All posts tagged Worship

First Fruits

First Fruits
fresh fruits and vegetables
Here is my blog from cbn.com for March 15, 2018–here is the link if you would like to visit the site
http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/first-fruits

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored. Deuteronomy 26:1-2 (NLT)

Running into the farmhouse I shouted to Tom, “They’re up! They’re up!”

Tom looked alarmed. “What, Pauline, what are up?”

“Our squash seeds, they have green leaves poking out!”

We both ran to the field in front of the farmhouse to examine this miracle.

“Sure enough,” Tom said as he bent over low, eyes moist. “Sure enough.”

That day was our first successful farm day. The first fruits of months of labor in our new life in North Carolina. Even though it was almost five years ago, I can still remember the joy.

When we start tiny seeds in plastic trays under hot lights, we both check morning and night for the first signs of life. We oooh and aaah like gazing at a newborn when the first sign of life appears. After they are planted our anticipation grows and our mouth waters when we think of that first bite of a perfect heirloom tomato. And when our purple and green asparagus launch, it is always cause for a celebration.

So, when today’s Bible reading in Deuteronomy speaks of bringing the first fruits of the harvest to the Lord, both Tom and I can relate.

Let me share how I try to bring the first fruits of my life to the Lord.

The first fruit of my time. My husband and I have marked this year as the year of prayer. Sure, I have a somewhat designated prayer time. I even have prayer cards for people. Knowing God is best through His Word and prayer, most days, I get up, have two cups of real strong coffee, get out my Bible, my prayer cards, and a notebook with 40 days of prayer that I downloaded from the Internet. Since Easter is right around the corner, I desired to really take my time with this sacred season and savor it instead of letting it sneak up on me.

As I give the Lord the first fruits of my day, I tend to bare more fruit during the day. Try it.

The second way Tom and I bring our first fruits is the first fruits of our tithe. We don’t resent giving our money, we are grateful to give. We have found we can never out-give God. He doesn’t need our money, but He does desire our trust.

In America, we tend to view our security in 401K’s, or health insurance, or life insurance. Those things are not bad, they just are not stable.

God owns everything, is all-powerful, all-knowing, and in the end, He wins.

Let’s just say, investing in heaven is a sure bet.

The last of my first fruits is the first fruit of my worship.

I’m not talking about Sundays and Wednesdays. I am talking about where your heart is. Where your mind is. What you talk about most.

That is what you worship.

For me, worshipping the Lord and Him alone is a daily challenge. But it is so worth it. He is so worth it. The more I meditate on Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection, the sweeter He becomes and the more I desire to worship.

Romans 12:1 (NLT) states, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”

Think of your first fruits, especially during this sacred season. And bring them to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

You’ll be glad you did. Here is the link if you would like to visit the site…  http://www1.cbn.com/devotions/first-fruits

Copyright © Pauline Hylton 2018, used with permission.

Jesus Has a Big Front Porch

Our voices echoed across mountains and dipped into valleys. Corn and beans dotted the sides of the peaks in a zig-zag pattern since they’d been planted by hand.

Savior, You can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save,

Forever, author of salvation, He rose and conquered the grave, yes, He conquered the grave.

Tom and I sat among about 35 travelers singing to our God in the setting on Honduran mountains. We’d been there for about 3 days, traveled to isolated villages to share the message of Jesus Christ, and now we shared, “Porch Time.”

That was my favorite time of the day. The team gathered together, talked about the day, shared their testimonies, prayed, and praised God with song.

So when Tom and I moved to North Carolina–a huge front porch donned the top of our must-have house list. After the construction men finished the 60 x 10 foot structure one young man said, “You should have just built the porch and left off the house.”

“That probably would have been okay with Pauline,” Tom said.

Porches carry cherished memories for me. Memories of friendship and laughter and solace–unhurried times that often feel “realer” than the rest of my busy life.

Thoughts like that ran through my mind as I studied John 14:1-2, Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. (NASB)

I grew up on King James Version where dwelling place is translated mansion. Don’t get me wrong, a mansion sounds great, but I don’t want to live in a mansion by myself. That’s lonely.

