Encouragement 05-05-04


May 5, 2004
Encouragement for Today
The Real Deal
Mary Southerland
Key verse:
Psalm 11:7 The LORD does what is right, and he loves justice, so honest people will see his face.  (NCV)

Worship is a word we often use but something we rarely experience.  Oh, we say that we are going to a worship service each Sunday but do we really encounter the living God or merely endure another weekly religious gathering? When was the last time you walked away from a worship service - changed forever - because God met you there? We misunderstand what true worship is and fail to recognize the requirements of worship. 
A preacher, out for a walk, noticed a group of boys standing around a small stray dog.  "What are you doing, boys? he asked. "Telling lies," one young man explained. "The one who tells the biggest lie gets the dog." The minister was shocked and said, "Why, when I was your age I never even thought about telling a lie." The boys looked at each other and their faces fell in disappointment. Finally, one young man shrugged and said, "I guess he wins the dog." 
To worship God is to see Him.  No, we cannot actually see His face but we can understand who He is, recognize His power and acknowledge His sovereignty. True worship takes place in an honest heart.

Honesty is a rapidly disappearing attribute.  Truth is hedged and masked.  Integrity is compromised. "Mom isn't here" our children say when we want to avoid the caller.  We silently pocket the incorrectly counted change received in the drive-through lane.  Untruths we label as "small white lies" punctuate our character until authenticity is forfeited.  A life of integrity demands honesty. So does worship.
Worship is all about seeking the face of God. Seeking God with our whole heart is the first step in experiencing authentic worship. We cannot truly seek Him until we are willing to come before Him in absolute abandonment, completely and totally honest before Him. 
In the gospel of Luke we find a woman who came to dinner at the home of Simon Peter.  This woman came for one reason alone - she had heard that Jesus would be there.  It was common knowledge that she was a prostitute with a terrible reputation. Everyone at the party - including Simon, the host - knew exactly who she was and what she had done.  Simon would never have allowed - much less invited this kind of woman to enter his home.  However, it was common knowledge that when a Rabbi was invited to someone's house others could stop by and listen to the conversation.  A desperate woman, she came knowing that everyone at the party would recognize and judge her.  But her desire to meet Jesus was greater than her pride.
She came openly - hiding nothing.  She came just like she was, a sinful woman.  In other words, as my daughter would say, she was the "real deal". No pretense.  No hypocrisy. Just authenticity.  She came with an honest heart and Jesus met her at that point of brutal honesty.  As a matter of fact, He was waiting for her to come.  He is waiting for us to come as well.  The fact is that we will never experience the full power of true worship until we are ready to honestly confront and deal with the sin in our lives.  An honest heart pleases God and is invited to worship Him!

My prayer for today
Father, I confess that I do not truly understand what it means to worship you in the way that you desire.  But I want to worship you.  I want to come into your presence with complete honesty and transparency. My heart desire is to sit at your feet.  I lay down my pride and arrogance, confessing that without you, I am nothing.  I praise you and love you, Father.  Teach me how to truly worship you.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Application steps:
Examine your life in the light of honesty.
Come before Him wrapped in that spiritual honesty.
Know that He always responds to an honest heart.
Refuse to fall back into old habits that would corrupt your newfound authenticity.

Reflection points:
What sin(s) have I been hiding and refusing to face?
What action(s) will it take for me to deal with those sins honestly?
How does sin affect my ability to worship God?
Define honesty.  Does your definition line up with God's? 
Power verses:
Proverbs 12:17 A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies. (NIV)
Proverbs 16:11 Honest weights and scales are the Lord's.  (NKJV)
Genesis 30: 33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future. (NIV)
Proverbs 16:13 Kings are pleased with those who speak honest words. They value a person who speaks the truth.  (ICB)
1 Chronicles 29: 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.  (NIV)

Additional resources:
Seven Life Principles for Every Woman by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst
Unleashing the Power of God in My Life by Mary Southerland

Originally published Wednesday, 05 May 2004.