room for Him in my jealousy, bragging and arrogance. When I take into account a wrong suffered or am rejoicing in unrighteousness, His heart is grieved. [1 Cor. 13; Gal. 5:22]

God wants a sanctuary that is pure and loving, patient and kind. He dwells where goodness and faithfulness abound and grow. He is comfortable in gentleness and self-control.

My intention is to worship Him with every part of my being, YET intention and reality are often two different things.

So, do we lose hope? No, because . . .

  1. God knows my intention and promises to cooperate with me. He knows the thoughts and intent of my heart. He knows I want to focus on Him . . . to practice His presence daily. He also knows when the cares of life are intense and activity won’t slow down. He is aware that I’m not perfect. I let down. I’m not always focused. I go through periods of dryness.

 But He does NOT condemn me.

 God’s part in our worship is to offer unconditional love and never-ending grace and mercy. He will be faithful in all His promises. He will provide us with His constant presence, the help of the Holy Spirit, His power and might and all of His glory.

 My part is to determine to give God my worship, praise and adoration. To yield . . . to seek . . . to believe.  My part is to offer my life as a chamber, a shrine where continuous, unbroken fellowship and communion is an on-going sacrifice.

You may be saying, “Come on, Claudine. Be practical. I can’t be worshiping and praising all the time. When would I do my work? Spend time with family and friends?”

  1. The beautiful thing about worship is it prepares and enables you to zero in on the important things that must be done—things that count for time and eternity.

Tozer points out that down through the history of the church, “Yearning worshipers become great workers.”

A woman who knows God and is practicing His presence can accomplish great things for His kingdom. A woman with her mind focused on Him will no longer be bogged down with self.

    • So what if all the little dailies are not done perfectly in order or on time?
    • So what if you are misunderstood and gossiped about?
    • So what if all your plans for the day had to be scrapped?
    • So what if things didn’t happen your way?
    • So what if you were left out, or didn’t get the position or solo or seat you wanted?
    • So what if your kids did not appreciate you or your husband neglected your needs?

Worshipers are not so concerned about what happens to them as long as God is glorified and believers (the family of God) are unified. There will be a quality of eternity in all we do and say whenever we are intent on worshiping God.

Discussion Question

Is it possible to live in a state of sustained worship—constantly practicing His presence throughout the day? What does that look like for you? Does the idea compel you, or do you find it unattainable? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the REPLY section of the blog. We’d love to hear what you’re thinking.

Homework

You may have noticed (if you are keeping track of that sort of thing) that last Thursday’s lesson did not post on the blog until this Monday. Technology is a wonderful thing until . . . it’s not. Enough said, right? Luckily, the lessons this week were all part of the same lesson, broken into two to keep reading to a minimum. In light of that, let’s keep this week’s homework the same for both lessons. Pick another Psalm of your choice and spend some time journaling what you learn from it about the character of God. We’ll talk more about our journaling on Monday. See you then!

 

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