No, I want to live in God’s mansion with Him and my Savior and my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to sit on the porch for hours (although I don’t think we’ll have hours in heaven) and talk and laugh and sing and pray.

On earth, we know our times on the porch have to end because we have other tasks and time is important…here. Not there.

Sometimes, I picture my parents sitting on the porch in heaven with their best friends, the Shiels. Jim Shiels is teasing Dad while Mom and Nellie Shiels sit together chit-chatting about this and that.

When we vacationed with the Shiels at The Salvation Army’s Camp Lake, or Army Lake, we’d sit on the screened porch lit only with the yellow bug light and talk for hours. When we’d get ready to go back home my father would say, “Let’s all join hands and sing.”

Jim would say, “Do we have to, Ramie?” And then he’d laugh and we’d join hands, sing, and then cry. This is what we sang:

Til we meet, til we meet, til we meet at Jesus feet,

God be with us, til we meet again.

I’m sure there’s was a great reunion and frankly, I can’t wait to join them. Cause I think Jesus has the biggest, bestest, porch. Ever.

But for now, I’ll settle for mine.

Come see me, friend.

I can’t paste the YouTube in here, but I’ll past the link. It’s worth the listen…BTW, we’ll be singing this on Sunday at Christ Community Church. Join us will you? Pretend it’s a porch…

 

 

 

Seasonal Worship

Light peeked through the fake wood blinds. Breakfast finished, Mom cleaned up. The dishes miraculously made it into the dishwasher. Time to worship.

I scooted the lift chair toward Mom’s hospital bed. Two speakers were stuffed under the bedside table which held my computer.

“Okay, Mom, are you ready?” I looked into her 94-year-old eyes. Once clear and bright, now red and watery. She nodded.

I clicked the button to connect via the Internet with http://www.lakesidechapel.com The congregation I attended in Florida for over 25 years. The worship leader began with To God Be The Glory. One of my favorites by Fanny Crosby. Next was And Can It Be. I belted them out with my out-of-practice-alto-pretending-to-be-soprano voice. Mom piped in occasionally with her once-strong-soprano-turned-salty-bass voice. Together, we sounded heavenly–at least to God.

Why? Because the Lord knew our hearts. We worshiped. From Mom in her bed to me tucked into her lift chair, our spirits soared with songs of praise to God Almighty. The Lord knows Mom can’t go to service anymore. So we stay home. And He’s okay with that.

Since we moved to the foothills of North Carolina, I’ve been able to experience the seasons again. I hadn’t realized how much I missed them while in Florida until I moved to our farm.

The changing seasons remind me of my life. There was the Bratty Kid Season (Tom would argue that I still visit that season). Then I had the Try Not To Get Kicked Out Of Asbury College Season, followed by the Marriage and Can’t Wait For The Kids To Grow Up Season. Then the dreaded Teenager Season intermingled with the Caregiving Season.

I’m still in the caregiving season. Dad’s caregiving season ended about seven years ago. And although I knew the end was near, his passage to heaven surprised me. Same with my childhood and college days and parenting days. One day they were there, the next day they were gone.

The truth about seasons is you can’t make them stay. One moves on to the next since the timing is from God. Same with our lives. This season with my mother seems so long sometimes. Hard. For me and for her.

I don’t want to rush through this time. I’m older and I pray a bit wiser, so I want to take this one slow. I don’t want to have regrets of complaining or impatience of moving to another time without enjoying the time I have now.

We listened to my Florida pastor. I even jotted a few notes. We prayed when he prayed.

“Your pastor did a good job,” mom said after I clicked out of the site.

Tom arrived home and we cradled our lunches on our laps as we prepared to say the blessing.

“How was your day of worship, Tom?”

“Good. How about yours.”

“Great!”

Mom smiled and so did I.

I’d like to share another song we sang during the worship time taken from the book of Job. Because you can worship right now. No matter where you are or what season it is.

VERSE 1
Who has held the oceans in His hands?

Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at His voice
All creation rises to rejoice

CHORUS
Behold our God seated on His throne

Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!

VERSE 2
Who has given counsel to the Lord?

Who can question any of His Words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things?
Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?

