Hope is Alive - You Always Have a Reason to Rejoice

Hope is Alive - You Always Have a Reason to Rejoice

Last night, I had a dream:

I was sitting in one of those comfy church chairs; not a hard pew where you have one continuous seat, but individual seats with padding for the back and the bum. I was sitting comfortably as I joined the worship band in singing praises to Jesus. I knew the song well, so I joined in harmony, but there were people next to me and around me that were trying to talk to me, as though they had no idea that it was time to worship. Some people were sitting too close (definitely not keeping to the confines of their own personal chair), and others were asking me questions, telling me stories, or trying to carry on a normal conversation like they were in a coffee shop. 
Though the people around me were persistent and annoying, I focused on Jesus and the words I was singing. But I couldn’t help but think; “They are being stinkin’ rude; church is meant to be a place of reverent worship, not of raucous.” But another thought also went through my mind; “They are missing this. They are missing out on the glory of God and the wonder, peace, and joy that comes from worshiping Him and abiding in His presence.” 
As near as I can remember, the song we sang in my dream was, Here’s My Heart, by David Crowder. This is the chorus and the majority of the words: 
Here's my heart, Lord. / Here's my heart, Lord. / Here's my heart, Lord. / Speak what is true. / I am found, I am Yours. / I am loved, I'm made pure. / I have life, I can breathe. / I am healed, I am free.
The people around me did not give their hearts to Jesus. They tried their hardest to drown out His truth and revel in their own little world; their own sad little world. 

There have been waking moments when I chose not to raise my voice in worship of my King, either because I did not know the song or because my voice was hoarse and breaking. At those times, I saw the value of abiding in the presence of God and worshiping with my heart; paying attention to His children worshiping and to the words of worship, echoing them in my heart. 

However, in recent weeks, I have heard people say that they didn’t feel like singing and worshiping, because they were sad or felt distant from God… But it is at those times when I most need to worship; I need to be reminded Who God is and who I am. God is almighty, powerful, merciful, gracious, loving, and always faithful. No matter how I feel, Jesus is worthy of praise. I am weak, unholy, unjust, unwise, sinful, and lost; at least, I am all of those things without Christ in me. But because I am a daughter of God, the strength of God is made perfect through my weaknesses; I am made holy and just; I am given wisdom and the power to fight against temptation; and I am eternally found and loved in the presence of my King.

When I humble myself before my Father, He smiles upon me, because it is then that He sees the Spirit of His only begotten Son in me. When Jesus walked on this earth and shed the truth of God’s light on His creation, there were many times when He stopped what He was going and prayed to His Father. And when Jesus was anguished in body and spirit, He did not yell in anger at God or give Him the silent treatment. Instead, He went off by Himself to pray, and He asked God for mercy, yet He ultimately submitted to the will of His Father; even though He knew it was His Father’s will that He would die in order to bring life to me and to everyone else who doesn’t feel like worshiping Him. 

And as Jesus hung upon the cross, He cried out, My God, My God, why have You forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46) In the moment of His death, He suffered all the pain that His creation ever suffered, and worse. You see, sin had never separated Jesus from His Father, because there was no sin in Him. For all eternity, before there was even time, Jesus abode in the presence of His Father, but in an instant, His fellowship was severed. Jesus suffered such anguish on your behalf and on my behalf. He did not have to die, He chose to, because He loves you and wants to give you the hope of eternal life with Him.

Maybe you feel cheated by God, like He has not blessed you or listened to a single prayer you have sent His way. Perhaps you feel justified in your lack of worship. But let me tell you something about God, something that I read this morning; You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied Him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?” (Malachi 2:17) Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

You say that you are sinking in the waves, but that is because you took your eyes off of Jesus. Just because the winds blow and everything rises against you does not mean that you have to drown. Your God is standing right in front of you, waiting for you to open your eyes and your heart to deliverance within His arms; the God of justice never left. He does not force you to believe in Him or follow Him; He leaves the choice up to you. Either trust and obey, allowing Him to teach you what is right and good, or live in stubbornness and death. I cannot minimize the trials that you face or the injuries that you have suffered at the hands of evil-doers; I can only tell you that Jesus, the God of the whole universe, suffered willingly through His greatest trial to give you the crown of life everlasting. And though His murderers were merciless, yet He still declared upon His death that He died for them, too. This is the God that I serve, this is the God that died for you; the One Who came to seek and save the lost.

In my dream, I was not distracted from worshipping God; in real life, I strive to keep my attention on Him, but that is easier said than done. When I am in church, it is easier to focus on God than when I am at work, at home, or just having fun. Even in the midst of my mundane and wonderful life, God is worthy of worship and He is worthy of my affection and my attention. He does not beg for it, and He does not require it, but God came to tell us the truth; He is better than sin, and better than anything this life has to offer. If we take our eyes off of Him, it is like refusing to breathe oxygen. Just like the song from my dream said; when I give my heart to God, I am found, I am God’s, I am loved, I'm made pure, I have life, I can breathe, I am healed, and I am free. 

What does worship mean to me? It means surrender, strengthened faith, and it stands as a banner before my face declaring who I am and who God is. 

There are times for tears, there are times for sadness, but it is always time to worship, and to lay your burdens at the foot of the cross. He alone can bear your burdens, lift you up, and remind you that hope is alive; you always have a reason to rejoice

Published by Sarah JoAnna

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