VERSE 3
Who has felt the nails upon His hands

Bearing all the guilt of sinful man?
God eternal humbled to the grave
Jesus, Savior risen now to reign!

TAG
Men: You will reign forever!

Women: Let Your glory fill the earth

 

 

Giving Praise at Lent

Tom read the words to me from Luke 2 yesterday morning. The story is supernatural. Divine.

We ended the reading in song with these words:

“Immanuel. Immanuel. His name is called Immanuel.

God with us. Revealed in us. His name is called Immanuel.”

Today we moved on. The idea of a young couple bringing their infant son who happens to be the Son of God into the temple to be blessed by a priest is astounding.

Simeon was waiting for Messiah. Looking. Praying. His prayer was answered.

A woman from the tribe of Asher who spent the last several years of her life praying and fasting and watching for Messiah at the temple, received the privilege of seeing him.

Single-minded devotion to the King.

Am I willing to sacrifice my time, money, even my appetite to see the Lord? To know Him better?

This praise blog is one of the feeble ways I’m trying.  Today, Tom and I sang 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. I just listened to this YouTube video and it brought me to the feet of my King again.

Blessings, friend.

Keep praising.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM[/youtube]

 

The Wonder of it All

“When was the last time you wondered?” asked Dr. David Jeremiah as he opened his sermon on the wonder of worship.

This morning. Yesterday afternoon. Last night. Yesterday morning. Every morning. My thoughts made me chuckle.

I continued to wipe the counter in my new kitchen as I listened.

I’ve been thinking a lot about worship. My pastor is preaching on it. So is David Jeremiah. I’ve been living it.

I’m amazed by God’s creation.

It wasn’t that I didn’t see it in Florida. At least twice a month, I’d travel to Clearwater Beach and gasp at God’s glory. I’d smile as I passed tourists bent over searching for the perfect seashell.

Yesterday afternoon, Tom and I took a hike through our property. During the summer, briars fill spaces between varied trees. But in autumn the briars die and gazing through the woods is my favorite pastime. Just like the tourists in Florida, I searched the ground for leaves. Red and yellow ones. Multi-colored ones.

Just like the tourists gather seashells, I gathered my leaves.

Earlier that morning, I called Tom onto our porch steps.

“It’s freezing out there, Pauline!”

“You’ve got to see this.”

He wrapped himself in his warm robe and brought steaming coffee in a ceramic mug. We sat next to each other on our porch steps and stared at millions of stars with a coal black backdrop. We didn’t talk much.

Some things are too magnificent for words.
After my pastor spoke on worship, I was to close the morning service with a song. It’s based on the 5th chapter of the book of Revelation. As I rode to church with Tom, I warmed up my voice by singing worship songs from my playlist. As we rounded a bend, I viewed the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just then, my favorite Getty song played.

The Power of the Cross.

I remembered when Sarah and I sang it together for our Florida congregation at Lakeside Community Chapel. As I sang, I looked over the sea of people–many of them friends, all of them brothers and sisters–and watched them weep at the gospel message of the cross.

I wept.

Tom looked at me. “You’re not going to cry today when you sing, are you?”

“No. I was just thinking back to that time of worship when Sarah and I sang this song. It is the closest I’ve ever come to true worship, I think. I’m praying the song I sing today will bring my brothers and sisters at Christ Community Church into the presence of God.”

You see, worship is a mindset. An attitude. Reverence for God. Gratefulness. Humility. Awe.

David Brady said we were made for worship.

I know. I’ve experienced a sliver of it.

I can’t wait for the real thing. When I’m in the presence of my Lord and Master.

Glorious.

Some famous person said if you want to really worship God, look down.

Tomorrow, I’m gonna find some more leaves.

Whether you look for leaves or seashells, whether you gaze at mountains or the ocean. Or maybe the bird or butterfly on your porch, take time to worship.

Then go to God’s Word.

Then go to your knees.

You were made for it.

Here’s a song my baby girl introduced me to sung by Addison Road.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6J5TzSE_18[/youtube]

By the way, here’s a chorus from the Salvation Army songbook that has just one line. It’s a good one.

“The wonder of it all just to think that God loves me.”